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politics

Olympics? photo
Olympics?

Uh, Japan's Prime Minister cosplayed as Mario for the Olympics


Wait, what?
Aug 22
// Josh Tolentino
No, this is not an article from The Onion. Apparently, it really happened, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did, in fact, emerge from a giant green pipe at the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games, dressed up as ...
Emperor Akihito photo
Emperor Akihito

No, Japan's Emperor isn't stepping down (but he might want to)


The Emperor Speaks
Aug 08
// Josh Tolentino
In a rare national TV address, Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan, spoke frankly about his declining health and hinted that he may want to stand down from the Chrysanthemum Throne someday. This came after weeks of rum...
Politics photo
Politics

Japan's Emperor plans to step down in near future


Emperor Akihito makes his plans known
Jul 13
// Soul Tsukino
In a report from the NHK today, it was said that Japanese Emperor Akihito may abdicate his role in the next few years and pass along the title to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito. The reports state that Akihito wishes not ...

Make Anime, Not War: Itami, Abe, and GATE's take on modern Japanese militarism

Feb 21 // Yussif Osman
In the first episode, otherworldly forces from beyond the Gate attack Ginza and we see how our Self-Defence Force soldier reacts. Itami could have been written to take a primarily combat role in the ensuing chaos, taking on the invading knights and monsters. Instead, he turns his attention to the civilians, guides them to safety, makes sure they're okay and gives them comfort, makes them feel safe. And it's for this that he moves up in the ranks and takes centre stage in the world of GATE. Not for combat, but for disaster relief. Or at least, that's one way to look at it. Japan's military history is a sensitive topic in East Asia, the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for war crimes across Asia, forced labour and mass killings included. After the Second World War, pacifism became inscribed in schools and society, the hyper-militarism which once dominated the country was displaced with a progressive culture of democracy and empathy, I believe making possible the creative culture we love today. Constitutionally, Japan cannot really take an aggressive, or even a proactive stance in global military affairs, the modern constitution is a pacifist one. The largely pacifistic mentality of the population meant for most of modern history, the SDF was not in high standing with public perception. Something worth remembering is not just how the imperial army of the Second World War did damage abroad, but that the military and its actions did damage at home too. Anyone who questioned the military or the war effort was punished severely whilst people were forced into becoming suicide attackers as kamikaze. The imperial army's aggression would be met with firebombing and famine, the consequences of which have been portrayed in such anime as Grave of the Fireflies and Rainbow. People never forgot this. That was at least until the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The SDF played a vital role in disaster relief, rescuing people from waters and debris; for the first time, the SDF was seen as a positive force in Japan. Arguably, the focus on Itami helping civilians over fighting the enemy is in line with this. Something that receives frequent attention in GATE, is the humanitarian streak of the SDF, rescuing civilians from fire dragons, providing refuge for refugees and engaging in dialogue with their enemy in the Empire beyond the Gate. There is a story arc in the anime where the SDF protect a village from insane bandits and after winning the battle, demand that their new allies whom they fought beside treat the defeated bandits with compassion and humanity. The anime portrays the SDF more as a humanitarian organisation for the most part, rather than an army. That's at least part of it. Also and more disturbingly emphasised in GATE is the sheer overwhelming power of the SDF over the medieval Empire. Japanese soldiers slaughter the Empire's forces. Any confrontation between the SDF and an enemy beyond the Gate isn't a battle, but a massacre and in my view, if it is to glorify the SDF, it is in very bad taste. I'm encouraged by the humanitarian actions of the SDF in the show, but the frequent displays of overwhelming firepower and dominance, are a little unnerving and like the Empire itself, I hope that peace negotiations go well. So why does this worry me? Recently, Japan has been undergoing a military expansion under the direction of Prime Minister Abe. This has been controversial both in and out of Japan, with young people in particular and survivors from the Second World War era fearing a gradual return to military dominance over society. Not only has there been a drive for an inflation of military power, but Abe has been pushing for greater involvement in conflicts such as that in Syria, which commentators in Japan have actually denounced as unconstitutional. And with television commercials claiming that “all dreams can be achieved through the SDF”, in context, we've got to ask ourselves if we should actually be worried that Itami is so relatable. Well, since we're back on to the topic of our main character, it's worth actually quoting him when he says if he had to choose between his Otaku hobbies or his job, he would choose his hobbies. Hardly the hyper-nationalist soldier of days gone by. And Itami is a genuinely compassionate character; recently in the second season, he pretended to be the father of a deluded and bereaved elf who was having trouble grieving. Though I actually disagree that this was the right thing to do, this says a lot about him as a character and most vitally, it said nothing about him as a soldier. I argue that the anime is not about the SDF, but rather about a man travelling to another world who happens to be in the SDF. It may just be a coincidence that this anime emerges now, but in context, I believed it was worth exploring its implications and what it might mean. Itami is an interesting and empathetic character, and I believe rather than trying to portray the SDF as a glorified beacon of humanity or power, the creators of the light novel and by extension the show, are just trying to create a compelling story, exploring the morality of a man and what would happen if two very different worlds clashed and how we hope a modern society would react. With mercy, empathy and 21st Century humanity.    