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Post-war depictions of Japanese culture & society as part of Amer. effort to re-shape that society to prevent another war.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Post-war depictions of Japanese culture & society as part of Amer. effort to re-shape that society to prevent another war.

Paper Introduction:
This paper will discuss the depiction and treatment of Japanese culture and society in the American popular media during the year 1948. At that time, the United States had recently attained victory over the Japanese in World War Two. In various ways, the forces of the American occupation were trying to reshape Japanese society in order to prevent another war from breaking out in the future. During the Second World War, the Japanese people had proven themselves to be relentless in obeying the dictates of their Emperor. Most Americans believed that the Japanese invasion would have not been stopped had it not been for the devastating impact of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Thus, in the years following the war, many Americans were concerned about the possibility of the Japanese regaining their military power. In addition, there was

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----. Regarding American-imposed democracy, Gresham cited an"experienced Japanese" as saying: "We shall interpret the Constitution inour own way" (p. ----. 34). However, in a recentmeeting of the Japanese government, it was observed that the ministers eachbowed only once and "then turned his back" in order to read from a scroll(p. In addition to emphasizing the general changes taking place inJapanese society, many articles in 1948 were concerned with the potentialthreat of the Japanese nation rising to power again. This idea is expressed, forexample, in the article's reference to the Emperor's "overawed subjects"(p. However, Time was characterized by having a more conservative andopinionated point of view. As part of this development, Greshampointed out that the women of Japan were beginning to receive career andeducation opportunities that they never had before. Gresham, Alan. As in the conclusion reached byGresham in the ContemPorary Review, the Newsweek article indicated that thechange toward Westernization and democratization would best be obtained byretaining certain Japanese cultural values rather than by dropping them allat once. For the most part, the American people agreed with thispoint of view because they did not want to repeat the conditions which ledup to World War Two. It wasspecifically feared that the implementation of a Communist government inthe nation would result in a destruction of the democratic values that theU.S. 2 . 3 -38. In various ways, the forces of the Americanoccupation were trying to reshape Japanese society in order to preventanother war from breaking out in the future. Inparticular, 1948 saw many American writers expressing their fears over thepossible spread of Communism into Japan. Inaddition, an effort was made to remove any Shinto artifacts "commemoratingJapan's warlike past" (p. Patchi? 1). Yet, Gresham alsonoted that it was not easy "to assess the extent to which Western ideas ofsex equality will take root" (p. (1948, April 26). Following the defeat in World War Two, manyJapanese youth felt that the traditional religious beliefs had "let themdown" (p. Overall, the emphasis of the Newsweek article was on the idea thatJapan's Emperor system was more to blame for the horrors of the war thanthe Japanese people themselves were. ----. Because this was theoverriding mood of the time, most articles pertaining to Japanese societyand culture were concerned with the potential threat of the Japanese risingto power again. (1948, May 6). Los AngelesTimes, p. victory in the war. Before the rebirth of a nation. The retired Navy Admiral William V. (1948, May 4). 2 8). 3 ). In the October 1948 issue of the ContemporaryReview, writer Alan Gresham described his recent "impressions" of theJapanese people. (1948, February). As such, it had connotations which are similar to those of the word"nigger" in describing African Americans. In addition, the articlesin the Los Angeles Times tended more toward sensationalism thansophistication. Gresham's article also implied that Western-style democracy would bebetter for the Japanese people than their traditional social system hadbeen. Parrott, Lindesay. In particular, relicswhich glorified the Emperor or national unity were taken down. 2 6). 34). 