2016年5月2日 星期一

Embracing Defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II

Recently I have read the following book. The main points in Chapters 7 to 10 are as follows:

Book title:  John W. Dower. 1999. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II. W.W. Norton.

Main points:

- Ch. 7. To many ordinary Japanese, the sudden post surrender appearance of intellectuals, politicians and other public figures spouting paeans (praise) to democracy were reflection of hypocrisy and opportunism. (p.234)

-to most of the progressive men of letters Marxism offered a theoretical framework to explain the recent disaster in terms of feudal remnants and capitalist contradiction. (p.235)

- Ch. 8 – in retrospect, it seemed obvious that the victors contributed unwittingly to the circumstance in which radical activities flourished by promoting political freedom without taking an active role in rehabilitating the economy. In practice, production stagnation and inflation raged under this hands-off policy. (p.255)

- there were signs that the victors had now drawn a clear line between permissible and impermissible ways of bring about their democratic revolutions. The impression of a conservative crackdown was reinforced by a celebrated episode known as the ‘placard incident’. The placard held by Matsushima Shotaro read: ‘why are we starving no matter how much we work? Answer, Emperor Hirohito”. He was arrested for violating the dignity of the sovereign. (p.267)

- when negotiations between labor leaders and the government broken down completely on January 30, the momentum towards a general strike seemed irreversible. Late in the following day, General MacArthur intervened to announce that he would not permit the use so deadly social weapon. Ii the labor leader was summoned by General Marquat and was ordered to sign a statement canceling the strike. (p.269)

- the suppression of the general strike marked the beginning of the end of the possibility that labor might be an equal partner in sharing of ‘democratic’ power.(p.270)

- as the economy continued to founder, the organized labor became more militant, in the summer of 1948 MacArthur reversed occupation labor policy by withdrawing the right to strike from public employees. (p.271) By 1949 ‘Red purge’ had become one of the fashionable new terms of the occupation. (p.272)

- although the ‘reverse course’ helped establish a democratic conservative hegemony of politicians, bureaucrats, and businessmen that remained dominant to the end of the century, Communists and Socialists continued to be elected to the Diet. They became the critics of the US Cold war policy. (p.273)

-Ch. 9.- Hirohito as it turned out, resilient and malleable, blessed by the heaven and by general MacArthur more particularly to survive and prosper while his subject were denounced, purged, charged with war crimes.(p.278)

- in his memoirs, Yoshida Shigeru praised MacArthur as the ‘great benefactor’ of his country, referring not to the gift of democracy, but the preservation of the throne and protection in a time of peril. SCAP’s influence in these matters was decisive. (p.279)

- one of the psychological-warfare specialists in MacArthur’s wartime command was Bonner. F. Fellers. As an analyst of the Japanese psyche, he prepared a research study. The intensity of Japanese loyalty and military discipline fascinated him. (p.280)

- as a basic rule, MacArthur’s propaganda specialists observed a wartime policy of not provoking the enemy by attacking the Emperor. As an internal report by OSS noted in July 1944, ‘the desirability of eliminating the present emperor is questionable, probably that the inclines towards the more moderate faction might prove to be a useful influence later. (p.281)

- MacArthur’s commanders believed that the Emperor held the key not only to surrender but also to postwar changes. The task of Fellers and his men during the war was to drive a wedge between the Japanese leadership and the emperor (and his subject). The wedge was: the military had not only duped the Japanese people but also betrayed their sacred leader. (p.281)

- a respectful appraisal of the emperor’s benign potential and virtually totalitarian American ‘spiritual’ control over the Japanese psyche would become the bedrock of postwar policy of the US. (p.283) Colonel Sidney Mashbir, one of Fellers’ trusted associate said that you could not remove the emperor worship from the Japanese by killing the emperor. (p.284)

- Roger Egeberg, the personal physician of MacArthur, recalled in May 1945 that the General thought that the Emperor was a captive of Tojo and the warlords. And that Hirohito would be instrumental in permanent changes in the structure of the postwar Japanese government. (p.286)

- while the Emperor was portrayed as a peacemaker, his subjects as a whole were to assume responsibility for failing to win the holy war. The Japanese race was now divided into the emperor, and everyone else. Public figures re-interred these terms ceaselessly during the two weeks before MacArthur’s arrival. The notion of collective guilt was given its consummate expression at a press conference in which prince Higashikuni Naruhiko, who succeeded Suzuki as PM, declared that ‘the repentance of the hundred million is an essential first step toward national reconstruction’. (p.287)

- Higashikuni praised the emperor for having paved the way for peace in order to save the people form hardship in 1945. The impression was that Hirohito just ascended to the throne in August 1945, just in time to end a terrible war. (p.287)

-foreign minister Shigemitsu Mamoru, who signed the surrender document, gave devoted service to the emperor in the days that followed the victor’s arrival. (p.288)

- on September 3 1945, Shigemitsu renewed his vow to shield the throne by conveying the thesis of imperial innocence and militarist conspiracy to General MacArthur in a private meeting. The purpose was to persuade the SCAP to abandon plans on a direct military government, suggesting that it was better to enforce the Potsdam stipulations indirectly ‘through the Japanese government instructed by the emperor’. (p.289)

- in another rare private document of the time, the crown prince’s diary, we had an even more amusing indication of how defeat was explained in court circle. Akihito recorded that Japan had lost the war for two reasons: material backwardness, particularly in science, and individual selfishness. (p.291)

- as the matter transpired, part of the bureaucracy was no yet in on the strategy for saving the emperor, notably the Home ministry which was controlling the police and practicing censorship. It was the time when the country was confront with a photograph. The photo depicted MacArthur and the emperor. The former towered over the later. (p.292)

- the idea for the photo was MacArthur’s. The photo established MacArthur’s author for all to see, while simultaneously demonstrating his receptivity to the emperor. (p.293)

- the secrecy of the discussion content between the emperor and the General enabled both sides to leak selected version of what was said. (p.295)- Fellers went so far as to remind a well-connected Japanese general that the problem of emperor’s responsibility for the attack on Pearl harbor was the most important  and critical issue on the American side, urging the Japanese to come up with a good general defense of the emperor that would help MacArthur override public opinion in the US.(p.300)

- Ch. 10. - when ordinary Japanese were asked whether they wished to retain the emperor and the imperial institution, an overwhelming majority answered affirmatively. The emperor’s surrender broadcast punctured emperor worship. When the holy war ended, so did the worship and the “manifest deity”. (p.302)

- field-level American analyst offered appraisals in mid-December 1945 was that regarding opinion of the middle class about the emperor system, the allies were unduly apprehensive of the effect on the Japanese if the emperor was removed. People were more concerned with food and housing problems than with the fate of the emperor. (p.305)

- the fact that three Kumazawa Hiromichi’s relatives each soon claimed that he was the true family head seemed to reveal one more way in which Hirohito’s authority was eroding. (p.306)

- the campaign to dress Emperor Hirohito in new clothes and turn him into a symbol of peace and democracy was conducted on several fronts. (p.308)