In From Cultures of War to Cultures of Peace: War and Peace Museums in Japan, China, and South Korea, Takashi Yoshida examines historical analyses of war and peace museums from the late 19th century to the present and traces the historical development of a pacifist discourse in postwar Japan that centered on Japan’s war crimes and responsibility during the so-called Fifteen Year War (1931-1945). Prior to the defeat, a culture of war gripped the Japanese empire. Every segment of Japanese popular culture during the war bore witness to the flood of patriotism. Textbooks, comic books, board games, children’s plays, movies, and war museums all propagated righteous images of Imperial Japan, idealizing its rule over colonial territories and romanticizing its war effort. Whereas only a relative handful of leftist Japanese saw Japan as a predatory state during the war, however, this awareness achieved broad acceptance among Japanese people with its defeat.
In this book, Professor Yoshida attempts to demonstrate that the acceptance of Japanese wartime aggression and atrocities as historical facts remains evident to this day in the culture of peace museums in Japan. Those who have little knowledge of contemporary Japan often hastily conclude that the Japanese have been united and monolithic in the way they feel the war should be remembered. This book seeks to challenge that assumption.From Cultures of War to Cultures of Peace is A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, and is published by MerwinAsia.