This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


Memories of War:
The Second World War and Japanese Historical Memory in Comparative Perspective

Edited by Takashi Inoguchi and Lyn Jackson


Takashi Inoguchi and Lyn Jackson

Tales of War: Autobiographies and Private Memories in Japan and Germany
Petra Buchholz

Between VE Day and VJ Day: A Contrast in American Perceptions of World War II
Daizabur°o Yui

An Outline of the US Occupation Policies Towards Japan and Germany as a Basis of Historical Memory
Masaki Miyake

Japan and Pacific Asia: Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II
Takashi Inoguchi



Takashi Inoguchi and Lyn Jackson

During the 50 years following the end of World War II, Japan established itself as a leading economic power and the largest donor of international aid. Japan and Germany, former "enemy" states in World War II, are now widely considered to be suitable to join the five "victorious" powers of the war for permanent membership in the Security Council of the United Nations. Despite such a significant recovery from the war, certain war-related issues have continued to arise in Japan. Women forced into prostitution for the military during the war ("comfort women") are fighting their cases for compensation. At the official level, tensions have flared up on occasion between Japan and the neighbouring countries due to perceived insensitive actions or remarks made by Japanese politicians. The textbook revisions in 1982 by the Ministry of Education were particularly controversial, with various Asian countries stating that Japan had "whitewashed" history by using vocabulary that did not describe the aggressive behaviour of the Japanese military in Asia during the war. In 1985, Yasuhiro Nakasone became the first post-war prime minister to visit Yasukuni Shrine (a pre-war military Shinto shrine where the war dead, including those classified as Class A war criminals, are enshrined) in his official capacity, which resulted in domestic and international protests.

In 1993, Japan's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party was ousted by a coalition party, and the new prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa (the grandson of Prince Fumimaro Konoe, a wartime prime minister), publicly stated that an aggressive and wrong war had been waged by the Japanese military in the 1930s and 1940s. The official apology was delivered in 1995, 50 years after the end of World War II, by the then prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, authors of this publication have contributed papers related to the Japanese historical memory of the war, in a comparative perspective. They address questions such as: To what extent has Japan "come to terms" with its past? Is war responsibility admitted at both the official and individual levels? How did the occupation policies affect values and attitudes in the post-war period? Why was the spirit of reconciliation evident in the ceremonies of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Germany and Europe, yet not in Japan and Pacific Asia? In the United States, why did the perception gap between Japan and Germany widen and become more negative towards Japan recently? How have Japan's relationships with other Asian countries developed, and what steps could be taken to strengthen the relationships in the future? What is Japan's conception of its history? How, then, is the war remembered in Japan?

In an increasingly globalized world, it will be important for Japan to build solid relationships with others, as increased interaction, in both economic and non-economic areas, will be inevitable. As the Pacific Asian region strengthens economically and politically, Japan will need to interact further with other Asian states and peoples, on the official and the private levels. Throughout history, perceptions and attitudes are developed that affect behaviour and shape policies, therefore Japan and other states need to be aware of their history and others' interpretation of history. Petra Buchholz, in her paper included in this publication, refers to the speech of the former president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Richard von WeizsŐcker, in which he stressed that people need to know how they stand in relation to the past, in order not to be led astray in the present.

The authors of the papers in this publication attempt to understand, to the extent possible, the Japanese historical memory of World War II. Events and processes are discussed that have contributed to the construction of the Japanese memory. Three of the four papers in this publication compare the Japanese and German historical memories. Japan and Germany shared similar experiences as defeated Axis powers subject to the post-war occupation policies of the United States and the Allied powers, and both recovered to become economic powers. In the final paper, Japan's relationship with other countries of the Pacific Asian region is assessed, and suggestions are offered with respect to increasing understanding and awareness at the grass-roots level between Japan and other Pacific Asian countries.

Generally, when addressing historical memory and issues such as the acknowledgement of war responsibility, the official-level views are discussed. Buchholz, however, stresses that different levels of memory need to be observed when discussing the construction of historical memory. She points out the necessity of observing at least three levels of the public memory, including the political and official, literary or cultural and individual or popular levels. Buchholz discusses the private autobiographical tales of war published in Japan and Germany, and concludes that, contrary to popular opinion, the Japanese have not in fact been less successful than the Germans in coming to terms with the past, when the individual or popular level is taken into account.

Buchholz describes how the writing of private war tales in Japan, which has become an important part of the popular culture, has been actively encouraged by newspapers and publishers, resulting in a mass of publications. In Germany, on the other hand, except for the recollections of Jewish, Communist, and other prisoners of concentration camps, it is difficult to find war tales written by non-prominent or non-professional people. In Japan, the majority of narratives are written by soldiers detailing their experiences at the front; and increasingly, the taboo of discussing atrocities committed in Asian countries has been weakened. Comfort women have always been included in the Japanese soldiers' narratives. In Germany, the war responsibility and guilt of the Germans collectively as citizens of the state is acknowledged. However, according to Buchholz, war responsibility is not admitted at the individual level. Apparently, most Germans do not admit to having known of, seen, or participated in war crimes, but to have experienced "inner emigration" during the war. In the German soldiers' narratives, there is normally no death or killing, and personal involvement with "comfort women" is denied. To understand this tendency, Buchholz points out that account should be taken of the fact that, whereas war crime trials were not conducted in Japanese courts, Germans could be prosecuted for war crimes in German courts.

Daizaburo Yui draws attention to the different perceptions recently held by the US at the official level towards Japan and Germany, as demonstrated during the 50th anniversaries of VE-Day (Victory in Europe) and VJ-Day (Victory over Japan). He compares the spirit of reconciliation between victor and vanquished found in Europe with the national boundaries of memories apparent in official ceremonies in the Pacific Asian region. For example, whereas the former Allied and Axis powers in Europe and the US joined together to commemorate, the Japanese ceremony did not include foreign guests.

The American images of the Japanese during the war were more negative than those of the Germans. During the post-war period, the perception gap narrowed. However, it has again become noticeable. According to Yui, although negative perceptions can be enhanced by trade friction, they can be attributed mainly to the different attitudes of the two nations towards their war responsibilities. In addition to political leadership and the post-war settlements contained in the peace treaties, Yui discusses popular perceptions in order to understand the different attitudes in Japan and Germany.

Popular perceptions as to whether the Japanese and the Germans regard themselves as victimizers or victims need to be taken into account when considering acknowledgement of war responsibility. Yui points out that the Germans, with evidence of the Holocaust, could not deny their role as victimizers. The Japanese military undertook their campaigns outside Japan, therefore many civilians were conscious only of their roles as victims, particularly in view of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the conventional bombings of other cities. The above raises an interesting point: according to Yui, it was more difficult for the Germans to deny their role as victimizers. Yet, as Buchholz points out, it is in Japan that many war tales are written, including tales that acknowledge war responsibility. Buchholz believes, however, that if more contests for the writing of war tales were held in Germany, the number of participants would not be lower than the number of participants in Japanese contests. For example, there was an enthusiastic response to a writing contest held in 1993 by the Ministry for Families and the Elderly.

Both Yui and Buchholz refer to the fact that an increasing number of private citizens in Japan, particularly former soldiers, wrote their war tales during the 1980s. Certain war tales included the admittance of atrocities committed by soldiers. The occurrence of this phenomenon could be explained by various reasons, including the fact that during the 1980s many former soldiers were reaching retirement age, which is the time most personal histories are written. The Asahi war series, published in the 1980s, also encouraged the writing of personal tales. War-related issues in the 1980s received extensive coverage - for example, as a result of the discussions concerning the textbook controversy; or possibly after the fortieth anniversary of the end of the war and the speech delivered by then West German president WeizsŐcker. In addition, citizens were increasingly expressing their views in Asian countries that were experiencing democratization. The increased coverage of war issues encouraged more Japanese to write their war tales. The death of the Sh°owa emperor also led to more open discussions. It has been suggested elsewhere that a possible reason why former soldiers spoke out at that time could be found in the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. During the 1980s, the deaths of the superiors of the former soldiers made it easier for the soldiers to discuss such matters.

To explain attitudes towards war responsibility, Yui addresses the pre- and post-war political leadership of the two countries. West Germany was divided into four occupation zones, and directly governed by the occupation authorities. Following the process of "de-Nazification," there was a discontinuity of political leadership with the end of the Third Reich. Japan, on the other hand, was indirectly governed through the existing governmental machinery, and most officials, except military leaders and war criminals, remained in the government. According to Yui, as the Japanese leaders blamed the military or ultra-nationalists for the war, the sense of national guilt that was evident in Germany was not experienced in Japan.

Attitudes differed towards reparations and compensation between Japan and Germany. Yui points out that, with the close proximity of the concentration camps, atrocities committed in the Holocaust could not be denied in Germany, and compensation was duly offered. In an attempt at reconciliation, Germany and France joined together to form the Coal and Steel Community. The level of integration presently found in the European Union is not found in the Pacific Asian region. Japan could not reconcile with China following the war, due to the anti-China policy of the United States that prevailed after the Communists seized power in 1949. In addition, the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 promoted only a "partial" peace in the Pacific Asian area, since various countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia, disagreed with the reparation clauses; and other countries, such as China and Korea, were not invited to the conference. It is generally believed in Japan, nevertheless, that the issues of reparations and compensation were settled in peace treaties and other international agreements. However, after related documents were discovered in 1992 by historians, confirming that the Japanese government and military had directly recruited and managed former "comfort women" for the military, claims for compensation have been intensively debated.

How were attitudes towards the war shaped in the post-war period? Although it is pointed out in this publication that continuity of history can be found in the modern era in Japan, for example with the retention of pre-war leaders, successful pre-war adaptation to the West; the discontinuity of history can also be emphasized with respect to the changes experienced during the occupation period, and earlier during the Meiji restoration of 1868. It must therefore be presumed to a certain extent that pre-war values and attitudes in Japan changed with defeat, and with the occupation policies of democratization and demilitarization.

During the occupation period, a reformist and progressive phase of the occupation in Japan was replaced by a so-called "reverse" phase, with policies aimed at the rapid rehabilitation of the economy, conservative policies, change in the US strategic policy towards Japan, the "red purge," etc. With the emergence of the Cold War, and with the Korean War and the United States policy of containment in eastern Asia, Japan became an important ally of the United States, providing land for its major bases. Japan was also rearmed to a certain degree. At this stage, Japan as well as Germany were considered to be "peace-loving" states by the US and Allies. Following the occupation period, Japan had successfully democratized - the sovereignty of Japan resided in the people, not in the emperor; and civil and human rights, including the rights of women, were protected. Masaki Miyake states in his paper that it is necessary to review and further study the occupation policies and their effects in Japan and Germany in order to find a basis of historical memory. In this regard, the three-month time lag between the surrender of the two countries should not be neglected. The political atmosphere in the United States had changed with the death of Roosevelt; and the occupation policies were "softened." Miyake points out that the effect of MacArthur's occupation and reforms continue to be felt strongly in Japan today. The constitution, the agrarian system, and the educational system changed dramatically as a result of the GHQ directives. Article 9 of the constitution, in which war as a sovereign right is renounced, and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes is denied, has recently been debated intensely in Japan in relation to sending Japanese troops outside of the country to participate in UN peace-keeping missions. In 1992, following the Gulf War, the International Peace Cooperation Law was enacted, which states, for the first time since the war, and to the consternation of those who did not wish to see Japanese soldiers stationed in foreign lands, that Japan can send non-combat troops abroad to support UN peace-keeping operations (PKO).

Takashi Inoguchi concludes this publication with reflections on Japan and Pacific Asia on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. He points out that Japan's relationship with other Asian countries has been hierarchical and asymmetrical this century, whether militarily, economically or culturally. It is now necessary, 50 years after the war, for Japan to achieve greater closeness and symmetry with its Asian neighbours, and to base its ties more intensively on interactions at the grass-roots level. According to Inoguchi, Japan's relationship with Pacific Asia in this century is one of "debt, disdain and detachment."

Most Japanese distinguish between "two wars" - one against other imperial powers and the other against the Pacific Asians. The Japanese admit to causing great suffering to Asians during the war. Inoguchi points out, however, that it may be difficult for many Japanese to admit that the war was totally wrong, as their modern history before the war would then appear as purposeless, which would threaten their sense of national identity. Japan had been particularly successful in acquiring the ways of the West while retaining this sense of national identity. As stated by Inoguchi: "Japan's national identity is thoroughly embedded in the continuity and purpose of the modern history of the nation." For this reason, he believes that at the popular level there is generally an absence of genuine remorse with regard to the war.

The fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II offered an auspicious occasion to address the "debt, disdain and detachment" syndrome. Inoguchi suggests the following steps, which could deepen understanding and increase awareness. The Asian nations should undertake joint projects for the writing of history (similar to the history book compiled by the then twelve-member European Union) in order to rectify distorted and "colonial" views. In this respect, he stresses that whereas Europe shares common values from Christianity and the Enlightenment, there are two areas where Pacific Asian countries could find common interests. One area would be to broaden and deepen values that have been introduced from the West, and to further universalize Western cultural values (for example, Western culture emphasizes individualism) through the introduction of Eastern cultural values; and the second would be to promote "global communitarianism." Another step would be to further encourage student and community exchange, in order to deepen understanding of different cultures at the grass-roots level. Finally, joint non-governmental organization (NGO) participation should be promoted to address global issues in areas such as the environment (particularly with the high Pacific Asian population and energy-consumption growth rates), human rights, peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance, in order to build a stronger Asian community.


Tales of War -
Autobiographies and Private Memories in Japan and Germany

Petra Buchholz

In this essay I intend to discuss yet another aspect of dealing with the past: autobiographical tales of war at the popular level as they exist in both Japan and Germany. I use the term "autobiographical tales of war" to refer to the private memories written by those who are not prominent in any field and who do not make a living out of their writing. Questions arise, such as: Do these people write about their experiences at all in their tales? If so, what do the participants of war tell their children and grandchildren? Do they try to influence or warn them? Are such private tales of war published, and are they sold and read? I shall depart from discussions concerning the special war-memory dates - the fiftieth anniversary of the 15th of August and the 8th of May in Japan and Germany respectively, and address the amazing mass phenomenon of autobiographical tales in Japan, and show how the writing of such tales has been rooted in popular culture for several decades. A contrast will be made with German narratives, with respect mainly to publication and reception, and also with respect to content and substance.


Private tales of war: this points to a level of discussion different from the official level of "dealing with the past"; it points to the popular level. In addition to the debates on the political level, the commemorations and the official celebrations, we should not forget that a large part of the public memory concerning the recent past is formed by those who actually experienced and survived war, and then passed their memories on to subsequent generations. Are surviving war participants encouraged to tell their private tales in public, or are they confined to the private sphere of writing diaries and letters, or meeting with old wartime friends?

As a German who grew up in the late 1960s, when the issue of Vergangen- heitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past), especially the analysis of fascism, was pushed onto the political agenda by the then young generation, I was quite used to the numerous debates on fascism and "dealing with the past." However, after investigating the history and literature of the Japanese memories of war, I was simply overwhelmed by the sheer mass of Japanese written war accounts, which were written by ordinary people - soldiers and women alike. Not only is this mass phenomenon in itself amazing, the massive presence of these private war accounts on the literary market is even more striking. As I will show later in this paper, the popular or private level of writing and publication of memories is especially lively in Japan, and this phenomenon becomes even more remarkable if it is compared to the corresponding situation in Germany.

To make this contrast clear, let me begin with the official view of the past that was discussed broadly in the Japanese media in the summer of 1995. Topics related to the questions of an apology, compensation or the comfort women issue drew much attention both in Japan and in Germany. In a rather complacent manner, the German media liked to write about the Japanese hesitation to apologize. Headings such as the "Fifteen Forgotten Years" or "The Japanese Inability to Confront Themselves with the War"1 met the expectations of the German readers, and were the friendliest forms of criticism of the Japanese failure in dealing with the past.

