Long before internet blogs and Facebook, aficionados of the occult in Japan were reading Mu magazine. A monthly founded by Gakushu Kenkyusha (usually abbreviated as Gakken), a 70-year-old producer of educational materials, Mu, whose monthly circulation is around 57,033, delves into various aspects of science, pseudoscience and off-the-wall nuttiness.
Its most recent issue takes up such topics as: An "Illuminati card" that predicted the assault on the U.S. Capitol; in China, a bottle, found embedded in lava estimated to be several million years old; a UFO with a peculiar W-shape, spotted over Shikoku; and the skull of a non-human hominoid unearthed in Niigata Prefecture.
And there's more, like the mystery of the kumamushi, believed to be the planet's oldest living creature; the remains of a huge creature found buried in the seabed of Persian Gulf; and a stone tablet that appears to have been left behind by aliens at an ancient Aztec site.
Mu was almost certainly inspired by the popularity of works by Swiss author Erich von Daniken, whose various books about ancient aliens -- starting from "Chariots of the Gods" in 1969 -- have been widely translated and sold over 70 million copies. Those books in turn are said to have been inspired by the Cthulhu mythos created in the 1920s by American pulp fiction author H. P. Lovecraft.
Weekly Playboy (March 1) sat down for an interview with Takeharu Mikami, the current editor of Mu.
"Our magazine looks at the Freemasons and Illuminati, which have been involved in wars and revolutions over a period of several centuries on a large scale," Mikami says. "More than conspiracy theories, we take the historical view that these events involved manipulation of history."
Such manipulation, according to Mikami, is ongoing even now.
"For example, QAnon claims that lots of children in America have gone missing, and votes were manipulated in the presidential election," he says. "These emanate entirely from an American perspective. Likewise, many QAnon believers maintain that a conspiracy exists in which the 'deep state' secretly manipulates the country. This may tie in with the death of Jeffrey Epstein, who mysteriously died in jail after being arrested on charges of arranging for sex with underage girls."
But Mikami agrees that editorial policy has got to draw the line somewhere.
"Up to now, our magazine has not taken up such subjects such as 'reptilian extraterrestrials are controlling governments,'" he points out.
Conspiracy theories are largely fueled by major historical events, and Mikami feels that conspiracies lacking in aspects of history eventually run out fuel and crash.
"Why do you think people are fascinated by these conspiracies?" Weekly Playboy's reporter asks. "QAnon has even managed to attract believers in Japan. What is it about them that they find so appealing?"
"The only way to discourage people from being drawn in is to boost their 'conspiracy theory literacy,' by regularly reading our magazine," he asserts. "Since its founding in 1979, our magazine introduced conspiracy theories to readers. This topic became widespread from the 1990s. That was when overseas TV dramas like the 'X-Files' and others related to UFOs began to be aired. These programs have been diminishing due to enforcement of compliance codes, but people's 'conspiracy literacy' has also declined.
"And with the emergence of the internet, QAnon and similar conspiracies have flourished. Their believers flocked to (former) President Donald Trump, who proclaimed he was battling against the 'deep state.'
"Actually," Mikami continues, "our readers have been requesting, 'Why don't you take up this or that topic?' So we've decided our April issue (which goes on sale from March) will carry a special report about QAnon. At this point we haven't decided what will be in it yet," he chuckles. "But one thing I can assure you is we'll keep striving to boost readers' literacy toward conspiracy theories!"© Japan Today