The most interesting aspect of the Japanese narrative that I read was the shift from a heavy military focused society to a economic based one. A country that went from invading close to all of their neighbors turned into one that has no military today besides a self-defense force that is not allowed to be in actual combat. The turning point of World War II decided how the victors (mainly USA) would govern Japan. After the US’s intervention in Japan’s constitution, Japan focused its workforce and resources into growing its economy by “rebuilding itself as a industrial producer of high-tech manufacturing” (Allison 22). The typical Japanese family as described by Allison resembles how the typical American family was during the same time period. The husband would work for the whole family and make enough to support it. The wife would stay at home raising the kids and taking care of the housework. This “Japan Inc.” is extremely similar to the image of a family during the start of the baby boomers.The similarities of these two portrayals of the typical family for both the US and Japan was most likely a product in the US intervention in Japanese government after WW2.
The portrayal of Japan before it was bombed in WW2 was one of an aggressive country that was trying to colonize neighbors to make their mark on the world. Their war crimes and brutality is well documented in places like China and the Philippines. After the bombing, they were portrayed as victims. Being portrayed as victims in the war almost makes me believe that people did not remember or acknowledge the terrible acts they committed prior only because they victims of the atomic bomb. Since the two images of Japan were so close together chronologically, it was difficult for the world to see the identity of Japan. This difficulty to see the image of the Japanese must have also been difficulty on the Japanese. They cities were destroyed and government was being controlled by another country after the war and they were forced to take on the image of another country before they could become their own again.
Nationalism can be explained as our sense belonging and pride for our nation. In the past, nationalism was only comprised from one culture. As we move towards a new era and an open world. We see people of different cultures moving away from their ancestors’ home into different countries and finding new places to call home. Nationalism today is determined by different people differently; Some see the front page of a person’s passport as their identity while others see a person’s culture.
In Sugimoto’s piece, he makes the claim that in order for Japan is “faced with the challenge of generating a narrative that can both accommodate the reality of increasing ethnic hybridity while still embracing a notion of national homogeneity”. This is a contradiction if you place ethnicity and nationalism in the same category. As with the Japanese word “kuni”, I believe that nationalism is a word that is made up of layers of meanings. I believe that nationalism can incorporate multiple cultures.
In Hawaii, there are no shortage of different cultures that make up those who live there, yet they can all relate with each other because they all have the islands to connect them. What I mean is that you can always spot the person from Hawaii. For example, UW’s Hawaiian club is one of the largest student organizations and students’ ethnicities range from Hawaiian to Asian. I feel that the most important part to nationalism is a sense of community. Feeling that you belong with others no matter how you look or think is how this community is formed.
Japan in the past was a very secluded nation as it was water locked on all shores. They only recently opened up as they did only a couple of generations ago. The culture that some grew up with included the cultural separation that come from hundreds of years of isolation. It is only now being slowly changed into one that can be multicultural while still having a solid foundation of nationality.
My name is Alvin Luc and I will be a senior at the University of Washington next year. I will be studying accounting at the Fosters School of Business but before this I was a geography major. I was born in Hawaii as a first generation Chinese American. This will be my first time going to Japan and I am very excited for it. This will be my first time going to Asia and to a place where English is not the primary language. What I look forward to most in Japan is seeing how their culture compares to some the unique characteristics in Hawaii as they have had a large influence as Hawaii was developing into its own identity.
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