Document Type

Contribution to Book

Source Publication

Manga and the Representation of Japanese History

Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2012


Roman Rosenbaum




London and New York


Routledge Contemporary Japan Series



First Page


Last Page



In 2005, Japanese manga artist and conservative provocateur Kobayashi Yoshinori published a graphic work entitled Shin gōmanizumu sengen special: Yasukuniron (Neo-Gōmanism Manifesto Special: On Yasukuni), which tackles the much-debated ‘problem’ of Yasukuni Shrine, the militaristic religious complex that has become a lightning-rod for debates regarding Japanese historical memory – especially with regard to the military expansionism in East Asia that led to the Asia-Pacific War (1931–45). Frequently overlooked in discussions of Yasukuni, however, are a number of complex issues related to its religious doctrines – in particular, the interpretation of Shinto presented at Yasukuni and the dominant ideology of Japan’s military era: ‘State Shinto’ (kokka Shintō). This essay examines the portrayal of the Yasukuni Issue within Yasukuniron, in order to: (a) flesh out the characteristics of Kobayashi’s Neo-Gōmanism in relation to the ‘theology’ of State Shinto; (b) examine the power and limits of manga as a representational form for teaching about the complex nexus of religion, politics and history in modern Japan; and (c) make the case that Yasukuni Shrine itself has long functioned as a form of ‘revisionist manga’ – and is thus the perfect subject for Kobayashi’s Neo-Gōmanist treatment.