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Japan far-right party calls for end to diplomatic ties with South Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan far-right party calls for end to diplomatic ties with South Korea
Japan's far-right politicians have been gaining attention with their videos of hate speech targeting ethnic Koreans. File Photo by Christopher Jue/EPA

April 18 (UPI) -- Japan's nationwide local elections are bringing attention to candidates of a far-right political party that's calling for an end to diplomatic ties with South Korea.

A candidate with the Japan First Party, running for a seat in the Shinjuku City Assembly in Tokyo, recently made an appearance in the Koreatown district in the city, also known as Shinokubo, Yonhap reported Thursday.

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In his speech, Sasami Horikiri engaged in strong anti-Korean rhetoric while holding the Rising Sun flag, according to the report.

Makoto Sakurai heads the Japan First Party. He founded the group in 2016, after he ran unsuccessfully in a Tokyo gubernatorial election.

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The party could be taking advantage of the election season to voice strong grievances about South Korea. Campaigns began Sunday for 86 mayors, 294 city assemblies, 11 ward heads and 20 ward assemblies, according to Japan's Jiji Press.

The hate speech the Japanese political candidates are engaging in are recorded and disseminated on the Internet to extend their reach.

In Horikiri's latest speech, the far-right candidate said Shinokubo's trash problem is caused by Koreans and attracts rats, according to Yonhap.

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He then said diplomatic ties with Seoul should be suspended.

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A woman supporter also appears in the video, and condemns Korea for committing "blasphemy against the Japanese emperor," according to Yonhap.

In other videos, Horikiri says he is a "politician capable of fighting South Korea."

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"I will run for office to relentlessly fight South Korea," Horikiri says.

The Japan First Party holds no seats in parliament or local legislatures, but holds high-profile rallies that call for violence against Japan's Korean population.

The rise of hate speech in Japan comes at a time when South Korean lawmakers are trying to move ahead with improving ties with Tokyo.

The Korea Times reported Thursday a South Korean parliamentarian union on Japan affairs is seeking to visit Japan for meetings ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka.

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