Partizipative Projekte aus dem Bereich der Japanologie

The Japanese coffee house: A place of well-being?

Can the (Japanese) coffee house influence well-being? Many people, particularly the Viennese, would probably answer ‘yes’ without hesitation. In actuality, there has been surprisingly little research on this topic so far. However, there are means to take a scientific approach to the question. For that purpose, the coffee house in all its diversity must first be defined as a place. The concept of “relational well-being” states, that place, time, and cultural environment may all have an impact on well-being. That also applies to the Japanese concept of well-being, called ikigai, or “life worth living”. According to the approach, that I have worked out, one can arguably find the meaning of life in a coffee house.

Can the (Japanese) coffee house influence well-being? Many people, particularly the Viennese, would probably answer ‘yes’ without hesitation. In actuality, there has been surprisingly little research on this topic so far. However, there are means to take a scientific approach to the question. I examined one idea here.

The Japanese coffee house, just like the Viennese one, offers up many dimensions. From the classic kissaten to coffee shop chains, cozy cat cafés, hip specialty coffee shops, or the numerous themed cafés. All are very different places that serve different purposes for different people. At first glance, just these specializations seem to separate the different types of coffee houses, but a closer look reveals that their design is intricately intertwined with their function.

Some people might like to go to the ordinary kissa on the corner for a first date, others might go to a Sailor Moon-themed café, and others might want to score by visiting a trendy indie coffee shop. One student might choose to hole up in the corner of a big chain coffee shop to study, while others might prefer the company of fluffy cats in a cat café. None of the many variants of Japanese coffee houses has only one clearly identifiable function, which is why it should only make more sense to consider them all together and as a single phenomenon/singular concept.

To understand this unit of the Japanese coffee house as one factor in people’s well-being, it is enough to look at it through the appropriate lens, in this case, relational well-being. The concept of relational well-being states that place, time, and cultural environment have an influence on a person’s well-being. Furthermore, along with the relational, the local understanding of well-being should also be taken into account. This view brings the Japanese concept of ikigai into play as a benchmark for well-being in the coffee house. Ikigai is often translated as “life worth living”, or, in German, it is often compared to a sense of having meaning in one’s life. However, such all-inclusive definitions of ikigai frequently overlook the premise, that ikigai is not merely a static sensation, that one either does or does not experience, but a diverse and complex feeling, one which may be influenced by a variety of circumstances and actively experienced.

Experiencing the feeling of ikigai is called ikigai keiken in Japanese and so far is still a very new concept. It was originally defined by Shintaro Kono and Gordon J. Walker in 2020, when researching recreation and leisure time activities. Kono and Walker defined the four components of ikigai keiken as tanoshimi (“enjoyment”), ganbari (“effort”), shigeki (“stimulation”) and iyashi (“comfort”), which all together help to promote the feeling of ikigai.

I argue that these four elements can all be linked to the experience of visiting a coffee house. Thus, the question I posed at the beginning receives an answer: “Can the (Japanese) coffee house, as a place, influence people’s well-being?” And the answer is yes. Yes, it can! (At least, in theory.)

Minamiaso on Youtube – Tourism offensive to revitalise a rural region

Rural areas in Japan are increasingly affected by negative developments such as high aging rates and declining populations. The municipality of Minamiaso in Kumamoto Prefecture relies, among other things, on YouTube videos to promote the place as an attractive tourist destination. How Minamiaso is presented in these videos was the subject of my research: in addition to a rich natural landscape and soothing water, this place also presents offers to balance out the hectic city life. As a tourist destination, Minamiaso appeals to a broad target group and relies equally on cooperation with regionally as well as transregionally known brands.

Rural areas in Japan are increasingly experiencing negative developments such as high aging rates and declining populations. Under the slogan kankō chiiki zukuri (“tourism regional development”), the Japanese government is pushing measures to combat this socio-economic decline with the help of tourism marketing. The implementation of which is left to the local authorities. In the municipality of Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture, located on the island of Kyūshū, one of the tools used is the video platform “Youtube”. The local tourism authority (Minamiaso Kankō-Kyoku) relies on this multimedia presentation to promote and sustain the area. It is a representation that I looked at more closely in the course of my research: A rural community is swiftly transformed into an attractive destination that invites (Japanese) tourists from near and far.

