POSTWAR JAPAN: Feminism and Protest Movements

Spring 2013

R. Loftus, Walton 144


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:

            · 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.

            · Will gain an appreciation for the methodological and analytical sophistication of Pulitzer Prize winning author John Dower's book, Embracing Defeat.  

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

            · Will gain 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

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

Principal Readings:

John Dower, Embracing Defeat (1999)

See H-Net Review here and NYT Review here


Jeffrey Kingston, Japan in Transformation 1952-2000 (2001)


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


Also, PDFs on WISE and related Online Materials will 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 and class participation including short presentations on assigned readings (15%); and

2. 5 short response or reaction papers (2-3 pp) on films and readings (40%)

3. 1 medium-length* "Dower" based paper (7-8 pages) on an aspect of the occupation years (1945-52) as discussed by John Dower (15%)

4. 1 longer paper** based on a mixture of primary and secondary materials on a topic of your choice (10-12 pages/12-15 pp for 445 students) due May 6. An in-class presentations of your paper topic is also required near the end of the term. (30%)



Reading and Discussion Schedule

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

Other Surrender Documents

Introduction to the Course

Video: Reinventing Japan--brief introduction

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

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

Jan. 17 Ending the War and The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb I

View 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)

The Potsdam Declaration

Also Dower, Embracing Defeat, Intro, pp. 19-30

Personal Accounts of bombing 1 and 2

Jan. 22 Ending the War, War Responsibility, and the Decision to Drop the Bomb II

Dower, Embracing Defeat, Ch. 1, emphasis on 33-53

Herbert Bix on The "Imperial Monologues" and War Responsibility

See Bix Interview on Hirohito

See Also:

Japan's Surrender Broadcast

Instrument of Surrender; see also here; and here

Surrender Speech and Scholarly Reaction


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

Photo of New Mexico Test. See also here.

Dower, Embracing Defeat, Intro pp. 20-30

See also a photo of Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud

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

General Overview and detailed chronology of the Occupation Period 1945-52


More Video on the Occupation: Reinventing Japan

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


Jan. 24 Occupying Japan

Dower, Embracing Defeat, Ch. 2-3 (pp. 65-120),

Kingston, Japan in Transformation, Chs. 1-2 (1-17)

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



 "Those Days in Muramatsu": A Diary

Jan. 29 Cultures of Defeat and Making Revolution in the Early Postwar Period

The Past into the Present: No Regrets for our Youth (110 minutes)

 Response Paper #1 on the "Decision to Drop the Bomb/Reinventing Japan," 2-3 pages


Jan. 31 Postwar Politics and Economy

Finish No Regrets for our Youth

Begin Discussing Dower, Embracing Defeat, Chs. 4-5 (pp. 121-200; see some power point slides for Ch. 5)


Feb. 5 Democracy and Democratization

Complete Discussion of Dower, Embracing Defeat, Chs. 4-5 (pp. 121-200)

and move on to Dower Ch. 6-8 (203-273 pp)





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

Feb. 7 Evading War Responsibility

Feb. 19 The Workplace and Society

Dower Ch. 9-11 "Imperial Democracy: Driving the Wedge," "Imperial Democracy: Descending Partway from Heaven," and "Imperial Democracy: Evading Resposibility" (277-345)

Finish, 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

Feb. 21 Postwar Reforms and The Constitution

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




Feb. 26 War Crime Trials

Discuss: Dower, Chs. 12-13; and

Start: Grave of the Fireflies (91 minutes)


Iri and Toshi Maruki Art

IMTFE and Hirohito


Feb. 28 Censored Democracy: The Emperor in Film and What Do You Tell the Dead?

Finish Grave of the Fireflies

Discuss Dower Ch. 13



Response Paper #3: MacArthur's Children, 2-3 pages

March 5 Ending the Occupation: Talking with the Dead

Discuss: Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 2 (student-led discussion)

Discuss Dower Ch. 14

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

Also, Dower Ch. 15 (443-484);


March 7 War Crimes Trials

Discuss Dower Ch. 15-16 (443-521)

Discuss Ideas for Dower paper


March 12 The Story of Labor Struggles in Early Postwar Japan

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)

See some power point slides for Halberstam Ch. 5


March 14 The AMPO Movement: 1960 Conflict over the US-Japan Security Treaty

See page on Ampo;

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

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

Optional: Maruyama Masao and Yoshimoto Takaaki's Views: See, Kersten.pdf (14pp) on "Resources" section of WISE for more on the Security Treaty Crisis


Response Paper #4 Grave of the Fireflies, 2-3 pages


March 19 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")

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

Women in Japan: General

Begin Documentary Film: Ripples of Change


March 21 Women in Postwar Japan II

Finish: Ripples of Change and Discuss

Discuss: Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 4 (student-led discussion)

