Art Economics Low Politics Decline Political Theology Power Geopolitics

Carnival of the Animals, by Kure Tomofusa

Carnival of the Animals, by Kure Tomofusa
Photo by Nacho Díaz Latorre / Unsplash
"I am, more essentially, criticizing the fact that these anti-discrimination movements are ruled by the delusion called human rights ideology."

Carnival of the Animals

Kure Tomofusa1

It was from around 1970 that the acts of denunciation of the various organizations of the anti-discrimination movement exemplified by the Buraku2 Liberation League3 became extreme. In opposition to this, calls for restraint4 continued to emerge, naturally from without but also from within. What I recall is that in March 1980 the BLL5 decided to reexamine the excesses of denunciation and in March 1985 passed a resolution to expel the New Left from the movement. The JCP6 which (in intention) distinguishes between itself and the BLL and other organizations of the anti-discrimination movement, has consistently criticized the extreme denunciation movement from around 1970. It is further widely known that criticism of language policing7 is latent among commentators who have no direct connection to the movement.

What I want to make clear concerning these things is that such “calls for restraint” differ totally from my claims in perspective. I do not particularly seek restraint from the movement. They can be restrained or unrestrained, and they should decide on such matters within the movement. That is on the level of movement discourse. I am, more essentially, criticizing the fact that these anti-discrimination movements are ruled by the delusion called human rights ideology. That being the case, my criticisms do not end with being directed at the various organizations of the anti-discrimination movement. They are directed at contemporary8 common sense, the nucleus of which is human rights ideology, at the entire paradigm.

Last time, I pointed out the arbitrary denunciations of the Buraku Liberation League, as well as the arbitrary stance of Zainichi Korean historian and critic of the BLL Kin Seibi9. This time, while being a continuation of that, I will expand the object of criticism to contemporary common sense. Because the entirety of contemporary common sense, the overall paradigm, is also an arbitrary justice.

They Use Even “The Atomic Bombs” When It’s Convenient

In July 1991, a certain television commercial was revised. Because the characters for “nuclear bomb” were used in the commercial for the movie Our Seven-Day War 2 produced by Kadokawa Shoten10. According to the Asahi Shinbun (July 26, 1991), which reported on this at length in an eight-column article, the outline of the incident was as follows.

The television commercial was aired from the end of June through the beginning of July. In it was used a copy that says “A Midsummer Atomic Bomb” in order to leave a strong impression of the lead actress, but from early July this copy was deleted. Concerning their intention in using this copy, Kadokawa Shoten stated, “We decided to try pushing forward with it while wondering if it would be shocking. It wasn’t intellectually to say this or that, we just happened to use it. At that point in time, we did not anticipate that for Japanese the words atomic bomb would be entirely connected with the bombings. Concerning the deletion of the copy they also explained that it was because “while we did not receive even a single complaint from organizations of bombing victims” “it was lacking in consideration.”

The article includes the voices of victims of the bombings after this. Chairman of the National Council of Teacher Victims of the Bombings Ishida Akira says, “I am surprised by the foolishness of commercializing the words atomic bomb,” and Kurihara Sadako, who narrates11 the experience of the bombs across the country, says, “Do they have the sense that it is like seasonal phrase for summer? They are using it like it’s just a shocking, cool word for catching people’s eyes and ears.”

I do not have that much disagreement with this article itself, or with the commonsensical tone pervading it. As television commercials for movies are literally commercial, they should be contained within the framework of common sense, and I can kind of understand the simple rage of the victims of the atomic bombs. However, within the entirety of contemporary journalism, within the entirety of the world of discourse, this article is an extremely arbitrary justice.

Is it only the Kadokawa movie in which one can observe “the foolishness of commercializing the word atomic bomb”? Is it only this commercial that uses it in “the sense of a seasonal phrase for summer” “for catching people’s eyes and ears”?

In September 1984, an old French designer died in Lausanne, Switzerland. Louis Réard12, 88 at death. For some decades his name has not been heard in the fashion world, but the history of world fashion will never forget it. As the designer of the bikini swimsuit.

Why is this bikini, a “bikini”? The Kōjien13 has it thus.

