Table of Contents
Juko Nishimura’s The Vast Blue Earth, Falls (Sobo no daich, horobu, 1978) and Hisashi Inoue’s The People of Kirikiri (Kirikirijin, 1981) are both stories in which a section of the Tohoku region confronts the Japanese government with cessation. Underlying the authors’ selections of Tohoku for the setting of their works are the difficulties faced by those whose livelihood depends on agriculture in a harsh natural environment, as well as a history of anger towards the central government that exploited their labor for national gain.
The Vast Blue Earth, Falls, incorporates research into Japan’s agricultural policies of the time, which sought to reduce production and liberalize imports. In contrast, The People of Kirikiri tells the story of an agricultural village seeking to modernize for the sake of its own autonomy, against the backdrop of the realities and hardships faced by regional societies at the time, in the nation’s industrial transformation. In other words, at the core of these two works is the unresolved issue of the unevenness between society’s center and periphery, a symptom of postwar Japan’s rapid transformation from an agricultural society to an urban one.
This article will compare the ways in which these two works portray the context behind these cessations for independence, their descriptions of leadership, and the issue of state legitimacy. It will further explore the nature of independent states by considering their links to actual political and social issues in Japan from the 1970s to present.