Dentsu and the Goddesses of Peace

Friday, November 2, 2012
 電通 平和の女神

The Supreme Court of Japan is only a short walk from the office. I sometimes go there to eat lunch at the corner overlooking the Uchibori-dori and Route 246 intersection. Maybe I'll also withdraw some money or buy a stamp at the post office on the ground floor. Outside it, under the empty bicycle shelter, stands alone at attention a young woman in a pale green/pale pink trouser-suit uniform and a painted smile on her face, apparently all day long waiting, I guess, for someone to park a bicycle there.

The Goddesses of Peace in front of Japan's Supreme Court, Tokyo.

A few meters ahead of her, wearing no uniforms at all, stand three naked, black-bronze goddesses overlooking the intersection in self-absorbed interaction, the left and right figures respectively declaiming at and earnestly remonstrating with the middle one who gazes into the distance possibly singing.

Inscription on Goddesses of Peace, commemorating 50 years of Dentsu.

On the back of the big pedestal of the work is a plaque, the first sentence of which reads (in my translation):
The achievements of advertising have contributed greatly to the furtherance of the peace industry and the industrial culture of our nation.
Dentsu's self-homage continues, congratulating it on having achieved as much as it has in the past half century. The erection of Goddesses of Peace commemorated 50 years of Dentsu, in 1950.

Rear view of the Goddesses of Peace, Supreme Court, Tokyo.

"The peace industry" (平和産業 heiwa sangyo). I had never encountered this phrase before in Japanese, and neither had my Japanese colleagues. However, 1950 being only five years since the end of the Pacific War, heiwa sangyo sounds like jargon that acted as a whitewash for the companies that had been closely involved and intimately identified with the recent, ruinous war effort.

 Dentsu is Japan's biggest advertising agency and controls about half of TV advertising in Japan. Dentsu also has an agency agreement with Facebook for sales of advertising on Facebook in Japan.


Guide Books on Tokyo & Japan