Faculty of International Studies
【国際学部】リレー・エッセイ2019(3)Anthony Mills"Japan Now 2019 and Of Love and Law"
In February this year I visited the U.K. While I was there, I attended a one-day event called Japan Now at the British Library in London. It was organized by the British Library in partnership with the University of Sheffield and the Japan Foundation. The event aimed to introduce aspects of Japanese culture and society to a mostly British audience through contemporary literature, film and photography. Participants included the authors Yu Miri (Tokyo Ueno Station,) David Peace (Tokyo Year Zero and Occupied City,) Kyoko Nakajima (The Little House,) Sayaka Murata (Convenience Store Woman,) and Yuya Sato (Dendera.) There were also sessions with the photographer Tomoko Yoneda and the filmmaker Hikaru Toda (Of Love and Law.)
The day was divided into four sessions, each attended by and introducing work produced by two different artists. All of the sessions were interesting and stimulating and overall they painted a refreshing picture of the diversity and complexity of Japanese society. This was an unusual and refreshing approach in the UK, where Japan is frequently portrayed in mainstream media as homogenous and conservative.
There is not enough room here to write about all of the participants in detail, and I would like to focus on one of them in particular: the filmmaker Hikaru Toda.
Toda’s most recent film, Of Love and Law, premiered at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival in 2017, but I did not hear about it at the time, so I did not see it. However, it had its first UK screenings in February and March 2019 and fortunately I was able to go to a preview shortly after the British Library Japan Now event.
The film is a documentary that showcases the life and work of Fumi and Kazu, an openly gay (male) couple in Osaka. They are both lawyers and they run a law firm. In their work, they specialise in representing people who are marginalized in Japanese society. For example, they have represented an Osaka schoolteacher who refused to stand for the national anthem at work and who was subsequently dismissed from her position. They have also represented clients in the LGBTQ community, the controversial artist Rokudenashiko and stateless individuals whose human rights are unprotected. By showing the audience the work of these two Osaka lawyers, and by representing the lives of Fumi and Kazu themselves, Of Love and Law asks questions about what it is like to be an outsider in Japanese society, what it means to be an individual and to what extent, if at all, things are changing.
I found it interesting and educational to attend the Japan Now event and to have a chance to see Of Love and Law afterwards.
In my classes, several students have recently expressed interest in LGBTQ issues and in other minority groups, but they rarely know much about them. This film provides a thought-provoking introduction to some of these topics.