Russian Japanology Review

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Vol 4, No 2 (2021)
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5-28 240
The article addresses the Russian vector of Japan’s Arctic policy. The main areas of Japan’s interest in cooperation with Russia in the Arctic region are energy, transport, and security. The article focuses on the developments that took place in these areas in 2019-2020, which have not yet received proper coverage in Russian historiography. Pursuing the policy of diversification of energy supply sources, Japan turns its attention to the Russian Arctic as one of the promising areas of cooperation in the gas sector. In 2019, Japanese companies signed a contract for the purchase of a 10-percent stake in the Arctic LNG-2 project, which provides for Japanese investment worth almost $3 billion. As one of the primary areas of cooperation with Russia, Japan also considers participation in the transport and logistics development of the Northern Sea Route, which is indispensable for the implementation of gas production projects on the Yamal Peninsula. In addition, Japan is interested in establishing clear and stable “game rules” in the Arctic, and, in this sense, the security sphere in the Arctic region is becoming one of the most important areas of cooperation with Russia. The Russian vector of Japan’s Arctic policy received an additional impetus in connection with the policy of rapprochement with Moscow conducted by the Abe cabinets in 2012-2020. The Arctic projects have become an integral part of the Eight-Point Plan, contributing to Japan’s energy and economic security. Cooperation in the Arctic is directly linked not only to the projects of the development of the Northern Sea Route and Arctic projects for the extraction and liquefaction of natural gas, but also to bilateral projects in the fields of “green energy”, development of port infrastructure, urban construction, fish processing, ecology, improving people’s living conditions, medicine, tourism, etc.
29-53 267
The paper presents an analysis of the current state of green energy in Japan. The study showcases that Japan’s energy strategy focuses primarily on eliminating energy deficit and, secondly, on greening the sector. After the Fukushima accident, Japan recognized renewable energy as a solution to the energy security problem and intensified government policies to stimulate investment in renewable energy. Policy incentives, primarily the introduction of feed-in tariffs, and massive investments have led to an increase in the share of renewable energy sources, especially solar PV, in the structure of electricity generation, and contributed to CO2 emissions decline after 2013, as well as the improvement in the energy efficiency of the economy. By the end of the second decade of the 21st century, Japan was among the top- five countries based on installed renewable power capacity (excluding hydropower). However, the costs of electricity have been rising and the costs associated with installing renewables in Japan are very high comparing with other countries. Meanwhile, Japan is among the top-five economies with the highest CO2 emissions, 90 percent of which are energy-related, and has been criticized by the international community for its ongoing support for fossil fuels. In 2020, Japan announced an ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 by speeding up the development of key technologies such as next generation solar batteries and carbon recycling. The promotion of hydrogen society is called one of the most important steps towards a low-carbon economy in Japan. Achieving the goal will require a significant revision of the current energy plan, according to which, by 2030, more than half of the country’s energy will continue to be produced by fossil fuel plants. Japan has made some progress in its green energy policy, but whether it is sustainable remains to be seen. In addition, in light of low oil prices and the COVID-19 recession, the future of renewable energy sources remains uncertain.
54-69 263
The article discusses practices for reaching rebirth in the Pure Land recounted in Zoku Honchō Ōjōden (“Continuation of the Biographies of Japanese Reborn Into the Pure Land”), composed in 1101- 1111 by Ōe-no Masafusa. These practices include those mentioned in the stories as being performed during one’s lifetime, intended to show one’s strong devotion to Pure Land, as well as death-bed practices: the description of the death hour is the crucial point of every biography. Some of these practices belong to the Pure Land tradition (the most important to be mentioned is nenbutsu, “recollection of Buddha [Amida]”), while others are more likely to be attributed to other traditions (the most important one being reading and reciting the Lotus Sutra): the author obviously does not feel any need to draw a line between them. Normally, these practices are only mentioned in the text and not discussed in detail. This aspect of Zoku Honchō Ōjōden is analyzed in comparison with other important Pure Land texts: Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki (“Japanese Records of Rebirth in the Land of Supreme Joy”) by Yoshishige-no Yasutane and Ōjōyōshū (“The Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land”) by Genshin. As compared to Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki, in Zoku Honchō Ōjōden, much stronger emphasis is placed on the death-bed practices than on the lifetime actions and evidence of rebirth. Often, the text focuses on the state of mind of the dying person, his or her determination in performing death-bed practices. In his work, Ōe-no Masafusa leans on the idea expressed in Ōjōyōshū that these are the last moments of life that are decisive and determine one’s rebirth, illustrating it with examples.
