Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

At the conclusion of eight years of Japanese occupation of nearly every major city in the Republic of China, Chinese journalists were prepared not just to celebrate victory but to join the Allied nations in occupying Japan. The desire to undo the fundamental reorientation of the Sino-Japanese hierarchy of 1894-95  and restore China to regional preeminence was nearly universal, as was the consensus of seeing China finally turn the corner on economic dysfunction and to a assume a newly elevated seat among the global order. Instead, the Republic was plunged again into civil war, Japanese troops and civilians were slow in departing, the Soviets stayed on in new bases in southern Manchuria, and the US sent 50,000 troops to North China. Then, in 1947 and 1948, under the narcissistic leadership of Douglas MacArthur, the occupation of Japan took what appeared to be a rather rapid turn toward the conservation of Japanese power rather than its fundamental diffusion.

This coming 6 May, I will be presenting a paper about (and against) this historical backdrop at the Global History Research Seminar at the University of Leeds. This paper focuses on the role played by moderate Chinese journalists and left-wing cartoonists in shaping images of Japan in the era of US occupation (1945-1952), and aims at reperiodizing and reconceptualizing our view of the “international aspects” of that occupation. Recognizing that the rhetoric of anti-Japanese resistance was not easily sloughed off, the paper will struggle with the meaning of “anti-Japanese” in the early years of the postwar. Using archival documents, the paper will also delve into the ineptness of American propagandists connected to Douglas MacArthur. Along with looking at incidents and protests, this paper will highlight the difficulty of parsing out a truly “Chinese communist propaganda” role in terms of channeling anti-Japanese sentiment in China, putting moderate journalist Wang Yunsheng (王芸生) and his 1947 trip to Tokyo at the center of the argument.

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