POSTWAR JAPAN: Feminism and Protest Movements

Fall 2014

R. Loftus, Walton 144


Class Times: T, Th 12:50-2:20 pm

Loc: Walton Hall Basement 21

Main office Hours: MF, 10:00-11:00 am;

TTh 9:30-10:30 am

Course Description/Objectives:

This class will explore how the Allied Occupation and the new constitution shaped modern Japan.  It was in this context that the economic recovery and the reconstruction of Japan occurred, giving rise to the "postwar economic miracle" and the remarkable period of "high-speed economic growth." Women were granted the right to vote in early postwar Japan and soon became active on a variety of political and economic stages.  In 1960, some 16 million Japanese citizens engaged in a political protest movement against their government; one consequence of this movement was the introduction of second-wave feminism in 1970 with the appearance of the “women’s lib” movement.  Though many times smaller than the 1960 protest, the impact of women’s lib was deep and sustained.  We will examine the events and the narratives of several women’s lives which will deepen our understanding of this period, and some of the most powerful currents in modern Japan's cultural and social history.

Specific Student Learning Outcomes.  Students will gain:

· familiarity with the most important issues surrounding the end of the war and the decision by the U.S. to use atomic weapons.

· an understanding of the complex process by which policies for the Allied Occupation of Japan were developed and implemented.

· an understanding of how the position of women changed in postwar Japan and how the "Women's Liberation Movement" of 1970 affected women's lives

·an appreciation of how certain films and filmmakers addressed issues of concern to postwar Japanese.

· an appreciation of the important issues of Japan’s sense of its own war responsibility, the future of nuclear power and energy use in Japan, and of the current constitution, rearmament possibilities.

· a general awareness and appreciation of environment and sustainability issues in Japan


Principal Readings:

Gary Allinson, Japan's Postwar History, 2nd edition



Jeffrey Kingston, Japan in Transformation 1952-2010, 2nd edition (2011)

(contains useful Documents in Part 4)


Ronald Loftus, Changing Lives: The 'Postwar' in Japanese Women's Autobiographies and Memoirs (AAS, 2013)


Also, PDFs on WISE and related Online Materials will also be assigned

Some generally useful online materials:

See the Japan sections of the Internet East Asian History Sourcebook This site contains some excellent links!

See also the Library of Congress sourcebook on Japan; it has some relevant sections.

There is a very good site on Photography and Social Research in the Occupation posted by an occupation participant.

See an excellent collection of Japan Links (find History under Miscellaneous); and useful electronic sources on the Japanese Economy


Class Organization/Structure:

This class will be conducted in a seminar/discussion mode which means that we will discuss readings together in class rather than have formal lectures. On regular occasions, students will assume primary responsibility for leading and conducting the discussion by preparing readings to summarize and present to the class.


There are a number of excellent documentaries as well as some great Japanese feature films from this era that we will view in order in order to acquire a sense of both popular culture and issues that were important to filmmakers and the public in the postwar years.


1. Regular attendance (3-absences max) and class participation including short presentations on assigned readings (15%); and

2. 5 short response or reaction papers (3-4 pp) on films and readings (35%)

3. 2 medium-length papers (6-7 pages) (50%) **

a) one due Nov. 20 on any topic or readings covered between September 11 and October 21. For example, legacies of the occupation, the issue of war responsibility, Article 9 and the postwar Constitution, Education and Land Reform in the early Occupation years, the war crimes trials, the decision not to prosecute emperor Hirohito, postwar politics, the 1955 system, etc.; the environment and sustainability, the Minamata pullution case and its lessons, the Ampo demonstrations, and their significance. Please come talk to me about your ideas.

b) another on a topic of your choice due Dec. 11, slightly longer (7-8 pp), dealing with war memories and reconcnciliation, women's liberation and feminism in the 1970s, specifically, the stories of women found in Changing Lives, the comfort women issue, the Asian Women's Fund, the Kono Statement, PM Abe's equivocating about it, the postwar economic miracle, the demographic time bomb, the bursting of the economic bubble, the issue of US bases in Okinawa, the controversy over the fate of Okinawan civilians during the Battle of Okinawa, etc. The Documents in the Kingston book are also very relevant here, Please come talk to me about your ideas. (30%)

An in-class presentation of your final paper topic is required during the final week of classes.

**Some elaboration of possible paper ideas can be found at the end of this syllabus. Willamette has a clearly articulated policy on cheating and plagiarism. Please see this link but know that Plagiarism and cheating are offenses against the integrity of the courses in which they occur and against the college community as a whole. Plagiarism usually consists of representing ideas that are not your own as your own so the simple solution is to attribute, i.e., provide clear indications of where you obtained your ideas or information. 




