Cars built in Japan before WWII tended to be based on European or American models. In 1925 the Ford Motor Company of Japan began manufacturing in Yokohama. In 1927 General Motors and Chrysler also established operations in Japan. From 1925-36, these three American automobile manufacturers produced 208,967 vehicles (domestic Japanese production = 12,127). The Japanese Automobile Manufacturing Industry Law of 1936 was intended to promote domestic automobile production by reducing foreign competition. However, closing the Yokohama Ford plant prevented Japan from becoming a major automobile exporter. By 1939, all foreign manufacturers had been forced out of Japan and vehicle production was shifted to trucks for use in the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Comedian Harmonists were an internationally famous, all-male German, close harmony ensemble that performed between 1928 and 1934 as one of the most successful musical groups in Europe before World War II. The group's success continued into the early 1930s, but eventually ran into trouble with the Nazi regime because three of the group members were either Jewish or of Jewish descent, and one had married a Jewish woman. In Nazi Germany the group's professional life became increasingly difficult, and they were ultimately prohibited from performing in public. After their last last concert in Hannover in 1934, they sailed to America and gave several concerts but eventually returned home. Attempts to reform the group outside Germany by their Jewish members and within Germany by those remaining were relatively unsuccessful. By 1941, both groups had broken up. Although all members survived the war, they never re-formed after the war. In the 1997 German movie Comedian Harmonists (released in the USA as The Harmonists), the actors lip-synched the musical performances to the group's original recordings.
Anti-Mexican Sentiment – USA
In addition to widespread racial prejudice in the USA against Asians, African Americans and Jews, Mexican Americans were also a target for discrimination. In the 1930s, approximately 500,000 people of Mexican descent were pressured to leave the US by the Mexican Repatriation program.
Ethnic Conflict in Imperial Japan
Ainu Korean Chinese In an attempt to develop the wilds of Hokkaidō, the Meiji government outlawed the language of the indigenous Ainu people, restricted their farming to designated areas, and pressed them into slave-like conditions in the fishing industry. As the government encouraged immigration of ethnic Japanese to Hokkaido, the Ainu became increasingly marginalized in their own land. With early Japanese pirate raids on Korea, annexation of the country in 1910 and the fierce persecution of immigrant Koreans after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, Japan's relationship with Korea has always been troubled. Koreans in Japan were often regarded as second-class citizens. During the unification of Japan in the Tokugawa period, all foreign influence on Japan (including the previously venerated Chinese culture) was considered undesirable. As Japan began to match western progress during the Meiji restoration, China became increasingly dysfunctional and Chinese people were viewed as inferior. Extreme sinophobic sentiment fueled many Japanese atrocities during WWII, including the Nanking Massacre.
Manzai (漫才) is a traditional style of Japanese comedy, usually performed by a straight man and a funny man trading rapid fire jokes, puns and gags in local dialects. During the Second Sino-Japanese War Manzai comedians joined "comfort" or "laugh" brigades to entertain the troops. On their return to Japan, they often wrote patriotic accounts for the public. Read more: Barak Kushner. The Thought War: Japanese Imperial Propaganda.
In 1906, following Japan's victory in the in the Russo-Japanese War, San Francisco required children of Japanese descent to attend racially segregated schools. In 1931, after the annexation of Manchuria, many American citizens called for American economic intervention to pressure Japan to leave China. In 1937, with the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Nanking Massacre, the majority of Western public opinion was strongly in favor of China. A notable exception was the Pacific Movement of the Eastern World which viewed Japan as the champion of all non-white peoples, promising equality and land distribution for all.
Throughout the 1930s, strong opposition from diverse groups kept the USA out of international conflicts. Needing support for his New Deal policies, FDR accepted this fact until 1937 when the threats to world peace from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan became more acute. In that year, he likened international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to "quarantine." The American public, however, was not supportive of this position and isolationism prevailed.
Ryūkōka Music Japan
Ryūkōka (popular song), adopting a western musical style, was popular in Japan from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. Unlike the photo of traditional instruments above, ryūkōka used vocals,classical guitar, mandolin and violin. Listen to Katsutaro Kouta, was a popular geisha and ryūkōka singer.
