Ghosts & Handbags

A Short Travel Report from the Japanese Underworld

Her toenails perfectly match the colour of her smartphone. She wears a handbag with a huge Gucci print on it. I look around, more office ladies with handbags, more handbags with prints on it. Secret codes? Secret messages?
Secret coincidences?

Chloé, Burberry, Armani, Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Chanel, Fendi, McCartney, Yamamoto, Kenzo, Versace, Benetton, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Dior, Gaultier, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada.

Perfectly styled, a touch of retro, Audrey Hepburn, motionless faces staring at small-sized screens. Anonymous army of business people, disciplined telephatic data warfare. Secret codes? Secret messages?
Secret coincidences?

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YOU MUST HELP YOURSELF:

NEO-LIBERAL GEOGRAPHIES AND WORKER INSURGENCY IN OSAKA

“I realize as the train pulls in that the station is on fire. The platform is aflame and below the streets are empty with people running past occasionally. Something is happening. I pick up some rocks and start throwing them at a police line.”
-anonymous rioter at Kamagasaki

“You must help yourself.”
-Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS

osaka1

October 2nd, 1990. The day started as any other does in Osaka’s Nishi-Nari ward, men lined up around the yoseba employment center, in the thousands, waiting for work. If it came, they would load into the cars of construction contractors in groups, with parachute pants and wrapped heads. For eight hours they might wave light wands ‘guiding pedestrians’, dig concrete roads, re-pave highways or variously break their backs in the sun. This proletarian fate was ceded by the city’s bourgeoisie over a period of thirty years of continuous unemployed unrest; all the union officials touted it as labor ‘won’ from an inhuman system. After all, without work, one does not eat, and once conditions have worsened to the point that this phrase becomes dictatorial, one works in a fervor; for work leads to ‘independence’. Work might one day lead out of the slum.
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Bifo in Osaka

Franco Berardi, better known as the Italian media theorist Bifo, was in Osaka, Japan last week as part of a tour that brought him to the protests against the G8 meeting in Hokkaido. He gave a talk on media activism at an event organized by Remo, a local media collective, where he discussed not only his own activity in Italy but posed some critical questions to the audience about the situation in Japan.
He began by playing a short documentary on Telestreet, a pirate television project organized around Italy that seeks to create self-media and challenge the existing media monopoly held by [Read more →]

Repression and the Riot Situation in Kamagasaki (Osaka) related to G8 Meeting

Over the past week and a half, an unprecedented political crackdown has been enacted in advance of a series of economic summits around the country. Despite this, the brave workers of Kamagasaki stood up against the stiff security environment in riots against the brutal beating of a day laborer over the past five days. The twin situations of repression and revolt deserve to be examined in more detail.
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