Japanese citizens had little real sources of information other than a steady stream of official propaganda published in the newspapers and radio reports. The cebntralm propgana line was that the war was caused by the Western poweers abd theuir egoistic desire to rule the world. The publishers and radio stations were ordered to promote anti-American and anti-British sentiment. [Cook and Cook] p. 66.] All that was reported was Japanese victories, real and imagined. During the first 6 months of the war, there great victories to report beginning with Pearl Harbor. This changed with Midway (June 1942). But the media continued to report only victories, real and imagined.
A rare exception to the lack of accurate real information was returning Japanese servicemen. Few soldiers returned from the Pacific and Southeast Asia. But some did from China. Just what they told their families we do not know. We have not seen that addressed in the Japanese literature. Even the military did not have reasonable sources of information. The Imperial Navy, for example, hid the dimensions of the Midway disaster from the Army (June 1942). But there were some obvious developments that Japanese popaganda could not be block out from anyone with even a minimally inquiring mind and a map. After Midway, the battles were coming closer and closer to Japan. How was it that if Japan was gaining victory after victory that the Americans contunued to advance? I can recall as a boy beung fascinated by maps. I am sure there were Japanese school boys who were also fascinated. And the Japanese people were not stupid. The war in China was not a quick campaign. There were many battle victories. At the time of Pearl Harbor, however, it had gone on for 4 years and China was still not defeated and with no end in site. Wars are expensive and the continuing war in China required enormous resources had economic consequences affecting people's daily lives. And after Guadalcanal (August 1942-January 1943), any Japanese person could tell that despite official propagada of great victories, the battles were getting closer and closer to Japan--hardly a sign that the war was going well. What did return to Japan was the little white boxes, susposedly with the remains of the fallen. They wre presented to greiving families in official ceremonies. And the economic situation was worsening, not only because of the needs of the war, but the American submarune campaign which was destroying the maru fleet and severing the delivery of raw materials and food. This was a serious blow to war production. But it was disatrrous for the Japanese people. Japan was not self sufficient in food production and food rations were being lowered. After the loss of the Marianas (July 1944), the Army began drafting students who had earlier been granted exemptions. All of this was before the Americans began the strategic bombing campaign began which brought home the war situation to every Japanese person, not just those with an inquiring minds.
Cook, Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook. Japan At War: An Oral History.
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