Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Muzzle 'em, those translators

From SMH: http://blogs.smh.com.au/sit/archives/2007/08/xenophilia_hills_hoist_by_book.html

A biography of Japan's Princess Masako published last year by the Australian journalist Ben Hills (...) has had much success throughout the English-speaking world and most of Asia, but not yet in Japan. The company Kodansha had contracted to publish it but suddenly pulled out in February, apparently after pressure from the royal household. (...) last month a new publisher, Akira Kitagawa, picked up the contract, and declared that he would not be influenced by any official pressures. Kitagawa became the target of a vicious article in the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho, in which he was accused of being a former member of a terrorist organisation. The national daily Asahi Shimbun refused to publish an advertisement for the book, saying it was disrespectful to the royal family.

Last week Kitagawa sent this email to Hills: "Just now, two black cars with ultra-nationalistic slogans on them are parking besides the building where my company address is. They are shouting hysterically 'Stop the publication of Princess Masako' with huge loud speakers. Policemen are just watching them and let them do as much as they want to do." If Hills feared the resolve of his new publisher was weakening, the last sentence of the email proved reassuring: "This is how your book is getting more and more popular in Japan before being published."


Obviously having the best technology in the world does not equate with also having moderate reasoning faculties. A nation can produce some of the best gadgets on earth and still defer to a human being in skirts just because she is a "royal"?

I wonder if this is the opinion of the majority of the Japanese, though. Media always tends to write about "abnormal" behaviour as a result of which we tend to see a skewed up version of other countries and peoples. Still, such tactics are reminiscent of 1930s in Germany.

I hope no one shoots the messanger. Because there are, apparently, death threats against the writer already:

"Ben Hills, the Australian journalist who wrote a controversial biography of Japan’s Crown Princess Masako, has received death threats ahead of the September release of the Japanese translation of his book, according to a Kyodo News report.

Hills said he had received the anonymous death threats via email. “They were saying things like, ‘Die white pork!’ They were quite racist,” Hills said
." (http://www.japannewsreview.com/society/international/20070821page_id=1656)

Oh, la, la... I didn't know pork wasn't kosher in Japan :-) But seriously, why is it that some people who are in no way related to the Princess take it upon themselves to become her knights, while - as far as I can see - the royal family itself is not in any haste lodging a defamation suit against Hills?

Or maybe Hills is doing a marketing stunt?


Shahrzad said...

hi dear Sam,

I wasn't here for a while for the blogger seems at times very messed and doesn't let me leave any comment or even see any blog!

hmm...a royal family! So that's what's going on in Japanese publication these days! No wonder! It's always like that...royal families don't interfere in these things and always let their fans do the job for them!
Wish you the best and thanks for sharing cool news.

Shahrzad said...

hi dear Sam,

How are you doing? Hope all is going great there.
Wish you the best.

Linguanerd said...

I am back, Shahrzad, with new stuff to read.. what happened to your blog?