4). Japan: Full speed astern. In his conclusion, Gresham showedthat he had a reasonable attitude regarding the development of democracyamong the Japanese people. Although the Los Angeles Times articlewas less scornful than the Time magazine article, an element of racismcould nonetheless be seen. This was taken asbeing a positive sign for the future Westernization of the nation. On that date, an article was printed concerning the recentruling of a U.S. The Time article took the position that hearing blossoms open isscientifically impossible. Despite the nasty tone taken in the Time article, it may be notedthat an even more derogatory point of view was expressed in the Los AngelesTimes of the period. At the same time, the tone of thisarticle implies that the Japanese people were gullible for allowingthemselves to be manipulated in this way. Like Time magazine, it coveredthe current events of the day. During the Second World War,the Japanese people had proven themselves to be relentless in obeying thedictates of their Emperor. In the New York Times, it was reported that, just two yearsbefore, government officials would always approach the Emperor with threebows and then retreat from him "crab fashion, with more bows, never turningtheir backs" ("Heads of Japanese Diet," 1948, p. For example, Gresham pointed out thatmany shrines and monuments pertaining to Japan's Shinto religion had beendestroyed by occupation forces following the war. Most Americans believed that the Japaneseinvasion would have not been stopped had it not been for the devastatingimpact of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of1945. The Contemporary Review was a magazine from the 194 's which was morefair and open-minded in its outlook on the Japanese people. 13-16. forces quell red riots in Kobe, Japan. Depictions of the Japanese people inAmerican newspapers and magazines often focused on these aspects of theJapanese society. Some magazines, suchas Nation's Business, welcomed the development of new marketingopportunities in Japan (Fellers, 1948, p. 16). 2 8). 15). The Japanese people are made to appear absurd by their argumentsover whether the sound is a "pon!," "pan!," "popi," "patchi!," "pussu!,""kotsu!" or "zuboo!" ("Pan?" 1948, p. The newspaper not only reflectedthe way the American people thought, but also influenced the way theythought. Pop? In April of that year, a riotbroke out in the Japanese city of Kobe. Japan celebrates 'boys'festival,' last remaining feudal holiday. This riot was stirred up by Koreanagitators who were identified with the Communist party. This paper will discuss the depiction and treatment of Japaneseculture and society in the American popular media during the year 1948. Although the New York Times articledid not address the issue, this contrast implied the necessity of allowingthe Japanese people to retain some of their vital traditions despite theoverall effort to Westernize their nation. Heads of Japanese diet turn backs on Emperor.New York Times, p. The word "Jap" was a derogatory termwhich was used to describe the Japanese people during the course of thewar. In 1948, the American press as well as the American people were stillrecovering from the shock of the Second World War. A 194 research study by Tokyo University professor Ichiro Oga was cited, in whichmicrophones failed to detect any such sound in the swamps. The new democratic constitution imposed by the U.S. This isespecially true in comparison with many of the other accounts which wereprovided in other periodicals that year. Gresham also noted that the members ofJapan's younger generation had become disillusioned with the traditionalreligions of their nation. Thus, it was clearly implied that the stronghold of the Emperorover his people was gradually being reduced. The intention of the Time writers to poke funat the whole thing was emphasized by the reference which was made to theongoing "debate" over exactly what type of sound the flowers were supposedto make. Crane, Burton. This concern was expressed,for example, in the August 9, 1948 issue of New Republic. Pratt was cited as claimingthat fewer problems would arise in the future if Japan were Westernized.Yet, Pratt also pointed out that Japan's feudal system had existed forcenturies prior to the U.S. Thus, despite his insistence on the superiority ofthe Western way of life, Gresham was forced to admit at the end that it wasmore realistic to hope that the Japanese would adopt the best of thedemocratic values while retaining the best that their own traditionalculture had to offer. As noted in a Newsweekarticle of the time, the Japanese word tenno (an honorific title for theEmperor) literally translates as "Heaven Emperor" ("Before the Rebirth,"1948, p. Thus, inthe wake of the war's devastation, Gresham saw "optimistic forecasts" amongthe Japanese people for "a move to learn about Christianity" (p. Although printed in England, the Contemporary Review was readby many people living in the United States. NewRepublic 119: pp. In 1948, astoday, the target audience for this newspaper was the sophisticated,cosmopolitan reader of New York City. 41-43+. 2 ). Pan? New York Times, p. In the Time article, a description was given ofan unusual practice among Japanese "poets and philosophers." Every summerover the past two centuries, this group of people had gathered in theswamps near Tokyo in the hope of hearing "the soft explosion of openinglotus blossoms" ("Pan?" 1948, p. 2 4-2 8. Therefore, those who heard the sound must haveonly heard it in their imaginations. Fellers, B. The article took an almost scornfulposition in its implication that the attempt to hear flowers opening isstupid and a waste of time. Newsweek 31:pp. 32). 