Situated in the caldera of the famous Aso volcano, Minamiaso impresses with its rich natural landscape – from large-scale pastures, and small, hidden springs to the pompous volcanic crater, the place invites you to pause and marvel at every turn. Whether during a visit to one of the onsen (thermal baths) or during a bicycle tour along small streams, relaxation through the soothing water is also omnipresent in the video presentation. It underlines the slow lifestyle that also characterizes the destination “Minamiaso” as a balance to the hectic city life. Minamiaso appeals to a broad target group through its diversity and relies equally on cooperation with regional brands such as the local kakigōri (grated ice cream doused with syrup) as well as with nationally known brands such as “Kumamon”, the mascot of the prefecture per se.

Problems such as steadily declining population figures and a high proportion of people over 65 have been known in Japan for decades. Officially, the Japanese government is trying to counteract these developments by implementing new strategies and programs. Local revitalization groups (chiiki okoshi kyōryokutai) as well as administrative units (DMOs, destination management organizations) geared towards tourism marketing are just a few examples of these revitalization efforts.

Ski jumping in transition – From Kasai to Kobayashi

Skiing always produces outstanding personalities, such as the two Japanese ski jumpers Kasai Noriaki and Kobayashi Ryōyū. Kasai made his World Cup debut in the 1980s. That was a time when ski jumping was very different. Even today, the crowd favourite still trains, among others, with Kobayashi. The latter stands out, above all, for his athletic successes. With Kobayashi, who has been jumping in the World Cup since 2015, a promising future awaits the Japanese ski jumping sport.

I was able to determine Kasai’s great popularity in the course of a scientific analysis of articles from a wide variety of news platforms. Another aspect that emerged along the way is that Kobayashi could be the focus of this sport as well as the media in the future.

Brilliant performances, unique selling points, or a very long-lasting career – this is how professional athletes usually make a name for themselves. These three characteristics also apply to the Japanese ski jumper Kasai Noriaki. The athlete, born in 1972, was internationally active as a ski jumper for about 30 years. His omnipresence in ski jumping, not least his likable appearance, made Kasai a public favourite over the years. But he does not only have Japanese fans. When he places well, all the other jumpers, coaches, and spectators rejoice with him, whether they are from Japan or another nation. During his career, he had not only taken part in many competitions and made many good jumps, but has also seen colleagues come and go. When Kasai jumped in the World Cup at the end of the 1980s, the nowadays common jumping style, in which the skis form a V during flight, was not yet used by every jumper. Kasai also started his career with the original parallel style.

But not only the techniques of the athletes, but also their equipment and jumping distances, the hills from which they jump, the introduction of a World Cup for women, as well as the attention and coverage of the media, have changed a lot since Kasai’s career began. After all, his career spans almost four decades.

While Kasai has not been fielded for the World Cup for the last three years in a row, there is another athlete on the Japanese squad who has been the talk of the town recently. Kobayashi Ryōyū is best known for his outstanding performances. He achieved good placings and victories in competitions such as the 2018/19 Four Hills Tournament, the 2021/22 Overall World Cup, and the 2022 Winter Olympics. Even Kasai cannot show some of these placings and achievements in his (previous) career, which the 26-year-old Kobayashi achieved within six years. Nevertheless, his perseverance in jumping is what sets him apart, especially his ability to keep up with jumpers half his age. Since the two athletes belong to the same club and train together, they benefit from each other’s strengths.

The aim of my research was to find out how the ski jumper Kasai Noriaki is portrayed in media coverage. Specifically, Western media were examined, especially German-language news platforms such as “Der Standard”, “Skispringen.com” or the “Neue Züricher Zeitung”. In the course of the work, it was found that Kasai is almost without exception portrayed positively, regardless of the origin of the article or the athlete’s current performance. In addition, the research uncovered an interesting connection that was not part of the research question itself. Within the last few years, Kobayashi has gained a position similar to the one Kasai once held – that of the most famous Japanese ski jumper.

How Kobayashi and the sport of ski jumping will develop in the future is still written in the stars. Fundamental changes in the sport, as there have been time and again in the past, are not on the horizon (at least at the moment). But if the last 30 years have shown us one thing, it is that ski jumping will continue to produce exciting developments and outstanding personalities.

Do you speak Japanese? – Role language in manga and anime

Many characters in anime and manga have their own way of talking, which is very different from the everyday language of the Japanese. At the same time, there is an unspoken understanding among native speakers that these speech styles provide information about a character’s traits. Therefore, these speech styles are grouped together under the term ‘role language’. For a long time, there has been no research on these styles in Japan, which makes it all the more interesting to take a closer look at them.

