Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868–1964
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book is the culmination of an intellectual odyssey that lasted over a decade. It had its genesis in my many conversations with my mentor and colleague in the United States, James Bartholomew. He has shaped my lifelong exploration in the field of history of technology in Japan. He read and commented on all parts...
Note on Transliteration
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Introduction: Technology and Culture, War and Peace
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On March 28, 2000, Japan’s sole public broadcaster, NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai), introduced the enormously popular documentary program Project X: Challengers and televised it for the next five years. Most of the 191 episodes were “success stories” of multiple guests, mostly males. The program lionized the ordinary...
Chapter One: Designing Engineering Education for War, 1868–1942
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Ōki Takatō was an idealist with determination. On February 12, 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration, this first governor of Tokyo (1868–69) and Minister of Education (1871–73) submitted his proposal for modernizing Japan’s education system. “The growth of the talents of a civilized people,” he wrote, “is imperative...
Chapter Two: Navy Engineers and the Air War, 1919–1942
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In 1927, a proposal submitted to the Lower House of the 52nd Imperial Diet raised expectations for a stronger aviation capability in both the civilian and military sectors. Toward this end, from February 19 to March 25, a series of discussions were conducted on the need for coordinated efforts by army, navy, and civilian...
Chapter Three: Engineers for the Kamikaze Air War, 1943–1945
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“Victory is before our eyes [because] divine lightning will annihilate our enemy with a single stroke,” wrote Kawabata Yasunari on June 1, 1945. This wartime navy correspondent in the South Pacific later achieved worldwide fame as the first Japanese to earn the 1968 Nobel Prize in Literature. The “divine lightning”...
Chapter Four: Integrating Wartime Experience in Postwar Japan, 1945–1952
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At noon on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan announced the end of World War II in a four-minute, prerecorded radio broadcast, presenting himself as the guardian of those who survived the destruction. “I am terribly concerned about those injured, suffering, or lost in war,” he said in a reedy, crackling voice...
Chapter Five: Former Military Engineers in the Postwar Japanese National Railways, 1945–1955
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“In winning the war, the victor is only too likely to assume that he is superior to the vanquished in every respect, not only materially, but also intellectually, ethnically, and culturally,” warned Dr. Fritz Zwicky, a Swiss émigré and an expert in jet propulsion at the California Institute of Technology. His appraisal from November...
Chapter Six: Opposition Movements of Former Military Engineers in the Postwar Railway Industry, 1945–1957
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From September 21 to 28, 1957, the Japanese rail industry carried out a series of high-speed test runs between the cities of Hiratsuka and Fujisawa, both located about 50 to 60 kilometers away from Tokyo. It was a joint project between the Japanese National Railways (JNR) and the private railway company Odakyū. The...
Chapter Seven: Former Military Engineers and the Development of the Shinkansen, 1957–1964
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At 6:00 in the morning on October 1, 1964, leaving behind fireworks and the marching song composed for the occasion, the Shinkansen slowly left the Tokyo station to head for Osaka for the first time, a distance of 515 kilometers. Fifty doves symbolizing peace were released into the air. It was a historic moment...
Conclusion: Legacy of War and Defeat
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For about a century following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan had to acquire or develop appropriate technology in a very challenging environment. The nation capitalized on both the intended and unintended consequences of war, and especially after World War II, the latter carrying a greater impact on technological...
A Note on the Appendix and Sources
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The socio-technological transformation in many countries has been treated as the product of some sort of artificial and inorganic system—be it military, political, economic, social, or environmental. With few exceptions, recent scholarship subscribes to some form of top-down verticality, focusing on central civilian...
Appendix: List of Informants
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 9 halftones
Publication Year: 2014