February 24, 2017, 2:51 am
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But can you find love?

PROBABLY not in Japan’s “comfort facilities,” belonging to the Recreation and Amusement Association which were bars, dance halls, restaurants, brothels and nightclubs run by water-traders and other businessmen at the behest of the Home Ministry, prefectural governors and local police chiefs for the pleasure of Allied occupation troops in the immediate postwar period.

The Japanese gambit, decided as early August 21, 1945, of shoehorning 20,000 patriotic Okichis into slaving for the “Special Comfort Facilities Association” (Tokushu Ian Shisetsu Kyōkai), tricked the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, thus, preserving Hirohito’s oligarchic Yamato patriarchy.

Did any of the 350,000 US troops in Japan find love in Komachi Garden? Who knows? Less than 60 years later, “Meteor Garden” would bowl over thousands of Taiwanese, Filipino, Thai, Indonesian and Hong Kong fans of tele-drama. The TV show “Liúxing Huayuán” was, of course, simply a live-action Taiwanese take on Yoko Kamio’s best-selling Japanese shōjo manga series called “Boys Over Flowers,” which in turn became the TBS drama series of Hana Yori Dango. 

How many Northeast and Southeast Asians fell for Ms. Mao Inoue’s rendition of the plucky Makino Tsukushi and the small-screen playboy-characters Domyouji Tsukasa, Hanazawa Rui, Nishikado Soujiro and Mimasaka Akira? Batches of young and mature female Asians continue to be entranced with the dramedy of Makino’s entanglement with the ruling princelings of the preppy Eitoku Academy. They have fueled the creation of “Hana Yori Dango Returns” and “Hana Yori Dango Final” as well as “Hana Nochi Hare” (HanaDan Next Season) with their infatuation over the elitist F4 and admiration for Makino. The uber-wealthy Flower Four (stand-in for the zaibatzus Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo as well as the Yakuza?) were even succeeded by the Correct 5 as the next bully-clique. 

In Episode 8 of the original Hana Yori Dango TV series, Makino joined the Teen of Japan competition to win money for her father’s debt. Thus solidifying the niche of the fictional feisty teenager as a role model for the bubblegum stratum and coeds? But have the starry-eyes wandered upon the historical examples of Sada Abe or Fumiko Kaneko?

Ms. Abe (who had a sister punished for sexual promiscuity by being sent by her own father to work in a brothel and was herself sold by her own parents to a geisha house for behaving as an uncontrollable teenager) was the center of the “Go Ichi-Hachi” Incident. Her crime of murdering and mutilating her lover out of jealousy and/or love symbolized the “ero-guro-nansensu” trend in the Japanese spring of 1936.

Her prison sentence was commuted on the occasion of the 2,600th anniversary of Jimmu Tenno’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She was released from jail seven months before the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Like Sada Abe, Fumiko Kaneko was imprisoned for her beliefs, personified the “dokufu” stereotype and was nearly sold by her own mother to a brothel due to extreme poverty. Unlike Abe, Ms. Kaneko had a shortened life, having killed herself 10 years before the Go Ichi-Hachi Incident.

Kaneko’s affair and marriage to the Korean activist Pak Yeol and Abe’s long life are different points along the spectrum of love, Japanese-style. Do they also channel “joshiryoku” (“feminine power”)? The Japanese women do enjoy their freedom to cosplay or to wear high heels on a normal milk run to the neighborhood grocery store. And though they are expected to gift their male cohorts with “giri choco” (obligatory chocolate) on Valentine’s Day, they get it back on White Day.

Be that as it may, the homeland of samurais and ninjas as well as “otakus” and “hikkikomoris” has also spawned the Kakuhido, which has been campaigning for a decade now against the “passion-based capitalism” of Valentine’s Day 

Politically-correct or not, the crusaders against Japanese “love capitalism” are harmless compared to the operators of the Japanese wartime military sexual slavery system that led to comfort women. Pathetic
or not, the Kakuhido activists are non-toxic compared to the perpetrators of the Bataan Death March, Rape of Mapanique, Lipa Massacre and Rape of Manila.

The “joshi kosei” (high school girls), who in the 1990s may or may not have sold their used and unwashed gym shorts to merchants at “buru-sera” shops, can be huge fans of Julia of the Cowboy Bebop series.

But have they been taught about the tragedies and war crimes wrought by the Tojo regime during World War II?

Some of these joshi kōsei grow up to become the “housewives who control Japan’s future,” thus lamented by Katsuhiro Furusawa, Takayuki Akimoto and the rest of the Kakuhido. 

The “Smash Valentine’s Day” banner-men of Japan and the joshi kōsei who trade their school uniforms for yen may sound chucklesome, as reported in the press, both Japanese and international. Yet the world may prefer them to the Schutzstaffel who operated the Lagerbordell in the Third Reich or the Aufseherin in Nazi Germany.

Better the tomboyish Makoto and her love-interest Chiaki (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) than actual women kidnapped in German “łapanka” or “rafle” then brought to the Soldatenbordell in Axis-occupied Europe or the victims of the fictional “Love Camp 7” and the real Buchenwald concentration camp. Sada Abe versus The Witch of Buchenwald.

Fumiko Kaneko versus Fraulein Devil (a.k.a. Elsa: Fraulein SS), Dr. Ellen Kratsch (La Bestia in Calore), and Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg. The ‘Babe Garden’ of the Recreation and Amusement Association versus the Salon Kitty of the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst. 

The violent and bratty Jun Matsumoto as Domyouji Tsukasa versus Colonel Von Kleiben of the Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur.

So, can you find love? Where? In Italy: “Roman Holiday” (Paramount Pictures, 1953)
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