Monday, April 20, 2009

Banned Hirohito art in Okinawa & "Going Nuclear" with N. Korea

As you have been readings in the essays from Oiwa and Suzuki's book The Japan We Never Knew,
World War II and the historical and cultural issues surrounding it are never far from the surface.

Two very interesting news items from today's The Japan Times make this clear in different ways.

A museum in Naha, Okinawa just banned an exhibit by the artist Nobuyuki Oura that include collages with depictions of Emperor Hirohito, the reigning emperor during WWII. (For the purposes of full disclosure, I should mention that I love Oura's collages).

The article reports:

"The decision has drawn a barrage of criticism from art critics in Okinawa.

"Okinawa was drawn into the ground battle during World War II under Japan's Imperial system," said one of the critics. "The prefectural government does not understand how dreadful it would be for authorities to promote only art that sees a bright side while avoiding facing up to the reality of the unfortunate part of history."

The Museum of Modern art in Toyama Prefecture cquired some of the collages and exhibited them in 1986. But the museum soon closed the show and sold it to other parties after it sparked strong protests from rightwingers.

In 1994, Oura filed a lawsuit demanding Toyama Prefecture repurchase the collages, but the court ruled against him in 2000. The latest incident "represents self-protection and excessive reaction from a local government, which makes the topic on the Imperial system taboo," said Oura.


In other news, the Japan Times also reports that former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa gave a speech suggesting Japan should consider "going nuclear" - that is developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to North Korea, which recently conducted both nuclear tests and missile tests.

I very touchy if not taboo subject - whether Japn should ever have nuclear weapons or support any country to do so - comes up again here as many Japanese continue to debate more broadly whether Article 9 should be revised.

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