Hardly known in the United States, Tony Marano, 66, is called the
"Texas Daddy" in Japan, where he has spawned a small industry that
includes books, speaking tours, T-shirts emblazoned with his cartoon
likeness and scores of videos, some of which have been viewed more
than 300,000 times.
To his critics, however, he is a mouthpiece for Japanese
"I am just expressing my opinion," said Marano in an accent that
gives away his Brooklyn upbringing. "Why are they fearing this
little guy? I donít mean any harm to them."
He is one of a small group of Westerners embraced by Japan's right
wing, but stands out with his jocular demeanor and sharp tongue.
Marano, who often wears T-shirts in videos and suits for speeches,
unexpectedly grabbed attention in Japan about seven years ago when
he began criticizing Sea Shepherd, a U.S.-based marine conservation
group, in its aggressive campaigns to halt Japanese whaling.
Videos he posted from Texas made their way to Japan, where they
developed a following.
He became more intrigued about Japan, conducting more research and
posting more videos. His notoriety snowballed as more people began
A publishing deal followed and within a few years, his Japanese
supporters set up an office called the Texas Daddy Japan
Secretariat. He has published seven books in Japanese and is set for
more exposure with another three books this year, the office said.
Marano is a former telephone company employee who has spent about
half of his life in Texas and put together a YouTube video channel
called "PropagandaBuster." He speaks little Japanese.
Marano says his mission is to bolster a military alliance among the
United States, South Korea and ally Japan, and to speak truth to
He has released more than 80 videos in the past year that run with
Japanese subtitles provided by the Secretariat, which has seven
translators and three editors to prepare the works for the Japanese
One hot topic has been the women forced to work in
Imperial Japanese military wartime brothels and euphemistically
known as "comfort women."
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Scholars continue to debate the number of women across Asia who were
sexually exploited. South Korean activists say there may have been
as many as 200,000 Korean victims, but only a few have come forward.
Marano and many in Japan's right wing cite a 1944 U.S. Army report
that said women were willing prostitutes, a position critics said is
"To say that the Japanese Imperial Army was on a sexual rampage,
that is inaccurate," Marano said. "This whole comfort women story
About two years ago, Marano triggered a firestorm of criticism on
South Korean social media when he waved Japanese flags and sat next
to a statue dedicated to comfort women in Glendale, California. He
said he received death threats.
Japan and South Korea in December reached an agreement to resolve
the issue that has been a thorn in their relations for decades, in
which Japan made an apology and promised about 1 billion yen ($8.5
million) for a fund to help former comfort women.
The Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization, an advocate for
the women, accuses Marano of historical denialism on comfort women
and being unaware of what is being published under his name in
"The positions he takes are based on the complete distortion of the
historical documents," said Emi Koyama, the co-founder of the
($1 = 117.6800 yen)
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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