This introductory chapter examines the censorship in the literary and film history narratives of Japan. The country has infamous cases of artists being persecuted by the official censors. Most notable among them are: the murder of proletariat writer Kobayashi Takiji in a police custody for his treasonous writings, and the violent attack by a right-wing youth on the publisher of Fukazawa Shichirō’s 1959 story, which depicts the severed heads of imperial family members rolling down the Imperial Palace steps. Such incidents are often cited to prove that art in Japan has been at the mercy of pervasive censorship throughout much of its modern history. This conception demonstrates the censor as having the power to exercise a political or legal judgment on a work of art, and the artist as being either admirably subversive or unscrupulously complicit.
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