2chan Founder Hiroyuki Under Fire for Insults of Okinawans

2chan Founder Hiroyuki Under Fire for Insults of Okinawans

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Hiroyuki vs. Okinawa
Picture: austinding / Shutterstock
Controversial 2chan founder Hiroyuki is spurring controversy again with remarks that Okinawan residents say are discriminatory.

“Okinawans don’t speak in a grammatical manner.”

“There’s a lot of them who don’t speak proper Japanese.”

These are just two comments recently made by 2channel founder and 4chan owner Nishimura Hiroyuki. In a Q&A video uploaded to his YouTube channel, the entrepreneur and TV personality answered questions about his recent trip to Okinawa to cover the U.S. military base protests for news outlet Abema Prime [1]. (The timestamp is 3:13 for those who want to watch).

Screenshots quickly spread on social media and immediately drew criticism and media attention. One professor called his comments “dangerous” as they echoed a time when the Japanese killed island residents who didn’t speak the “standard” – read, Japanese – language. [2]

影書房 on Twitter: “これは沖縄の人に対するレイシズムです。強く抗議します。@hirox246(画像はYouTube「ひろゆきのマインド【#ひろゆき #hiroyuki】《切り抜き》2022/10/08付より) pic.twitter.com/VNeFxZJXwC / Twitter”

これは沖縄の人に対するレイシズムです。強く抗議します。@hirox246(画像はYouTube「ひろゆきのマインド【#ひろゆき #hiroyuki】《切り抜き》2022/10/08付より) pic.twitter.com/VNeFxZJXwC

While the screenshots above left out some context, the overall tone rubbed many the wrong way. Hiroyuki has since clarified his comments in response to the media attention, but is also coming off a bit petty about it, saying, “Is it bad to point out anti-base opponents who aren’t from Okinawa?” [3]

It’s certainly true that many protesters travel to Okinawa from the mainland or overseas, and they’re not always protesting for altruistic reasons, as Akemi Johnson describes in her groundbreaking Night in the American Village. Yet given Okinawa’s history, it’s not hard to understand why many are labeling Hiroyuki’s comments as hate speech.

Indeed, in the not-so-distant past, the island’s indigenous Ryukyuans suffered from forced assimilation and suppression of their native languages by the Japanese following annexation in 1879. Pointing out differences in dialect is one thing, but framing a language or dialect as inferior to your own comes off as, well, discriminatory.


Not Day 0

Prior to this, many were already upset with the TV personality’s take on issues pertaining to Okinawa. He first garnered criticism for a tweet he made on October 3. During his visit to the Henoko base while filming the Abema Prime feature, he posted a picture of himself flashing the peace sign by a large sign tracking the number of days since the Henoko sit-in protest began. The area is noticeably absent of protesters. The caption reads, “Since there isn’t anyone here at the sit-in protest, shouldn’t they change it to Day 0?”

ひろゆき on Twitter: “座り込み抗議が誰も居なかったので、0日にした方がよくない? pic.twitter.com/w6oTCQO94t / Twitter”

座り込み抗議が誰も居なかったので、0日にした方がよくない? pic.twitter.com/w6oTCQO94t

Some users, assuming Hiroyuki lacked accurate intel, replied with screenshots of articles explaining the protest’s origins as a 24-hour sit-in. [4]

Others thought he was poking fun at the protests, and hashtags denouncing Hiroyuki quickly sprouted. Fukumoto Yuji, head of the protest group All Okinawa Kaigi, clarified that demonstrators first staged a 24-hour sit-in outside the base roughly 8 years ago. They now protest in the morning, noon, and evening when construction trucks arrive.

