Arts and Culture
The work of author and journalist Henmi Yô 辺見庸 (*1944) can be read as an anachronistic antithesis to Japanese literature in the Heisei-Era (1989-2019): Heavily influenced by his travels in Europe and Asia as a journalist as well as the philosophy and cultural critique of Adorno, Kant and others, Henmi’s literature seemingly follows in the footsteps of modernist bourgeoise intellectuality in a time when mass media, commercialism and political apathy came to the forefront of established literary scene. After returning to Japan and winning the Akutagawa price in 1991, Henmi begins to construct his own critique of post-war Japan, focusing on topics like the death sentence, the language of state media and the Koizumi administrations support for the Iraq War.
Living in Ishinomaki (Miyagi Prefecture), Henmi witnessed the destruction of his hometown in March 2011 and the nuclear catastrophe that soon followed. "Fukushima" thus comes to be both pinnacle and tipping point in his late work, with his cultural critique of nuclear energy in postwar Japan a catalyst for his intellectually constructed vision of Japanese society quietly slipping back into neo fascist obedience. This paper aims to discuss how his literary pensées on 3.11, radical in both language and ideas, should be assessed in line of both literary intellectualism as well as an artistic self-presentation of Henmi as the perpetual oppositionist Heisei-Era literature.