VOX POPULI: What lies behind Tokyo high school’s decision to curb hip-hop? | The Asahi Shimbun Asia & Japan Watch


In early spring 2018, a senior government official declared a ban on hip-hop culture, explaining that hip-hop artists will no longer be allowed to appear on TV entertainment shows.

That, of course, was in neighboring China, not in Japan.

Popular singers disappeared all at once from Chinese TV screens, as if they had never even existed. It was said the ban came about because of the “questionable” lyrics of certain songs.

I remember being quite surprised then by how far Beijing would push its agenda, even though I should have known.

And now, there is a little disturbance going on over hip-hop at a public junior high school in Tokyo.

Students who are members of the dance activity club are said to be up in arms over a decision by the school to change the club’s main activity from hip-hop dancing to creative dancing.

This issue must raise all sorts of questions among a diverse range of people. How has the school interacted with the students? Are all faculty members completely without prejudice toward hip-hop? And more importantly, what should extracurricular club activities be like at any public junior high school?

I have to think hard.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) once famously noted, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

I am sure the teachers at the Tokyo school have their own reasons. But for now, I would suggest that they really talk things over with the students.

To go back to the Chinese case: Whatever the reason, hip-hop returned to TV shows a few months after the announcement of the ban.

Our Chinese neighbors are determined to enjoy music and dance.

–The Asahi Shimbun, June 15

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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