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Japan is Creative Freedom's Last Stand - Part 2: What to Know About the Threats Japan has Faced in the Past and Present

TheDetroitOtakuJun 27, 2021, 12:47:44 AM
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Well, considering that my last piece on this subject turned out to be a huge hit with you guys, here's a follow-up, though in a way this may sort of read like a history lesson than a piece about me raving on about why we shouldn't give up on Japanese pop culture and how important it is to protect it. 

Now, I'm not going to focus on pre-Meiji era Japan, as the regimes of Japan back then were very successful in keeping out western cultural infiltration. The main focus of this subject is going to be on the threats to Japanese pop culture that has shown up from World War II to today. Though not all of these were threats to their entertainment industry per se, they were still nonetheless dangerous to their culture in general, and these movements posed a great danger to Japanese society during that time. And in some ways, some of these threats that Japan faced, especially during the 1960s, were even more menacing that what was seen in the Western world. Now, let's begin. 

I'm going to start this off by saying this: for those people who tell me "oh no there is no hope for Japan because some tiny thing got censored or removed from something I like" or "oh Japan is just like any other country, they'll fall too", first off, remember who the hell you're talking about here. The one thing that is important to remember is that Japan is not the United States. Not even close. Demographically, politically, and culturally, they are a completely different country than the U.S.. 

On my Twitter, I follow On Takahashi (@OnTakahashi is his Twitter handle) for general information on Japanese culture, and some other details not many people know. While one may take from his tweets that he's on the left, he knows a lot on the subject about why Japan hasn't fallen into the clutches of wokeness like the U.S. and many other Western nations, and he puts it pretty nicely with this tweet:

Back in December he replied to one of my Minds followers who was worried about some sort of Comics Code (similar to what was in the U.S.) being installed in Japan by outside forces , and he states that the reason why anime and manga have been mostly left alone for the time being is due to the amount of money those two industries bring to the country, and that the manga and anime industries in general are a somewhat vital part of Japan's economy, unlike American comics:

Whether you agree with his politics or not, he knows the country and culture very well, and I highly recommend you give him a follow if you are really THAT worried about Japan.

Now, I could just end the article right here and now, and tell you to go ask OnTakahashi about some more facts and details, but I think it's important to let you guys know that the threats Japan has faced to their entertainment industry, and culture in general are nothing new, and have popped up multiple times throughout their history.

I've made it very clear on my Minds page that I do not think movement of wokeness is the greatest threat to Japanese pop culture. In fact, I think it is something else, and I think you'll notice that it is something else too if you study their political history from the 1950s to today very carefully. 

If you've studied even a tiny bit of Japanese politics, you'll notice that the dominant political part in Japan is the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). They may sound like a more left wing party like the Democratic Party in America, but the LDP is Japan's right-wing party - they are basically the equivalent to the Republican Party (GOP) in America, but unlike the GOP, the LDP has dominated Japanese politics since 1955, only being the opposition party twice in their history (1993-94 and 2009-12). 

And so why am I mentioning this? Because there are lots of puritan LDP members that tend to have a habit of being against pornography and even minor sexual content like fanservice in media. In fact, lots of said puritan LDP members were part of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration, and one of the most notable of these puritan politicians is Seiko Noda. Noda herself actually blamed eroge/hentai games and visual novels for sexual crimes such as rape, and sought to ban them in the country. You don't have to take my word for it either, you can look this up yourself. I have no reason to lie about it either. She actually said what I mentioned. No joke. 

But that's just a small portion. For many years and decades after World War II, pornography, and most sexual content in media were banned in Japan. Though this may have occurred as a condition of Japan's "unconditional surrender" to the U.S., politicians in Japan, especially in the LDP, kept many of these anti-porn and anti-sexual content laws in place long after the U.S. occupation was over. I got this info from a University of Hawaii study titled "Pornography, Rape, and Sex Crimes in Japan", and I highly recommend you read it. From that study I found out that Japan used to be the most prudish country on sexuality outside of the Muslim world. Again, pornography and most sexual content was outlawed. The article also mentions that Japan was so puritan on sexuality that the classic 1976 Japanese romance film, Ai no Corrida ("In the Realm of the Senses") was banned from the country because of it's sexual content. 

Ai no Corrida was created by Nagisa Oshima, and was produced in France in 1976. It became an instant hit at film festivals in New York and Cannes. But when it was first shown in Japan in October 1976, the film was seized by authorities. Oshima, the producer, and script writer were taken to court and charged with obscenity but were ultimately found not guilty on all counts. The film was based on a true story that is well known in Japan, and its content, which involved the vivid depiction of asphixiophilia, was considered too obscene for public viewing in Japan. However a cut and censored version was released. It wasn't until 1986 that Ai no Corrida was allowed to be shown fully uncensored, and it was also in 1986 that at the Tokyo Film Festival, frontal nudity was allowed to appear on film. Also, the first college-level textbook on sex to be published in Japan - an American textbook called Sexual Decisions - was published in 1985. So to put it short, it wasn't until the mid-to-late 1980s that Japan began to let up on their laws banning pornography and sexual content in media, and even then genitalia is still censored there. Sure, the recently elected Taro Yamada (who is also LDP) is trying to get this censorship to end for good in Japan,  along with pushing for a bill to allow for anime and video game preservation, but Yamada is facing an uphill battle and may not succeed, unless he gets elected Prime Minister (which is highly unlikely). 

