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Radwimps singer offers apology/explanation after new song is accused of inappropriate nationalism

31 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japanese rock band Radwimps has been riding high on newfound international fame since providing the theme songs for Makoto Shinkai’s smash-hit anime film "your name." Last week, Radwimps released its newest single, but not all of the attention it’s been getting has been positive.

The new CD hit stores on June 6 and is titled "Catharsist," but it’s not the title track that’s been met with controversy.

▼ “Catharsist”

No, the negative reactions have been in response to the single’s coupling song (as B-sides are called in Japan), which is titled “Hinomaru.” While hinomaru literally translates as “circle of the sun,” the phrase actually refers to the stylized sun on Japan’s flag, and by extension the flag itself.

Radwimps’ vocalist Yojiro Noda, who also writes his own lyrics, wanted for “Hinomaru” to be a patriotic song. However, some critics have argued that “nationalistic” would be a better descriptor, owing to certain lyrical and musical choices.

▼ “Hinomaru”

For starters, in comparison to the upbeat and/or melodic style of Radwimps’ "your name." songs, “Hinomaru” is much more minimalist, with drums pounding a slow, steady cadence with similarities to a military march. Critics have also taken issue with the song’s lyrics, which include:

“Now, go forth, in the name of the Land of Rising Sun”

“That flag, waving in the wind since ancient times, is somehow nostalgic, and what is this feeling welling in my heart?”

“The proud spirit of this country”

“The legacy we have inherited”

Combined, these elements have led some to the conclusion that “Hinomaru” is a pro-Japanese military song, and by extension supportive of the expansionist aggression of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy which continued until the end of World War II, when Japan occupied most of its neighboring Asian nations.

Noda, however, says that he intended no such message with the song, and has tweeted a bilingual English/Japanese statement (at top of story) explaining his position and impetus in writing the song.

In the tweet, Noda asserts that:

“I hate violence. I hate war. Every time I mention something about our history, I try to express that…The song Hinomaru does not express any cheering of war or violence. The lyrics are to cheer and encourage the people living in Japan although we have great earthquakes, a huge tsunami, a big typhoon, and all the other disasters. The song is to unite and to hold our hands tightly as one homeland. I apologize if there were any fans who were hurt from this song.

I’ll keep trying my best, to be the positive energy for you and this world. To be the change and to be the piece of ‘Peace’, always.”

That statement was preceded by another tweet from Noda regarding “Hinomaru,” which was posted on June 8, in which he says:

"Thx for your comment. I understand what we've done in our history and we must not forget about it. What I wanted to tell was that because of those historical facts, are we not be able to express our love to our country and our flags? Japan is the only country I was born."

Though Noda says that “Every time I mention something about our history, I try to express [that I hate war],” the song contains no condemnation of violence. That said, it doesn’t contain any endorsement of aggression either, nor any references to Japan’s conflicts with or colonization of other countries.

To that effect, while some in Japan have said they find “Hinomaru” to sound uncomfortably like a military propaganda song, others have come to its defense, commenting that they find it absurd that Japanese people saying they’re proud of Japan should be a cause of controversy.

Adding another complication to the discussion is that Japan’s ultra-right wing nationalists are particularly fond of flying the Japanese flag at their rallies and protests, creating an association in many people’s minds between the flag and a desire to return to Japan’s imperialistic ambitions of the first half of the 20th century. Hopefully Noda’s statement will keep his song from being similarly co-opted.

Source: Twitter/@YojiNoda1 via Huffington Post Japan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese band Radwimps’ Shonen Jump music video is a moving love song to manga’s heroes【Video】

-- Wonder Woman promoted in Japan with idol song “A Woman Can’t Sleep Alone,” angering some fans

-- Five fun facts about the flag of Japan

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

31 Comments
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Nationalism is not a dirty word (except for glabalists). It’s fine to be patriotic.

-14 ( +7 / -21 )

Nationalism is not a dirty word (except for glabalists).

I'm not a globalist, and I hate nationalism as well. Nations are useless beasts from another era. For now, we need them, but it's silly to feel pride in something one has nothing to do with creating. Everybody is born somewhere. Nationalism is just a means of manipulating the masses.

Japan has a lot of great things going for it, but when people slip into nationalism they stop self-reflection and make excuses for things that are wrong, rather than working to right them.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

"Thx for your comment. I understand what we've done in our history and we must not forget about it. What I wanted to tell was that because of those historical facts, are we not be able to express our love to our country and our flags? Japan is the only country I was born."

