The team gathers together their top picks from the season past.
We debut our shiny new logo, including some extremely cool new merch.
Dee, Vrai, and Peter look back at Winter 2022’s hidden gems and many disappointing endings.
The less resemblance it has to the actual sport, the better.
Support Billy Kametz (GoFundMe)
Fundraiser for voice actor Billy Kametz, who’s recently been diagnosed with Stage-IV colon cancer at only 35.
Jinnie here, Billy’s convention agent. Setting this up and helping my friend has been one of the highest honors of my life. I knew he was loved, but to see this amazing outpouring of support and generosity has been both incredible and humbling.
I’ve been seeing some online chatter about the goal (was $100,000) and how we picked that number. To clear that up, I want to make clear that I selected that amount out of thin air and none of us on Team Billy ever thought we’d hit it, especially this fast.
There are still so many questions about Billy’s treatment costs. So to be completely transparent, I’m going to give the goal a gentle bump to try and allow for future surprises. And if/when we hit this new amount, please know that you are still free to continue donating. I’ll leave this up and open for as long as he needs it.
Shigenobu Fusako, Japanese Red Army Leader, to be Released from Prison this Month (Unseen Japan, Noah Oskow)
A history of Shigenobu’s political life and far-left group the Japanese Red Army. The linked article includes photos from scenes of violence that show blood but no bodies.
Back in Japan, the United Red Army collapsed in a horrific fit of self-directed violence, ending with a ten-day-long standoff with police in a besieged mountainside inn. The domestic reaction to the URA self-purge and hostage situation spelled the end of popular support for the New Left in Japan. Abroad, however, Shigenobu would seemingly lead her Japanese Red Army on nearly two decades of headline-stealing mayhem: high-profile hijackings, bombings, hostage-takings, and killings. Perhaps the most infamous of these attacks was the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre; three Japanese JRA members disembarked from an Air France airplane at Israel’s Lod Airport and, wielding machine guns and grenades, began an attack that would leave 26 dead and over seventy wounded, some grievously. The majority of those killed were Christian Puerto Rican pilgrims.
INTERPOL added Shigenobu Fusako to their wanted list following the JRA’s 1974 French Embassy attack in The Hague. From that point onwards, Shignobu was wanted by Japan, Israel, and much of the international community at large. In Japan, the JRA’s activities abroad had caused much embarrassment and stress for the government; in Israel, the Mossad wanted to track down the masterminds behind the Lod Massacre.
In Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, and beyond, however, Shigenobu was a hero who had put her own life at risk in order to help liberate Palestine. Despite her wanted status, Shigenobu, living out of various PFLP staging and refugee camps, continued to act as spokesman for the JRA, appearing on Arabic-language TV and in Japanese-language JRA propaganda and carefully curated media interviews. During this time she gave birth to a daughter, Shigenobu Mei, who would grow up among the refugee camps.
Indeed, Shigenobu is still hailed as a heroic revolutionary to this day within some far-left/Palestinian liberation spaces. The Japanese Red Army continued to tout itself as a group of revolutionaries, not terrorists, even as their tally of victims grew. Shigenobu Mei, Shigenobu Fusako’s daughter, is now an international journalist, working in Japanese, English, and Arabic; she speaks of the JRA in the same breath as she does Gandhi and Nelson Mandela; she insists the Lod Massacre was carried out by a separate group of Japanese leftists,  despite one of the three gunmen having been Okudaira Tsuyoshi – Shigenobu Fusako’s legal husband and fellow Red Army member. Testimony from arrested JRA operatives cited the embarrassment of the terrible URA purge as the inciting reason for the Lod Massacre; Shigenobu and Okudaira needed to stage an event that would prove their revolutionary bona fides and dissociate them from the URA.
While the deadly effects of the Lod Massacre were held as a mass tragedy in Puerto Rico and Israel (an annual day of mourning was even put into place by the Puerco Rican government), it was indeed seen as a great success in revolutionary circles in Japan and in much of the Arab world.
Group calls for end to sexual harassment in the film industry (The Asahi Shimbun, Takuji Hosomi and Misuzu Sato)
The full statement is available in English and is linked in the article.
The association to end sexual abuse in the film and moving image industry was established on April 27. The 12 members include screenwriter Takehiko Minato, cinematographer Shin Hayasaka, actor and activist Yumi Ishikawa, actor and writer Midori Suiren and film director Mipo O.
The move comes as the premiere of the film “Mitsugetsu,” scheduled for March, was canceled after a magazine reported allegations from several actors that the film’s director, Hideo Sakaki, had sexually assaulted them in the past.
Ishikawa also indicated that Sakaki had demanded sex with him in return for casting her in his film. Minato, who wrote the script for “Mitsugetsu,” about sexual abuse by a family member, and Hayasaka, who shot the movie, are demanding an explanation from the director.
REVIEW: ‘To Strip the Flesh’ (But Why Tho?, Quinn)
Anthology manga whose main story revolves around a trans man and his dysphoria.
While the anthology features quite a few stories, they don’t all get the same treatment. Some of the stories are just a couple of pages long, while others take up the majority of the book. For example, most of the pages are taken up by a story about a trans man who finally begins transitioning. And with so few stories out there about trans people, I’m not complaining. This particular story features Chiaki Ogawa, who feels like he can’t transition due to his mother’s dying wish that Chiaki becomes a bride. Add on his ailing father’s expectations, and Chiaki feels trapped.
