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Japanese professor rallies against anti-Korea protests

Posted December. 11, 2013 06:03,   


“I am opposed to Japanese conservative organizations’ anti-Korea demonstrations.”

This happened in front of the monument marking the 40th anniversary of King Gojong from the Joseon Dynasty near Kyobo Building in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Amid chilly winds, a Japanese man hands out to passers-by a tangerine and flier, which suggests his opposition to Japanese ultra-rightists’ anti-Korea protests, holding up a banner against anti-Korea rallies.

The person engaged in the rally is Nobuhide Sakurai, a professor of the Japanese language department at Nam Seoul University. Sakurai, 39, has been staging protest rallies against anti-Korea protest in Japan at a site near Gwanghwamun Square for two to three hours every Saturday since May. Since November 23, he has been accompanied by his students Jang Won-joon, 19, and Won Yeon-chan, 19 from the same department.

Professor Sakurai took to the street with a banner in person, because he judges that anti-Korea protests by ultra-rightist group, the organization denying special privileges given to foreign nationals in Japan, went beyond the permissible level. The organization has some 14,000 members, and more than 100 people participate in its rallies each time. They seek to resolve internal anxiety caused by a prolonged economic recession in Japan by resorting to racial discrimination, and has been staging protest rallies particularly at Tokyo’s Shinokubo, which is home to Korea Town, and other sites.

Sakurai thought that Gwanghwamun Square, which is especially popular among Japanese tourists, would be an ideal location where he can effectively convey his message. He visited Shinokubo in person and joined a rally against anti-Korea demonstration April.

Hailing from Kanazawa, Japan, Sakurai came to recognize Korea and the Korean people due to the novel “the Frozen Mouth” by Korean Japanese novelist Kim Hak-yeong, which his mentor professor recommended him to read when studying Japanese literature at Hosei University in Japan. He is a scholar highly knowledgeable of Korea, who acquired a master’s degree by studying literature of ethnic Koreans in Japan.

Professor Sakurai said, “Political situations between Korea and Japan are at a low point, but efforts should be made to ensure that amicable exchange between peoples continue on, and thus the Japanese and Koreans get along well, rather than hating each other.”