I wonder if Radwimps have ever written a song expressing what was done in Japanese history so that we might not forget about it.

cla68Today  06:52 am JST

Nationalism is not a dirty word (except for glabalists). It’s fine to be patriotic.

Nationalism is indeed a dirty word. It is a crutch for the weak-of-mind and weak-of-spirit, a way of imagining greatness for themselves by riding the coattails of their national identity so they don't have to put in the work and thought to achieve greatness on their own.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

but it's silly to feel pride in something one has nothing to do with creating. 

You say you're no globalist but you sure talk like one. Automatically assuming pride in ones country and CULTURE, will lead to war. So, Poland, and Hungry, and France, and India have similar cultures? So, people who actively support their nations culture through for example, traditional dance are wasting their time? So I should stop celebrating July 4th and take up Kagura?

Nationalism is just a means of manipulating the masses.

Worst case scenario, yes. Not as easy as it used to be though, that's why we have the consolidation corporate media into a handful of elites to replace nationalism.

Japan has a lot of great things going for it, but when people slip into nationalism they stop self-reflection and make excuses for things that are wrong, rather than working to right them.

self-reflection? Not so important for those who identify as a group.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

I wonder if Radwimps have ever written a song expressing what was done in Japanese history so that we might not forget about it.

It's comments like this people should worry about. Going around unjustifiably getting into other people's freedom. Hey Katsu, it's none of your business what the group chooses to write about. Not sure, but is this an example virtual signaling?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

I wonder if Radwimps have ever written a song expressing what was done in Japanese history so that we might not forget about it.

As if. Their record company would fire them for even thinking about it and they'd receive death threats from the nationalist far right for the rest of their lives.

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/arts/01iht-JAPANMUSIC01.html

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Nationalism is not a dirty word (except for glabalists). It’s fine to be patriotic.

well actually it is a "dirty" word since it refers to an extreme form of patriotism, which usually is code word for racism and xenophobia. i agree with your second sentence, though. there is nothing wrong with patriotism. perhaps that's what noda was trying to get at.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I really like Radwimps, and the new song. Nothing wrong with being proud of your Nations achievements, history and fighting spirit. Dont apologize, Noda-Kun.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Nationalism has seen bodies stacked miles high.

One of the most potent poisons out there. Tried and trusted by despots and cynical politicians and swallowed by idiots.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I understand what we've done in our history and we must not forget about it. What I wanted to tell was that because of those historical facts, are we not be able to express our love to our country and our flags?

Of course you can. You have nothing to apologize for and you should never have apologized in the first place. There is nothing violent about the lyrics chosen. Its the sort of thing you would find in many a national anthem.

Nationalism isn't a problem either, provided that nationalism is about making your country better and celebrating its achievements. Its when it veers off into imperialism and the desire to take away national territory from other countries that it becomes a massive problem.

For me, patriotism is the indication of loyalty to a particular country, nationalism is that loyalty combined with a desire to make your country better. Nothing wrong with those two concepts, strictly defined, but always on the back of that definition you have to say that attempts at imperialism, expansionism, colonialism is infringing on the rights of citizens in other countries to make their countries better and is therefore, unacceptable.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Agree with Comanteer ... nationalism is increasingly an anachronism for a social primate. We are tribal by human nature, whether it be by music, religion, fashion, sports, whatever. But patriotism is a perniciously dangerous form of tribalism ... an empathy-driven in-group, rather than the rule-driven in-group of nationalism.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. — Donald Tr ... uh ... I mean 'Samuel Johnson'.

Either patriotism or nationalism are in-groups in a zero-sum game that the world no longer has resources to support. With a little imagination, there are other alternatives for expressing cultural traditions and trajectories that do not depend on either nationalism or patriotism.

I believe in the freedom of expression, but the song 'Hinomaru' could be treading a very fine line regarding how it may be used, or misused.

The lead writer could have been more educated about recent court decisions regarding the Hinomaru and freedom of thought by public school teachers. Patriotism might be seen as a useful container for culture ... but like musical ability or English speaking skills, it can not be effectively forced top-down in an authoritarian fashion — without 'the law of unintended consequences' resulting in usually dire effects.

As far as I know, Tokyo public school authorities are still insisting on their right to reprimand teachers who do not stand up when the Kimigayo is played or Hinomaru waved ... despite Supreme Court rulings protecting conscientious objectors.

