Minisode: The F Word, Fascism and Imperial Japan

Minisode: The F Word, Fascism and Imperial Japan

 "Fifth Anniversary of the Manchurian Incident," 1936, Poster. In the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Thumbnail image: A Nazi variant of the American flag used by a party or organization headquartered in Westland, Michigan, 2015, Public Domain

 "Fifth Anniversary of the Manchurian Incident," 1936, Poster. In the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thumbnail image: A Nazi variant of the American flag used by a party or organization headquartered in Westland, Michigan, 2015, Public Domain

This minisode is a short discussion of the F-word that's being thrown around American media these days: fascism. We look at the historical roots of fascism, its definitions, and how WWII-era Japan fits (or doesn't) into the global history of fascist movements. This big question -- was Imperial Japan fascist? -- is related to our upcoming episode on the late Japanese author Nosaka Akiyuki, whose experiences coming of age during WWII provided the material for some of his best known works: "Grave of the Fireflies" and "American Hijiki." 

Join us for a light-hearted (but totally terrifying) break down of what we think fascism was, how it came to be, and a handy list of red flags for curious folks who want to know: seriously, what is fascism? You can listen to our fascism minisode below or find it on iTunes.


Minisode Sources

On the history of fascism*

  • Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991. New York: Vintage, 1996.
  • Tansman, Alan, ed. The Culture of Japanese Fascism. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2009.
  • Yoshimi, Yoshiaki. Grassroots Fascism: The War Experience of the Japanese People. Translated by Ethan Mark. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

On Japanese Empire*

  • Young, Louise. Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
  • Ching, Leo T. S. Becoming “Japanese”: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
  • Kang, Hildi. Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea, 1910-1945. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.
  • Duara, Prasenjit. Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003.
  • Soh, Chunghee Sarah. The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Driscoll, Mark. Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque: The Living, Dead, and Undead in Japan’s Imperialism, 1895-1945. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Tierney, Robert Thomas. Tropics of Savagery: The Culture of Japanese Empire in Comparative Frame. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
  • Henry, Todd A. Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

On the current discussion of fascism in the U.S.

*A note on sources: In our minisode format, we were only able to introduce Hobsbawm as an earlier source which discussed our central question on Imperial Japan's fascist character. We also did not have time to discuss the many places in Asia and the Pacific which fell subject to Japanese imperialism during this fascist period. The list of sources which cover the intersection of these two topics - twentieth-century fascism and Imperial Japan - are extensive and cannot all be listed here. We hope our short list will help interested readers but it is by no means an exhaustive bibliography.

Episode 2: Nosaka Akiyuki and Legacies of Imperial Japan

Episode 2: Nosaka Akiyuki and Legacies of Imperial Japan

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