Reading and Discussion Schedule

August 26 Endings...and Beginnings: August 15, 1945

Introduction to the Course

Brief Video "Reinventing Japan"

Other Surrender Documents

Introduction to Video, ABC News Report on "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped" (67 minutes)


See interesting article by John Dower on Japan's Occupation of Manchuria



Aug. 28 How the War Began and Ended and The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb I

Allinson, Intro and Ch. 1, “Antecedents” 1932-1945, 1-44

View ABC News Report on "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped" (67 minutes)

Readings for next class period (9/2):

Discuss: John Dower, "The Most Terrible Bomb in the History of the World," on WISE, Resources, "John_Dower.pdf" (student-led discussion)

Reference: Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Bomb, Chapter 3 (30 pp) (see "Takaki" folder on Resources section on WISE for Takaki 3. pdf)


Personal Accounts of bombing 1 and 2


Sept. 2 Ending the War, War Responsibility, and the Decision to Drop the Bomb II

Continue with Allinson, Intro and Ch. 1, “Antecedents” 1932-1945, 1-44;

Finish Viewing ABC News Report on "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped" (67 minutes)

Discuss John Dower, "The Most Terrible Bomb in the History of the World," on WISE, Resources, "John_Dower.pdf" (student-led discussion) and Reference: Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Bomb, Chapter 3 (30 pp) (see "Takaki" folder on Resources section on WISE for Takaki 3. pdf)



Herbert Bix on The "Imperial Monologues" and War Responsibility

Also, See Bix Interview on Hirohito



More Video on the Occupation: Reinventing Japan

See the Smithsonian Exhibition and Poster Gallery on The Confusion Era 1945-1952 for excellent visuals


Sept. 4 Occupying Japan: Goals and Objectives


Prompt for First Response Paper


View excerpts in class of: "Our Job in Japan" / Know Your Enemy: Japan (a propaganda film by Frank Capra)


For next week:

Read Allinson, Ch. 2 "Revival," 45-82; and

Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Chs. 1-2 (3-16)

Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 1 "Endings and Beginnings" (sign up for discussion)



 "Those Days in Muramatsu": A Diary

Sept. 9 Assessing the Past in the Early Postwar Period

Discuss: Loftus Ch. 1 "Endings and Beginnings" (student-led discussion)

Continue Viewing "Our Job in Japan" / Know Your Enemy: Japan (a propaganda film by Frank Capra)



Sept. 11 The Past into the Present: Postwar Politics and Economy

Read Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Ch. 3 "Postwar Politics"

View: Akira Kurosawa's No Regrets for our Youth (110 minutes)

 Response Paper #1 on the "Decision to Drop the Bomb/Reinventing Japan," 3-4 pages



Sept. 16 Democracy and Democratization

Discuss: Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Ch. 3 "Postwar Politics"

Finish No Regrets for our Youth

Read:  "War Responsibility and Historical Memory: Hirohito’s Apparition" by Herbert P. Bix





Wadatsumi no koe--Listen to the Voices of the Deep

Sept. 18 Evading War Responsibility

Sept. 23 The Workplace and Society

Discuss: "War Responsibility and Historical Memory: Hirohito’s Apparition" by Herbert P. Bix


See: Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Docs. 6-8

See also Allinson, Ch. 3 “Growth” 

Watch film, MacArthur's Children


See book review with bibliography of The Birth of Japan's Postwar Constitution by Koseki Shoichi

See two discussions from Jan. 11, 2000 in the Yomiuri newspaper about the constitution

For other links to the Constitution click here

Sept.  25 Contextualizing the Occuptation: Postwar Reforms and The Constitution

See the National Diet Library Website on the Birth of the Constitution for all the appropriate documents

Continue watching MacArthur's Children

Response Paper #2 due: No Regrets for our Youth, 3-4 pages





Sept.  30 Discuss MacArthur's Children and Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 2 (student-led discussion)

Start: Grave of the Fireflies (91 minutes) See a very recent interview with Miyazaki Hayao of Studio Ghibli about constitutional reform


Kyoko Hirano, Discussion on Hold for Now; Please read if interested.

It is the story of a documentary film challenging Hirohito's transformation from militant to peace-loving monarch.