Today, the first contact with the Japanese language is, for many, popular productions such as manga and anime. Often, people who set out to learn Japanese notice after a short time that the language in the media they consume differs greatly from the textbook Japanese.

The reason for the somewhat strong differences lies in the concept of ‘role language’, which summarizes styles of speech that allow clear associations with characteristics of a manga or anime character. There are some prototypical language styles that are for example perceived as ‘typically male’ or ‘typically female’. Based on this, more differentiated language styles can also provide information about the social status or age of a character in addition to gender. At the same time, certain external characteristics can be used to make statements about how a character is most likely to speak. However, the unspoken understanding of role language among native speakers who consume manga and anime themselves is not taken out of the air. Most of the concepts on which it is built are variations and borrowings from historical styles of speech.

This is not to say, that role-playing language is ‘merely’ a collection of historical linguistic styles. Rather, it is an artificial and artful evolution of these linguistic styles. Since most native speakers of Japanese have no understanding of the concept of role language, but only know that no one, in reality, speaks like this, role language is given far too little attention in most teaching environments, if it is mentioned at all. Knowing about it, however, is another important contribution to a better understanding of Japanese pop culture.

The article provides a summary of the historical development of role language. It aims to use multimedia content to introduce the concept of role language to learners of Japanese in particular and explain it in an easy-to-understand way.

Vegan ramen in Vienna – The new diversity

For the restaurateurs of the Viennese ramen scene vegan versions of the Japanese noodle soup have various meanings, especially considering the authenticity of the dish. They operate at a crossroads between traditional diet and recent developments in vegan nutrition and react to these changes with different strategies. In addition to the culinary and cultural identity of the restaurateurs, their personal as well as their professional backgrounds have an impact on their conduct and influence their perception of what may or may not be considered authentically Japanese. A willingness of restaurant owners to meet the needs of their customers is largely subject to their personal approach to veganism.

Slurp It Vegan – Algae, mushrooms and tofu for environmental protection and animal welfare

Ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japanese cuisine and has countless variations. The soup has three components: the noodles (men), the broth (shiru), and the seasoning sauce (tare). It was imported to Japan by Chinese immigrants, who worked as cooks in restaurants in the port town of Yokohama, and served a growing number of international customers there. This information can be traced back to the 1880s, with the assimilation of the dish beginning in the 1910s and giving rise to Japanese ramen variants, that added ingredients not previously used. Given its particular history, the dish is highly characterized by appropriation and mobility. The adaptation of ethnic cuisine to the tastes of local customers is a long-standing phenomenon that can be observed globally, and where the concept of authenticity plays an important role. Ramen is traditionally a meat-based dish but has recently found its vegetarian or vegan counterpart. In Austria the negative consequences of meat consumption prompt more and more people to adopt a flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan diet and to reduce meat consumption as much as possible. This development is changing the gastronomical scene and these developments continue past Japanese cuisine.

Vegan ramen variants serve not only to convey personal values and ideals but as well as an expression of the cultural identity of its producers. Culinary authenticity is not only constructed by restaurateurs as an economic marker but also on an emotional level. This may include both subjective and objective elements, and influences restaurateurs’ perception, standards, and priorities in relation to Japanese cuisine respectively. According to a model developed by the Berlin-based Japanologist Cornelia Reiher, restaurateurs can be classed into three categories: “personal”, “fusion” and “as a profession”. Following this definition, two different strategies for handling the vegan diet can be identified within the Viennese ramen scene. On the one hand, there is an integrative approach that incorporates people’s changing eating habits into the restaurant concept as a whole. On the other hand, there is an approach that caters to these habits separately.

As vegan alternatives are offered in all the ramen bars I have surveyed, this development can be seen as a local adaption of Japanese cuisine to Vienna’s ramen scene. This realignment with the local market has produced a previously unimagined variety of vegan ramen in Vienna which, depending on the restaurateurs’ category, are legitimized by the personal taste of the head chef and their team or through original Japanese recipes. For that reason, the perception of what is considered authentically Japanese in relation to vegan alternatives is changing. However, despite the growing importance of the vegan movement in Japan, the vegan diet appears to be perceived as a Western trend by the respondents of my survey. The open-minded approach of the restaurateurs to the concept of veganism suggests nevertheless that the vegan diet has a lasting influence on the Viennese ramen scene, even if there is no consensus among the restaurateurs about its contribution to environmental protection or climate-friendly nutrition.

