It is, if anything, the reverse of “Cool Japan.” Rather than spread Japanese culture and influence to the world, a new manga titled Our Alliance – A Lasting Partnership has been published by the US Military in a bid to win the hearts of local Japanese citizens.
The manga presents America as a blond, rabbit-eared boy named Usa-kun, who enthusiastically explains the facts of geopolitical necessity to a Japanese girl named Arai Anzu – which sounds like a Wasai-Eigo pronunciation of “alliance.” (In Japanese, the prefix “Usa-” (兎) indicates things which are rabbitlike; thus Usa-kun has “usamimi,” 兎耳 or rabbit ears.)
“I am on your side,” Usa-kun tells Arai. “We are important friends.”
Public opinion in Japan has been overwhelmingly against the continued presence of US military bases, in part due to several sensational rape cases tied to off-duty Marines. The latest case, occurring just days ago on August 4, followed former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s June resignation. Mr. Hatoyama was forced out of his position after his failure to keep a campaign promise to relocate a base off the island caused his popularity to plummet. Presently, the US still has an estimated 47,000 troops stationed in Japan.
Calling it “a very common way of communicating in Japan,” US Major Neil Fischer stated to AFP reporters that he sees nothing strange about the project.
The first chapter of the manga can be read online at http://www.usfj.mil/manga/ .