Showing posts with label Toshiko Hasumi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toshiko Hasumi. Show all posts

16 October 2015

Translation: Japan: An Anti-migrant Drawing Causes Controversy

This article by Charlotte Oberti was originally published in France 24 on October 8, 2015 in French.

In Japan, a drawing by a conservative artist who accuses “fake migrants” of landing in Europe outraged part of the population at the beginning of October. Tokyo is famous for its intransigent policies toward asylum seekers. 

“I want to live safe and sound, eat refined dishes, wear pretty clothes and lead a luxurious life … at someone else’e expense. In order to accomplish this, I have an idea: I am going to become a refugee.” A drawing gave rise to a lively controversy on social networks in Japan. The sketch in question shows a young Syrian girl with a malicious smile on her lips, who plainly affirms her ambitions: to live comfortably as a refugee.

The overtly anti-migrant tone of this image is that of a conservative Japanese artist, Toshiko Hasumi. This drawing, which was posted on Facebook at the beginning of October, is inspired by a photo of a young Syrian refugee in Lebanon and has caused anger among anti-racist activists who started a petition on, which has been signed by nearly 11,000 people, in order to appeal to the social network to withdraw this drawing. While Facebook concluded that this content does not contravene its rules, Toshiko Hasumi decided to remove her work, but without expressing any regret. 

“I don’t want European countries to fall victim to this situation or that people who work hard come under the influence of these fake migrants,” said the artist to BBC on Thursday, October 8, all the while admitting that she chose the image of a young girl with the aim of provoking. “I don’t deny the fact that there are refugees who live in misery. I am simply denouncing the ‘fake refugees’ who pass for victims in order to pursue their own interests.” 

“A country that closes its doors to refugees”

While this manga image caused a general outcry in the Japanese archipelago, it defines the firmly anti-migrant position displayed by this country that features the third largest GDP in the world.

As the NGO Amnesty International points out through data published in September 2015, Japan has not offered any shelter to the migrants fleeing Syria.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced last September 29 that $1.5 million would go toward helping refugees from Iraq and Syria and supporting the peace efforts in the Near East and Africa, but in parallel, he remains intractable toward the requests for asylum in his country. In 2014, only 11 people obtained refugee status in Japan out of 5,000 requests Tokyo received.

This is a position that the left has been denouncing more and more. In an editorial published Tuesday, October 6 in the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, Japan is described as a “country that closes its doors to refugees.” “We need to change this closed nature and plan to accept refugees from conflict zones in a pro-active manner,” it reads. “It’s not just up to Europe to resolve this humanitarian crisis.”