On 16 July Sapporo Attorney Ayako Ito made a visit to Sapporo Kotoni Technical High School to assist the social studies teacher Shiego Kawahara in an important lesson regarding the right of collective self-defense. It’s a thorny issue that can be difficult enough to explain to adults let alone teenagers.
So the pair constructed a highly illustrated lecture on the topic using the classic manga and anime series Doraemon as an analogy. During the talk the teacher posed the question using the clumsy protagonist of the story: “If you gave Nobita a gun you could say he’s stronger, but could he really protect himself?”
As the question was posed a Asahi Shimbun reporter was in attendance and noticed that all of the students heads lifted up. Although it would seem the largely anti-war lecture had struck a chord with the kids, hardcore fans of Doraemon picked up on the fact that Kawahara had just accidentally made the most pro-militarization rhetorical question possible.
In all fairness to Ito and Kawahara, when using a collection of works as long running and deep as Doraemon as a reference it can be very easy to overlook certain details of the plot and characters.
Casual fans of Doraemon would see Nobita as the epitome of a loser in nearly all aspects of life from romance, to academics, to sports. The guy basically makes Charlie Brown look like the quarterback for the New England Patriots. But those who have seen or read much of the series were quick to point out the one thing Nobita does exceptionally well: fire a gun.
Although the kid can barely get a shuttlecock out of a tree without almost dying, when he has a gun in his hand Nobita is a crack shot who has thwarted hitmen, bandits, and alien invaders with his marksmanship. Due to copyright reasons we hesitate to post any actual manga frames of Nobita handling firearms, but here’s a trailer for the 2011 remake of Doraemon: Nobita and the Steel Troops. You don’t get a great sense of his actual shooting prowess, but you can see several scenes with the kid handling a pistol rather comfortably.
In the lecture’s analogy Nobita represented Japan and America was symbolized as the bully Jaian who often tortures the boy and friends but will often fight by his side when needed. Some online thought Doraemon himself was a better representative for America.
Therefore, going by the Doraemon cannon, if you were to give Japan (Nobita) a firearm in the form of more military freedom, it would become one of the strongest countries in the world and protect it from evildoers be they human alien or robot.
Despite this misunderstanding, the lesson was largely full of anti-war messages pointing out that amassing weapons to fight with or being a sitting duck because there are no weapons are not the only two options on the table. Ito also reminded students that the average lifespans of men and women during WWII was 23.5 and 32 for men and women respectively.
After the lesson one student told Asahi Shimbun, “I saw the right of collective self-defense talked about on TV, but I didn’t know who was supposed to care. But with the lawyer in front of me and the illustrations they used I could see how it was relevant to me.”
Although we can’t be sure exactly what message the young man got from this talk, we assume he was hesitant to support lifting the ban on the right of collective self-defense. Whether it turned students left or right wing, as long as it got people thinking and talking about the issue, then it was a job well done.