Although his Japanese origins might mystify things, Tomio Okamura is a Czech through and through. And this is what he is trying to prove to the nation in the upcoming election, and especially the ongoing campaign. The politician is strictly against illegal migration and the Islamization of Europe and against the European Union as a whole. His views are radical, but he can defend them well. And he did do so in his interview for LP-Life.com, in which he talked not only about other political parties, but also about migration, problems related to the EU and revealed a little of his privacy.
What are your feelings a month before the election?
I still feel the same way, that means great, because I know exactly what awaits me. I know what the pre-election period entails, and I still go to work from morning to evening all year round, so it's exactly the same for me.
The last time we saw each other was about two years ago. Compared to then, I feel like you've become terribly exhausted.
I don't think so. Rather I'm calmer, more prudent. Maybe it's because I'm two years older. But I don't feel very tired in general. Doctors have tested me in the past, as to why I sleep so little and still have enough energy. They found out I have high levels of testosterone, so I'm basically never tired.
When I hear SPD, I personally think of migrants, xenophobia, Islamization. With the current situation in Afghanistan, is this something that is playing into your hand in the upcoming elections?
I don't know what you meant by xenophobia. This is what the other parties that have no strong argument or are completely out of it say about us. To point out that we do not want illegal migration and that we do not want Islam to be here is not xenophobia, it is common sense. It is a purely logical and pragmatic approach. After all, the Austrian Prime Minister Kurz clearly said a few days ago that he did not want a single Afghan migrant. According to the losers who claim this about the SPD, that is Pirates, TOP 09 and others who openly say that they want to accept migrants to the Czech Republic, in my opinion, these views are extremely dangerous, exceptionally extremist.
They probably don't see what it looks like in the cities of Western Europe. Evidently, they do not understand that Islam is not compatible with freedom and democracy. There will simply be either Islam or freedom and democracy. I don't want any ideologies here that say that men are superior to women. I love women, I consider them completely equal beings, and we must do everything we can to ensure that no such Islamic radicalism and extremism takes root in the Czech Republic.
Interestingly, these Pirate-type people, like Chairman Ivan Bartoš, even said, as quoted by Prima TV, that he would not mind if Europe were Muslim in fifteen to twenty years. This is an extremely dangerous statement, he is a very dangerous extremist, and the worst part is that these people want to bother regular people with this. Why don't they welcome a migrant in their own home? Why don't they go help out in Afghanistan?
Wasn't it taken out of context?
He acknowledged it, he said that he had said it... He said it was youthful recklessness. However, that was once again a lie, because a few years ago he actively participated in the "Refugees, welcome to the Czech Republic" protest in Prague. There are many photos of it. Of course, we need to be very careful around these extremist views. We will do everything we can to ensure that the Pirates never get into the government.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, the situation there is much more complicated than what is presented here. I myself am the honorary chairman of the Czech-Slovak-Afghan Chamber of Commerce, I am also the chairman of the Czech-Afghan interparliamentary group. At my invitation, there were two Afghan ministers visiting here in June, one of them by the way, the Minister of Trade and Industry is now one of the negotiators on stabilization in Afghanistan. The last time I communicated with him was an hour ago.
The steps to calm things down are a little different than what is presented here. I sent him a letter today from President Milos Zeman, who signed my petition and sent it to me last night, calling on him to also call on Pakistan to stop funding the Taliban. The biggest problem is that neighbouring Pakistan is a huge densely populated country, many times larger than Afghanistan, and is constantly funding the Taliban. There are radical Islamic schools in Pakistan where Muslims are brainwashed and then sent to fight in Afghanistan. When Taliban fighters are injured, they are treated in Pakistani hospitals.
First, the Western powers and the Czech Republic need to stop playing both sides. On the one hand, they finance and support Pakistan, sell them weapons, and on the other hand, they put up a charade like they want to help Afghanistan. Two hours ago, the official adviser to the Afghan government on trade and industry was sitting in front of you. He confirmed to me that my views on the matter are exactly the same as those of the current Afghan government, since there hasn't yet been a new one named, for example, Mr. Goryan remains a minister.
They have exactly the same views as I do. They are against migration from Afghanistan, their young people are leaving. It is the same lie as that the Afghans wanted the presence of NATO troops. It is one of the biggest lies that Pirates, ODS, Andrej Babiš have been pushing here all along. Nobody wanted foreign soldiers there, they were occupying troops, and so it turned out the way it did. In twenty years, the Taliban has become a liberation movement, and the radicals in the radical Islamic Taliban have chosen radical Islam rather than the presence of US and NATO troops. It is a total failure of the whole matter.
You are against illegal migration. If someone from Afghanistan still wants to come, what criteria do you think they should meet in order to live here legally?
