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The Writing of Disaster - Literary Representations of War, Trauma and Earthquakes in Modern Japan


Leith Morton

This book analyzes the literature that emerged from World War II. It also examines the literature that resulted from the two major earthquakes that have struck Japan over the course of over the last hundred years. The small number of volumes previously published examining the literature of war and earthquakes in Japan have almost always focused exclusively on fiction while this volume focuses mainly on poetry. This volume breaks new ground in its attempt to draw together and analyze the literature produced by these tragedies as a single phenomenon. It provides a new template for the literature of trauma produced by such events as the earthquake that accompanied the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in northeast Japan in 2011.

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5. Self-Censorship: The Case of Wartime Japanese Poetry

Chapter Five


“Perhaps Major Sugimoto [Japanese wartime censor] and the others were expecting me to offer cringing apologies [for publishing controversial material] but instead I tried to make some sort of defense. Not that I was attempting any ‘conscious resistance’: far from a bold stance, it was more like the distant howls of a beaten dog.” [Hatanaka Shigeo, wartime editor, Central Review]

From Injurious to Public Morals by Jay Rubin1

In a review of a book on the media by James Hardy published in the Daily Yomiuri newspaper in March 2006 the issue of self-censorship was raised. Hardy cites Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s “propaganda model” where it is argued that self-censorship is a fundamental problem facing journalists, since they tend to “subordinate their own beliefs to an assigned ideology”2. This issue is linked to the role of the media in wartime, specifically during the war in Iraq in 2003. However, the same issue can be, and has been raised in respect of World War II, where much of the vast outpouring of patriotic and propagandist literature written by Japanese writers seemed extremely difficult to find once the war ended. Although censorship of militaristic literature by the Occupation authorities was one cause of this, it is unlikely that it was the main cause, especially after the end of the Occupation3 In collection after collection of poetry and prose published in the first two decades after the war, gaps were left where writers appeared to have written very...

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