During World War II, many of Japan's soldiers committed such crimes against humanity that the world recoiled in horror. During the notorious six-week-long "rape of Nanking" in 1937, Japanese forces murdered at least 200,000 men, women, and children. Throughout the Pacific War, Allied prisoners were often starved, tortured, beheaded, even cannibalized. Although Japan's military men fought bravely against outnumbering forces again and again, their astonishing brutality made them a loathsome, unforgivable enemy.While this chapter of Japanese history is well known, few realize that earlier in this century the Japanese were celebrated throughout the West for their chivalry in warfare. During the Boxer Rebellion in China and the savage Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, the Western Press lauded the Japanese for their kindness to the wounded and imprisoned enemy.Warriors of the Rising Sun chronicles the Japanese military's transformation from honorable "knights of Bushido" into men who massacred thousands during the Pacific War. Crucial in bringing about this change was Western rejection of Japan as an aspiring colonial power, as well as the West's racist, anti-Japanese immigration policies.
Japan's leaders chose military brutality as a necessary means to achieve a rightful place in the world. Today, Japan has the second largest military budget in the world. What lessons have her leaders learned from the past wars?
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(235mm x 156mm x 28mm)
Westview Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
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US Kirkus Review »
An anthropologist's clear-eyed appreciation of how Japan's military - justly famed as a chivalrous ally and adversary in the Asiatic conflicts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries - became a bestial rabble-in-arms that committed unspeakable atrocities during WW II. Drawing largely on secondary sources, Edgerton (UCLA School of Medicine; The Fall of the Asante Empire, 1995, etc.) produces an engrossing narrative that traces the development of the island nation's armed forces from the Meiji Restoration to the present day. Having provided a brief rundown on the country's bushido/samurai tradition, he documents the accomplishments of Japan's modern army and navy in belligerencies ranging from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 through the Boxer Rebellion, the savage Russo-Japanese War, and WW I (in which Japan was allied with western Europe). Along the way, the author provides vivid examples of the knightly way in which the emperor's warriors went about their grim business. Edgerton goes on to document the corrosive effect on Japan's military of America's racist immigration policies, the emergence of ultranationalist fanatics within the ruling class, and the economic pressures endured by an insular industrial power almost entirely lacking in natural resources. These and other factors, he argues, help explain the horrific barbarities Japan's brutal, fanatic soldiery committed against helpless civilians, POWs, and wounded foes throughout East Asia from the early 1930s through the harsh reckoning of V-J day. In the author's mind, however, the issue of whether the nation's self-defense force will evolve into a guarantor of the peace in its volatile region or revert to the unholy practices that resulted in WW II's unconditional surrender remains a very open question. An incisive account of a consequential state's use and abuse of military power. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Robert B. Edgerton
Robert B. Edgerton is the author of more than twenty other books on a variety of sociological, anthropological, and historical topics, most recently Hidden Heroism (Westview 2001). He also teaches anthropology at the UCLA School of Medicine.