I have been following the controversy about artist Wada Yoshihiko‘s alleged artistic theft on Kikko’s blog (click to see a visual comparison), but now The Japan Times is finally reporting on the topic in English. Long story short, an esteemed artist is being stripped of his awards for a work that completely and utterly rips off a painting by an Italian painter.
I bring this up not to suggest that Japanese artists are inherently thieves, but to knock out the final leg on the myth that “there is no sin in Japan against copying other artists’ works.”
Crazy how human nature works, but people in Japan — like in many other countries — think it is generally unethical to copy directly from 1) contemporary artists 2) un-ironically or un-referentially 3) in the same artistic genre 4) and pass it off as your own. If there is any more debate to be had on this issue — that somehow the idea of “intellectual property” and “originality” is a Western conceit forced upon an unwilling Eastern populace — go for it in the comment section, but I am pretty much convinced that the massive increase in artists being busted for pakuri in recent days has little to do with the entrenchment of Western values and everything to do with the democratization of the media space thanks to 2-ch and blogs. You couldn’t get “caught” for pakuri when the media worked to black out all criticism of artistic works. Thanks to the Inter Net, now you can.