Monday, August 27, 2018

Dennis Rodman, come back, all is forgiven

Ryuho Okawa is the leader of a new religious group in Japan, Happy Science, previously known as IRH in English-speaking countries. The group claims to be Buddhist, and believes in a vast hierarchy of spiritual beings overseeing world history. The supreme lord is, somewhat surprisingly, named El Cantare. Virulent Japanese nationalism-imperialism, Austrian economics and conflicts with Aum Shinrikyo are other staples of this group, sometimes accused of being a cult. Of course, Aum was even worse, and apparently once planned to have Okawa assassinated! Happy Science recently founded its own political party, the Happiness Realization Party. Nothing unique in Japanese politics - remember Soka Gakkai's Komeito? In contrast to Komeito, however, El Cantare's political project has so far been rejected by the muggles.

A few years ago, Okawa's spiritual career seems to have taken a turn towards the burlesque, with the happiness guru claiming to have "spiritually interviewed" a whole number of celebrities, dead or alive, through a process resembling channelling. The sessions seem to be conducted before an audience, and contain a lot of entertainment, with the spirits cracking jokes, making Okawa dance, etc. However, there is also a darker and more paranoid side to the exercise, as the "spirits" often reveal that China and Korea are planning to attack Japan and the United States on their quest for world domination. The solution is always for Japan to scrap its imposed pacifism, rebuild its armed forces, and start intervening in regional conflicts around the world.

"Exposing North Korea's Menacing Leader" is a supposed spiritual interview with Kim Jong-un's guardian spirit, who reminds me of a comic strip villain, alternating between adolescent fantasies of world domination, truly sinister proclivities and really bad humour. At least to me, the guardian spirit comes across as a parody of Kim Jong-un. Or did he loose something in translation? The spirit makes fun of Happy Science, pointing out that they publish ads for their books on North Korea in cheap tabloids. He wonders whether their publishing company might be going bankrupt. The supposedly Korean spirit has a penchant for word play in Japanese, at one point saying that he would like to kick (beat up) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ("keri" in Japanese means "kick"). He also wants to occupy Disneyland in Tokyo! Kim Jong-un's spirit constantly claims that the North Korean leader is a military genius, demands that the interlocutors bow to him, and claims that Happy Science owes him money for the interview. I also noticed that the translator of "Kim Jong-Un's" ravings is very fond of the English word "cinch".

While this is no doubt entertaining, the real point of the "spiritual interview" is not. Okawa claims that North Korea was behind the Boston marathon bombing, since it took place on Kim Il Sung's birthday. North Korea wants to attack both Japan, South Korea and the United States. More menacingly still, North and South Korea are somehow involved in a joint conspiracy with China to take over the world. Indeed, North Korea is really a puppet state remote-controlled by the Chinese military. As already mentioned, the only solution to the problem is for Japan to upgrade its Self-Defence Force to a real military, and go on the offensive...

"Exposing North Korea's Menacing Leader" is intended to expose the North Korean regime and its megalomaniacal top dog, but only succeeds in revealing the megalomania and world domination dreams of its author, Ryuho Okawa.
And, I suppose, El Cantare.

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