Japanese Legacy: A Battle for Post-War Identity

This paper asks you to reflect upon the complex legacies of the Japanese empire in Japan after the end of World War II. You should begin by summarizing popular representations of historical memory in Japan as portrayed in three seminal films that we have watched and discussed in this course: Godzilla, Rashomon, and The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On. Having established the subjective parameters of interpretation and degree of willful ignorance exhibited by many parties toward Japan’s former empire after 1945,
you should now draw upon the readings and lectures of the final one-third of our course
to analyze key contingencies, themes, and alternative paths of development made
possible by the fifty years of empire. Ultimately, your goal is to bring your knowledge of the Japanese empire—in all its complexities and ambiguities—to both challenge and test the central premises of the three cinematic representations under consideration. Who is singled out for blame or praise, and why? What has been completely ignored or forgotten? Whose agendas are being served, and how selectively are they being served?

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