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Same-sex relationships, American bases in Okinawa, globalization, the Olympics, the atomic bomb, national identity, the exploitation of natural resources — the “Image Narratives: Literature in Japanese Contemporary Art” exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo, does not lack for hot button topics.

The six-person show is not, however, confrontational about social and political issues. Instead these are revealed solicitously through the different narrative strategies of the selected works. The mood of the show, with the exception of some comic satirical moments from Okinawa-based Chikako Yamashiro’s “Chinbin Western: Representation of the Family,” is subdued and rather melancholy.

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