During World War II, Japan was vilified by America as our hated enemy in the East. Though we distinguished "good Germans" from the Nazis, we condemned all Japanese indiscriminately as fanatics and savages. As the Cold War heated up, however, the U.S. government decided to make Japan its bulwark against communism in Asia.
But how was the American public made to accept an alliance with Japan so soon after the "Japs" had been demonized as subhuman, bucktoothed apes with Coke-bottle glasses? In this revelatory work, Naoko Shibusawa charts the remarkable reversal from hated enemy to valuable ally that occurred in the two decades after the war. While General MacArthur's Occupation Forces pursued our nation's strategic goals in Japan, liberal American politicians, journalists, and filmmakers pursued an equally essential, though long-unrecognized, goal: the dissemination of a new and palatable image of the Japanese among the American public.
With extensive research, from Occupation memoirs to military records, from court documents to Hollywood films, and from charity initiatives to newspaper and magazine articles, Shibusawa demonstrates how the evil enemy was rendered as a feminized, submissive nation, as an immature youth that needed America's benevolent hand to guide it toward democracy. Interestingly, Shibusawa reveals how this obsession with race, gender, and maturity reflected America's own anxieties about race relations and equity between the sexes in the postwar world. "America's Geisha Ally" is an exploration of how belligerents reconcile themselves in the wake of war, but also offers insight into how a new superpower adjusts to its role as the world's preeminent force.
Naoko Shibusawa, assistant professor of history at Brown University, has written an entertaining and erudite account...of the evolution of American views of Japan in the years following Japan's surrender in August 1945...I wholeheartedly recommend this book to specialists and nonspecialists alike. Shibusawa's training in U.S. history, not only intellectual history but popular culture, enables her to offer insights into the process by which Americans reconceived a hated racial foe into an eager pupil in need of paternalistic tutoring. -- Kenneth J. Ruoff Asahi Weekly 20070505 An entertaining and erudite account (a rare combination!) of the evolution of American views of Japan in the years following Japa"s surrender in August 1945...Shibusawa's sparkling prose makes America's Geisha Ally a fun and enlightening read. -- Kenneth J. Ruoff Asahi Weekly 20070505 Naoko Shibusawa has written an entertaining and erudite account (a rare combination!) of the evolution of American views of Japan in the years following Japan's surrender in August 1945...Shibusawa's sparkling prose makes America's Geisha Ally a fun and enlightening read. -- Kenneth J. Ruoff Asahi Shimbun 20070505 Shibusawa provides a fascinating account of how the U.S. image of the Japanese in the decades after 1945 underwent a remarkable change from hated enemy to valuable ally needing guidance towards democracy...[A] sophisticated cultural history. -- M. D. Ericson Choice 20071001 Ingeniously combines social history and domestic history by discussing how American citizens contributed to the process of incorporating Japan into the US-led liberal capitalist framework in the years immediately after the Second World War. By analyzing a range of cultural texts, this book provides a nuanced understanding of the ways in which postwar ideologies in the United States supported American foreign policy. -- Yujin Yaguchi Journal of American Studies 20071201