Japan’s strangest protest movement mixes men’s rights with anti-consumerism

Combine men’s rights activism, the Grinch and a Communist Manifesto-spouting parody of 1960s New Left radicalism, and what do you get? Nothing good. This unholy alliance, however, has emerged into what might well be Japan’s strangest protest movement: Kakuhido, or the Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Women Find Unattractive.

In counter-celebration of Valentine’s Day, the thinly veiled commercial invention celebrated around the world, Kakuhido held a “Smash Valentine’s Day” rally and march through Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya district for an hour and a half on Saturday, chanting invectives such as “Crush St. Valentine’s Day” and “Flirting Is Terrorism – Wage War on Terrorism.” As Kakuhido’s website writes, “The blood-soaked conspiracy of Valentine’s Day, driven by the oppressive chocolate capitalists, has arrived once again.” There’s something sickly endearing about the alliance’s in your face, almost tongue-in-cheek anti-consumerism, though its misogyny is harder to swallow.

Katsuhiro Furusawa founded Kakuhido in 2006, taking solace and inspiration in Marx’s Communist Manifesto after being dumped by his girlfriend. Plunging — one can only imagine — into the depths of emotional desperation, he decided that being unpopular with women was a class issue, a product of what the group calls “passion capitalism.” Other statements from the group have denounced Japanese housewives, who they claim exercise a manipulative influence over the country from their place in the home. In a recent turn of events, Furusawa has stepped down from the Kakuhido, fully embracing capitalism and boasting on Facebook that “thanks to our actions I purchased a Mercedes.”

The Guardian explains that Valentine’s Day in Japan is traditionally celebrated by women gifting giri choko, or obligation chocolates, to male lovers or colleagues. Men are expected to reciprocate a month later on White Day, a holiday dreamed up by confectionary companies in the 1980s. In the past, Kukuhido has also targeted other holidays that inspire romantic affection, including White Day and Christmas Eve, in valiant defense of the “unloved.” Japanese culture website Spoon and Tamago translated the press release for the Smash Valentine’s Day demonstration, which states that “we call for solidarity among our unloved comrades, so that we may demonstrate in resolute opposition to Valentine’s Day and the romantic industrial complex.”

Turnout to Saturday’s march, as reported, was disappointing. Perhaps their fellow Tokyoites didn’t understand that the movement is simply about ethics in chocolate buying.