In 1863, five young Japanese men were smuggled into Victorian-era London so they could appropriate British culture. For over 200 years, the Tokugawa shogunate’s “maritime exclusion policy” had made it illegal to travel overseas, but the daring young men known as the Choshu 5 – at the urging of their elders – risked everything to travel to University College London.
On their return to Japan, the five men went on to form the core of a new Japanese government, leading the nation’s transformation from an isolated state to one of the world’s foremost technological powers. Included among them was Hirobumi Ito, the father of the Japanese Constitution and the first Prime Minister of post Meiji-Japan.
Today, in 2017, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders wants to bring back the shogunate that tried to prevent that early example of cultural appropriation from happening.
“America is coming out of a period of unrestricted cultural piracy,” Sanders exclaimed at a recent rally in Somerville, MA. “What we need now is a cultural appropriation exclusion policy. The shoguns of Japan kept their culture pure for hundreds of years, but it all came crashing down in 1863. Why? Because the traitors of the Chōshū han wanted western military technology for their struggle against the Tokugawa.”
“At the end of the day, cultural appropriation caused World War II,” Sanders declared, adorned with a beautiful Japanese samurai helmet. “And we could be on the brink of World War III if we don’t act now. Our Revolution stands in the gap, and this is what it looks like. Join me! Shogunism can end cultural appropriation!”