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March 1999 - Issue No. #34 (p.22)

Resource Books for Teaching about World War II

The past few years have brought calls by politicians and others for Japanese young people to learn more about World War II and about the suffering Japan inflicted on its Asian neighbors. Robert Getting's article in this issue shows one example of how this difficult but important topic can be approached. Many students are eager to know "What really happened?" The following books can help interested teachers learn more so they can teach about this topic more effectively.

THE RAPE OF NANKING: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

by Iris Chang (1997)

New York: Basic Books [ISBN 0-465-06835-9]

In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the Chinese city of Nanking and within weeks not only looted and burned it but systematically raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. Chang's book, based on extensiveinterviews with survivors and newly discovered documents, tells this shocking story from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers who performed it, the Chinesecivilians who endured it, and the Europeans and Americans who witnessed it.

The Rise & Fall of the Japanese Army

by Meirion & Susie Harrie (1993)

New York: Random House [ISBN: 0-679-75303-6]

This comprehensive book is the best history of the Japanese Imperial Army from its creation in 1868 to its dissolution in 1945. The authors describe in detail the rise of Japanese militarism in the 1920s-30s, the occupation of China, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the invasion of South East Asia and the Pacific War from Midway to Okinawa. They finish with a discussion of Japanese war atrocities and a call for Japan to face the past, not hide it, in order to move beyond it.

JAPAN AT WAR: An Oral History

by H. & T. Cook (1993)

New York: New Press. [ISBN: 0-56584-039-9]

This pathbreaking work of oral history captures for the first time ever - in Japanese or English - the remarkable story of ordinary Japanese people during World War II. In a sweeping panorama, the authors cite first person accounts from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s right up to the Japanese homefront during the air raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to show how the 20th century's most violent conflict affected the everyday lives of the Japanese population.

THE PACIFIC WAR 1931-1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan in WWII

by Saburo Ienaga (1978)

New York: Pantheon Books [ISBN: 0-394-73496-3]

This translation of the 1968 classic Taiheiyo Senso provides a critical perspective by a Japanese scholar on Japan's role in WWII. It has two parts: Why wasn't the war prevented? and The conduct of the war and the result. The author, famous for suing the Ministry of Education over censorship of Japanese history textbooks, gives a damning indictment of wartime imperialism, repression and barbarity, while aiming to inspire Japanese youth to work for a free and peaceful society.

Sex Slaves of Japan's Imperial Forces

by George Hicks (1995)

Australia: Allen and Unwin / Tokyo: Yenbooks [ISBN: 4-900737-38-0]

In 1938, Japan's armed forces established what they designated a "comfort station" - the first step in the sexual enslavement of over 100,000 young women trafficked across Japan's wartime empire by its soldiers and collaborators. Using official documents and original sources, the author describes the reality of the system, traces the fight by Japanese and Korean feminists to expose the truth, and allows the victims to tell their own stories of shame, brutality and resistance.

WAR WITHOUT MERCY: Race and Power in the Pacific War

by John Dower (1986)

NY: Pantheon. [ISBN: 0-394-75172-8]

This book, hailed by the New York Times as one of the most important books about the war between Japan and the US, looks at the issue of race and racism in World War II. The author draws on American and Japanese songs, slogans, cartoons, propaganda films and other materials of the times to document the racist stereotypes and attitudes used by Americans and Japanese to demonize each other, then comments on the ramifications of this in our lives today.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650