“Bikini: 1 An islet located in the northern Marshall Islands of the South Sea archipelago. A testing site for American atomic and hydrogen bombs. 2 (Jokingly likening the effect when worn to a nuclear explosion) A women’s bathing suit type that covers only the chest and hips.”

It is a “bikini” in the sense that the attention-grabbing effect when wearing a very revealing swimsuit is almost on the level of a nuclear bomb. The nuclear bomb is being used with feelings of humor imbued. Thus, like a seasonal phrase for summer, the word “bikini” has been commercialized and caught people’s eyes and ears until now. However, there is not a single person among the common sense experts14 who has questioned this.

Has it won because it is a fait accompli? Is it permitted because it is foreign?

That’s part of it. However, I can’t help but have the feeling that there is another reason. That is the “myth of sexual liberation” that the bikini swimsuit liberated the natural physical beauty of women, and that with this an outdated convention was smashed. This is also one of the main pillars of the contemporary paradigm that takes human rights ideology as its core.

It is not only bloodthirsty militarists15 who use even nuclear bombs whenever it is convenient for them. Contemporary common sense also recognizes the use of “nuclear bombs” when it is convenient for it.

Children's Songs That Innocently Stress “Lineage16

Let us give another example of an incident in which a television commercial was revised.

According to the Asahi Shinbun (October 24, 1994), in fall 1994, a television commercial made by the Shōnai Economic League17, the rice circulation organ18 of Yamagata Prefecture, for Shōnai rice was revised just before it was set to be aired. The commercial anthropomorphized Shōnai rice, and while a husband and wife dressed as freshly picked Shōnai rice look on they say to one another, “It’s the House of Sasanishiki’s family treasure,” “The House of Koshihikari is also a treasure,” and a copy saying “Lineages of Tastiness” comes on. However, the Mainichi Broadcast Program Review Room, which reviewed it before broadcasting, requested revision as the expressions “lineage” and “House of X” “are tantamount to discrimination and a human rights violation.” They accepted this, deleted the “House of” in “House of Sasanishiki” and “House of Koshihikari,” changed “Lineages of Tastiness” to “Encounters With Tastiness,” and broadcast it.

Let us accept the judgment that this commercial is tantamount to discrimination and a human rights violation because it stresses lineage and pedigree19. In which case, what about the following children's song?

Killifish Siblings20

Killifish siblings in the river,

What will they become when they get older?

When they get older they’ll be sharks,

When they get older they’ll be sharks,

But no matter how old they get,

Killifish are killifish

(Araki Toyohisa)

Killifish are anthropomorphized, and lineage and pedigree are clearly being stressed. He is singing that, as they have been born killifish, no matter how high they aim killifish are killifish.

If you say that there’s no point in bringing up a song like this that has recently almost entirely stopped being sung, let me bring up one that continues to be sung even now as the preeminent postwar children’s song.

Mr. Elephant

Mr. Elephant

Mr. Elephant

You have such a long nose


Mom’s nose is also long

(Mado Michio)

It should be that one cannot but say that it is a song that stresses the fact that physical characteristics are inherited by bloodline. However, this song is also exempted from the denunciation and condemnation of human rights ideologists.

The reason is that the lyrics and melodies of these songs are uniformly “innocent.” Because this concurs with the human rights ideologists’ views of people and infants.

For human rights ideologists the infant is the primordium of the good human being. First, as human rights ideologists posit universal and absolute human rights that precede politics, society, and culture, the most human human being is the infant prior to being assimilated to politics, society, and culture. Second, infants are weak. If the weak are not placed in the standard of values, the principle of equality that is one pillar of human rights ideology no longer materializes. When it relies on the infant, which is most familiar and which everyone has themselves gone through and experienced, it is easy for human rights ideology to elicit sympathy.

This structure, which equates the infant with the innocent with the truth, in fact possesses a binding power that is difficult to disdain.  Certainly, as Philippe Ariès21 has shown in Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life22, our view of infants is no more than a product of modernity. It is only in these few centuries that the idea of childhood as deserving protection by principles different from those of adult society emerged. Prior to that, children were thought of only as small adults. However, on the other hand, just as folklore23 reports the custom of considering children to be in the domain of the kami, the structure that equates infants with the truth has been recognized for a long time. Jesus also says, “If you do not become as a child, you will not be able to enter Heaven” (Matthew 18:324). The birth of "childhood" is likely the revival of these old folkloric and religious memories in changed clothing in the midst of modernity.

