Honored and Dishonored Guests: Westerners in Wartime Japan

Honored and Dishonored Guests: Westerners in Wartime Japan

by W. Puck Brecher


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The brutality and racial hatred exhibited by Japan’s military during the Pacific War piqued outrage in the West and fanned resentments throughout Asia. Public understanding of Japan’s wartime atrocities, however, often fails to differentiate the racial agendas of its military and government elites from the racial values held by the Japanese people. While not denying brutalities committed by the Japanese military, Honored and Dishonored Guests overturns these standard narratives and demonstrates rather that Japan’s racial attitudes during wartime are more accurately discerned in the treatment of Western civilians living in Japan than the experiences of enemy POWs.

The book chronicles Western communities in wartime Japan, using this body of experiences to reconsider allegations of Japanese racism and racial hatred. Its bold thesis is borne out by a broad mosaic of stories from dozens of foreign families and individuals who variously endured police harassment, suspicion, relocation, starvation, denaturalization, internment, and torture, as well as extraordinary acts of charity. The book’s account of stranded Westerners—from Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kobe to the mountain resorts of Karuizawa and Hakone—yields a unique interpretation of race relations and wartime life in Japan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674975149
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/06/2017
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #399
Pages: 386
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

W. Puck Brecher is Associate Professor of Japanese History at Washington State University.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Part I Caucasians and Race in Imperial Japan

1 Racism, Race Consciousness, and Imperial Japan 21

A Normative Racism 23

Aspects of Race Consciousness in Imperial Japan 28

Sources of Cognitive Dissonance 34

2 Privilege and Prejudice: Being a "Westerner in Imperial Japan 44

Early Foreign Settlements 46

The Yokohama Community 51

Ornaments in Isolation: The Frank and Balk Families 59

Class Insularity at Western Resorts 76

3 Handling the Other Within: Approaches to Preemptive Containment (1939-41) 83

Direct and Indirect Forms of Containment 85

Japans "Jewish Problem" and the Kobe Community 98

A Repressed, Mobilized Christianity 109

Part II Lives in Limbo: Wartime Containment in the Wake of Pearl Harbor

4 First Responses and Containment Protocols after Pearl Harbor (1941-43) 123

A New Taxonomy of Foreigners 124

Temporary Detentions of Suspicious Enemy Nationals 130

Enemy Diplomatic Staff under House Arrest 139

Racialized Others: Jews and Asians 144

5 Watched and Unseen: Nonenemy Nationals after Pearl Harbor (1941-43) 152

Fracture and Emotional Conflict 154

Withdrawal and Invisibility 168

Japanese Ambivalence and Antiforeign Sentiment 173

6 Fleeing for the Hills: Evacuee Communities in Hakone and Karuizawa (1943-45)

"Running Smoothly" in Gora 187

Karuizawa: A "Strange Miniature Babel" 193

Part III Lives Behind Walls: Japan's Treatment of Enemy Civilians

7 From Humiliation to Hunger: The Internment of Enemy Nationals (1941-45) 219

Camp Administration 219

The Initial Roundup (1941-42) 227

Stringency and Privation (1942-45) 239

8 Torture and Testimony: The Incarceration of Suspected Spies (1944-45) 253

Interrogation 255

Trial and Imprisonment 269

Death and Liberation 275

9 Race War? On Japanese Pragmatism and Racial Ambivalence 286

The Failure of Propaganda 287

Continuity and Change Following the Surrender 304

Epilogue 310

Notes 313

Bibliography 341

Index 355

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