Being ugly in Japan

Reporter Jaalin Harvey interviewing the leader of the League of Lonely Souls, Akimoto.

“If you are ugly and awkward in Japan, you may have trouble finding a mate.” According to the League of Lonely Souls, this is the main reason for their coalition. The Lonely Souls leader, Akimoto, also believes there is too much pressure for romance in Japan. He adds romance is pushed on us “because we are considered undesirable because of our looks.” Akimoto responded.

This reporter had a chance to visit Tokyo, Japan during spring break. While on spring break in the country I made a note to stop and talk with the league of Lonely Souls, the same group I covered in our February issue. After the “Love Haters” article was published I emailed and reached out to the group and they were honored to sit down and let me interview them.

After taking a crowded subway train to an even more crowded Okachimachi Station in downtown Tokyo. I was greeted by four men, the group leader Akimoto, and to my surprise, they even brought a translator who was a member of the group. From there the men took me to an upstairs coffee bar. They bought me a seven dollar glass of iced chocolate milk and then we discussed for about four hours.

The first question I asked was the obvious one “Do you hate love?” Immediately as our translator explained what I had asked Akimoto began to fire out a response.

“No, of course not. We do not like the fact that society pressures us to find a mate. We also do not like the fact that people who are considered ugly and/or socially awkward are bullied and treated that they are less.”

“So” I replied “You are all an anti-bullying group. I can understand that. That’s pretty noble of you. But also are you all asexual? You mentioned that you don’t like that society pressures you to have a mate.”

“No, we are not an asexual group. Although we have asexual members. A big number of us would like to live alone, and if we choose to that should be our business. We shouldn’t have to be pressured to find someone.” From there I understood what these people were going for on a personal level. First they did not want discriminated against and second, they would like to live a lonely life if they so choose to. But the league also have been seen protesting in the street on Valentine’s Day and White Day. White Day is a day in which men give the women in their life, especially the women they work with or love interest, chocolates and other gifts. Just the day before our interview, the White day had taken place; and just like with any holiday here in America, White Day is heavily commercialized in Japan. I saw several stores all done up with signs urging people to buy gifts.

“I see you guys also protest holidays and romantic capitalism. I agree with you on the fact that romance is pushed down our throats constantly. Especially in the states. We are obsessed with finding a significant other. But why protest it?” I asked.

“Because that is another way society pushes all of the romance on to us all. It also makes us feel left out because we are considered undesirable because of our looks.” Akimoto responded.

“Well, for instance, I’m not the most athletic person. But I’m not gonna protest sports leagues and institution just because I’m not suited for sports. Also if I wasn’t the smartest person around I wouldn’t go protesting universities. I’d just stay away from those institutions and ignore them. Basically what I’m saying is where do you draw the line at protesting things that you are insecure about?” As my translator began to explain what I was said to the league, I began to see the looks on their face become puzzled and confused.

“We never thought about that.” Akimoto shook his head. “That is a bit of a paradox. I don’t think a Japanese person would have come up with that sort of thought. Hmmm” Akimoto just sat there with the rest of his followers, all of them in deep thought. I began to sweat a little bit thinking to myself “I’ve only been in Japan three days and in an hour I disabled an entire three-year-old movement” I then broke the silence allowing Akimoto to ask things about how are things in America.

“Are there any groups like mine in America? One’s that protest things about looks, romance and the socially awkward.” I began to tell Akimoto and the others that we have a group that is similar but much more radical.

“We have a group called the incels which mean intentionally celebrate.” Akimoto and the guys all shook their heads.

“We know of the incels. They seem like terrible people.”

The incels are a group that was born out of, arguably, the most toxic website on the internet 4chan. Incels are computer tolls that like to hack and tamper with social justice campaigns, social justice organization, and even (partnered with the neo-Nazis and KKK) with full elections. They are a group that calls themselves intentionally celebrate born out of the insecurities of their bodies that then turns into misogyny.

“We don’t strive to be like them” Akimoto shook his head. “Are there any righteous groups?”

“Well yes of course. The NAACP, Black Lives matter, the ACLU. But they do not protest such things are romance and facial features. The protests things based off of religion, race, and sexuality. People are actually losing their lives over these features. That’s why your movement might be looked as trivial to us. People are actually dying but you guys are protesting romantic holidays. We have bigger things to deal with back home.” And then I began to give the guys a quick history of America and all of the atrocities that have led to this point. Akimoto and the eyebrows of the others were raised and they were nodding their heads in solidarity.

“That is true we are not losing lives. You are very brave for living in such prejudice.” From there, our interview began to come to a close and so did the coffee bar. We had to be going soon. Akimoto and I were both tapped out of questions and the other members were tired and ready to go home seeing as it was almost eleven o clock. But right before my interview ended our translator wanted to add his two cents.

“I think you should also know why I work with the group. From 1998-2012, the country was under a deep recession. The way jobs work in Japan is that you graduate from college, and then your first year out of college you are to find a job and you basically have that same job for the rest of your life until you retire. If you cannot find a job during that first year it is very hard to find a job the second year. Especially considering there is a fresh batch of college students who have graduated. Those people are called the lost generation. I and everyone you met tonight is part of that group. But because hiring is scarce only the attractive and sociable ones are hired. That is why I protest. That is wrong. Those who are most qualified should be awarded those jobs.”

My eyebrows were definitely raised at this. It gave me something to chew on for the rest of my time there. After we left the coffee bar Akimoto asked me to take a commemorative photo as he and the league were very honored to be covered by international news. After the photo, we all went our separate ways and I thought to myself “March on lonely souls. March on.”