The People in the War
This introductory chapter discusses the common misconceptions surrounding Japanese wartime behavior during and after World War II. More specifically, it questions the distinction between the Japanese state—thought to be responsible for the nation's role in the Second World War—and that of the Japanese people, who are often treated as passive victims within the historical narrative. Such a view obscures the underlying complexity surrounding the Japanese wartime behavior and instead creates an image of a nation backwards in its thinking as it is swept into a Westernized power struggle. But rather than observe Japan's history from the actions of the leaders of the state, this book focuses on the “common people” of Japanese society, and how the complex socio-cultural interactions taking place as a whole have come to shape a “bottom-up” characterization that presents Japan as both victim and victimizer.
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