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

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Overview

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.

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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

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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
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