Political veteran Koichi Kato told a gathering of foreign correspondents yesterday of a threat to a Japanese primary school pupil made in an attempt to stop the child’s father going on television to discuss rising nationalism. Mr Kato, whose home was torched this month by a right-wing extremist, linked the threat and the arson attack to intimidation by violent right wingers whose influence was growing.
He went on to mention the territorial disputes that Japan is in with it’s neighbours.
The danger was that, in the nationalist maelstrom, people would, as an obedient group, follow a path of militarism and antagonism with Japan’s neighbours. The seeds already existed in unresolved territorial disputes with China, Korea and Russia, he said.
Mr Kato’s appearance at the Foreign Correspondents Club was itself a brave act of defiance. It came as police said they would charge the arsonist who unsuccessfully attempted ritual suicide in the burning remains of Mr Kato’s home on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II. The man, a right-wing extremist, had copies of a magazine in his car that publishes stridently anti-Chinese views. Mr Kato, fluent in English and Chinese, has criticised Japan’s swing to the right and urged a resolution to disputes with China. He is now under guard, and fears remain for his safety.