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Japan at War: An Oral history by Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook

6 Pages 1579 Words June 2020

The book Japan at War: An oral history by Haruko Taya Cook & Theodore F. Cook is a collection of personal narratives of Japanese individuals during WWII and their experiences before, during, and after the war. As many know, Japan was the first Asian nation to modernize. They were also the first non-white nation to be considered one of the “big five” countries at the Treaty of Versailles. However, everything changed for Japan during and after WWII. Cook & Cook highlight the themes of the Japanese expressing what has happened to them, not what they had done. They also talk about topics such as how Japan was defeated, the fact that no clear narrative tells the story of their defeat or gives them a clear idea of who was responsible for the war and the notion of “a Good Defeat.” Moreover, the narratives shared rarely talk about hatred toward the enemy, creating an enemy-less conflict. This book was created primarily for Westerners to understand the Japanese perspective during this time of warfare and formulate their ideas of the nation.
For much of the world, the war with Japan began with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. However, for the Japanese, the war started long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan used WWI to establish themselves in China. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 created an opportunity for Japan to begin on a path of warfare because Japan was finally able to defeat China, demonstrating that the long-revered civilization was no longer able to prove themselves more powerful than Japan. The Russo-Japanese War also gave the Japanese military a victory that set themselves apart. The victory of this war was significant because they were the first non-white western nation that defeated a white western nation. The “Manchuria Incident” was the first mark to the Japanese war that many Japanese could think of as the commencement of the long war period ahead. The war on China, often referred to as the ...

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