Cultures of Modernity in the Making of the United States-Japan Cold War Alliance
early Cold War period
Committee ChairSchaller, Michael
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation explores the cultural and intellectual factors in the remaking of US-Japan relations which transformed as the two countries transitioned from enemies to allies after 1945. Diverging from the traditional approaches of diplomatic and political history that, focusing on state actors, describe policymaking processes, I comparatively study public discourses in 1940s-early 1950s America and Japan where various groups and actors - politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, scholars, and intellectuals - participated and created. Both peoples shared a similar discourse concerning modernization and, indeed, developed parallel ideas about modern Japanese history and the causes of Japanese militarism, the postwar democratization of Japan, and the making of a postwar Asian peace. They believed in the European progressive view of history, variously interpreted, and judged Japan to be "underdeveloped," compared with the "advanced West," having become an unlawful aggressor nation in the 1930s. Such views of a "failed" modernity and subsequent war rationalized Allied occupation and democratization reforms in post-surrender Japan. The more influenced by Marxian theories, the more critical they were of Japan's incomplete modernization, and the more enthusiastic for Allied - or American - intervention in postwar reforms. American and Japanese discourses on the reform of Japan's political organization, namely constitutional revision, show similar reformist plans from reconstruction of the constitutional monarchy to republican options. Those adopting Marxist analyses found the root cause of Japan's undemocratic and aggressive nature in the emperor system called for its elimination; those who did not believe that democratization required the overthrow of monarchy suggested reforming Japan's imperial institution to make democratic government function better. In addition, both Americans and Japanese shared the Wilsonian idea of internationalism, and they expected Japan to reenter the postwar Asia-Pacific as a totally demilitarized, democratic, and pacifist country that could contribute to peace and development of the region. With the Cold War, the US policies for Asia and Japan altered. So did the internationalist visions, causing political debates in the United States and Japan. My work ultimately shows such parallel and intersecting cultures where US-Japan relations were rehabilitated in the immediate-postwar years.
Degree ProgramGraduate College