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"A Critical Comparison Between Japanese and American " Topic

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19 Oct 2017 4:24 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

…Propaganda during World War II.

"World War II was one of the most monumental events in history and certainly one of the most significant events in the 20th century. The catalyst for drawing the United States fully into the war was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The series of confrontational events that led up to Pearl Harbor and the events that followed up until the Japanese surrender in 1945, were waged on the political, economic, and military fronts, but one aspect of the war which is sometimes overlooked is the war waged on the social front. What makes the social aspect of war so significant is that it involves a dynamic within the human person. In time of war, there is killing, violence, and hate, all stirred up from within. Thoughts and emotions come into play. Ideologies and philosophies, ways of life, and cultures clash. War is no longer only between soldiers on a battlefield but between nations and their ideas. And in order to make a whole nation of people support the war with mind and spirit, there needs to be influence. That influence is propaganda.

Much of the social warfare between the United States and Japan involved instilling within their people both a strong nationalistic pride for their own country as well as an incendiary hatred for the other. This was done with the help of the media—newspapers, books, radio, and film—that were consequently used as propaganda against the enemy. Much of the material was racist and catered to such ideas as racial inferiority and ethnic supremacy. One's own nation was always the civilized one while the enemy was depicted as barbaric, sub-human, and in some cases, demonic…."
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jim 39 Inactive Member19 Oct 2017 6:57 p.m. PST

I read a book on this subject in the 90's but published in 1986, "War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War"

There is another book just published with a similar title but I have not read that one.


SBminisguy20 Oct 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

Much of the material was racist and catered to such ideas as racial inferiority and ethnic supremacy. One's own nation was always the civilized one while the enemy was depicted as barbaric, sub-human, and in some cases, demonic…."

When has this not been present in most conflicts across history?? Heck, we still use the term "phillistine" to refer to someone who is uncouth and uncivilized, and a whole ethnicity and language group is called "Slavic," which derives from the word "Slave."

Mark 120 Oct 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

CAUTION: Brief thread diversion follows.

I don't mean the following as a criticism of SBMini's writing. Just a discussion of a topic (word origins) that I find interesting.

… a whole ethnicity and language group is called "Slavic," which derives from the word "Slave."

This is a popular belief, but is probably not a conclusion justified by the best scholarly investigation.

The theory is something like this: The Latin word for slave is/was "sclavus". Many people from Eastern Europe / Western Asia were taken as slaves by the Roman empire. Thus the label "slav" is a reference to those peoples from whom the slaves were taken.

Indeed the first references in writing, from the Byzantine Empire in about the 6th Century, use the term "Sklavini". Pretty close to "sclavus".

The problem is that those first references to what we now refer to as "Slavic" people are not written in Latin. They are written in Greek. The word "Sklavini" has no meaning in Greek. It was the habit of the Byzantines, and indeed the Romans before them, to name tribes they contacted after the tribe's own word for their tribe.

One could make the case that, even though written in Greek, the term was a transliteration of the Latin sclavus. But one could make the equally strong case that what was written in Greek was a transliteration of whatever word the tribes used to describe themselves.

In any case, whatever the reasoning for what the Byzantines called them, why would those peoples adopt that term for themselves over the following centuries? It is Western-centricism to suggest that what the Romans or Byzantines called them is the reason they are called that now. Better scholarship looks less at why the West might have named them "slavic", and more at why the East might have adopted the name "slavic".

In most Slavic-root languages, the word "slavny" (or something similar) mean "one who worships". In fact, in most slavic languages the term "Pravoslavny" (or something similar) translates word-for-word to "worshiper of law", but is the term used as the name of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This is why the phoneme "slav" or "slov" appears in the names of so many Eastern nations and peoples today. These were places in which the ruling elites wanted to be identified with the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was a statement of pan-nationalism based on faith.

Or so I have read.

(aka: Mk 1)

Texas Jack20 Oct 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

Mark has hit the nail on the head. thumbs up I live in a Slavic country, and here for example the word slavnost means celebration or fest. It is roughly the same in other slavic languages as well.

uglyfatbloke21 Oct 2017 8:36 a.m. PST

IIRC the Latin for slave is Servus.

Garde de Paris21 Oct 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

I was born in 1936, and my father started taking me with him to work every Saturday – one of the 3 movie theaters in my small home town – early in 1941 when I was 4.

The matinee had 2 cowboy movies; a 20 minute "serial" like "Buck Rogers in the 21st Century; a cartoon like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck; a comedic short subject; and WWII newsreels. I came out of the building dizzy, half blind, and very excited!