We are also against migration, any migration, from Islamic countries to the Czech Republic and Europe. That is why I also set up a chamber of commerce and an interparliamentary group, and I am in daily contact with the Afghan side. We had a number of development projects ready in Afghanistan. Regarding local athletes, but the common ones, because martial arts are popular there. We had transport infrastructure projects in Kabul so that Czech companies could return there. We had irrigation projects in Afghanistan to increase fertility there. We had security projects on various security features to increase security in Kabul. We had a number of positive projects, such as training nurses.
I came up with specific projects to help them on the ground and not drag the problem over to Europe. I would like to remind you that the Austrian daily Der Standard recently highlighted in its article that Afghans have the highest crime rate in Austria of all population groups. Dragging these problems from developing and exotic countries to Europe, I do not understand how anyone can think that way at all. In that case, let them take two Afghan boys home when they have two daughters. Let them show us cohabitation. Everyone who talks about migration is a coward. I have not seen anyone take two minors or adult Afghans home for their money. It's just hypocritical talk.
At the same time, I don't think I have seen any of these politicians come up with specific projects and development to help stabilize Afghanistan, specific projects that would be specifically dealing with the Afghan Government like I have.
When I'm listening to you like that, I think you will find it difficult to communicate with other parties. I'm looking at your election program in front of me... Is it realistic?
Basically everything you see in the table here. Where laws could be passed, they have already been filed by SPD. The law on the nationalization of debt collectors has been out there for two years, and the law on the abolition of the concession fee has been laid out there for two years. We want the transformation of public media into a state-subsidized organization under the control of the Supreme Audit Office. We do not want to disrupt the public media, just transform them and give them a different framework, because today the public media are not able to comply with the law, where it is clearly written that they should inform in a balanced way.
Regarding other points, let us look at the fight against corruption. When we proposed here that politicians who are in the executive branch, ie. they directly decide on how to use public funds, should have direct material liability imposed on them, other parties opposed us. That's why we have a yes written here and they don't. We also addressed those who have assets over twenty million crowns. Today, the tax office can ask for proof of origin of property. We want a new one-hundred-percent tax if they fail to provide it, and if they don't pay it, forfeit it to the state.
That's crazy, to think somebody could get on board with that.
I think it's normal. When someone steals, owns properties and can't prove income, I think it's still a mild option. In countries like the United States, penalties for tax evasion are almost at the level of murder, same in Japan. When I asked why this is so, they will tell you that when someone has hurt someone, they have hurt one person, but this way they robbed everyone.
The differences between the agendas are written in ours. I do not think that the negotiations are complicated, because the other parties have different points in their agendas too. Because I'm a professional, a professional politician, I attend meetings every day. There are priorities, where compromise needs to be found, but everything is decided by the election result. The public will evaluate our work. Of course, the media have a great influence on this, when someone has large media under their influence and especially television, a lot hangs on that. Each of the television networks is more or less leaning towards someone, but none of them like SPD of course. It will affect things too, but it's just life and we have to fight.
According to the latest surveys, ANO with the coalition of pirates and STAN are fighting for first and second place. What can you do to get to the top?
As I answered with your first question, I am completely at ease. I am fully focused on pushing the agenda through, I am fully focused on the things that I know need to be done. For me, this is not the first campaign, but the fourth. When I ran somewhere, I always succeeded, and with better results than in previous elections. I go step by step. We are a party that has neither billions nor the favour of the big media.
I know we have to work it out step by step, gradually. I see examples from my good friends, specifically from my friend Matteo Salvini and my friend Marine Le Pen, who I hope will be the French President next year. Mateo and I met years ago, we have been in the same European patriotic faction for many years. I met Mateo when he had five percent of the vote. Then the wave of migration came to Italy in 2015 and suddenly he was over thirty. Mateo has worked for it too.
I met Marine many years ago, she was here in Prague twice, and even though she had long been a star in France because she had already won the European Parliament elections at the time, no one here really paid attention to her. Although she was from an extremely well-known family, because her father had made it to the finals of the presidential election at the time, she also has worked her way up from the bottom. It is necessary for a person to be patient, to endure, to stand up for their opinions. She is an amazing, brave woman, she loves me.
They are both making endorsement videos for us, I was in contact with them just now. They immediately told me that of course they would make an endorsement video in support of SPD and me. We will translate and publish them before the elections. When I see how much work is behind it and that it takes patience, I know that we just have to work, stand behind the agenda and not bend the knee.
Do you want to leave the European Union?
In the first phase, we are pushing for a referendum on withdrawing from the European Union, because we want the citizens of the Czech Republic to make a democratic decision. As for the SPD's position, yes, we think it would be good to leave the European Union.
Aren't you afraid we'll end up like the UK?
They're doing great, I have no idea what you're talking about.