And so, considering how censorship happy the Japanese Right was in years past, and how they're the dominant political force in the country, I feel that they are going to eventually be the biggest threat to Japanese pop culture. Most especially so, if some of the Religious Rightist politicians in the U.S. like Josh Hawley and others like him take notice of what Japan is doing and decide to join forces with them.

Now, let's move on to the cultural left, and wokeness. Sure, the woke movements in the U.S. have flexed their muscle rather spectacularly in the U.S. over the past decade, and have gotten their way a lot when it comes to censorship of sexual content and politically incorrect ideas in entertainment. And yes, they've even been successful in censoring some Japanese products too, but that doesn't mean its the end of the world for Japan either. Sure, we should ultimately do what we can to help Japan out, but the important thing to remember is this: DON'T PANIC. The only way we and Japan win this battle is to not panic, be patient, and think clearly and carefully. 

And I'm telling you guys not to panic so much because while this movement of wokeness is most definitely a problem, they are still not the worst threat that Japan has faced from the far left in its history. Not even close.  

Various members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group (1971-2001)

The closest that Japan actually came to falling to what we now call wokeness was the rise of the Japanese New Left in the 1960s, and its splinter groups from the 1970s to the 1980s. From 1968-1969, Japan was rocked by massive riots from left-wing college students at the University of Tokyo, otherwise known as The Todai Riots where many Japanese New Left factions occupied university buildings, halted classes, held professors hostage, and made demands to the Japanese government. The New Left in Japan regularly clashed with police and each other on campus grounds, and wore distinctive colored helmets so they could recognize their fellow members. They've even developed the ideology known as Anti-Japanesism, a suidical and genocidal ideology that believes all actions of Japan since the Meiji era are evil, that all Japanese people are evil, all of Japanese culture is evil, and that all traces of Japan, including Japan itself, must be wiped from the face of the Earth. Scary stuff, I know. 

But the worst of these New Left groups was by far the Japanese Red Army (pictured above), a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group founded by Fusako Shigenobu (aka "The Empress of Terror) in 1971. The JRA was an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the Japanese government and the installation of a Communist government in Japan via making money, obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and kidnapping Japanese politicians. They carried out numerous atrocities during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the bombing of Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1972, which killed 26 people and injured 80 others. They also took part in multiple airplane hijackings such as Japan Air Lines Flight 404 and Flight 472, they took the French embassy in the Netherlands hostage, they took over 50 people hostage at the AIA Building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia including the U.S. Consul and Swedish chargé d'affaires, a bombing of a U.S. Army recreational club in Italy, and an attempted bombing of the New Jersey Turnpike. A full list of their atrocities are here (I don't care if its Wikipedia, its a good enough source for this topic anyway). 

So there you go. I've listed lots of things you need to know about what threats Japan has faced in the past and present, so that you are much more informed and that you know what to look out for. 

There are always going to be threats to Japanese pop culture no matter what, and stressing out over it all the time is not the right thing to do. It is not the end of the world and even if the powers of wokeness managed to have some smashing success in Japan, it wouldn't change the country or their entertainment industry overnight. Such a drastic change would take decades to accomplish, and we, and the Japanese, would still be able to drive them out before they accomplish something worse, as long as we take the right steps. Japan is not done yet, nor will she be. No country is perfect, but that doesn't always mean they're doomed. There's a reason why almost every foreign culture that has tried to change Japan from within has failed. Also, another important detail that most people forget is that the Cold War never ended in East Asia. Japan still has a natural rival/enemy in it's region - China. That ALONE makes Japan more conservative by default. 

And before you scream to me about how Sony and some other developers in Japan have gone woke, please. I've always held that Sony has been toxic to almost everything they've entered, be it music where they ruined Michael Jackson's career, or to gaming, where they carried out numerous anti-consumer practices. The PS2 was a long goddamn time ago, and I've always held that it was insanely overrated to begin with. The PS3 had more issues than a 7 Series BMW, and they also laughably mismanaged the Vita from day one. Sony has sucked way before this, folks.

Sure, there are also some woke video game developers in the Japanese video game industry like Hideo Kojima (who I plan to do a lolcow article on eventually), but again, that doesn't mean Japan is doomed. Hell, the world famous Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki is a leftist politically, and even once supported Communism (until he saw the extent of the Soviet Union's atrocities), but he is still sensible and has mostly kept his politics out of his work (for the most part). Constantly panicking over things we have no control over will get us nowhere, and I think the people who keep worrying about Japan so much should calm down and think clearly. It is important that we, and the Japanese anime and manga fans stay calm and analyze the situation carefully.

But you should not give up on Japan. They are still home to the greatest entertainment industry on the face of the Earth, and it is worth fighting for. Don't give me this "oh, they're going to fall too, just give up because all entertainment is screwed anyway" attitude, because if you are just going to give up and stay silent, then be silent.

Forever.

Japan is the last hope for creative freedom in entertainment. There is nowhere else to run to. Texas governor Greg Abbott said that his state is "the last line of defense against a Democratic presidential victory." Well, I'd like to change his quote around a bit and say something similar about Japan. And I quote: 

"Japan is the last line of defense against wokeness destroying entertainment and popular culture around the world."