Although influential and well-heard German voices continue to complain of the lack of coming to terms with the past on the German side, everyone seems to agree that Japan has been much worse in this respect than Germany. This conclusion, however, appears to refer solely to the official level and does not take into consideration other levels of dealing with the past.

It is important to investigate the different levels of public memory separately. There are several layers of memory-making which together form the public perception. Of course, these different levels do relate and influence each other in a substantial way; however, it seems to be important not to confuse them or to accept one level as forming the public memory. We should look at them separately, and then combine them into a new image that comprises at least three of the levels of memory-making:

1) the political and official level, represented by statements of politicians and diplomacy, and discussions in newspapers, magazines, television, etc.;

2) the literary or cultural level, represented by contributions of writers and historians, through films, exhibitions, etc., thus shaping the cultural life;2

3) the popular level, represented by private voices and public participation of non-experts in writing, through contests open to public participation, in self-organized exhibitions and events at the popular level, by the publication of personal histories at one's own expense, and through many other activities, thus constituting a part of popular culture.

I would like to point out in this paper that the broadly agreed hierarchy of achievements of Germany and Japan in terms of "coming clean with the past" appears to be startlingly different if we take into account the popular, personal level of active participation in the social debate. I refer here to written accounts of personal experiences during the war, accounts that were written by people who did not hold prominent positions and who did not appear to have had any special experiences other than the common experience of having been an ordinary soldier or housewife who survived the hardships of war. Surprisingly, the phenomenon of Japanese private tales of war has not yet been acknowledged appropriately, even though most autobiographical stories are printed in newspapers or magazines and featured on the radio and TV, and are therefore easily accessible. Japanese private tales of war, commonly known as sens°o taiken ki (notes about war experiences), have been present in the media since shortly after the defeat in 1945. As they belong to the so-called "popular culture," they have not yet become the object of thorough investigation. Social scientists do not take them seriously either, because they form part of a popular movement which is not highly acclaimed or because they are not perceived as an authentic voice of memory and as an acceptable strategy for dealing with the past.3

Tales of War in Japan

Private tales of war in Japan show a clear link to the cultural and literary level of dealing with the past: Japanese literature has a rich tradition of diary literature (nikki bungaku), and, furthermore, the "I" novel (shish°osetsu) has been an important literary contribution of this century. Similarly, to a large extent literary works about war after 1945 lean towards a personalized approach, as do a substantial number of essays, which are often based on very personal thoughts and obviously enjoy great popularity. The quality and quantity of the literary production focusing on the war in Japan, where an extremely lively literary scene has produced a multitude of highly praised works,4 could therefore possibly be compared to the German Vergangenheitsbewältigung on the literary level.

Concerning "Fifty Post-War Years" (Sengo go-j°u nen), a considerable number of highly personalized or autobiographical publications could be found in the cultural market. Almost a third of all book titles displayed in the large bookshops in the summer of 1995 were autobiographical narratives, full-length autobiographical stories, and anthologies compiling short individual narratives. An unwavering flow of popular contributions to public memory filled a broad space in the book market and in TV feature programmes.5

In Japan, the popular trend to understand history as a mosaic of personal, frequently very sentimentalized, tales and remembrances is also mirrored in the newspapers' reporting of the "Fifty Post-War Years." Several newspapers illustrated their coverage of this "event" with accounts by their readers, who had been urged to send their manuscripts to the editor's office. T°oky°o shimbun organized a collection of readers' manuscripts from August 1994 to August 1995. Readers were invited to write down their personal histories concerning the 50 post-war years (watakushi no sengo 50 nen), which were printed almost daily in the paper. Moreover, the editors chose approximately 80 manuscripts from the first month's contributions for publication in a booklet.6

Similar collections of readers' manuscripts were arranged for publication around August 1995 by Ch°unichi shimbun, Yomiuri shimbun,7 and the monthly magazine Fujin no tomo.8 As regional papers enhance their readership through the printing of regional and personal tales, there must be numerous newspapers and magazines that printed readers' contributions which I am not aware of. Personal stories or even short notes printed in newspapers and magazines or compiled as anthologies and printed in the form of a book are a common, well-known feature of the Japanese print media - apparently too familiar to be noticed at all.

Interestingly, almost all the stories that appeared around August 1995 did not touch on the topic of post-war events, even if the set title demanded tales of personal post-war history. The amateur writers who handed in their stories wrote predominantly about their war experiences or their feelings and thoughts at the time Japan was defeated. This suggests that Japan was still undecided whether to celebrate 50 post-war years as 50 years of peace and economic growth, or as the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war and defeat. However, at the popular level the decision was clear: not in the least affected by the ubiquitous slogan "50 post-war years," people wrote about their war experiences and their feelings at the time the war ended.9

The seemingly never-ending flow of autobiographical tales began decades previously, and it forms a special part of Japanese popular culture, especially with respect to Japan's "ability to confront itself with the war."

The trend to re-evaluate the everyday life of ordinary people is universal and their tales regarding war experiences are now interpreted as rich historical material.10 It is far less common, however, to turn directly to the people, and ask them to write their own stories. This phenomenon appears to be a special feature of Japan, although also in Poland, where it is generally accepted that the "biographical method" was pioneered,11 there exists a very lively scene of autobiographical tales written by ordinary people who enter the tales at writing contests.12

Tracing back the history of autobiographical war tales in Japan, we come across the monthly magazine Sekai, which in 1955, only 10 years after the war, organized a collection of readers' manuscripts relating to how they felt on the 15th of August in 1945. Five hundred and seventeen autobiographical when-war-was-over tales reached the editor.13 The following two decades saw an annually repeated activity under the title Hachi gatsu j°u-go nichi kinen genk°o bosh°u (Call for manuscripts in memory of the 15th of August). Every year, hundreds of manuscripts arrived at the editor's desk, and in every August or September volume, the magazine Sekai printed approximately 10 manuscripts written and sent in by their readers. Well-known writers such as Hidaka Rokur°o and Noma Hiroshi belonged to the juries of the contests, and published a type of commentary along with the readers' narratives.

Until today, this magazine has remained one of those which invite readers to submit their manuscripts. However, requests for personal stories or for small notes that fit onto a postcard were not limited to Sekai or other similar intellectual and liberal magazines. As early as 1950 and 1952, the monthly magazines Ch°u°o k°oron and Shufu no tomo collected and published personal accounts of war widows.14 Around 1960, regional papers began to call for soldiers' contributions. These contributions both provided information to bereaved families regarding their relatives who died in the war and raised the papers' circulations.15

Parallel to the editors' requests for readers' contributions that increased during the 1970s,16 private "documentation groups" (kiroku kai) were formed, which collected written testimonies for publication. In his research, Takahashi wrote of a movement of newly found "documentation groups" that developed around the time of the return of Okinawa in 1972. Eventually, almost 50 "documentation groups" gathered and published memories of war written by ordinary people.17

In 1964 (the year of the Tokyo Olympics) a television project drew general attention. The new TV channel Terebi T°oky°o started a telecast that consisted of interviews with war participants, mainly soldiers. The programme was broadcast weekly, and ran for more than 10 years. Altogether, over 800 "witnesses of time" were interviewed. Later, a selection of the interviews was published.18 Hence, a clear connection becomes visible between a popular inclination to talk about past war experiences and the way in which this inclination is taken up, encouraged, and further incited and re-evaluated by mass-cultural institutions, such as TV or publishing houses.

A "war series" organized by Asahi shimbun from July 1986 to August 1987 is often labelled as a culmination and a turning point in the personal documentation of war.19 What was it about? In January 1986, the editors of Asahi shimbun opened a readers' forum (T°ema danwa shitsu) to accommodate the increasing requests for more access to the media for everyone.20 The first collection of readers' contributions21 was so successful that the publication of the readers' forum was extended from three to five times a week. In July 1986, Nakazawa Michio, as the responsible editor, chose sens°o (war) as the new topic for the readers' forum. As he explained some years later in the afterword to the printed edition, he had intentionally dispensed with ideological labels such as the "Fifteen Years War," the "Pacific War," or the "Greater East Asian War" in order to attract notes and comments from a readership as wide as possible. The readers' contributions were generally very short, utilizing on average less than two manuscript pages (one page contains 400 characters), and describing single events or outstanding experiences such as the bombing of Tokyo or the flight from Manchuria. Tales of former soldiers regarding events that occurred in the military camps, their march through China or their experiences during battle dominated. Some of the contributions were statements about war responsibility. Altogether more than 4,200 contributions were sent in, and the readers' forum for war memories was published 207 times. The success was overwhelming. The series, planned initially for just three months, was extended several times, and eventally closed only after more than a year, in August 1987.

Undoubtedly, the Asahi war series created a social event. First, it turned into a social event because of the wide circulation of Asahi shimbun, which is a leading paper in the Japanese newspaper market. The long duration of the series heightened its effect. However, although the framework for the series was set by the newspaper, the overwhelming response of the readers exceeded those borders. The lively way in which the readers used the offered forum and made it their own turned the series into a social event. They did not just submit their own stories, but related to each other's contributions, and corrected or completed it with their own tales. Sometimes a debate started to develop, for instance concerning the pros and cons of war animation movies.22 One contributor described the impact of the Asahi war debate on everyday life: "Whenever some people come together, articles of this series are repeatedly referred to in conversation."23 War participants recognized themselves in the background of a narrated episode. The war participants may have suspected that the author had not told the whole truth, if they had not noticed anything of the related episode, despite the fact that they had been very near to the location. Obviously, therefore, the Asahi war series held an eminent place in everyday conversation.

After the readers' forum had run for approximately three months, some readers wrote appeals urging the older generation to talk more about their roles as victimizers, and to tell the "real truth" (shinjitsu).24 Several times war participants actually took the opportunity and responded to those appeals.25 Headings such as "I Can Never Forget the Bloodstained Chest of the Chinese Youth" (vol. 1, p. 249), "Stabbing of Guerrillas, My Personal War Is Going On" (vol. 1, p. 315), "As an Evidence of Atonement" (vol. 1, p. 431), "This Is A Traitor's House, Let's Pour Water in It" (vol. 2, p. 19), "I Censored the Post" (vol. 2, p. 24), "Apology from the Bottom of My Heart" (vol. 3, p. 139) and "Don't Repeat the Stupidity I Committed" (vol. 3, p. 78) suggest the ways in which people reflected upon their own roles during the war.

A small number of contributors complained of the trend to depreciate the war dead or to assume that they had died in vain.26 However, the majority wrote stories about their own hardships and sufferings, and a smaller, although far from insignificant, number of contributors dealt with killing and looting soldiers, such authors having been either involved in these acts or having been witnesses.

It was for this reason that Yoshida Yutaka perceived the Asahi war series as a turning point in war documentation. For Yoshida, the weakening of the taboo on talk about Japanese atrocities and the victimization of people in the occupied Asian countries began in the mid-1980s, when the Asahi war series was staged.27 If this was really the first time that the social taboo on talk about war atrocities and to confess one's own participation was broken, the Asahi war series is remarkable. The fact that the series provoked a social dialogue regarding war memories, and brought this topic back to the social discourse, is impressive. The widespread reception the readers' forum received, and the social relevance of Asahi shimbun, as one of the leading papers in Japan, turned the series into a social event that spurred on amateur authors to write down their own tales. The Asahi series, begun in 1986 and continued for more than a year because of the lively response, was, however, just the tip of the iceberg.

Simultaneously with the "my personal history" wave that was widely available in the print media, a second, steadily rising stream of self-published autobiographical narratives appeared. The so-called "second current"28 of autobiographical narratives refers to publications that are not published by magazines or established publication houses, but rather published at one's own expense as a private publication (jihi shuppan or shikaban).

According to Takahashi Sabur°o, private publications began around 1960.29 Since approximately 1975, the ideas of jibunshi (personal history) spread extensively, and more or less parallel to that movement, a business of jihi shuppan (publication at one's own expense) came into being.30 Jibunshi und°o (movement for writing down one's personal history) and the development of self-published war memories were closely tied. Yoshizawa characterized jibunshi and jihi shuppan as synonymous.31

Irokawa Daikichi32 is reputed to have been a pacesetter of this jibunshi movement, although he himself traced the origins of jibunshi back to Hashimoto Yoshio, who had advocated a fudangi und°o33 as early as 1968, and who had laid the foundation stone for the writing of personal histories as a popular activity. The term jibunshi, however, was definitely coined by Irokawa Daikichi, who introduced it into the discourse.

As a historian, Irokawa emphasized the value of jibunshi as historical material,34 but held it equally important for the development of a historical consciousness in the people. According to Irokawa, the writing down of personal histories enables people to discover the great inconsistencies between their own fragmented experiences and history as a whole; and, in this way, the amateur writers begin to create a historical consciousness.35 Consequently, the historian Irokawa did not promote the narration of private lives in the manner of a private photograph album, jumping from one birthday party to the next. For Irokawa, jibunshi means to place the self in history: "The core of jibunshi lies in the intersection of subjectivity and history. It means writing about the points of contact of the self with history. Therefore, it is the self multiplied with history."36

Accordingly, Irokawa recommends not to mention one's year of birth in such a style: "I was born in Sh°owa 38," but rather "I was born in the year before the Tokyo Olympics."37 Evidently, this recommendation has been well observed by many authors of autobiographical tales: frequently the dates of private lives are linked with great historical events. For instance, Amanuma Tomiko, who was born in 1925, the same year as the beginning of the Sh°owa era, begins her autobiographical story as follows: "In 1931, when I went to school, the explosion at the Mansh°u trails brought the Mansh°u Incident in its wake. In 1937, when I joined the Girls High School, the Chinese-Japanese war started as a result of the incident at the Marco Polo Bridge. In 1941, when I completed the Girls High School and started a job, Japan declared war on America and England, and tumbled into the last stage of the 15 Years War. The periods of my life corresponded exactly with the stages of expansion in war, and thus I grew up accompanied by the more and more sonorous sound of marching combat boots."38

The above quotation is an excerpt taken from an autobiographical tale that was written at the end of the 1980s, shortly after the highest peak of jibunshi publications, which occurred in the mid-1980s. Around 1985, the jibunshi movement experienced its highest peak - as Shiozawa stated, jibunshi experienced an extraordinary boom.39 Several social conditions stimulated the high production of personal histories. Personal histories are written mainly by people aged between 60 and 80. As the generation of war participants reached this age group around 1985, it is clear that production increased after those people retired from working life. In addition, as the Asahi war series was carried out in the same period, it may have stimulated the idea of writing jibunshi. The 40 years post-war celebrations and the speech by then German president WeizsŐcker, who was highly acclaimed in Japan, may have also contributed to the cumulation of jibunshi at that time. In his speech the former president had warned of being "blind to the past." Moreover, anticipation of the ending of the Sh°owa era was spreading - an anticipation that would eventually culminate in "X Day," the death of the emperor.

From a different, more practical point of view, there was another condition that facilitated the process of writing itself: the introduction in 1985 of Japanese word processors at reasonable prices.40 Soon afterwards, the w°apuro was owned by many households and courses on how to use it sprang up. Only a few years later, in 1990, Canon marketed new software designed to help in the composition of personal history. The inclusion of these facts in a chronological table listing all important events that promoted the culture of personal history (Jibunshi bunka nempy°o41) speaks for itself.

