"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, March 02, 2019

The story of modern Japan

The story of modern Japan - History Extra

"One thing that critics within Japan will say is that for some reason, pop culture, you know, these things that we know about Japan, pop culture and politics have never seemed to bridge. They’ve never seemed to mix. So that pop culture ends up being a place where you can imagine Japan a different way. You can fantasize about an entirely different place, and you can enjoy that sort of escapism, a kind of catharsis and then you get back on the train and you go and work your 11 or 12 hour day and you put up with the politicians that you've been given. There isn't this idea that the way people imagine how Japan could be within pop culture, whether it's a film or TV drama, something else, these beautiful programs that get made, there isn't the sense that those ideas can somehow become part of the political mainstream. One seems to be insulated from the other.

And there was this really precious moment just briefly in 2011, after the terrible earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear meltdown, where it looked like a bridge might happen. There was a music video, an anonymous music video that went viral in Japan, just three weeks after Fukushima. And it was a guy who did a cover, a cover version of a song by a very famous pop artist called Saito Kazuyoshi, but he changed the words to this song and it was supposed to be, I always loved you, and he changed the title to it was always a lie, and the lyrics becomes this incredibly hard hitting vilification of the Japanese government and the nuclear industry saying, you told us nuclear power was safe. You told us it was the right thing for our country. Now we've got radiation clouds over God knows how much of Japan because you're not telling us the truth about how bad the radiation is, it's on the air, it's in the food. Who knows what's going to happen in Japan next, people have to wake up. And it went viral, as I say, and people were thinking, well, the real Saito Kazuyoshi whose song this originally was, is certainly going to sue because the idea was that in Japan, your pop stars are entertainers and companions, they don't give you political sermons. Punters don't want a sermon basically.

But in the end, he didn't sue because he turned out to be the guy in the video, he had dressed himself up anonymously with a mask on a trilby hat. And he had done a protest version of his own song because he was fed up with the way things are going. And the reaction on social media was, thank god at last, we've got someone from the pop industry who's actually going to talk about politics. So there is this appetite for bridging the two. And perhaps that's something that will see more of, perhaps in the future...

One of the really big issues for Japan now is its relationship with China and Korea, for the reasons that we just spoke about. There's always this call for the Japanese to reflect on that war. But what's really interesting is that if you look actually at the relationship between Japan and China since the war, the memory of that war in that relationship is switched on and switched off by the Chinese, by Koreans and others as kind of pragmatic need dictates.

So I'll give you a line that was once said, this was said in the early 1950s to some Japanese politicians: You can't be asked to apologize all the time, can you? It's not good to feel guilty all the time. And you know, who said that? That was Chairman Mao saying that. These Japanese politicians visiting China, because what he wanted was Japanese investment in China, what he wanted was to prise the Japanese away from the Americans a little bit in Asia for his own purposes. And he didn't want to talk about the war. He said, that's something for another day, you know. But depending on what China needs, on what Korea needs and what Japan needs as well, that memory gets switched on, and switched off remarkably effectively...

If we can think about the Second World War, at least in part, as an Imperial War, as a war between empires, British Empire, Japanese Empire and talk about what that means more broadly, then it becomes easier for people in Japan to reflect. Because I'll tell you how people in Japan feel - they feel that it's always and only the Japanese who are asked to apologize or feel bad or reflect more and see some double standards. And I think to an extent, they have a point...

They spent something like a fifth of the entire national budget in 1868, just on PR exercises for the Emperor. Touring him around the country, handing out free gifts, handing out sake to people to celebrate, to try and get them to connect with the Emperor"
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes