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Northern Territories in CanCam Again

Japan Jacket

Evidently, the Japanese Cabinet Office has a yearly PR budget to place ads in women’s fashion magazines like CanCam to educate “the kids” about the never-ending Kuril Island Dispute.

The ad back in 2005 featured a straightforward manga-based explanation, but Team Japan Gov went all “Japan Cool” this year and decided to place a map of the four godforsaken disputed islands on the back of an imaginary Japan-theme embroidered “stadium jumper” baseball jacket, which for those not living here, are all the rage with rural delinquent youngsters with bad taste and cookie-cutter rock bands that play unattended gigs in Shimokitazawa. Perhaps referencing this ironically-uncool-and-also-actually-uncool jacket is an attempt to target a taste culture navel-gazing enough to actually cry the necessary tears over this spilt milk very serious issue. (Not that a CanCam girl would ever be seen in a jacket like this.)

Seriously, however, Japan totally called “shotgun” for these islands a long time ago and then some other country took the front seat — even though Japan clearly called “shotgun!” Japan may have longer, better, and awesomer historical claims on these volcanic rocks (how more clearly could they have said “shotgun”?), but when you go on Imperialist Death Race 1937 in Asia, you are pretty much going “all in” with your entire local empire in the pot. Losing $2 chip properties like Shikotan is exactly what happens when you ask the dealer to “hit you” at 19. But hey, if there is some geopolitical legal technicality that would let Japan expand its empire once again after 60 years of totally boring, soul-crushing, pansy-making, samurai-shaming peacetime, the State should let the Ebi-chan Epigone know all about it.

So not only does the government do absolutely nothing to remedy the kind of social stratification that causes middle-class office ladies to fight to the death for a space on the palanquin of a Lehman Brothers employee, but then uses the popularity of the guide-to-being-beloved-by-rich-men to give everyone a rallying point of past nationalistic victimhood to take their minds off of more pressing contemporary issues. How can anyone whine about the consumption tax and stagnant wages when Khabomai is in Red hands!

Interesting, however, to see the government try to build up sympathy for this ancient issue in such an odd media context. Will the Cabinet Office continue to advertise their ancient territorial losses in 2045 — when translucent titanichrome cyber-textiles are all the rage in Neo-Shibuya?

See a full-color version of the advertisement here.

W. David MARX
February 27, 2008

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

36 Responses

  1. Aceface Says:

    “Seriously, however, Japan totally called “shotgun” for these islands a long time ago and then some other country took the front seat — even though Japan clearly called “shotgun!” Japan may have longer, better, and awesomer historical claims on these volcanic rocks (how more clearly could they have said “shotgun”?), but when you go on Imperialist Death Race 1937 in Asia, you are pretty much going “all in” with your entire local empire in the pot.”


    Nothern Territory are NOT the part of the Kurils.

    From Gaimusyo.
    (1) 日本はロシアより早く、北方四島(択捉島、国後島、色丹島及び歯舞群島)の存在を知り、多くの日本人がこの地域に渡航するとともに、徐々にこれらの島々の統治を確立しました。また、ロシアの勢力がウルップ島より南にまで及んだことは一度もありませんでした。

    (2) 1855年、日本とロシアとの間で全く平和的、友好的な形で調印された日魯通好条約(下田条約)は、当時自然に成立していた択捉島とウルップ島の間の国境をそのまま確認するものでした。それ以降も、北方四島が外国の領土となったことはありません。

    (3) 1875年に締結された樺太千島交換条約は、千島列島を日本領、樺太をロシア領としました。同条約は、千島列島として18の島の名前をすべて列挙していますが、北方四島はその中に含まれていません。これは、元々日本領である北方四島が当時すでに千島列島とは明確に区別されていたことを物語っています。

    (4) 第二次大戦末期の1945年8月9日、ソ連は、当時まだ有効であった日ソ中立条約に違反して対日参戦し、日本がポツダム宣言を受諾して終戦となった後の8月28日から9月5日までの間に北方四島のすべてを占領しました。

    From Wikipedia.

