【Public Seminar】Shin Godzilla and the Limits of American IR Theory
Professor Le will provide comparative analyses of the film Shin Godzilla (2016) by Anno Hideaki through American IR lenses and explain how they don’t capture domestic debates about the JSDF in Japan.
Date: Friday, October 19th, 2018
Venue:Conference room 91, 9th floor, Main building, Shirokane Campus,Meiji Gakuin University
Speaker: Prof. Tom Le
(Assistant Professor of Politics, Pomona College; Research Fellow, PRIME)
Immediately following the release of Shin Godzilla, directed by Hideaki Anno, western media and policy analysts argued that the film signaled growing nationalism, support for the use of force, and desire for increased autonomy in Japan. Many pundits connected the movie to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s constitutional revision agenda and the threats Japan faces in the region, namely a rising China and nuclear North Korea. Popular media, such as Umizaru, Astro Boy, and Godzilla have historically been useful windows into Japanese domestic security debates. However, all too often, scholars interpret Japanese media utilizing the highly-constrained framework of realism. Neorealist John Mearsheimer once famously argued that “in an anarchic world of international politics, it is better to be Godzilla than Bambi.” The presentation contends that this framework fails to capture the nuanced debates about security and identity and finds that the film was not a ringing endorsement of remilitarization or a rallying call for pacifism. Shin Godzilla reflects Japanese anti-militarism anxiety and inherent distrust in the people’s ability to responsibly use force. Thus, the film does not settle the security debate and leaves it to the viewer to decide if it is time for Japan to adjust to a rapidly changing world.