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japanese master narrative - Alecia Waite MacArthur's...

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Alecia Waite MacArthur's Children and the Japanese “Master Narrative” “The winter wind has gone and long-awaited spring has arrived with double-petalled cherry blossoms”-- Emperor Hirohito, April 1952 i In Macarthur's Children , a film about the rebirth of Japan's spirit and discovery of a new direction after the war, children strive to win a baseball game against an American military baseball team. The movie portrays the Occupation period as one of concrete growth but ambivalent feelings. During this period, militarism and heavy-handed government were discredited and democratic institutions firmly rooted. ii Economic changes were also swift, as evidenced by the consumerism of the “three sacred pieces of equipment: refrigerators, washing machines, and television sets.” The island on which the plot occurs symbolizes Japan as a whole. The central question addressed in the movie is: What is Japan's concept of identity during the occupation? Characters struggle against decadent and corrupt Western influences and struggle to adapt to benevolent Western influences. Reactions to the war are varied. Some in the movie, such as Mumei, seem to be focused on moving on. As journalist Miyake Setsurei, who advocates the three qualities of truth, beauty and virtue said, “We must do whatever is necessary to recover the people's power and expand our influence to the world.” iii As Toshio's wife in American Hijiki put it, “You just have to forget these terrible things. Every summer they come out with new war stories, more memoirs-- well, I just hate it... It's as though they're proud of having suffered so much. iv The movie as a whole, however, seems anti-American and slightly reactionary. This essay will seek to analyze Japanese views of the occupation, including views of Westernization, cultural problems, overall feelings of ineriority, war trials, and the “rebirth” or blossoming of Japan. The movie holds a pessimistic view of the American occupation which may have been one side of a more balanced “Master Narrative view”, and is perhaps more pessimistic than Japanese saw the occupation at the time. v Ryuta said, “Japan lost the war. We don't have a country anymore” Even more
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dismal, Saburo stated: “I can't grow up to be an admiral anymore, so I'll have to be a gangster.” This is mirrored by the feelings of the boy in Modern Japan: A History in Documents , who says of the emperor “If he should cease to exist, our lives would lack direction.” vi In an even more pessimistic view of the occupation, in the movie, Masao Tetsuo rapes his brother's widow while Masao's parents are entertaining the Americans. Author Nosaka Akiyuki also likens the occupation to rape when he attempts to understand why he admires but also hates Americans. He poses the question: “Is this like the virgin who can never forget the repulsive man who raped her?” vii Some Japanese were more optimistic about the American occupation. Henshall explains that for
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