Heisei Restoration is a story of Japan in a time of great social rupture and change. It is also a story of the girl who will one day launch a campaign to become Japan’s first female Prime Minister.
Set in Kobe in the year 1994, the story follows Kanda Chieko’s bid to become the student council president of Mitoho Academy. Chieko (otherwise known as Kang Min-ji) is a third generation zainichi, a descendant of one of the Korean labourers who suffered under the scourge of imperial Japanese rule. Even fifty years after the end of the war, zainichi are treated as second-class citizens who are not even legally recognised as Japanese nationals. When the Mitoho Academy student council closes down the Korean Culture Research Club for unspecified reasons, Chieko rushes to defend her fellow zainichi friend Kim Dae-suk from what she sees as racial discrimination.
Unfortunately for Chieko, standing in her way is the handsome yet cynical student council president Togo Mamoru, the son of an influential Cabinet member. In order to reverse the student council’s decision, Chieko must become president herself. But can a zainichi win the popular vote? And, perhaps more importantly, can Chieko even agree with Dae-suk’s extreme nationalist views? Who is she really fighting for in the end?
Disclaimer: This story is not based on any real-life person. Any resemblance to a real-life person is a coincidence.
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Romanisation guide and notes
Kanda Chieko (神田知恵子). Her Korean name is Kang Min-ji (강민지).
Kim Dae-suk (김대숙).
Togo Mamoru (東郷守).
Mitoho Academy (未踏峰学園). This is a fictional school.
The story is called Heisei Restoration (平成維新, heisei ishin). It’s a reference to the current Japanese era (heisei) and the Meiji Restoration (meiji ishin) of 1868, which was a time of rapid modernisation and social change in Japan.