Japan killjoys protest Valentine's 'love capitalists'

Japan killjoys protest Valentine's 'love capitalists'

TOKYO - As Japan celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday a group of killjoys marched through Tokyo protesting what it called the "passion-based capitalism" of the annual celebration of romance.

Members of 'Kakuhido', which translates as the Revolutionary Alliance of Men that Women find Unattractive and claims on its website that "public smooching is terrorism", walked through the busy Shibuya district waving banners with buzzkill slogans demanding an end to Valentine's Day.

However, the spoil-sport group was met by bemused looks from passers-by as the grumpy comrades, numbering just 10 in total, chanted: "Don't be duped by the conspiracy of chocolate makers!"

"In Japan, women give men chocolate (on Valentine's Day) to show their affection," Kakuhido chairman Mark Waters told AFP.

"Society is addicted to capitalism. People are profiting from it and we are here today to demonstrate our resistance to the love capitalists."

Dressed in a white helmet and sunglasses with a pink scarf covering his mouth, the Japanese protester added: "The name of our organisation is a parody but it does have a serious message."

In previous protests, members denounced "housewives who control Japan's future" as their hapless husbands work all hours at the office.

But the group's "Smash Valentine's Day" rally, whick took aim at commercialism, fell flat as they set off along the streets, largely drowned out by Shibuya's wall of sound, after Waters reminded marchers of police guidelines, including the banning of hate speech.

"The blood-soaked conspiracy of Valentine's Day, driven by the oppressive chocolate capitalists, has arrived once again," Kakuhido said on its website in a bellicose attack on all that is warm and fuzzy about Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day in Japan is a huge money-spinner for the confectionary business as women are traditionally expected to buy chocolates for the men in their lives - from partners to work colleagues and bosses.

Men reciprocate a month later on White Day, a Japanese marketing brainwave dreamed up by confectioners in the 1980s to keep the cash tills ringing.

"We will also be protesting White Day," insisted Waters, cheerlessly. "And Christmas." Kakuhido was founded in 2006 by Katsuhiro Furusawa, who began reading the Communist Manifesto after being dumped by his girlfriend and came to the conclusion that being unpopular with the opposite sex was a class issue, fuelling his anti-Valentine message.

Japan is experiencing a loss of mojo with couples apparently too stressed or busy to have sex, frustrating government efforts to raise the birthrate as policymakers struggle to cope with a shrinking population.

Despite the Marxist rhetoric, Furusawa has since stepped down as head of the group, posting distinctly un-Marxist photographs of his new set of wheels, boasting "thanks to our actions I purchased a Mercedes" as a parting shot.

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