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  • An Addendum to "Myth and Reality: A Story of Kabuki under American Censorship, 1945-1949"*
  • James R. Brandon

Question: when is enough research enough? Answer: never. I felt confident that I had, over a five-year period, done exhaustive research for the article "Myth and Reality: A Story of Kabuki under American Censorship, 1945–1949." I had read thousands of pages of documents (letters, memos, censored play scripts, oral histories, and monthly and weekly army reports), all that I could find, and I had searched out and interviewed more than thirty Americans and a dozen Japanese nationals, living in America or Japan, who had worked in Occupation censorship or were familiar with it. After the article was in press, however, I was provided with a remarkable group of letters that Lt. Joseph Goldstein, a theatre censor working with Lt. Earle Ernst (see "Myth and Reality"), wrote to his parents and other family members in the earliest months of Occupation censorship. Several of these letters provide wholly new information that causes me to revise one of my assertions in "Myth and Reality." Goldstein's letters paint a clear picture of American theatre censors putting heavy pressure on Shōchiku Theatrical Corporation officials to either do new kabuki plays or risk having the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) "clear the stage" of the traditional repertory. This is a different story than that told by other sources. I am writing to give this new evidence its proper weight in my narrative of kabuki censorship.

First, a bit of background is necessary. Lt. Earle Ernst arrived in Japan on 17 November 1945 and was immediately assigned to organize a Theatre Sub-Section of the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) within General Douglas MacArthur's Occupation General Headquarters (GHQ) in Tokyo. Lt. Joseph Goldstein joined Ernst a week later as [End Page v] the Sub-Section's second theatre censor. CCD memos and reports in the National Archives in Suitland, Maryland, tell us almost nothing of how the two friends (they were in the same Japanese-language class at Fort Snelling, MN) set up their censorship operations during December 1945 and January 1946. On the other hand, theatre officer Naval Lt. John Boruff in the Civil Information and Education Section (CI&E) of GHQ had been extraordinarily active in October and November telling theatre producers, and especially the Shōchiku Corporation's kabuki producers, that they should do new plays with democratic themes. Further, Boruff in CI&E supervised preparation of the list of good and bad kabuki plays in December 1945, not CCD's Ernst or Goldstein. From this evidence, I deduced that CCD was quiescent and that CI&E was the active agent in theatre censorship that December and January.

However, the letters that Goldstein wrote home to his family show, for the first time, that within weeks of arriving in Japan, Ernst and Goldstein in CCD's Theatre Sub-Section planned and carried out a strong campaign to pressure Shōchiku into producing democratic-themed kabuki scripts.

In 2004 and 2005, I unsuccessfully attempted to locate the family of Lt. Joseph Goldstein (who had died in 2000). Because I had gained minimal information in my previous contacts with relatives and friends of deceased American theatre officers—Earle Ernst, Faubion Bowers, Seymour Palestin, John Boruff, and Harold Keith—I was not concerned. I proceeded to complete the ATJ article without tracking his family down. Then in spring 2005, Edwin Boch, a close friend of Goldstein's in the 1940s, suggested that he had taught law at Yale University. A phone call to the Yale Law School put me in touch with his widow, Sonja Goldstein, who was living in New Haven. That is far from Honolulu, but fortuitously I was attending a conference in Trier, Germany, in March 2006 and was able to stop over in New Haven en route. In the course of a long conversation with Mrs. Goldstein, she and her daughter, Anne, remembered long-forgotten "Japan boxes" in the basement. Anne brought the boxes upstairs, opened them, and we discovered among other documents sixteen long letters that a dutiful soldier-son had written home to his parents describing his daily life in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. v-x
Launched on MUSE
2007-09-26
Open Access
No
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