MacArthur's Children and the Japanese “Master Narrative”
“The winter wind has gone and long-awaited spring has arrived with double-petalled cherry blossoms”--
Hirohito, April 1952
, 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.
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
As Toshio's wife in
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.
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.
Ryuta said, “Japan lost the war. We don't have a country anymore” Even more