Japanese vs American cultural influence in Asia

Lori Hitchcock lohitchc
Thu Dec 9 15:50:03 EST 1999

This is a subject that the recently discussed Iwabuchi Koizumi has
addressed to a certain extent.  In particular, his article in "Sojourn"
(Vol. 9.4 - 1994) entitled "Return to Asia? Japan in the Global
Audio-Visual Market" addresses some of these questions specifically.  In
addition, he has published an article in the online journal "Continuum"
entitled "Complicit Exoticism: Japan and its Other" that more indirectly
discusses these questions<http://ctp.murdoch.edu.au/cntinuum/8.2/Iwabuchi.html>
Iwabuchi was also (earlier this year) planning a conference on Intra-Asian
Cultural Traffic on 23-26 February 2000 that might speak to these issues,
although I haven't heard if this is going to take place or not.

Speaking from personal experience, this is not so much a new phenomenon,
(although this is not what Stephen suggests) although video (specifically
VCD) technology has put something of a twist on this.  When I lived in HK
(1977-84), the Japanese department stores were there (picketed during the
early 80s history textbook revision scandals), Japanese cartoons and
teen-oriented dramas were on TV in Cantonese (but also shows like
"Daitokai" and other crime series), and Japanese popular culture
(comic books, Sanrio items, etc.) proliferated.  Also, as a recent spate
of VCDs suggests (and the Tsui Hark movie "The Chinese Feast" [in Japan:
"Kingyoku Mando"] - must see! - demonstrates), Yamaguchi Momoe was (and
still is) quite a star in HK from fairly early on.  In this sense, I think
the questions that Stephen rightly raises should also be considered from
their historical perspective, as well as in their contemporary
incarnation.  I would also add to Stephen's questions one asking if
there's been any historical depoliticization of Japanese culture
throughout Asia (or, conversely, if it's always been apolitically
consumed, and why?).

Just to add a *really* personal anecdote, when I was a kid collecting
"Star Wars" pictures in Hong Kong, I couldn't find many Western movie 
magazines and consequently went to Daimaru to buy "Screen" and "Roadshow"
even though I couldn't read Japanese at the time.  In a way, then, it was
the influence of Japanese culture in Hong Kong that led me to Japan...

Finally, in light of such films as "Fuyajo" (I'm writing on this right
now, so I'm a little obsessed), another interesting question more
specifically related to films is that of the interconnectedness of the
Japanese and Hong Kong film industries (the HK Film Festival pamphlets
offer some good stuff on this - biographies of technical staff, musicians,
performers, etc. - as well as the most recent festival's Asian cinema
pamphlet, presumably). The special HK film edition of Kinema Jumpo a few
years back (I don't have the issue here at school, but if anyone wants the
citation please contact me) featured several essays that talked some about
the history of Japanese filmmakers in Hong Kong (one of these suggests 
that not only were Chinese filmmakers fleeing the Communists in relocating
to HK, but also that their associations w/ Japanese filmmakers and the
Chinese/Manchurian film companies provided an impetus for this move). 

Lori Hitchcock

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