Spew of the day: Nationalist internet trolls

It’s no secret that Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has a huge PR agenda, in line with his right-wing, ultra nationalist government who have tried to play down Japan’s responsibility in a lot of its past actions, especially during the Second World War.

But just how extensive is his PR team?

Does Japan have a government-funded digital screening department that trolls every single web article that writes about the country in any way that is less than positive? Or does the country magically produce loyal nationalists that troll these articles out of an intrinsic desire to stand up for their nation?

I have written two articles about the ‘comfort women’ issue—comfort women being the euphemistic term for sex slaves captured by the Japanese imperial army across Asia in the Second World War. The feature I wrote provides a background on the issue and Japan’s stance on it, linked here. It calls for Japan to acknowledge, apologize, and provide compensations for their horrific actions during the war.

A few weeks after my feature came out, Tokyo and Seoul actually came upon an agreement where PM Shinzo Abe agreed to compensate 8.3 million to the remaining survivors in South Korea and also formally apologize on the condition that no other legal disputes/requests regarding this issue is brought up again. I followed up with an opinion article that came out yesterday here, pointing out many issues (that have been highlighted across various media outlets already) with the agreement. But I also discuss the issue of Japan’s nationalistic education and massive PR scheme undertaken by Abe’s administration to whitewash Japan’s history and actions during the 21st century.

Both times, I had random people commenting on the articles, arguing against the (verified) points that were laid out. Even though these were two “different” users who commented on two separate articles, they had a similar rhetoric—that Japan is the victim.

The commentator on my opinion piece said that Korean and Chinese textbooks were more nationalist than Japan and that Japan had the least nationalist textbook. They accused Korean nationalist lobbyists for the information about ‘comfort women’ in the McGraw Hill textbook. Not true.

The commentator on my feature said that it’s unfair for the “anti-Japan crowd to engage in the same tactics they accuse Japan of in whitewashing history and historical truths,” claiming Japan had formally apologized. Also not true. Holding a country accountable for their past actions doesn’t mean you’re anti-that country. I’m not anti-Germany just because I call out their shit from WWI and II.

Both commentators supported their facts by linking to various websites/wordpress/wikipedia (mostly all Japanese nationalist sites-go figure).

These events reminded me of something else. A year ago, my friend wrote a post on his wordpress about the Rape of Nanking, after reading the book by Iris Chang. Similarly, an internet troll immediately commented saying that history was misperceived in that book, again linking to a Japanese nationalist site (as if that would verify the unknown troll’s claim.)

Now, you might say, these are just trolls. They’re everywhere. It’s the internet. Yes. I completely agree. In fact, I’m even mildly flattered that the trolls bothered to seek out my article or blog posts and comment on it (although google alert makes it pretty easy these days). Mildly.

This all leads me back to this sentiment: either Japan cultivates some seriously devout internet trolls who are always there to defend Japan the moment anything pops up on the internet that might criticize the government. That, or Abe’s PR team has no limits towards what it tries to impose its nationalist rhetoric upon.

Whomever it is, I know I’m provoking you with my #japan #nationalist #whitewashing, but I beg of you, leave this blogpost alone.

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