November 24, 2021

Embracing Defeat

Embracing Defeat by John Dower is the definitive account of the post-war Occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952.

The first years of the Occupation saw a spate of surprisingly liberal reforms (that drove conservative anti-war politicians like Shigeru Yoshida up a wall). Leftists, labor organizers, and even communists were released from jail and the press was unleashed.

Dower documents how enthusiastically the Japanese public embraced these freedoms. Analyzing the flood of mass media publications that followed, he portrays how ordinary people were affected by the most dramatic social upheaval in Japanese history.

This bottom-up revolution inevitably ran headlong into the top-down political machinations originating from SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers). General Douglas MacArthur was very much Japan's last shogun.

Over the course of seven years, the fusion of these forces shaped the face of modern Japan. A result, Dower argues, that did not arise from "a borrowed ideology or imposed vision, but a lived experience and a seized opportunity."

Related links

August 15
The last shogun
Victory in Defeat
The Showa drama
The rebirth of Japan's mass media

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