Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese during the American Occupation

Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese during the American Occupation

by Sodei Rinjiro
     
 
This unique book compiles some 120 remarkable letters from Japanese citizens to General Douglas MacArthur during the postwar occupation of Japan (1945-1952). Painstakingly culled from a vast collection, these letters evoke the unfiltered voices of people of all classes and occupations during the tremendous upheaval of the early postwar period, when the Japanese were

Overview

This unique book compiles some 120 remarkable letters from Japanese citizens to General Douglas MacArthur during the postwar occupation of Japan (1945-1952). Painstakingly culled from a vast collection, these letters evoke the unfiltered voices of people of all classes and occupations during the tremendous upheaval of the early postwar period, when the Japanese were coming to terms with the devastating losses of the war, adjusting to a new political system, and creating the framework for economic and social recovery. Written by people of all ages and walks of life, the letters raise issues ranging from Japanese war crimes to the future of the emperor system, from the behavior of American occupation troops to pleas for the United States to annex Japan. Some writers offered to serve as spies for the occupation forces; others appealed for help in solving individual problems, protested allegedly unfair treatment by the occupation, or made detailed recommendations for the reform of Japanese society. Sodei's running commentary places the letters in their historical context, and the substantive foreword by John W. Dower, who drew upon Sodei's research for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat, further assesses the significance of the letters in understanding Japan's occupation experience.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
This collection is a valuable asset for those who wish to understand the American occupation and Japanese attitudes toward foreigners.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
Sodei presents the reader with valuable glimpses into Japanese society during the American occupation....While the letters themselves are fascinating, Sodei contextualizes each letter so that both the novice and experienced scholar of Japan will come away with new insights. . . . Dear General MacArthur can be utilized...for those studying more contemporary U.S.-Japan relations, or applied more broadly to those researching foreign policies which involve occupations in a variety of international contexts....It has multiple levels that will appeal to a wide audience.
The Times Literary Supplement - Jonathan Mirsky
A unique volume. . . . [The letters] open a window into a frequently misunderstood Japan.
John W. Dower
This is a rare gem of a book. We have nothing else like it concerning Japan. . . . To 'listen to Japan' in this manner entails rethinking conventional notions of Japanese culture in profoundly subversive ways. . . . We owe a great debt to Sodei Rinjiro for showing us what a rich, complicated, and contradictory human story still waits to be further explored.
David Rands
There are aspects of [the book] that are absolutely brilliant. Sodei's ability to reconstruct the atmosphere the letters were written in, and his explanations of the levels of honorific language used, is quite informative, and help the reader better understand the letters he highlights. Overall, the book is very readable, and within each section it flows well. . . . A valuable resource at evaluating both the attitudes of Japanese during the occupation, and the way in which contemporary historians interpret the occupation. It has multiple levels that will appeal to a wide audience. Sodei effectively demonstrates that many Japanese viewed themselves as victims of the Pacific War, and made available letters from the Japanese that will undoubtedly further research into the American occupation of Japan.
Publishers Weekly
Unexpectedly, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, head of the occupying forces in postwar Japan, was met with abundant respect there. In fact, respect is one of the milder attitudes and emotions in evidence in Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese during the American Occupation, assembled and annotated by Sodei Rinjiro, MacArthur biographer and professor emeritus at Hosei University, Tokyo. Letters of gratitude for kindnesses to POWs, for replenishing the fishing industry, for being "able to live in peace"; requests to repatriate families from overseas and to refrain from trying the emperor; reports of anti-U.S. sentiment; and heaps of gifts, including many likenesses of the general, are among the hundreds of adoring communications in the book. Less congratulatory letters were scarce, but one Hiroshima resident, for instance, sent her book about the bomb's effects (published in 1949, after the U.S. relaxed the ban on such materials). This fascinating book is ideal for cultural studies curricula. 30 b&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The seven-year U.S. occupation of Japan beginning in 1945 liberated the Japanese people from the repressive militarist regime that had held them in its grip for nearly two decades. As the improbable agent of Japan's circumscribed democratization, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), became the focus of the hopes and fears of numerous Japanese. Rinjiro (emeritus, Hosei Univ., Tokyo), MacArthur's Japanese biographer, selected over 100 letters from the estimated 500,000 the general received from the Japanese people. They reveal the fascinating diversity of opinion among Japanese, who showered MacArthur with adulation, political advice, complaints, gifts, and urgent personal pleas. Through their letters, ordinary Japanese citizens spoke in vibrant and varied voices on a wide range of topics. Unfortunately, instead of letting the letters speak for themselves, Rinjiro intrudes with his own, often banal, commentary, which detracts from the value of a book that is otherwise a pleasure to read. For academic and larger public libraries. Steven I. Levine, Univ. of Montana, Missoula Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742511156
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Series:
Asian Voices Series
Pages:
270
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.03(d)

Meet the Author

Sodei Rinjiro, Japan's foremost biographer of MacArthur and a leading historian of the occupation, is professor emeritus at Hosei University, Tokyo.

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