It’s been a tough year for Christmas.
First, some Christians accused Starbucks of deserting the holiday by replacing their customary holiday-themed cups with a simple red design. Then, an atheist Santa billboard urged passersby to “Go ahead and skip church!”
Now it appears the tensions have traveled across the Pacific Ocean all the way to Tokyo, where a group of about 20 mostly single men marched through the streets holding banners that read “Smash Christmas!”
The protest took place this Saturday in Shibuya district, where many families were doing their holiday shopping, according to AFP.
Organized by a group calling itself “Losers with Women” — or officially, Kakumeiteki Hi-mote Domei (“Revolutionary Losers’ League”) — the march sought to quash what the men view as a “capitalist ploy” exclusively for couples.
Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan and is celebrated as more as a romantic occasion. Whereas Dec. 25 is a family event for Western countries, the Japanese have adopted it as an important date night, with couples exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve.
“In this world, money is extracted from people in love, and happy people support capitalism,” the group’s leader, who goes by the moniker “MarkWater,” told AFP. “Christmas is the most symbolic event for this.”
He added: “Unpopular men, who don’t have a girlfriend or are not married, are overly discriminated. We want to break this barrier.”
According to the Japanese legal news site Bengo4, the anti-Christmas march has been held since the Revolutionary Losers’ League’s founding in 2006. The event this year lasted 30 minutes, at the end of which MarkWater declared, “Under the name of freedom and democracy, we managed to pulverize Christmas this year also.”
While it is unclear how serious the men are about their anti-Christmas cause, the lonely league has also lobbied against other so-called capitalist holidays. On Valentine’s Day, the group chanted slogans against the holiday fueled by “passion-based capitalism,” a “blood-soaked conspiracy” run by “oppressive chocolate capitalists.” The Post’s Ishaan Tharoor previously wrote that the group’s views “seem to involve a blend of Marxist vitriol, cyber nerdiness and outright misogyny.”
It may seem strange to target Christmas in the same vein, but the Revolutionary Losers’ League protest makes sense considering what the holiday means to the Japanese.
The Wall Street Journal captured the festivities in a 2012 article following a woman whose “vision of a perfect Christmas begins with lingerie shopping and a visit to a beauty salon, the way she would prepare for any special date.”
“If it weren’t for Christmas,” Akino Koshiba told the WSJ, “I’m not sure if I’d go out of my way to find boyfriends.”
The men who gathered to protest Christmas are far from alone in their, well, loneliness.
A 2011 report from Japan’s national population research institute revealed that more than half of the country’s population is single, and 61 percent of unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 34 are not in any kind of romantic relationship.
The modern Japanese man, according to a 2010 Washington Post report, is more likely to buy gifts for his mother than for his significant other. In some cases, he may even choose to take a virtual girlfriend, instead of a real person, on vacation.
Yuki Oda in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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