The Japanese and the War

Written by Michael Lucken | Translated by Karen Grimwade
Columbia University Press | February 2017

Memories of World War II exert a powerful influence over Japan's culture and society. In The Japanese and the War Expectation, Perception, and the Shaping of Memory, Michael Lucken details how World War II manifested in the literature, art, film, funerary practices, and education reform of the time. Concentrating on the years immediately before and after (1937 to 1952), Lucken explores the creation of an idea of Japanese identity that still resonates in everything from soap operas to the response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Lucken defines three distinct layers of Japan's memory of World War II: the population's expectations at the beginning, the trauma caused by conflict and defeat, and the politics of memory that arose after Japan lost to the Allied powers. Emphasizing Japanese-language sources, Lucken writes a narrative of the making of Japanese cultural memory that moves away from Western historical modes and perspectives. His approach also paints a new portrait of the U.S. occupation, while still maintaining a cultural focus. Lucken sets out to capture the many ways people engage with war, but particularly the full range of Japan's experiences, which, he argues, the Japanese state has yet to fully confront, leading to a range of tensions at home and abroad.

Michael Lucken is a professor at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. He is the author of Imitation and Creativity in Japanese Arts: From Kishida Ryusei to Miyazaki Hayao (Columbia, 2015) and a coeditor of Japan's Postwar (2011).

Publisher's website


REVIEWS

"In this highly readable book, Michael Lucken combines an encyclopedic overview of Japan's diverse conflicts over the memory of WWII with a razor-sharp dissection of their historical origins."Franziska Seraphim, Boston College

Michael Lucken's The Japanese and the War provides, in the form of a wonderfully curated "collection of insightful and instructive vignettes, both a comprehensive overview and an intimate portrayal of trans-war Japanese society.[...]Deftly translated, the book is a pleasure to read."Akiko Takenaka, University of Kentucky

"Michael Lucken skillfully combines a cultural history of wartime Japan with an account of how narratives and memories of the conflict emerged during the occupation and beyond. For those seeking to understand the roots of Japan's "memory wars" and the "history issue" in Asia, this book is an excellent place to start."Philip Seaton, Hokkaido University

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