Fall of Japan? A look at 2010 and what it might spell for J-Pop around the world

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, sea foam to sea foam?

So it’s another year, and while real life doesn’t actually revolve around the increment of 365 ¼ days, it’s good to know that we like to box everything into little categories.

Ronald Kelts, author of Japanamerica, wrote last January that Japan may have jumped the shark: 2009 wasn’t such a hot year for them either, and 2010 is turning out to be even worse by some measures.

So how did Japan do this past year?

Not so good.

Let’s not forget that China overtook Japan as No. 2 in the world economy. Human rights violations, lack of pollution controls, and overall hubris in the world forum aside, the Western world and Japan are realizing that the Chinese may not be as easily brushed aside after all. They’ve developed an interest in anime and manga, enough to make copies in their amusement parks. We scoff today, but back in the 50s, Walt Disney had to deal with some guy copying him.

Then there’s the manga and anime industry laws enacted in Tokyo and Osaka. I’ve already said enough on that I think.

While the manga/anime sector blasts the government, it joins the chorus of other ineptitude that has risen from the new government under the guidance of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.  After taking over for PM Hatoyama, who stepped down after only about nine months of service in June, PM Kan has shown that his party leadership is fairly inept to his constituents. The government’s handling of the Senkaku Incident caused riots, damaged Japan’s image both internationally and nationally, and continues to drag down PM Kan’s approval rating (currently a paltry 21%) along with other gaffes, he’s become a lame duck in a troubled party less than a year and a half after his party took helm of the nation.

This not to say it’s just the government that’s looking like it’s in bad shape.

An unbelievable scam was brought to light as many of Japan’s eldery have been found to be dead, some deceased as far back as 30 years ago. Some people, who knowingly held a dead body without calling the authorities to keep receiving checks, were charged with fraud. But in some cases, the families feigned that their relatives simply disappeared, and thus were never confirmed dead. I imagine in those cases, the elderly were similar to the ubasute of folklore, who were carried off into the mountains or woods to die during times of flood or famine.

Yeah, not so good.

So here’s hoping for a better year. There were good things in Japan too, so I’m hoping for better news. Japanese robotics last year shows that Japan is still at the top, and Nissan did make the first all electric commercial vehicle.

Who knows? I’m a fatalist, so I won’t expect much from them.

About Tomo Hirai

For more than half a decade, Tomo Hirai has whittled his time away playing video games and reading comics. He has been writing about Japanese pop-culture since his start at the Nichi Bei Times working on Anime/Manga special issues.

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