While I didn’t watch either previous iteration of ‘Produce 101‘, ‘Produce 48‘ drew my interest specifically because they would combine the pop cultures of Korea and Japan. Knowing the contentious history of the two countries, as well as their differing approaches to idols, I figured it would have gigantic messy entertainment potential, both on the show itself and with viewers. So far that has generally come to fruition, with people being equal parts excited and shitty about it.
A significant part of that mess right now is the narrative that AKB48 are right-wing because of an alleged World War II glorifying performance in which one member had a rising sun patch on her shoulder. The assumption being that she was rocking that patch because the group were glorifying Japan’s imperial past. I’ve seen this being repeated over and over on a variety of netizen translation sites, so I decided to look into it further myself, and while I enjoy the mess, my desire to correct bullshit being spread turns out to be greater.
It’s actually an anti-war performance and song.
The song performed was “Bokutachi Wa Tatakawanai“, which is “We Will Never Fight“, and basically expresses that in the context of humanity and conflict. So … it’s kinda hippy pacifist in nature, which is the opposite of what it’s being accused of.
The fight stuff got a lot of superficial attention (including from me), but the message itself is not that of glorifying the fighting, but basically saying that it’ll never stop and you’ll be miserable in the end.
We won’t fight, because we believe in love, if we just exchange blows, nothing will be settled. We no longer wish to entrust it all, to a single button, sorry for all the trouble I’ve put you through, let’s forgive each other. We won’t fight, because we believe in love. Even those fists raised high, will be brought down someday.
The whole thing isn’t exactly subtle and can be found with about literally 30 seconds on Google. One could also argue that, in the context presented, it’s apologizing for Japan’s past actions as well.
Only one member wore that rising sun flag patch, and it wasn’t anybody on the show.
In actuality, Yokoyama Yui was the one who wore the jacket, and it was during a “Mae Shika Mukanae” performance with a retro concept. There’s no defending wearing the rising sun flag in a vacuum, but the whole problem is that this isn’t necessarily recognized as right wing.
Outside of Asia, and especially in Japan, the rising sun flag generally doesn’t carry the same connotation as the Nazi flag, even if the two can be justifiably compared. That’s why it’s used in logos of major papers, is plastered on beer cans of gigantic corporations, used for the flags of American military units, are displayed bombastically on uniforms of Canadian martial artists, and so on and so forth. It certainly doesn’t help that the Japanese government continues to use it, which certainly makes most people who come in contact with it around the world believe it’s just any other flag.
I definitely understand anybody taking offense, but unlike other cultural and/or societal issues, I’d argue the actual problem is the fact that it’s not considered taboo as right-wing or extremist in Japan (or many other places) to begin with. Thus, saying the member rocking it did so to co-sign on that ideology is reaching, much less assigning that blame to the whole group.
Anyway, my desire is less to defend AKS and more to point out that once again, taking translated internet comments and blog posts and just trusting it because it’s somebody from that culture/society saying it is insane. They are humans and have the same kind of absolute thunderdipshits leaving comments just like anybody from your country leaving a comment on the Internet.
Besides, if you want AKS drama, you don’t exactly need to make shit up either.