On this, there is room for separate study. Setting that aside, when the innocence of infants comes to the fore, human rights ideologists have exempted even clearly discriminatory songs.

Sardines, Calves, and Joan of Arc

Since 1995, voices praising the Taishō-era children's song composer Kaneko Misuzu25 have increased in number. This just stuck out to me, but she appeared prominently in the pages of the Asahi Shinbun spaced several months apart on January 13, April 5, and August 24. And on television too, NHK aired a documentary drama depicting Kaneko, and on the commercial channels Renown26 commercials use Kaneko’s poems.

In what way is Kaneko Misuzu being praised? On August 24, the Asahi Shinbun introduced the following words of a producer of television shows. “She sang the praises of love for the frail27 with kind words. The stance of living together with the weak has become the policy of brutal28 contemporary society.” It has also been decided that from 1996 Kaneko's poetry will be excerpted in elementary school national language and morality29 textbooks.

Now, of what sort are this Kaneko Misuzu’s children’s songs? In the following I give her most famous one.

Big Catch

In the red of dawn, a big catch,

A big catch full of big sardines.

The beach is like a festival,

But in the sea they’ll hold a funeral,

Of tens of thousands of sardines.

This is mostly forgotten now, but before Meiji, when the custom of eating meat had not yet been established, the taking of life30 meant killing fish. When a crip****31 child was born in the house of a fishmonger or fisherman it was not uncommon for it to be considered retribution32 for taking life. Negishi Yasumori33 records the following story of the supernatural34 in his Mimibukuro.

“In Otowa-chō (now Tōkyō Metropolis Bunkyō City), there was a small teahouse that sold barley rice and boiled rice. Its owner liked and was skilled in fishing eel. Once, a customer, making small talk while eating barley rice, said, “It seems that you are in possession of many tools for fishing eel, but it is a deeply sinful thing to fish out eel lurking in holes. I urge you to stop.” However, just when the owner had heard that counsel, it began to rain, and he, thinking that it was the perfect weather for fishing eel, did his preparations and went to the river to fish. He was then able to fish a large eel. He gleefully went home, but when he cut open its belly, a great quantity of barley rice came out. The customer from earlier must have been eating barley rice, but…”

As a story of the supernatural, we can give it a passing grade. However, if we interpreted it within the social and political context, it would become a conventional discriminatory story. Because it’s a story about how a fisherman receives supernatural retribution on account of his fondness for taking life. A separate debate can be had on how to demarcate and how to understand as a unity the literary and political value of the work. But, so long as one takes the standpoint of human rights ideology, it should be that one cannot but judge it as a work of discrimination against fishermen and fishmongers.

Now, how about Kaneko Misuzu’s Big Catch? In his early excellent work, The One and the Ninety-Nine, Fukuda Tsuneari35 astutely observed that politics exists for the ninety-nine sheep within the system, while literature exists for the one sheep that has wandered out of the system. Kaneko’s Big Catch is certainly beautiful. It is beautiful even if it disdains and discriminates against the livelihood of fishing folk without even the name of the ninety-nine and against the livelihood of the commoner majority that is realized by killing36 fish. Nay, on the contrary it is for precisely that reason, that the one Kaneko Misuzu is beautiful. However, on just what basis can human rights ideologists celebrate the inclusion of this work in textbooks of the morality of democracy?


Newspapers report the following event for May 1982 (Asahi Shinbun May 5, May 7, Mainichi Shinbun May 5).

Haiyūza’s37 nationwide tour work Joan of Arc at the Carnivore Market (produced by Senda Koreya38) was staged at the first theater, the Mie Prefectural Center for the Arts, while the Buraku Liberation League and butchers unions handed out protest leaflets. The work was by Bertolt Brecht, and the translated title at the time of advance billing the previous year was Saint Joan of the Stockyards, but they altered the name and deleted from the script words like “slaughterhouse,” “butcher,” and “extremely cruel.” The renaming and deletions were naturally undertaken because these were tantamount to so-called discriminatory language39 and because they received protests from the aforementioned organizations. The troupe and the various organizations held a number of talks, and although it seemed that they had seen partial agreement they never reached full agreement, and finally this was connected to the staging while protest leaflets were being handed out.

