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  • Neubeginn unter US-amerikanischer Besatzung? Hochschulreform in Japan zwischen Kontinuität und Diskontinuität 1919–1952
  • Harald Fuess
Neubeginn unter US-amerikanischer Besatzung? Hochschulreform in Japan zwischen Kontinuität und Diskontinuität 1919–1952. KrämerHans Martin. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2006. 317 pages. €54.80.

In this well-researched monograph, the title of which may be translated as "Fresh Start under the U.S. Occupation? University Reforms in Japan Between Continuity and Change," Hans Martin Krämer traces the roots of postwar university reforms in Japan to early twentieth-century Japanese debates on education. He thereby revisits the perennial question of the degree to which the Allied Occupation reshaped Japan. Contrary to current notions, especially popular among politicians and scholars in Japan seeking to redress "excessive changes imposed by foreigners," Krämer stresses Japanese agency in conceiving and implementing educational reform after 1945 based on ideas that had circulated in Japan since the 1920s. While one might assume that there would be little left to say on the postwar period after the seminal work of John Dower and Takemae Eiji, Krämer's reminder is well taken. As he points out, situating the Occupation within the larger flow of twentieth-century history diminishes our awe at the impact of Japan's so-called American revolution and reveals substantial prewar-to-postwar continuity in the policy agendas of the Japanese participants in the reform process. Focusing on the issue of continuity and discontinuity, Krämer's core [End Page 172] interest in this book, as in some of his previous publications,1 is on the relationship between the state and university education. The present book consists of four sections: (1) an introduction to the historiographical context, (2) an analysis of the discourse between 1919 and 1945 concerning educational reform, (3) an in-depth examination of American and Japanese postwar proposals regarding education and their subsequent implementation, and (4) a concluding discussion of the influence of the historical legacy.

Providing in the introduction a meticulous and nuanced survey of previous scholarship, Krämer explains how historians in Japan and elsewhere have traditionally used the year 1945 as the turning point for either starting or ending their studies. This bifurcation of the twentieth century has often led to the depiction of a division between a prewar period of state-led authoritarianism and a postwar epoch of liberation and democratization, albeit one later betrayed by the reemergence of conservative elites. In recent decades scholars of economic history, in particular, have paid more attention to prewar or wartime connections, and researchers in other fields have also accepted the characterization of a "1940 system" (a socioeconomic order established under the duress of wartime demands that influenced postwar Japan as well). Krämer, however, draws major theoretical inspiration from the sociologist and historian Yamanouchi Yasushi's idea of a transition from a "class-based society" to a "system society." Similar to the situation in other nations in the 1930s and 1940s, Yamanouchi argues, campaigns for "rationalization" and "modernization" and the aim of using human resources more effectively led to the state's assuming a larger role in mediating social conflicts. In this process, higher education became a crucial means of breaking down class differences as greater access to education helped individuals overcome previously existing social boundaries and older class distinctions became blurred. Reviewing these points in the introduction, Krämer reasserts the usefulness of the analytical term fascism (Faschismus) for categorizing the intensive period of militarization and mass mobilization that an older generation of scholars in Japan described by words such as "emperor fascism" (tennōsei fashizumu), a practice that once sparked intense debates among American scholars on the appropriateness of applying the notion of fascism to the Japanese as well as German and Italian experience.

The book's long prewar chapter covers the years 1919 to 1945, with focus on educational discourse during the years 1925–1937 and debates in government committees between 1931 and 1942. Proposals for structural reform included abolishing the higher schools, standardization of educational institutions, upgrading of teacher training, permitting women to study at universities, and the issue of administrative decentralization. Except for the promotion of teacher training academies to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1880-1390
Print ISSN
0027-0741
Pages
pp. 172-174
Launched on MUSE
2008-07-24
Open Access
No
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