2016年2月6日 星期六

Postwar Japan as History

Recently I have read the following book. A summary is attached.

Book title: Gordon, Andrew ed. 1993. Postwar Japan as History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- one goal of this book was to clarify the varied senses on postwar eras held by people when they defined the boundaries of postwar restrictively or extensively.
- it tries to delineate several contexts for the consideration of postwar history, to seek to place the history of Japan in broader historical, international and comparative context; to identify longer trends that have shaped postwar changes.

Chapters summary:
Ch. 1: It talks about the two systems: 1955 system and the San Francisco system. These two phrases remain suggestive to recreate postwar Japan as history; they reflect a worldviews, looking both outward and inwards. (5) 1955 system was a sequence of political and socioeconomic development in 1955, including the establishment of the LDP. It signified a domestic political structure characterize an internally completive but hegemonic conservative establishment. (4) Peace and democracy in postwar Japan began with the allied occupation, evolved into the San Francisco system. The peace treaty was signed in San Francisco in 1951. The general policy of incorporating Japan into the US cold-war policy was clear. Both had its genesis in the occupation-period reverse course (14).

Ch.2: It shows the interdependence of US and Japan. Their relationship will survive current and future storms only if economic interdependent and strategic dependence continued (61).

Ch.3:  The essay identifies four categories of the past: a. the progressive intellectuals, b. the conservative intellectuals, c. the purveyors of the popular past which included the television, comics, films, newspapers and d. the individual memories (pp.72-76). Gluck concluded that there were at least three sengo: a. the real sengo which was the period of reform and recovery, b. the penumbral sengo of dramatic economic rise, and third c. the sengo, the international postwar which finally end in 1989. (92-94). The myth of a new beginning, itself a radical ahistorical notion, not only prevented seeing the 20th century whole, but also elided the prewar and wartime and perpetuated the notion of a long postwar. 50 years after WWII, it is not a matter of ‘postwar Japan as history’: but postwar Japan is history.

Ch. 6: This chapter was about social contract.  First it focuses on small business (148). It asserts that by comparative standards, it was clear that Japan’s small business effectively gained and maintained a position within the ruling coalition (154). About the organized labour, like the small-business sector, they could claim a number of gains in forcing government and big business to consider the welfare of its members in economic re-structuring (163). In conclusion, the essay revises a prevailing view on the attribute of LDP’s remarkable persistence to ‘creative conservatism”, i.e.  the seemingly unfailing ability of the ruling party, bureaucrats and big business to promote popular polices from above. A revised view was that: to see the small business and labour organization at work. (165). The social contract became a central feature in the Japanese conception of democracy in the postwar era. The public accepted the hegemony of the conservative coalition only as long as it seriously negotiated to accommodate the interest of various social organizations.

Ch. 7: The article argues that at first in Japan there was the consensus that economic recovery and growth were the over-riding national objective, but clashes between the cost and benefits of rapid growth produced a solution that included new regulations for businessman, compensations for damages, and improved social security (169).

Ch. 8: The goal of the chapter was to formulate analytically the transformation that had both standardized and differentiated postwar Japan (192). The thesis of the essay was that the postwar transformation must be traced on 3 levels: 1. Ideological process, 2. Institutional pattern, and 3. the everyday routine of individuals. The essay uses the families to support its argument. The three Itos and the three Kimuras. The book concludes that through their stories, one can find ample evidence of how the ideologies and institutions of the postwar decades had shaped both the convergences and divergence of their life ways. From tenancy to modern mechanized agriculture, from an old middle-class to new middle-class corporate employment (215). Neither elite coercion nor negotiated consensus could characterize the social order of middle and late Showa. Its order was better described as co-optive, complicit, and contested (216). It was interesting to note the introduction of this essay by William Kelly which pointed out that while one the surface was a homogeneous society, there was strong culture, class difference in the society.

Ch. 9. Marilyn Ivy talks about mass culture. The goal of the essay was concerned with tracing a critical genealogy of postwar mass cultural formation (240). Comic provide a point of continuity with prewar form, although large-format comic books were not widespread until after the war. Manga also become a point of critique of mass culture in the 1960s. (248). TV rapidly outstripped the movies as he prime source of entertainment. Throughout the period, Japanese development had paralleled those in the other advanced capitalistic countries. (257)

Ch.11.The goal was to trace the influence of “good wife, wise mother” in postwar state politics and society, in the context of ideological and social changes taking place in the 19th century. It argues that  although overt attempts by the state to dictate womanhood had decreased in intensity since 1945, a vision of women as homebound wives and mother continued to influence state policies toward welfare, education, employment until the late 1980s.(295).

Book's Conclusion:
- Postwar Japan could be divided into 3 periods: first was from 1950-1955 (political confrontation, starvation, socialism) second from mid-1950s to early 1970s (LDP, high economic growth). The third period from early 1970s to 1990s (difficult to characterize, yet internationally there was the uncomfortable American ally; domestically the peace constitution and the emperor system). (449-451)
- this book tries to understand the history of “postwar Japan” as part of a longer process: one observation was the defeat and occupation had not brought a total rupture with the past. Legacy from the 1930s and the war era shaped the postwar political economy, international domestic (452). There were strong links between pre-war, war, and postwar eras embodied in the ‘passage-through’ of the old guards’ that wanted to rearm and revised the constitution. The political thought and organization of this old guard was rooted in the imperial order.
- about US hegemony, the global power of the US had not always shaped Japan’s development in a straightforward or intentional fashion (454). The landscape of postwar history was littered with irony of intended results, e.g. in economic policy due to the oil and yen shocks.
- locating the argument in this book in the context of existing perspective on postwar history was complicated by 3 fact: historian was slow in seeing it as history, postwar history discussion between Japanese and the West constituted two streams, and that the essays in this book did not speak in a uniform voice. They argued that the political or social system was continually reformulated or renegotiated (457).
- the book challenges the attempts to simply equate economic growth in the postwar decades with ‘success’. Taira in chapter 7 criticizes works that identified economic growth with national success. (458)
- the essays in this book stress uncertainty, ambivalence, or surprise that people felt about the ‘outcomes’ seen during the postwar era. Japan’s rise as an economic superpower looked smooth, but many who lived through it experienced it as an astonishing transformation (459). Both the authors of this book and the Japanese lived in this period remain divided in their reading of the ‘balance sheet’ of postwar history (460).

-the notion of Japan as a middle-class society emerged in the wake of the oil shock seemed to threaten social cohesiveness (463).