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__Claire_Memes__ t1_jdvoei9 wrote

For my AP English final I’m doing an inquiry project on the cultural rebranding of Japan post WWll, and how most people now associate Japan with things such as anime, video games, manga, cute things etc.. Forgetting the fact that they were one of the three principal players in the Axis alliance or all war crimes they committed. For reference my project is titled something along the lines of “ How is Hello Kitty the result of a nation wide cover up?” . I found one book called “Embracing Defeat” but I’m not sure if it’s quite what I’m looking for. I plan on reading “The Rape of Nanking” because it’s been on my need to read list for awhile but I would appreciate the help finding a book about the rebranding/ possible cover up. Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions!


en43rs t1_jdvucr1 wrote

So, just to be clear, you may come at this from the wrong angle. What I mean is that if you're looking for a book that will show that Japan exported an "anime and high tech" image specifically in order to cover up war crimes... you won't. Because this didn't happen. They didn't invent Hello Kitty to cover up Nankin. This happened in the late 70s, three decades after the end of the war. It is unrelated.

But, that doesn't mean there isn't a nugget of truth there. You'll have more success by searching how Japan became a democracy... without changing its political class. Kishi Nobusuke, who exploited Machuria in the 30s and was a minister when Japan declared war on the US... was also prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. He said after the war "Strange isn’t it? We are all democrats now.". By the way, he is the grandfather of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

Embracing Defeat is great for that, it covers some major events of that turn: the Tokyo War trials (and how they found a few scapegoat) and the US occupation which swept the role of the emperor in the war under the rug because the cold war was more important and they wanted a friendly Japan.

Do not look at specific war crimes or 80s pop culture, more at the immediate extremely gray aftermath in the late 40s early 50s.


__Claire_Memes__ t1_jdwbpor wrote

Thank you, I think that the way I framed my question was possibly misleading I definitely don’t believe “Hello Kitty was because of war crimes” I was definitely using it as move of an attention grabber even though it was a little deceiving, but more of a timeline of when outsiders POV of Japan begin to shift from then to now.

The morally gray bit in the 40s-50s is something I want to talk about as well as the Tokyo War Trials. I will definitely try coming at it at a differ angle I greatly appreciate the help.


en43rs t1_jdx1053 wrote

Yeah I figure, I wanted to be sure. You could also look at how the Showa emperor (Hirohito) was used as a pubic figure after the war. From god like leader of a nation to a nice old man in a suit who liked marine biology when he opened the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964.

For an easy source to use the podcast History of Japan has a lot of episodes/series on the emperor, the US occupation, Nanking, specific politicians, so on. Pretty solid and well research stuff. Easy to use.


__Claire_Memes__ t1_jdx2h9s wrote

Thank you for all of these sources and all your help I’m so grateful. I wanted to do this topic because I wanted to learn more. From this thread alone I’ve learned an incredible amount. Thank you again


TheGreatOneSea t1_jdw2cle wrote

Are you focusing on their perception in the US, Asia, in Japan itself, or all the NATO states?

If you try to discuss all of them, you'll probably end up with a 300+ page essay, because the issue of Japanese war crimes is incredibly messy, given the sheer number of nations involved in covering every atrocity.

I will say this though, the "cover up" wasn't so much policy as it was practicality: the US was mostly concerned with the treatment of US prisoners at the time, with the expectation that other countries would follow up for their own people with documentation. This being the era of paper, there wasn't much of an exchange of information between the countries, and usually amounted to "Japanese soldiers shot a bunch of civilians in this area" anyway.

Attaching actual names to such events was basically impossible without resorting to torturing soldiers for information ("Itou killed someone? Which Itou? You don't know? What a pity.") and killing thousands of Japanese soldiers just in case would somewhat defy the point of trying to rebuild Japan.

Regardless, I do recommend starting with "Japanese War Crimes Records at the National Archives," because it's both free, and goes into a lot of the difficulties with the war crime trials. For the Japanese cultural shift itself, you should probably decide on a specific time and place to first.


__Claire_Memes__ t1_jdwcmwv wrote

I’m definitely focusing on the US perception as well as Japanese citizens since from what I understand they brush over WWll till Hiroshima and completely denying Nanking which is why I wanted that book as a specific source. Though I could be wrong.

Thank you for the Archives source I had no clue about it. I’m excited to check it out when I get the chance. Thank you for the help.


bangdazap t1_jdvtqrr wrote

Be sure to include the time Hirohito visited Disneyland in 1975.