Japan At War, 1850 To The Present

Japan At War, 1850 To The Present

Prefix: 
HIS
Course Number: 
357

This course covers military conflicts in modern Japan with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific War (1931-45)?Japan?s imperialist quest in China and Southeast Asia that ultimately expanded into the Pacific Theater of World War II. We will begin by a brief examination of Japan?s earlier wars in the modern period, including the Meiji Restoration (1867-8), the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-5), and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) in order to set Japan?s modern wars in context; of particular focus here will be the emergence and the development of Japan?s Emperor-centered, militaristic nationalism, which influenced every aspect of Japanese thought during the Asia-Pacific War. Themes covered will include both politics and culture of a nation at war. We will look not only at the political and military strategists and foreign relations, but also at the life on the battlefront and the home front. The cult of death, which centered around the belief that those who sacrifice their lives for the emperor for the sake of the nation will be honored as a god at Yasukuni Shrine, and which resulted in such fanatical actions as kamikaze attacks and mass suicides, will be investigated in detail. The last sessions of the class will cover the legacies of the Asia-Pacific War in the decades following Japan?s defeat. The course requires¬ no prior knowledge of the history of modern Japan.

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