Racism in World War 2 Japan

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The concept of race had an enormous impact on the conduct of World War II. According to John Dower, in War without Mercy, racial stereotypes, ideas of racial superiority and inferiority permeated both the Axis and Allied powers. The war in the Pacific theater was influence by these ideas from well before the first shot was ever fired or first bomb dropped, and continued well beyond VJ Day. The racial tension, uncertainty and hatred could be heard in the words of the most junior private to the most senior general and even the President of the United States. "To scores of millions of participants, the war was…a race war. It exposed raw prejudices and was fueled by racial pride arrogance, and rage on many sides."(Dower, 4)

The U.S. serviceman had deep seeded fears and hatred of his Japanese counterpart, much more so than his German. These fears and hatred were fueled by Allied propaganda that dehumanized his Japanese enemy. Through movies, music and literature the idea that Japanese were not quite human was constantly portrayed. The Japanese were perceived as treacherous and low down because of their attack at Pearl Harbor. Popular war songs of the day included "You're a Sap, Mister Jap" and "We're Gonna Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap". A movie by Frank Capra, Know You're Enemy-Japan, shown to all servicemen, attempted to show the Japanese as, "fantastic and fanatic…fired by relentless national ambition…trained from birth to fight and die for his country…and also given to ‘mad dog' orgies of brutality."(Dower, 20) Such images were ingrained in the minds of American soldiers before they ever set eyes on a member of the Imperial Army. Never does one see an image of the good Japanese, like the non-Nazi, good German. The Japanese were referred to as, "animals, reptiles, or insects(monkeys, baboons, gorillas, dogs, mice and rats, vipers and rattlesnakes, cockroaches, vermin or more indirectly, the ‘Japanese herd' and the like."(Dower, 82) In addition to...
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