This is a story about a trans person through and through so trans-specific acronyms such as GID and SRS (which stand for gender identity disorder and sexual reassignment surgery, respectively) are used accordingly. While these may certainly be jarring for people outside the community (and even outside of Japan), notes at the end of the manga do a good job of not only explaining the acronyms themselves but how they are used in a very different way in Japan than how they’re used in western areas like the United States and the United Kingdom. With this added context, To Strip the Flesh highlights the struggles of trans people in Japan who have to overcome both medical and political hurdles. Knowing this, all the emotion Toda weaves into Chiaki himself makes the entire story more moving.
As Japan’s Gen Z shy away from rallies, unions ponder how to boost May Day events (The Mainichi, Haruna Okuyama)
In a survey of 1500 respondents aged 15 to 29, 46% reacted negatively to participating in in-person rallies.
Rengo’s deputy secretary-general Haruhisa Yamaneki, who was involved in the questionnaire, commented, “Social movements are essentially aimed at spreading sympathy among a large number of citizens, but it seems those movements are not necessarily receiving understanding.”
It’s not that Generation Z is less interested in social activism. According to the poll, 87% of respondents said there are social issues that they are concerned about. Those issues ranged from “bullying,” cited by 20.7%, to “long work hours (work-life balance)” at 18.7%, “suicide issues” at 16.7%, “gender-based discrimination” at 16.3% and “health care and social security” at 15.1%.
Among the pollees, 36.8% said they had taken part in social activism. Of these, 25.4% said they had attended seminars to deepen their knowledge, and 23.2% had shared information or their views through social media. Meanwhile, only 14.7% said they had participated in rallies, demonstrations, marches or parades.
Of those who never took part in demonstrations, rallies or parades, 22.2% said they felt uncomfortable about their faces and names being made public, followed by 21.6% who said they didn’t have enough knowledge to join such activities and 18% who said they were too busy to do so.
“While people in this generation have a high level of interest in social challenges, they are also aware of the risks of being personally identified and coming under fire on the internet,” said Naoya Okamoto, a manager at Rengo’s event planning bureau. To help younger generations participate at ease without showing their faces or using their own names, Rengo streams video sessions themed on common labor issues once a month, such as labor-management agreements on overtime.
BOOK REVIEW | ‘Reflections on Tsuda Umeko: Pioneer of Women’s Education in Japan’ by Minako Oba (Japan Forward, Mayuka Sato, PhD)
Biography of Tsuda Umeko, one of the first Japanese women to study in the US and founder of Tsuda University.
These letters contain Umeko’s views on the situation of women at the time and some historical insights into this period.
At one time, Umeko lived in the home of Hirobumi Ito, who was the first Prime Minister of Japan. She enjoyed unique experiences, such as teaching English to his wife, nights out at Rokumeikan, a hall used for entertaining foreign dignitaries, and observing the domestic side of Ito’s family.
They [Ito’s wife and daughters] seem to reverence their father, and his word is law to all, but his faults and his morals seem not to trouble them very much, if it does at all. Alas, too often are such faults passed over, and for the woman, there is no help … (p. 140)
Her critiques are fascinating because they give us a historical glimpse behind the scenes of a politician who ran Japan during the Meiji era, in addition to Umeko’s feminist perspective.
The Utoro community sought help from the UN, South Korea, and several small groups within Japan to protest their eviction, but the land was eventually turned into public housing and the mentioned museum.
The Utoro Peace Memorial Museum, located in Kyoto Prefecture’s Uji, chronicles 77 years of struggle, starting with the first generation of Korean residents there who chose to stay in Japan at the end of World War II, partly because of the difficulties of returning to the Korean Peninsula. They had been involved in building an airfield when the war came to a close in 1945, but Japan’s defeat stopped construction.
An estimated 1,300 workers from the peninsula, then under Japanese rule, were engaged in the construction of the airfield, according to the operator of the three-storied museum.
Often facing discrimination in Japanese society, those who continued living in bunkhouses for Korean airfield laborers formed a community that became known as Utoro. Residents supported each other in the years after the war, and with cheaper rents, the neighborhood also attracted Koreans from other parts of Japan.
But while the nation overall quickly recovered from the war’s destruction, Utoro households went entirely without water due to the lack of legal land ownership until 1988, when Uji city authorities finally laid water pipes after obtaining approval from the landowner at the time.
Despite the lack of such a basic utility, which forced them to draw water from wells, the residents were allowed to continue living in the community for decades. They built houses and raised children who then started families of their own in Utoro.
But their life was upended when a real estate firm in Osaka Prefecture, which had obtained the legal ownership of Utoro’s land, filed a lawsuit with the Kyoto District Court in February 1989, demanding the residents vacate the 2-hectare plot and their houses.
TWEET: Trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of Anime Supremacy.
THREAD: Translation of an article about a gay man who had the cops called on him for protesting a statement by a representative of Tokyo Rainbow Pride. Further commentary about the severity of this issue available here.
TWEET: Announcement of a reprint of the English release of classic shoujo series The Poe Clan.
Shout-out to the Keijo!!!!!!!! fans, still carrying that torch.