In direct connection with the increasing demand for writing, enterprises were set up to school and advise the hopeful writers, or to offer guidance with regard to the production and publication of their customers' writing. One such enterprise, which evolved in 1985 and exists today, plays an important part in the personal history movement: the magazine K°obo gaido (Competition guide). Initially this magazine appeared quarterly; however, only one year later, due to high demand, it was issued on a monthly basis. The magazine is presented in the style of a calendar of events, and bookshops display it near the counter or with other magazines that sell easily. Competitions are organized by diverse institutions such as firms, publishers, self-organized civil groups or regional authorities. A remarkable portion of these contests consists of the writing of compositions, essays or just notes of postcard dimensions. (Other notable divisions are photo contests, art and design [logos, posters, paintings] and music competitions.)

The winners of the literary competitions are awarded prize money of up to two million yen or more; and furthermore, the publication in magazines or anthologies is guaranteed. Well-known writers or critics such as °Oe Kenzabur°o,42 Kat°o Sh°uichi, Inoue Hisashi,43 and Yasuoka Sh°otar°o,44 among others, have reviewed the autobiographical stories entered in writing contests. Donald Keene reviewed stories handed in for the literary prize awarded by the city of S°oka (Saitama Prefecture).45 The sheer existence of these magazines,46 and the number of advertised contests, give an idea of the dimension and quality of writing activities bubbling underneath the established literary market. More often than not the writers have to invest a fortune into the realization of "my book," as the product is often called with reference to former catchwords such as "my car" or "my home."47

Hence, a widely ramified network of jibunshi institutions can be observed: the Jibunshi Center (in Osaka), several jihi shuppan centres, writing courses, textbooks and manuals, publication companies specializing in consultation for self-publication (for example, Nihon Tosho Kank°okai and many others), even private schools (juku) that teach their customers how to participate in competitions. This network of jibunshi enterprises impressively demonstrates that a huge second market has established itself beside the normal literary market. In 1995, the city of Kitakyushu offered prize money of two million yen for the sixth literary award for personal history (Kitaky°ush°u-shi jibunshi bungaku-sh°o). As a further example, the Jihi Shuppan Center in Osaka organizes annual collections of personal histories, entitled: Magotachi e no sh°ogen (Testimonies for our grandchildren). Browsing through the literary contests that are listed in the September 1995 K°obo gaido, approximately 60 contests can be found, with roughly a third fitting into the jibunshi or sens°o taiken (war experience) category. The number of participants varies between hundreds for smaller contests and up to thousands or even ten thousands and more for larger ones.48

It goes without saying that this market of personal histories functions so well only because of considerable active participation and the obvious common urge to express oneself in a written, possibly printed form. The participants belong to different social groups: one important group are women, whether elderly housewives or young, unmarried women. Writing compositions is a socially well-accepted activity. The fact that some writers have even succeeded in making a living out of their writing activity may have served as an additional impetus. However, most of the writers of personal history pay their own costs for production. Their motive is mainly communication: they want to leave behind their message for the following generation.

Yoshizawa Teruo specified the social structure of amateur writers in the following manner: men usually start to write after they have retired from working life, between the ages of 60 and 80 years; accordingly, there is a high peak of contest participation from men in this age group. There is no such special culmination point for women: young women who put pen to paper are even more numerous than young men. The number of women increases constantly, but falls eventually behind the numerous contributions of men in the age group of 60 years and above. Altogether, approximately two-thirds of personal histories are composed by male writers, and one-third by women.49

Who is supposed to read all these personal histories? In the course of time, the target group of supposed readers changed. In the first 20 post-war years, readers included, first of all, war participants who communicated to each other through the writing of their personal histories; and, second, the families of dead soldiers who were looking for information concerning the death circumstances of the soldiers. Those readers were very critical and truth-conscious; relentlessly, they pointed out every, if only slightly, inaccurate detail. The readers of war experiences demanded a high standard of accuracy.

However, during the following 20 years, the wish to give a warning to the following generation, and to leave behind a message, predominated, regardless of whether the message concerned war experience or was written as evidence of living through rough times. Henceforth, the stories were not addressed only to fellow readers, that is other war participants and bereaved families, but were directed especially "to the generation that does not know war."50 Whether this generation actually reads the numerous testimonies of war is a question still to be answered. Looking at the age of the contributors to the Asahi war series shows that members of the young generation did also participate in dialogue regarding the past. At the start of the series in 1986, more than 10 per cent of the contributors were under the age of 30. However, this portion of young readers diminished during the course of the project, and reached only approximately three per cent at the end of the project. The youngest contributors were 12- and 13-year-old children.

From the above, it seems to be justified to conclude that writing about past personal experiences has by now become an important part of Japanese popular culture. Furthermore, it is a distinctive mark of how people contribute actively to memory construction.

Tales of War in Germany

If we compare the Japanese situation of active, personal contributions to the construction of public memory with the German situation, we will find a fairly different picture. Although several publications exist compiling private war memories, for example, Als der Krieg zu Ende war ... (When the War Ended ...) or Meine Schulzeit im Krieg (My Schooldays in War), most of the publications consist of memories written by prominent people such as politicians, writers, actors, and so forth.51 Compilations of narratives written by non-prominent or non-professional authors are scarce. The general appreciation of written testimonies by private "witnesses of their time" (Zeitszeugen) seems to be low.

The inclination to rather ignore popular accounts of war had apparently existed already shortly after the end of the war. A recent study concerning autobiographical war tales that were published in West Germany between 1945 and 1950 found "rich material" in regard to the respective period of time.52 Nevertheless, the public reception of this "flood of revelations and memories"53 was reserved, and bibliographers tended to exclude private tales of war written by non-prominent people. Helmut Peitsch screened several bibliographies of autobiographies and found that autobiographies were listed only if the authors were military personnel, diplomats or prominent politicians. Ordinary people who wrote down their private memories did not fit into the category "author."54

As the number of participants in a writing contest that was organized by the Ministry for Families and the Elderly in 1993 clearly shows, there is a remarkable readiness to write down personal histories and enter them for review. Out of 5,031 contributions that were sent in,55 31 stories were selected and published, although unfortunately in a form that did not guarantee sufficient circulation, thus limiting the general reception of non-professional autobiographical tales. Wide distribution and encouragement through positive public reception would presumably serve as a new impetus for other hopeful amateur authors to write down their tales and to participate in the dialogue. The German media and book markets have obviously not yet discovered the economic possibilities of writing contests and of actively encouraging a social dialogue concerning personal memories. While Japanese magazines usually describe in minute detail how to prepare manuscripts to be sent to the editor, in German magazines there is only a short notice, which is obviously meant to act as a deterrent: "The editor accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts."

There were traces of a beginning of a social discourse concerning war memories in the 1950s, when weekly magazines and illustrated papers (such as Stern and Quick) printed serialized novels and documentary reports regarding war events. The readers of the magazines sent numerous letters to the editors, partly to correct the inexact details and partly to comment on the content.56 However, a remarkable number of readers demanded an end to the unfading reports and tales of war events. "Why is all this old stuff brought up again and again? Are you not able to forget, or don't you want to?"57

Consequently, as these rudiments of a social debate concerning individual war memories were not cultivated and not used to create a vivid scene of popular culture as they were in Japan, they diminished in the 1960s, and did not develop into a continuous discussion.

As a rare exception, the weekly paper Wochenpost could be mentioned, which, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, collected personal accounts of survivors.58 However, Wochenpost is a magazine that has only a very limited readership, and the special edition compiling the survivors' accounts was available only on special request at a restricted number of news-stands. At the level of the established media, the writing of individual memories by amateurs for publication is not stimulated. Correspondingly, German popular culture lacks something that resembles a "second current" of personal war tales, not to mention a network of enterprises and self-help groups established to support the production of "my book," as can be found in the surprisingly ramified network in Japan.

However, considering the definitely positive public reception of Walter Kempowski, who published a monumental collective diary entitled Das Echolot in 1993, there are signs of a possible change towards a slowly increasing appreciation of popular autobiographical war tales, notes and letters as important parts of public memory. Yet, for the time being experts, both as authors of autobiographical tales and as historians, hold the field. It is for this reason that the majority of German personal stories deal with special experiences such as with emigration, resistance, prisons or concentration camps. There are therefore a number of recollections to be found that were written by Jews, Communists or other inhabitants of concentration camps. However, only few individual tales were written by other non-prominent or non-professional Germans, and, most conspicuously, it is difficult to find tales that were written by former soldiers regarding their front experiences.59

The situation is slightly different if we take into consideration those publications that belong to the field of oral history. There are, of course, several soldiers' accounts to be found in publications of oral history, as the inter- viewees are selected for this type of research. However, such publications of war memories constitute a totally different field of research, which can be attributed mainly to two points: First, it makes a great difference if people sit down and write about their own life out of an inner desire, or if people are approached from the outside and are asked to talk about their lives. Second, it goes without saying that a different result will be achieved with the presence of a mediating expert. While the historian evaluates what people remember when they are asked to do so, autobiographical war tales that are directed at the subsequent generation create an image of what people presently want to contribute to public memory.

Therefore, if we leave aside the publications in the field of oral history based on interviews, we can conclude that in Germany only a few tales can be found written by ordinary people that recall experiences that were quite common, such as reports of everyday life at home or at work, or soldiers' accounts. The virtual non-existence of tales about experiences at the front is particularly conspicuous, as just these kinds of war narratives constitute the majority of Japanese private tales of war. It is therefore difficult in Germany to find a similarly active attitude towards the personal contribution to public memory as found in Japan. With regard to the Japanese personal history boom, the active contribution of the people writing their own stories down is striking. These people judge their individual life-stories, which usually do not differ from other such stories, to be so important as to have them printed at their own expense.

The question of whether individuals are less inclined to engage in such activities in Germany, or whether there is less willingness on the side of the publishing companies to encourage the writing of such memories, has to be investigated exhaustively. Of course, contributory factors including cultural, literary and educational reasons are imaginable. However, it is important to note that if writing contests were carried out in Germany, the number of participants would not be lower than the number of participants who enter writing contests in Japan.

Contents: What Do They Write?


As the target group of the readership changed during the years, so did the main topics of the private tales of war. Shortly after defeat, responsibility for the war was an important issue, and many writers held the military responsible for the disaster. Stories were written regarding the wrong decisions or inhuman behaviour of their military superiors. However, shortly after the return of thousands of soldiers who had been detained as prisoners of war in Siberia, the so-called Shiberia-mono (tales of Siberia) increased sharply. During the following years, countless tales were written about the trauma of defeat, the air raids on Tokyo, dangerous events at the front, fighting hunger and tropical diseases in the jungle, and, last but not least, included in the tales were feelings of guilt by those who had survived all those hardships. From 1975, 30 years after defeat, personal histories were developing autobiographical aspects, as the writers began to place their war experiences in the context of their lives.60 Yet, what is remarkable in the development of the content of Japanese private tales of war is not the writing of special themes and topics culminating in a "boom," which included tales such as Shiberia-mono, k°ush°u-mono (air-raid tales), Mansh°u-mono (Manchuria tales), etc., but that there was a continuous weakening of the taboo to talk or write about atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in foreign countries or in Okinawa, or anything that could compromise oneself, former comrades, or officers.

The moment of time when this weakening of the taboo set in is controversial. Whereas Takahashi Sabur°o identified the beginning of this development from Sh°owa 50 and thereafter (since 1975),61 Yoshida Yutaka determined that the outset of the development occurred during the war series of the Asahi shimbun in 1986/87.62 However, a significant number of autobiographical war tales definitely were written long before 1975, which focused intensely on atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against the Chinese people, both from the point of view of an eyewitness and even as a participant in such activities.63 Furthermore, the war memories published by members of the Youth Division of the S°oka Gakkai since 1974 comprised many narratives that included accounts of extremely gruesome deeds committed by Japanese soldiers in Okinawa or in China. These collections, which were published in more than 50 volumes, received wide public attention; and certain collections were even translated into English and German. In these volumes, there are numerous war tales which report the routine of forcing young soldiers to kill Chinese prisoners "for practice."64

At the beginning of the 1980s, however, there was indeed an increase in war tales which explicitly stress the role of the Japanese soldier as victimizer. Apart from the tales of former members of the infamous Unit 731, who performed medical experiments on prisoners of war, there was an increasing number of tales concerning Nanjing. Ironically, this boom of Nankin-mono had been spurred on by the chief measure that had been taken to prevent a public discussion on this issue: a debate as to whether the Japanese army had "invaded" (shinryaku) China or just "advanced" (shinshutsu) into China, which had ensued following the textbook instruction of the Education Ministry to use the term "advance" only. This debate took place in 1982, and, fanned by the angry protests of China and Korea, drew much public attention inside and outside Japan. Eventually, this very debate in the media prompted several former soldiers to write about their experiences more openly and even to admit their own participation. In this way, the textbook controversy of 1982 promoted a further weakening of the social taboo.65

However, regardless of which moment of time the development began, the continuous weakening of that taboo is clearly discernible. According to Takahashi, the first issue taken up by the Japanese soldiers having survived the war was cannibalism, accounted for not only by hearsay, but also by reports of personal experience.66 Following this were the confessions of rape, a crime that seems not to be very hard to admit for soldiers, regardless on which side or in which war they fought.67

In contrast, however, only little is known with regard to rapes committed by German soldiers or the SS.68 It was in autumn 1995 that German TV showed a feature programme in which, for the first time in Germany, the fact of brothels in concentration camps was confirmed, and women forced into prostitution talked about their ordeals. Actually, this telecast was based on close cooperation with Japanese and Korean women's groups who are trying hard to gain support for compensation for Korean former comfort women. Parts of the same documentary, for instance the interview with a German comfort woman, had been shown on Japanese TV before.69 The male interviewees were quick to admit the existence of these brothels, but rejected sternly any personal involvement.

The topic of comfort women has never been taboo in Japanese personal accounts of the war. There are even personal tales in which friendship with comfort women has become the main point of the narrative.70 The fact that heated public discussions concerning the "comfort women issue" and due compensation have flared up in the past few years, and yet comfort women have never been taboo in personal war tales, sounds curious. However, it actually helps to clarify the deep rift that exists between the different levels of memory politics. At the popular level, soldiers who recall their war experiences do not leave any doubt regarding the existence of comfort women,71 and yet politicians at the official level have been surprisingly hesitant, to say the least, in acknowledging even the existence of this issue, not to mention recognizing that former authorities had been involved in the establishment of military brothels. At the popular and the literary level, the issue had been covered in detail - actually years before it was also taken up in public and political discussions.

Thus, it is surely justified to state that the Japanese public memory presently includes countless tales of soldiers who remember war atrocities and confess their own participation. I do not want to underestimate the large amount of private war tales that emphasize one's own victimization and personal suffering in a very sentimental way. In fact, these narratives concerning one's own suffering constitute the clear majority of all private and personal narratives of war experiences. Nonetheless, it is striking to observe the increase in the number of memories written from the point of view of the victimizer in relation to his own participation and his own guilt, and also to observe that deep reflections concerning his own responsibility have been included in the war tales.


This Japanese phenomenon appears more astonishing when compared with similar stories about war experiences in Germany. When German people, ordinary and prominent alike, write about their memories of wartime, it is expected that reflections about the guilt and responsibility the German people have to shoulder as an entire people will be included. However, hardly ever does anyone talk or write about their own personal participation in brutalities against the invaded people or against the Jews or Communists people at home.72 It appears that nobody knew anything, nobody saw anything, and nobody took part in anything - yet, everybody felt very close to the resistance movement. A famous phrase to be found in German accounts about war and fascism during the 1930s and 1940s is the so-called "inner emigration." German people often claimed to have emigrated inwardly, as resisting the Nazi party openly was dangerous and therefore considered impossible. This phenomenon is conspicuous to such an extent that Peter Schneider, a well-known German author, felt compelled to conclude "that the Nazi party had been an enormous organization for undercover resistance fighters."73

Until now, the catchword "clean army" (Die saubere Wehrmacht) is widely believed to be an appropriate description for the army, a myth that was assiduously constructed during 50 post-war years. Even in 1995, the notable German paper Die Zeit organized a debate about this issue. An essential point of the discussion was whether the German army had been a "single respectable association" in the Hitler state, or if it had been a "criminal organization."74 As the Wehrmacht played an important part in the establishment and custody of Jewish ghettos, as well as in the transportation of Jewish people to concentration camps, as mass executions of suspected partisans or even of whole villages were undertaken, and as the Kommissarbefehl, the official order to kill caught officers immediately after their capturing, are widely known facts, the question of whether the German Wehrmacht had been a "single respectable association" in the Hitler state seems to be superfluous and ignorant. However, this debate has not yet reached a conclusion in Germany.

