Why the Japanese Did Not Complain about Crimes Against Humanity Perpetuated by the US in World War II: Evidence from Japanese Anime and Manga

Journal of Social and Political

Sciences

ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

Published: 21 February 2019

Why the Japanese Did Not Complain about Crimes Against Humanity Perpetuated by the US in World War II: Evidence from Japanese Anime and Manga

Frank Fuller

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, United States of America

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10.31014/aior.1991.02.01.54

Abstract

One might ask why the Japanese avoided objections to American crimes against humanity, as revealed in the strategic and nuclear bombings of Japan. Perhaps some anime works (animated comics based on manga, or crazy comics, with 1930s American Betty Boop and Disney comic book inspirations) can provide supporting evidence, since manga, widely popular throughout Japan, give great insight into the Japanese psyche towards the atomic bomb, the air raids, and potential war crimes during World War II. Japan suffered from so-called Nuclear Suffering Denial Syndrome, similar to Robert Lifton’s idea of psychic numbing, by repeatedly excluding traumatic events. The mushroom cloud image continues to proliferate. We can explore how political culture elements were influenced by Osamu Tezuka’s works and his successors and reinforce these concepts through case studies and historical analysis. Because of the US occupation, certain Japanese political culture elements can be traced through underlying messages in anime. The post-Occupation Cold war containment strategy reveals specific anime works reinforcing Japanese feelings towards the bombings and occupation, while Japanese authoritarian political culture and its deference to authority revealed that Japan voiced few public objections to US defense policy, instead leaving subtle references within artistic works. Anime can reveal great insight into Japanese wartime feelings towards this nuclear suffering denial syndrome experienced by many. Families even had concerns about destructive technology and war crimes; existing censorship laws prevented such Occupation period dialogue. Though unknown as to how far this denial syndrome extended, anime is imperfect and reveals only some artists’ public concerns due to cultural barriers. Current US-Japan security arrangements obligate Japan towards neutrality. A telling indication of Japan’s endured wartime destruction is revealed within anime pop culture references, sending global messages that Japan had suffered and still questions whether war crimes by American military actions were justified.

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