In the midst of the talks, the BLL and the various organizations released the following letter of protest.

“Even if they’ve deleted the discriminatory language, that’s just sweeping it under the rug and hiding discrimination. Haiyūza is blind40 to discrimination against slaughterhouses, so we are against the tour. On this occasion we want to eradicate the “deified” way of thinking about things that says that there is no discrimination in a work because it’s by so-and-so.”

They say that be it the work of the great Brecht, they will denounce discrimination as discrimination. Probably because otherwise human rights ideology would become arbitrary justice. But had the denunciation really not become arbitrary justice?

In the second half of the 1960s, anti-establishment movements of the youth occurred in succession in both Japan and America. I stated in the beginning that they are connected to the discrimination exposure movement.


Now, there is a song that these movements loved to song and that has now been placed even in elementary and middle school music textbooks. It is the following.

Dona Dona

One clear early afternoon a wagon,

Loaded with calves rattled its way down the road to the market,

The cute little calves are going to be sold,

They are looking at us with sad eyes.

(Translated into Japanese by Yasui Kazumi)

The original song was sung by queen of anti-war folk Joan Baez. In the first place, I sense discrimination in this “queen.” Why don’t they call her “female first citizen of anti-war folk”? But that might be a small thing. However, among the original lyrics to this song is the following stanza. I cannot overlook this.

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered,

Never knowing the reason why,

But whoever treasures freedom,

Like the swallow has learned to fly.41

The swallow flies through the sky freely. That freedom is a treasure. However, the calves are bound and slaughtered42 without ever knowing the reason. This is the content.  This slaughter43, as you will see if you look it up in an Anglo-Japanese Dictionary, means "to slaughter44."

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the use itself of the word “slaughter” is discrimination. It is in cases like the following account in the Iwanami Shinsho Media Photographers (Kuwabara Shisei45) published in September 1989 that it is discrimination.

“In the extraordinary conditions of the battlefield, does one develop a feeling similar to that of the slaughter of livestock like cows and pigs?”

There is a problem in cases where “slaughter” is used with cruel and inhumane massacres on the battlefield as a metaphor. This Iwanami Shinsho has also been withdrawn.

Then, in that case, what about Dona Dona? As is clear from the fact that it was sung as an anti-war song, the slaughterhouse to which calves are taken is a metaphor for the battlefield in a war of aggression46. I see, "slaughterhouse" does not appear in the Japanese translation of Dona Dona. However, that is no more than the deletion of discriminatory language47. Is that not "Even if they’ve deleted the discriminatory language, that’s just sweeping it under the rug and hiding discrimination"? Were they not going to eradicate "the 'deified' way of thinking that says that there is no discrimination because it is an anti-war song"?

That’s not all. There is also added here educational discrimination. The well-educated who are skilled in English can freely sing this discriminatory song, while the right of the poorly-educated who only know the Japanese translation to sing the discriminatory song is not even recognized.

The justice of human rights ideologists is a shameless, arbitrary one.



I stated in the main text that in the Iwanami Shinsho “slaughterhouse” was used as a metaphor for carnage on the battlefield and that it was withdrawn and erased. However, as follows there are examples in the publications of the same Iwanami Shoten of “slaughterhouse” being used as a metaphor for mass killing while being exempted from both denunciation and withdrawal.

The Iwanami Anthology of Classical Japanese Literature’s Record of Great Peace (Volume Two) “Yūki Nyūdō48 Falls Into Hell” has the following (I have changed katakana in the original text to hiragana and made the kanji and okurigana easier to read).

“The number of the blameless whom he captured and the monks and nuns whom he killed cannot be known. Thinking that because they do not with regularity see the heads of the dead their spirits would be dampened, without discriminating between monk, lay, man, or woman, each day he beheaded two or three people and intentionally caused them to be placed them before their eyes. Thus, in the brief period that he was there, the bones of the dead amassed like an abattoir, and corpses accumulated like a graveyard.”49

The passage depicts the cruel behavior of the savage warrior Yūki Nyūdō . Here “abattoir50,” that is, “slaughterhouse,” is obviously being used in a negative sense. Why is it exempted from condemnation despite that? I can think of the following reasons.

