This study was carried out with the purpose of consideration of Japan's postwar Occupation Period as the 'learning period of democracy' through Japan's popular literature. After Japan's surrender in World War II, the Allied occupation of Japan laste ...
This study was carried out with the purpose of consideration of Japan's postwar Occupation Period as the 'learning period of democracy' through Japan's popular literature. After Japan's surrender in World War II, the Allied occupation of Japan lasted some seven years. Amid the flood of publications, this period saw the birth of 'Literature of the Occupation Period' with diverse contents, and of these, the study selected key texts from two serial novels of newspapers that used experience of the newly-introduced 'democracy' in Japan as materials. These two were Ishizaka Yōjirō's Blue Mountain Range (青い山脈, 1947) and Shishi Bunroku's School of Freedom (自由学校,1950). Both novels were published serially at Asahi Shimbun, enjoying popularity and then made into films, achieving great success among the people.
Noting that the Occupation Period offered a turning point of politics, society and culture to the Japanese acquainted with militarism until then, this study looked at within and without the texts how new and old values had collided or comprised. And this study examined how new desires and customs of the Japanese during the Occupation Period, arising from foreign systems and values, had been represented in these two novels. As a pre-task for this, this study collected and analyzed a wide range of academic materials to understand Japan's specific aspects of times during the Occupation Period and developments of postwar democracy. Moreover, in an effort to verify the then responses and psychology of ordinary people related with 'defeat & occupation', 'democracy', this study referred to remarks and opinions of mass media such as papers and magazines.
During the period of Blue Mountain Range, correspondence columns of printed media themselves performed sort of function of practising democracy - individual's expression of opinion and forming of public opinion. That said, this study found most of the people couldn't fully understand or practise 'new values' contained in the relevant contents. In their daily lives, the ordinary people still had traditional feudalistic thinking and habits at the bottom of heart. And it was not so different at the backdrop of Blue Mountain Range - rural country side either. The characters of the novel sometimes encouraged the value of democracy or demonstrated 'new era' of Japanese that should be changed. But the gap between their 'ideal' and 'reality' was depicted as wide as the mental distance between 'postwar' and 'prewar'. Furthermore, in the novel, compromise or suspension of democracy had better results than democracy that was faithful to principles, or normative. This could be considered to be the author's gradual and long-term strategy taking the reality then into consideration and yet at the same time could be interpreted as the limit of reality driven stance of the author.
School of Freedom was a novel in which how Japanese experience of the defeat and their psychology of being occupied was combined with gender was well depicted through Japanese families and man-woman relationship during the Occupation Period. When the novel was published serially, 'equal rights for the both sexes' was a term symbolic of 'postwar'. While female characters in the novel outwardly looked like 'a proponent as well as a spokesperson for new values', they were depicted too insufficiently to be self who established herself or the subject of change. On the other hand, conservative husbands, embarrassed to see change of wives relative to 'prewar' and drawn back at 'postwar democracy', revealed mentality to depreciate it as a short-lived trend rather embracing it as a new-born principle. Cynical criticism of men during the Occupation Period to depreciate postwar democracy - actively supported by women - by overlapping it with unfinished 'The Freedom and People's Rights Movement in Meiji' or failed 'Taisho democracy' for example revealed psychology of occupied people sensitive to the wounds of 'defeat' and 'occupation'. Men's anxiety on faltering gender hierarchy intermingled with their psychological resistance to the fact that 'democracy' came along with the 'defeat'.