Associate Professor of Japanese Kyoko Omori gave a presentation at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Chicago on March 9. The talk, titled “A Radio Star is Born in Occupied Japan: the Role of the Allied Powers in the Creation of an Anti-Governmental Political Satire Program,” examined the politics of media stardom in Occupied Japan via the most popular radio star of the period, Miki Toriro, who became famous for his up-tempo jazz songs that satirized government corruption and incompetence.
The U.S. Occupying forces regarded radio as the most effective means to disseminate democratic ideas to the Japanese population. They also recognized the need for entertainment to help public morale recover from impoverishment and other hardships of the postwar period. Thus, Miki’s (and his listeners’) light, happy, and entertaining satirical songs helped to serve these ends.