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Uneasy Warriors

Uneasy Warriors: Gender, Memory, and Popular Culture in the Japanese Army

Sabine Frühstück
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    Uneasy Warriors
    Book Description:

    Following World War II, Japan's postwar constitution forbade the country to wage war or create an army. However, with the emergence of the cold war in the 1950s, Japan was urged to establish the Self-Defense Forces as a way to bolster Western defenses against the tide of Asian communism. Although the SDF's role is supposedly limited to self-defense, Japan's armed forces are equipped with advanced weapons technology and the world's third-largest military budget. Sabine Frühstück draws on interviews, historical research, and analysis to describe the unusual case of a non-war-making military. As the first scholar permitted to participate in basic SDF training, she offers a firsthand look at an army trained for combat that nevertheless serves nontraditional military needs.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93964-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Note on Asterisked Names and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The moment I stepped onto the base exercise ground in the exceptionally hot summer of 2001, I realized that this part of my research would be different from anything I had done before. Clad in a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) uniform, I wondered what a week of basic training in the army would bring. What new insights could I expect from wearing fatigues, moving on command, saluting service members, accompanying new recruits to various field trainings, eating in the mess hall, and sleeping in an army bunk bed? How would this kind of research experience affect my perspective on the...

  7. CHAPTER 1 On Base
    (pp. 15-49)

    With the help of private first class Tama Keiko*, it had taken me about half an hour to get into thick cotton fatigues and boots whose leather had been hardened by the sweat of dozens of soldiers who had worn them before me. The pants needed to be stuck into the boots. Superfluous cloth had to be tightly folded back. The boots had to be evenly laced up, and the laces tucked into the boot shafts. The shirt had to be tucked into the pants so that the creases on the front and back of the shirt formed extensions of...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Postwar Postwarrior Heroism
    (pp. 50-85)

    How do officers grow as leaders when there is no armed conflict to test them? Roméo Dallaire (2003:30), commander of the U.N. mission to Rwanda, answered this question as follows: “You train and train, and then you train others.” I ask this question more broadly: What is a peacetime career in the Self-Defense Forces? How do Japanese service members translate combat training that is directed at inflicting and withstanding extreme forms of organized violence into risk-taking to save the lives of others? And how do those men whose lives are permeated by military rules, values, and interests negotiate their masculinity...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Feminist Militarists
    (pp. 86-115)

    Female service members (josei jieikan) like Tamura Satomi, quoted above, employ certain identity strategies when they negotiate a specific set of tensions that characterizes their military experience: tensions between the Self-Defense Forces’ public face and internal gender politics, between the expectations of their families and their own aspirations, and between their attempts to establish themselves as professionals equal to men and their “refeminization” in popular media.¹ Female service members in Japan, especially officers, share that struggle in an organization that uses them for self-promotion and at the same time marginalizes them within its ranks. I will argue that in contrast...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Military Manipulations of Popular Culture
    (pp. 116-148)

    On January 26, 2004, the director of the JDA announced the historic deployment of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq. The night before, at a promotional event for his new hit single, the singer Izumiya Shigeru suddenly sang a part of the song, “Let’s Join the Self-Defense Forces” and ended with the line “Let’s go to Iraq,” instead of the original “Let’s join the Self-Defense Forces, let’s join,” apparently in anticipation of the JDA director’s announcement and in support of the operation.¹ The original tune, “Let’s Join the Self-Defense Forces” had been recorded by Takada Wataru in 1969 as an ironic,...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Embattled Memories, Ersatz Histories
    (pp. 149-178)

    These prayers, written on wooden votive plaques, were scattered among several hundred displayed on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine in the summer of 2003. The shrine—since the Asia-Pacific War a religious institution funded entirely by private donations—occupies a prominent place just north of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. It is accessed through colossal gates of wood and metal along an avenue of majestic gingko trees. Visitors buy the plaques at the shrine, scribble their most heartfelt wishes on them, and hang them on one of the boards available for that purpose. Votive plaques at shrines throughout Japan carry...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 179-188)

    In 1899, Japan was invited to join an international gathering of the great powers for the first time. The irony of this invitation to the Hague Peace Conference was that Japan’s place at the council table had been earned by the success of the Imperial Japanese Army (1872–1945) in China—just as its status as a great power would be confirmed by its victory over Russia in 1905. Roughly one hundred years later, on January 26, 2006, Japanese papers reported that all GSDF troops had “safely [returned] home from [their] historic mission to Iraq,” putting an end to two...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-206)
  14. References
    (pp. 207-260)
  15. Index
    (pp. 261-270)