Representation of HIV and AIDS in Japanese Novels <Article>
This paper analyzed the representation of HIV and AIDS in Japanese novels since 1980 and contextualized this representation in social discourse related to the disease. It also considered the kind of novels that are likely to be written in the present decade. During the 1980s, when the first AIDS panic seized Japanese society and the notorious AIDS Prevention Law was enforced, Masahiko Shimada, a well-known postmodern satirist, wrote Mikakunin-bikō-buttai (An Unidentified Stalking Object). In this novel, AIDS was represented as the comical, but radically subversive, figure of a transgender stalker, thereby questioning the exclusion and containment policy of that time. In the 1990s, after the second AIDS panic hit the nation, lawsuits concerning HIV infection among hemophiliacs drew public attention, and the Communicable Diseases and Medical Care Law was introduced. As a result, the Japanese public became better informed about the disease. At that time, Jakuchō Setouchi, a novelist and Buddhist nun, wrote Aishi (Love-Death). In this novel, Setouchi depicted the lives of various types of people living with HIV, including a gay activist, a housewife, and a hemophiliac; despite their suffering, their positivity was presented vividly. However, in the process, the novel almost romanticized the disease. At the turn of the century, when the problem of HIV in Africa began receiving international attention, the Japanese started losing interest in HIV as a problem that particularly concerned them. However, in a bold attempt to tackle the issue of HIV and Africa, Hōsei Hahakigi, a novelist and psychiatrist, wrote Afurika no Hitomi (The Pupil of Africa). In this novel, a Japanese doctor exposed the scandal of the government of a southern African nation― the thinly disguised Republic of South Africa―and a pharmaceutical company concerning HIV drugs. Nevertheless, as a fictional work, it almost trivialized the HIV drug controversy. In the present decade, now that the focus of attention with HIV in Japan has returned to gay men, it is to be expected that novels will be written about gays and other vulnerable groups, such as sex workers, young people, foreigners, and drug users.
Bulletin of the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University. III, Studies in cultural sciences
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
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