The Anti-immigrant Immigrant: Czechia’s Japanese Leader

While the world was focused on the German and Austrian election results, another surprising election outcome materialized in Czechia. After the Czech government had announced that they would not participate in the EU’s refugee relocation program, the EU started to take legal action against the Central European country. The Visegrad Group, of which Czechia is a member, has been rejecting the Union’s refugee programs, despite the warning.

 

Babis to become Prime Minister

As the refugee crisis and the far-right dominated the election cycle, billionaire Andrej Babis’ ANO (meaning “yes” in Czech) Party took first place with %29.6 of the votes. Babis took a leadership role in the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens and as a result ended up leading the ANO Party.

 

Czechia’s New Racist Party: SPD

The most interesting part of the Czech elections was the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party’s (SPD) %10.6 achievement. With this result, the SPD looks like a likely coalition partner. Nonetheless, the more interesting aspect of the SPD’s achievement is its Japanese-Czech party leader Tomio Okamura’s inflammatory attitude towards Muslim refugees. During and after the campaign, Okamura has targeted Muslim refugees numerous times.

 

The Anti-Immigrant Immigrant: Okamura

Taking his party, established in 2015, into parliament in its first general election, Tomio Okamura is a Tokyo-born immigrant. Having first stepped foot in then Czechoslovakia at the age of six, Okamura went back and forth between Japan and Czechia, landing odd-jobs to finally settle in the tourism sector in 1994. What laid the foundation for his newfound success was his risky yet triumphant maneuvers in the business world. After becoming president of the Czech Tourism Agents Union, he jumped into politics in 2012. Entering the Senatorial elections as an independent in the city of Zlin, Okamura ended up winning with a historic vote of %66.

 

Strange Methods in the “Fight against Muslims”

Okamura’s recent popularity in the media isn’t due only to his success as a politician; his statements about Muslims have been reckless to say the least. In a post-election interview to the Czech press, he underscored Czechia’s biggest threat as Islamization: “We must do all we can to stop the Islamization of Czechia and show zero tolerance to immigration.” Okamura usually shares his anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views on his personal Facebook page. Here he called on his followers to “Walk pigs around mosques” and “not eat kebabs.” With the possibility of a coalition involving Okamura, the new government’s structure is a huge curiosity.

 

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