    And imperial death race was started in 1895.not 1937.

  2. W. David MARX Says:

    I knew you’d be peeved at my commentary. Sure, sure, Japan has better claims on these islands. What in the world could realistically happen though to make them ever come back to Japan? An uprising of CanCam girls against the Russian embassy?

    Imperial Death Race 1895 (the Prequel) was less of a gamble.

  3. M-Bone Says:

    I’m interested to hear what Aceface will have to say about this, but there are lots of people who think that the Japanese government is being hardass on the northern islands and Takeshima (or whatever) because they don’t want to appear weak to China on Senkaku.

    Of course, there are better ways to not look weak than advertising in CanCam but its not hard to imagine bureaucrats fooling themselves into thinking that this is the way to spread the word.

  4. W. David MARX Says:

    The Cabinet Office is on a roll in bridging public policy with “coolness”:

  5. M-Bone Says:


    On the issue of the northern territory – does anyone actually think that the Japanese government would want to take the people along with the land?

  6. W. David MARX Says:

    Japan has shown time and time again that it wants nothing more than to bring in non-Yamato-stock ethnic populations into the fold of the nation-state.

  7. Aceface Says:

    “What in the world could realistically happen though to make them ever come back to Japan? An uprising of CanCam girls against the Russian embassy?”

    Hey,any of you ever thought about Soviet Union fell into pieces back in the Reaganite days of the 80’s? I sure did not.

    Vladimir Putin had settled long standing border dispute with Beijing mostly in favor of them.Why can’t they do the same “land for peace” with Tokyo?

    CanCam girls are the ideal demographic target to be enlightened on the issue compare to say,Sankei readers.They already know what they need to know,I think.
    Besides it was nobody but the equivalent of CanCam girls of that time who were gang-raped by invading Soviet Strafbat in Sakhalin,Kurils and Manchuria of that dreaded August.
    The Girls better be informed,No?
    The Northern territory issue was also used to make Japanese public to view Moscow’s intention more suspiciously.
    Back then,everybody had pollyannaish attitude toward Sovieet Union’s policy and propaganda compared to evil imperialistic American.

    John Foster Dulles had threatened PM Hatoyama Ichiro(Grand father of DPJ deputy Hatoyama Yukio and justice minister”friend’s friend of AlQueda operative”Kunio)that”Washington would take hold on Okinawa forever”if Tokyo compromised over the Northern Territory during normalization of bilateral tiess with Moscow in 1956.

    This dispute was convenient for the other neighbors too.
    Anti-communist regime in South Korea and Taiwan was worried about reds taking over Japan and going “neutral”by kicking out the U.S bases.
    Mao also lionized Japanese resistance against Soviet revisionist in island dispute after Sino-Soviet split and Deng Xiao Ping had made unformal alliance with Tokyo and Washington to deter Russian threat in the late 70’s and 80’s.He too supported Japan’s claim to the Northern territories while saying about Senkakus that “the issue should be resolved by the hand of next generation whom would come up with better ideas” and suspended the dispute would jeopardize the bilateral relation.

    So there is more than just the Japanese jingoism at work over this dispute.I think.

    “but there are lots of people who think that the Japanese government is being hardass on the northern islands and Takeshima (or whatever) because they don’t want to appear weak to China on Senkaku. ”

    I don’t think Japan is being hardass on Takeshima.My understanding is quite the contrary.
    Japan did everything we could to ignore Takeshima.
    There is a report that there was secret gentlemans agreement over Takeshima(notice this questions at diet was made by Suzuki Muneo!)

    Few people in Tokyo(and I’m talking about conservative circles) give a shit with Takeshima before Koreans went berserk in the 90’s during Kim Young Sam administration.

    Okazaki Hisahiko,a very hard line conservative strategist whom once posted to Seoul in the 70’s,said Tokyo must acknowledge the status quo over Takeshima and keep the dispute in the field of rhetric but remain vocal on the Northern territory and strengthen tie with Washington to protect Senkakus,since Korea is a potential ally and China/Russia are not.