Alas, as a species, we either fail or are unwilling to learn from even recent history. The left hand knows not what the right hand does, in music, nationalism, or patriotism ... and that cognitive dissonance will lead to our undoing yet.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Either patriotism or nationalism are in-groups in a zero-sum game that the world no longer has resources to support.

Globalism makes resource consumption worse, not better. Its the sort of thing that leads to the vast, vast shipping networks we have that ship widget A to point B and then another 3000 miles to point C and onto point D in the global supply chain. Its no coincidence that globalism and capitalism rising at the same time has lead to destruction of the natural world at a faster rate that any time in human history. Ideally, nations should be seeking smart self reliance as a way to improve that outcome as much as possible. In saying that, globalization also allows us to learn from other countries in order to make our own better so its not zero-sum game.

With a little imagination, there are other alternatives for expressing cultural traditions and trajectories that do not depend on either nationalism or patriotism.

Such as?

Depends on what you are talking about. Preparing a traditional Japanese meal is expressing a cultural tradition, but I wouldn't call it an act of patriotism or nationalism. How about visiting an art gallery and seeing a collection of paintings reflecting Japanese history, enjoying it, is that an act of patriotism? Possibly. Singing the national anthem? Definitely. And working in say the Japanese public service with the explicit desire to make the country function better is an act of nationalism in my view.

I believe in the freedom of expression, but....

The "but" indicates otherwise, but lets see....

...the song 'Hinomaru' could be treading a very fine line regarding how it may be used, or misused.

There is nothing in it that is violent. Its incredibly standard fare. If people commit acts of violence based on their interpretation they will suffer the consequences.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Hi Matt,

You are mistaken in assuming the current form of neo-liberal 'globalism' is one of those viable options I was referring to.

Rather, I advocate a de-concentration of neo-liberal power. I work at the community level supporting the homeless in Tokyo, have worked with a local city government in Hino supporting mental health care patients, and I have worked with a circle of friends in that area of Western Tokyo supporting the severely handicapped.

But despite lip service saying otherwise, not all NPOs or local groups are alike. Even though it was on my own dime, I traveled to rural Cambodia 4 times, supporting local primary school teachers, children, and mothers (and LOVE the rural culture). But I dropped out of ASAP, the Japanese NPO that first introduced me to that activity ... because of their rigid hierarchy that put foreigners, even the Cambodians they purported to help, at the bottom.

I have also been an All Japan English Speech contest judge for Japanese University ESS groups for over 10 years now — the most recent being the 2018 Todaihai of Tokyo University ... as a volunteer, demanding they double my judge's fee and donate it to a charity of their choice. But my recent choice to help Tokyo University students may have been a mistaken use of my resources ... because they do not see any merit in keeping me informed as to how my donation will be used ... or even IF it will be used as directed.

My point is the same made by Chomsky, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others ... think globally by acting locally. I put my money, and cultural values, where my mouth is ... at the community level, and occasionally at a ramen shop ;-)

Homo sapiens is a social primate. That is where we are at our best. When we start herding into hierarchies, dark triad personality types have more niches to clamber to the top, thus precipitating eventual institutional mission drift, and then collapse, in zero-sum games ... what I call 'The Tower of Babel Syndrome', but 'Lehman Shock' will do.

But when we become swarming primates, all hell breaks loose, and I am afraid our next malthusian meltdown could well be our last as a species.

On that happy note, Cheers, Matt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, Poland, and Hungry, and France, and India have similar cultures? So, people who actively support their nations culture through for example, traditional dance are wasting their time?

You are confusing culture with nationality. That's understandable, since it serves the interests of entrenched powers to cause that confusion. You will not that all three nations you describe have had very fluid borders in the past. And much of the culture in those places preceded their nationality. India wasn't a nation until 1947. Most European nations are not that old either, they were a collection of kingdoms and regions earlier. The nation is mostly a 19th century construct that no longer serves a good purpose.

So I should stop celebrating July 4th and take up Kagura?

Why would you celebrate July 4th? What do you celebrate? Americans now have fewer rights and freedoms than they did under English rule. King George wouldn't dare dream of taxing and abusing American colonists the way the US government is doing now (with the support of the oppressed, to boot). July 4th is a bunch of indentured servants celebrating how free they are by shooting off fireworks, eating BBQ and getting drunk.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hey again Matt,

Dang, I wish these comments allowed edits.

I see we are in agreement about acting locally and the dysfunctions of zero-sum games.

But I do disagree with being forced to sing the national anthem or any song. In me at least, that song either arises from my choice, or I remain mute ... and take a knee.