"The Depiction of the Emperor [in film]" (see "Hirano Ch. 3" on Resources section of WISE for a pdf copy)



IMTFE and Hirohito


Oct. 2 Finish Discussion of Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 2 (student-led discussion)

Start: Grave of the Fireflies (91 minutes)

See a very recent interview with Miyazaki Hayao of Studio Ghibli about his position constitutional reform


Oct. 7 Finish Grave of the Fireflies

Begin Discussion of "The 1955 or The San Francisco System: Past, Present, Future in U.S.-Japan-China Relations—8 Problematic Legacies" by John Dower


Also, note that Kingston, Chs. 5-7 contain useful coverage of many of these topics;

Reminder: You might enjoy the recent interview with Miyazaki Hayao of Studio Ghibli about his possition on constitutional reform

See also:

IMTFE and Rape of Nanjing

Anti-Nuclear Testing and Pollution Protests: Lucky Dragon Incident, Women and Protest

The Lucky Dragon #5 Incident


New Topic for Next 3 Sessions: Environment and Sustainability

Oct. 9 The Environment and Sustainability in Postwar Japan: Overview

Read and Discuss: Kingston, Contemporary Japan, "Environmental Issues," PDF on Wise

Prompt for Response to Last Two Films, MacArthur's Children and Grave of the Fireflies


Oct.  14 The Minamata Pollution Case: Read and Discuss (student-led discussion)

1. GeorgeMinamata.pdf on WISE (Resources)--Intro, Ch. 9, Conclusion, and Epilogue

2. WalkerMinamata.pdf

See Iri and Toshi Maruki Art; and Japan Times Article on the Marukis

See YouTube video on Minamata Disease



Oct. 16 Minamata (continued); See some interesting Case Studies here

Also “Fukushima in Light of Minamata” Timothy George (very short)


Response Paper Due for MacArthur's Children/Grave of the Fireflies



Oct. 21 The AMPO Movement: 1960 Conflict over the US-Japan Security Treaty

See page on Ampo;

See also Steinhoff Interview and MIT Visual Cultures Page "Days of Rage and Grief"

Discuss: SasakiAmpo.pdf (26pp) on "Resources" section of WISE, an excerpt from Wesley Uemura Sasaki's book, Organizing the Spontaneous



Maruyama Masao and Yoshimoto Takaaki's Views: See, Kersten.pdf (14pp) and

PDF "Bloody May Day" on WISE, Resources Section (student-led discussion)

on "Resources" section of WISE for more on the Security Treaty Crisis




Oct. 23 Women and Popular Movements I

Ichiyo Muto, "The Birth of the Women's Movement in the 1970s" (see "Resources" section of Wise for a pdf copy, "muto.pdf")

Read Kingston Ch. 7; Doc. 20-23

Women in Japan: General

Begin Documentary Film: Ripples of Change



Oct. 28 Women in Postwar Japan II

Finish: Ripples of Change and Discuss

Read and Discuss: Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 3 (student-led discussion)

Sanrizuka: The Struggle v. Narita Airport


Gender Issues/Women in Japan

Resources on Japanese Women in Society

Women and Work in Japan 



Oct. 30 Read and Discuss: Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 4 (student-led discussion)

Discuss/Reflect on Loftus, Ripples and Women's Movement in Japan

Begin Documentary Film: Thirty Years of Sisterhood



Nov. 4 Women and the Demographic Time Bomb

Read and Discuss: Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 5 (student-led discussion)

Continue Documentary Film: Thirty Years of Sisterhood



Nov. 6 Women in Postwar Japan III

Finish Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 5

Kingston Ch. 8, "Demographic Time Bomb," Doc. 24

Begin Overview Japanese Postwar Economic Miracle



Nov. 11 The Postwar Economic Takeoff and Miracle and Social Change

Read and Discuss: JohnsonEconMiracle.pdf on Wise, esp. to p. 23; and

Kingston Ch. 4,

See also Document 4 (Chalmers Johnson), in Kingston's "Documents" (Part 4 of his Book)



 Dower article and interview on the War in Iraq

Nov. 13 More on the Postwar Economic Miracle and Social Change

1. Doc. 5 "End of the Miracle," and

2. Doc. 31 (Richard Katz)

3. Doc. 32 (Changing Employment System)


Nov. 18 MEDIUM-LENGTH PAPER WORKSHOP--Bring in Your Ideas for your Paper

Write at least three ideas or points down on a piece of paper: what will be your slant, your view?