    “Japan has shown time and time again that it wants nothing more than to bring in non-Yamato-stock ethnic populations into the fold of the nation-state.”

    Ever heard of 八紘一宇 before,Marxy?

  8. W. David MARX Says:

    Re: 八紘一宇

    That was a long time ago when there was an empire to maintain. Now they are handing out three-year visas to totally Brazilianized Yamatos over assimilated and qualified Chinese because of a fundamental belief in the “one race, one nation” idea. Eiji Oguma already covered that.

  9. Aceface Says:

    Oguma’s father is a Zainichi Korean.
    So he may have an issue to speak over this.

    Some of the Brazillians can speak Japanese(even has Japanese passports or relatives in Japan) and there were enough bilingual Brazillians on the both side in the early 90’s.
    We also have little beef with Brazilia,but tons with Beijing.
    And the Chinese ARE hired almost as much as Brazillian,even more diversified occupations.

    And one more thing.You know where Mrs.Aceface is working now?
    A part timer in a bank in Saitama.
    She’s haken shain,but not so bad for an ex-illegal alien..

  10. Matt TREYVAUD Says:

    Pardon my self-linking, but does everyone remember when the labeling of these islands (and Taiwan) caused Gakken’s speaking globe to be recalled last month? Good times.

    Also, if that guy has the whole of Japan on his jacket at that scale, he must have one hell of a torso.

  11. M-Bone Says:

    Ace – “hardass” is, of course, relative. Taking a wide view of Japanese foreign policy, not being conciliatory on something like Takeshima counts as “hardass”.

    I also think that Japan offers lots of great opportunities to foreigners, but…. I’m not sure that anyone wants thousands of Russians suddenly moving to Tokyo from the north… or getting on the dole…. or….

  12. moji Says:

    Gaimusho seems not to have effective tactics over Northern Territories, and pretend to do the job by publishing tasteless ads. I don’t know why CanCam and whether Russian agents even notice this ad or not, so it’s a mere excuse for domestic audience(shigoto shite masu). I believe Fukuda will mention this issue only ritually at Toya lake, where Abe chose to claim this issue!

  13. Aceface Says:


    Foreign affair community of this country rather want to forget about Takeshima and Senkaku.

    In our conventional wisdom,Koreans and Chinese are victim of our imperialistic ambitions,Russians are not.Thus territorial dispute with Moscow is righteous and suits our cold war era geopolitical needs.

    Takehima Dokto dispute gave me a headache especially the Japanese ambassador who was blamed for starting the fuss was completely without malice and was very enthusiastic about strengthening ties in Korea/Japan Friendship year of 2005.All of us in media helped by wooing that dull and stupid Korean soap operas in the name of “Korean waves”.

    From Mainichi’s ex-Seoul Correspondent Shimokawa Masaharu:


    This was what ignited Roh Muh Hyong to start so called “diplomatic war”with Japan.
    But I do know that Roh was actually looking for an excuse to have a rumble with Japan for few month prior to this event,so this was just unavoidable.

    And about those Russians in the territory.

    No one is thinking about kicking 17000 residents out from the islands.
    But considering 8000 residents in Etorofu which has the largest population of all four island are Russian military personal and their families,the number of population in the Northern territories would be drastically decrease once the hand over is made.
    The often heard proposal is Japan gets the soverignity over island and the residents stay while Japanese taxpayers take care of the budget of local government and entire island will turn to a national park and biodiversity reserve control directly by the central government in Tokyo.

    There could be some Japanese ex-island residents chose to live there,but considering their age and shrinking population in Hokkaido(and country)massive Japanese settlement are highly unlikely.Most of the Japanese resident would be public servants and park wardens and employees of eco-tourism industry.

  14. Aceface Says:

    ”I don’t know why CanCam and whether Russian agents even notice this ad or not, so it’s a mere excuse for domestic audience(shigoto shite masu). ”

    I don’t know about that,Moji.

