The topic of anti-Semitic texts has come up over at The Marmot's Hole, specifically through the interesting work going on at the brand-new blog Reading Monnara, which has dedicated itself to translating the work in question.
Anti-Semitism in Asia isn't my specialty, but I have come across some leads worth exploring in my secondary source research for my dissertation.
Basically, the historical situation I see is this – there's an interestingly strong and vibrant strain of anti-Semitism in Japan that starts in the early 20th century, and is particularly fascinating because of the historical near non-existence of Jews in Japan. If you want the guy who literally "wrote the book" on the topic, here you go, see Jews in the Japanese Mind by David Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa.
There's also a good discussion of the subject here, apparently for a class including the subject at Cornell, taught by Akiyoshi Miyake, and an associate professor in the English Department at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan, which she mentions at the top of the page.
But to really get at the issue, you've gotta go way back in time. Here's something from a review of Goodman's book on H-Net, a respectable source in the field of history. Talking about the early origins of anti-Semitism in Japan, going back as far as the early 19th-century, the review notes:
Chapters 2 through 4 present an historical survey and analysis of the origins of Japanese antisemitism as a powerful demonology. Antisemitism allowed the Japanese to displace the frustration at being unable to isolate themselves from foreign influence. Forcibly members of an international network of commerce, politics, culture, and ideology, they feel their identity, their very survival as a nation, to be threatened. Influences undermining the comfortable aspects of a homogeneous society, or their mythos of it, so vital to their sense of well-being, rendered the Japanese vulnerable to antisemitic myth.
Japanese concern over the "health" (read unity, optimism, satisfaction) of their culture began before the foreigners arrived. Goodman shows that as early as 1825 (I suspect but cannot prove, even earlier) there are texts prophesying the occupation and destruction of Japan and its culture by "foreign occult" groups. After Commodore Perry coerced the opening of Japan to the West, and the modern world, this foreign cult was identified with Christianity as the enemy. Soon afterwards, in a very subtle alteration with what I consider multiple benefits to Japan, the target became Jews and Judaism.
Goodman does not say this, but I infer it, correctly I hope, from the facts and the gist of his argument. First, it was advantageous for pure nationalist xenophobes that there were no Jews in Japan. They could hate them as much as they wanted, malign them to their hearts' content; their Christian teachers, occupiers, and models would have found little to object to in this, in as much as it imitated widely accepted Christian views of the matter. Apparently, the alien Christians did not realize that "Jews" really signified "all foreign devils," including themselves. It is even possible that the Japanese themselves were not consciously aware of the equation. No matter. Now they could at once hate Christians and the West, the modern World, and yet dress it in a Jew-hatred acceptable to the West itself. (I find this hypothesis helpful in explaining the curious fact Goodman records concerning the disinterest Japanese antisemites have so far shown in allying themselves with various worldwide antisemitic organizations.)
Without getting too far over my head, let me just outline what this means for Korea. The main compellingly interesting link here is that Japan had obviously already done the work of producing its own powerfully Japanese strain of anti-Semitism by the end of the 19th and turn of the 20th centuries.
Yes, this was drawn by Dr. Seuss, for reals.
Given that most of the intellectual works coming from the West were all largely transmitted through Chinese and Japanese translations, which were then translated into Korean (there were few direct translations even possible then, because of the lack of capable translators, as opposed to the Western linguists and missionaries who had learned Chinese and Japanese earlier than Korea, as well as the fact that these countries had been sending more of their own people to the West for a much longer time than Korea had), a lot of the intellectual and scholarly "taints" from Japanese interpretations and interpellations of Western works were readily apparent among Korean intellectuals, the strong strains of Social Darwinism, techniques of European historiography, or the concept of "minjok" being just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head.
It would be worth exploring where some of the anti-Semitic links are, but such research would be worthy of a pretty major academic paper requiring fluency in Japanese, the Chinese characters widely used by scholars back then, as well as Korean. Whew. Anyway, this point in history is the key place to start to look for such roots, as far as Korea is concerned.
What has always surprised me in Korea was the very ubiquitousness of anti-Semitic remarks and beliefs I hear from Korean people, another nation that doesn't really have an obvious reason to have stereotypes about Jews. We're not talking stereotypes of the Jews as "cheap" or "nerdy" or some superficial stuff you might have picked up in Hollywood films over the years, but some straight-up Protocols of the Elders of Zion, conspiracy-level sneering, leering, and spewing of nearly venomous invective.
I was first treated to this on my first trip to Korea, when, every time Jews – especially Steven Spielberg and his signature film Schindler's List – I would hear stuff that would make your hair stand on end: "The only reason they made that movie is because Jews like Spielberg control Hollywood and are trying to brainwash the world."
Huh? Am I on Cheju Island? Is this Korea, or a Klan rally? Did I just say "Korea" and "Klan" in the same paragraph? Let the flamewars begin.
Or when I visited a prominent community organization in San Francisco, where I spoke with the vice-director about a project I wanted to propose having to do with a high school student exchange, at which point he launched into a 30-minute tirade about how the Jews were evil and trying to take over the world, and didn't I agree, huh, huh? I gulped and smiled weakly, since I was just trying to think of an excuse to run away from this crazy man. I made a couple attempts at polite, "yes, but..." comments, but he was positively raving.
This has happened, mind-bogglingly enough, many times in Korea. Even in my classes of the most highly-educated kids with the most collective overseas experience of anyone in their age cohort in Korea, when teaching American history, I always run into, "But isn't it true the Jews are really running everything in American society?"
I always ask kids where they hear that, and they either tell me they read it somewhere or a teacher told them. Man, you all would be very, very surprised at all the things I've heard from Korean students that their teacher told them about the world.
I know this may come as a surprise, but hearing of such anti-Semitic texts in Korea is so not unusual that it's disturbing. In fact, in my entire life, the most anti-Semitic stuff I've ever heard directly, with my own two ears, was from Koreans.
Why is that? Well, I offer here a strong lead to pursue.