Ukraine war prolongs conflict over the Kuril Islands – No peace treaty between Japan and Russia

Although 77 years have passed since the end of the Second World War, Japan and Russia have not yet signed a peace treaty. One of the reasons is the territorial dispute between the two countries over the Kuril Islands, located between the northern coast of Japan and the southern coast of Russia. In my research, I conducted a discourse analysis of the coverage in the Asahi Shinbun (Japanese daily newspaper) of the territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands since the start of the war in Ukraine. After Russia declared war on Ukraine on 23 February 2022, Japan decided to join the US and the EU in imposing sanctions on Russia. On 21 March 2022, in response to these sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that peace negotiations would be halted.

The Kuril Islands are a chain of islands located between the northern border of Japan and the southeastern border of Russia. The first official border agreed upon by both countries was established by the Treaty of Shimoda, in 1855. This border was between the islands of Etorofu and Urup. According to this division, the four southern Kuril Islands of Habomai, Shikotan, Kunashiri, and Etorofu fell under Japanese territory. As this demarcation is the first officially documented border between the two countries, the four islands are considered Japanese territory by the Japanese government.

Currently, however, the four islands and the entire island chain are in Russian possession. The Japanese government calls this occupation illegal because Russia began to conquer the islands in 1945 – despite the neutrality pact between the two countries and the ban on conquests of land in the Atlantic Charter of 1941, which Russia also acknowledged. Subsequently, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into Russian territory in 1946. The territorial dispute, in which Japan claims its territory, developed as a result of these events and is also an important factor in why both countries have yet to sign a peace treaty.

My research objective was to determine how the territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands was reported in the Asahi Shinbun, that is which actors appeared, and which themes and arguments were used. Another important aspect was to determine whether the war in Ukraine played a role in this. According to the research results I was able to find out that the war in Ukraine did, in fact, play a role. With the start of the war in Ukraine, Japan decided to cooperate with the US and the EU and impose sanctions on Russia. This cooperation is an important goal of the current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. However, in response to these sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on 21 March 2022 that it would no longer pursue peace negotiations with Japan. This triggered a wave of disappointment in the Japanese government, but also among the population.

The voice of one group, in particular, stands out. Namely that of the former islanders who once lived on the Kuril Islands and were expelled from their homeland. Their suffering is especially great because, in addition to suspending the peace negotiations, the Russian government has also revoked the visa exemption that they had achieved with tremendous efforts after a long fight. The visa exemption allowed them to visit the islands. In particular, visiting the graves of their ancestors is of great importance to them, which is why they have appealed to the Japanese government to seek a solution. Unfortunately, most of the former islanders are of advanced age, so many are concerned about not being able to visit the islands anymore before they die. For this reason, the pressure on the Japanese government is particularly high at the moment.

Kitsune-tsuki: Between folk belief and mental illness

Ghosts, demons, and spiritual beings – in Japanese folklore, these phenomena, which are widely known as yōkai, play an essential role. Kitsune-tsuki, or “fox possession”, is one of many phenomena and can be traced back to the 8th century in literary works. However, this phenomenon was not always perceived only as a folk belief and was later to be associated with mental illness as well.

Even today, yōkai (jpn. 妖怪) are very important in Japanese culture. This can be seen particularly well in works of Japanese popular culture, such as anime and manga. The origins of various yōkai are often linked to legends, and their number and diversity in Japanese folk beliefs are extremely large. It is also not uncommon for them to be associated with religion; on the contrary, many are often closely linked with a religion’s origins. By interpreting the stories, traditional lore, and artistic representations, important links to the culture of Japan in certain periods can be deduced.

One of many yōkai is kitsune (jpn. 狐), which actually means “fox”, but in this particular context can rather be translated as “fox spirit”. These fox spirits are often known to take possession of people. This phenomenon is called kitsune-tsuki. The character for tsuki (jpn. 憑) means something along the lines of “to haunt” and is used in the context of possession. In Japanese folklore, however, there are not only foxes that take possession of people, but also tanuki (raccoon dog), for example.