    Vladimir Putin is a black belt of Judo and has a big bronze bust of the Judo master,Kano Jigoro in his second house in St.Petersburg.
    His daughter,Katya is also an avid Japanophile and it is a well known secret among diplomatic circle in Tokyo that Katya has been in town from time to time in the past few years.
    She is now taking major in Japanese language studies in University of St.Petersburg.So there is a very high chance that Putin’s daughter may take a look into Japan’s No.1 girl magazine and notice the ad.

    Perhaps she may even try influence her father to have the islands back…

    Another off topic.
    The most hawkish on territorial dispute among Japanese Russia hands is definitly Hakamada Shigeki袴田茂樹 of Aoyama University.Hakamada is known as the guru of Russian school in MoFA and has dtrong influence over LDP’s Russian policy for years.

    Hakamada’s sister is Irina Hakamada,Russian politician and a member of Duma.She was also a presidential candidate of 2004 election running against Putin.

    Perhaps Prof.Hakamada can send a copy of CanCam to his Russian sister and try influece her to have the islands back…

  15. moji Says:

    Thank you for your wonderful hypothesis. I shouldn’t have underestimated the power of CanCam. The recent release of DVD of Putin’s judo with Yamashita is, of course, Prof. Hakamada’s tactics. Right?

  16. Matt Says:

    This reminds me of a public service announcement I saw at the movies around 1994-1995, when a bunch of pals went to see “True Romance” in a Shibuya theater.

    Just before the feature started, the lights dimmed and a (rather cheaply) animated sequence of two geese flying over the Kurils filled the screen. “What are those islands, mommy?” asked the smaller one. “Russia says they’re theirs, but they’re really Japanese,” answered the mother. I forget the details and who actually sponsored this little ad, but the “kawaii” approach to a sensitive political issue seemed all the more incongruous as the lead-in to a Quentin Tarantino scripted bullet-fest.

  17. M-Bone Says:

    Ace – While the Japanese gov position on the various islands under discussion is not a jingoistic one, I’m not sure that they are running away from it either.

    There is a great deal of Japanese gov web material outlining the various Japanese claims. The Takeshima ones have been cut and pasted and repasted around the Korean blogsphere as exhibit #1 of why Japan is still an imperialist aggressor. I think that the Korean stance is as silly as the Korean dramas that you mentioned but the Japanese government has not exactly run screaming away from the issue.

    Ditto for Senkaku, at the very least, it is a consistent note in the background of all of these (otherwise sappy) Sino-Japanese summits. The Japanese government may not be playing hardball, but I’d still give them a qualified “hardass” rating for not dropping claims in the face of what could be called hysterical over-reaction in other countries (especially Korea, I don’t think that there are any Japanese who will wear a three foot beard of bees for Takeshima).

  18. W. David MARX Says:

    Instead of “jingoism,” I think reminding everyone about the Kuril claims bolsters the narrative of Japan’s post-war victimhood. Hey, CanCam readers, did you know that Japan was victimized and unfairly treated after the war???

  19. Aceface Says:


    And this is what I saw in a theater in Seoul in 2005.

    Do you have THAT in your collections too?


    I don’t know about cyberspace,But MoFA is taking distance from Takeshima day procalimed by the congress of Shimane Pref and little has been talked about Takeshima issue in the summit,at least none in my memory.That’s why we believe there was some kind of secret agreement between Tokyo and Seoul on Takeshima that “see no evil,hear no evil,speak no evil” policy and it is kept at least on this side of the sea of Japan.

    Same goes to Senkaku.Tokyo is avoiding to talk about Senkaku with the Chinese as much as possible.MoFA did nothing when PRC had issued territorial water law in 1992 and proclaimed the ownership of Senkakus along with Spratlys.That was the year that GoJ has decided to send Emperor to visit China for the first time in history,and China was thought to be very pleased since they were still in the state of international isolation due to Tiananmen.Expert says military was behind this law,but China experts in MoFA insisted on sending Emperor.

