From Anne Frank to Hello Kittytags: World War II, Japan
Norihiro Kato is a literary scholar and a professor at Waseda University. This article was translated by Michael Emmerich from the Japanese.
TOKYO — In late February, officials from city libraries contacted the police after discovering that hundreds of copies of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” had been defaced. Media reports included an awful picture: a torn photograph of the girl smiling in a mutilated book. No culprit has been identified, but the rash of vandalism seemed to begin around the time, in January, that a member of the ultranationalist group Zaitokukai marched in a rally with a Nazi flag over his shoulders.
The invocation of Nazi symbols by Japanese right-wingers is a new phenomenon. During the Cold War they focused their hatred on the U.S.S.R. and communism; now, they have shifted their attention to China, South Korea and, increasingly, the United States. Brandishing the flag of Japan’s wartime ally is a roundabout way for right-wingers to laud Japan’s imperialist past. Presumably, the defacement of those copies of Anne Frank’s diary was an expression of the same sentiment.
In my view, it was also a symptom of something broader. Over the past few decades, Japan has developed a mechanism to avoid facing up to its wartime history: It has neutralized issues that are too painful to deal with by rendering them purely aesthetic, and harmless — by making them “cute.” But that strategy no longer seems to be working....
comments powered by Disqus
- King Tut had overbite, club foot because his parents were brother and sister
- Prehistoric humans were far smarter than previously assumed
- Priests race to save manuscripts from jihadists in Iraq
- Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees
- Conflict Uncovers a Ukrainian Identity Crisis Over Deep Russian Roots
- Highlights of the recent Oral History Association Meeting
- Rick Perlstein response to Sam Tanenhaus's complaint that he's an aggregator
- Thai historian faces charges for daring to challenge a story about a royal king
- It's Rick Perlstein vs. Judith Stein in a Three Round Fight
- Park Honan, a Biographer of Authors, Is Dead at 86