A gaijin uyoku?! Surely a contradiction in terms, right? (That is, unless you believe the rumours that the ranks of ultra-nationalist groups are actually filled with Japanese of Korean descent.)
But Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin is about just that: a foreigner who also happens to be a Japanese ultra-nationalist.
Japanese cinema junkies will immediately spot the title is a reference to the Kōji Wakamatsu film Go, Go Second-Time Virgin. Yet while that 1969 exploitation film was about rape and revenge, this is pitched as “a mockumentary centred around a Caucasian expat who believes himself to be a member of the Japanese ultranationalist right”.
Currently a provisional production seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter, the overtly satirical film stars the academic (and naturalised Japanese citizen) Debito Arudou, a somewhat divisive yet well-known figure among Western expats in Japan.
Elements of the project initially seem to be Arudou up to his usual tricks, with the Kickstarter page declaring gaikokujin to be “a derogatory and ethnocentric term used to describe a foreigner in Japan”. That is debatable, to say the least. There are plenty of derogatory Japanese terms to describe non-Japanese, as there are in English to describe outsiders (by that rationale, “foreign” is no less inoffensive in English). Personally I don’t find the word discriminatory per se; it depends how people use and emphasise it.
Semantics aside, what is the film about and what is it trying to say?
“Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a mockumentary that focuses on a Caucasian expat living in Japan who, after receiving a blow to the head, wakes up believing that he is a member of an ultranationalist right wing group (the “uyoku dantai”). An idealistic amateur “director” (in the scheme of the mockumentary) is making a documentary film about this odd character because he believes that it will propel his own filmmaking career towards prominence. As the director and his subject’s views begin to diverge though, things begin to fall apart. “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a story about identity, delusion, myopic nationalism, ascendent conservative trends in Japan’s current government, other big words, and how those beliefs do not accurately reflect the political and social reality of Japanese society. Only the best ingredients for a controversial comedy!
The film stars Arudou in the main role but is written and directed by Robert Nishimura through his Primolandia Productions studio.
Here is the trailer, which includes archive footage of Yukio Mishima and Tate no Kai, his somewhat notorious private army (actually, not an archetypal uyoku dantai at all). Also look out for a brief glimpse of Bin Akao, a famous ultra-nationalist activist and thorn in the side of the establishment during the post-war years.
As noted by the makers, there is considerable risk in attempting a satire of this kind. While most Japanese certainly regard the ultra-nationalist groups, with their loud sound trucks and atavistic slogans, as a nuisance or even a joke, they would be reluctant to mock the radicals openly. This may be down to an aversion to confrontation as well as the reputation many groups have for links to the Yakuza, as indicated by their tattoos. Revealingly, though hate-speech groups such as Zaitokukai have attracted increasingly aggressive counter-protests at their demonstrations, the more traditional far Right is not targeted in the same way. While satire is not the same as counter-protest (a physical confrontation), only relatively few people — such as the comedian Minoru Torihada — dare to ridicule rightists and the Kickstarter campaign page notes that members of the Japanese crew have elected to redact their names from the credits.
If the film goes into production, it remains to be seen how genuine uyoku dantai will respond.