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Postwar Japan as History

Postwar Japan as History

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 563
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  • Book Info
    Postwar Japan as History
    Book Description:

    Japan's catapult to world economic power has inspired many studies by social scientists, but few have looked at the 45 years of postwar Japan through the lens of history. The contributors to this book seek to offer such a view. As they examine three related themes of postwar history, the authors describe an ongoing historical process marked by unexpected changes, such as Japan's extraordinary economic growth, and unanticipated continuities, such as the endurance of conservative rule. A provocative set of interpretative essays by eminent scholars, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of twentieth-century Japan and the dilemmas facing Japan today.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91144-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Andrew Gordon

    The distance between 1945 and the present day, measured simply in years, now exceeds that between the turn of the century and the end of World War II. Yet for understandable reasons historians have ventured few systematic analyses of the postwar years. Perhaps most important, the absence of a “natural” boundary such as a revolution or a catastrophic war makes us slow to map the terrain of the recent past. In the late 1980s a belief that the time had come to attempt such analysis prompted the series of conferences that resulted in this book.

    On a conceptual level the...


    • CHAPTER ONE Peace and Democracy in Two Systems: External Policy and Internal Conflict
      (pp. 3-33)
      John W. Dower

      Ever since Japan’s seclusion was ruptured by the Western nations in 1853, domestic and international politics have been interwoven for the Japanese. Slogans used to mobilize succeeding generations convey this interconnection. Thus, the forces that eventually overthrew the feudal regime in 1868 rallied around the cry “Revere the Emperor and Expel the Barbarians.” The Meiji government (1868–1912) socialized citizens for Westernization, industrialization, and empire building under the slogan “Rich Country, Strong Military.” Militant expansionists of the 1930s and early 1940s, equally concerned with renovation at home and autarky abroad, paired creation of a domestic “New Structure” with establishment of...

    • CHAPTER TWO Japan’s Position in the World System
      (pp. 34-63)
      Bruce Cumings

      What does Japan look like when it is viewed from without, as if it were a black box, as if little that happened within Japan was of great moment? In other words, what did Japan look like to the American architects of the postwar order? Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and John Foster Dulles—to take three of the most important planners—did not study Japan, nor did they know it; they wished to situate Japan structurally in a world system shaped by the United States so that Japan would do what it should without having to be told. In so...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Past in the Present
      (pp. 64-96)
      Carol Gluck

      The end of the war was also a beginning. Noon, August 15, 1945—the time of the surrender broadcast was inscribed in Japanese memory as the fictive moment when the past ended and the present began. Willing time to be broken and history severed, Japan turned toward the future, with the result that the past became more present than before. This was because the New Japan, as so many called it, was conceived as an inversion of the old. The prewar past, to be obliterated, had first to be retold. Thus, in the wake of an unjust and catastrophic war,...


    • CHAPTER FOUR Growth Versus Success: Japan’s Economic Policy in Historical Perspective
      (pp. 99-122)
      Laura E. Hein

      Japan is internationally renowned for its stunning economic performance. This achievement excites foreign envy and Japanese pride, partly because it seems so painlessly achieved. Japan appears to offer a model for economic success without suffering, contention, or even much effort. Unfortunately, this is an illusion. Over the course of the postwar decades the Japanese struggled not only to devise a strategy for economic development but also to define their economic goals. Moreover, the strategies chosen have had significant costs to some Japanese. Elites and nonelites agreed on the importance of rebuilding the economy by 1946, but their economic policies evolved...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Structure and Transformation of Conservative Rule
      (pp. 123-144)
      Gary D. Allinson

      “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.” There may be a tinge of resentment hidden in this common observation about human equality, but it does reveal a general truth about conceptions of power. We all recognize that some people are more influential than others. In representative democracies elected officials in national governments are often the most powerful. They frequently join appointed bureaucrats in central ministries and the leaders of important interest groups to form one variant of what C. Wright Mills made famous as “the power elite.”¹

      Japan’s power elite in the postwar era provoked varying descriptions...

    • CHAPTER SIX Negotiating Social Contracts
      (pp. 145-166)
      Sheldon Garon and Mike Mochizuki

      The historical study of relationships between the Japanese state and civil society since World War II is still in its infancy. Thanks to path-breaking work by Chalmers Johnson and Richard Samuels, we know a great deal about changing relations between the government and big business both before and after 1945.¹ Much less has been written historically about the postwar state’s interaction with groups that represent millions of working-class and petit bourgeois Japanese. We have chosen to focus on two of these groups—organized labor and small-business associations.

      Indeed, one cannot assess the meaning of democracy in postwar Japan without reference...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Dialectics of Economic Growth, National Power, and Distributive Struggles
      (pp. 167-186)
      Koji Taira

      Long-term economic statistics suggest that somewhere in the early 1970s there was a turning point in postwar Japan’s rate and style of economic growth.¹ The pre-1970s “miracle growth” at a rate exceeding 10 percent per annum turned into low growth at 5 percent or so in subsequent years.² In the late 1960s and early 1970s Japan experienced a variety of social protest movements: environmentalists, welfare rightists, citizens, workers, students, disadvantaged groups, and so on. International affairs (the Vietnam War, Nixon shocks, floating exchange rates, oil shocks) aggravated Japan’s domestic problems. The ruling coalition of the business community, the LDP, and...


