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Thursday, August 29, 2019

"Even Cats are Disgusted!" Okinawan Author Medoruma Shun and Three Japanese Authors' Criticism of the Media Frenzy over the New Imperial Era and Unconstitutionality  「猫もあきれる」翼賛報道と、違憲性が増す「天皇制」を問う:『アジア太平洋ジャーナル:ジャパンフォーカス』に4著者の記事英訳

The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus presents: Medoruma Shun, an Akutagawa-Award winning Okinawan author, Watanabe Osamu, a constitutional scholar in Tokyo, Kihara Satoru, a freelance journalist in Fukuyama, Hiroshima, and Satoko Oka Norimatsu, an Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus editor as rare voices of dissent over the media hype concerning the changeover of the Japanese emperor and adoption of the new era name Reiwa. Translation by Steve Rabson, Lawrence Repeta, Satoko Oka Norimatsu, and by the author, respectively. With special thanks to Joseph Essertier for his assistance with translation. https://apjjf.org/2019/17/Medoruma_Watanabe_Kihara_Norimatsu.html

うんざり猫 Even Cats are disgusted 
ブログ再開します。第一弾は、英語投稿。4月から5月の「改元」「天皇代替わり」におけるメディアの翼賛的賛美報道を批判する記事の英訳コレクションを『アジア太平洋ジャーナル:ジャパンフォーカス』から出しました。元の日本語記事は、沖縄の作家・目取真俊氏のブログから2記事(4月29日「天皇(制)翼賛報道に明け暮れるマスコミの醜悪さ」と5月1日「猫もあきれるマスコミの天皇翼賛報道」)、憲法学者の渡辺治氏の「憲法との矛盾広がった 象徴天皇制と民主主義」(共同通信配信記事、4月19日『中国新聞』掲載)、鬼原悟氏の『アリのひと言』ブログ4月29日「天皇『退位・即位儀式』7つの憲法違反」に加えブログ運営者・乗松聡子の『琉球新報』4月11日掲載「元号狂乱 排除なき時代つくろう」です。翻訳者は目取真記事はスティーブ・ラブソン氏、渡辺記事はローレンス・レペタ氏、鬼原記事は乗松聡子、乗松の記事は著者本人です。翻訳に助言をくれたジョセフ・エセシェ氏に感謝します。

コレクション全体は、『アジア太平洋ジャーナル:ジャパンフォーカス』本体を見てください。
https://apjjf.org/2019/17/Medoruma_Watanabe_Kihara_Norimatsu.html

ここにはブログ運営者の記事を転載します。Here is the blog owner's article.

Imperial Era” frenzy – it is we, the people, who define our era 
Satoko Oka Norimatsu
Translation by the author
Around this time 74 years ago, as the United States military rained bombs on them from above, many Okinawans were killed and forced into suicide or group suicide, as the Japanese military forbade them to surrender to the enemy. Today I think of the feelings of regret and the anger of those who were killed, and of the suffering of those who survived. And now, not only does the state of war continue in Okinawa with U.S. military bases that have been there ever since the Battle of Okinawa, the Japanese government rams through its militarization, ranging from reclamation work in Henoko, to the construction of new bases for the Ground Self-Defense Forces on the islands of Miyakojima and Amami-Oshima, to the commencement of similar construction on the Island of Ishigakijima. This is a grave state of affairs that cannot be tolerated.
Meanwhile, oblivious to this state of affairs, Japan as a whole is engaging in what I would call a “gengō frenzy” as the new gengō (imperial era name) was announced on the first of April. On television we saw people feverishly grabbing their copy of newspaper extras, shouting at the top of their lungs, “Give me one!” or falling down on the ground. I was wondering how I could possibly explain this spectacle to people outside of Japan. In the age of the Internet, what on earth could drive people to panic in such a fashion over the printed edition of one newspaper extra?
Is an “era” something to be given from the authorities, let alone something to be defined by Japan’s imperial succession? The new gengō was decided behind closed doors by a handful of politicians who are charged with representing us and carrying out our mandate, and by civil servants whom we have hired with our tax money. But we the people, who are the sovereigns of the nation, were totally shut out of the process. The mass media fully embraced the undemocratic nature of the event with their reports. Sadly, the “gengō panic,” mentioned above, was a situation in which those sovereigns sang and danced to the tune of such mass media hype, instead of being outraged by it.
As far as I am concerned, it does not matter what the new gengō (or era name) is, but there is something worth noting here. It has been reported that the Abe administration, following its typical nationalistic inclinations, wished to use a phrase from Japanese literature (Kokusho) for the new era name, breaking from the tradition of quoting from Chinese literature. Abe took the word Reiwa from the Man’yōshū, an anthology of waka poems in the late 8th century. However, experts pointed out that that passage in the Man’yōshū actually comes from classical Chinese literature.1 Considering that ancient Japanese civilization developed with influence from the continent, it is mere fantasy to expect that one could somehow extract a “pure Japan” from one of the classics of Japanese literature. The Abe administration should give up on this illusion of “inherent Japanese culture” and admit that one cannot talk about Japanese culture without an understanding of the profound history of the continent.
Prime Minister Abe also used the word “Japanese people” (Nipponjin) three times during the initial speech that he gave at the press conference, after the announcement of the new era name on April 1: “...all Japanese will be able to make their own blossoms come into full bloom, together with their hopes for tomorrow,” “Era names are also integrated into the hearts and minds of the Japanese...” and “It is my sincere wish that this new era name will also be widely accepted by the public and take root deeply within the daily lives of the Japanese people.” 2
Emperor Akihito himself, at the ceremony on the 24th of February to celebrate the 30th year of his emperorship, also used the phrase “the cultural level of this country which has been nurtured by Japanese people over many years, from the past to the present.”3
In Japan, there are about 2.7 million residents who are not “Japanese” by nationality. There are those who have Japanese citizenship but have identities other than “Japanese,” and there are, of course, those with mixed heritage. The people of Okinawa, which was annexed by Japan, may identify in a variety of ways. The prime minister, who represents the citizens of this country, and the emperor, who is the “symbol” of Japan, must pay due respect to those who, while not being “Japanese,” are legitimate members of this society.
April 1 was also the day when the revised Immigration Law came into effect, enabling admittance into Japan over the course of the next 5 years approximately 350,000 people to live and work there. But hate speech is still rampant on the streets and on the Internet, and the Foreign Trainees System has led to many human rights abuses.
Let us, the people of Japan, not get caught up in the gengō frenzy, have a clear awareness that Japan does not belong exclusively to the “Japanese,” and together create a society free of discrimination and exclusion. By doing so, we will create our own “era.”
This is the author’s translation of the 25th in her series of articles entitled, “Norimatsu Satoko no me” (From the Eyes of Satoko Norimatsu”) in Ryukyu Shimpo. The article’s original title was “Gengō kyoran: haijo naki jidai tsukurō” (Regnal Year Madness: Let’s Create an Era Free of Exclusion). It appeared in The Ryukyu Shimpo on April 11, 2019.

Notes


1
“Hatsu no kokusho, Man’yōshū shutten – Chūgoku koten fumae,” Tokyo Shimbun, April 2, 2019, p. 1.

2
Abe Shinzo, “On the New Era Name ‘Reiwa’,” Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet, April 1, 2019.

3
Akihito, “Address by His Majesty the Emperor on the Occasion of the Commemoration Ceremony of the Thirtieth Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne (February 24, 2019),” The Imperial Household Agency. The official translation has “people of Japan” as the translation of “Nippon-jin” that Akihito used in his speech, but it would be more accurate to translate this as “the Japanese people.”

See the whole collection of essays HERE.



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