The Victim as Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan
- About the Book
This is the first systematic, historical inquiry into the emergence of “victim consciousness” (higaisha ishiki) as an essential component of Japanese pacifist national identity after World War II. In his meticulously crafted narrative and analysis, the author reveals how postwar Japanese elites and American occupying authorities collaborated to structure the parameters of remembrance of the war, including the notion that the emperor and his people had been betrayed and duped by militarists. He goes on to explain the Japanese reliance on victim consciousness through a discussion of the ban-the-bomb movement of the mid-1950s, which raised the prominence of Hiroshima as an archetype of war victimhood and brought about the selective focus on Japanese war victimhood; the political strategies of three self-defined war victim groups (A-bomb victims, repatriates, and dispossessed landlords) to gain state compensation and hence valorization of their war victim experiences; shifting textbook narratives that reflected contemporary attitudes and structured future generations' understanding of the war; and three classic antiwar novels and films that contributed to the shaping of a “sentimental humanism” that continues to leave a strong imprint on the collective Japanese conscience.
- About the Author(s)
James J. Orr, Author