Watching clips of the irrepressible Kanye West grabbing a microphone to hijack some narrative or another, I thought about Megumi Yokota [横田めぐみ]. Like Kanye, Megumi’s story has grown beyond anyone’s ability to control. It fills Japanese newschannels and magazines, and serves as a crucial pillar in Japan’s own narrative of having been exploited and disrespected by North Korea.
North Korea will be accepting no awards from MTV; the Japanese media has occupied the microphone in any case.
And yet, subsequent mobilization around the issue of Megumi’s abduction helps to fill a void in Japanese life. The loss of community feelings and the growth of individualistic alienation can be assuaged through participation in a social movement commemorating Megumi’s plight. And in a society with a plunging birthrate and an uncertain future, her story (as told by her faithful parents) reminds Japan of the importance of family life, filial piety, and the responsibilities and love which parents lavish upon their children.