In Japanese literature, emotional issues and urban culture reflect the political consciousness of the country


In Japanese politics, concerning internal issues, it can easily be observed  the element of guilt, considering the past. Even Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, led the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. According to that reform, the book of history teached in schools, should be rewritten and free of facts that were not in favor of Japan. Shinzo Abe (who is a right-wing politician) and President of the Liberal Democratic Party, denied by any means that Japan forced women into sexual slavery back in World War II.

Of course the second Sino-Japanese War, which took place between 1937-1945, is known to be the biggest war in Asia, during the 20th century. After the Japanese attack in Pearl Harbor in 1941, this war became the biggest military conflict during World War II and ended only when Japan fully conceded.

During that period, some of the worst crimes against humanity were committed on behalf of Japan and against China. The most known crime of that kind, is the "massacre of Nanjing" in 1937, when many people got killed and burried alive, women got raped and the town of Nanjing that used to be China's former capital, was called for many years as the city that was raped.  

This difficulty of Shinzo Abe, apologizing for this totally dehumanizing incident of the past, stems from a feeling of guilt and at the same time it depicts the prudent nature of the country, which is engraved with a feeling of defeat and major disappointment when it comes to facing the brutality of human nature, and even a nihilistic approach on social and ethical issues.

Japan's defeat in World War II, deeply influenced Japanese literature. Stories having to do with the loss of a purpose, dealing with emotional issues instead of facts as such, involving a human being in front of post-apocalyptic scenes, seem to be common matters between Japanese writers. 

Women's role, the contemporary modern "persona" in the Japanese cultural frame, is "de facto" of prime importance. The problems of people who are lost in the complexities of urban culture and their pursuit of the meaning of life, is a notion, one can easily grasp and find, when reading Japanese literature. 

This literary approach, can also be observed in the manga comic books...

There is a constant feeling of loss, of a malaise, of disaffection having to do primarily with human nature. A sense of lack of purpose, when at the same time nature is wise and leads its heroes in situations which seem to be predetermined, and the only space for autonomy or spontaneity, is human reaction to these "by nature" pre-established conditions. 

All these thoughts and the comparison between the prudent political consciousness of Japan, which dates back years ago before Shinzo Abe (he is just a piece of the puzzle), gained power, came to me, after reading the masterpiece of the Nobel Prize Winner, Jasunari Kawabata's "The Dancer of Izu"...

His sence of poetry, subtleness, elegant sensibility that goes far beyond the characters of the book, and at the same time japanese cruelty, which is always there accompanying the most fragile scenes, actually talk about the chaos and the tender disorder of a human's soul. Each human being is covered by a martyr shadow, which seems to the reader as a quest for the hidden "face" of destiny...

As Kawabata says: "Searching again for hapiness, is so hopeless and fruitless as it is the awakening of a young dancer, or the reflection of moon on water"...

And i couldn't ever find better words, to describe the melancholic, lucid and humble nature of the Japanese culture, which dictates a sort of prudence in their political consciousness.

                                  written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science

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