Art

Japanese graffiti artist 281_Anti Nuke takes aim at Trump

by Teppei Kasai

Reuters

Japanese graffiti artist 281_Anti Nuke says his politically charged placards plastered around central Tokyo are meant to serve as a warning to the dangers of new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Amid the bustling night life of Shibuya, a major shopping and entertainment hub in Tokyo, the artist often attaches the placards dealing with social issues to lamp posts and walls to attract the attention of passersby.

His latest postings target the controversial remarks made by Trump about women and minorities during his 2016 campaign.

The newest placards show a figure resembling the U.S. president standing between similar figures in white capes, which symbolise members of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group.

“My art was produced out of the fear of what may happen to Japan because of such a horrifying leader,” 281_Anti Nuke said.

Trump “is saying white supremacist things, things that are much more than America first,” he said.

Wearing sunglasses and a white surgical mask, 281_Anti Nuke declined to give his name or reveal his face, saying he feared retaliation for the political views contained in his art.

Graffiti is also punishable by heavy penalties and frowned upon by Japanese society.

Much of 281_Anti Nuke’s previous artwork criticized nuclear power, inspired by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The artist said the more political a placard — such as his work that criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — the faster it is taken down.

On the busy streets of Shibuya, people who stopped to take a look were initially confused by his work.

“My first impression is that they are hard to understand, but once I get the context of it, it’s very expressive as an art form,” said Tokyo resident Manato Kato.