Sunday 15 February 2015

The Japanese Red Army (日本赤軍), Wakamatsu Kōji (若松孝二) & Adachi Masao (足立正生)

Shigenobu Fusako in the 1971 film and (in handcuffs) in 2000.
The decade of the 1970s began with an airplane hijacking (called the Yodogo incident) that elevated the Japanese Red Army from obscurity into front-page headlines; the film-makers Wakamatsu Kōji (若松孝二) and Adachi Masao (足立正生) attached an artistically-respectable "call to arms" to the movement's name soon thereafter.  The hijacking itself linked the Japanese Red Army to North Korea and Cuba, while the 1971 film by Wakamatsu and Adachi linked the radicals to Palestine (explaining, at length, how the Proletarian struggle and the Palestinian struggle were supposedly one and the same).  Thus, a radical dissident group that never led more than a few dozen followers at a time created the illusion that the future of Japan would be contested by an international network of professional revolutionaries.  The illusion didn't last long, and the Japanese revolutionary clique disintegrated due to the same type of infighting (self-criticism and purges) familiar from the history of China --although on a miniature scale.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

露, Kanji of the Week

When typing in pictographs (in languages like Japanese and Chinese) I sometimes put the character into Google image-search to confirm that I've got the right one (i.e., that I haven't ended up with a similar-looking glyph that's slightly wrong).

With characters like 露, the results can be surprising.

The primary meaning of 露 in both Chinese and Japanese is "dew" (つゆ), but in Chinese it somehow ended up with a sense of revealing something that should not be revealed (my dictionary provides the unusually comical example of, 你褲子破的都露屁股了).  In Japanese, this has become yet another word for "nude" with the phonetically-unrelated あらわ as its Kun-Yomi (cf. the Japanese use of 露骨, ろこつ, "blatant/blunt", but sometimes meaning "lewd").

So, if you're expecting images of dew (つゆ) you'll be strangely disappointed in putting 露 into Google.