Controlled Karaoke: Japanese Band Wears Outfits Resembling Nazi Garb, World Not So Pleased

Photo courtesy of Japan Probe

Photo courtesy of Japan Probe

Some Japanese rock band named Kishidan recently did an interview with MTV Japan. Most of the time, nobody except maybe really die-hard Kishidan fans (do those exist?) would give a care. But said interview featured the group wearing uniforms resembling the clothes members of the SS wore in Nazi Germany. This has spurred Jewish human rights NGO the Simon Wiesenthal Center to demand an apology via press release. You can read the whole thing over at Japan Probe and look at some more photos of the group.

Though the outrage over the band’s clothing choice is completely justified, I don’t necessarily think Kishidan meant anything with it. To me anyway, this falls into the “lost in cultural translation” bucket – some Western taboos don’t carry the same value in this side of the world. This past December, the store Don Quijote – the Japanese equivalent of Spencer’s Gifts – was pressured by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to remove a Nazi costume they were selling for about $60. Nazi costumes have popped up in skin-cream ads and I can attest to the existence of at least one store in Osaka selling nothing but Nazi memorabilia. It’s similar to how blackface pops up all the time on TV – it’s offensive to Westerners (at least Americans, at least it should be) but it’s a different society here.

In lighter subject matter, you can listen to the music of Kishidan this way. If you like really boring rock, you’ll love these guys! Plus they uhhhh soundtracked Naruto at some point?

2 responses to “Controlled Karaoke: Japanese Band Wears Outfits Resembling Nazi Garb, World Not So Pleased

  1. Boring rock? When I listen to Kishidan I want to dance, to jump, to sing along, to scream it loud! I really love Kishidan and it’s not boring. If it were boring, nobody will go to their concerts, but everyone go and they have a lot of fans, only in Twitter the main singer has more than 70.000 followers, even more than Miyavi, so…

  2. Difficult area, this. I mean, (and I think given the topic at hand, this is a justifiable Godwin) Nazi Germany itself was “a different society”, and you’d think that given Japan’s own history, they, more than almost anyone, ought to be sensitive to things like Nazi imagery. The fact that they were wearing it seemingly without any intention to engage with the meaning one way or another is part of what makes it a point of concern I think. There are a lot of people, not least Jewish groups and Germans themselves, who are very keen that these images and symbols retain their meaning so that the horror associated with them isn’t swept under the carpet or lost to history. In all my years living here, Japanese culture’s rather ambiguous attitude towards the Nazis is something I’ve never really been able to get to grips with.

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