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The Audacity of Radio: Democracy, Censorship, and the Political Satire of Miki Toriro in Occupied Japan

Strasser Legacy Room, 220 Eggers Hall

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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs 

East Asia Program presents

The Audacity of Radio: Democracy, Censorship, and the Political Satire of Miki Toriro in Occupied Japan

This talk examines the politics of media stardom in occupied Japan by reviewing the early career of Miki Toriro (1914-94), the most popular radio star in the immediate post-WWII years.

The Allies believed that radio was one of the most effective means to spread democracy among the Japanese people. In 1947, the Civic Information and Education Division of GHQ/SCAP helped NHK, Japan's national and only radio broadcasting company at the time, to produce a new program, “Sunday Entertainment Edition.” The star of this show, Miki Toriro, whose stage name means something along the lines of "Mickey Mouse Chicken Man," became famous for his caustically funny songs that took aim at the corruption and incompetence of the Japanese government under U.S. occupation. However, the exercise of this right (rite?) of democracy only went so far, because GHQ/SCAP censorship banned songs that showed even the slightest note of anti-Allied sentiment. This talk examines how Miki strategically used music to create entertaining songs while negotiating the various constraints imposed on him by the Japanese government and GHQ/SCAP.

Kyoko Omori

Associate Professor of Japanese

East Asian Languages and Literatures Department

Hamilton College

Kyoko Omori is Associate Professor of Japanese at Hamilton College in NY. Her research focuses on 20th-century popular culture, emphasizing interwar film and magazines, as well as post-WWII Occupation Period radio shows. Omori’s publications include “Inter-Mediating Global Modernity: Benshi Film Narrators, Multisensory Performance, and Fan Culture” (in Eng) and “The Soundscape of Modernity: Edogawa Rampo and Voice (in Japanese).” She has a digital project, “Benshi: A Silent Film Narrators in Japan.” (

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