Fear and Loathing in Tokyo: a savage journey to the heart of @Shogannai, the jaded gaijin of Japan’s Twitterati

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—-Hunter S. Thompson lives! Yes, in Tokyo, of all places!

I found him on Twitter. Silly me, I had no idea.

I thought that Thompson, the iconic American “Gonzo” journalist, had blown his brains out in Colorado in 2005.

But no!

He reinvented himself in Japan, using the moniker @Shogannai.

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He’s living amongst us, right here in Tokyo, where groupies won’t bother him, but poseurs and even “real” journalists will suck up to him.

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Though he appears to hate Japan more than any other foreigner in the country, he’s really popular here. He has more than 3000 followers on Twitter. That’s about one for every 20 who follow his heart-throb Hiroko Tabuchi.

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In fact, if Tabuchi is “The Queen of Twitter” in Japan, then Shogannai is the King. It’s true love among royalty.

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Like Tabuchi, Shogannai seems to have a lot of “free time” (i.e. company time) to spend on social media. Shogannai tweets 59 times per day on average — perhaps an Olympic record. 

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If each tweet takes 2 minutes, that’s at least two hours daily just tweeting, let alone scanning other people’s tweets and reading stuff to tweet about. He seems to read and retweet every single article about Japan, and he often neatly summarizes them in two words: bull-shit.

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His jaded opinions — which seemingly come screaming through a bullhorn out of his butt — have influence on the thinking of Tokyo-based reporters who shape the world’s (low, distrustful) opinion of Japan and especially TEPCO (The Tokyo Electrical Pollution Company of Ostriches.)

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Shogannai is followed by almost every English-language journalist in Japan except — for some mysterious reason — New York Times bureau chief Martin Fackler.

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Fackler, who recently authored a book in Japanese about Japan’s media, only tweets his own stories, and almost never replies to anybody on Twitter, under his official name @facklernyt. He only tweets about once per week on average, an incredibly low number for a journalist in high-wired Tokyo who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in the hotbed of social media and internet technology.

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Fackler last exchanged tweets with his own NYT colleague Hiroko Tabuchi on Jan. 30.

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Perhaps Fackler doesn’t feel comfortable with social media, or he’s using other ways to communicate with people other than an official account on Twitter. If so, this might explain why Fackler does stories which I often retweet and praise.

Shogannai, meanwhile, seems to live on Twitter. He adores Tabuchi, and retweets and praises nearly everything she does, calling it “good coverage” and “Pulitzer Prize level” baseball journalism.

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He even has advice on how the NYT should use Tabuchi.

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Shogannai often tweets Fackler’s stories, and seems to be one of Fackler’s biggest fans, never questioning what he writes.

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Shogannai also appears to know everything about media in Japan, and he seemingly reads almost every news source writing about Japan. He has the financial knowledge and superior attitude of a senior foreign correspondent or businessman long based in Tokyo. He also groans about having to deal with TEPCO announcements on a Friday night.

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Shogannai, for those who don’t speak Japanese fluently like thousands of foreign-born nerds, is a Japanese expression meaning “Fuck it! I’m a useless twit who can’t change a damn thing one iota.”

This expression was really popular in the 1990s, when it seems that Shogannai first snuck into Japan under cover. In those days, Japanese — who were allegedly taking over the world — were indeed totally powerless. No matter what happened, they would just shrug and say “Shogannai — can’t do a damn thing about it.” It’s what you say when your boss wants you to work till midnight on a Friday, or your parents want you to marry somebody’s worthless son, or you’re going to vote for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or you’re sitting on death row waiting for the electric chair.

Given its dark depressing undertones, @Shogannai is the coolest name on Twitter in Japan, and it indicates that Hunter S. Thompson is really truly behind it.

But, can we be sure? How to prove this? Who is @Shogannai really?