Back to work ...

Cheers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For many years 'Born In the U.S.A.' by Bruce Springsteen has been used by dumbskull nationalists, jingoists and fascists in America for pro-war rallies, political rallies and other stupid events even though if you read the lyrics you can see that it condemns wars and the way that America treats the soldiers who return from them - especially the ones who are injured and crippled for life. The song is particularly about the neglect of Vietnam vets but now war is reality TV but the suffering still occurs. And Donny Douchebag labels PTSD vets as 'weak'. He is scum.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You are confusing culture with nationality. That's understandable, since it serves the interests of entrenched powers to cause that confusion. You will not that all three nations you describe have had very fluid borders in the past. And much of the culture in those places preceded their nationality. India wasn't a nation until 1947. Most European nations are not that old either, they were a collection of kingdoms and regions earlier. The nation is mostly a 19th century construct that no longer serves a good purpose.

Banzai to you Commenteer ;-) ... I see we are birds of a feather. Glad to make your acquaintance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Starpunk

To be fair, Born in the USA’s chorus lends itself to idiotic, jingoistic chanting. The fact that the song as a whole isn’t a celebration of the US doesn’t really matter.

‘Patriots’ used a mindless, shouting chorus entitled ‘Born in the USA’ for their own jingoistic ends? Fancy that. A bit of a ‘Duh!’ for Bruce there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You are confusing culture with nationality. 

Just trying to make a point that those countries have different cultures and traditions and have had them well before the nation states arose in the 19th century. You mention fluid borders but not linguistic borders, which is much more important to culture, traditions and identity.

What do you celebrate?

Revolution.

July 4th is a bunch of indentured servants celebrating how free they are by shooting off fireworks, eating BBQ and getting drunk.

LOL, but C'mon, how is this any different in other countries?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You mention fluid borders but not linguistic borders, which is much more important to culture, traditions and identity.

You will find that many of these 'linguistic borders' as you phrase them are not borders at all, but gradiations. Especially in Europe.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just trying to make a point that those countries have different cultures and traditions and have had them well before the nation states arose in the 19th century.

Then we seem to agree. That was my point, that nation states are an artificial and increasingly obsolete construct. They will become more extreme as their obsolescence becomes more apparent and they become more ineffective, as nobody likes to give up established power. A good old fashioned war is the classic way to get everybody back on board.

LOL, but C'mon, how is this any different in other countries?

Hard to compare, because different countries restrict different freedoms in different ways. But the USA is the only country that constantly goes on about how much they love freedom, and how free they are, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Then we seem to agree

For the most part, yeah. You may not like nationalism, but it was a neccesary step in human development, and still is for the foreseeable future.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

but gradiations. Especially in Europe

Yes, I'm aware of the indo-European language family, as well as the Native American language families which seem to me equal if not more distinct.

No nation states for 2000 years but that didn't stop them from killing each other.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Japanese rock band Radwimps"

Only in Japan

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Patriotism is loving one's country

Nationalism is hating everyone else's

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah, I think some people are reading too much into this song. There are a few lines that if taken out of context, look suspicious, but they should be taken in the context of the rest of the song. I kind of like the song.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Japanese rock band Radwimps"

Only in Japan

Oh yes, the US band “Butthole Surfers” is so much more intellectual sounding.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, Butthole Surfers is better than 'Ogre You A**hole,' another J-rock band.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You will find that many of these 'linguistic borders' as you phrase them are not borders at all, but gradiations. Especially in Europe.

And in the USA too. In California and the SW states there is a strong Spanish influence - language and otherwise. And Florida too. Louisiana has a strong French language influence. Even at the northern border - when you enter the USA at Vermont, the sign is in English AND French. Don't forget the Native American languages too - Iroquois, Algonquin, Sioux, ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Their songs are for Gremlins anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JimizoJune 14 02:26 pm JST@Starpunk

To be fair, Born in the USA’s chorus lends itself to idiotic, jingoistic chanting. The fact that the song as a whole isn’t a celebration of the US doesn’t really matter.

‘Patriots’ used a mindless, shouting chorus entitled ‘Born in the USA’ for their own jingoistic ends? Fancy that. A bit of a ‘Duh!’ for Bruce there.

Most of Springsteen's albums have lyric sheets with them (some people call them 'English-New Jersey/New Jersey-English translation guides' LOL). You can read them and see what Bruce is referring to. Some people still don't get it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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