In the first episode, otherworldly forces from beyond the Gate attack Ginza and we see how our Self-Defence Force soldier reacts. Itami could have been written to take a primarily combat role in the ensuing chaos, taking on the invading knights and monsters. Instead, he turns his attention to the civilians, guides them to safety, makes sure they're okay and gives them comfort, makes them feel safe. And it's for this that he moves up in the ranks and takes centre stage in the world of GATE. Not for combat, but for disaster relief. Or at least, that's one way to look at it. Japan's military history is a sensitive topic in East Asia, the imperial army was responsible for war crimes across Asia, forced labour and mass killings included. After the Second World War, pacifism became inscribed in schools and society, the hyper-militarism which once dominated the country was displaced with a progressive culture of democracy and empathy, I believe making possible the creative culture we love today. Constitutionally, Japan cannot really take an aggressive, or even a proactive stance in global military affairs, the modern constitution is a pacifist one. The largely pacifistic mentality of the population meant for most of modern history, the SDF was not in high standing with public perception. Something worth remembering is not just how the imperial army of the Second World War did damage abroad, but that the military and its actions did damage at home too. Anyone who questioned the military or the war effort was punished severely whilst people were forced into becoming suicide attackers as kamikaze. The imperial army's aggression would be met with firebombing and famine, the consequences of which have been portrayed in such anime as Grave of the Fireflies and Rainbow. People never forgot this. That was at least until the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The SDF played a vital role in disaster relief, rescuing people from waters and debris; for the first time, the SDF was seen as a positive force in Japan. Arguably, the focus on Itami helping civilians over fighting the enemy is in line with this. Something that receives frequent attention in GATE, is the humanitarian streak of the SDF, rescuing civilians from fire dragons, providing refuge for refugees and engaging in dialogue with their enemy in the Empire beyond the Gate. There is a story arc in the anime where the SDF protect a village from insane bandits and after winning the battle, demand that their new allies whom they fought beside treat the defeated bandits with compassion and humanity. The anime portrays the SDF more as a humanitarian organisation for the most part, rather than an army. That's at least part of it. Also and more disturbingly emphasised in GATE is the sheer overwhelming power of the SDF over the medieval Empire. Japanese soldiers slaughter the Empire's forces. Any confrontation between the SDF and an enemy beyond the Gate isn't a battle, but a massacre and in my view, if it is to glorify the SDF, it is in very bad taste. I'm encouraged by the humanitarian actions of the SDF in the show, but the frequent displays of overwhelming firepower and dominance, are a little unnerving and like the Empire itself, I hope that peace negotiations go well. So why does this worry me? Recently, Japan has been undergoing a military expansion under the direction of Prime Minister Abe. This has been controversial both in and out of Japan, with young people in particular and survivors from the Second World War era fearing a gradual return to military dominance over society. Not only has there been a drive for an inflation of military power, but Abe has been pushing for greater involvement in conflicts such as that in Syria, which commentators in Japan have actually denounced as unconstitutional. And with television commercials claiming that “all dreams can be achieved through the SDF”, in context, we've got to ask ourselves if we should actually be worried that Itami is so relatable. Well since we're back on to the topic of our main character, it's worth actually quoting him when he says if he had to choose between his Otaku hobbies or his job, he would choose his hobbies. Hardly the hyper-nationalist soldier of days gone by. And Itami is a genuinely compassionate character; recently in the second season, he pretended to be the father of a deluded and bereaved elf who was having trouble grieving. Though I actually disagree that this was the right thing to do, this says a lot about him as a character and most vitally, it said nothing about him as a soldier. I argue that the anime is not about the SDF, but rather about a man travelling to another world who happens to be in the SDF. It may just be coincidence that this anime emerges now, but in context I believed it was worth exploring its implications and what it might mean. Itami is an interesting and empathetic character, and I believe rather than trying to portray the SDF as a glorified beacon of humanity or power, the creators of the light novel and by extension the show, are just trying to create a compelling story, exploring the morality of a man and what would happen if two very different worlds clashed and how we hope a modern society would react. With mercy, empathy and 21st Century humanity.   
GATE photo
GATE & Japanese Military Build-up
[Ed. Note: Our newest contributor Yussif Osman begins his tenure at Japanator with a reflection on GATE, and this popular anime, light novel and manga's relationship to Japan's own attitudes towards military activity] I'm a p...


