HS/GS/AS 341 - War & Memory in Modern Japan
Japan is a nation that has undergone huge changes in the last 150 years, transforming from a feudal society ruled by warriors, to an expansionistic imperial state, and then to a modern democracy with a pacifist constitution. This course explores how issues of militarism, pacifism, and nationalism have shaped Japanese identity and history.
One event that took place over 70 years ago – the Second World War – looms large over Japan’s current politics and society. This course will explore how postwar Japan has struggled to come to grips with a war that was fought in the name of a “Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere,” yet resulted in millions of deaths throughout Asia and left Japan’s major cities in ruins. The war brought about years of American Occupation and the adoption of a constitution that bans Japan from officially maintaining a military or waging war. Through lectures, group discussions, and student presentations, we will gain a better understanding of how these issues have influenced Japan’s society, its domestic politics, and its relationship with its Asian neighbors. This course is not a traditional history of Japan’s conduct in wars. Rather, it is an interdisciplinary examination of Japan’s war experience and its impact on postwar Japan. This course will trace Japan’s journey from a militaristic autocracy to a pacifist democracy.