Nov. 20 Kingston Ch. 9, "Requiem for Japan, Inc."; Document 25-27

Will the Japanese Economy Recover? Latest News and NPR Reports

 General Information on the Japanese Economy

See also this article on Postwar Japan and also, "Revitalizing the Japanese Economy" and the Japanese Economic Miracle

The Economic Bubble in Japan and its Aftermath: Japan in the 1990s-2000s

 Japanese Economy in Transition

Kingston, Ch. 10 and 11 (In Retrospect); Documents 28-30

Three more articles on the Bubble;

See also more recent Lessons from US and Japanese Bubbles

Current Prospects; Online Video Commentary

1st medium-length paper due (6-7 pp)

Learning from the Japanese Economy






Nov. 25 War Memory, Responsibility, Comfort Women, and Yasukuni Shrine,

Kingston, Contemporary Japan, “War Memory and Responsibility,"  PDF on Wise dealing with Yasukuni Shrine and adjacent Yushukan Museum

Also: Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Ch. 5 plus Docs. 6-10

Interesting article on Japan-China tensions in 2014

See the critical commentary on Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine and as discussed by Kingston in the PDF above


Consider the problem of the Comfort Women:

See more articles on Comfort Women here and here

See also the Digital Museum on the Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund; and the Wikipedia Page here.

See Dudden.pdf on WISE, Resources

More web pages on Comfort Women;

Testimony: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/around_asia/AJ201401080010

See article: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Wada-Haruki/2653

From Korea: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/07/116_161154.html

From Japan: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2007-07/06/content_911759.htm

See this discussion of the controversies over History Textbooks

see also this discussion of Yasukuni Shrine Problem;

See article byTetsuya Takahashi, "The National Politics of Yasukuni Shrine" a PDF available on WISE

See also the art work of Tomiyama Taeko

CBC Interview available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Yid8evSAk


Start Brainstorming Topics for final paper (7-8 pp) due Dec. 11


Thanksgiving Break Nov. 27-30





Read online article on Women in Workplace






See online version of The Japan That Can Say N0


Jetro Report on Koizumi's Reforms


Dec. 2 Student Presentations on Paper Topics


Dec. 4 Student Presentations on Paper Topics


**Regarding the first of the medium length papers, the basic idea is to pull out something from the readings or about specific events during the occupation years, and write an expository essay on something you deem interesting or important. You can base this paper entirely on assigned materials but your discussion of them should show careful thought and reflection. Since at least some of you indicated at the beginning of the course that coming from a WGS persective, you were most interested in the "feminisms" part of this course, I have been rethinking these two paper assignments somewhat in order to allow you the freedom to do as much of your writing on feminism and gender issues as you would like.

It seems to me as though the following materials lend themselves nicely to this assignment:

--Changing Lives, Ch. 1, how the war's end might have affected men and women differently, looking at the stories of Okabe Itsuko, Shinya Eiko, and Yoshitake Teruko. You could maybe even go into some of Yoshitake's story in Ch. 2, education, employment, and her sense of what the postwar world should be like. Both Kingston and Allinson have chapters on the U.S. Occupation so you could "frame" your discussion drawing on their perspective. Yoshitake has things to say in her Ch. 2 about learning how to organize and become politically engaged, including where she talks about the protest against the Sunagawa Base, against the Uchinada firing range, and also about the struggle of the Mother's Group "Shibokusa," against the North Fuji Practice Range (pp. 71-76). These areso you could bring these things together, the context being about how women situate themselves historically in these citizen-group movements and this roots them in historical experience. Lots of materials, ideas to work with.

--You could take one of the Changing Lives chapters (3, 4) on either Yoshitake or Kishino, and triangulate it with the Muto article on "The Birth of the Women's Movement in the 1970s," and the Ripples/30 Years of Sisterhood DVDs and focus on the Women's Lib Movement. What did "women's Lib" bring to the participants that they had not had access to before? How did it help orvide them a place and a language to graple with women's issues and define, for themselves, a "feminine consciousness"? I think that you could do this and still leave room to come back to this topic in the final paper, by making sure you include BOTH Chs. 3-4, add some material on Tanaka Mitsu such as the Shigematsu.pdf on WISE, and probably make some comparisons with Second Wave Feminist Movements elsewhere.

--You could also go back to the readings on the Environment--George and Walker on Minamata--and considering also what Kingston says in his chapter on "Environmental Issues," deal with Minamata and how government and corporate Japan responded to this situation. There is also the nice update in relation to Fukushima also by Timothy George. Or, you could build off of George's point about citizen groups and Minamata and graft it on to the Sasaki Material on Ampo, along with the materials from my linked page, and come up with something about citizen's movements, postwar democracy, the response to the Bikini Atoll Bomb test, even things like the debate over subjectivity (the shutaiseiron) and how that was part of what Kurosawa was thinking about while making No Regrets, recalling as noted above, Yoshitake's material about learning how to organize and become politically engaged, including where she talks about the protest against the Sunagawa Base, against the Uchinada firing range, and also about the struggle of the Mother's Group "Shibokusa," against the North Fuji Practice Range (pp. 71-76). These are mentioned very briefly by Tanaka Mitsu in her "Liberation from the Toilet" pamphlet in Muto's article, p. 165 and in his footnote. The context is about how women situate themselves historically in these citizen-group movements and this roots them in historical experience. Therefore they do not need a "logic" to guide them as men do. So there could easily be an Ampo tie-in here.

