Embracing Defeat represents the really best of historical scholarship of Japan ‘s experience of licking and business at the terminal of the Second World War. Written by MIT Professor John W. Dower, this book shows the loanblend and contested character of the Occupation of Japan by the United States of America. More than merely sing the Occupation through the lens of the vanquisher ‘s strength, the greatest part of Embracing Defeat lies in the alternate position it offers of a complex post-war Nipponese society and the Nipponese people. As Dower competently puts, the period “ through the eyes of the defeatedaˆ¦ wretchedness, freak out cynicism and bitterness ‘ but besides ‘hope resiliency, vision and dreams ‘ ( pp. 24-25 ) in the embracing of licking. He delves into a scope of subjects from General Douglas MacArthur ‘s disposal, the Tokyo ‘s War Trial, Emperor Hirohito controversial function to the common people on the land such as cocottes, rise of Mafias running black markets, workers, administrative officials, political party members, detailing the mind from the most powerful elite to the common man at grassroots. Underliing these subjects, the book is written in a proseful postmodern narrative albeit critical structural analysis.
The book can be divided into three chief parts. The first trades with the popular and subculture of the Japanese. Second portion trades with the political alteration enacted by the occupational elites, in controversy with the grassroots. Last the book trades with the Reconstruction of Japan ‘s economic system. Dower thoughtful and thorough inside informations of each portion means that each portion can be read on its ain. However, the weaving of the intercultural interactions between the vanquisher and conquered across the three parts makes the book Embracing Defeat greater the amount of its parts.
The book starts against the background of societal and economic desperation. Embedded in the heads of many Nipponese is the ‘subcultures of licking ‘ . During the war, ordinary Nipponese people were prepared to give their lives for the emperor and for their fatherland. With the earth-shattering dropping of the atomic bomb, Nipponese society had been shaken to its foundations, and people had to reinvent their lives to believe of acquiring adequate nutrient to remain alive. This psychic prostration formed the societal cloth. Then, assorted subcultures sprang up from illegal trades of the cocottes and black sellers ‘ detonations of entrepreneurial energy and condemnable packs. Likewise, disillusioned authors and intellectuals embraced a civilization of hedonism. Together, they posed forceful challenges to the traditional societal and sexual order against the cavities of desperation and detecting new aspirations with unsure future individuality in front. However, a sense of hope and release was what made it possible for most ordinary Nipponese to ’embrace licking ‘ .
The 2nd portion of the book brings us to the more familiar terrains of business policies enacted by GHQ ( General Headquarters ) command held under SCAP ( Supreme Commander of Allied Powers ) General MacArthur and the receptiveness of the Nipponese people. Here, Dower presents a critical position of MacArthur and the American swayers ‘ cultural haughtiness against the locals. Much to the reverse of making a more classless society, the Americans ruled as masters and the relationship between them and the Japanese was one of hierarchal. They themselves constructed an ‘inviolate privileged caste ‘ ( p. 211 ) and MacArthur business projected a white supremacist ‘imbued with a sense of manifest fate ‘ ( pp. 211-212 ) with MacArthur governing with absolute authorization of a military absolutism and the Nipponese people its ‘subjects ‘ .
While loaded with the liquors of democratisation and demilitarization, the Americans made contradictory picks from start, lending to the intrenchment of conservative powers such as the imperial establishment, one of the many paradoxes which run throughout the book. ‘The Occupation governments chose non to simply detach the emperor from this holy war, but to resituate him as the Centre of their new democracy ‘ ( p. 278 ) . MacArthur sees the Showa Emperor as a ‘force for good ‘ in continuing stableness and easing the undertaking of the occupying forces. Hirohito was protected from any unfavorable judgment and was absolved of any duty for the war in order to make a new ‘imperial democracy ‘ in Japan. However as Dower reveals, there was being of popular and even official sentiment in favour of force outing Hirohito, trialing him as a war felon and in some instances, of get rid ofing the monarchy. He was after all the manifestation of continuity of the war that the soldiers take orders from. It was the SCAP who stepped in to stamp down this climb force per unit area.