Researchers have exerted much effort to present evidence that the Wehrmacht was not as clean as it likes to present itself.75 It was only in 1995, when the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war was celebrated in Germany, that an exhibition on crimes committed by the German army drew a lot of partly doubtful attention. However, this exhibition did not rely on witness accounts of war participants, but solely on photos that were taken by German soldiers and were discovered when the retreating soldiers were made prisoners by the advancing Red Army. Thus, evidence against the German "clean army" could be retrieved only after the opening of the archives in Moscow, an event that took place after the end of the Cold War.

Nevertheless, German soldiers who were members of the "clean army" have kept silent about the killings, lootings, and executions that were undertaken when invading Russia. Personal tales concerning war atrocities committed by German soldiers are not existent. It does not matter if we consider written accounts or interviews: in German narratives there is no death, no burning or looting, no killing committed by German soldiers.76


Of course, there are many reasons for this striking difference between Japanese and German personal testimonies of war that have to be explained more in length and depth. In this context, I want to state just one very obvious reason why this may be so: while in Japan war crime trials have never been carried out by Japanese courts, in Germany those accused of war crimes are still persecuted.

My point is that we must observe different levels of memory politics and memory construction. At the official level, it appears to be true that the German state and government were less hesitant in taking responsibility, in apologizing and paying compensation. At the cultural level, Ian Buruma possibly hits the mark with his formulation "German memory was like a massive tongue seeking out, over and over, a sore tooth."77 This may be correct with respect to the public and political level of memory; and surely it is true for the literary and cultural level; however, it is not true for the popular and personal level. At this level, we do not find any self-accusations or confessions, we find only "inner emigration" and participation in resistance activities. It appears that even listening to the forbidden enemy radio was termed a resistance activity, and is mostly very well remembered. At the personal level in Germany, nobody admits their own responsibility, and nobody admits to having participated, for instance, in the pogrom of 1938, or to have committed other crimes either at the front or at home.

In Japan, this situation seems to be just the opposite: while private tales concerning comfort women and brutalities committed during wartime appeared as early as the 1960s, and formed a steady flow of personal history literature, at the political and public level, the government is still slow and hesitant in acknowledging the responsibility of the people and the state as a whole.

Notes and References

1. See Jeremy Scott, "15 vergessene Jahre," Die Tageszeitung, 31 May 1995, p. 16; and "Viele Japaner wčrde die Katastrophe lieber vergessen," Frankfurter Rundschau, 11 March 1995.

2. For literary production, especially about the characteristics of war literature after 1945, see Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit, "Post-World War II Literature: The Intellectual Cimate in Japan, 1945-1985," Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan, ed. Emestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1993), 99ff.

3. Sabur°o Takahashi is one of the rare exceptions who investigated Japanese war-documentations (senki mono); and he included in his very broad definition of senki mono autobiographical tales and personal histories written by common people. See Sabur°o Takahashi, "Senki mono" o yomu. [Reading "war-pieces"] (Akademia Shuppankai, 1988).

4. See Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer, eds., Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1993).

5. For instance, NHK on the 13th of August in 1995 featured, during the peak-viewing station time, the reading aloud of 794 letters or last wills that were sent home from the battlefield.

6. T°oky°o shimbun chih°obu, shakaibu-hen, Waga ko ni tsutaeru: Watakushi no sengo 50 nen [Message to our children: My personal 50 post-war years], T°oky°o bukuretto, Jan. 1995. A second edition with further readers' manuscripts appeared in May 1995.

7. See Yomiuri shimbun, 12th, 15th, 16th and 18th of August 1995. Topics: "Watakushi no sengo 50 nen" [My personal 50 post-war years], "Atsukatta natsu" [A hot summer], "Senchi de, yakenohara de" [On the battlefield, in the ruins], "Sanka" [Disaster], or "Sh°orai no ky°okun ni" [As a lesson for the future].

8. The women's magazine Fujin no tomo called for readers' manuscripts in the January 1995 volume; the given topic was "Watashi ga tsutaetai koto: Sens°o taiken to heiwa e no negai" [What I want to pass on: War experiences and a wish for peace]. The readers' contributions were published in the volumes 8, 9 and 10, 1995.

9. This is also true for other parts of public memory-making on the popular level: most of the expositions that were organized by regional museums or private institutions concentrated on the everyday life during war and defeat; for example, the regional museum of Toshima-ku in Tokyo staged an exposition "Sens°o to Toshima-ku" [War and the Toshima district].

10. As examples for important studies in the field of oral history, see Rosenthal (1987), Niethammer (1983) (for Germany); Yoshiaki Yoshimi (1987) or Cook (1992) (for Japan); Terkel (1991) (for the United States of America).

11. William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America 1919-1921 (New York 1959).

12. See, for instance, Lubas-Bartoszynska, "Autobiographische Wettbewerbe und soziologische Biographieforschung in Polen nach 1945," BIOS (7), vol. 2, 1994, S 240-254.

13. Sekai, Aug. 1955, 63.

14. See Sabur°o Takahashi, 56.

15. Ibid., p. 55.

16. Ibid., p. 75.

17. Ibid., p. 107.

18. Terebi T°oky°o-hen, Sh°ogen: Watakushi no Sh°owa-shi [Testimonies: My personal Sh°owa history], vols. 1-6 (Interviewer: Mikuni Ichir°o), Bungei shunj°u, 1989 (The first edition was published already in 1969).

19. Ashai shimbun t°ema danwashitsu-hen, Sens°o: Taikensha no kich°o na sh°ogen [War: Valuable testimonies of those who lived through war], Asahi bunko, vols. 1-3. The series (first published in 1987) was reprinted in 1990. See Yutaka Yoshida, "Nihonjin no sens°okan: Daburu sutand°ado no d°oy°o, 1980 nendai" [War perception of the Japanese: The double standard wavers in the 1980s], Sekai, no. 4, 1995, 282ff, for a very positive evaluation of this collection of war experiences and its position in social development.

20. See Nakazawa Michio in his afterword to the 1990 reprinted Asahi, vol. 3, 563ff.

21. The set topic of the first collection was "Sensei" [Teacher].

22. See Asahi, vol. 1, 90-93.

23. Ibid., vol. 3, 550.

24. Ibid. See, for instance, the contributions on pp. 348 and 350 in vol. 1.

25. Ibid. See, for instance, pp. 421 or 431 in vol. 1.

26. Ibid. See, for instance, the contribution on p. 60 of vol. 1: "Senshisha o inuji ni atsukai suru f°uch°o (The trend to treat the death in was as in vain).

27. See Yoshida Yutaka, 296.

28. Sabur°o Takahashi, 29.

29. Ibid., 29.

30. See Teruo Yoshizawa, "ďJibunshi bunka ron' no kokoromi" [Attempt for an outline of personal history culture], Gendai no esupuri, no. 9, 1995, 9ff.

31. Ibid., p. 16.

32. Daikichi Irokawa, a scholar of modern Japanese history, born in 1925, is still actively supporting a history conception that relies on, and encourages, active participation by the people who lived through historic times. His most important publications in regard to the encouragement of the writing down of personal history are: Aru Sh°owa-shi: Jibunshi no kokoromi. (Ch°uk°o bunko, 1978); Minsh°ushi: Sono 100 nin (K°odansha Gakujutsu bunko, 1991); Jibunshi: Sono rinen to kokoromi (K°odansha, 1992).

33. The term "fundagi und°o" is synonymous with "minna no bunsh°o und°o" [Movement for everyone's composition]. See Daikichi Irokawa, Jibunshi, 1992, 18ff.

34. Daikichi Irokawa, 1992, Jibunshi 1992, 245.

35. Ibid., 11.

36. Ibid., 17.

37. Ibid., 24.

38. Tomiko Amanuma, "Aru dengon," Watakushi no sh°owa-shi, ed. Kat°o Sh°uichi, (Iwanami Shinsho), 16.

39. Yoshinori Shiozawa, "Jibunshi o yom°o" [Reading personal history tales], Shis°o no kagaku, no. 9, 1989, 4.

40. In 1985, Canon introduced a Japanese word processor for less than ┤100,000. The first Japanese word processor, marketed by Toshiba six years earlier, cost more than 10 times as much. See Teruo Yoshizawa, "Jibunshi bunka nempy°o (1951-1995)," [Table of personal history culture], Gendai no esupuri, 191ff.

41. Teruo Yoshizawa, 191ff.

42. °Oe reviewed and took part in the jury over the 540 "personal histories" (jibunshi) that were entered in a jibunshi constest arranged by NHK Gakuen in 1991.

43. Sh°uichi Kat°o edited, in 1988, a volume for Iwanami entitled Watakushi no Sh°owa-shi [My personal Sh°owa history]; compiled in this volume are 15 autobiographical stories out of a total of 649 stories that were sent to the contest. Kat°o is also named, together with Inoue Hisashi, for review of the tales that are submitted to the contest for a Kita no J°umonji literary prize. This literary prize was established for the "50 post-war years" occasion. Topic: "Ano hi ano toki" [That day, that time]. See K°obo gaido, Sept. 1995 64.

44. Sh°otar°o Yasuoka was named as a critic for the Yamanashi Literary Prize 1995. See K°obo gaido, Sept. 1995, 78.

45. See K°obo gaido, Sept. 1995, 78.

46. There is now a second, very similar magazine named Tsunoru [Gathering of contributions].

47. See, for instance, the "Mai Bukku Shuppan Sent°a" [publication centre for "my book"] that was established in 1983; or see the title of a manual for jibunshi: "Watakushi no hon no tsukurikata: Mai bukku" [How to produce "my own book"] (Saga-ken, Hikone-shi, Sunrise Insatsu shuppan-bu).

48. The contest called Minna no sakubun konk°uru [Contest for everyone's composition], arranged again by the Asahi shimbun company, is one of the contests that attract the most contributors: between 1990 and 1994 the number of participants exceeded 10,000 several times. See K°obo gaido, Sept. 1995, 58.

49. Teruo Yoshizawa, "D°eta de miru jibunshi" [Personal history seen in the statistics], Gendai no esupuri, 1995, 168.

50. Sens°o o shiranai sedai e [To the generation that does not know war] was the title of a multi-volume edition published by the Youth Division of the S°oka Gakkai from 1974 to 1985.

51. See, for instance, Wermer Filmer and Heribert Schwan, eds., Mensch, der Krieg ist aus! Zeitzeugen erinnern sich an den 8 Mai 1945, (Düsseldorf: Econ Verlag, 1995) (First edition: 1985); or Werner Filmer and Heribert Schwan, eds., Besiegt, befreit...Zeitzeugen erinnern sich an das Kriegsende 1945, (Munich: Bertelsmann, 1995). See also M. Reich-Ranicki, ed., Meine Schulzeit im Dritten Reich: Erinnerungen deutscher Schriftsteller, (Munich: dtv, 1992).

52. Helmut Peitsch, "Deutsachlands GedŐchtnis an seine dunkelste," Zur Funktion der Autobiographik in den Westzonen Deutschlands und den Westsektoren von Berlin 1945 bis 1949, (Berlin: Ed. Sigma Bohn, 1990), 30.

53. Ibid., 31.

54. Ibid., 32.

55. Remscheider Institut fčr Bildung und Kultur, ed., So also schmeckt das Leben, (Remscheid, 1993), 7.

56. See Michael Schornstheimer, "Harmlose Idealisten und draufgŐngerische Soldaten," MilitŐr und Krieg in den Illustriertenronmanen der fčnfzigger Jahre, Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941-1944, ed. Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann, (Hamburg: Hamburg Edition, 1995), 634ff.

57. Die leuchtenden Augen der Frontsoldaten: Nationalsozialismus und Krieg in den Illustriertenromanen der fčnfziger Jahre, (Berlin: Metropol, 1995), 14.

58. The weekly magazine Wochenpost inveited readers to submit contributions entitled "Dresden erinnert sich" in November 1994. In February 1995, 50 years after the air raids on Dresden, a special edition appeared which included 33 contributions out of a total of 160 letters previously sent to the editor. For personal accounts of non-prominent writers, see, for instance, Imo Wilimzig, ed., 1900-1950: 50 Jahre erlebte und geschriebene Geschichte, (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 1982), or: Remscheider Institut fčr Bildung und Kultur, ed., So also schmeckt das Leben (Remscheid, 1993). 59. This is true for prominent and non-prominent writers alike.

60. See Sabur°o Takahashi, 97.

61. Ibid., 105ff.

62. See Yutaka Yoshida, 295ff; and Ian Buruma, The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), 129, similarly determines the date of a change in the writers' attitudes in the mid-1980s.

63. See the 11 tales that were published as part of the "Call for manuscripts in Memory of the 15th of August" project in Seikai, Sept. 1960, 191ff. Title: "Watakushi to Ch°ugoku" [China and I].

64. S°oka Gakkai Youth Division Antiwar Publication Committee: "Peace Is Our Duty: Accounts of What War Can Do to Man," The Japan Times, 1977; and a second English volume by the same editors: "Cries for Peace: Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II," first English edition: The Japan Times, 1978. See also Siegfried Schaarschmidt, ed., Schrei nach Frieden: Japanische Zeugnisse gegen den Krieg (Düsseldorf/Vienna Econ., 1984).

65. See Sabur°o Takahashi, p. 111.

66. Ibid., 105.

67. Russian soldiers also apparently talked freely about rapes they committed in Poland and Germany; see Helke Sander and Barbara Johr, eds., Befreier und Befreite: Krieg, Vergewaltigungen, Kinder (Munich: Kunstmann, 1992), 96ff.

68. See Helke Sander and Barbara Johr, eds., 65ff.

69. The documentary "Das grože Schweigen," by Maren Nemeyer and Coroline von der Tann, was shown on 9 November 1995 in the East German Broadcast (ORB).

70. See Sabur°o Takahashi, 107.

71. Rumiko Nishino collected accounts of former soldiers who talked or wrote about their encounters with comfort women. She found countless tales of soldiers describing military brothels and relations between soldiers and comfort women living in these quarters. See Rumiko Nishino, J°ugun ianfu: Moto heishitachi no sh°ogen [Military comfort women: Testimonies of former soldiers] (Akashi Shoten, 1992). Ry°uji Takasaki, 100 satsu ga kataru: "Insho," otoko no honne [What 100 works tell: Brothels, real feelings of men]. Nashi no ki yado, 1994, found 100 remembrances, personal tales and literary works, where men spoke of their real feelings towards comfort women and military brothels. It is also worth remembering that Tajir°o Tamura wrote in 1964 his short story Inago [Locusts], where the comfort women issue was described in detail. See Takeo Okuno, Taiheiy°o sens°o: Heishi to shimin no kiroku (Sh°ueisha bunko, 1995), 100 and 120ff.

72. See, for instance, Gabriele Rosenthal, "Vom Krieg erzŐhlen, von den Verbrechen schweigen," Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941-1944, ed. Hannes Heer and Klauss Naumann, Hamburg: Hamburg Editions, 1995) or Ludger Tekampe, KriegserzŐhlungen: Eine Studie zur erzuählerischen Vergegenwärtigung des Zweiten Weltkrieges (Mainz: Studien zur Volkskultur in Rheinland-Pfalz, 1989), who both equally found only silence with regard to the individual role in atrocities, even about killing and death in war at all.

