Fall 2010

R. Loftus, Walton 144


Course Description/Objectives:

Contemporary Japan owes a great deal to its historical roots, especially the Edo period and, later, the Meiji, Taisho and early Showa eras. Yet the Japan that emerged from the ravages of WWII, and was transformed by the Occupation and the postwar economic miracle of the 1960s, is also very much a product of the postwar era or sengo. This class will explore just what the meaning of "postwar" is. Specifically, we will seek to understand what went into the making of postwar Japan--how Japan fared under the Occupation, how the new constitution came into being, the context in which the economic recovery and the reconstruction of Japan occurred, and what happened afterwards during the period of "rapid economic growth." These inquiries will provide some sense of what has emerged at the other end of the postwar era in terms of modern Japan's cultural and social history, the current debate on constitutional reform, as well as Japan's political and economic presence in the world.

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)

Yukiko Tanaka, Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women (1995)

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:

Since this class will be very small this time, it will be conducted in a seminar/discussion fashion 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. With a smaller group such as ours will be, we should be able to proceed through our course materials at a good pace, so it should be an excellent teaching and learning experience for all of us.


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

3. 1 medium-length* "Dower" based paper (5-7 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) due Dec. 14. An in-class presentations of your paper topic is also required near the end of the term. (30%)



Reading and Discussion Schedule

August 31 Endings...and Beginnings: August 15, 1945

Other Surrender Documents

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

September 2 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"

Personal Accounts of bombing 1 and 2

7 Ending the War, War Responsibility, and the Decision to Drop the Bomb II

The Potsdam Declaration


Discuss: Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Bomb, Chapters 1-4 (65 pp) (see "Takaki" folder on Resources section on WISE for a pdf copies)

Dower, Embracing Defeat, Intro pp. 19-30; 33-64


See Also:

Japan's Surrender Broadcast

Instrument of Surrender; see also here; and here

Surrender Speech and Scholarly Reaction

See also a photo of Nagasaki Mushroom Cloud

"Our Job in Japan"

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

See WISE, Resources "DurableDem.pdf" for a newsletter with 3 articles about the planning for the Occuptation, one by John Dower called "Durable Democracy"


9 Occupying Japan II

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

More Video on the Occupation: Reinventing Japan


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


"Those Days in Muramatsu": A Diary

14 Changing Relationships in the Early Postwar Period

Dower Ch. 4 (121-167)

16 Prewar and Wartime in Memory: No Regrets for our Youth (110 minutes)

Dower Chs. 5-7 (50 pp)

Kingston, Japan in Transition, Chs. 1-2


21 Making Revolution

Finish No Regrets for our Youth

Dower Ch. 8 (19 pp)


23 Postwar Politics and Economy

Discuss: David Halberstam, The Reckoning, Ch. 6-9 (52 pp., see "Halberstam" folder on Resources section WISE for a pdf copies)

28 Begin viewing MacArthur's Children, a film directed by Shinoda Masahiro (115 minutes)

Dower Ch. 9

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


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

30 Evading War Responsibility

Emperor Hirohito: From Myth to History (Lecture)

October 5 Evading War Respnsibility

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

Dower Ch. 11

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

7 Postwar Reforms and The Constitution

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

Finish MacArthur's Children and discuss

Dower, Chs. 12-13 (58 pages)

Start: Grave of the Fireflies (91 minutes)


12 War Crime Trials

Dower, Ch. 14-15 (79 pp)

Finish Grave of the Fireflies

Iri and Toshi Maruki Art

IMTFE and Hirohito


14 Censored Democracy: The Emperor in Film and What Do You Tell the Dead?

Finish Grave of the Fireflies

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



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

19 Ending the Occupation: Talking with the Dead

Dower Ch. 16

Discuss ideas for medium-length "Dower" paper (5-7 pp) due November 4


21 Postwar Economic Growth I

Dower Chs, 17-Epilogue (39 pp)

General Information on the Japanese Economy


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

26 Film: Rhapsody in August dir. by Akira Kurosawa

"Bloody May Day " See PDF on WISE, Resources

Kingston Ch. 4, Document 4, 25


28 Postwar Economic Growth II

Finish: Rhapsody in August

Kingston Chs. 5-6

See also article on "Revitalizing the Japanese Economy" and on the Japanese Economic Miracle


Nov. 2 The AMPO Movement: 1960 Conflict over the US-Japan Security Treaty

See page on Ampo;

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


November 4 Finish Ampo: Maruyama Masao and Toshimoto Takaaki's Views

See, Kersten.pdf (14pp) on "Resources" section of WISE for more on the Security Treaty Crisis

Medium length "Dower" paper due


9 Women in Postwar Japan I

See, Kersten.pdf (14pp) on "Resources" section of WISE for more on the Security Treaty Crisis

Tanaka, Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women Chs. 1-5

Documentary Film: Ripples of Change


11 Women in Postwar Japan II

Finish: Ripples of Change and Discuss

IMTFE and Rape of Nanjing


16 Women in Postwar Japan III

Tanaka, Contemporary Portraits of Japanese Women Chs. 6-8

Kingston Ch. 7

Documentary Film: Thirty Years of Sisterhood

Start Brainstorming longer paper (10-12 pp) due Dec. 14

Response Paper #5 Rhapsody in August, 2-3 pages


18 The "Women's Lib" Movement and Japan in the 1970s I

Tanaka, Ch. 9

Documentary Film: Thirty Years of Sisterhood

More discussion on Final Paper Topics


Dower article and interview on the War in Iraq


23 The "Women's Lib" Movement and Japan in the 1970s II

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

Ronald Loftus, "Recovering the Feminine," US-Japan's Women's Journal 11 (1996) (see "Resources" section of WISE for a pdf copy "Kishino")

Gender Issues/Women in Japan

Women in Japan: General

Resources on Japanese Women in Society

Women and Work in Japan


Thanksgiving Break Nov. 25-28



30 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

Pollution as an Issue: the Minamata Disease: See GeorgeMinamata.pdf on WISE (Resources)

Learning from the Japanese Economy


Response Paper #6: Ripples of Change and 30 Years of Sisterhood

The "Comfort Women Problem" (as time permits)

See article on Comfort Women 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



December 2 Japan in the 21st Century

Continue with the Comfort Women, History Textbooks and Yasukuni Shrine Problems

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

See Kingston Documents 26-31



Read online article on Women in Workplace

December 7 Yasukuni Shrine Problem

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

Recent Election Resultss and Polical Developments


9 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 research paper in the traditional sense 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.

Or, alternatively, you might select a 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 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.


The final paper will be due Tuesday, December 14 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)