History | War and Peace in Modern Japan
G300 | 31256 | O' Bryan

Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA's only
Above class meets with EALC-E352 and EALC-E505

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 century.

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.