Japanator supports love!

Jun 27 // Josh Tolentino
Artist credits to: Minako Komahara wwtwj Yoshinaga Masahiro  
Japanator supports love! photo
#LoveWins
In a historic decision Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state barriers to same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing the institution for same-sex couples nationwide. Naturally, social me...

Justin Bieber photo
Justin Bieber

Oh, Justin: Bieber in Yasukuni causes international incident


Do you even geopolitics?
Apr 26
// Josh Tolentino
I don't have anything against The Bieb. In fact, I find the hate for him somewhat petty. I mean, it's not like he's against vaccines or whatever. That said, causing an international incident is something you really shoul...
Japan photo
Japan

Japan ready to deal with potential North Korea attack


Well, for the most part
Apr 11
// Pedro Cortes
Oh, the woes of living close to North Korea. Anybody living close the antagonistic, aggressive dictatorship has to worry about their constant threats of attack. Even if most of these threats are mere political posturing, it's...
 photo

Shinjuku boos bara billboard for HIV awareness


Poko Murata's billboard in gay neighborhood draws ire from local government
Mar 19
// Brad Rice
An interesting struggle is going on in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ni-Chome, a popular gay neighborhood. VIIV Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company that makes an HIV drug, selected popular gay artist Poko Murata to draw up an HIV awarene...
World War II photo
World War II

South Korea hosts 'Comfort Women' exhibit at French con


A major European manga festival is battleground for proxy war
Jan 31
// Brad Rice
The Japanese government is none too pleased by an exhibit at France's Festival de la Bande Dessinee d'Angouleme, one of the biggest manga festivals in Europe. The exhibit in question details Japan's atrocities during World Wa...
Cool Japan photo
Cool Japan

Cooler Japan: Japanese gov't opening new anime channel


Coming to an Asia near you
Jan 04
// Josh Tolentino
I'm hardly in a position to say whether Japan's culture export-focused "soft power" initiative, dubbed "Cool Japan" is successful, but whatever you think of it, it's good news to see that they're still rolling along with it. ...
Comic Book Legal Defense photo
Comic Book Legal Defense

Comic Book Defense Fund gives an epic speech at Comiket


Telling it like it is on Manga Freedom
Aug 19
// Josh Tolentino
In case you weren't keeping up, the 84th Comic Market ("Comiket") happened in Japan a few days ago. And on the off chance you don't know what that is, it's pretty much Japan's - and possibly the world's - largest comic c...
Anti-Loli Bills photo
Anti-Loli Bills

Uh-oh: Anti-Loli bills return to Japanese politics


They fought the law, but the law wants to win!
May 31
// Josh Tolentino
Ooh, boy, here we go again! It seems that Japanese politicians have seen the low-hanging fruit, and returned to the subject of legislating morality, with the exploitation of non-existent underage youngsters once again the tar...
 photo

Osaka mayor says WWII comfort women necessary


Abandon the Old in Politics
May 14
// Brad Rice
The issue of comfort women and Japan's atrocities in World War II is a delicate subject. Even now, there is a lot of animosity between Japan and China and the Koreas because of what happened. But you do not go ahead and say t...
JET Program Expansion photo
JET Program Expansion

English teachers ahoy: Japan to expand JET program 200%


Hangs gigantic 'Help Wanted' sign outside door
May 06
// Josh Tolentino
Have you ever wanted to live in Japan? If you're reading this site, chances are you've at least considered it. And for many an English-speaker, the most accessible gateway to living in Glorious Nippon has been the Japan Excha...
 photo

