*** war and social upheaval: World War II Japan home front publications

World War II: Japanese Home Front--Public Opinion

World War II Japan Pacific War
Figure 1.--Here we see Japanese school boys, we believe at a railroad station sending off soldiers to the front. The footage is undated, but we believe was durung the Pacific War.

It is very difficult to know what the Japanese public thought about the War. Of course social justice media outlets like PBS goes on and on about the 'pervasive distrust and racial intolerance' in America, but is silent about Japanese public opinion. 【Wakida 】 And Japanese would have been significantly affected by the military controlled media and severe consequences for any one expressing critical opinions. There were of course, unlike inAamerica, no public opinion polls and if there had been no one could have been expected to express a negative opinion to a person taking a poll, that would have been dangerous. We see a range of public displays of support for the War. Of course they were staged, but there does appear to be considerable enthusiasm. There were two major wars. First was the war in China (1937) which went on for 4 years when the Japanese militarists decided the best way to conclude it was by launching the Pacific War with America and Britain (1941). We do not know if that seemed reasonable to the Japanese public. And neither went as expected. Public opinion surely must have been affected by the failure to conclude either war. Most of the images we have collected are from the Pacific War. We note enthusiastic send offs at railroad stations. The enthusiasm in Japan unkike anything we see in any of the other major combatant nations. We also see large scale ceremonial events with masses of flag-waving school children. Of course this was all staged, but it is unlike anything we see in any other countries. Remember Hitler insisted throughout his 12 years of rule that he was trying to prevent war. We are not sure that the Japanese military leaders ever claimed a commitment to peace. A good indicator of the public support for the War was the fierce performance of Japanese soldiers on the battlefield. In the Pacific, even when defeat was certain, only a handful of Japanese soldiers chose to surrender. And when Japanese civilians were encountered (Saipan and Okinawa) even many civilians chose suicide, although on Okinawa, the Japanese military often forced civilians to chose suicuce. Most clearly believed what they were told, although not everyone followed orders to commit suicide. That does mean that they opposed the war. It does mean that they wanted to live or had some doubts about what they were told. Another important indicator is the willingness of the Japanese to accept American occupation. The importance of the Emperor's influence may have been a factor, but we suspect that the level of destruction from the bombing must have massively impacted public opinion. And the blame was not all directed at the Americans. The reception of the returned soldiers was very different than their send off.

The Sources

Wakida, Patricia Miye. "How a public media campaign Led to Japanese incarceration during WWII," PBS: Ameican Experience (September 23, 2021). The title here is an example of the dishonesty employed by the author and PBS. The Japanese were not incarcerated, they were interned. Encarceration means to be confined in a prison. The intenment camps were unpleasant and unjust, but they were not prisons.


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Created: 7:28 PM 8/31/2007
Last updated: 1:40 AM 1/8/2008