Truth and Limitations: Japanese Media and Disasters

Japan has a long history of disaster narratives, and this chapter considers five (Kuraimāzu Hai (Climber’s High) (2005), Kuraimāzu Hai (Climber’s High) (2008), One-no-Kanata-ni (Inseparable Souls: Fathers, Sons, and The Crash of JAL123/Beyond the Ridge), Shizumanu Taiyō (The Unbroken/The Sun Which Doesn’t Set) (2009), and Shizumanu Taiyō (The Unbroken/The Sun Which Doesn’t Set) (2016)) related to a single historical event, the 1985 JAL flight JL123 crash, which remains the world’s deadliest single plane crash. The chapter reviews relevant literature in relation to how dramatizations portray ‘the truth’ while seemingly needing to fit with disaster narrative conventions. The chapter analyses the way in which five dramatizations handle aspects of the JL123 crash and its aftermath. While the focus is on the JL123 crash, the methods used in this chapter could be applied to other events in the same way.

The chapter builds upon my research published as ‘Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?‘ (International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, August 2020, Vol.38, No.2, pp. 176-200) and the conventions of disaster narratives that I developed within it.

The chapter was published in Mithani, F., and Kirsch, G., (eds.), 2022, Handbook of Japanese Media and Popular Culture in Transition, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 17-31. ISBN: 9789463728898

This is a list of other narratives referred to in the chapter and some other posts which are relevant:

Page image from Kuraimāzu Hai (Climber’s High) (2005)