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The Sakura of Madness: Japan's Nationalist Hip Hop and the Parallax of Globalized Identity Politics


Corresponding author: David Z. Morris; e-mail:


Hip hop has been a significant force in Japanese pop culture since the mid-1990s, and now includes many esthetic and political divergences from its American origins. These include, perhaps most strikingly, a significant subgenre of right-wing nationalist hip hop. This article examines Japan's right-wing hip hop as an illustration of the mutability of ideology when it crosses cultural boundaries. It traces the strangeness of Japanese right-wing hip hop to the “parallax” effect of two incommensurable views of Japan—on the one hand, as a powerful postimperial nation, and on the other, as a perennially oppressed postcolonial nation. The article traces these viewpoints' relationship to African American politics and to Western scholarship, which has significantly misrepresented Japanese hip hop.