1910-1937: Control at Home, Expansion Abroad

Japan and its early 20th century history is a narrative mainly concerned with domestic solidarity and imperial expansionism abroad. The pre-war years saw Japan’s influence in the world as a colonial power steadily increase following the Russo-Japanese war. Colonial enterprises such as expansion into Manchuria and the Pacific came to characterize Japan as an emerging modern nation. On the home front deliberate and forceful action was being taken to promote solidarity in the population in relation to their government.

1937 - 1941: Doubling Down

Between 1937 and 1941, Japan began to fully mobilize for war and in the process crossed a “point of no return.” Japan had already been involved in a conflict with China since 1931, and by the end of the decade, had begun to move into South East Asia in search of resources necessary for war. In 1938 the National Mobilization Law was passed acknowledging the country’s need to mobilize the population and economy for war.

1945~ :Post-War: Responsibility and Memory

The Second World War was the most destructive and devastating conflict in history. Although it ended with the surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945, the effects and consequences of its events continued to manifest for decades afterward. The articles in this sub-theme deal with the long-term impact of wartime hardship and atrocity and discuss the allocation of responsibility in the postwar period. They also explore past and present narratives of the war in individual and collective memory both in Japan and worldwide.

1941-1945: Total War

The war in the Pacific was won by logistics and production as much as it was won by soldiers. When two imperial powers come into large-scale armed conflict, every aspect of their respective societies are mobilized to support the effort. Factories are repurposed to build guns and planes, civilian supplies of cotton, steel, oil and even food are rationed to ensure that the Army can function, and every man, woman and child has their energies and their labor directed towards the war effort. In total war, civilian populations become strategic targets.

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