How a Tokyo-Born Outsider Became the Face of Czech Nationalism

Tomio Okamura’ s background is all about as multicultural as you can get. The particular son of  a Czech mom and a Japanese-Korean father, he experienced racist bullying in  Japan as well as the Czech Republic that was so serious he developed a stutter plus wet his bed until the regarding 14.

Which may or might not help explain why his Czech political party is adamantly in opposition to immigration, wants the country to depart the European Union and compares Islam in order to “ Hitler-style Nazism. ” The particular message is resonating: Okamura’ ersus Freedom and Direct Democracy can become the fourth- most powerful party in parliament after following week’ s elections.

“ We are living under a total EUROPEAN UNION dictatorship, ” the 45-year-old politician said in a pub in Prague’ s historical center.   “ Not even the Soviet Union dared to dictate to us who else should live here and who also shouldn’ t. ”

Tomio Okamura
Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg

The burgeoning appeal of the celebration, known as SPD,   mirrors the particular recent electoral surge of the nationalist AfD in neighboring Germany  as well as the likelihood that Austria’ s Independence Party will become a part of the judgment coalition after Sunday’ s polls. In Eastern Europe, far-right daily activities are already represented by Hungary’ h ruling Fidesz party and the resistance Jobbik as well as Slovakia’ s People’ s Party, whose chief has openly acknowledged the country’ s World War II fascist regime.

In the Czech Republic,   which accepted only twelve out of the 1, 600 refugees it had been required to take in under the EU migrant redistribution system, the anti-immigrant rhetoric has  leaking over to most political parties.   Among them: the ruling Social Democrats and their coalition partner ANO, which leads in polls. In 06, the EU launched infringement techniques against members Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for their opposition in order to shelter refugees via the shared nationwide quotas.

Okamura offers accused Muslims of propagating terrorism and advocates “ zero tolerance” toward accepting asylum-seekers.   They have urged locals to stop buying fleischspie? and to harass Muslims by strolling dogs and pigs near the 2 mosques in the country of 10. six million. Hatem Berrezouga, a Tunisian tourism  guide who has lived within Prague since 1998, blogged that will such a stance was “ incredibly disturbing in a democratic, law-abiding nation. ”

Okamura’ t response: “ I’ m completely allergic to racism and xenophobia because I experienced it first-hand, ” he said in his signature bank rapid-fire delivery, with no traces from the former stutter. “ But Islam is not a race. It’ s i9000 not even a religion. It’ t an evil ideology. ”

This rhetoric has switched him into a political pariah, rebuffed as a coalition partner by Leading Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and ANO chairman and billionaire Andrej Babis. Still, if the SPD and the country’ s Communists fare as expected within Oct. 20-21 elections, coalition speaks may get complicated. Okamura is planned to face off against Babis, who may be favored to win the election , and a third party head in a  national TV discussion on Sunday.

“ If the SPD actually gets 9 percent of the election, it will no longer be possible to disregard it, ” said Kamil Svec, a political-science professor at Charles University in Prague. “ Include the Communists, and a full 5th of the Parliament will represent seriously disenfranchised voters. ”

When Okamura was five, his family relocated from Japan to a small city in what was then Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Due to family problems, he invested a part of his childhood in an orphanage, where he developed a stutter due to the racist taunts. He also mentioned the bed-wetting kept him through participating in ski trips and other college outings.

To escape the particular pervasive discrimination, he dropped away from college and at 21 moved to The japanese, where the prejudice intensified. Treated like a “ half-breed, ” he wound up working as a garbage collector plus later sold popcorn at a movie theatre. Eventually, he returned and grew to become a successful tourism entrepreneur, catering in order to Asian tourists visiting Czech castles and spas.

Currently a public figure thanks to his function as the spokesman of travel agents’ association, Okamura ran for the obama administration, unsuccessfully, before founding his 1st party, the Dawn of Immediate Democracy, in 2013. Two years afterwards, after internal squabbles within Daybreak, he quit the formation to create the SPD.

Regardless of Okamura’ s zero chance of getting power, his party’ s recognition has risen in recent months to a selection of 7 percent to 9. two percent and he’ s the second-most popular party leader in the land, according to polls.

“ I will vote for Okamura since I care about the safety of the country and my children, ” said Jaroslav Samek, 52,   who was sipping a latte within a Starbucks in a suburban shopping mall plus runs a business importing cheese through Italy and France. “ The particular EU isn’ t fulfilling the basic function, which is to protect the citizens. ”