Reception of the revisionist historical manga in Japan: a case study of university students
AbstractSince the emergence of the so-called ‘liberal historiography’ in the mid 1990s, historical revisionism in Japan has been one of the most hotly debated academic topics in Japanese studies. While the majority of the current scholarship focuses on the structure of the revisionist texts and the individuals behind them, the case study presented in this paper seeks to explore the way the young readers in Japan actually receive the revisionist texts, with a particular focus on the revisionist manga. Building on Stuart Hall’s conceptualization of the relationship between media producers and the audience, this paper analyzes the results of a survey conducted among students of two Japanese universities. Its main argument can be divided into two parts. In terms of empirical findings it shows that in general the respondents engage in critical reading of those narratives that contradict the dominant discourse. Drawing on these findings the paper argues that academic scrutiny of a certain cultural product needs to take into account the broader social discourse when speculating on its possible effects on the reader.
Keywords: Japan, historical revisionism, historical memory, manga, popular culture, reception
Alexander Bukh is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and an LLM from the University of Tokyo. Alexander has published extensively on Japan-Russia relations and issues related to Japan’s national identity in such journals as Asian Survey, European Journal of International Relations and the Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. He is the author of Japan’s Identity and Foreign Policy: Russia as Japan’s Other (Routledge 2009).