My mother used to tell me that I came home one Saturday and asked her who "Ben Gazee" was. She asked me where I had heard the name, and I told her the Germans had pushed the British back, earlier in the year, and captured Ben. It was later in the year that I asked the question, for the British had pushed the Germans back, and THEY now had Ben. It may be the first foreign town or city I heard in WWII.

After Pearl Harbor, I got a steady dose of patriotism. And training to hate: I saw Japanese soldiers throw a Chinese baby up into the air, and catch her on their bayonets. I saw Chinese soldiers captured on the battlefield, tied you telephone pole-like posts, and shot time after time for target practice, until finally shot dead.

I am 81, and still have a willingness to accept the Chinese and the Russians a potential allies.

My great sadness is that I can't find anyone else my age with this kind of memory. Probably why I enjoy the Miniatures page with so many younger men and women who have studied that era.


Mark 127 Oct 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

GdeP -

Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you take no offense in my comment, but I view you to some extent as living history. Alas you are right, there are few your age who willingly share their memories of this time. It makes you, and others like you who do willingly share, that much more interesting and valuable to those of us who care to learn about the past.

Regarding your story on Ben Gazee (well told, my good fellow!), in my case as a youngster I had trouble figuring out why my friend Jimmie's brother had to go to Vietnam to fight the Viet Cong gorillas (who's king was evidently some kind of giant!).

My own father was rather older than you. In fact he was already too old to enlist when the US entered WW2, though still young enough to be drafted 2 years later(!). He wound up serving in tank destroyers, and was assigned to Patton's Third Army (or so he claimed -- honestly, he was a sales / marketing guy, and I can never be too sure if the stories he told me were "enhanced").

He never shared with me his view of the Russians or the Chinese. But he did share some aspects of his view of the Germans, and to a lesser extent the Japanese. Quite simply, even though he spent his entire postwar career as an international businessman, he never, not even once, did business with Germans or Japanese. Nor did he ever own a German or Japanese car. Considered once buying a couple Citroen SMs when he had a chance at a deal (boy now THAT would have been a eye-catching vehicle driving around L.A. during the early 1970s), but he never once considered a Mercedes or BMW.

When I was in high school I befriended a foreign student from Germany. He didn't go to my school, but we were together in a YMCA program and he wound up as a part of my group of 5 or 6 "hang-out" friends. Part way through the year, his American host family fell apart -- a very acrimonious break-up of the parents. It was a bad place for this poor kid to be, as the family went to pieces around him. The foreign student organization that had put his year together started looking for somewhere else for him to stay. I raised the topic one morning at breakfast with my mother. I was closer to her than my father (who traveled so much I really didn't know him that well). She listened for a bit, but then just put her hand up, and shaking her head said "Don't even talk about it. Don't even consider it. There is no path by which you will bring a German into your father's house. None. Don't even ask. Just forget about the idea."

It was kind of a shocker for me. I always thought my dad's thing about cars was just a "I buy American" kind of nationalism. But it wasn't.

A few years later, when I was in college, I took a trip across Europe. I visited my friend in Stuttgart, and stayed with his family. His father too had been in the Army in WW2. But he had sent his son to the US for a year, and was a 100% friendly and gracious host to me in his home.

I can not guess all the details of my father's views. I expect propaganda was only a partly involved -- his life experiences also conditioned his views. But clearly he never got past the Germans as "them", and would not accept the Germans as "us".

(aka: Mk 1)

andysyk01 Nov 2017 3:34 p.m. PST

When in service in 1982 I spent a spell in a naval hospital, on my ward were a bunch of ex POWS under the Japanese, bought in for an annual check up, to a man they still hated the Japanese people, to man they said if given the chance in 1982 they would willingly kill their prison camp guards, in cold blood. Those were no idle threats. They were not based on propaganda. I knew an former Royal Navy rating who spoke of witnessing Japanese soldiers bayonetting British nurses. It still obviously effected him 45 years later, that wasn't propaganda.

Yes there was a propaganda program for those not there, but I think in the British experience of the Japanese in the Far East for those who were there the Japanese did their own anti propaganda.

As a renowned British army officer states in an episode of World At War, I think.

Japanese as Soldiers- First Class
Japanese as Murderers- First Class

That wasn't propaganda.

There are thousands of first hand accounts of atrocities under Japanese rule during the period and pre war in Manchuria these are not propaganda.

Royal Family interaction with the Japanese post war revolted a lot of veterans their reaction was based not on propaganda but experience.

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