“To tweet something like that without understanding our protests against the proliferation of U.S. military bases on Okinawa, and our sit-in protests to delay construction even for a few minutes a day, doesn’t solve the fundamental problem, and comes off as deplorable and neglectful,” Fukumoto said. [5] A 72-year-old protester also expressed his dismay over Hiroyuki’s tweet. “It’s unacceptable to mock the peoples’ struggles just for fun. I’d like him to apologize,” he said. [6]

To add insult to injury, Hiroyuki’s also quoted as insulting the sign itself, saying, “Whoever wrote that has sloppy handwriting.” The man who made the sign is 65-year-old Kaneshiro Takemasa, whose mother was killed in 1974 by a U.S. serviceman during a failed robbery.

While Kaneshiro chalks Hiroyuki’s comments up to ignorance, he also stated his intention to keep the original wording on a new sign currently in construction to keep the memory of the sit-in protests up to the present day alive. [7]

Many also took issue with Hiroyuki and the Abema Prime crew’s attitude toward the protesters. In a clip posted by Twitter user @atsushi_mic, Hiroyuki asks protesters outside Henoko if they know the dictionary definition of a sit-in protest, exasperating the protesters and sparking a heated discussion over semantics. Overall, he came off as condescending and dismissive of the organizers’ efforts.

仁尾淳史 on Twitter: “ひろゆきは座り込みの理由なんてどうでもいいんだってのがよくわかる映像です。アベマプライムのカメラクルーと来てた見たいだけど理由はどうでもよく、看板を指摘して「ニュース女子」の様な捏造報道したかっただけなのか?だから座り込み抗議の後の感想の内容も薄かった pic.twitter.com/E6uczz1rjZ / Twitter”

ひろゆきは座り込みの理由なんてどうでもいいんだってのがよくわかる映像です。アベマプライムのカメラクルーと来てた見たいだけど理由はどうでもよく、看板を指摘して「ニュース女子」の様な捏造報道したかっただけなのか?だから座り込み抗議の後の感想の内容も薄かった pic.twitter.com/E6uczz1rjZ

Hiroyuki may nit-pick semantics and anti-protest signs all he wants, but there’s no sign of that counter reverting back to 0 anytime soon. Protesters continue to park themselves daily outside Henoko and at similar protests all over the island.

Nito Yumeno, the founder of the charity Colabo, was so angered by Hiroyuki’s actions that she traveled to Okinawa to participate in the sit-in protest for the first time in three years. “This military base problem is not Okinawa’s problem. This is a problem that’s been imposed on Okinawa by those of us on the mainland and the government,” she tweeted [8].

Suffice it to say it’s going to take a lot more than ignorant comments by a TV personality to dissuade protesters from giving up the fight.


1. ※危険を承知で話します※これが沖縄“座り込み”抗議団体に感じた違和感の正体です【ひろゆき切り抜き 2ちゃんねる 思考 論破 kirinuki きりぬき hiroyuki 辺野古 新基地】. YouTube.

2. ひろゆき氏「沖縄の人って文法通りしゃべれない」 県民の“日本語”めぐり発言. Okinawa Times.

3. ひろゆき氏「沖縄出身の人は標準語がうまく喋れない」を解説 ヘイト指摘に疑問提示. Daily Sports via Yahoo! News Japan.

4. Tweet by @LSV4dQD8tBw0nm9.

5. ひろゆき 沖縄“座り込み”をめぐって物議…「根本的解決にはならない」「悲しく寂しい」現地からは悲痛な叫び. Flash via Yahoo! News Japan.

6. 野古の座り込み、当初は24時間体制、現在は搬入時に実施 変化の理由は? 米軍ゲート前以外での活動も 沖縄. Ryukyu Shimpo via Yahoo! News Japan.

7. 「汚い」掲示板、抗議の象徴 米兵が母殺害の悔しさ込め 製作した金城武政さん ひろゆきさんの辺野古発言. Ryukyu Shimpo via Yahoo! News Japan.

8. Tweet by @colabo_yumeno.

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Alyssa Pearl Fusek

Alyssa Pearl Fusek is a freelance writer currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Willamette University. When she's not writing for Unseen Japan, she's either reading about Japan, writing poetry and fiction, or drinking copious amounts of jasmine green tea. Find her on Bluesky at @apearlwrites.

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