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In Yoko Tawada’s novel The Emissary, the concept of a dystopian Tokyo is explored through the eyes of an elderly survivor, Yoshiro, and his great-grandson, Mumei. In reading this book, it impressed me how Tawada’s description of a crumbled society, although pushed to the extreme, seems have real ties to the concerns of modern day Japanese citizens. In reading reviews and researching the state of Japan’s economy, I found that the “The graying of Japan,” is one of the biggest problems facing the nation. According to studies conducted by the Japanese government, over 60% of the Japanese population will be over the age 65 by 2060. This forecast has caused a fascinating problem, in that the Japanese government, who were previously chiefly concerned with over-population, are now primarily concerned with the lack of children being born and new marriages amongst younger people.  In Tawada’s novel, older people are not only heavily present, but depicted as the strongest of all age groups which adds a very interesting layer to her dystopian Tokyo. In her world, younger people want to be older, rather than continually seek youth. There is also an interesting parallel to reality in that the “middle” generation, are generally depicted as lost and victimized by their environment and treatment. Polls in Japan have shown that citizens younger than 40 feel that they don’t have time for a family or love due to economic and social pressure to succeed in their career. I think this aspect of the novel shows what makes Tawada’s world creation so powerful. She takes things like gender, age and patriotism and interprets them in an innovative way that can still be seen as a sort of social commentary for what is occurring in reality.

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