East Asian Languages and Cultures | Studies in East Asian History: War and Peace in Japan
E352 | 13073 | O'Bryan, S

This section is for undergraduates only
This class carries a Culture Studies credit
3.00 credits
COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Our purpose in this course will be to examine the
roles that war has played in modern Japanese history and the place it
has occupied in the historical memories of Japanese. In the process,
we will seek to gain broader insight into why nations go to war, how
war is ideologically justified, and alternative models to
international conflict as these have been articulated during the
modern period. Although this course is not a military history narrowly
defined, we will, of course, take up the history of a variety of
violent conflicts in which Japanese have participated since the Meiji
Restoration in 1868. More broadly, however, we will note both
continuities and discontinuities in national geopolitical thinking,
rationales for initiating conflict, and the shifting modes by which
Japanese remembered earlier conflicts and used them to tell the story
of the Japanese nation. At the same time we will also attempt to
understand the ways in which narratives of the nation in war were
linked to individual experience. Finally, we will study the
connections between the pacifist thought that arose in Japan in the
wake of World War II and wider anti-war movements during the twentieth
As we analyze these issues in Japanese history, we will also pull
back at regular intervals to examine the more general question, “what
causes wars?” Once during each of the six sections of the course we
will spend a class session discussing a topic drawn from Japanese
experience that may yield historical clues and provisional answers to
this complex problem. We will read from a variety of sources,
including memoirs and oral histories, official policy statements and
planning documents, and popular histories of the war in comic-book form.