Book Announcement: Negotiating Censorship in Modern Japan

ed. Rachael Hutchinson, Routledge Contemporary Japan Series no. 45

Censorship in Japan has seen many changes over the last 150 years, with each successive system of rule possessing its own censorship laws, regulations, and methods of enforcement. Yet what has remained constant through these many upheavals has been the process of negotiation between censor and artist that can be seen across the cultural media of modern society.

By exploring censorship in a number of different Japanese art forms–from popular music and kabuki performance through to fiction, poetry and film– across a range of historical periods, this book provides a striking picture of the pervasiveness and strength of Japanese censorship across a range of media; the similar tactics used by artists of different media to negotiate censorship boundaries; and how censors from different systems and time periods face many of the same problems and questions in their work. The essays in this collection highlight the complexities of the censorship process by investigating the responsibilities and choices of artists, censors, audience and ideologues, in a wide range of case studies. The contributors shift the focus away from top-down suppression, towards the more complex negotiations involved in the many stages of an artistic work, all of which involve movement within boundaries, as well as testing of those boundaries, on the part of both artist and censor. Taken together, the essays in this book demonstrate that censorship at every stage involves an act of human judgment, in a context determined by political, economic and ideological factors.

This book and its case studies provide a fascinating insight into the dynamics of censorship and how these operate on both people and texts. As such, it will be of great interest to students and scholars interested in Japanese studies, Japanese culture, society and history, and media studies more generally.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: negotiating censorship in modern Japan, by Rachael Hutchinson
2. Censorship and patronage in Meiji kabuki theater, by Rachel Payne
3. Seditious obscenity / obscene seditions: the radical eroticism of Umehara Hokumei, by Jonathan Abel
4. The censor as critic: Ogawa Chikagorou and popular music censorship in imperial Japan, by Hiromu Nagahara
5. Kawabata’s wartime message in Beautiful Voyage (Utsukushii tabi), by Hiromi Tsuchiya Dollase
6. Banned books in the hands of Japanese librarians: from Meiji to postwar, by Sharon H. Domier
7. Self-censorship: the case of wartime Japanese poetry, by Leith Morton
8. Kurosawa Akira’s One Wonderful Sunday: censorship, context and counter-discursive film, by Rachael Hutchinson
9. Censoring Tamura Taijirous Biography of a Prostitute (Shunpuden), by Eleanor Kerkham
10. Censoring imperial honorifics: a linguistic analysis of Occupation censorship in newspapers and literature, by Noriko Akimoto Sugimori
11. “Art” il-legally defined? A legal and art historical analysis of Akasegawa Genpei’s Model Thousand-yen Note Incident, by Yayoi Shionoiri
12. Parodying the censor and censoring parody in modern Japan, by Kirsten Cather

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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1 Response to Book Announcement: Negotiating Censorship in Modern Japan

  1. toranosuke says:

    Thanks for the info on this! Of course, since it doesn’t address Edo period censorship of art and theatre, it’s not quite as pertinent to my period… If only Undercurrents in the Floating World: Censorship and Japanese Prints were less totally out-of-print, and were more available…

    But, on the other hand, I took a seminar last Spring which ended up being in large part about censorship in modern Japan, and it was actually quite interesting. What gets banned and what doesn’t and why? And what effect does that have on the reader, on society, on discourse?

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