    The recent talks on gas mining in East China Sea is same.Fukuda was thinking about settling deals in China visit in December,but China rebuffed.Then Fukuda setted anothe timeline,this time by Hu Jintao’s first time Japan visit in april.China rebuffed again.Foreign Minister Komura made statement last week that the deal is unlikely,but they’d accept it.And we are also inviting Hu to the Summit in Toya lake in July.Japan will be also hosting Vladimir Putin and newly elected SOuth Korean president Lee Myong Bak.So there will never be any talks on territory issue coming out from Fukuda’s mouth.

    “Hey, CanCam readers, did you know that Japan was victimized and unfairly treated after the war???”

    Well,it happens to be a fact that Soviet Union(and Mongolia)had unfairly treated Japan in the end of WW2 and after.More than a million Japanese civillians were detained in Manchuria and North Korea under Soviet force’s concentration camps and more than 210000 of them died there for starvation that only come after beating and rape of women.
    Stalin had also took more than half million POW in Manchukuo,Sakhalin and Kurils and took them to Siberia and Mongolia for slave labor.(I have an apartment in Ulaanbaatar build by the Japanese POWs.Actually they have more real estate value than the assets built by Soviet aid during Brezhnev days or recently built aprtments by the Chinese workers after desocialization)
    The POWs were detained until 1956.10% of them died in the process and many were forced to collaborate with NKVD in return of food or medical treatment,They became the agents of espionage when they returned to Japan and many were under surveillance by the local police and had difficulty of obtaining a proper job for life.

    All this by breaking Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in 1945 and more than dozens of international law AFTER THE WAR for more than 10 years.

    With this in mind,I would not surprise to hear someone thinks Japan was victimized and unfairly treated after the war by RUSSIANS.

  20. W. David MARX Says:

    Wow, that Korean video is crazy. For the record, I don’t want to single out Japan for making minor territorial disputes into rallying points for national identity. This video is like the CanCam ad times 1 million.

  21. Aceface Says:

    ”Wow, that Korean video is crazy.”

    But wait! There’s more.,anti-japan,dokdo,elementary%2Bschool,picture%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Dja%26sa%3DG

  22. W. David MARX Says:

    The government didn’t pay those kids to be overly jingoistic. I don’t think that’s really evidence of what you are trying to say.

  23. Aceface Says:

    No.Korean government did not pay these kids to draw that.There’s not even need for doing as such.

    What does matter here is the atmosphere of society allowing this to happen and complete lack of criticism.I mean the current status is that the rock is firmly in the hand of Korean for now and not other way around,No?

    “I don’t think that’s really evidence of what you are trying to say.”

    OK,How about this?

    Happened in Taiwan in 2004.





    Taipei prefectural congressman threats Japanese school of Taipei of kidnapping one of their students is for me,bizarre to extreme.

    And this in 2006.
    Russian Liberal Democratic Party president Vladimir Zhirinovsky pay a visit to J-embassy in Moscow.

  24. Aceface Says:

    The Russian article is 2004,not 2006.

    Off to work now.Later.

  25. Matt Says:

    While I wholeheartedly support using giant robots to settle territorial disputes, I’ve always found it amusing that the robot fiercely protecting the Dokdo islands from Japan in that video, Taekwon V, is an absolute pakuri of Japan’s Mazinger Z:

  26. M-Bone Says:

    “And this is what I saw in a theater in Seoul in 2005.”

    The shocking irony is that this was only made by blatantly ripping off 1970s Japanese robot anime….

    This, of course, is the direct link to end all links on island issues –

    The government may not have paid the kids but they were rewarded for drawing pictures of what amounts to the denigration (at best) and mass slaughter (at worst) of Japanese by government paid teachers and the exhibit was placed in a public place by public employees.

    Ace – you are completely correct on all points. However, the matter remains that Japan has a list of claims on all issues that is being publicized in various forums so it is not simply a matter of throwing in the towel.

  27. Aceface Says:

    What I’ve been trying to say is,Northern Territory ad on CanCam is just plain silly.But it’s not vicious nor flaming patriotic jingoism.And seeing what opponents are doing I even think GoJ is a lot more decent in regional standard.