Tennessee Valley Authority
In the 1930s, nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers in the USA had electricity, compared with only 10 percent of rural dwellers. Although private utility companies, maintained that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads, in 1933, with strong pressure from President Roosevelt, Congress created the controversial Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA was a federal corporation providing navigation, flood control, fertilizer and electricity in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia that had been severely affected by the Great Depression.
Japanese Gun Control
The arrival of guns in 1542 dramatically changed the nature of war in Japan. The aristocratic Bushi warrior class, however, thought firearms were undignified and preferred swords or spears. In fact, the cult of the sword persisted into the Second World War, when Japanese officers carried swords - even in the jungle. In 1588, after re-unification of Japan's feudal states under a strong central government, possession of swords and firearms was banned for commoners. When the Government forbade samurai to wear their two traditional swords in 1876, thousands arose in the Satsuma Rebellion. Rejecting the use of muskets, they were crushed by a conscript peasant army using firearms. During the early 20th century, gun control was slightly relaxed. But as the military increased domination of civilian life in the 1920s (and "government by assassination" surged) strict gun control was enacted. Read more: Japanese Gun Control.
Student Activism – USA
In the 1930s, the Communist-led National Student League of high school and college students joined with the Socialist Student League for Industrial Democracy to form the American Student Union (ASU). The ASU promoted extensive reforms of federal aid to education, government job programs for youth, academic freedom, racial equality, collective student bargaining rights, abolition of compulsory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and opposition to war. From 1936 to 1938 the movement mobilized thousands of college students in annual one-hour strikes, stating: "We will not support the government of the United States in any war it may conduct." In 1938, an ASU position change in support of European armament split Socialist members (in favor of continued pacifism) and Communist members (in favor of rearmament). In 1938, the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities investigated ASU connections with the American Communist Party. The ASU was terminated in 1941.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJMeTR227h8 Led by Harry Ansliger, the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the federal government pursued a vigorous war on drugs in the 1930s, promoting a Uniform State Narcotic Act. Initially, only nine states adopted the act, but after a 1935 nationwide anti-marijuana media campaign (and endorsement by FDR) all states signed on. The movie Reefer Madness was originally financed by a church group as a morality tale. However, it was subsequently purchased and re-cut for distribution in 1938. Since then, it has become somewhat of a cult phenomenon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W98ZyGVfTDM&feature=related
Drug Abuse in Japan
Noting the devastating effects of opium on China, the Japanese government during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) pursued a vigorous anti-drug policy. Increased Western influence in the Taisho period (1912-1926) may have contributed to wider acceptance of recreational drug use, yet fewer than 100 narcotics arrests/year were recorded. During the Showa period (1926-) the number of narcotics arrests increased slightly, then fell. In 1938, 3,600 of Japan’s 70 million inhabitants were known drug addicts. During WWII, Japan’s isolation, strict anti-drug laws and negative public opinion resulted in a relatively low rate of drug addiction. Source: Drug abuse and anti-drug policy in Japan. Brit J Criminology 1995; 35:4:491
J. Edgar Hoover
Throughout the 1930s, as Director of the FBI , J. Edgar Hoover advanced scientific methods of crime detection and led a "War on Crime" against many notorious criminals, including John Dillinger, "Baby Face" Nelson, Kate "Ma" Barker, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, and George "Machine Gun" Kelly.
Imperial Japanese Army
Type 95 Ha Go tank 1935; Wikimedia Commons In the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army developed mechanized infantry units with the Type 95 light tank produced by Mitsubishi. The Type 95 tank saw significant action in the "China Conflict," where, although lightly armored, its improved speed was felt to be a compensatory factor. In the ensuing Pacific War, the Type 95 proved sufficient against infantry, but not against other tanks.
