This essay explores the violence and the threat of violence associated with pregnancy in Japanese fiction after the triple disasters—the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown—of March 11, 2011. There is hardly a female character in this fiction that is not confronted with questions about pregnancy and childbirth. The queries are surely motivated by genuine concern about the humans involved, but they are just as often about control, about a woman’s body as a public item, about responsibility to the child, and then to society at large. Childbearing in a disaster zone is profoundly anxiety-producing; but it is also worth examining how quickly childbirth, and then women’s bodies, become at times metaphor and at times synecdoche, for the trauma and fears of the entire society, in these works. In this article I consider Sono Shion’s Kibō no kuni, Kanehara Hitomi’s Motazaru mono, Taguchi Randi’s Zōn ni te, Kimura Yūsuke’s Seichi Cs, and Furukawa Hideo’s Uma tachi yo, sore demo muku de.

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Published in Japanese Language and Literature, v. 54, no. 2.

Copyright 2020 Doug Slaymaker

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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