Japan’s war of words

World War II propaganda

Authored by: Barak Kushner

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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Japanese wartime propaganda evolved from the official levels and the grassroots. The frequently self-referential campaigns allowed the society to believe in its mission, delaying the Allied victory and helping Japanese endure the humiliation of surrender. Though there was never a centralized system, several government agencies, branches of the military, and media companies constantly competed to produce and implement the propaganda. Over time, these efforts, public and private, had a cumulative effect, building meaning into themes and images which constructed an imperial ideology that supported Japan’s war aims. The give-and-take form of Japanese propaganda explains how both state policy and private initiative fed popular desires that supported Japan’s aggression. Japan’s imperial belligerence developed slowly under the banner of popular backing, calling on all Japanese to make sacrifices. After the war, much of this propaganda was reoriented from establishing empire to helping the nation rebuild after the defeat.

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