Flash, from major Japanese publisher Kobunsha, is reporting that the owner of the Robot Restaurant hosted a Nazi-themed event in 2017.
Robot Restaurant is a popular Tokyo tourist destination, featuring singing, dancing, and robot-like contraptions.
According to Flash (via Tokyo Reporter), 69-year-old Keiichi Morishita, chairman of Morishita Group, hosted an event in which swastika-emblazoned Nazi banners and flags were flown and dancers wore Nazi uniform inspired outfits. There was also a mock-up Panzer tanks and a papier-mache Stuka dive bomber.
The Morishita Group reportedly owns hundreds of businesses in its corporate umbrella, including the Robot Restaurant as well as Manboo, one of Japan’s largest internet cafe chains. (I wrote about Manboo for Wired Magazine way back in 2004.) The company is said to have gotten its start in the 1980s with terekura or “telephone clubs.” Flash dubs Morishita as the “King of Fuzoku” with fuzoku being the word that now refers to the sex industry.
Each fall, the Morishita Group holds a private spectacle. In October 2017, it threw this Nazi-themed event in Chiba, Japan. One individual who attended told Flash that it was unclear if Morishita fully grasped what the Nazi imagery meant—a failure which does occur in Japan. In 2016, for example, pop group Keyakizaka 46 was criticized for wearing Nazi Halloween costumes. Sony Music later apologized. But make no mistake, people in Japan do know this sort of iconography is wrong. “I thought I was there for work,” said the previously mentioned participant. “So, after seeing the Nazi flags, I thought, ‘I’ve had enough.’”
“If somebody does such a thing in Germany, they will be criminally punished,” said Ukeru Magosaki, former Director-General of the Intelligence and Analysis for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (via Tokyo Reporter). “The Holocaust caused by the Nazis was a war crime unlike any other in human history. Nazis are still being pursued around the world. If such a thing spreads, Japan’s national interests could be damaged.”