In an attempt to explain to the Japanese people why U.S. military forces are in Japan, U.S. Forces, Japan has released their new manga, Our Alliance: A Lasting Partnership. The manga is about a Japanese and American child who form an unlikely friendship and together explore the nature of the U.S. – Japanese relationship. The manga has gotten quite a bit of publicity.

The Japan character is taller and wears glasses, implying she’s older (and presumably wiser). The Japanese character also seems initially exasperated by the hyperkinetic, brash American, but finds him useful and charming, in his own way. Don’t stare at the eyes too long.

I’ve read a lot of complaints about how Our Alliance is propaganda. Well, sure it is. Propaganda is not necessarily a bad thing. Advocacy of the U.S. – Japan relationship is not a bad thing. You won’t find a bigger advocate of it than this blog.

And yet this manga bothers me.

One of the things that bothers me about it is that the manga is geared towards children. It seems to be geared towards someone in the sixth grade. Is there a particular reason why the U.S. Military is interested in propagandizing to sixth graders? I mean seriously, why?

Which leads me to another thing: would I as an American parent be particularly happy if the Japanese government created mangas that tried to tell my kid how to view the Japanese government? I would not want a foreign government telling my kid how to see the world. I would in fact probably resent it.

Propagandizing to children is crossing the line.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch