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Int'l scholars reflect on Kenzaburo Oe's legacy a month after death

7 Comments
By Rosi Byard-Jones

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Criticize Japan, and you can get an award from the West.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Oe won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, using his platform as what he called a "postwar democrat" and pacifist to critique the dangers of ultranationalism, nuclear power and the imperial system throughout his career.

All of which are very pertinent to the direction of modern Japan.

And largely ignored by the media today.

Sadly such seems to be the fate of many outstanding artists.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The seriousness with which Oe engaged with Japan, the world and with the responsibilities to his fellow humans arose from his character, the time and place of his upbringing in a shattered, defeated country and his personal circumstances as he lived through the turbulent years of the 60s and 70s. The youth of today inhabits a different atomized world where lives are ruled by social media and young people have the choice of a plethora of fantasy worlds to inhabit. The great danger today for youth in all industrialized countries is the growth of general ignorance, disinformation, misinformation and outright gaslighting against which they have little protection since they are being schooled simply to concentrate on becoming a "brick in the wall" in a future career path. Now there's no time for history and philosophy (too political) and book reading is considered too much bother and a waste of time (and money!). The result is the formation of inarticulate societies peopled by worker drones and robots which will only impede social progress for if we don't have the words to dream and imagine, how can the values such as the brotherhood of Man, peace and progress that Oe fought for ever be realized? We can see this dilemma by comparing Assange, Manning, Snowden and other whistleblowers driven by humanistic ideals to expose the crimes perpetrated by men and women serving in government and the military, but protected by the State, with 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, gamer, gun fanatic and rightwing extremist? who appears to epitomize a not insignificant, trivial and irresponsible section of today's youth. Oe's "Seventeen" should be required reading for all such misguided youth. Let's hope young Teixeira has a better fate than that poor deluded Japanese boy-assassin who killed himself in his cell.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Criticize Japan, and you can get an award from the West

And Japan

Order of Culture from the Japanese government,

1 ( +1 / -0 )

After receiving the accolade, he famously rejected an Order of Culture from the Japanese government, saying he would "never in my lifetime or after accept an award from any state."

Well, the Swedish academy is founded by King Gustaf III, and Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, making a lot of money on weapons manufacturing, which is funding the Nobel Price. The whole ceremony is very royal, usually the King of Sweden is handing over the prices. Kenzaburo Oe was sitting beside princess Christina of Sweden. Admittedly, she was involved in the Sweden Japan Foundation back then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Criticize Japan, and you can get an award from the West.

Only if youre japanese.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Oe was just another japanese peace nationalist.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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