Culture · Culture Shock · Education · Elementary School Education · Japanese Pop Culture · Jr. High School Education · Living in Japan

Manga to be used as Propaganda

cover art for volume 1

Manga to promote US-Japan military alliance
The US military is to use manga-style comics to teach Japanese children about the two countries’ security alliance.
The US military is to use manga-style comics to teach Japanese children about the two countries’ security alliance.

Four comics featuring a Japanese girl and a visiting US boy will be posted online, each exploring how US and Japanese troops work together.

A US spokesman said they were intended as a light-hearted explanation of the history of the alliance.

The comics, marking 50 years of the security pact, come amid strained ties over US bases in Okinawa.

The first Japanese-language manga comic, entitled Our Alliance – A Lasting Partnership, will be posted online on Wednesday.

In it the young girl, Arai Anzu – which sounds like alliance when pronounced by a Japanese person – asks the boy, Usa-kun – a play on USA – why he is protecting her house.

“Because we have an alliance,” he says. “We are ‘Important Friends’.”

“It’s good to have a friend you can rely on to go with you,” the little girl concludes.

Major Neal Fisher, deputy director of the US forces’ public affairs office in Japan, said the manga were intended as a “light-hearted approach to telling the story of the alliance through the eyes of two young people who are learning why the US military are in Japan”.

The manga format was chosen because it was “a very commonly accepted format of media in Japan – it is read as much if not more than newspapers”, he added.

Some paper copies of the comics would also be available at bases, he said.

Japan hosts some 47,000 US troops in return for security guarantees from the US, under a security pact agreed in 1960. More than half of these troops are based on the southern island of Okinawa.

Plans to relocate the Futenma airbase from southern to northern Okinawa have caused outrage amongst residents who want the base moved off the island completely.

The row toppled Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, after he was forced to renege on a pledge to re-evaluate the base relocation deal.

/end BBC article

To be honest, I am not really sure how I feel about this. The first volume is online right now, and I am thinking that I may have a new project to start in translating the comic and posting it here. If I translate, would people be interested in reading it?

For those interested, here is the Japanese website.


One thought on “Manga to be used as Propaganda

  1. What are you feelings on it? You say you don’t know how to feel: does that mean you’re apprehensive or hesitant about it? I obviously haven’t read it (and to be honest I don’t think that my Japanese is up to snuff to try right now) but from what I’m reading, it seems like something that’s pretty typical in regards to how the US military might reach out to the Japanese.

    Granted, I understand the implications and the propagandist nature of a piece like this, but given the current undercurrent of resentment that seems to be thematic in Okinawa regarding the military occupation, it’s pretty evident that there needs to be some kind of hand extended to the Japanese as a whole.

    I suppose that the situation is polarized because Okinawa is basically the ass-end of Japan and the citizens of Japan in general almost don’t consider Okinawans to be ‘truly Japanese’ (at least from the sentiments I felt when we were in Okinawa, not to mention back on Honshu) but…I don’t know. America’s not getting out of Japan anytime soon, no matter what the Japanese (particularly the Okinawans) want. I’d prefer that the Japanese are comfortable with the Americans, but as I don’t think that’ll happen, it’s kind of interesting to see the tactics the military is taking to try and ingratiate itself into Japanese culture.

    Wow this got a little long. But I’d love to hear your opinions.

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