TOKYO—Japan loves Donald Trump—so much it wants to hug and kiss him—at least that’s the impression you might get from the Japan Supports Donald Trump For World President 2016 Banzai! video that has now been seen over 14 million times on Facebook and 3 million times on YouTube.
It’s a masterpiece that looks as if it were created by Japan’s best advertising agency Dentsu (the one embroiled in a scandal over bribery and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics), but it’s actually a parody: a hilarious riff on Trump’s campaign and Japanese advertising.
The creator, Mike Dahlquist, better known as Mike Diva, is an American video director, special effects artist, musician and YouTube personality. He spent $1,000 and a month of his time to create it and it debuted last Wednesday. The seemingly Japanese pop idol in the video is a costume player and not Japanese either. Diva-san is not a Japanese anime fan or traditional Japanophile.
“I’m definitely a huge fan of Japan’s quirky advertising, pastel colors and I’m definitely not a Trump supporter, “ he told The Daily Beast.
The video begins with a blue-haired Japanese girl in her bedroom, festooned with Trump posters and knickknacks and cute hand-drawn illustrations, manga-style, of the would-be future President.
An infectious Japanese pop track plays in the background; sounding very much like an AKB48 hit song. The television switches on and Japan’s once independent public broadcaster, NHK, releases breaking news with the announcement that Trump has been elected “World President.” (Let’s face it, in the alternative Japanese Universe the USA is the World). The Japanese text on the left, also notes: “Trump is God.”
Our sultry teen heroine is so happy about the news that she transforms into a sparkly flying Princess a la Sailor Moon and she and Donald embrace.
In less than a minute, the World President transforms into a giant Evangelion-style robot, builds up a huge army, builds a giant wall, flies into space, and from there launches a super laser blast which destroys the entire planet Earth.
The video ends with the typical high-pitched voice of a Japanese female announcer declaring, “Trump 2016”—and a final “Banzai” flashing by in Japanese.
Dahlquist is enjoying the confusion his video is stirring up. “I made this video so that if you get it, you are who I made this video for, and if you didn’t--its even better.”
There are many iconic moments in the video, for example Trump saluting Nazi style next to swastikas followed by Trump feigning a heart sign above the letters “カント” which is either the Japanese rendering of a famous 18th century German philosopher's name or a vulgar term referring to a part of the Japanese woman's anatomy the police feel is obscene—especially when made with a 3D printer.
In another clever homage to Japanese culture and symbolism, he uses the quintessentially Japanese cherry blossom imagery peppered with Trump’s orange faces. Perhaps, a way of indicating that Trump’s triumph of the moment is a short lived one? In Japan, there is a sense of beauty found in the understanding that everything is transient—usually found in nature, but also possibly in presidential election campaigns.
The video has definitely confused people—with debate ranging from confusion as to whether it is actually for or against Donald Trump, why Japan would support Trump, and whether the swastikas, known as “manji” in Japan—are actually Nazi symbols or Buddhist symbols.
The creator loves reading the comments sections for the video.
“They’re the Nazi ones,” he clarified.
In Japan, the broken cross has long been a Buddhist symbol of peace and happiness and used to mark Buddhist temples on a map. Whether to change the map symbol or not is being hotly debated in Japan—and the symbol is the subject of much controversy—like Donald Trump.
Public opinion in Japan is definitely not pro-Trump, especially since Trump has seemingly threatened a trade-war with Japan.
However, the militaristic cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Liberal Democratic Party) might be overjoyed if the self-proclaimed billionaire wins in Novermber.
With Donald Trump as President, Abe could portray the U.S. as an enemy of Japan’s national interests (as it did in the years before WWII), accelerate the build-up of the military, and finally scrap the U.S. influenced Peace Constitution for the LDP’s proposed new constitution, which limits freedom of speech, takes out the words "basic human rights," makes the Japanese people’s rights subservient to the national government, and restores the emperor to the center of power.
One thing that Prime Minister Abe and Donald Trump appear to agree on is that Japan should have nuclear weapons.
Future World President Trump has stated so and present Japanese Prime Minister Abe government officially declared shortly before present U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima that “the peace constitution does not forbid Japan from having nuclear weapons or using them.”
Japan is supposedly a pacifist nation but as Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a professor of modern Japanese history at Australian National University, has pointed out, ““The Abe administration doesn’t think Japan did anything wrong in the war—they just think it was unfortunate that they lost."
Yes, very few people are fooled by this video in Japan, and maybe not in the U.S. either, but there may be one fool (or more) in Japan who watches this video, envisions the rise of President Trump and says, sincerely, “Banzai!”
The video is hilarious ... unless you consider the possibility that Donald Trump or Shinzo Abe might ever have the power to launch nuclear missiles.
That’s somewhat less funny.