History MMF: Little Loud Voices: World War II Remembered by 3 Artists

Shakedown, 1974

By the end of the Second World War, Japan’s attention was focused on embracing their defeat and the reconstruction of Japan after the intense air raids and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American occupation was met with great criticism especially with the presence of American military bases in Japanese shores.

There was a growing counterculture in world and Japan was not spared of growing sentiments against war. With the Second World War still fresh from their memories, the Vietnam War was not embraced by the Japanese since it meant that America had its reasons to extend the Japanese American Security treaty in 1970.[1]

Other than questioning mass-produced education in Japan, students were uneasy with American’s actions during the Cold War. There was great anxiety with Japan’s growing economy as President Nixon’s actions shocked Japan. His recognition of communist China in 1971 as well as the rescinding of Cold War containment policies against China was difficult for the Japanese who depended on American trade for the resuscitation of their economy. More than this, fixed exchange rates with the US were removed as well and they began to impose surcharge on imports that affected Japan’s exports of electronic goods and cars. The United States also imposed an embargo on exports of soybean to Japan. By 1972, OPEC’s embargo on oil exports brought Japan down to their worst recession since World War II.[2]

There was great anxiety among the Japanese that civil unrest was almost inevitable. Young radical Japanese students took the streets both locally and abroad and protested against this unjust treatment from the United States. The most radical of the lot were the Japanese Red Army who committed terrorist activities in protest of capitalism. Between 1972-1974, the Japanese Red Army hijacked planes, kidnapped ambassadors, and murdered commoners in International airports. Violence was in the air not only because of the Cold War but also because of the growing discontent among the people.[3]

It is in this social and political atmosphere that various writers wrote strong anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-nuclear sentiments. Among these writers were many comic writers who will eventually shape people’s memories with stories from their childhood. Three of them will have a lasting effect on people’s idea of war.

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