Shushin: In Historical Perspective

Nakata, Faye
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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The end of World War II left the Japanese a morally shaken people. In total defeat, the economic, social, and political order had collapsed. For all the years that the Japanese had struggled to make progress, at the end of the war they had nothing to show for their efforts except economic deprivation, social disorder, the disgrace of their leaders, and the contempt of other nations. Spiritually exhausted, the Japanese welcomed an end to the war, though at the same time they were fearful of the consequences of defeat. In all of her previous history, Japan had never been successfully defeated and invaded. The Occupation, then, confronted the Japanese with a situation foreign to their experiences. For centuries, however, the Japanese had developed a keen sensitivity to changes in their environment and an ability to adjust their roles in society accordingly. Therefore, in the new situation under the Allied Occupation the Japanese accepted the role of the defeated and followed the rules imposed by the Occupation. Disillusioned with the old standards, they turned enthusiastically to the democratic values of the Occupation-freedom, equality, justice. But, how well did they understand these concepts? This question is significant because the goals of the Occupation were committed mainly to changing Japanese values, and, hence, to creating a society fertile for the growth of democratic ideas.
44 pages
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