The new generation of Japanese nationalism: Kubozuka Yosuke (GO) and Takaoka (Pacchigi)

by Yuki Sugiyama

In  class, we watched two movies concerning Zainichi Koreans, namely “GO” and “Pacchigi!”. The two depict two different viewpoints of Zainichi Koreans in Japan, which try to tell us various messages and teaches us lessons. That is not the central concern of this article. Rather, what I want to observe are the personal psychological changes occurred to the actors who played the main roles of the two films.

Kubozuka Yosuke

Playing the role of Sugihara, a Young Zainichi Korean struggling with his identity in Japansese society, Kubozuka paradoxically leaned to nationalism. He says:

“I had been somehow irritated. Probably I couldn’t see the whole picture of the society. I realized that I am living in the society. where I live in is Japan and I am Japanese. In GO, Korean Japanese Sugihara’s identity was born because of the system of the society. Since I was born in Japan and I have been taking it for granted, I didn’t think about it. ”

Before playing Sugihara in Go, he was surrounded by the environment where everyone is Japanese and everyone take that for granted. But after knowing the other in his own society by playing Sugihara, he internalized the nationalistic sentiments as a Japanese. Having discovered himself as nationalist, Kubozuka tried to rebel against what he sees as “uncool Japan” that doesn’t have its own pride at all. In 2002, he produced a movie named “Kyouki no Sakura” (cherry blossom of madness) in which he acted a role of young nationalistic neo-Nazi in Tokyo.

From around that time, his remarks and actions started to be regarded as weird (He even jumped off from 9th floor in his apartment) and he left the mainstream show-biz industry. He is now actor and a reggae artist. We can show his nationalistic perspective.

Takaoka Sosuke

By playing the role of Ang-song in Pacchigi!, he became one of the well-known young actors in Japan. He appeared in a number of tv dramas and movies and he married a famous actress. Everything seemed to be perfect for him until the incident occurred. In 2011, his controversial remarks in his twitter got spotlighted at first by Internet users and later by powerful mass media. His remarks, for example, is as follows: ,

“I used to be indebted to Fuji TV in the past, but now I’m suspicious that they may actually be a Korean network”  “It troubles me because I feel like I am being brainwashed”, 

 “Since we’re in Japan, I would like to see Japanese programs. I get scared every time I hear the word, ‘Korean wave”

His proposition, in short, is anti-Korean and importance of nationalistic unity of the Japanese. Those lurid words caused controversy and troubled him a lot. He resigned from his production and got divorced.

(Takaoka in Kinkakuji, Play of Mishima Yukio’s novel)

In Conclusion, I don’t think those two are the coincidence. There are differences between the two. Some may find this argument too simplistic, but the cases definitely tell as that there is nationalistic tendency among young generation Japanese and those actors embodies that attitude. Having been educated in Japan, I can guess that they hadn’t really been aware of “the other” in their society. The imagined image of homogenous Japanese society collapsed once they discover “the other” in their own society and start to internalize the strong Japanese-ness within themselves.

What do you think?