Japanese Horse Racing
In medieval Japan, warriors with exceptional riding skills often became clan leaders. During the 6th century, horse races were held at religious ceremonies (for an abundant harvest) and annually at the Imperial Court. Western-style racing was introduced at Yokohama in the 1860’s. In 1923, legislation was passed that allowed the formation of racing clubs and the legal sale of betting tickets. In 1936, 11 racing clubs and the Imperial Racing Society were merged into the Japan Racing Society. Read more: Horse racing in Japan
Medical Education USA
After publication of the Flexner report in 1910, admission and graduation requirements for U.S. medical schools became very rigorous, and adherence to the scientific method in patient care and research was emphasized. Many medical schools were closed and most that met the new scientific criteria were university-based. Post-graduate internships were required for all practitioners in the 1920s, and by the 1930s, all sub-specialists were required to complete residency training in their field.
Japanese Medical Schools
In pre-WWII Imperial Japan there were 18 university-based medical schools with high academic standards. Prerequisite for admission were 6 years of primary school, 5 of middle school and 3 years of special science in a higher school or a university preparatory school. After an additional 4 years of medical school, an M.D. degree was granted and recipients could begin practice without further training. Graduates of ten 4-year technical colleges called Senmon Gakko (専門学校), requiring only middle school preparation, were also granted full licenses to practice medicine. During WWII the numbers of Senmon Gakko increased to 51 in order to meet the increased demand for wartime physicians. Kusama Y. J Med Educ 1954; 31:34:393-398
Japanese Air Power
During the 1930s, in a country with a strong militaristic tradition, most Japanese enthusiastically approved of their nation's growing power. Imperial Japan invested heavily in its Army and Navy throughout the era. By 1940, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was the most powerful fleet in the Pacific Ocean and the Imperial Japanese Army had fifty well-equipped and highly trained divisions. At the onset of the Pacific War in December 1941, the IJN had ten front-line aircraft carriers - the most powerful aircraft carrier force in the world. Perhaps, more importantly, its 1500 highly trained pilots had logged many hours of combat since the onset of the China Incident in 1937. By contrast, although its ships were large, fast and powerful, the United States Pacific Fleet in 1941 consisted of only three aircraft carriers. Unlike their IJN opponents, the American pilots had no battle experience and often had difficulty coordinating bomber and fighter attacks launched from the same carrier.
To increase revenue during the Great Depression, the Japanese Government Railways opened overseas offices to promote tourism (primarily to Americans). Scenic spots were maintained, resorts developed and rail and sea transportation was improved. Visits by foreign sporting teams and high school teachers were encouraged - in 1934, Babe Ruth drew 100,000 to Tokyo’s Meiji Stadium. By 1936, revenue from foreign visitors was Japan’s fourth largest source of foreign income after cotton, raw silk and silk products. Japanese tourism continued to thrive throughout the 1930s, despite increasing military classification of numerous “strategic zones,” detention of tourists, questioning and confiscation of photographs. Although tourism was promoted as late as early 1940, with the onset of the war in Europe in 1939, the Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo in 1940, were cancelled.
Shirley Temple first appeared in film at age four in Baby Burlesks and became a star at the age of six with her movie Bright Eyes. The image of a wholesome child proved extremely popular with many Americans who bought Shirley Temple dolls, dishes, and clothing. When she reached adolescence, the child star novelty faded and she retired completely from films in 1950. In the 1970s, she was appointed ambassador to Ghana & Czechoslovakia. She was also one of the first celebrities to speak out about her breast cancer.
American Schools Cut Corners
My mother's first class in 1931. In the 1930s USA, with devaluation of property and/or taxes often unpaid, many school districts were forced to cut corners by paying teachers less, charging tuition or shortening academic terms. Additionally, parents often couldn’t afford clothing, supplies, and textbooks their children needed to attend school. These difficulties were amplified by existing class and racial barriers. In 1933 there were 200,000 unemployed teachers; 2.2 million children out of school; and 2000 rural schools in twenty-four states failed to open. Many, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, maintained that America could no longer afford universal public education and advocated closing schools or restricting curricula to vocational training.
Education in Imperial Japan
In the late 1930s, the educational curriculum of Imperial japan grew increasingly ultranationalist with an emphasis on Emperor worship, loyalty to the state and the importance of ancient military virtues. At the start of the Pacific war in 1941, an average National People's School (elementary school) graduate was required to attend Youth School with vocational and military training for boys and home economics for girls. Elite secondary students attended Specialized Schools that taught medicine,law, economics, commerce, agricultural science, engineering or business management in preparation for university admission.