73. Peter Schneider, "German Postwar Strategies of Coming to Terms with the Past," Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan, ed. Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1993), 281.

74. Zeit-Forum: "Wir hatten geglaubt, wir kÜnnten anstŐndig bleiben" [We thought we could remain fair and respectable], Die Zeit, 3rd March 1995, 14-20. (Participants: Klaus von Bismarck, Hannes Heer, Heinrich-Joachim Graf von Moltke, Dr. Jčrgen Schreiber, Dr. Wolfram Wette, Dr. Marie GrŐfin DÜnhoff, Helmut Schmidt, Theo Sommer, among others.)

75. See Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann, eds., Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941-1944. (Hamburg: Hamburg Editions, 1995). See also Zeit-Forum. 76. See, for instance, Gabriele Rosenthal and Ludger Tekampe, 118 ff. 77. Ian Buruma, 8.


Between VE Day and VJ Day:
A Contrast in American Perceptions of World War II

Daizabur°o Yui


Crucial differences were shown in the way official ceremonies were conducted for the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and in the Pacific. In Europe, "reconciliation" between victor and vanquished was intentionally displayed. Top leaders of over 50 former belligerent countries including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Germany gathered to attend the official ceremonies which were held in London, Paris, Berlin, and Moscow from 7 May through 9 May 1995. As an example of this spirit of reconciliation, on 8 May in Berlin, US vice-president Al Gore praised the "profoundly new relationship between victor and vanquished" that now binds Germany to its neighbours.1

Moreover, French president Mitterand dramatized "reconciliation" with Germany at the same ceremony in Berlin by describing the fighting spirits of the wartime German people as follows: "I have not come to underline the defeat, because I know how much strength there was in the German people, its qualities, its courage, never mind what uniform it wore or even what motivated the soldiers who were about to die in such great numbers. They were courageous. They were prepared to die. For a bad cause, but what they did had nothing to do with that. They loved their country." At the last ceremony held in Moscow on 9 May, US president Clinton called for a return to the spirit of cooperation that prevailed during the war, which showed "all that is possible when our people are joined in a just cause."2

In contrast with these commemorations in Europe, which emphasized cross-national memories of the war, national boundaries of the memories were still overwhelming in the official ceremonies held in the Asia-Pacific area.

In Japan, a governmental ceremony commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war was held at Bud°okan, Tokyo, on 15 August 1995. Shortly before his attendance at this ceremony, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama announced a statement to extend, for the first time as a Japanese prime minister, his "heartfelt apology" for atrocities Japan committed in the Asia-Pacific War. However, the ceremony itself was held in the usual way, with the attendance of the emperor, top leaders of the government, Diet and Supreme Court, and delegates of the bereaved families in Japan. No foreign guests were invited to the ceremony.

Many East Asian nations held separate official ceremonies on the same day to celebrate their liberation from Japanese military domination 50 years ago. In the United States, the Government held its weekend ceremonies in Hawaii from 2 September 1995, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of VJ Day. In his speech, US President Clinton used the occasion to call on Americans to pull together like the World War II generation to face the new challenges fostered by political and economic changes in the present world. In front of WWII veterans, he highly praised their wartime efforts as follows: "Our security, our prosperity, our standing among other nations, all these are the legacies of the men and women, the heroes before us whom we honor today.... Now it is for us to be true to your legacy of courage and devotion to follow your lead in finding strength in America's diversity and unity in America's purpose."3 Although President Clinton expressed, at the same time, a few words of appreciation for "the recent powerful words," that is the apology for Japan's atrocities extended by the Japanese prime minister on 15 August, the main emphasis of his speech was clearly on calling for American unity by giving high praise to US veterans of World War II, rather than to the cross-national healing of war memories with Japan. The spirit of reconciliation among former belligerent nations, as shown in the official ceremonies in Europe, was not present in the US ceremony in Hawaii.

There were also important characteristics in the US ceremonies in Hawaii which differed from the one held in Japan. Although foreign delegates, including the Japanese, were invited to Hawaii, the Japanese government sent only low-level delegates. Why were there such substantial differences in the way the VE day and VJ day fiftieth anniversary ceremonies were conducted? Moreover, why are names with a different nuance - VE day (Victory in Europe) and VJ day (Victory over Japan) - in use today? Despite the fact that a proposal was made recently by the American Embassy in Tokyo to change the name VJ day to VP day (Victory in the Pacific day), the former name has maintained its popularity among English-speaking peoples.

Superficially comparing the post-war history of Japan with that of West Germany, such similarities can be found as the American occupation after the defeat, and the rapid economic recovery assisted by US aid, which resulted in the inclusion of both countries into the anti-Soviet bloc, etc. In spite of these similarities, why is it that recent American perceptions towards Germany seem to be so different from those towards Japan? For instance, a Gallup poll conducted in February 1992 indicated that only 47 per cent of the American respondents answered in favour of Japan, while 74 per cent answered in favour of Germany. Japan's favourability rating was less than its unfavourability rating (50 per cent) and less than the favourability rating of the CIS (former Soviet Union) (57 per cent). Of course, reasons for the unfavourable attitudes of Americans towards Japan are primarily due to the trade friction between the two countries. In addition, American memories of the Asia-Pacific War also seem to add to this disfavor, as the poll was conducted just after the fiftieth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, in December 1941.4

How can we explain this difference in recent American perceptions towards Japan and Germany? Is it because Japan and Germany are culturally and racially so different? Or is it because in reality the post-war development of both countries is very different? This article tries to answer these questions by focusing mainly on the changes in American perception towards both countries from wartime to the 1950s. Indeed it is no easy task to analyze the perception or image of certain nations as a whole, but this article tries to overcome such difficulties by using documents on the discourses of political leaders, as well as documents showing the mass sentiments at certain periods as reflected in public opinion polls and political cartoons.

Wartime Contrast in American Perceptions Towards Japan and Germany

Although Japan and Germany were both in the Axis, fighting against the United States in World War II, American images towards these nations were quite different. For instance, in July 1942, the Office of Public Opinion Research conducted a poll to ask American respondents to pick as many descriptive terms related to the national characters of Japan and Germany as they liked. As a result, in the case of images of the Germans, the top five terms were "warlike" (67%), "hard-working" (62%), "cruel" (57%), "treacherous" (42%), "intelligent" (41%); while the top five images of the Japanese were "treacherous" (73%), "sly" (63%), "cruel" (56%), "warlike" (46%), "hard-working" (39%).5 This poll clearly indicates that wartime Americans bore more negative images towards the Japanese than the Germans, because the former was described by only one positive term (hard-working) as the fifth ranking, while the latter was described by two positive terms (hard-working and intelligent) as the second and fifth ranking among the five terms.

Moreover, more negative images of the Japanese persisted during the whole WWII era. For example, in opinion polls that questioned German and Japanese "warlikeness," which were conducted intermittently by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), 41-57% of the American respondents answered that the Japanese "always want to go to war," while only 21-39% thought the same of the Germans. These more negative images of the Japanese were upheld almost unchanged during WWII. On the other hand, negative images of the Germans increased as the war continued. Nevertheless, even in the last stage of the war, in 1944-45, the percentage of Americans who thought the Germans were "too easily led into war by powerful leaders" was almost comparable to the percentage of those who thought the Germans were warlike as a nation.

The tendency to distinguish the German people from their Nazi leaders can also be found in the wartime propaganda in the United States. C.R. Coppes and G.D. Black wrote that Americans "did not define their European, and white, adversaries in racial terms. Although most Americans found Nazism abhorrent, they still made distinctions between Nazis and good Germans. Europeans retained scope for individual action, even resistance to their totalitarian governments - a notion all but absent from ideas regarding the Japanese monolith."6

Such different images of Germany and Japan were also displayed in many political cartoons appearing during the war in American newspapers and magazines. There are examples where Germans were represented by a caricaturized Hitler, whereas the Japanese were drawn like a chimpanzee - therefore a distinction had not been made between the people and their militaristic leaders. John Dower also pointed out the different images of Germany and Japan as follows:

German atrocities were known and condemned from an early date, but in keeping with their practice of distinguishing between good and bad Germans, Allied critics tended to describe these as "Nazi" crimes rather than behavior rooted in German culture or personality structure. This may have been an enlightened attitude, but it was not a consistent one, for in the Asian theater enemy brutality was almost always presented as being simply "Japanese."7

Why did many Americans during the war bear such monolithically negative images towards the Japanese? In considering this question, the following three factors may be stressed.

First, for American soldiers, fighting in the Pacific was felt to be far more severe and bitter because of the tropical climate and jungles than the European theatre, where climate and topography were familiar to most Americans.

Second, it is also decisive that such fanatical fighting tactics by Japanese soldiers as the refusal to surrender or suicidal attacks, indoctrinated by ultra-militaristic leaders during the war, made many Americans feel that the Japanese were strange or uncivilized. As Ernie Pyle explained, this sense of strangeness or disdain towards the Japanese was mingled with racial prejudice towards Asians. "In Europe we felt that our enemies, horrible and deadly as they were, were still people. But out here (the Pacific) I soon gathered that the Japanese were looked upon as something subhuman or repulsive; the way some people feel about cockroaches or mice."8 As is often mentioned, the Allied POWs were treated far more badly in the Pacific than in Europe. As a result, 27 per cent of American and British POWs died at the hands of the Japanese, while of the American and British prisoners of war captured by Germany and Italy, only 4 per cent died.9

However, this story shows only one side of the coin, as John Dower sharply analysed: The distinction between the war in the West and the war in Asia and the Pacific is in itself simplistic, however, for it obscures the fact that the Germans were engaged in several separate wars - on the eastern front, on the western front, and against the Jews - and their greatest and most systematic violence was directed against peoples whom most English and Americans also looked down upon, or simply were unable to identify with strongly. Foremost among these were the eastern Europeans, the Slavs, and the Jews - all of whom, along with Asians, were the target of America's own severe immigration restrictions dating back to the 1920s."10

Thus, the wartime American distinction between the European and Pacific theatres was also biased by American's ethnocentric feelings. This bias was typically shown in the Roosevelt administration's decision to evacuate only the people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. People from Germany and Italy never faced such compulsory internment in WWII.

To support this mass evacuation, Earl Warren, California's attorney general, explained why the incarceration should be targeted only at the Japanese and the Japanese Americans as follows:

We believe that [when] we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will test the loyalty of them, and we believe that we can, in dealing with the Germans and Italians, arrive at some fairly sound conclusions because of our knowledge of the way they live in the community and have lived for many years. But when we deal with the Japanese we are in an entirely different field and we cannot form any opinion that we believe to be sound.11

Superficially, it might be understood that Warren simply wanted to mention the difference between German/Italian and Japanese immigrants with regard to their involvement in the American community. However, in reality there were many Japanese immigrants who had lived in the United States for over 30 or 40 years and were American citizens by birth when the Pacific War broke out. By ignoring these facts, Warren judged that there was no way to test the loyalty of the Japanese immigrants as a whole. Clearly, this judgement was based on his racial prejudice against the Japanese. Third, therefore, the racial prejudice of many Americans in wartime against the Japanese also strongly influenced their monolithically negative images of the Japanese.

Convergence of the Perception Gap in the Occupation Period

After the defeat, Germany and Japan were occupied by the Allied powers. In Germany, the former Reich was divided up into four zones of occupation (British, French, American and Soviet) and the Allies established their own military governments in each occupation zone without acknowledging the legitimacy of the Doenitz administration appointed by Hitler just before his suicide. On the other hand, in Japan, the Allied powers occupied Japan without dividing its territory or establishing their own military government. They tried to reform Japan through the Japanese governmental machinery. As General MacArthur was appointed the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, the US government gained predominant influence in occupied Japan.

It is in these occupation periods that the gap between American perceptions of Germany and Japan, which could typically be seen in WWII, began to disappear. According to the NORC poll conducted in July 1946, there was no meaningful difference in American images towards Germany and Japan. However, at the same time, most Americans entertained doubtful feelings towards Germany and Japan. In the poll only 21-22 per cent of the respondents answered that both the Germans and the Japanese "would become good citizens of the world."

There are several factors to explain why the perception gap closed in this period. First, most Germans and Japanese resisted much less to the occupation forces than the United States had expected during wartime. Moreover, there were quite a few people who had welcomed the US forces as liberators.

Second, American occupation authorities in both countries communicated favourable news home through censorship. In the case of Japan, in particular, as MacArthur gained predominant influence, he checked the negative news to be sent home. As a result, along with successful reform in the early stages of the occupation in Japan, American public opinion held a far better impression of the occupation in Japan than of the divided occupation of Germany.

Third, America's growing interest in post-war Asia overturned the racial prejudice against Asians, particularly at the level of the US government and the Congress. This was clearly shown in the process of the repealing of anti-Asian immigration laws, which started in 1943, when anti-Chinese laws were abolished, and ended in 1952, when discriminatory laws against Japanese and Korean immigrants were repealed by the McCarran-Walter Act.

Last, after the end of WWII, disclosure of such wartime atrocities as the Nazi Holocaust shocked so many Americans that they began to reflect on their own ethnocentric attitudes. Even in wartime, some American intellectuals, particularly the members of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), urged the Roosevelt administration in January 1945 to issue a supplementary statement to the Atlantic Charter, as the British government refused to apply the principle of national self-determination to their own colonies, in spite of their recognition of the principle in the Atlantic Charter. Many American newspapers severely criticized the British attitude and insisted on the universality of the Atlantic Charter.

The IPR intellectuals therefore thought that colonialism and racism might be the Achilles heel of the Allied powers, particularly on the ideological front, as the wartime Japanese government had strongly criticized Western colonialism in Asia and racism in the United States - especially as the United States had claimed to be a "liberator" for Asian peoples. They therefore insisted that the supplementary statement to the Atlantic Charter should include an anti-racism clause as follows: "The United Nations emphatically rejects the theories of master races who claim to have inherently superior qualities entitling them to rule over or to act as guardians of other races or peoples."12

Although this proposal was not adopted by the US government, the idea was realized in post-war declarations adopted by the United Nations such as the UN Charter of 1945 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Moreover, many Asian and African peoples gained their independence, and Western colonialism was completely abolished in the post-war world.

It can be estimated, therefore, that WWII marked an important turning point in the history, not only of race relations, but also of empire-colony relations. Nevertheless, at the same time, it does not mean that all forms of racial discrimination were abolished or swept away in every society. Rather, racism was transformed from unreserved racial hatred, often with physical violence, into hidden forms of racial prejudice with a sense of superiority. For example, in the American occupation era, so many political cartoons appeared in which the Japanese were drawn like schoolchildren being taught democracy by the American occupation forces. In other words, such paternalistic sentiments were developed by the occupation experiences in Japan, which resulted in the softening of racial hatred, but a sense of superiority towards the Japanese was strengthened.

At the same time, even in the late stage of American occupation in Japan, cautious feelings towards the Japanese were maintained by many Americans. Only 34 per cent of respondents answered that they had "friendly" feelings towards the Japanese in a poll in March 1949. A similar situation can be found in the case of West Germany, where, even on 13 June 1950, only 23 per cent of respondents answered that they "can trust" the Germans.

However, this situation changed dramatically after the Korean War broke out. According to an opinion poll conducted in August 1951, 14 months after the beginning of the war, those who felt "friendly" towards the Japanese abruptly increased to 51 per cent. The same was found with regard to American images towards the West Germans. A poll conducted in February 1953 indicated that 52 per cent of the respondents felt "friendly" towards the West Germans.

