Originally published at Wait A Minute Now
2 March 2018

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Review: Cast Aside

I first encountered Cast Aside at Melbourne Anarchist Book Fair in 2014. It's a zine by Rabia, a Japanese Australian artist celebrating inspiring figures from Japanese history - those who didn't make it into white history textbooks (hence the title). Rabia dedicated it to her sister with the message "There is nothing more liberating than acceptance and pride of one's own diversity." I was thrilled that Rabia agreed to let Biawak Gemok distribute the zine in Malaysia; hand-lettered with clean illustrations and great potential as a colouring book, it's always popular with our customers.

Noe Itō, profiled in Cast Aside, was an anarcha-feminist writer and editor who supported sex workers' rights and translated Emma Goldman into Japanese. She fell in love with Sakae Ōsugi, who refused to choose between three women - one of whom was upset enough to stab him. He and Itō, along with Ōsugi's six-year-old nephew, were murdered by military police while heading for safety following the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923. Itō was only 28.

The story of Chiune Sugihara gets to me every time. A diplomat based in Lithuania during WWII, he saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees by issuing them transit visas. Most of them did not meet the Japanese government's entry criteria, but he defied orders and worked nonstop to write the visas by hand. He and his family were subsequently imprisoned in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp for 18 months, and he was relieved of his post shortly after returning to Japan. But in Vilnius, Lithuania, his quiet heroism is remembered at a memorial surrounded by cherry blossom trees.

Cast Aside tells the stories of people who should not be forgotten, no matter how focused our history classes may be on the exploits of rich white cis dudes. It's a great example of how zines can educate and uplift, and we'd love to see zines focused on history closer to home. If you're inspired to put one together, this thread might be a good place to start mining information.