Nan’Yō – South Sea Mandate
In the 1930s, many Japanese citizens, seeking new opportunities, emigrated to the South Sea Mandate, known as Nan’Yō. Soon the Japanese population of these islands grew to outnumber the islanders. Ultimately, it was only the catastrophic outcome of the Pacific War that reversed this trend. Along with economic development, came military fortifications, ports and airfields designed to create offensive bases and a defensive perimeter for the Japanese home islands. Many islands of Nan’Yō become the site of infamous battles in the Pacific war such as Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Tinian and Pelieu. South Sea Mandate
Japanese Colonial Empire
In the early 20th Century, while mystical idealism, quest for world prestige and economics were important factors, Japan’s imperialism was principally a reaction against the encroachment of Western powers. In the 1930s, in addition to the “independent” state of Manchukuo, Imperial Japan controlled Taiwan, Korea, Karafuto (Southern Sakhalin), the Kwantung Leased Territory and Nan'yō-chō (former German islands in Micronesia). A good reference is The Japanese Colonial Empire:1895-1945 by RH Meyers and MR Peattie.
Emperor Hirohito is idealized as the infallible leader of an increasingly militaristic Empire of Japan. But who is actually calling the shots is a complex issue - the military appears to hold sway over the Cabinet, but consensus is still a national trait and the Emperor is more than just a passive pawn. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuQz_CRxIxg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chwADnoFDng&feature=related A traditional folk song from the Edo period (1603-1868) about spring and the blossoming of cherry trees. Lyrics were attached in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and the song became considered representative of Japan: Sakura, Sakura, blossoms waving everywhere. Clouds of glory fill the sky. Mist of beauty in the air, lovely colors floating by. Sakura, Sakura, Let all come singing. Sakura, Sakura, Blossoms waving in the breeze. Yoshina, the cherry land, Tatsuta, the maple trees, Karasaki, pine tree grand, Sakura, Sakura, let all come singing.
The New Deal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF80co_Y_Bc In 1932, ~25% of Americans were unemployed. Taking office in 1933, FDR introduced a series of reforms designed to stabilize the economy and provide jobs. In the following 8 years, these programs, known collectively as the New Deal, permanently changed the federal government relationship with American citizens.
By the 1930s, in addition to the puppet state of Manchukuo, Japanese colonial rule extended to Taiwan, Korea, the Southern Sakhalin Islands, the Kwantung Territory of Manchuria's Liaodong Peninsula, and the South Sea Mandate consisting of the Marshall, Caroline, Mariana and Palau Islands. Follow this link to get a better picture of many WWII battles to be fought in the South Sea Mandate: U.S. Army Western Pacific Campaign
What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?
With a sinister laugh, the announcer known as The Shadow intoned: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" The Shadow was a collection of serialized dramas adapted from pulp novels in 1930s. Over decades, The Shadow has been featured on radio, magazine series, comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games and at least five films. The radio drama included episodes voiced by Orson Welles. The Shadow 1937
Bushido and Japanese Militarism
Bushido - The Cruel Code of the Samurai I just saw this brutal and probably overstated film that nevertheless won a prize in the 1963 Berlin Film Festival. But its premise thought-provokingly supports the theory that the Imperial Japanese Army officer corps of the early 20th-Century was composed of many rural youth who graduated from military academies professing an ancient samurai code of ethical behavior (Bushido) and, above all, an absolute loyalty to an infallible Emperor.
There actually was quite a difference between earlier automobiles and those of the 1930s. But time still makes these "streamlined" ideas a bit amusing. The principles of reducing aerodynamic drag (streamlining) were well-established in the 1930s. But streamlining of automobiles showed only minor stylistic changes (e.g., teardrop headlights, swept fenders). The upright windshield and rear end of the automobile still created significant wake and vortices.
