When you live in a country for long enough, it’s easy to forget the things that set it apart and really make it special. In largely homogenous societies, like that of Japan, it’s easy to take daily amenities for granted without ever stopping to consider that commonplace objects are unique to the culture and perhaps novel to people of other nations.
A recent book released by Earth Star Entertainment aims to give the people of Japan a fresh perspective on their island nation, as well as celebrate the many things that it has to offer to the world. The book’s title translates to What if Japan Disappeared: Japan’s Ability to Support the World, and from the few short excerpts we’ve seen, it’s obvious that Japan thinks quite highly of its contributions to the world’s economy, entertainment, and food options.
But in the grand scheme of things, how much would the country really be missed if it suddenly disappeared from this world?
Let’s start off this list with one of the more important categories: cash. Fears of further recessions or not, if Japan were to suddenly vanish, the world economy would take a major hit. According to the numbers collected by the book’s original author, Japan has the world’s third highest GDP (gross domestic product), having overtaken China in 2010. Somehow the little island country still manages to rake in 10 percent of the world’s profits, thanks in no small part to their technological strength and reliable quality of design. It’s very hard to argue with the idea that if Japan were to vanish, world economies would be thrown into chaos for quite some time.
But what about some of Japan’s less necessary exports, like entertainment? How might the world fare if, for example, there was no longer a supplier of anime and manga on the market?
According to the original text, without Japan’s 2-D entertainment industry, otaku – fans of an obsessive nature – would cease to exist! It should be noted, however, that the author’s quote largely underestimates the variety of styles and storylines that come with world comics. While it’s true that Japanese manga has a unique sense of artistry associated with it, it’s also not the only storytelling medium to incorporate complex plots and impressive layouts with disproportionately large bra sizes. While countless people would certainly miss their favorite manga and anime updates, if Japan were to disappear, I simply can’t believe that awkward fans who embody the otaku spirit would also cease to exist. We would call them geeks and nerds, but nevertheless hardcore fans of games, super heroes, and sci-fi would continue to obsess in an otaku fashion, even if manga were not on the market.
In another nod to the entertainment industry, the book lists adult videos as Japan’s third major contribution to the world. And indeed, it would appear that Japan is the leader of Asia’s mature-rated movie sphere. However, once again, I fear that the author gives too little credit to the ingenuity of foreign porn productions. The excerpt lists established AV genres in Japan, such as “uniforms” and “chubby women” as though catering to such kinks is not done in other countries. Granted, the hypothetical disappearance of Japan would undoubtedly diminish the volume of pornography produced each year. Still, I’m certain that the world’s other porn producers would be more than happy to pick up the slack, and with a lot less censorship to boot!
The last item taken as an excerpt from the original book is, surprisingly, cup noodles! Instant ramen was first developed by a Japanese company and has since gained a great deal of traction abroad, appearing both in plastic packets and paper cups. It’s said that more than 95 million containers of instant ramen are consumed outside of Japan each year. Now, while the industry has established itself abroad, to the point where losing Japan would not cripple the necessary production of instant noodles, if we approach the problem from the perspective of Japan having never existed at all, the lack of instant noodles would be a true loss, particularly for hungry American college kids.