Eastern Phoenix: Japan since 1945

Eastern Phoenix: Japan since 1945

Eastern Phoenix: Japan since 1945

Eastern Phoenix: Japan since 1945

Synopsis

It has been fifty years since Japan admitted defeat and accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration following World War II. At the time, Japan was in shambles, its imperial dream shattered, and its people reduced to scrounging for sufficient food to stay alive. Yet over the past half century, Japan has remade itself and emerged as one of the leading economic powers in the world. How did Japan achieve this success, and what has this remarkable rebirth meant for the Japanese people?In Eastern Phoenix, Mikiso Hane closely examines historical factors that have contributed to Japan's postwar development politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Beginning with the occupation by U. S. forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Hane shows how American reforms and initiatives combined with the political actions of subsequent Japanese leaders to create a country able to forge ahead economically while retaining many traditional aspects of prewar Japanese society. In addition to presenting a narrative overview of important events since 1945, Eastern Phoenix provides insight into the evolution of Japan's foreign relations, internal effects of prosperity on Japanese society, and problems that remain despite extraordinary progress. The book critically examines such media-hot topics as education, environmental degradation, organized crime, racial and class discrimination, the Japanese work ethic, and the role of women in society. To provide useful context for student readers, Hane frequently punctuates his discussion by contrasting Japanesestatistics with those of the United States. The book also excels in examining how artists and writers have grappled with Japan's rapidly evolving contemporary history, and Hane points the reader toward books and films that can shed additional light on Japanese perceptions of the past fifty years.

Excerpt

August 6, 1945, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, was a milestone in human history, marking the beginning of the atomic age. August 14, 1945, a landmark date in Japanese history, was the day on which the Japanese government admitted defeat in the war with the Allied powers and accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and surrendered. On the 15th, the official date of surrender, the emperor publicly announced to the people his decision to end the war.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and following successful military campaigns in Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, the Japanese leaders' dream of establishing the East Asia Coprosperity Sphere and forging a huge Japanese empire seemed to be on the verge of becoming reality. But the tide of the war turned as early as June 1942 when U.S. naval forces defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway. By late 1942, U.S. marines had landed in Guadalcanal, and Japan was forced to shift to a defensive campaign. The Chinese, who had been subjected to Japanese aggression and the occupation of large sections of their country since the early 1930s, continued to resist the Japanese forces while the British were turning the tide against Japan on the Burma front. In 1943-1944, U.S. forces gained control of the Marshall and Mariana Islands in the Pacific and in late 1944 began launching massive air raids on Japanese cities from the air base in Saipan. The U.S. forces landed troops in Okinawa in April, 1945 and had subdued the Japanese forces there by June. By mid-1945, they had recaptured the Philippines. In August 1945, the final month of World War II, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the Soviet Union joined the war against Japan on August 8, and the end for Japan finally came on August 14.

Although August 14, 1945, marked a decisive turning point in Japanese history by designating the end of Japans imperialistic dream and the beginning of peace, democracy, the rule of law, and the pursuit of economic gains, there were other defining points earlier in the course of Japanese history that had virtually transformed the nature of Japanese society, culture, and weltanschauung. A brief overview of these defining events follows.

The settlement of the Japanese islands by people from the Asian continent gave rise to the prehistoric Jomon (pre-250 B.C.) and Yayoi (ca. 250 B.C. to A.D. 250) cultures. The Jomon (cord markings) culture, which may have emerged as . . .

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