In this Pulitzer Prize-worthy 5-part series, we’ll examine:

1-evidence of Shogannai’s revolutionary use of Japan’s freedom of hate speech in order to cyber-bully enemies and undermine Japan’s national interests

2-evidence proving who is NOT Shogannai (with special attention to Hiroko Tabuchi, Yuri Kageyama, Jake Idolstein and other celebrities)

3-evidence outing the true identity of the man behind the moniker

4-attempts to sue Shogannai and his cronies for large quantities of dough

5-life in Japan and global media without @Shogannai.

Firstly, about that hate speech thing. Most observers would agree that @Shogannai is the ultimate Japan-basher. He hates Japan and hasn’t much reverance for Japanese customs.

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He hates the government and bureaucrats, and even says they should be killed.

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He wants Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to fall into the spent fuel pool at Fukushima’s Reactor 4.

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He hates TEPCO, and wants to see them choke on blobs of sticky radioactive o-mochi.

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He hates Japanese corporations, which are all led by crooks and staffed by drones and dysfunctional sheepish robots — according to him.

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He even hates Haruki Murakami, one of the world’s more popular novelists.

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He hates the fact that Japanese are excited about hosting the 2020 Olympics.

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He hates life in Japan in general, because it gets dark too early, and Japan didn’t surrender on time in 1945.

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Moreover, Shogannai hates me, and expresses his innermost feelings by blocking me on Twitter, following the lead of NYT reporter Hiroko Tabuchi, who has repeatedly made false accusations against this reporter. He has made false accusations that this reporter “threatened to rape and kill a man’s wife and family in front of him.”

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More than anybody else in social media, Shogannai acts like a jaded jerk who should have been detained at Narita and sent to the Gaijin Gulag for re-education in Japanese-style humility. Shogannai is a pompous donkey, a know-it-all Poindexter, a foul-mouthed egoist who can dish it out and not take it, because he’s cowering behind a pseudonym.

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And these are the nicer things about him. More importantly, he’s single-handedly shattered any notion about being neutral, objective, impartial and civilized. While others before him may have fabricated quotes or sources, @Shogannai has fabricated an entire identity, a persona which takes several hours per day to maintain in utmost secrecy in order to fool the public and evade “capture”.

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Whatever your company’s policy says about social media behavior, Shogannai is flagrantly violating it. He routinely says things which most people in any organization would ever dare say in public, including attacks on Muslims.

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Hiding behind a pseudonym, Shogannai calls Japan’s leader a “coward” and says he’s “on drugs”.

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He casually defames and libels people who can’t sue him because he’s a pseudonym (or so he thinks — see Part 4.)

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And, worst of all, he propagates painful notions about Japan that insult and infuriate other people who wouldn’t dare say them in public because it might offend our Japanese hosts and get us thrown into the Gaijin Gulag.

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But he also seems to like baseball, and he joined a group of Twitterati to watch Coco Balentien tie Sadaharu Oh’s home-run record. They made these photos public on the internet.

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Who is Shogannai really, and where does he come from? He’s offered a few clues here, indicating he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area:

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He seems to be close online with University of California-Berkeley grad Peter Durfee, a well-known translator and Nippon.com editor who used to hang out online with NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.

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Using a pseudonym to cyber-bully, he’s certainly not contributing to transparency in Japan, something he demands from everybody else. Though quick to attack TEPCO and Japanese leaders for evading responsibility, he’s the one who hides behind a pseudonym.  In a stunning development, he’s recently threatened to disappear from Twitter altogether. The timing seems interesting, only days after bloggers “outed” a large number of haters hiding behind fake names on Japan’s notorious “2-channel” website. The disclosure gives Japanese police a treasure trove of information on cyber-bullies and web-criminals who thought they could get away with anything online.

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Will the person behind @Shogannai ever own up to their actions? Will @Shogannai’s friends and colleagues continue to conspire to fool the public? Will Hunter S. Thompson re-appear, under a different pseudonym? Stayed tuned for the next set of investigative reports into Twittergate in Japan.

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2 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in Tokyo: a savage journey to the heart of @Shogannai, the jaded gaijin of Japan’s Twitterati

  1. Pingback: Kafka, Orwell, frogs and others who understand Japan — Tokyo’s best (and worst) journalists, bloggers, tweeters | GOYA MAGAZINE

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