    • CHAPTER EIGHT Finding a Place in Metropolitan Japan: Ideologies, Institutions, and Everyday Life
      (pp. 189-216)
      William W. Kelly

      One can draw statistical profiles and ethnographic portraits to evoke very different models of postwar Japanese society as increasingly homogenous or persistently diverse. The dramatic figures for industrial growth and agricultural stagnation, rural exodus and urban sprawl, rising longevity and declining infant mortality, smaller family size and new housing options, and the escalation of educational credentialing demonstrate how transformed and leveled is the social landscape of the postwar decades. Many argue from such figures that these changes have erased earlier distinctions: of countryside and city, of farmer and factory worker, of extended families and nuclear families, of the poor and...

    • Photographs
      (pp. 217-238)
    • CHAPTER NINE Formations of Mass Culture
      (pp. 239-258)
      Marilyn Ivy

      Although often peripheralized, the question of mass culture is really never far from the center of debates about the transformations of postwar Japan. Technologies of mass dissemination have unified the world—not necessarily in the benign image of Marshall McLuhan’s global village but in a dispensation that has marginalized cultural differences at the same time that it has amplified disparities in wealth and power. Japan is arguably the most advanced mass society within this dispensation, with nearly universal literacy (and color television ownership), a nationwide educational curriculum, an enormous publishing industry (fifth in the world in the number of books...

    • CHAPTER TEN Consuming and Saving
      (pp. 259-292)
      Charles Yuji Horioka

      It is well known that the postwar Japanese economy provided the world with its first example of sustained double-digit growth in real GNP and that this phenomenal growth performance enabled Japan to recover from the devastation of World War II and join the ranks of the developed countries within just a few decades. However, it is perhaps less well known outside of Japan, although certainly not surprising, that this extraordinary economic expansion dramatically altered the texture of the Japanese people’s lives, especially their consumption and saving patterns.

      In this essay I analyze trends in the level and composition of consumption...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The Death of “Good Wife, Wise Mother”?
      (pp. 293-322)
      Kathleen S. Uno

      A definition ofjapanese woman as “good wife, wise mother”(ryōsai kenbo)emerged in Japan at the end of the nineteenth century.¹ In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, prominent men, especially officials in the Ministry of Education (Monbushō), began to champion “good wife, wise mother” as woman’s² proper role in imperial Japan. As the term suggests,ryōsai kenbodefined women as managers of domestic affairs in households and nurturers of children. From the late 1890s until the end of World War II, “good wife, wise mother” increasingly pervaded the mass media and the higher levels of public and...


    • CHAPTER TWELVE Unplaced Persons and Movements for Place
      (pp. 325-346)
      Frank K. Upham

      At the end of World War II Japan faced the necessity of developing its own form of democracy. Prewar development had been cut short by institutional weaknesses and political events, but defeat created a range of possibilities for political development that rivaled even those of the Meiji period. More than in any other time in history the Japanese people were free—indeed, were forced—to create their own vision of democracy and social justice. The legal and political reforms of the occupation established the initial context for political development within which a new constitution and revised legal system were to...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Altered States: The Body Politics of “Being-Woman”
      (pp. 347-372)
      Sandra Buckley

      Japanese and non-Japanese often cite the 1947 constitution as the turning point for women’s rights in Japan. Paragraph one of Article 14 guarantees that “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”¹ One of the primary targets of the newly drafted constitution was the ie or household system. Before 1947 all family-related law was based on a system of primogeniture and patrilineal households. The new constitution stipulated that marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Contests for the Workplace
      (pp. 373-394)
      Andrew Gordon

      The tone of the laboring citizen’s voice at work changed dramatically from the contentious early postwar years, through the high growth era, and into the period of “Japan as Number One.” No less dramatic was the change in the view from outside the workplace. In the late 1940s American officials feared that a radical labor movement would sabotage their program to revive Japan as the “workshop of Asia.” By the late 1970s scholars, journalists, business leaders, and officials in Japan and overseas sang hymns of praise to harmonious labor relations as a central cause of the nation’s economic power.


    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Intellectuals and Politics
      (pp. 395-423)
      J. Victor Koschmann

      Jean-Paul Sartre delivered three lectures on intellectuals during his visit to Japan in 1965. Published later as a single essay, they suggest a provocative framework for reconsidering the problem of intellectuals and politics in postwar Japanese history. By “intellectuals,” Sartre meant highly-trained people who are severely critical of bourgeois society and the role they are assigned in maintaining it. According to Sartre, a person with advanced training is inevitably positioned socially as a “technician of practical knowledge”—someone who employs specialized knowledge and technique on behalf of that society or, more correctly, on behalf of the ruling bourgeoisie. What distinguishes...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Dynamics of Political Opposition
      (pp. 424-448)
      James W. White

      Despite the longevity of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rule in postwar Japan, the one thing one may say about opposition to the political, economic, and social status quo is that there has been no lack of it, whether by interest groups that wish simply to improve their own position, by partisan groups that wish to wrest power from the LDP, or by radicals who hope to transform the polity completely. The third form of opposition has faded rapidly during the postwar period as public opinion has solidified behind the current political framework. The second, some have suggested, has almost completely...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 449-464)
    Andrew Gordon

    Two striking continuities define Japan’s long postwar experience. Japan’s subordinate position in a global system dominated by the United States persisted, despite changes and tensions stemming from the country’s surge in economic power, at least until 1990. And for reasons including but not limited to this fact, Japanese have continued to view themselves as living in a “postwar” era, at least until the moment of this writing. At the same time, the essays in this book have shown that postwar Japan can be divided very roughly into three periods corresponding to three different ways of defining the postwar era.


    (pp. 465-470)
    (pp. 471-474)
    (pp. 475-480)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 481-496)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 497-497)