The Abe administration's move—towards political censorship, fuller remilitarization (this week the Japanese government discarded a half-century ban on the export of weapons), and overturning Article 9, the Peace Clause of the Japanese Constitution—has reminded many of prewar and wartime Japan.
Professor Jeffrey Dym's (Sacramento State) terrific Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai opens a window on popular Japanese culture of that period. The 2012 short documentary film explores how the wartime government appropriated kamishigai, a form of popular Japanese street art, to exhort Japanese people to embrace death during war as a duty to the state.
Dym shows how wartime Japanese propaganda glorified dying for the nation, and, in contrast, American Second World War propaganda glorified killing the enemy.
We live in an increasingly visual culture and I believe it is important for us as scholars to become involved in creating and adding scholarly contributions to it and not just as talking heads in a documentary. Thus, I have embarked on a road I call "visual scholarship."
I would like to announce the publishing of an eighteen minute documentary--"Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai" (paper plays; 国策紙芝居)--I recently completed. The film examines Japanese propaganda from a unique angle and the film could be used to spark classroom discussion, particularly if paired with an American wartime propaganda film like "Know Your Enemy Japan."
Recent posts on Japanese concern about remilitarization:
"Kenzaburo Oe, Jakucho Setouchi, Masahide Ota found “1000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering wars" (Rally @Hibiya Park, March 20, 2014)" (March 18, 2014)
"Yoji Yamada's Kabei (Our Mother) explores repression and militarization during wartime Japan" (April 2, 2014)