In my research, various historical texts, legends, and reports on kitsune-tsuki were analyzed. Texts referring to kitsune-tsuki can already be found in Ancient Japan (4th century-12th century), for example in the extremely well-known Genji monogatari (“The Story of Prince Genji”), which was written by Murasaki Shikibu. Revenge, justice or rebirth are often at the forefront of the (traditional) stories and legends surrounding the phenomenon. In Medieval Japan (12th-16th centuries), performing arts such as nōh and kyōgen were added, which included kitsune-tsuki in their performances. In the Japanese modern age (16th century-19th century), kitsune became particularly important in the Inari-faith.

However, a visible change in the view of kitsune-tsuki as a pure folk belief occurred increasingly in the late Edo period (early 19th century). Although kitsune-tsuki as a “disease” had already existed in Ancient Japan, it was not until the late Edo period that the phenomenon was increasingly viewed from the perspective of psychiatry and thus associated with mental illness.

Sun, seaside and soldiers – The U.S. military in Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan’s Hawaii. It’s not just the long beaches and surrounding turquoise crystal clear Pacific waters that constitute the islands’ common features, though. The US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii currently houses the US Navy’s headquarters, meanwhile Okinawa is still home to 31 of all the US military bases located in Japan. While Okinawa prefecture was returned to be under Japanese administration in 1972, the US military’s presence on the island chain remains. Local residents are determined to have their voices heard and protest new construction, as well as the relocation of military facilities into nature reserves. A video game also addressed the issue as part of its main story.

A 50th anniversary after 27 years of occupation, 31 active military bases, and 70 percent of the US military’s presence in Japan – a formula that holds many variables. Most conflicts regarding the numerous US military bases on the Okinawa’s islands are not yet solved.

The Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA for short, was signed by both Japan and the USA on January 19th, 1960 to establish a framework for military cooperation between the two countries. Its contents are such that – in contrast to other agreements involving the United States, that followed World War II; for example with Germany and Italy – Japan holds hardly any leverage to regulate or control the activities of the US military on Japanese soil. On June 17th, 1971 the Okinawa Reversion Agreement was signed in Washington, D.C. and Tokyo. For almost thirty years the USA had been using its remaining occupational forces in Japan’s southernmost prefecture to build and expand its military prowess in the Pacific.

Okinawa Prefecture, including its numerous smaller islands, accounts for only a fraction of Japan’s total land area and is home to less than 1 percent of Japan’s population. Even so it houses more than 70 percent of the US military bases located in Japan. The US military’s impact stands in conflict with environmental and conservational concerns and economic interests, such as the development of Okinawa as a tourist hotspot, are overshadowed by the presence of US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. On the forefront of these issues stands the, by now decades-long, dispute that is concerned with the relocation of Futenma Air Station, most recently to Henoko in Ōura Bay.

The main storyline of the 2009 released video game “Yakuza 3“ also touches on issue of the construction of yet another US military base in (fictional) Okinawa. Okinawa is rarely depicted as a point of interest in movies, books or video games and if shown usually serves its ideal as an idyllic holiday resort. In “Yakuza 3“ the development of a holiday resort stands in contention with the proposed installation of a missile defense system at a new US base.

“Yakuza 3“ includes themes of a real-life conflict amid election campaigns for the seat of Japan’s prime minister. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama expressed his intentions for an economically prosperous Okinawa during his election campaign and term in office in the 2000s. Even though the US base to be built in “Yakuza 3“ has no name, images of crowds demonstrating against its construction in the game resemble those protesting against the relocation of Futenma.

In my research I analyzed story segments from “Yakuza 3“ and compared them to the demonstrations and protests held against the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Japanese baseball coaches in anime: What do they tell us about Japan?

Popular culture is not kids’ stuff, but a mirror of society. Anime, manga, and video games reflect socio-cultural aspects and discourses. If you look at the representation and the concepts behind it, there is a lot to discover in anime. I took a closer look at the coaches of the baseball anime Ace of the Diamond and discovered that the willingness to sacrifice, which the samurai are said to have, is still very much in vogue. Bushido, baseball, and the Japanese school sports system – they all come together in sports anime and reveal a lot about Japanese society.