For example, they have a labour shortage in certain types of jobs such as mail delivery, drivers and the like. Jobs that were often done by immigrants before Brexit, who had to leave the country. This has an impact on the companies themselves and on the goods, some goods are unavailable because of this, and companies, for example, are desperately looking for drivers and offer almost the same salary as they would to an architect to get people into these jobs.
Now you've talked about two issues at once. First, that the British have long complained about wages. Our travel agency has had a representative office right in the centre of London for many years, we had about 250 employees there. Our English employees also complained that they had very low salaries. The starting salary in London was around a thousand pounds. The British had undercut wages precisely because they had a lot of foreign cheap labour there. That was really Britain's problem, because London is very expensive.
So that cheap labour reduced their wages?
Yes. Foreign labour. I am not saying anything against anyone, but if I take it purely from the point of view of British citizens, the fact that British citizens will now have their salaries rising even in less specialized or ordinary professions, then I do not see anything wrong with that from the point of view of Great Britain. I think that the workers in our republic also have a problem with that. When they give the father of a family a manual labour job in an industrial zone somewhere in the Ústí nad Labem region, and they tell him, you will either take this low salary, or we will take a Bulgarian or a Romanian who doesn't even need a work permit because they are also in the European Union. I really see it as a problem.
I see the fact that the wages for ordinary working people here are undercut precisely because of the European Union as a problem. The British, our employees in our holding company, lived in London in groups of three, because they could not even pay for their own housing in their own country. At the same time, it is one of the most developed countries in the world. From the point of view of the British as such, they often could not even find work. This does not exist in Japan at all. There is an economy where the average salary is around eighty, ninety thousand crowns a month, where they have a good income even in less specialized professions. That is why the Japanese roam the whole world as tourists. It is a country of 130 million without membership in the European Union, nor is it in NATO. They defend their national interests and you see how it works.
But let's also go to the smaller countries, South Korea, it's the same thing in a different colour, or Taiwan. None of them are in the European Union, nor are they very populous countries compared to Japan. When they make a nationalist policy, everyone does deals with them, they are a partner for everyone, for Russia, America, Germany. Their own people, their own employees, have decent salaries. Let's go back to Japan. The Japanese have enough work, the government takes care of them and they have happy lives, everything is at a high level. I really don't think Britain has any problems.
To the second part, what I wanted to say at the beginning. There is a transformation back to a free and sovereign state, it can bring some partial problems. But also for the countries of the European Union. One of the three biggest quarrels that were there, apart from the problem with Northern Ireland and Ireland, was the problem of French fishermen. But it was not the problem of the British, it was the problem of the French, and because of that, the agreement was blocked. French fishermen urgently needed to fish in British waters. When we talk about it, let's take it comprehensively. There, Britain conceded a little, but again for other concessions in return. The European Union wanted the European Court of Justice to rule on British matters, which, of course, Britain rejected and did not want to do. Why should someone else decide for them?
There were more points of discussion, but I am fully convinced, and time is telling me that Britain is doing very well. Of course, this is a heavy blow to the European Union, as one of the three largest contributors to the European Union budget, which has entered a budget crisis, left. Instead of reducing the amount of bureaucratic apparatus in Brussels, as would have been logical, they increased the contributions of the members of the European Union to the budget. Seriously? When a country of 80 million, or about 12% of the population of the European Union, leaves you, the bureaucratic apparatus and the budget should be reduced by that 12%.
And last summer they issued bonds, which Andrej Babiš cowardly signed off on. And they called it the EU Rescue Package. They parrot it on TV. The SPD was the only one against it the Czech Parliament. A rescue package that we will be repaying until 2057. It is not an EU rescue package. We co-operate, they are joint EU bonds, where over forty percent of the amount goes to only two countries, failing Italy and Spain, because no one wants to lend them money anymore and they would have to leave the eurozone, which would mean the disintegration of the European Union. At the same time, logically, economically, leaving the eurozone would help them the most, because they would adopt their own currency, which they would devalue against the euro, and thus, of course, would strengthen the economy, make exports cheaper and start up the economy. They artificially hold up the euro. Andrej Babiš, incredibly, crazily signed off on the Czech Republic guaranteeing that the Spaniards and Italians have higher pensions than we do. This is an unbelievable situation. And we will be paying it off until 2057.
I say for myself that we need to leave the European Union. I would add that leaving does not mean isolation, as liars claim who just want to slander the SPD. We say - let us go back to before the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties, that is, let us maintain the free movement of people. By that I mean European citizens, not migrants. Let us maintain the free movement of people, goods, money and services. Everyone wants to keep that. The closest cooperation of free European countries, as it were, the EEC. There is absolutely no problem with that.
What do you do if you don't deal with politics?
I admit that I devote one hundred percent to politics.
You don't exercise anymore?
I had to stop for a bit, because when the government closed the gyms, I go about once a month. But 99.9% of my time is spent promoting the agenda.