26. (1948, August 9). government wasmentioned, as well as the fact that the idea of democracy was graduallycatching on among the Japanese. At the sametime, however, this magazine placed strong emphasis on the idea that theJapanese had to give up their own traditions in order to become moreWesternized. In cooperation with U.S. Our new friends, the Japanese.Nation's Business 36: pp. (1948, June 7). 13). For the most part, however, the Newsweek article provided a fairand reasonable account of the Japanese society of the time. Inaddition to this potential economic threat, Gayn pointed out that amilitary threat would occur if Japan was successful in obtaining"rearmament" for its own national defense (p. ----. Its purpose was to help keep the average American informed ontopics pertaining to both domestic and foreign affairs. However, two days later, on May 6, 1948, the New York Times rananother article which indicated that certain other Japanese traditions werestill being strongly held. TheContemporary Review 174: pp. Gayn, Mark. The people of the nation were drivento fight as hard as they did because of the Emperor's "deep emotional gripon the Japanese masses" (p. In many ways, the coverage in Newsweek couldbe compared with that of Time magazine, its primary competitor. Although Japan has become aneconomic power in recent years, it may be noted that the rearmament thatmany Americans feared did not come to pass. Apparently,the purpose of these comparisons was to determine the extent to which theJapanese people were becoming more Westernized, and thus less of a threatto the American people. 3 ). occupation forces, theJapanese government had agreed upon an action which was "intended to barCommunists from holding public office" in the nation (Crane, 1948, p. Whereas Time seemed to be concerned only with emphasizing thequaint foolishness of the Japanese, Newsweek often took the time to paycomplements to the people as well. In this way, it was indicatedthat the quest for greater Westernization in Japan would not succeed unlessthe most valued social and cultural traditions of the people were retainedat the same time. Anti-Red measure indicated inJapan. Perhaps the mostimportant idea to be found in the articles of that period was therealization that Westernization and reform among the Japanese could onlyoccur if it was accompanied by a retaining of certain vital traditions.Over the decades, the Japanese people have indeed adopted many Westernvalues while simultaneously remaining uniquely "Japanese." As pointed outin the Newsweek article of the time, "the Japanese have always managed toadapt whatever came their way to fit their own traditions" ("Before theRebirth," 1948, p. The position of the U.S.government at the time was that Japan's "feudal institutions" had to bedestroyed, even if the process required a certain amount of violence (Gayn,1948, p. In Tokyo, it was reported that sales of dolls andtoys relating to the festival had reached an all-time high. 15). Although things are very different today, a study of the Americanpopular media in 1948 provides many important insights into the wayrelations between America and Japan have developed. Although NewRepublic was geared toward a popular audience, its slant was decidedlypolitical. On that basis, Pratt asked:"Wasn't it rather silly of us to think that in a few years we could bring afeudal country like Japan to understand and adopt our ways of doingbusiness and of running things?" (p. It was noted that many people in Japan were trying tolearn the English language (Gresham, 1948, p. Since that time,Americans have come to understand the Japanese on a deeper level. However, incontrast to the New York Times, this article took a far more derogatorytone in describing the beliefs and values of the Japanese. 2 8). However, for the most part,writers in post-war America were worried about what might happen if Japanacquired too much economic or military power. Time 52: p. An example of this can be seen in the New York Times. For example, an article in the June 7, 1948 issue ofNewsweek claimed that the Japanese were "almost pathologically scrupulousby nature" ("Before the Rebirth," 1948, p. In the openingparagraph of the article, it was noted that media images of GeneralMacArthur meeting with Emperor Hirohito showed "the tall, strong-featuredgeneral with his shirt open at the throat, towering over the short,expressionless Tenno dressed in a morning coat" (p. Specifically, he claimed that the people ofJapan would have to adapt to Western values in accordance with their owntraditions. In Gresham's view, this represented an opportunity for thesuperior religion of Christianity to gain new converts in Japan. Even articles which were not concerned with this topiccontinued to use the language and tone which had prevailed during the war.Whenever the Japanese were compared with the United States, it wasgenerally implied that the democratic values of the United States weresuperior to the outdated feudal policies of Japan. 15. Incontrast to the superficial, racial stereotypes in the post-war years,Americans today often express admiration for the technological oreducational innovations of the Japanese. In the May 4, 1948 edition, the New York Times ran a briefarticle concerning the fact that Japanese government leaders were showingless deference to the Emperor than ever before. 