Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Woman in Politics: Masculine Racism in Tokyo Governor’s View of the 1923 Korean Massacre

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

In September 2017, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike canceled a eulogy to a memorial event for Koreans massacred by rumor-driven masses in the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. This was unprecedented since previous governors had annually sent a eulogy since the event’s inception in 1973. Although Koike’s decision was partly in response to a Tokyo assemblyman’s implicit criticism of the eulogy, Koike herself has a record of attempting to attract right-wing voters. Her remarks on this year’s cancelation and her view of the 1923 Korean massacre indicate her intention to situate this relatively well-documented case of a Japanese atrocity against colonized subjects in line with the right-wing target of historical revisionism, i.e. cases such as the Rape of Nanking and the issue of “comfort women.” In the process, she manipulates masculine rhetoric that resembles “tone-policing” with emphasis on neutrality and fairness. Indeed, for her, the massacre, a term that she deliberately avoids using, is “one of the tragic deaths at the time of the earthquake” and “has been viewed from many perspectives.” By faking impartiality and relativism, Koike aims to eventually eradicate public attention to the historical fact of the racist atrocity altogether. Although Koike recently alluded to the glass ceiling as a factor that partially led to her party’s dramatic loss in the recent election, this paper analyses her comments on the Korean massacre to better understand the way in which a right-wing female politician employs masculine and purportedly rational expressions to justify her racist attitude.

Tomoko Seto

Yonsei University, Republic of Korea

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3 - A Woman in Politics: Masculine Racism in Tokyo Governor’s View of the 1923 Korean Massacre



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