This paper considers post-war Japanese film as a lens for understanding social conditions during this period. Invoking Kristeva’s theory of abjection, Butler’s understanding of ‘unlivable’ zones of subjectivity and Žižek’s contributions to the concepts of community and jouissance, this paper proposes that this period in Japan’s early post-war history was marked by various forms of social and psychic exclusion. Especially, it will consider those groups that came to be associated with the trauma of the war and were cast off in order to develop a new post-war Japanese identity. Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953), Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain (1959) and Ishirō Honda’s Matango (1963), are all exemplary post-war Japanese films for the way they represent the powerful ambivalences of the very recent wartime past. In particular, the focus of each film is a figure of marginality in post-war Japan: in Tokyo Story the maternal figure, in Fires on the Plain the soldier figure, and in Matango the figure of the explosion affected people (hibakusha). These films that are considered reveal how post-war anxieties coalesced on these figures of exclusion.
Laurent Shervington, University of Western Australia, Australia