Gen. MacArthur ad fires up fight over Japan’s recovery


TOKYO (majirox news) — Publisher Takarajimasha Inc. has sparked furious debate over an ad featuring U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, who led the postwar occupation of Japan and urged the country to rebuild.

Takarajimasha’s ad, featuring a famous photo of MacArthur assuming his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and arriving at the Atsugi air base on Aug. 30, 1945, along with the copy “Let’s Build a Great Country; However “Many Times Over,” ran in Japan’s five major national dailies and in an afternoon tabloid this Sept. 2.

Takarajimasha said its poster promoting the company had attracted more attention than in most years. In fact, the company had received more than 30 calls about the ad on Friday morning alone, many praising the ad and one caller even requesting a copy of the poster.

However, the reaction to the ad has been mixed, with some saying it makes for great advertising and others critical of its equating the March 11 disasters to Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Takarajimasha’s ad ran as a double-page spread. At the bottom of the ad are the company’s name and a message in English saying the photo was used with the permission of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation. The poster features no other writing and offers no explanation as to the ad’s meaning.

A Takarajimasha spokesman explained how the ad was intended to send a message about reconstruction.

“Japan has on numerous occasions rebuilt after defeat in war or disasters,” he said. “The Japanese have a history of using persistence and harmony as weapons to rebuild the country at those times. I don’t think there is any other country in the world whose people have shown such a powerful, strong living force. That’s what it feels like.”

He added that Takarajimasha was reminding the Japanese of this power that they’ve always had by putting in the phrase “Let’s Build a Great Country; However Many Times Over” on the poster. It’s common for Japanese print industry companies to advertise themselves, often in competitor’s publications. Takarajimsha has earned a reputation for coming up with sassy ads that get people thinking, often because of controversial subject matter, and leading to its receipt of industry awards.

Popular reaction online, however, has not been altogether positive, particularly due to the presence of MacArthur’s image in the ad.

“Is the ad trying to point out the irony of a country that needs to bring someone in from outside to look after things because it can’t do so itself?” one Twitter tweet said.

Another questioned: “Does this mean March 11 was the equivalent of a defeat at war.”

Another tweet called the poster “insulting.”

Some online commenters suggested that Takarajimasha had timed the copy to coincide with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet being sworn in. Others claimed the ad implied that the new leader was incompetent and that an outsider needed to take over, as MacArthur is often credited for doing to help Japan’s recovery from the war, which led to almost five decades of virtually unabated growth.

Takarajimasha, however, dismissed such claims, saying that the ad had been decided on in June, long before there had been any discussion of Noda taking office.

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