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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow at first, but then outstanding, 30 Nov. 2012
By 
O. Beltrami (Thouare sur Loire France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (Paperback)
I almost stopped reading this book after 50 pages (fortunately, I did not).

What turned me off at the beginning was the "artsy" emphasis on obscure (for me, at least) Japanese writers, philosophers, cinematographers and commentators of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. For over 50 pages one is left with the impression that the entire book will be about the artistic transformation of Japan after the war. For me, the author spends the intial chapters justifying that he is suited to write a book about Japan, despite not being Japanese.

But I did persevere, and I am glad I did.

Once the author has beaten us over the head with his knowledge of arcane aspects of Japanese artistry, then the remaining chapters (the bulk of the book) are outstandingly informative: the drafting of the constitution, the detailed working of the US censorship, the cleansing of the Emperor's image, and the Tokyo War-End Trials.

My advise, skim the first chapters, and enjoy the remainder of this excellent book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done!, 8 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (Paperback)
I was wondering how a nation like Japan before the Second World War which was chauvinistic and out to conquer the world became a powerful yet peaceful economical nation. I read about the US bases still open continuing the invasion legacy but I did not know the process. This book was what I looked for. The name itself is attractive and hits the nail on the head. "Embracing defeat" explains the situation of the government then in power. The capitalists and the adventurous militarists who used the religious empire system were in fear about the impending danger. The fear itself is not about the coming US invasion. (They would say that prostitution should be done with honour to satisfy the GIs) The fear was about the possibility of changing of the social structure, they were afraid that the capitalist system on which they have built their wealth will be ruined by a popular upheaval. Beginning from the first moments of relative freeing the Japanese people from the yoke of their former enemies, the invading US administrators realised that in the upcoming Cold War the former leaders would make a more dependable ally than the freed people's representatives. The agony of the Chinese, Phillippines, Indonesian and Korean sufferings under Japanese rule will be forgotten.The communists, intellectuals, progressives, academicians, union leaders and worker representatives will be rounded up. The US Administration was already signalling towards the guided path of restricted democracy when it stated that the Emperor will remain in power.

The person in the front was of course MacArthur. His ally during the whole process was Hirohito. Apart from them the agent of Comintern whose name is Ozaki Hotsumi aiding Richard Sorge is also interesting. For me it is honourable to be the only Japanese to be executed during the war for treason. The communist leaders Tokuda Kyuichi et al who emerge behind years of imprisonment after the relative democracy that arrived under the atom bombs of US are of importance for me. Unfortunately the communists who were the only real opposition to the regime were suppressed by the military administration and were forced underground.I also got acquainted with the representatives emerging new Japanese literature such as Dazai Osamu.

I realised the importance of the writing of the constitution when I learnt that it hasn't been changed since then. Even if the constitution renounces war as means of settling international disputes and breaks the bonds of ancient Japanese feodal system, it stops short of abolishing the empire system thus revealing its reactionary side. When Cold War descended upon the world, the scene changed dramatically compared to Fall of 1945. When US soldiers embarked on the island in the name of Allied Powers, they now collaborated with the representatives of Japanese militarism and war industry bosses against the Soviet Union and the new emerging communist China. At this time the ongoing Tokyo War Crimes Trials symbolically condemns 7 people to death while issuing a general amnesty for all the defendants. The atrocities committed during the occupations of Indonesia, Phillippines, Korea and China have long been forgotten.

After reading this book my general knowledge about this period enhanced. Especially after reading "Racing The Enemy" I got accostomed to the inner politics of Japanese Empire but with the help of this book I observed the US intervention on the island closely. I learned a lot. Some of them are ideological in sense. For me the usage of basic caricatures of Blondie&Dagwood representing the American dream and making the Japanese long for the American style life and expectations in everyday newspapers is very imporant. In my country this comic strip has been used for years in the most US sided newspaper Hürriyet in the same way for the same reason. The book emphasises on not only political events but also cultural aspects of the reaction to the invasion. The official announcements gloryfying prostitution, auto-censoring newspapers for approval from the US administraton, emperor embarking upon personal relations voyages in the country etc...I boldly conclude once again: At the end of the war, the Japanese people is not powerful enough to face the war mongers, oppressors and bosses. However the unconditional surrender and the breaking of feodal social bonds revived the Japanese. We see this improvement in the rate of unionising, striking and emergence of thousands of newspapers. Not to mention the heroes welcome the communists received after going out after their years of long imprisonments. I conclude thus; if left alone by itself (i.e if imperialism had not invaded directly or an American style democracy has not been forced on the island) the Japanese people would have dealt once and for all with their emperor, building a social system worthy of themselves. But unfortunately the progress of history had been altered then; former war criminals, war mongers, war industry bosses continued to rule, a soft nationalism is tolerated also by the US administrators. Loyalty to the emperor regained importance, the left politics and workers organisations - suppressed but not dealt a death blow - failed to contest the power.
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Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W Dower (Paperback - 5 July 2000)
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