Dower Paper Due






Gender Issues/Women in Japan

Resources on Japanese Women in Society

Women and Work in Japan 




Spring Break March 25-29




April 2 Discuss/Reflect on Ripples and Women's Movement in Japan

Kingston Ch. 7

Begin Documentary Film: Thirty Years of Sisterhood



April 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

IMTFE and Rape of Nanjing


April 9 Women in Postwar Japan III

Finish Loftus, Changing Lives, Ch. 5

Kingston Ch. 7-8

Begin Overview Japanese Postwar Economic Miracle



April 11 The Postwar Economic Takeoff and Miracle and Social Change

Read and Discuss Dower Ch. 17 Engineering Growth plus Epilogue (525-564)

Read and Discuss: Kingston Ch. 4-6, Document 4 (Chalmers Johnson), 25 (Richard Katz)

Start Brainstorming Topics for longer paper (10-12 pp) due May 6


 Dower article and interview on the War in Iraq 

April 16 More on the Postwar Economic Miracle and Social Change

Will the Japanese Economy Recover?

 General Information on the Japanese Economy

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


April 18 The Bubble Bursts: After the Economic Miracle, Japan in the 1990s-2000s

 Japanese Economy in Transition

Kingston, Chs 8-10 and Epilogue

Three more articles on the Bubble; See also more recent Lessons from US and Japanese Bubbles

Current Prospects; Online Video Commentary

Learning from the Japanese Economy


Response Paper #5: Ripples of Change and 30 Years of Sisterhood

(Include materials from Changing Lives, esp. Chs, 3-4)




Arpil 23 Anti-Nuclear Testing and Pollution Protests: Lucky Dragon Incident, Women and Protest

Minamata Pollution Case: Read and Discuss (student-led discussion)

1. GeorgeMinamata.pdf on WISE (Resources)--Inro, Ch. 9, conclusion, and Epilogue

2. WalkerMinamata.pdf

See Kingston Documents 26-31



Read online article on Women in Workplace

April 26 Student Presentations on Paper Topics



April 30 Final Class Student Presentations on Papers



See online version of The Japan That Can Say N0


Jetro Report on Koizumi's Reforms


*Regarding the medium length "Dower" paper, I would like you to pull out some chapters or events, or even methodological approaches--the kind of history Dower works on--from Embracing Defeat and write an expository essay on this theme of your choice. Embracing Defeat is a complex, spawling work so I want you to zero in on a couple of key questions or issues that he deals with and discuss them in some depth. Perhaps you would find two things you wanted to discuss. Whatever you choose to write on, take your reader into the work of John Dower, illuminate how he works as a historian, and highlight the main points you found intriguing. Feel free to quote from the book liberally in order to show your reader exactly what you are talking about. There should be no need for you to gather sources outside of Embracing Defeat.

**Regarding the longer paper, I am envisioning less a deep research paper than a library-based discussion paper on a topic of your choice. You may choose to pursue something discussed by Dower in one of his chapters but carrying your reading beyond Dower into 3-4 additional sources, includingn assigned articles and PDFs. For example, topics growing out of occupation reform policies dome of which Dower did not go into very much detail about such as educational reform, land reform, economic deconcentration, as well as topics like the spread of radical unionism and labor unrest, followed by 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. might be considered as topics.

Another option: If you are interested in feminism and the women's movement in Japan, what if you did a paper drawing upon Changing Lives and other materials on Japanese women? You will be doing a response paper on the two videos Ripples of Change and 30 Years of Sisterhood with examples drawn from Yoshitake Teruko and Kishino Junko anyway; what if you stepped back a little further, looked 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? There are other women you could bring in from earlier periods like: Kaneko Fumiko,Oku Memeo, Takai Toshio Sata Ineko, Nishi Kiyoko, Fukunaga Misao--some of whom are excerpted in my Telling Lives book. By looking at memoirs you are swimming in the waters of primary materials, voices speaking to us from Japan.

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 Docuemnts he places in the back of his book, and round it out with some other library materials or from online.

You certainly might select a different topic that lies beyond the 1945-52 time frame adhered to by Dower such as

Japan's postwar economic miracle,

environmental issues arising from unbridled growth,

postwar educational reform and contemporary education issues,

the nature of postwar parliamentary politics,

the Korean minority in Japan,

the issue of US bases in Okinawa,

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

the position of women in contemporary Japanese society, the question of the comfort women,

the popularity of "Nihonjinron," or the discourse on Japanese national character, etc.

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.



On Japan in the 21st Century, see, for example,

Consider the problem of the Comfort Women; See article on Comfort Women here and here

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

More web pages on Comfort Women; see also the art work of Tomiyama Taeko

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

Other topics: History Textbooks and

Yasukuni Shrine Problems Discuss: Tetsuya Takahashi, "The National Politics of Yasukuni Shrine" a PDF available on WISE

Recent thoughts on the Abe Cabinet

See critical commentary on Koizumi's recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine


The final paper will be due Monday, May 6 by 4:00 pm.


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




















The Postwar Economy: Labor and the Left

Mark Gayn's Diary--Excerpts (see "Resources" section on WISEfor a pdf copy)

John Price, "The 1960 Mi'ike Coal Mine Dispute" (see "Resources" section on WISE for a pdf copy)