In add-on, Dower points out that the war offenses tribunal was a travesty. The suspects were coached to remain off from any mention to the Emperor even though he held the de facto capacity of influence during the war and he was the chief adult male whom the suspects took orders from. Dower believes that this hindered the possibility of Japan ‘s future democratic development and this symbol continues to be a stumbling block in Japan ‘s dealingss with the remainder of Asia more than half a century after the terminal of the war.
In screening the monarchy from prosecution and shriving Hirohito of duty for aggression, whilst keeping the bastion of peace and Jesus of the state, the US played a polar function in enshrining imperial democracy. Japan ‘s democratic fundamental law was crafted in secret within a hebdomad without audience with Nipponese governments. The footing as underlined by Dower was that MacArthur held the emperor as the caput of the province while war as a crowned head right was abolished and the feudal system will discontinue. Together with the no-war clause under Article 9, the US created the universe ‘s lone univocal peace fundamental law. Against the background of the Cold War events such as the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in China and the eruption of the Korean War, the Nipponese people however in response to their ain agony during the Pacific war by and big embraced the dovish rules enshrined in the fundamental laws, contending the determination of the US to do Japan as a subsidiary spouse when the former decided to rearm and reindustrialize Japan. On the other manus, there were right-wingers elements assailing on Article 9. Here, Dower adds rich inside informations to that reading about the diverseness of positions among the Japanese, an issue still in argument boulder clay today.
For all the purposes and intents of the broad fundamental law with its enlargement of single freedoms, Dower agues “ the vanquishers worked difficult to engineer consensus, and on many critical issues, they made it clear that the better portion of political wisdom was silence and conformity ‘ ( p. 440 ) . The bureaucratic-authoritarian nature of the authorities maintained rigorous censoring. Subjects refering the business itself could non be criticized. Nor could the atomic bombardment and even unfavorable judgment of the Soviet Union was banned. Labour work stoppages as mobilized by the Communist Party foremost gained strengths and shortly afterwards were banned by MacArthur in the name of economic recovery. Soon, the SCAP compiled a list of suspected Communists and began to collar the development, paralleling MacCarthyism ‘Red Scare ‘ dorsum in USA. However, the pretense continues between the workers and the bureaucratism. Dower therefore highlights the amentia of democracy when freedom of look, a construct so cardinal to a working democracy is being curtailed.
A minor to observe of the book ‘s failing is the deficiency of reference of the land reform plan even though it helped to make the political base for the Liberal Democratic Party for the coming 50 old ages. Land reform relied on the support and cooperation of 1000s of Nipponese and would suit into Dower larger strategy of things of ’embracing licking ‘ . This farther points to the book focuses mostly on urban metropoliss with small reference of the countryside Nipponese people. Still, it is apprehensible given the SCAP radiates its policies from Tokyo GHQ.
In footings of methodological attack, Dower uses an array of English and Nipponese beginnings which includes kids ‘s games, sketchs, movies, constabulary records, letters, newspapers, popular vocals. His research into them is thorough and punctilious. In peculiar, he has made important usage of single testimony such as interviews at multiple societal and political degrees to convey out the pluralistic facet of history. Adding to his heartfelt composing manner, the ten-year-in-making has reached audience outside academic domain, winning the 1999 National Book Award, and the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.
Dower wise and examining summing up of certification and archival beginnings in Japan and the USA with his graphical authorship in highly traveling manner describes in elaborate history what it was like for an ordinary individual populating in Japan between 1945 and 1952. The book includes many redolent exposure and the screen of the first edition shows a group of Nipponese listening to their ‘divine sovereign ‘ for the first clip over the wireless on the resignation conveying forth the thought of desperation on the land. Dower aims to show the citizens ‘ mundane life and he has done so successfully. At the same clip, he does non pretermit to depict the institutionalization procedure led by the SCAP and bureaucratic elites in the Nipponese authorities. This well balanced building of history at higher and lower degrees of the society encapsulates the complex relationship between masters and vanquished, filled with contradictions, ambiguities and incompatibilities.