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August 08, 2006

Peaceful Nation Shrine

Following criticism of his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1996, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto asked, "Why should it matter any more?" Of course, if the actions of imperial Japan's less illustrious war dead should no longer matter it begs the question of quite what a procession of Japan's Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers and members of the royal family are paying homage to at Yasukuni.

Writing for the Nichi Bei Times, Ben Hamamoto's "Entertainment Re-oriented - Atomic Pop Part I: It Created a Monster" considers atomic imagery in post-war Japanese pop cinema. This forwarded by the Flea's Network Warfare Expert who points to the "tease" that is the title for next week's follow-up: "Next week is Part II: “The World is Super-flat;” or “What Hello Kitty has to do with The Rape of Nanking”.

Here’s a riddle: What came from the Pacific, burned entire Japanese cities to the ground and left people with radiation poisoning, only to become the protector of the country it devastated?

The United States Armed Forces, of course, and their most destructive weapon: the nuclear bomb. But if we were to venture into the realm of pop culture, there is at least one more answer… Godzilla.

Here's a riddle: What Nichi Bei Times article follows the rhetorical convention of framing the atomic bombing of Japan in the context of "Japan's wartime trauma" without giving a passing hint of events leading up to those actions; let alone the "wartime trauma" of anyone living in a 3850 mile arc from the Japanese home islands. I am looking forward to the second part of the essay. It may be too much to hope Hamamoto includes some discussion of the causal relationship not only between Nanking and Hello Kitty but Nanking, medical experiments on prisoners, "comfort women", plague warfare in China, etc. etc. and the bombing of Japanese cities. Oh, those and kicking Gojira in the nuts at Pearl.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 8, 2006 08:41 AM


I never cease to be amazed at the victim-cult strategy of Japan's polity. Germany has managed to wrestle its way past its own horrific wartime legacy, but Japan and the Japanese people have never really taken a good look at the cold hard facts. If this historical amnesia continues unabated, I am inclined to think that we will, at some distant future point, have to face off against wayward Japanese ultra-nationalists again.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 11:48 AM

So it really shouldn't be a surprise that Hello Kitty shares in Japan's historical amnesia.

Posted by: utron [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 04:16 PM

Hard as it may be to believe, the truth about Hello Kitty is even worse than that.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 04:19 PM

Thanks a lot, flea. After clicking on that link, I feel an urgent need to cultivate my own historical amnesia.

Posted by: utron [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 05:59 PM

Like Darth Vader Hello Kitty? You'll love Paris Hilton Hello Kitty!

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 10, 2006 08:50 AM