Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: April 2017

Episode 191 – Lifting the Lost, Part 9

This week: what, in the end, did the Occupation mean — for both the occupied and the occupier?

Listen to the episode here.


Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Dr. Dower’s editorial on the Japan-Iraq comparison.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.


Pro-MacArthur Demonstration in New York, 1951

Truman’s decision to fire Douglas MacArthur was not only unpopular in Japan but in the US as well; it contributed to a plummeting approval rating and to Truman’s ultimate decision not to attempt a run for a second, complete term.


The early days of the National Police Reserve, which eventually became the modern Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Shigeru Yoshida Signs Security Pact

Yoshida Shigeru signs the 1951 San Francisco Treaty, which went into effect the following year.


Kishi plays golf with President Eisenhower.


Kishi at the Yankees game.


In an ironic twist, Japan was also caught up in America’s newest attempts at nation-building; JSDF personnel were deployed outside of combat zones to assist in reconstruction efforts.

Episode 190 – Lifting the Lost, Part 8

This week: what was it like to live through the Occupation? How did people get by? And why is Kurosawa Akira objectively the greatest director ever?

Listen to the episode here.


Dower, John. Embracing Defeat. 

Mansfield, Stephen. Tokyo: A Cultural and Literary History.

This fantastic exploration of nutrition in Occupation Japan.

Sakamoto, Rumi. “Pan Pan Girls: Humiliating Liberation in Postwar Japanese Literature.” Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies 7, No. 2 (2010).



Women who were willing (or just interested) in relationships with Americans could obtain access to unimaginable luxuries for most of the population, like good ol’ Hershey’s chocolate.


Hayashi Tadahiko’s 1949 photograph “Street Children at Ueno.”


Mori Mitsuko, whose performances I am sure Allied troops enjoyed for their technical accomplishments.


Professor Itokawa and Yukie in No Regrets for Our Youth (1946).


Mifune Toshiro in Drunken Angel (1948).


Ozu Yasujiro was a pretty strange director, but has a dedicated following among fancy film types who refuse to simply admit that Kurosawa is simply better.


One outpost of the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA), essentially a Japanese government-run prostitution service for American service personnel.


Episode 189 – Lifting the Lost, Part 7

This week: the social reforms of the Occupation. Economic policy, education policy: it’s like our very own C-SPAN screening!

Listen to the episode here.


Geldon, Sharon. Molding Japanese Minds.

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising



An American education mission studies Japanese schools in order to suggest reforms, c. 1946.


Rice paddies like this one were the primary form of subsistence for tenant farmers who, before the Occupation, were trapped in the lower class due to their renter status.


A shipment of Japanese silk headed for market in America. Japanese goods were cheap for Americans to buy thanks to the fixed 360 yen: 1 dollar exchange rate.


During the Meiji period, textiles had been a major source of revenue for Japan. Synthetic fabrics like nylon, being produced here in Tokyo, provided a chance for textiles to once again be the backbone of an economic revival.


SCAP kept up its image in the states by publishing bulletins describing its advances in reforms.

Episode 188 – Lifting the Lost, Part 6

This week, we talk about what it took to make a peace on paper a peace in fact. With millions of Japanese civilians and soldiers scattered across Asia, what would it take to get them all home again?

Listen to the episode here.


Barshay, Andrew. The Gods Left First. 

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat. 

Spector, Ronald. In the Ruins of Empire/



Japanese POWs debarking at Yokosuka. After a brief “de-orientation” period they were released into the public.


Japanese POWs in Siberia. The Soviets proved easily the most brutal of potential captors for the Japanese.


Repatriation proved difficult for children in particular. Some families were forced to leave them behind in order to escape; others, like this girl, were separated from their families in the chaos or were the only ones to make it to a port.


Japanese troops preparing to board ships headed from China to Japan. The white box carried by the man in front holds the ashes of one of his comrades.


Ahiko Tetsuro circa 2011.

Episode 187 – Lifting the Lost, Part 5

This week, we discuss the course of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials and their legacy in Japan. How did they go from a vision of international optimism to despised by people on both sides of the political spectrum?

Listen to the episode here.


Dower, John. Embracing Defeat.

Maga, Tim. Judgment at Tokyo.

Takeda, Kayoko. Interpreting the Tokyo War Crimes Trials: A Sociopolitical Analysis.


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