First, because it’s a classic. However, if that is the case then why is the “butchery51” that appears in the Chinese52 classic Record of the Three Kingdoms erased? As I quoted in the main text, things are not supposed to be exempted from denunciation for such reasons of authority as that they are classics or masterworks. That is because it is doubly discriminatory. Not only were word and the way it was used discriminatory, but the privilege of denunciation being exempted only for those who possess authority is also discriminatory.

Second, because it is academic. The Record of Great Peace is certainly something that cannot be read widely by general readers despite the fact that I have modified it to be easier to read as quoted previously. However, that this is no reason for it to be exempt from denunciation is the same as the previous. It goes without saying that it is doubly discriminatory for only people with advanced reading ability to be able to freely enjoy discriminatory literature.

Let us give an example from outside the classics. In volume eleven of On The Highways53 (Asahi Shinbunsha), Shiba Ryōtarō54, who passed away in 1996 and came to be treated as a national writer even during his life, describes the Mongol invasions55 in the following way.

“It was in the morning of October 19, 1274 (The Eleventh Year of the Bun’ei Era).

The beach immediately presented a terrible sight like a slaughterhouse of Kamakura warriors by the Mongol army. The Mongol army filled Hakata Bay with nine hundred great ships like castle watchtowers.”

This was initially published in the April 8, 1977 edition of the Weekly Asahi. Here also “slaughterhouse” is being used as a metaphor for massacre. Did the Asahi Shinbun proofreading section, which is supposed to be tough on discrimination, overlook “slaughterhouse” over the course of the initial magazine appearance and book for only Shiba Ryōtarō? And why are the various organizations of the discrimination denunciation movement overlooking the “slaughterhouse” that appears in a huge bestseller by an important writer with extremely great societal influence?


呉智英 Kure Tomofusa, also Go Chiei (1946-). A reactionary Japanese essayist and manga critic. He styles himself a supporter of Japanese feudalism and is known for inflammatory statements like restoring the right to kill others in revenge. 2

部落 buraku. Literally hamlet, but the term here refers to the residents of so-called 特殊部落 tokushu buraku special hamlets, where the descendants of various populations classified as outcaste groups during the Edo period lived. Although the new state had ostensibly abolished all status distinctions, they continued to maintain information on these populations, their areas of residence, and their descendants, which the wider Japanese population used to exclude them from social intercourse and intermarriage.  3

部落解放同盟 Buraku Kaihō Dōmei. Founded in 1946 as the successor to the Levelers (水平社 Suiheisha), the BLL was the sole burakumin activist organization until 1970, when it began to splinter over international disagreements concerning relations with the Japan Socialist Party and Japan Communist Party, among other things. 4

自制を求める声 jisei o motomeru koe. Literally, voices seeking self-restraint.5

解同 Kaidō. An abbreviation for the Buraku Liberation League.6

日共 Nikkyō. An abbreviation for 日本共産党 Nihon Kyōsantō or the Japan Communist Party.7

言葉狩り kotobagari. Literally word hunt. 8

現代 gendai. This is also the term used by historians for the entire postwar period.9

金静美 Kin Seibi in Japanese, Kim Jung-mi in Korean (1949-). A Zainichi Korean woman historian born in Ōsaka who specializes in Korean people’s history (民衆史 minshūshi). In the previous article, Kure discusses the cold reception her book on the Levelers, which was the prewar burakumin activist organization, and its discriminatory practices against Zainichi Koreans got within the anti-discrimination movement.10

角川書店 Kadokawa Shoten. One of Japan’s premier publishers.11

語り継いでいる kataritsuide iru. To hand down through narration. 12

Louis Réard (1946-1984). French engineer and fashion designer.13

広辞苑 Kōjien. The most comprehensive single-volume dictionary in the Japanese language. It occasionally contains terms and definitions absent from the much larger 日本国語大辞典 Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Great Dictionary of the Japanese National Language. 14

良識家 ryōshikika. 15

好戦主義者 kōsenshugisha. In the sense of warlike, not thinking that the military should dominate the state (軍国主義 gunkokushugi). 16

血統 kettō. Lineage with a stress on blood.17

庄内経済連 Shōnai Keizairen. One of many prefectural agricultural unions.18

流通機構 ryūtsū kikō. Comes up as distribution system in the dictionary, but that could not possibly be what is meant here.19