Swordsmen in ancient Japan established schools of kenjutsu which continued to form the basis of kendo practice today. Formal kendo exercises known as kata, developed several centuries ago as kenjutsu practice for warriors, are still studied today, in a modified form. To mold the mind and body. To cultivate a vigorous spirit, And through correct and rigid training, To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo. To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor. To associate with others with sincerity. And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself. Thus will one be able: To love ones country and society; To contribute to the development of culture; And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples
In the 17th century, the Yakuza were loosely organized as gamblers, mercenaries and roving bandits. In the 19th century they turned to prostitution, gambling, liquor distribution, and entertainment. In the 1930s, with the rise of ultranationalism, the Yakuza played a role in several coups d’etat, political assassinations and terrorism in occupied Manchuria. In the silent film era, films depicting bakuto (precursors to modern yakuza) as Robin Hood-like characters were common. Akira Kurosawa's Drunken Angel from 1948 as the first to depict post-war yakuza
In 1930, Imperial Japan extended from its main islands to control the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), southern Karafuto/Sakhalin Island, Chishima/Kuril Islands, Taiwan, the Caroline Islands, Palau, the Marianas Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Shandong Province of China, the Korean peninsula, and southern Manchuria.
Since the beginning of the Meiji Period, the Japanese government favored family business oligarchies deemed most beneficial to the economy. Of these "money cliques" ( Zaibatsu), four companies dominated the scene: Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Yasuda. Often using POWs for slave labor, the Zaibatsu were key to Imperial Japan's war effort.
Bobby Jones Grand Slam
Superstar amateur golfer Bobby Jones, a lawyer, completed a Grand Slam in 1930 by winning all four major golf tournaments. In the 1920s, a profusion of miniature golf courses brought the popular sport to the masses. But the Great Depression soon dampened the craze, and thousands of mini-golf courses across the USA were closed by the end of 1930s.
London Naval Treaty
The London Naval treaty of 1930 regulated submarine warfare and extended the limitations on aircraft carriers designated in the Washington Treaty of 1922. The numbers of capital ships (battleships and battlecruisers) allowed for the U.K., USA and Japan was set at 15-15-9. The Japanese military felt angry and humiliated by the 5:5:3 naval ratio and Japan withdrew from the treaty in 1937. Thereafter, Japan built aircraft carriers and battleships that were twice the tonnage of the largest British and American battleships.
During severe droughts from 1930-1936, approximately 100 million acres of soil in the Southwestern USA, blew away in large dust clouds. Hundreds of thousands of people ("Okies") left their homes and migrated west during the Great Depression. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2CiDaUYr90 The Grapes of Wrath , a poignant story about a poor displaced family, won author John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.
Most Japanese practiced both indigenous Shinto and Buddhism (imported from Korea in the 6th Century). In the late 19th Century, an ultranationalistic form of Shinto was promulgated, proclaiming the Emperor to be a direct descendant of divine beings. Although a human being (not a "god"), the Emperor embodied the property of kami nature perfectly and emphasized the uniqueness of Japan (see July 31 post about kokutai). As a direct link between Japanese people and the divine, the Emperor received unquestioning loyalty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZNxvb12UDA&feature=related
William Ashley Sunday (Billy Sunday), a popular outfielder in the National League during the 1880s, became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century. In the 1929-1935 sociological studies of "Middletown USA," 30,000 people attended 42, predominantly Protestant, churches. While most citizens professed a belief in God, strong religious tenets (e.g., existence of heaven and hell) were declining and organized religion was viewed with increasing cynicism. Overall, Middletown USA was becoming more secular. Youth were less inclined to attend church, but more likely to be involved with the YMCA or YWCA. Radio evangelists such as the Catholic priest Charles Coughlin and the Protestant minister Charles Fuller were popular.
Western Fashion in Japan
Via Gatochy: Japanese magazine cover, 1930s | Flickr Although in increasing conflict with the West, many Japanese continued to adopt its culture and fashion throughout the early 20th Century. After Pearl Harbor, however, strong social pressure suppressed such attitudes and a return to traditional Japanese style was mandatory.
Japan and the Great Depression
Initially, as a new industrial nation heavily dependent on exports, Japan suffered high unemployment and near-starvation in much of its population. But, devaluation of its currency and increased deficit spending early in the Depression soon led to increased exports and major growth of its military-industrial power. The Japanese economy shrank only 8% from 1929–31. By 1933 Japan was out of the depression.