Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review

China and the Founding of the United States: The Influence of Traditional Chinese Civilization

China and the Founding of the United States The Influence of Traditional Chinese Civilization By Dave Xueliang Wang Lanham, Lexington Books, 2021 365 Pages, ISBN 978: 1793644350, Hardcover Reviewed by Peter K. Frost “The mere thought of Chinese cultural influence on the founding of the United States,” Dave Wang’s states in his very first sentence in this quite extraordinary book, “is unimaginable to some.” The rest of the book is dedicated to combat what he considers “misconcep...


Japan’s Impact on World History

Many of us might find it hard to imagine Japan having a big impact on twentieth century world history. How could a nation smaller than the state of California, and dwarfed by its much larger neighbor China, possibly be a big player? Hopefully, the fact that Japan has the world’s eleventh-largest population and is now the world’s third-biggest economy may explain why Japan has had at least two different kinds of impacts on world history, each of which was a major influence in its own par...


In Memoriam: Ezra F. Vogel (1930–2020)

Those of us who are committed to studying East Asia lost an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and friend when the retired Harvard University Sociology Professor Ezra F. Vogel died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this last December.

Feature Article

Debating the Allied Occupation of Japan (Part Two)

In the fall 2016 issue of Education About Asia, I outlined three policy decisions, which I consider a fascinating way to discuss the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945–1952). The three—the decision to keep the Shōwa Emperor (Hirohito) on the throne, punish selected individuals for war crimes, and create a new constitution that (in Article 9) seemed to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy—were all urged upon the Japanese by SCAP, a term for both the Supreme Commander of the Allied ...

Feature Article

Debating the Allied Occupation of Japan (Part One)

The Allied Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) was an extraordinary time in world history. Working through SCAP, a term that stands for both the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (General Douglas MacArthur until 1951) and the largely American bureaucracy, the United States and its allies insisted that Japan must enact major reforms before regaining independence. Conservative Japanese naturally resisted, but massive casualties, two atomic bombs, anger at the militarists, and fears that the Sov...

Book Review, Resources

North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters, and Defectors

by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 2015 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0804844581, Hardcover Reviewed by Peter K. Frost As its title suggests, North Korea Confidential is written by two highly knowledgeable British journalists whose main aim is to counter the usual view that all North Koreans are either “brainwashed worshipers” of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Ilsung, or “helpless victims” of his grandson, Kim Jong-un, the third leader of t...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

A Diplomat in Asia: An Interview with Ambassador Nicholas Platt

Editor’s Note: In the interview that follows with EAA Associate Editor Peter K. Frost, Ambassador Platt provides “insider” glimpses of Mao Zedong; Richard Nixon; and insightful assessments of past, current, and future China-related topics. Peter: As you explain in your fascinating book, Mao Zedong’s 1972 decision to invite President Nixon to China was a turning point in US- China relations. Why did Chairman Mao do this? Ambassador Platt: Chairman Mao was worried about a possible mi...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

Japan 1941 discusses why Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor even though many senior officials knew that their chances of winning the war were at best 50-50. While the author also discusses historical events such as Matthew C. Perry’s 1853 visit to Japan, the rationale behind Japan’s joining the Tripartite Pact with Italy and Germany in 1940, the personal experiences of “Soldier U,” and the popular reaction to the seemingly endless war with China that—depending on your poi...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Course Readers

The first four of fifteen scheduled readers published by Professor Laura Hein’s The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Course Readers project are certainly a technological triumph. Each online reader reprints Asia-Pacific Journal articles, endnotes, and suggestions for further readings. Links allow visitors to view individual articles; go directly to suggested further readings if these are online; and, in some cases, access relevant material in individual articles. The editor includes a number ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

ANPO: The Art X War: The Art of Resistance

DIRECTED BY LINDA HOAGLUND, PRODUCED BY NEW DAY FILMS, 2010 JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES, 89 MINUTES ANPO is an intriguing mix of anti-war paintings, documentary, feature film, anime (animation) clips, interviews with the artists in Japanese with English subtitles, and brief English language comments by author and CIA critic Tim Weiner. Although there are references to such things as Japanese atrocities in World War II and the terror felt by victims of American firebombing, most of the emph...