家柄 iegara. Pedigree with a stress on the household and its name.20

兄妹 keimai. Older brother and younger sister.21

Philippe Ariès (1914-1984). French medievalist and historian of childhood and the family who expounded the now well-known thesis that childhood was not considered a distinct stage of life until the advent of modernity. He apparently had close ties to the Action Française.22

The Japanese title is 『「子供」の誕生』 or The Birth of Childhood. 23

民俗学 minzokugaku. Not to be confused with 民族学 minzokugaku, ethnology or ethnography.24

The actual verse in the KJV reads: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”25

金子みすゞ Kaneko Misuzu (1903-1930). A short-lived and originally little-known writer of children’s songs. Readers of Japanese should note the retention of the syllabic repetition mark, which was abolished several decades after the war, in her name.26

Renown Incorporated, a textile and clothing company. 27

か弱いもの kayowai mono. 28

殺伐 satsubatsu. Also savage, violent, stark, warlike, bloody.29

Note that attempts to establish official morality in even Japan, while intended to strengthen the right, has only ever played into the hands of the left, because they control the schools, the press, the universities, and publishing companies. 30

殺生 sesshō. The Buddhist term for the taking of life. Readers who know a little Japanese might amuse themselves at this point by comparing the reading of 殺 here and in footnote 16, looking the character up in a 漢和辞典 (Sino-Japanese dictionary, i.e. dictionary of Chinese characters written in Japanese), and figuring out the significance of the two types of reading that these represent. 31

片〇 kata__. This is an instance of self-censorship. The term “cripple,” which is katawa as you know, is de facto prohibited. It cannot be broadcast on screens or written in books published by any reputable company. Kure discusses this problem in the following essay.32

In the karmic sense.33

根岸鎮衛 Negishi Yasumori (1737-1815). A bakufu retainer known at the time for his knowledge of the conditions of the common people and now for the book of essays that Kure here discusses.34

怪異譚 kaiitan. 35

福田恒存 Fukuda Tsuneari (1912-1994). A close friend of Mishima Yukio, one of postwar Japan’s preeminent right-wing thinkers, dramaturge, and translator of Shakespeare.36

殺める ayameru. Can also mean to harm or injure, typically when used with the character 危.37

俳優座 Haiyūza. An academicist, or theory first, theater troupe formed in 1944 by Senda Koreya and a number of his associates.38

千田是也 Senda Koreya (1904-1994). A producer and actor who played a central role in postwar Japanese New Theater, in part through the introduction of Brecht’s plays.39

差別表現 sabetsu hyōgen. Literally, discrimination phrases.40

無自覚 mujikaku. Also unconscious, apathetic to. 41

This stanza is presented in English without a Japanese translation.42

slaughter される slaughter sareru. 43


屠殺する tosatsu suru. 45

桑原史成 Kuwabara Shisei (1936-). A photographic journalist known for his coverage of Minamata Disease.46

侵略的な戦場 shinryakuteki na senjō. Wording slightly altered to improve clarity.47

差別語 sabetsugo. 48

結城入道 Yūki Nyūdō (?-1338). Typically known as 結城宗弘 Yūki Munehiro. A Kamakura period warrior who initially supported the bakufu but later joined Emperor Godaigo and fought for the Kenmu Restoration.49

I don’t know any Classical Japanese, so I had to have a frog friend who wishes to remain anonymous translate this. Many thanks go to him!50

屠所 dosho. 51

豚殺し butagoroshi. Literally, killing of pigs.52

支那 Shina. The term gradually came to be considered a slur after 1945, because of complaints from various Chinese. It has been replaced with the term 中国 Chūgoku, which, as it calls China the central country or kingdom, is inherently Sinocentric. Shina is cognate with the English China.53

街道をゆく Kaidō O Yuku. A long-running series of travel essays published in the Weekly Asahi from 1971 to 1996.54

司馬遼太郎 Shiba Ryōtarō (1923-1996). Prolific author of historical novels, and perhaps one of the most widely read novelists in Japan today.55

元寇 Genkō. The term for the two attempted Mongol invasions of Japan, the first in 1274 and the second in 1281.

Support the author here