Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan: Reading Between the Lines / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.74
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (18) from $5.74   
  • New (6) from $75.86   
  • Used (12) from $5.74   


This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were both necessary and moderate. Although the United States Education Mission of 1946 recommended that the Japanese give serious consideration to the introduction of alphabetic writing, key American officials in the Civil Information and Education Section of GHQ/SCAP delayed and effectively killed action on this recommendation. Japanese advocates of romanization nevertheless managed to obtain CI&E approval for an experiment in elementary schools to test the hypothesis that schoolchildren could make faster progress if spared the necessity of studying Chinese characters as part of non-language courses such as arithmetic. Though not conclusive, the experiment's results supported the hypothesis and suggested the need for more and better testing. Yet work was brought to a halt a year ahead of schedule; the Ministry of Education was ordered to prepare a report that misrepresented the goal of the experiment and claimed it proved nothing. The whole episode dropped from official and scholarly view—until the publication of this book.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"His willingness to work painstakingly through Occupation-era archives has paid handsome dividends."—Language in Society

"...engaging, informative, and sometimes infuriating: a delight to read."—Journal of Japanese Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195101669
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Transcription and Use of Japanese Words
1 Introduction: Dreamers or Realists? 3
Scholarly Neglect 3
Language and Script 9
The Modern Japanese Writing System 16
2 Literacy in Japan up to 1945 24
The Tokugawa Inheritance 24
The Effects of Public Schooling 35
3 Script Reform from Within 44
Kana Typewriters and Romaji Textbooks 44
The Toyo Kanji List and Reforms of 1946-59 56
4 SCAP Steps In 59
Robert King Hall 59
Abraham Meyer Halpern 76
5 The Romaji Education Experiment 86
Evidence from Trainor and the GHQ/SCAP Archives 86
Interlude: The Strange Case of the Romazi Sinbun 106
Evidence from Japanese Sources 109
6 Conclusion: The Most Literate Nation on Earth? 119
The Joyo Kanji List and the Liberal Democratic Party Backlash 119
A Functional View of Literacy 124
Appendix A: Halpern's Overview of the Romanization Issue 128
Appendix B: Trainor's Account of the Ramaji Education Experiment 133
Appendix C: Calhoun's Key Memoranda on the Experiment's Results 136
Appendix D: Remarks on Archival Sources 139
Glossary of Japanese Terms 145
Notes 148
References 159
Index 169
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)