The Modern Emperor and Mass Media
It is impossible to understand the media-scape of Japan from the 1920s through 1945 without analyzing the implications of representations of the emperor as well as the effects of state-led- and voluntary self-censorship on their production and reception. The emperor’s portrait photograph (goshin’ei) was too sacred to gaze upon, and citizens and soldiers even died to protect it. It was preserved with extreme care in public institutions and battleships. On the other hand, paradoxically, Hirohito was the first emperor whose public appearances were covered by multiple mass media, ranging from personalized collectible postcards to newsreels, which were readily available for viewers’ scrutiny. These contradictory viewing practices, one prohibited and another accessible, disrupted the visual culture of emperor-centered disciplined and nationalized imperial citizenship. (122 words)
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