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The Definitive Book on the Cultural and Political Landscape of Occupied Japan,
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This review is from: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (Hardcover)
John Dower won the Pulitzer Prize and the 1999 National Book Award for non-fiction in America for this book so you do not need me to tell you that this is a magnificent work. Nevertheless, it may be useful to review what you will find in the book and what is not covered. This book concerns itself with the cultural and political landscape of Japan from 1945 to 1952. It does not deal with any military action or describe the devastated cities or the scenes to be found in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. 'Kyodatsu', or the state of exhaustion and despair in the country after defeat is well described and also the widespread shame, and feelings of betrayal of the people by the military government. The very rapid flowering of books, magazines and cinema under the new liberal rule of the Americans and the emergence of junk magazines as well as high quality literature and re-emergence of left-wing writers is treated in detail. The ironic slow re-imposition of censorship by the Americans as the Cold War gets under way and the growing disenchantment with occupation is fascinating. Much space is given to the reasons and methodology of saving Emperor Hirohito and his exclusion from the Tokyo War Trials.
The analysis of the opposing roles of the Americans under General MacArthur and the Japanese Government in the drafting and adoption by the government of the new 'non-belligerent' liberal constitution is most interesting and reflect upon the current world situation.
This is a dense and hugely well researched book that owes a lot to Dower's knowledge of the Japanese language and will well reward the reader's efforts.