Hayao Miyazaki criticized Japanese Prime Minister Taro Asō during a Thursday news conference for overemphasizing his manga reading.

When asked about the conservative minister’s manga habit, Miyazaki said, “It’s an embarrassment. That’s something that should be done in private.” Miyazaki also downplayed the use of Japanese entertainment to promote the country — as Asō has been advocating — and to raise Japan’s youth. The director warned of nationalism by noting, “We learned from the last war that the town we love or the country we love can always turn into something bad to the world. I believe we must not forget what we learned.”

Source: ANN

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11 thoughts on “Hayao Miyazaki vs Taro Aso

  1. I have not seen Earthsea yet, but heard it was not a very good film. Goro publicly criticized his father actually. Miyazaki said, “I don’t favor him just because he is my son. I think he will face testing times in the future. That’s all.”

    Here is what Miyazaki thinks (somewhat hypocritically) about children:

    “This environment surrounding our children is full of virtual reality: television, video games, e-mail, mobile phones and manga. I think this saps children of their strength.” However, he added, “But I want to continue this job, believing it is also a happy experience that a child has an unforgettable movie.”

  2. Basically he’s saying…

    “Kids are wasting their time and money on stuff other than my movies. I want to keep making movies since it’ll make me happy with the revenues.”

  3. haha Well, I think what he is saying is that watching a good movie once in a while made by him or other talented directors is always good, but oversaturation of youth with virtual things is not.

  4. I believe that Myazaki’s statement about Aso has to do with his conservative bend on Japanese recent history, in which his own family is also involved (as they were employing prisoners of wars and forced labor workers in their coal mines during the WWII). The fact is that manga can be both used to promote imaginary worlds that act like catharsis or at least as escaping places for people or even promote healthy values and poetic vision (like in Myazaki’s movies), and as a way to convey much less pleasant worldviews, some of which tend to “soften up” (if you allow me this euphemistic expression) the most spiky parts of the Japanese army’s behavior in Asia, if not to outright ignore or even make them pass for lies from outside enemies of Japan. Just a few weeks ago, I went to the screening of “Furusato Japan”, which, in my opinion, turned out to be nothing less than a piece of nauseating propaganda glorifying Japanese so-called peaceful objectives in Asia during WWII. I can assure you that I told that to the head of the association organizing this screening and he agreed with me. In fact, he had no idea that it would be so, as all the summaries published by the distributor and the DVD editor didn’t say much about the historical aspect of the movie. And to be honest, I’m tempted to write to the DVD editor to ask them to put up a notice on the box, if not also inside the add-ons to the movie, about this much less pleasing aspect of the story.

    Another reason for Myazaki’s embarrassment might have to do with the fact that, despite his own involvement in this industry and the fact that his productions are aimed at audiences from all social classes, he feels that people of Mr. Aso’s standing shouldn’t be so vocal about their reading manga, because it simply doesn’t fit with their social position. As we all know, mangas are for lower-class, uneducated and unrefined people, not for the high-bourgeoisie to which people like Taro Aso belong (I’m being ironic here…). I suspect that Myazaki doesn’t want to see “popular” mass culture used to promote Japan abroad, because he still sticks to the idea that what his country has to offer the world is its multicentenial “high” civilization, not industrial ephemeral “crap” (of course, not his productions). Of course, I don’t agree with this view, but that’s one that is still upheld by many Japaneses when they think of the image their country project to the outside world.

  5. Thank you for a detailed comment 🙂

    You mention some very interesting facts about Miyazaki family…

    Indeed, manga, like any art can be used for various purposes. I have not heard about Furusato Japan before, but it is a recent movie (2007). Looks like such views are still alive and well in Japan – recent Tamogami essay is a good example.

    Japan has many things to offer, but “industrial ephemeral crap” is more popular than other aspects.

  6. I was talking about Aso’s family, not Myazaki’s. I realize, now, rereading my comment, that I formulated it in a misleading way… From what I understand, Hayao Myazaki had an uncle who was an engineer and led a plane factory. Apparently, as a young man, Myazaki spent a lot of time there and that would be the source of his fascination for planes and any flying machines, which is expressed in his animated films.

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