imcurious 4 — Propaganda in the East
American World War 2 propaganda is widely discussed. Even the mentioning of it conjures bright red, white and blue imagery. Masculine, powerful men encouraging citizens to enlist, women happy to help out on the home front; these posters pushed one of nationalism in a time where help was needed most. In the totalitarian nations of Germany and Japan, the propaganda had a different flavor. Japan in particular leaned heavily on film.
Film had a larger scope and scale in Japan compared to the United States, but that scope didn’t go unchecked by the government. The Film Law of 1939 granted more power to the government to control what films could be made, and with the rising tensions in the world, the government sought to cut out the fat. Films were no longer able to tackle “sexually frivolous” matters or talk about social issues, instead films that supported the colonial efforts by the government saw greater circulation. Films like Kajiro Yamamoto’s film Hawai Mare oki kaisen treated Pearl Harbor as a glorious event, tellings its stories and portraying the attackers of the American base as heroes. This was manipulation and trickery in its plainest form, but the intention was no different from their enemies in the west: convince the public of the government’s just interests and you can move mountains. In the west their propagandistic efforts lead to huge draft numbers. In Japan there was a passion love for the emperor, and that love was important. Even in a totalitarian state, submission by the people was important.
Propaganda of all kinds still exists today. Despite not being in a “total war,” messages are pushed all the time. Marketers have become master manipulators and convincers in the modern era, even going so far as to utilize social issues to sell a product. For example, many marketers since Nov 8th, 2016 have capitalized on a hate and fear of Donald Trump, companies aligning themselves against his executive orders so as to show customers “we are just like you.”
Something remarkable about Japan, though, is how they seem to have learned a lesson from World War 2. History repeats itself, but Japanese media has helped Japan never forget. So much art has been made regarding themes of nuclear proliferation and the dangers of it, keeping the scars of World War 2 close at hand. For example in a popular military game that comes out of a Japan, despite centering around a soldier, violence is far from encouraged, and the series at large holds a strong anti-nuclear-proliferation stance. There is also a Japanese manga called Akira that tells its story in a world that exists after another nuclear-esque explosion in Tokyo in the 21st century. The movie is all about the fallout of that horror and preventing it from happening again. The danger of propaganda cannot be ignored, but sometimes it can be used for good. It can mobilize a country but it can also keep pain in the rear-view mirror so that the same mistakes can never be made again.
is that propaganda?
bed and also breakfast:
James L. McClain, Japan: A Modern History p 441