41). troops ("U.S. Time was (andis) a popular American newsmagazine covering the important national andinternational events of the week. 26). Forces," 1948, p. Because of its sophistication, many Americans looked tothe New York Times with great respect. In its coverage of Japanese society and culture, the LosAngeles Times often took a derisive tone which bordered on outright racism. 7. The American popular media at the time also madefrequent comparisons between the American and Japanese people. Thearticle also noted that the popularity of the festival contrasted theefforts of the occupation forces to remove all remnants of the "feudalspirit" among Japanese youth (p. In thecourse of his article, Gresham also implied several times that theChristian and democratic values of Western society were superior to thetraditional views of the Japanese. The tone of this article indicatedthat this was a quaint yet foolish tradition in Japanese society. An example of this can be seen in the August 24, 1948 issue of thenewspaper. In his discussionof Japanese society, Mark Gayn, the author of the New Republic article,expressed concern over the rise of powerful families or "Zaibatsu" inJapan. U.S. 38). Impressions of Japan. The purpose of this festival was to initiate boys intomanhood. Los Angeles Times, p. In that same article, asymbolic comparison was given between the United States and Japan whichmade the United States seem both stronger and superior. This was takenas an indication that the traditional festival had "assumed greaterimportance this year than at any time since the surrender" (p. On August 9, 1948, Time magazine ran a brief article which alsoconcerned a traditional practice of the Japanese people. 2 6). Specifically, it was reported that thetraditional annual "Boys' Festival" was still drawing large crowds ofJapanese people. In comparison to the other magazines and newspapers considered sofar, Newsweek seemed to have had the best understanding about the realitiesof post-war Japanese society. 4. In fact, the title of the article itself was"Jap Citizens Ruling Given" (p. New York Times, p. 2 8). 26). The popular American magazines and newspapers adoptedthis attitude and thus provided a reflection of a prevailing attitude atthe time. At the same time, it must be noted thatcertain phrases in Newsweek had a derogatory tone which can be comparedwith that of Time. Atthat time, the United States had recently attained victory over theJapanese in World War Two. 15). (1948, August 24). military leader in Kobe who was quick to assure the public that theriot was only a "minor emergency" and that everything in the city was againunder the control of U.S. Thus, in the years following the war, many Americans were concernedabout the possibility of the Japanese regaining their military power. 1.----------------------- 13 policy of purposely building up the economicposition of Japan's landlords, plutocrats and militarists" (p. had been working on establishing there. 37). Because of their increasing economic power, Gayn claimed that hewas opposed to "the wrong U.S. However, in contrast to Time, it had a morelimited circulation and it appealed more to the intellectual reader ratherthan the average reader. Aware of theperceived threat among the American people, the Los Angeles Times cited aU.S. (1948, October). A few monthslater, the New York Times reported that an "anti-red measure" was beingintroduced in Japan. This ruling was intended to restorecitizenship to many of the Japanese Americans who had been imprisoned inrelocation camps during the war. Despite thisfailure, it was indicated that "Professor Lotus" was back in 1948, tryingyet again to hear the lotus flowers opening. Jap citizens ruling given. 2 ). Written for the average American reader,Time had a huge circulation which was comparable to that of the New YorkTimes. Inaddition, there was widespread hope that the Western values of democracywould be instilled in Japan in order to counteract the former influencewhich was held by the Emperor. 16). Traditionally, the Emperorhad been seen as being an almost "divine" being. References ----. However,Newsweek had a more open-minded view toward the Japanese people and as aresult was able to give more accurate insights into their traditional wayof life. (1948, August 9). However, the newspaper also had ahuge circulation which encompassed not only New York but the rest of thecountry as well. Although it was reported thatoga could still hear nothing, "there were those who did" ("Pan?" 1948, p.26). (1948, August 24). federal judge. 7).These newspaper articles clearly show the extent to which the Americanpeople were concerned about the spread of Communism into Japan. Other magazines and newspapers at the time were equally concernedwith the supposed threat being posed by the Japanese people. Compared to the New York Times, the Los Angelesnewspaper had a much smaller circulation base. Part of the ceremonies included paying "reverent homage" torelics which were representative of "the ancient Samurai tradition"(Parrott, 1948, p.

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