    Rant out.

    “Taekwon V, is an absolute pakuri of Japan’s Mazinger Z”

    There is an ongoing project of Tekwon V,the movie.
    Looks good,actually.

    But some how the clip reminds me of Tesujin 28 go,instead of Mazinger Z…

  28. M-Bone Says:

    “GoJ is a lot more decent in regional standard.”

    Yeah, we also can’t forget that the Russian government has been okaying the killing of Japanese fishermen in the region.

  29. W. David MARX Says:

    “GoJ is a lot more decent in regional standard.”

    I agree, but that’s a pretty low standard. Actually, what nation state does not have an interest in constantly pursuing disputed territorial claims? You literally have nothing to lose.

  30. Aceface Says:

    There are gains.

    Killing of Japanese fisherman in the Northern territory synchronized Moscow’s increasingly aggressive attitude toward their neighbors like Estonia,Georgia and Ulraine.

    That’s how Putin got more than 80% popularity among Russians.That is almost as twice as the public support to Homer Simpson-like Yasuo Fukuda.

    Roh Muh Hyung used Taeshima/Dokto dispute to remove Seoul’s target of traditional security concern,North Korea,to it’s historical nemesis and current ally,Japan.
    Newly achieved fighter F15K flew over Takeshima with Airforce Chief of Staff himself holding control stick.
    Navy got a new amphibious assault vessel named as Dokto,in spite of Tokyo’s request for other name.

    Doing all these,Roh could mobilize anti-Japanese sentiment to strengthen his political basis,some of which had been lost because of his unpopular Sunshine policy toward Pyongyang.

    Even seemingly pro-Japanese Taiwan has same sort of sentiments.
    From wikipedia:
    “June 2005: The ROC(Republic of China) dispatched a ROCN frigate into disputed waters (but did not go as far as the islands) after Taiwanese fishing vessels were harassed by Japanese patrol boats. The frigate, which was carrying Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and ROC Defense Minister Lee Jye, was not challenged and returned to Taiwan without incident. Fisheries talks between Taipei and Tokyo were held in July, but did not cover sovereignty issues.”

    There will be a presidential election in Taiwan next month.
    The likely winner at this point is Kuomintang’s Ma Ying jeou馬英九,who studied law in Harvard with scholarship from his party back in the 70’s.
    Ma’s doctoral thesis in harvard was legal status of Diaoyutai (Chinese name for Senkakus)and it’s implication in the territorial dispute.

    Ads in CanCam?That’s just nothing,if you ask me.

  31. M-Bone Says:

    Did anyone hear about Canada’s notoriously hilarious brinkmanship with Denmark?

    Everyone made nice in the end but many eyes were rolled in the meantime.

  32. Aceface Says:

    I remember Canada-Spain fishing dispute in 1995.Both send frigates in Atlantic as I remember.

    The same year happened to be a big upheaval in Senakakus because an activist from Hong Kong got drowned by diving into the sea near Senkaku.

    All the HK press went crazy and condemend “Japanese war ships”had killed their activist.
    “The war ships”were actually coast guard vessels and activist jumped in the ocean before his ship got detained.

    As we watched Canadian frigate violently crushing e talked what would Ottawa do in same situation.

  33. Aceface Says:

    You may wonder why have I been posting endlessly on this thread.

    This,I was reading at my work for the past few days which happens to crossover with the topic.

  34. Aceface Says:

    Correction on #32.

    As we watched Canadian frigate violently crushing spanish fishing boats in high seas on Reuters TV,we talked about what would Tokyo do in the same situation with Ottawa.

  35. M-Bone Says:

    The Canadian reaction in 1995 had a lot of dodgey connections with regional politicians looking to increase their stock by making some noise but the Canadian ships did FIRE warning shots….

  36. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    Why not throw Putin’s Nashi and the Uyoku in a ring and let them go at each other. My Russian friend tells me you do not want to screw around with the Nashi, like they will seriously murder you if you say something bad about Putin. It’s terrible.

    Nationalisn… what a joke.