About two months ago, our favorite Japanese consumer-lifestyle magazine Relax did a special feature on “peace,” which our favorite Scottish musician/critic Momus called in a recent comment on this blog, “quite admirable.” I agree there is something positive about dedicating space to world peace and anti-nuclear proliferation instead of limited-edition sneakers, but the issue asks the question: Can “peace” be a lifestyle choice devoid of political underpinnings?
As this Relax hit the stands, Japanese voters were gearing up to go to the polls, and while postal privatization was the primary issue, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party has recently been showing explicit interest in altering the “Peace Constitution” to remilitarize Japan, antagonizing China and Korea with visits to the nationalistic Yasukuni shrine, and continuing the use of Japanese Self-Defense Forces in the American Iraq War. So, voting against the LDP would be an extremely easy way to “give peace a chance.”
Relax, of course, cannot bring politics into the “Peace” issue. For fear of upsetting advertisers, readers, and the Magazine House higher-ups, the concept must remain a form of laid-back consumer lifestyle and not an anti-social or political rally point. I salute Relax for not doing an issue on “Yasukuni O-share” but I wonder how much credit one deserves for wearing a black-and-white “WAR IS OVER if you want it” t-shirt one month and then forgetting to actually “want it” at the next election. At this moment in time, Japan is closer to rearming than it has ever been, and motivated youth voters could actually use the democratic outlets available to them to send a message to the Neo-Nationalists in the majority party.
Perhaps we cannot expect the media to really work towards peace, and they may be limited in action to collecting fashionable artists to do exclusive pieces on the subject. “Rock the Vote” and other American youth-oriented political programs were hardly enough to bring down the warmongering Bush presidency. I very much doubt, however, that a German magazine would dedicate an issue to “Pacifism” and not mention the War (WWII or Iraq) nor political action. I have no doubt that a majority of the Japanese public wants to maintain a peaceful existence, but I fear that just wearing the concept like a warm scarf is not enough to change the minds of those who hold the ultimate decision-making power.