Of course, there could be various reasons why many Americans began to foster friendly feelings towards the Japanese and the West Germans in the early 1950s. However, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Korean War had a great impact on American public opinion to the extent that it was believed to be very important to keep West Germany and Japan as allies. The Truman administration had explained that the Korean War formed part of the global East-West conflict rather than describing it as a local civil war in the Korean peninsula. As a result, after the Korean War broke out, the American government accelerated not only rearmament in West Germany and Japan, but also political reconciliation with the two nations by concluding "soft peace" treaties.


As pointed out in the Introduction of this article, the perception gap in American memories of WWII towards Germany and Japan has again become noticeable, despite the fact that in the occupation era the gap almost seemed to disappear. Why is this so? The main reasons can be found in the different attitudes of these two nations towards their own war responsibilities rather than the American perceptions of them. Our final analysis should therefore focus on the question of why Germany and Japan have been considering their own war responsibilities so differently, despite their similar positions as the Axis powers in WWII.

Here, we must include such factors as political leadership, popular perceptions of the war and post-war settlement peace treaties.

First, a sharp contrast can be found at the level of political leadership between post-war Germany and Japan. In the case of occupied Germany, the occupation authorities of the Allied powers tried to eliminate the leading Nazis by putting them on trial for war crimes or purging all Nazis from leading roles in public life (de-Nazification). Non-Nazi leaders such as Konrad Adenauer, a conservative Christian leader, were encouraged to take leadership in the post-war era. As a result, there was basically a discontinuity of political leadership with the Third Reich in post-war Germany. There were exceptional cases, however, such as the case of Hans Globke, a civil servant in the Ministry of Justice in the Nazi era, who was appointed as a personal assistant to Chancellor Adenauer.

Although Adenauer had been expelled from the mayorship of Cologne by the Nazis in 1933 and imprisoned in 1944, he admitted his personal feelings of guilt as a German. In his memoirs, he wrote how he felt when he heard about Nazi atrocities during wartime: During the National Socialist period, I was often ashamed to be a German, ashamed to the depths of my soul. From Consul General von Weiss, I had learned of the atrocities committed by German against German, and of the crimes perpetrated against mankind.13 Such a sense of national guilt was widely shared by the German population immediately after the defeat. A famous philosopher, Karl Jaspers, expressed it in his lectures in 1947 in more systematic ways. "Every German is made to share the blame for the crimes committed in the name of the Reich. We are collectively liable. The question is in what sense each of us must feel co-responsible. Certainly in the political sense of the joint liability of all citizens for acts committed by their state - but for that reason not necessarily also in the moral sense of actual or intellectual participation in crime."14

In the case of Japan, on the other hand, because the Allies decided to reform Japan indirectly through the existing Japanese governmental machinery, old leaders from the pre-war era (with the exception of the military and war criminals) could survive even in post-war Japan. As a result, continuity rather than discontinuity of political leadership with the pre-war era became noticeable in the post-war era. For instance, Yoshida Shigeru, one of the most influential conservative politicians in post-war Japan, was appointed as ambassador to Great Britain in 1936 and was forced to retire from the official post in 1939 because of his opposition to the pro-Axis policy. Thereafter he lived as a retired diplomat, although in February 1945 he was arrested temporarily by the military police under suspicion for his commitment to Prince Konoe's peace plan to end the war.

Yoshida had, therefore, the credentials of a "liberal" diplomat with a pro-British and American stance. However, at the same time, as he was a strong worshipper of the emperor system and defender of the economic interests in Manchuria and China, he could therefore be called a typical "old liberal" with an imperialist orientation. Because of his "old liberal" position, he was strongly opposed to the Allies' purge of wartime leaders. He emphasized the difference between militarists and "old liberals" as follows: "It was by no means true that all of those formerly holding responsible positions in Japan were militarists or ultra-nationalists. One feels almost foolish to have to make such a self-evident statement, for many of those concerned were leaders holding liberal and democratic views, whose courage to act on such ideas had given us modern Japan. ... Moreover, Japan had not been placed under a totalitarian regime controlled by a nationwide organization of men of the same political persuasion, as in the case of Germany, so that it was meaningless to assert that the number of our purges compared unfavourably with the total in Germany."15

Thus, he tried to persuade GHQ of the innocence of "liberal" politicians in terms of war responsibility, by diverting all responsibility to the military or ultra-nationalists. Based on such logic, he did not possess the sense of national guilt that was shown by the first Chancellor of West Germany.

Second, political leaders' attitudes towards reparation and compensation to neighbouring countries or foreign war victims were also very different between West Germany and Japan. Because the Nazis committed atrocities against the Jews within German territory, it was impossible for the Germans to deny their occurrence. As a result, Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of the German Federal Republic, earnestly persuaded the federal parliament to do everything within its powers to heal the wounds caused by the Nazis. In December 1951, he sent a letter to Dr. Nahum Goldman, who was chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, in which he wrote: "I should like to add that the federal government views the problem of restitution and indemnification primarily as a moral obligation, and considers the German people in honor bound to do everything possible to repair the injustice inflicted upon the Jewish people."16

Moreover, in order to regain its independence, it was not enough for West Germany to come to terms only with the United States, which had already taken a "soft peace" approach to West Germany after the Cold War began. West Germany had to be reconciled with the neighbouring Western European countries, particularly with France. As a result, West Germany promoted a new approach of economic integration in Western Europe so enthusiastically that it became inevitable for West Germany to liquidate clearly its own responsibilities for the past aggression.

For instance, Adenauer gave an address in Paris in April 1951 to promote the plan for the European Coal and Steel Community. He said:

Henceforth the war between France and Germany is not only unthinkable but materially impossible. The conclusion of the treaty for the European Coal and Steel Community marks above all, solemnly and irrevocably, the closing of a past in which these two peoples, animated by suspicion, jealousy, and selfishness, found themselves again and again facing each other with arms in their hands ...17

It is this new idea of regional integration that makes a decisive difference between the West German leaders' and Japanese leaders' attitudes towards their war responsibilities. In the case of Japan, the United States was the dominant power that decided the future course of post-war Japan during the occupation period; and after the Cold War began, the US government also began to promote a "soft peace" policy towards Japan. Moreover, despite the fact that China had been damaged most severely by Japanese aggression, Japan lost its chance to be reconciled with China after the Chinese Communists gained power in 1949 and the United States' anti-China policy was introduced.

In addition, Prime Minister Yoshida welcomed such American initiatives for "soft peace" as the most beneficial policy for Japan. He wrote at the time of the peace negotiations: "Furthermore, in contrast to some of the Allied powers which still at that date entertained feelings of hatred and distrust towards Japan, the United States had arrived at a better understanding of conditions in my country and so had become more sympathetic towards our hopes and claims. ... It was clear therefore that there existed little hope of peace acceptable to Japan unless the United States spoke for us during the preliminary talks among the Allied powers concerning the convening of a peace conference."18

As is often pointed out, the San Francisco Peace Treaty became a "partial peace" because the Eastern bloc countries withheld their signatures, protesting American policy to maintain its military bases in Japan even after the peace treaty was signed. However, at the same time, the treaty was also "partial" in the sense that many Asian countries which had suffered severely under Japanese aggression showed great hesitation to sign - either because of their disagreement on the reparation clauses (for example, the Philippines and Indonesia), or because countries were not even invited to the peace conference (for example, China and Korea). As a consequence of this "partiality" promoted by the US Cold War policy, Japan thought less seriously, until recently, of its responsibilities for the aggression it committed in Asia.

Finally, Japanese popular perceptions of the war are also very different from those of the Germans, for whom it was almost impossible to deny their responsibilities as victimizers, as could be seen clearly with regard to the Holocaust. On the other hand, the civilian Japanese who had remained on the mainland during the war felt as if they were the victims rather than victimizers, because of atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the conventional bombings in many cities.

Of course, there were many Japanese soldiers who committed atrocities against Asians or Allied POWs, but they had kept their silence after their return to the homeland, as they were afraid of being labelled as war criminals. As a result, the popular memories as victims have overwhelmed the soldiers' hidden experiences as victimizers on the warfront. This is the reason why a broad spectrum of post-war Japanese came to feel that "war brings sorrow" or "no more war again."

However, in the 1980s, the situation began to change in Japan. During this period, many Asian countries have successfully democratized, thus pro- foundly influencing opportunities for their citizens to speak up about their own bitter experiences during the war. Moreover, in 1982, Asian nations protested the whitewash of official Japanese textbooks regarding Japanese predations in Asia. These protests had such a great impact on the younger generation of Japanese that they began to visit and interview war victims in Asia and to explain the plight of the victims to Japanese audiences. In addition, in the 1980s, as former Japanese soldiers reached retirement age, some of them began to break their silence over their wartime actions and their own culpability.

The death of the Sh°owa emperor in January 1989 eased the way for the Japanese media to further open the discussion of the issue of war responsibility. In addition, in January 1992, just before Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa was to make a state visit to the Republic of Korea, some historians discovered documents proving that the wartime Japanese government and military had directly recruited and managed the former "military comfort women." Since then, the issue of unsettled compensation for foreign war victims has become a major topic of discussion in Japan.19

Thus, presently it has become unavoidable for the Japanese to face the issue of war responsibility, including compensation for foreign war victims. Although the fiftieth anniversary of the end of WWII in 1995 would have been a good time to settle this issue, Japan did not fully make good use of this opportunity. However, if Japan wants to be a member of the community that is developing in the Asia-Pacific area in the future, it will be more and more unavoidable for Japan to do so.

Notes and References

1. New York Times, 8 May 1995.

2. New York Times, 10 May 1995; 12 May 1995.

3. New York Times, 2 Sept. 1995.

4. The Gallup Poll, 1992, Scholarly Resource Inc., 1993, 28.

5. Hadrey Cantril, ed., Public Opinion 1935-1946. Princeton Unviersity Press, 1951, 500-1.

6. Clayton R. Coppes and Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War Movies (The Free Press, 1987), 252.

7. John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (Pantheon Books, 1986), 34.

8. Emie Pyle, Last Chapter (Henry Holt & Co., 1945).

9. Clayton R. Coppes and Gregory D. Black, 253.

10. John W. Dower, 34-35.

11. Robert A. Wilson and Bill Hosokawa, East to America: A History of the Japanese in the United States (William Morrow & Co., 1980) 197.

12. Rapporteur's Report, Round Table B, Topic V, Dependent Areas, 9th Conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations (January 1945), p. 6, The IPR Collection, University of Hawaii.

13. Konrad Adenauer, Memoirs 1945-1953, trans. Beate Ruhm von Oppen (Henry Regenry, 1966), 38.

14. Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt, trans. E.B. Ashton (Dial Press, 1947), 61.

15. Shigeru Yoshida, The Yoshida Memoirs: The Story of Japan in Crisis, trans. Kemchi Yoshida, (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1962), 148-9.

16. Paul Weymar, Adenauer: His Authorized Biography (E.P. Dutton & Co., 1947), 410.

17. Ibid., 389.

18. Shigeru Yoshida, 247.

19. For further details, see Daizabur°o Yui, "Between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima/Nagasaki: A Psychological Vicious Circle," trans. Laura Hein, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 27, no. 2, April-June 1995.


An Outline of the US Occupation Policies towards Japan and Germany as a Basis of Historical Memory
Masaki Miyake

Introductory Remarks

My intention in this short essay is to undertake a general review of the US occupation policy towards Japan and Germany with the aim of looking for a basis of historical memory in the occupation period in both countries. Both countries concluded the Tripartite Alliance with Italy in September 1940 and joined the Second World War as the Axis powers against the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and other countries. The US occupation policies toward Japan and Germany were without doubt very similar. However, when we scrutinize these policies in detail, we may also find many differences.

The Time Lag of Surrender

When comparing the occupation policies of the United States in Japan and Germany, the time lag of three months between the surrender of Germany in May 1945 and the surrender of Japan in August 1945 should not be neglected. At the time of the German surrender, the spirit of the "Grand Alliance" between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union was still alive. The expectation that this spirit would survive even after the end of the Second World War continued among the leading US circles. This was demonstrated when President Truman ordered the US forces to retreat from Saxony and Thuringia in keeping with an agreement with the Soviet Union. To the extent that this expectation lived on, the occupational policies towards the Axis powers became severer. Typical of such policies was the Morgenthau Plan, under which Germany was to be changed into an agrarian land.

Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the secretary of the treasury, was Roosevelt's favourite. Nevertheless, even Roosevelt hesitated to pursue the Morgenthau Plan. However, the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) Directive No. 1067 declared on 14 May 1945, shortly after the death of Roosevelt, retained traces of this plan. This directive accorded with the above plan on the point that the US forces should keep in mind solely the fulfilment of the occupation policy with regard to the German people and economy.1

In the three months between early May and the middle of August 1945, the political atmosphere in the US government changed. After the death of Roosevelt, Morgenthau's influence on foreign policy was weakened. Truman prevented Morgenthau from interfering in his foreign policy. Morgenthau, disappointed, demitted on 5 July. Because Edward Reilly Stettinius, the secretary of state, was fully occupied with work for the founding of the United Nations, Joseph C. Grew, his under-secretary, had a free hand. Grew had been ambassador in Tokyo before the outbreak of the Pacific War and was well informed of the situation in Japan. Stettinius, however, was replaced by James Francis Byrnes on 3 July 1945. Grew turned over to Byrnes a draft of the proclamation to be declared in the coming conference at Potsdam, which contained the following passage: The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives (designated in other sections) have been accomplished and there has been established a peacefully inclined, responsible government of a character representative of the Japanese people. This may include a constitutional monarchy under the present dynasty if the peaceloving nations can be convinced of the genuine determination of such a government to follow policies of peace which will render impossible the future development of aggressive militarism in Japan.2

It is widely known that the second sentence of this passage was omitted from the Potsdam Declaration. Had it not been omitted, it might have made Japan's surrender easier and earlier, and saved many Japanese lives. It was unthinkable, however, that a similar sentence might have been proposed as a guideline to make Germany's surrender easier and earlier.

The time lag of three months thus softened, to a certain extent, the US occupation policy towards Japan in comparison to the one towards Germany. Germany was placed under the direct military administration of the four Allied powers, the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Japan, on the other hand, was put under the indirect control of the Allied powers. The United States was, in fact, the only power that occupied Japan. In Japan, successive civilian governments were permitted to continue.