70-93 192
Classical studies were the mainstream of Far Eastern traditional culture. A survey of the relationship between classics and their commentaries is central for an understanding of the intellectual history of the countries of the Far East, of which Japan is one. Commentaries paid tribute to the canonization of literary monuments but did this without regard for the artistic and intellectual character of the classical text. Commentaries to the classical texts of ancient Japan, in particular, to the first poetic anthology Man’yōshū (“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”), are taking shape in the Heian era (9th-12th) as an attempt to restore the Japanese outlook on this poetry written in the 8th century in Japanese, but in Chinese characters. This classical poetry acquired a new form in the 9th century: now it was written in kanji and Japanese syllabary (hiragana). Several types of literary criticism existed: treatises on literary works, commentaries on classical monuments, compilation of anthologies (selection of literary texts for the constitution of complex collections), as well as poetic contests. Commentators mostly concentrated on understanding the meaning of separate words and phrases, but the general meaning of the text remained out of the scope of their attention.
94-112 215
Soviet film director Sergei Eisesnstein, formulated some of his most influential ideas in filmmaking through his study of traditional Japanese arts. His lifelong fascination with Japanese culture and its alleged disposition for montage generated a number of in-depth, thought-provoking investigations, aimed at elucidating the theoretical underpinnings of Eisenstein’s work. This paper focuses, instead, on the historical and diplomatic circumstances surrounding Soviet intellectuals’ understanding of Japanese cinema. Eisenstein’s Za kadrom (“Beyond the Shot”) was written as an afterword to Naum Kaufman’s Japanese Cinema (1929), published as a brochure for the first “Japanese Film Exhibit” held in Moscow and Leningrad in the summer of 1929. The exhibit was a symbolic continuation of the collaborative efforts by VOKS (the All-Union Society for the Cultural Ties with Abroad) and the Shochiku film studio to organize the famous Kabuki visit in the summer of 1928. Both the Kabuki tour and the theatrical release of Japanese films were acts of cultural diplomacy, albeit with different political undertones. While the media coverage of the Kabuki visit was chiefly directed abroad, the writings on the “Japanese Film Exhibit” were targeted inwards, at the domestic Soviet audience, creating notably different veins within the official coverage of Japanese film and theater in the 1920s Soviet press. The study of 1920s Soviet media and archival materials documenting the organization of the first Japanese film screenings in Moscow and Leningrad revealed a particular set of linguistic and rhetorical strategies deliberately adopted by Soviet intellectuals in order to present Japanese cinema as an ideologically non-threatening, exotic object of fascination. Soviet writers also worked to present Japanese film as a powerful model for resisting the West, one that may be instrumental in achieving the political and economic objectives set by the Soviet film industry. In their assessment of Japanese films, their production and distribution practices, Soviet intellectuals often wrote of the concept of “cleanliness,” which testified to the cultural and ideological difficulties they experienced in formulating a more nuanced, historically contextualized vision of “Japanese cinema.”
113-141 345
In the USSR, like in many other countries, comics were mostly seen as light reading material and published in children’s magazines. When a comics market formed in Russia during the 1990s, it consisted mainly of translated American and European children’s comics, but first comics-only magazines aimed at teenagers and adults also appeared at that time (KOM, Veles, Muha, etc.). These magazines presented works made by men and for men, usually containing sexualized images of women. There were no famous women among Russian comic artists during the 1990s, as female authors usually assisted their husbands or were known as part of comics artists duos. An example of the latter is Natalia Snegireva, who created “Keshka”, a children’s comics series about a cat, together with her husband Andrey. Another person is Svetlana Sorokina, who helped her husband Evgeny as a colorist and then designed book covers for the Russian edition of “ElfQuest” by Wendy and Richard Piny. The turning point for female comics artists in Russia came in the early 2000s with the growing popularity of Japanese manga and the spread of the Internet. Due to these factors, young women published comics in new magazines aimed at both children and teenagers (Klassnyi zhurnal, Yula, etc.) and at anime fans (Poppuri anime, Anime Guide, etc.). For example, Lina and Kotyonok (“The Kitten”) by Enji were a romance and fantasy comics series with a girl as protagonist; Rytsari radugi (“The Knights of the Rainbow”) from Yula magazine examined “girl power” through the friendship between girls and magic adventures of Russian middle school students. Female artists who adopted the style of Japanese manga were not the only ones to open the door for new themes in comics and imagine girls as heroines, but their work definitely encouraged young girls to draw comics by themselves and participate in Russian comics festivals. This article examines the role of manga, shōjo manga (comics for girls) in particular, for the birth of women’s comics in Russia and feminist themes. Its influence on the growth of women in comics both as readers and artists, the appearance of manga-inspired comics which address issues such as women’s body and trauma Kniga tela (“The Book of Body”) or Razdelenie (“Partition”) by Yuliya Nikitina; lesbian romance Klub by Anna Rud’; life of a young woman during the siege of Leningrad Survilo by Olga Lavrentieva. Besides representational contents, the birth of feminist fanzines such as those by Nika Vodvud and group “FemInfoteka” are also noteworthy.

ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)