Anisama Shanghai 2012 axed due to Anti-Japan protests


Sep 17
// Josh Tolentino
In case you've not been following international news of late, you're in for a bit of facepalming over politics. It seems the rising tensions between China and Japan over the territorial status of the Senkaku islands (cal...
 photo

Japan sending Akita puppy as gift to Russian president


Jul 24
// Bob Muir
Another day, another Morning Puppy post! Wait, that's not a running feature? Why the hell not? Japan's latest prime minister Yoshihiko Noda recently met with Vladimir Putin in Mexico. Eventually, Noda promised to deliver an ...
 photo

AKB48 doesn't want you to kill yourself


Feb 24
// Bob Muir
Blame it on demanding jobs, societal expectations, or historical methods of atonement, but Japan has a high suicide rate. In fact, when it comes to people killing themselves, Japan ranks 7th in the world. The ruling Democrati...
 photo

Japan's latest PM: Yoshihiko Noda


Aug 30
// Brad Rice
Once again, Japan has a new prime minister. Naoto Kan has left the building, and the Japanese parliament has elected Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda as their next prime minister. Wondering why there's a picture of a...
 photo

Wikileaks reveals Japanese spy agency


Feb 21
// Crystal White
Call me cynical, but I kind of figure that if you don't assume every industrialized nation has a spy agency, then you're a bit naïve. A thread on FG revealed a link to The Sydney Morning Herald which covers the Wikileaks...
 photo

OH SNAP: Manga author protests Bill 156, refuses award


Jan 05
// Josh Tolentino
In a gesture that can only be regarded as a big middle finger to the Tokyo Metro Government and Governor Ishihara, a prominent mangaka has decided to refuse an honor given to him by the upcoming Tokyo Anime Fair.Noboru Kawasa...
 photo

Artists fight the anti-everything bill with sexy doujins


Dec 28
// Josh Tolentino
Tokyo Governor Ishihara might have thought he struck the final blow against otaku and their warped DNA with  the passage of Bill 156 (aka the anti-everything bill) but nay, say those who still care about free speech and ...
 photo

Love is over. Well, any love that Tokyo's government deems "harmful" or "unjustifiably glorified and exaggerated". That's over Bill 156, also known as the "virtual crimes bill" or the "nonex...

 photo

Tokyo Gov supports anti-loli bill: 'Japan's too untamed'


Dec 06
// Josh Tolentino
I'm sure you've heard of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's latest attempt to reintroduce its infamous "anti-loli" bill, now revised to be an "anti-everything" bill. Some powerful people are behind the at...
 photo

Rejoice: Japan backpedals on paranoid package restriction


Nov 30
// Josh Tolentino
Good news, everyone who wants to buy things from Glorious Nippon! The land of the rising sun has decided to scupper its previous plans to ban all personal packages weighing over one pound from being air-mailed to the United S...
 photo

Lawyers and luminaries rise up against new anti-loli bill


Nov 29
// Josh Tolentino
Though defeated numerous times before, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is back, and has reintroduced a revised version of their original "nonexistent youth" protection bill, only now with new language allowing the...
 photo

Tokyo Anti-Loli bill is now an Anti-Everything bill


Nov 23
// Josh Tolentino
Well, practically everything, so far as it encompasses whatever potentially weird things you might think are kind of kinky that happen to be present in manga, anime and/or videogames. Yes, friends, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gove...
 photo

President Obama visits Japan, hangs out with robots


Nov 15
// Mike LeChevallier
One thing I've come to admire about President Obama is the fact that, no matter how awkward the situation may be, he is essentially always able to maintain an unmatched cool and calm composure. Whether it be at countless tire...
 photo

Former Prime Minister Taro Aso hawks moe sake


Oct 27
// Bob Muir
Woah, moe sake? Feels a little deja vu in here. But here's a new twist: Taro Aso, former Prime Minister of Japan from 2008 to 2009, is encouraging young Japanese people to drink moe sake.Kotaku heard about...
 photo

Politician's tweet takes a turn for the moe - and strange


Oct 21
// Bob Muir
I love it when Twitter messes something up like this. You've got your average politician, Meg Whitman, running for governor of California. Your spokesperson, Sarah Pompei, was retweeting a video that would help promote her ca...
 photo

Kobe considers banning tattoos at the beach


Sep 04
// Bob Muir
The Western world is much more accepting of tattoos these days, due to their massive popularity among the younger crowd. These days, having a tattoo isn't a sign that you're a hoodlum or troublemaker, but a permanent badge of...

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