The "Epidemiological Elements" in the US Occupation Policies towards Japan and Germany and Their Reversal Ikuhiko Hata, in his study of the US occupation policy towards Japan, mentions four main objectives that were common in the policy towards Germany and Japan. These were: (1) demilitarization, (2) dÄmontage (withdrawal of heavy industry equipment for reparations), (3) de-Nazification (in Japan's case the purge of right-wing leaders), and (4) democratization.3 The most fundamental of these four policies was demilitarization, which harked directly back to the Casa Blanca formula demanding the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy and Japan. Its origin can be traced even further back to the "Quarantine Speech" which Roosevelt gave on 5 October 1937. He said in this speech in Chicago that peace, freedom, and the safety of 90 per cent of the human race was threatened by the 10 per cent, and that this 10 per cent had to be quarantined.4

Y°onosuke Nagai points out in his article "Cold War Doctrine" the "epidemiological nature" of US foreign policy. Concerning Roosevelt's "Quarantine Speech" he says: Giving a classic definition of "epidemiological geopolitics," Roosevelt said, "When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease." Needless to say, Roosevelt used this political expression to demonstrate the US posture of "strong neutrality" without sanctionary measures like armed intervention so as to awaken the Congress and the general public, still persisting in the attitude of isolationistic neutrality, to the "epidemic of world lawlessness" being spread by the Japanese militarists, Mussolini, and Hitler.5 The US foreign policy leaders clearly perceived the emergence of a new situation, which was called the Cold War, when they received the 8,000-word telegram of George Kennan from Moscow. To quote again from Nagai:

No fewer than eight times, from the autumn of 1945 through February of 1946, the United States received a series of communications from Ho Chih Minh, asking American support at the UN for the same free status that the United States was giving the Philippines. At that time the United States was beginning to take up the position that dealing with the Soviet Union with "patience and firmness" was the only effective policy, short of war, to counter the Russian challenge in Europe. It was an irony of history that while Washington made no response to Ho Chih Minh's overtures, a long cable received from George F. Kennan, the then American chargÄ d'affaires in Moscow, on February 22, 1946, evoked a reaction from Washington officials that was described as "nothing less than sensational.6

With regard to the epidemiological nature of the containment policy towards the Soviet Union that was suggested by Kennan, Nagai says:

To be sure, Kennan's esoteric interpretation of Soviet conduct, isolating the "pathogenic bacteria," prompted the US to do away with its previous "symptomatic treatment," thus opening a way to a more fundamental cure - the freedom of a nonmilitary unilateral action aimed at containing, first and foremost, the spread of the "bacteria" themselves.7

The emergence of the Cold War meant to the US foreign policy leaders that the Soviet-bloc countries became the "war-loving countries." These countries had to be contained by a "non-military unilateral action," just as Roosevelt had urged 10 years earlier to contain Germany, Italy and Japan. These three countries were now demilitarized. They were no more "war-loving countries." Quite the contrary; they had moved, in the perception of US foreign policy leaders, to the camp of "peace-loving countries." This was a big change inside the US foreign policy establishment with regard to the evaluation of these countries.8

This change of thinking came to be reflected in the occupation policy. Because the Western part of divided Germany was situated on the front of the Cold War, it was quite natural that the change of occupation policy - from punishment and reform to recovery - occurred earlier in West Germany than in Japan. Hata sees a roughly one-year time lag in the occupation policy changes as applied first in West Germany and then in Japan.9 This time lag may be characterized as a time lag of Cold War occurrence in Germany and Japan.

The Time Lag of the Cold War

The first suggestion of impending change can be found in a speech by US Secretary of State Byrnes, at Stuttgart on 6 September 1946, in which he stressed that the "Oder-Neisse Line" was only of a provisional character.10

On 2 December 1946, the United States and Great Britain signed an agreement to unite the US occupied zone and the British occupied zone into the "Bi-Zone." In March and April in 1947, the four foreign ministers' conference in Moscow was convened, but broke down on 24 April as a result of the dispute over the future of Germany. During this conference, the Truman Doctrine was declared on 12 March 1947. President Truman's speech in the joint meeting of the Houses demonstrated the will of the United States to contain the Communist advance in Turkey and Greece. He promised military and financial aid to both countries, including even taking over the aid of the United Kingdom. This was soon followed by the European Recovery Programme, the so-called Marshall Plan, in June 1947. The Marshall Plan financed West Germany amply to help its economic recovery. In the US occupation area in West Germany, the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) Directive No. 1067, which was full of severe regulations, was formally abolished on 15 July 1947 and replaced by JCS Directive No. 1779.11

In Japan, it was General MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), who played a decisive part in formulating and carrying out the occupation policy. In addition, his peculiar personality had a significant role. Although an "aristocrat" from the South by origin, he vindicated the economic reforms planned by survivors from the New Deal, such as economist Edward C. Welsh. Welsh was appointed as chief of the Anti-trust and Cartels Division of the Economic and Scientific Section of the GHQ/SCAP. The GHQ/SCAP was often called in Japan simply GHQ, General Headquarters. He promoted the anti-trust reform, and in July 1947 he ordered the demolishing of the mammoth trading companies of Mitsui (Mitsui Bussan) and Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Sh°oji). Cooperating with Justin Williams, chief of the Parliamentary and Political Division of the Government Section of SCAP, he succeeded in pushing the Law for the Elimination of Concentrations of Excessive Economic Power through the Diet on the last day of the session. The Lower House had consented to the law already on 28 September 1947, but the Upper House members were hesitating until the last moment. Williams stopped the clock of the assembly hall, and finally the law passed through the Upper House. Resisting representations from the US government in Washington, MacArthur defended these reforms.12

The Two Generals Who Handled Germany and Japan: Clay and MacArthur

It is interesting to compare the two figures, General Lucius D. Clay and General Douglas MacArthur, who administered the occupation policies in Germany and Japan respectively. Clay deeply impressed the German people as the man who saved West Berlin from the Soviet blockade by the air bridge in 1948-49. However, his term of service as the military governor of the US-occupied sector of West Germany was far shorter than that of MacArthur. Clay was appointed to this post in March 1947,13 and in May 1949, shortly after the blockade of Berlin ended, he left his position.14 The Kronprinz-Allee in Berlin was changed to Clay-Allee as a token of gratitude of the citizens of West Berlin to him.15 MacArthur, on the other hand, remained in his post until he was recalled by US president Harry Truman in April 1951, when the Truman-MacArthur controversy concerning the Korean War shocked America and the world.

Although the US-occupied sector constituted only one-third of West Germany as a whole, the United States was the most influential of the three powers, the United States, the United Kingdom and France. When the United States became aware of the intentions of the Labour government in London to promote the socialization of industry in the British sector,16 US influence contributed decisively to stop the development of a social and democratic organization of the German economy. Ernst-Otto Czempiel, in his article on the Federal Republic and America, insisted that this had been the general tendency in Germany,17 and he stressed the importance of the intervention of the United States in the political and socio-economic structure of West Germany.18

Generally speaking, Clay gives us an impression of a technocrat loyally following the directives from Washington, D.C. MacArthur, on the contrary, wanted to make his own decisions. In his massive work American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, William Manchester compared MacArthur with Clay as follows:

Ambassador William J. Sebald, who was the ranking US diplomat in Tokyo, believes that had MacArthur been "a less resolute commander ... the occupation might have been a complete fiasco." Because he held such a wide brief during the war, the General assumed that he needed little or no advice from Washington now. Unlike the brisk Lucius Clay in Germany, he regarded his task as an exalted historical mission. And, unlike Napoleon, he had always been ready to turn a deaf ear to appeals from his subordinates.19

Because MacArthur resisted the directives from Washington requesting him to reduce his reform policy, he succeeded in carrying out many democratic reforms in Japan. Among these reforms, the most successful of all was the agrarian reform. It contributed greatly to stabilizing the agrarian situation in Japan and thereby to consolidate the rule of the conservative party, supported, among others, by the agrarian voters. The peasants, who had been living in poverty as tenants of large landowners before this reform, became owners of their small landholdings. They were satisfied and voted for the candidates of the conservative party, who promised to defend their interests as both small landowners and producers of food.

Comparison of the US Occupation Policy Towards Japan and Germany

The turn of the occupation policy from reform to recovery, which had become a reality in Germany earlier, was to follow in Japan. The symbolic date of the turn was 14 October 1948. On this day, the effort of the Government Section (GS) of SCAP failed. The GS abhorred Shigeru Yoshida as the "most reactionary" element in Japanese politics. Charles Louis Kades, Deputy Chief of the GS, tried to hinder the emergence of a second Yoshida cabinet, but failed.20 Kades, a graduate from Harvard Law School, was a typical New Deal bureaucrat. In December 1948, he left Japan to visit Washington, D.C., as ordered, and he never returned to Japan. Yoshida and Adenauer were hence to appear on stage as the most powerful political leaders of Japan and West Germany.

The era of reforms ended before MacArthur was relieved by Truman in 1951. The occupation of Japan continued until the peace treaty was signed in San Francisco in September 1951 and came into effect in April 1952. The reforms initiated by the US authorities seem to have affected Japan more strongly than West Germany. The constitution, the agrarian system and the educational system, to give salient examples, were all drastically changed by the directives of GHQ. It is now a major task for historians to clarify how large the effect of the US occupation policy in Japan was, and then to compare it with that in Germany. Without doubt, the occupation policy period remains as a fundamental basis of historical memory both in Japan and Germany. Although Germany was less influenced by the occupation policy than Japan, the policy of demilitarization and de-Nazification, and also "re-education," left beyond doubt their traces within mind and memory of the German people.21

General MacArthur closed his address to Congress in April 1951 by quoting a barrack ballad: "Old soldiers never die. They just fade away."22 The memory and traces of his occupation and reform policy, however, are strongly felt in Japan even today. Are memory and traces of General Clay's policies strongly felt in Germany today besides the name of the street?

It will be meaningful, for example, to compare how de-Nazification (at first by way of a detained questionnairing, "Fragebogen") in Germany,23 and the purging of pre-war and wartime leaders in Japan, were utilized and manipulated by the occupying US authorities.24 A detailed comparative study of two politicians, Yoshida and Adenauer, is also to be expected. Thus, historians in Japan and Germany have plenty of tasks that lie ahead for comparative research. This essay has tried to give a short and rough sketch of some of the salient issues which have to be studied on a full scale by historians in Japan and Germany.25

Notes and References

1. Gerd Ressing, Versagte der Westen in Jalta und Potsdam? Ein dokumentierter Wegweiser durch die allierten Kriegskonferenzen (Frankfurt am Main: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1970), 55, 62.

2. Herbert Feis, The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, paperback, 1970), 26.

3. Ikuhiko Hata, "Japan unter amerikanischer Besatzung," Zwei zaghafte Riesen? Deutschland und Japan seit 1945, ed. Arnulf Baring and Masamori Sase (Stuttgart/Zčrich: Belser Verlag, 1977), 201.

4. Gerd Ressing, 11-12.

5. Y°onosuke Nagai, "The Roots of Cold War Doctrine: The Esoteric and the Exoteric," The Origins of the Cold War in Asia, ed. Y°onosuke Nagai and Akira Iriye (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1977), 23.

6. Ibid., 19.

7. Ibid., 21.

8. Shumpei Ueyama, Ueyama Shumpei Chosaku-sh°u [Ueyama Shumpei's collected works] vol. 3, 388-392.

9. Ikuhiko Hata, 209.

10. Andreas Hillgruber, Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1986: Die "deutsche Frage" in der Weltpolitik, 7th ed. (Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1989), 27.

11. Adolf M. Birke, Nation ohne Haus: Deutschland 1945-1961 (Die Deutschen und ihre Nation: Siedler Deutsche Geschichte) (Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1989), 166-167; Andreas Hillgruber, 28-29.

12. Ikuhiko Hata, Amerika no tai-Nichi senry°o seisaku [American occupation policy toward Japan], vol. 3 of the series Sh°owa zaisei shi: Sh°usen kara k°owa made [Financial history of the Showa period: From the end of war to the peace treaty], ed. °Okurash°o Zaisei Shi Shitsu [Chamber of the Financial History of the Ministry of Finance] (Tokyo: T°oy°o Keizai Shinp°o-sha, 1976), 301-305. Cf. Hata, "Japan unter amerikanischer Besatzung," 212.

13. Ernst Deuerlein, Deutsche Geschichte der neuesten Zeit von Bismarcks Entlassung bis zur Gegenwart, part 3, 1945-1955 [Handbuck der deutschen Geschichte neu herausgegeben von Leo Just, Band IV, 3. Teil] (Konstanz: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1965), 121.

14. John H. Backer, Die deutschen Jahre des Generals Clay: Der Weg zur Bundesrepublik 1945-1949, German translation by Hans Jürgen Baron von Koskull of Winds of History: The German Years of Lucius DuBignon Clay (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983) (Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1983), 321.

15. Ibid., 322.

16. Andreas Hillgruber, 22

17. Ernst-Otto Czempiel, "Die Bundesrepublik und Amerika: Von der Okkupation zur Kooperation," Die zweite Republik: 25 Jahre Bundesrepublik Deutschland - eine Bilanz, ed. Richard Löwenthal and Hans-Peter Schwarz (Stuttgart: Seewald Verlag, 1979), 561-562. Cf. Curt Gasteyger, "Das aussenpolitische Erbe der Besatzungszeit," Baring and Sase, 178.

18. Ernst-Otto Czempiel, 561.

19. William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 (Boston/Toronto: Little, Brown, 1978), 468.

20. Wataru °Omori, "Dai-niji Yoshida naikaku" [Second Yoshida cabinet], Nihon naikaku shiroku [Historical records of Japanese cabinets], ed. Shigeru Hayashi and Kiyoaki Tsuji (Tokyo: Dai-ichi Hoki, 1981), vol. 4, 169.

21. Cf. Volker R. Berghalhn, The Americanization of West German Industry 1945-1973 (Leamington Spa/New York: Berg Publishers, 1986). Regarding Japan, cf. Toshio Nishi, Unconditional Democracy: Education and Politics in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1982). Cf. further Rolf-Harald Wippich, "Molding Democrats: American Reeducation Policy in Germany and Japan," in: Fourth International Conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas, Graz, Austria, Part 2, The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms, vol. 1, no. 2, April 1996 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1996).

22. William Manchester, 661.

23. Adolf M. Birke, 66-69. Page 67 gives an illustration of such a "Fragebogen" questionnaire.

24. Cf. Hans H. Baerwald, The Purge of Japanese Leaders Under the Occupation (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1977) (Reprint of the 1959 ed. published by the University of California Press, Berkeley). Hiroshi Masuda, K°oshoku tsuih°o: San-dai seiji purge no kenky°u [The three major political purges in occupied Japan] (Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 1996).

25. This essay is partially based on the following article: Masaki Miyake, "Senry°o ka no Nihon to Doitsu" [Japan and Germany under the occupation], first published in Sh°owa shi no gumbu to seiji, 5: Sengo sekai to Nihon saigumbi [The military and the politics in the Showa era, vol. 5: The world after the war and rearmament of Japan] (Tokyo: Dai-ichi Hoki, 1983); now included in: Nichi-Doku seiji gaik°o shi kenky°u [A study of political and diplomatic history of Japan and Germany] (Tokyo: Kawade-shob°o-shinsha, 1996). Cf. Masaki Miyake, Die deutsche Nachkriegsentwicklung 1945-1954 aus japanischer Sicht: Versuch einer vergleichenden Beobachtung. Social and Economic Research on Modern Japan, Occasional Papers No. 50 (Berlin: East Asian Institute, Free University of Berlin, 1948).


Japan and Pacific Asia:
Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II

Takashi Inoguchi

It does not sound particularly odd to hear Japan and Pacific Asia spoken of as if they existed separately. In Japanese minds, their country is part of Pacific Asia in one context, while in another it is not. When asked which group of peoples they belong to, many Japanese feel that they are Asian, but they normally stress at the same time that they are part of the Group of Seven major industrial countries.

Great Britain, too, intermittently resists being placed in the same category as continental Europe. Great Britain is a member of the European Union, but it does not like to see the European Union evolving into a federated Europe under a powerful European Central Bank or under a mighty Napoleonic Eurocracy. Thus a juxtaposition of the British Isles vis-ł-vis the continent often sits comfortably in Great Britain. From another angle, Japan's relationship with Pacific Asia might be compared to the relationship of Switzerland and Europe. The history of Switzerland is arguably a history of a small isolated country fighting determinedly against submersion into Europe, whether it is economic integration or military conquest or cultural absorption. Too much engagement with Europe, the argument goes, could cause great trouble or even calamity to Switzerland.

And, indeed, in a national referendum, the Swiss rejected ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and thus membership in the European Union.

Japan's history, too, can be seen as a chronicle of ambivalence vis-ł-vis the Asian continent, a saga of disengagement ostensibly required to consolidate national identity in the face of the predominant Chinese civilization. At the same time, the Japanese state had to consolidate the legitimacy of its rule by establishing a certain hierarchical relationship in diplomatic interactions with states on the Asian continent. Japan also has a history of absorbing ideas, institutions and technology from the Asian continent. Learning from other countries was stressed especially during the seventh and eighth, sixteenth and nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ninth-to-fifteenth and seventeenth-to-nineteenth were epochs of particularly intense endogenous cultural development.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the drive to learn from the West, especially the state's efforts to inculcate national identity, went to the extreme. It was a period in which Japan spiritually turned its back on Asia. The continent became, instead, a place for exploitation and expansion of colonies. Japan's relationship with Pacific Asia at this time was hierarchical and militarily oriented. In the latter half of the century, the process of learning from the West, especially the United States, went on. The state made strenuous efforts to maintain a resilient national identity after the defeat in 1945 and amid the overwhelming Americanization of cultural life during the occupation years (1945-52). Gradually, interest in Asia revived, this time as a place where Japan could expand its economic activities, and its relationship again became hierarchical, though now largely oriented to the economic sphere.

