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Cinema of Discontent: Representations of Japan’s High-Speed Growth

Updated: May 25, 2023

Tomoyuki Sasaki

Friday, June 9, 5:30 PM (JST) , 3F Bldg. 10, Sophia University

In person and on Zoom

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From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, Japan experienced an unprecedented level of economic growth, transforming itself from a war-devastated country to a global economic power. Our image of postwar Japan has been shaped by this event, and we tend to see its history as a story of great national success. In his newly released book Cinema of Discontent: Representations of Japan’s High-Speed Growth, Dr. Sasaki challenges this view and details the tensions generated by massive and intense capitalist development through analyses of popular cinema produced during the era of high-speed growth. In this talk, he focuses on industrial spy films made by Daiei during the 1960s, examining how the films of this genre in general, and Black Weapon (Kuro no kyōki) specifically, represented popular anxiety about mushrooming corporate society and its increasing control over working people’s everyday lives.    

Tomoyuki Sasaki is an Associate Professor of Japanese studies at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He earned his PhD in history from the University of California, San Diego. He has held his current position since 2016. He specializes in history, cultural studies, and film studies. He is especially interested in the issues of high-speed economic growth, inequality, uneven development, democracy, military bases, and their representations in popular culture. He is the author of Cinema of Discontent: Representations of Japan’s High-Speed Growth (SUNY Press, 2022) and Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). He has also contributed a chapter entitled “Jieitai to shimin shakai” (The Self-Defense Forces and Civil Society) to Shakai no naka no guntai, guntai to iu shakai (Tokyo: Iwanami, 2022). 

This talk is organized by David H. Slater (Professor of Anthropology, Sophia University).


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