What do Bushido, baseball, school teachers, and anime have in common? Quite a lot! When we hear the term bushido (in Japanese bushidō, translated as the “way of the warrior”), we think first and foremost of samurai. The ideology of bushido became known in the West primarily through the book of the same name by Nitobe Inazō. According to him, the samurai embodies values such as loyalty, self-sacrifice, and unconditional devotion. Although this is a romanticized portrayal of the warrior elite of the time, this image has gained a foothold in both the West and Japan. It has also been transferred to sports, especially baseball. Thus, it is no surprise that the Japanese national baseball team is called “Samurai Japan”. But how did it come about?

Today, baseball is considered Japan’s national sport. It was brought to Japan by American teachers in 1872/73 and was played at elite schools after the opening of the country in the Meiji era. The adolescents who went to school there were descendants of former samurai and transferred their ideology to their baseball game. The practice of the sport was thus imbued with these ‘traditional’ values. Over time, the sports clubs of the elite schools evolved into today’s extracurricular school sports clubs (undō bukatsudō) and the values of the samurai remained a part of them. Undō bukatsudō is a concept of sports practice that does not exist in Austria per se because these sports clubs are not private clubs but are directly linked to a school. This means that training and competitions take place at the respective school in addition to regular PE lessons. However, the training is often not carried out by specially trained coaches but organized by dedicated teachers. These school sports clubs are not only about practicing sports but also about “learning for real life”. The bukatsudō coaches are therefore also “life coaches”, as they instill in the young athletes a sense of responsibility, decency, and other moral values that are important for adult life.

The coaches portrayed in sports anime also convey certain social values through their character traits and behavior. However, these are not only directed at the athletes in the fictional anime world but also at young viewers. If you take a closer look at the portrayal of the characters and their behavior, and also take into account the underlying cultural aspects, an anime reveals a lot about Japanese culture, society and its changes.

It is interesting that baseball is the most frequently depicted sport in sports anime; the anime Ace of the Diamond is one of them. In my bachelor’s thesis, I took a closer look at the ten coaches who appear in it and found out how closely bushido, baseball, and school sports are connected and what this says about Japanese norms and values, and how they are changing.

Manga and anime – The Japanese Self-Defence Forces set their sights on Japan’s youth

The JSDF commercials - A "cool" military?

For more than fifteen years, the Japanese Self-Defence Forces have been using elements of popular culture (manga and anime) for information and recruitment purposes. As such they specifically target children and adolescents. In addition to an annually released manga, a short anime series also exists. Its content relies heavily on the usual cuteness factor (kawaii) associated with manga and anime to explain military content and to depict possible threats to Japan and Japanese society. This type of media is evidently well-received by youngsters and serves its intended purpose.

National defence as child’s play

Japan is in many ways a special case when it comes to military matters. On the one hand, there is a clear commitment to pacifism and a deep rejection of militaristic tendencies. Officially, no armed forces are maintained, and protests against the establishment or maintenance of foreign (as well as Japanese) military bases are both numerous and strong in their expression. On the other hand, Japanese popular culture is full of military depictions. Schoolgirls fighting tank battles in a funny manner in the anime Girls und Panzer (German: Girls und tanks; Japanese: Gāruzu ando Pantsā ガールズ&パンツァー), or young soldiers protecting Japan from medieval dragons with modern weapons. What do the two have in common? They use strong military themes, they are representatives of Japanese popular culture – and they are both popular.

Many of us have seen them before: cute characters with colorful hairstyles, big eyes, and an amicable demeanor. The drawing styles used in Japanese comics (manga) and animatic videos (anime) are famous the world over. Whether in Austria or Japan itself, many young children and adolescents enjoy the pop-culture media coming out of Japan.

It is precisely that popularity that’s exploited by the authorities. Be it warning signs in underground stations, instructions for the use of appliances, or public mailings from government agencies – manga and anime are by no means just meant for children in Japan. The Japanese military (JSDF, Japanese Self-Defense Forces) has been utilizing the popularity of comics for decades as a means of self-expression and presenting themselves to the Japanese youth. It does so armed with a wide arsenal of content – in addition to the annually published manga (manga de yomu bōeihakushō), the Ministry of Defense has also produced an animated short film. In keeping with the target audience, the roles and tasks of the JSDF are communicated in child-friendly, simple language by the spherical bird-robot “Boemon”. But more serious issues are addressed as well. Making the threat of cybercrime and cyber-attacks subject of discussion, it is intended to encourage even younger children to be mindful of sharing their personal data on the internet. Alongside the informative aspects, there is, of course, also the intention to promote recruitment.

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