Media Mix, Oct. 8, 2017

Kiko Mizuhara

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, about Twitter’s seeming reluctance to address messages that contain hate speech. An issue discussed briefly on the Democracy Times program mentioned in the column but one that I didn’t touch on is sexist language. Kayoko Ikeda showed one tweet that read, “We don’t need women who won’t bear children,” which sounds suspiciously like something that was once spouted by a certain former governor of Tokyo. The tweet opens up a whole new realm of the hate speech topic but it’s one that tends to get treated as a sideshow, namely, misogyny. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see that the kind of people who denigrate Koreans and Chinese out of hand also resent women who don’t remain within the contours of what they believe is “properly Japanese.” The right wing “netto-uyo” are predominantly men who definitely see women as having a fixed place in society.

A more in-depth discussion of this area of hate speech recently took place on another web program, No Hate TV, which is hosted by Koichi Yasuda and Yasumichi Noma, two nominally left-wing firebrands whose breezy activism is refreshing to say the least. During this discussion they mainly talked about the right wing’s recent targeting of popular fashion model Kiko Mizuhara, who is best known for a series of commercials for Suntory, in which she sips a glass of beer. Right wingers have called on the liquor maker to drop her from the ads because she is “fake Japanese.” Apparently, Mizuhara’s father is American and her mother is a Korean who grew up in Japan but is not naturalized. To their credit, Suntory has not responded to the trolling and the commercials have not been pulled or altered in any way. However, Noma thinks the right wing trolls are more incensed by Mizuhara’s gender than by her multi-cultural background. “She’s actually quite liberal,” he says, and there’s nothing that enrages right wing Japanese hotheads as much as a liberal female. In addition, she’s easy to “bash” because as a teenager she was something of a “yankee” (semi-delinquent), and appeared in the Korean edition of Harpers Bazaar modeling some Japanese designer clothing. “What they really hated,” says Noma, “was one photo showing her with shoes on and lying on tatami.” That shot was solid evidence that Mizuhara “is not Japanese,” the trolls said. But what gives Mizuhara even more street cred in Noma’s and Yasuda’s eyes is that she has also angered Chinese and South Korean net trolls. Some weeks ago she “liked” an Instagram post by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, in which the artist gives the finger to Tianmen Square. (Eventually, she retracted the “like” and apologized but that didn’t placate her Chinese critics.) And she also dated, albeit briefly, G Dragon, the leader of K-pop’s biggest boy band, Big Bang, thus pissing off Korean nationalist trolls.

“It’s as if there is a federation of eastern Asian netto-uyo,” joked Noma.

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