Feature Article

Will Japan Change?

Is Japan once again changing? Unlike 1868, when the newly empowered Meiji emperor moved to Tokyo to preside over a series of dramatic changes that became more generally known as the Meiji Restoration, or 1945, when the Allied Occupation allied with relatively progressive Japanese to create a new constitution and institute a set of major reforms, Japan has yet to see a truly dramatic leader or many public protests. Yet a less dramatic series of political, economic, and social developments, combin...

Feature Article

An Interview with Frank Upham

In reaction to Japan’s militarist era, their American-influenced 1947 constitution stressed the limited role of the emperor, the separation of church and state, parliamentary democracy, individual rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Law was based on the so-called Six Codes (the 1947 constitution, the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Commercial Code). Criminal cases were handled in a European court system model, where...

Film Review Essay

Two Essays on Japan’s Peace Constitution: Japan’s Peace Constitution

John Junkerman wears his political heart on his sleeve. Opposed to any revision of Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, Junkerman has asked twelve distinguished commentators as well as some ordinary civilians from the United States, Japan, Korea, China, and the Arab world to discuss, while being videotaped, why they think the 1947 constitution of Japan should remain intact. To counter “realist” positions that rearmament is necessary, long-established scholars such as John Dower, Chalmers Joh...

Feature Article

Teaching Mr. Stimson

For some time now, I have taught a mixed lecture and discussion class on the atom bomb, primarily by using Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s February 1947 Harper’s Magazine article “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As many EAA readers no doubt know, Secretary Stimson wrote this article in response to a request by Harvard University President James Conant, a distinguished scientist who had himself worked on the bomb and hence was worried about a number of Americans who criticized the ...

Book Review, Columns

Japan: A Modern History

These are flush times for good Japan textbooks. In the Winter 2001 issue of Education About Asia (Volume 6 Number 3), I reviewed paperback editions of William G. Beasley’s The Japanese Experience (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1999) and Conrad Schirokauer, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization (Fort Worth, Harcourt, Brace College Publishers, 1993), and found both comprehensive and authoritative. Half-read on my desk lie two very promising works: Andrew Gordon, A Modern History o...

Columns, EAA Interview

James McClain, Author of Japan: A Modern History

As explained in the accompanying review (see page 62), James McClain’s Japan: A Modern History (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002) is a monumental new text that covers Japan from the 1600s to the present. To highlight some of the characteristics of the book, EAA Associate Editor Peter Frost asked Professor McClain the following questions: Peter: I’m wondering—or perhaps I should say marveling—about what makes your textbook so interesting. I noted that you pay homage to Clifford Geertz’s “t...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Censoring History: Citizenship and Memory in Japan, Germany, and the United States

Anyone who teaches Asian History and/or America’s relations with Asia should welcome this provocative if somewhat loosely organized set of essays. As the book’s subtitle suggests, eleven individuals from Australia, England, Japan, New Zealand and the United States have contributed ten essays detailing how three countries have debated the way young people should be taught about their past. While the book places six of the nine essays in a section called “Textbooks and Historical Memory” a...

Essay, Resources

Map of the Populations of Japan and the United States and Commentary

When Japan is compared to the United States in maps and graphs of this sort, the differences are both profound and surprising. On the profound side, Japan, with a population approaching half that of the U.S., has a total land area about the size of California. Note further that roughly 80 percent of these small islands are too mountainous to be inhabitable. Also, periodic earthquakes, typhoons, and heavy snows (in the so-called “snow country” of northwest Honshu) batter the country. Geogr...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Comparing History: Beasley Versus Schirokauer

Teachers offering basic courses on Japan will welcome the recent publication of William G. Beasley’s general text. Elegantly written by one of the outstanding patriarchs (b.1919) of Japanese studies, Beasley’s text has the usual index, maps, bibliography, and short glossary found in works of this kind, and almost the same amount of text as Conrad Schirokauer’s heavily used but somewhat more expensive work. While James McClain’s magnificent new Japan: A Modern History (New York, W. W. Nor...