Other topics growing out of occupation reform policies that you could look at, that are not necessarily limited to gender or feminist issues include some broad topics like:

-- educational reform, land reform, economic deconcentration, as well as topics like

--the spread of radical unionism and labor unrest, the call for the General Strike, the Reverse Course,

--the issue of war responsibility, the protection of emperor Hirohito from inquiries into his role and the opposition to his abdication,

--the framing of the postwar constitution and the issue of constitutional reform today, etc. Possibilities abound there.

The main guideline here is to keep within the course materials but perhaps put them together in ways that we did not do in class. Admitedly, some of these broader topics might be better suited to the final paper.


**Regarding the second medium-length and final paper, I am envisioning here still not a formal "research" paper, but rather a discussion paper on a topic of your choice likely drawn from Alllinson, Kingston or Loftus in one of their chapters, or any of the assigned articles and PDFs; but for this paper you will need to find some additional sources that shed light on your topic. In other words, use the materials we have talked about together but also build and develop your discussion beyond just the class readings. Which probably means visiting the library.

--For example, if you want to write (more) on feminism and the women's movement in Japan, or you want to build on what you did in the shorter paper, you could write a paper drawing upon Changing Lives and other materials on Japanese women that we discussed in class. There are the two videos Ripples of Change and 30 Years of Sisterhood with examples drawn from Yoshitake Teruko and Kishino Junko who had their specific encounters with the movement. You could even step back a little further, look at all or most of the women excerpted in Changing Lives, and probe more deeply into their experiences and what their narratives have to say to us. You could also take this deeper by reading the PDF by Shigematsu on WISE which probes the role of Tanaka Mitsu in the movement and draw on things she said in the DVDs (I have some of them gathered on one of my pages). If you have experience with other 2nd wave feminist movements in other parts of the world, you could bring in a nice comparative perspective.

There are other women you could bring in from earlier periods, too, like: Takamure Itsue, Kaneko Fumiko, Oku Mumeo, Takai Toshio, Sata Ineko, Nishi Kiyoko, Fukunaga Misao, Miyamoto Yuriko--some of whom are excerpted in my earlier book, Telling Lives (2004). The advantage here is that you are looking at memoirs you are using primary materials, voices speaking to us from Japan, which is always a good thing. It is important to have some authoritative voices in your papers that are either from primary materials or from secondary scholarly works that themselves draw on primary materials.

Yet another idea: if you are interested in the problem of Japan's demographic time bomb, you could tie in some of Kanamori's writing from Ch. 5 in Changing Lives, dovetail it with Kingston's Chs 7 and 8, and the relevant Documents he places in the back of his book, and round it out with some additional library or online materials. What challenges to ageing societies pose for contemporary economies? How/why is Japan's dilemma partiuclarly acute? The Documents in Kingston's book seem like great jumping off places for paper ideas.

You certainly might select a topic such as

--Japan's postwar economic miracle and the economic situation today

--environmental issues arising from unbridled growth,

--the question of prewar and wartime history in Japanese textbooks and in museums, etc. Japanese apologies and reconciliation issues

--the Korean minority in Japan, its challenges and future

--the issue of US bases in Okinawa, and Japan's future

--the controversy over the fate of Okinawan civilians during the Battle of Okinawa

--the position of women in contemporary Japanese society

--as already indicated, the women's lib movement and its impact, the role of Tanaka Mitsu, etc.

--the question of the comfort women, the Asian Women's Fund, the Kono Statement, and other wartime atrocities like Unit 731: what should Japan do now?

--If you would like to pursue the work of a postwar Japanese writer or filmmaker, you could do this by discussing some of their principal works and what they have to say about postwar Japanese society or culture, and tie them back into some of the course materials.


The final paper will be due Thursday, Dec. 11 by 3:00 pm.


As far as writing style, organization and footnoting go, you might find Diane Hacker's online resource site useful:






Read and Discuss Joe Moore, "Japanese Workers and the Struggle for Power" Ch. 2, pp. 48-61; Chs.7- 8 (see "Moore" Folder on Resources section of WISE for pdf copies).

Read and Discuss David Halberstam, The Reckoning, Ch. 7-9 (52 pp., 131-187) in "Halberstam" folder on Resources section WISE for a pdf copies.