Japan's orientation to Pacific Asia in this century has been neither happy nor healthy, but hierarchical and asymmetrical, whether dominated by military, economic or cultural priorities. Now that half a century has passed since World War II, it is crucial, therefore, that Japan strive to reconfigure its relationship with its neighbours in the direction of greater closeness and symmetry, basing its ties more heavily on grass roots-based interaction.

Debt, Disdain and Detachment

Three key words that can be used to sum up Japan's relationship with Pacific Asia in the twentieth century are: debt, disdain and detachment. By "debt" I refer to the historical debt to the region Japan has incurred through its colonialism and campaigns of expansion from the 1930s to 1945. It has been difficult for many Japanese to admit that the war in the Pacific was entirely wrong. Two of the foremost historians of modern Japanese history, Sat°o Seizabur°o and It°o Takashi, refuse to call the war either the Greater East Asian War or the Pacific War. They agree that there is no better name than "that war."1 The ambivalence many Japanese feel is at the root of the series of controversies ensuing from remarks reflecting personal views about the war made by cabinet ministers and behind the lengthy expiations serialized as special features in newspapers and magazines appearing almost every summer as August 15 approaches.

The majority of Japanese tend to think that there were two wars: one among the imperialist powers and the other against Pacific Asians. In the former, Japan was no more guilty of aggression and exploitation than the others. All were equally guilty. The difference was merely that Japan entered the imperialist game quite late and that Japan was the only non-Western player there. Regarding the latter war, Japanese will admit that they were guilty of causing great suffering for Pacific Asians. The "two wars" idea is at the root of the ambivalence that produces remarks like that of Hashimoto Ry°utar°o, then minister of international trade and industry, made in October 1994.2

Underlying this majority sentiment is a particular conception of national identity, according to which modern Japanese history is an epoch of strenuous efforts to acquire the ways of the West while holding tight to national identity in hopes of achieving a high level of Westernization and at the same time national solidarity. Despite "that war" - which is frankly admitted to have been a great disaster and mistake - Japanese tend to believe that they have been largely successful in achieving both goals. In the view of history, Japan's national identity is thoroughly embedded in the continuity and purpose of the modern history of the nation. To interpret the war as severing that continuity - in other words, to deny the modern history leading to the war as purposeless - would be tantamount to denying the national identity.

This is why many Japanese find it difficult to dismiss "that war" as totally wrong. They invariably feel some reservations in relation to their conception of national identity and the collective memory of modern history. This is the reason that, while we have heard repeated apologies expressed almost every summer for the past decade at the official level, at the grass roots there is a vague but widespread absence of genuine repentance. That lack seems to stem from a sense of scepticism about unilateral Japanese guilt for the war, and from the fact that Japanese sympathy for those who suffered from the war has not been elevated to compassion for human beings in general. Japanese have thus been very slow to dispel the suspicions of neighbours and other countries regarding their true intentions.

The disdain many Japanese feel deep down toward the rest of Asia is the product of modern history. Japan was the only non-Western nation that grew strong in the twentieth century without being made excessively dependent on the West. Its first major victory in a modern war, against the Chinese in 1895, was a major source of the disdain Japanese began to nurture vis-ł-vis Pacific Asians. Their victory in 1905 in the war against czarist Russia, a Western power, further boosted their pride as a member of the Western-dominated imperialist powers and by default their disdain toward other Pacific Asians.

The Japanese sense of superiority was reinforced by the economic success attained after the war. Japan was at its nadir in 1945, its per capita income estimated at among the lowest among Pacific Asian countries. That of the Philippines was among the highest in the immediate post-war years. Yet Japan regained the momentum in economic development that had begun in the 1930s but had been suspended during wartime and the early post-war eras. By the early 1960s, Japan's achievements were noted in The Economist and a few years later it joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club made up of nations of the industrialized world.

In the mid-1980s, popular commentator on the business world Hasegawa Keitar°o published a book entitled Kasumigaseki to Yumenoshima [Kasumigaseki and "Dream Island"], in which he likened the contrast between Japan and Pacific Asia to the differences between Kasumigaseki, the district of Tokyo where the national government and ministry offices are concentrated, and one of the artificial islands created in Tokyo Bay with fill from the city's garbage, euphemistically called Yumenoshima - "Dream Islands." His images do not necessarily reflect the majority view of the relationship between Japan and Pacific Asia, but they do testify to the feelings of superiority the Japanese subconsciously entertain toward their neighbours.

The third characteristic of the Japanese relationship with Pacific Asia, detachment, derives from ambivalence. The profound cultural debt to China has nurtured a certain obsession with keeping that country at arm's length. Kokugaku, the tradition of nativist thought known as National Studies that developed during the Tokugawa period (1603-1867), was one such manifestation of Japan's endeavour to develop its own distinctive system of thought. It contains a few elements that were later to lead the Meiji state to mobilize all the nation's resources for fukoku ky°ohei ("enriching the country and strengthening its arms"): namely, nationalistic reaction to the then-dominant school of classical Chinese learning of the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, nativistic appreciation of allegedly "genuine and righteous" classics of ancient Japan (the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki), and assertion that Japan is a supreme, divine country. The reinterpretation of Japanese history using Shinto traditions and myths in the early Meiji era is another.

The political debt incurred to other Pacific Asians during World War II - which can be the source of considerable mental distress - has led Japanese to distance themselves from the issue whenever possible. They can play down the importance of the issue by arguing that wartime debts have been settled on the government-to-government level by peace treaties and other international agreements. And they can defer the salient issues by insisting on the need for more objective historical research and assessment. These feelings of debt, disdain and detachment dominating attitudes towards Pacific Asia add up to a strong complex on the part of Japanese over relations with people of the region. If we are ever to establish healthier, more genuinely harmonious relations with other Pacific Asians, we need to resolve this complex.

Overcoming the Old Asia Complex

The fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II provides a good occasion to seriously rethink the debt-disdain-detachment syndrome that plagues Japanese attitudes towards other Pacific Asians. To overcome this situation, I suggest that Japan undertake significant steps in the following three areas: (1) joint projects for writing of history; (2) student and community exchange; and (3) joint non-governmental organization participation in global issues such as the environment, human rights, peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance. Let me explain each of these in somewhat more detail.

(1) Writing History. It does not come as much of a surprise to learn that Pacific Asians do not know much about their regional history. This is in part because modern history has tended to be overshadowed by Western colonialism. In current texts, ironically, the history of their respective countries is portrayed as having more in common with the colonial power that controlled them than with each other. This distorted view and lack of knowledge is unfortunate, particularly when one thinks of the overall path of history and the common predicaments they face today. It should be possible to increase awareness of the commonalities and differences, and one way would be to launch a project for the joint writing of the region's history by specialists of the region. Through participation in such a project, perhaps, Japanese might be able to overcome their chronic complex.

A similar project was undertaken in Europe to write a joint history textbook for the entire region and the twelve member countries in particular. It culminated in a remarkable work covering the entire history of the subcontinent from ancient to modern and thorough contemporary times, within a common overall framework and accompanied by a good balance of country/culture-specific details.3

Some might argue that Europe has important basic commonalities such as Christianity and the Enlightenment, while Pacific Asia does not seem to have such compelling sources of unity. The only viable theme one might think could be found is resistance to colonialism. I would argue, however, that the nations of Pacific Asia have two main themes that tie their histories together. One is the aspiration that "they in the East could realize the superior Western values on a larger scale by performing a "cultural rollback" over the West," as expressed by intellectual historian Takeuchi Yoshimi. Their commonality, therefore, does not stem from the global penetration of Western cultural values imposed upon them, but through attempts within Asia to further universalize and deeply transform the inevitably parochial Western cultural values by injecting elements from Eastern cultural values.4

Pacific Asia cannot afford to revert to parochial cultural values, whatever they might be. As I argued in an essay a few years ago,5 I believe that the future of the region will be brighter if it finds a way to build beyond specific cultural loyalties, by broadening and deepening the values introduced from the West. I thoroughly agree with Takeuchi.

At a symposium on United Nations Peace-keeping Operations held at the United Nations University in Tokyo, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Li Zhaoxing, remarked that the success of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) under the leadership of Akashi Yasushi in bringing about peace and democracy in Cambodia does a great credit not only to the United Nations but to Asian civilization. The audience widely and strongly applauded this remark, and I found myself joining in.

The second commonality that Pacific Asian countries could share would be the potential for injecting communitarianism into Western cultural values. I realize that the West does have its own communitarian tradition, which even in the United States - often seen as the bastion of individualism - has been strong and growing steadily stronger in the recent past. The communitarianism that is needed is not that nurtured in local communities or confined within given national boundaries, but conceived on the higher level of a "global neighbourhood."6

Pacific Asia is in an advantageous position for cultivating this idea of global communitarianism, for the region is, in a sense, too small for itself. Without global market access, it cannot hope to continuously prosper in peace. Pacific Asia has to develop close relationships with its market partners not only in terms of business but also in terms of sharing and reshaping more universal cultural values.7

(2) Student and Community Exchange. As interdependence in terms of economic and security affairs deepens among Pacific Asians, government-to-government exchange has been steadily increasing in such forms as regular bilateral and multilateral consultative mechanisms. In terms of grass roots-level exchange, much remains to be desired. In student and community exchange, for instance, there is far greater activity between Pacific Asia and the United States than within the region itself. It will be difficult to mitigate mutual prejudices, remove ignorance and deepen mutual understanding until a solid basis for grass roots-level regional exchange is built. The asymmetry of student exchange is clear: of about 50,000 Japanese students studying abroad as of 1991, roughly 90 per cent are in the United States, whereas roughly 10 per cent are in Asia, especially China and Korea. Of all foreign students studying in Japan, the opposite tendency is observed: of roughly 50,000 foreign students studying in Japan, as of 1993, 90 per cent are from Asia while 10 per cent are from other regions (5 per cent from the United States). Approximate symmetry is desirable in all directions. Walter Mondale, former United States ambassador to Japan, repeatedly said that Japan has to enlarge the number of US students studying in Japan. And no less importantly, Japan has to increase the ranks of its young people studying in Asia. Community exchange is much more favourable to Asia, however. Of 93 exchange programmes arranged by prefectural governments with foreign counterparts as of 1993, 41 are in Asia. Of 352 programmes arranged by municipal/town/village governments with foreign counterparts, as of 1993, 223 are with counterparts in Asia.

(3) NGO Participation in Global Issues. Joint Pacific Asian endeavours to tackle global issues - environmental protection, human rights, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations - should be strongly encouraged and enhanced. It may be argued that such efforts have already been increased considerably, but there is much more that can be done.

Environmental protection, for instance, must now be made a high-priority issue if the high growth rates (now the highest in the world) in Pacific Asia are to be sustainable. In view of very high demographic and energy-consumption growth estimates, sustainable development may be impossible unless cost-efficient and welfare-conscious strategies are worked out and executed on the regional as well as global level. China's two-digit growth already poses a nightmare for Japan with its high emissions of sulphur and nitrogen gas from power stations, factories and automobiles heavily concentrated in coastal areas. Skies polluted by these emissions are already dropping acid rain on Japan, causing widespread devastation of its forests.

Given the scientific and intellectual resources available in Pacific Asia, it should be possible for the region to avoid the mistakes made by the industrialized nations and make an important contribution to global efforts at protecting the environment. By working together to resolve global issues like this, the peoples of Asia can become a community of a stronger kind. By tackling such issues as human rights in a credible manner, Pacific Asia could earn for itself a respectable place in the global community. So far, it is not known as a human-rights-friendly region, but rather for its "developmental authoritarianism." In order to dispel the impression in other parts of the world that its leaders do not respect human rights, the issue should be taken up among nations within the region with a view to devising better practices. The growing number of people devoted to human rights causes is an encouraging sign. Amnesty International Japan, for example, has more than 3,000 registered members - a not insignificant number.

Pacific Asian joint participation in UN peace-keeping and humanitarian operations would also be helpful in demonstrating that the peoples of the region are no less compassionate about the sufferings of people in other parts of the world. Setting up region-wide training centres for peace-keeping and humanitarian aid using local resources would do a great deal to boost the credibility and respectability of Pacific Asia. Again, the growing number of people devoted to this work is a hopeful sign. The Médecins sans Frontières Japan, for example, has more than 9,000 registered members.8 Concentrating energy on activities such as the three described above, I would argue, will do much more to raise the consciousness of Japanese than all the barrages of unilateral criticism heard from other Pacific Asians, Americans or Europeans. Through closer cooperation, they would realize more acutely the suffering Japan brought to the rest of the world before and during World War II and develop a sense of commitment to overcoming the wrongs of history through greater compassion and understanding. Cultural exchange in the broadest sense of the term can play a decisive part in achieving an awareness of the human community. Toward that end, Japan and Pacific Asia need more face-to-face interactions and more active participation in joint undertakings on regional and global issues.

Notes and References

1. Takashi It°o and Seizabur°o Sat°o, "Ano sens°o to wa nan datta no ka?" [That war, what was it?], Ch°u°o k°oron (January 1995), 26-43.

2. Ry°utar°o Hashimoto's remark in October 1994 was as follows: "Japan's foe was not the countries of Asia but the United States and Great Britain. I think the question of whether or not Japan was attempting to carry out a war of aggression in these countries is a matter of the subtle definition of terms" (translated from the text quoted in the Asahi shimbun, 26 Oct. 1994).

3. Frederic Delouche et al., Histoire de l'Europe (Paris: Hachette, 1992).

4. Yoshimi Takeuchi, "H°oh°o to shite no Ajia" [Asia as methodology], Shis°oshi no h°oh°o to taish°o [The methodology and object of intellectual history], ed. Kiyoko Takeda (Tokyo: S°obunsha, 1961) as cited in Shunsuke Tsurumi, Takeuchi Yoshimi (Tokyo: Libroport, 1995), 216.

5. Takashi Inoguchi, "Nihon wa Ajia to tomo ni Ajia dakkyaku o hakare" [Japan, along with Asia, should break away from Asia], Ekonomisuto (24 December 1991), 75-77.

6. Ambassador Li Zhaoxing at the Tokyo Symposium on "New Dimensions of United Nations Peace-keeping Operations." Tokyo, United Nations Unviersity, 20 January 1995.

7. Takashi Inoguchi, "Human Rights and Democracy in Pacific Asia: Contention and Collaboration between Japan and the United States," paper presented at the conference on Japan-US Relations and International Institutions after the Cold War, Ito, Shizuoka, 8-11 April 1994.

8. François Jean of the Médecins sans Frontières in answer to a question at the symposium cited in note 6 above.



Petra Buchholz is a PhD. candidate in history at Columbia University. Her dissertation is a comparative analysis of the ways in which Germany and Japan dealt with the burden of their histories at the elite and popular levels.

Takashi Inoguchi is professor of political science in the Institute of Oriental Culture at the University of Tokyo.

Lyn Jackson is a graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo and the London School of Economics and Political Science and a former consultant and programme associate at the United Nations University.

Masaki Miyake is professor of European history in the faculty of politics and economics at Meiji University.

Daizaburo Yui is professor of American history at the Center for American Studies and the Graudate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo.

Return to UNU Reports page

Return to the UNU Homepage