restricted access Illustrating the Postwar Peace: Miné Okubo, the “Citizen-Subject” of Japan, and Fortune Magazine

Enlisted to visualize Japan for two late-war issues of Fortune magazine, Miné Okubo, a Nisei artist best known for Citizen 13660 (1946), an illustrated memoir of life in an American concentration camp, was tasked with envisioning the place of the citizen-subject of a vanquished Japan within a world order restructured by a pax Americana. Commissioned to produce images that performatively made the case for America’s war victory and Japan’s defeat, Okubo faced the twofold challenge of visually rehabilitating both the “enemy alien” on the home front and the enemy in the Pacific as democratically inclined subjects capable of thriving in settings conditioned by the strictures of US militarism. The “democratic” rehabilitation of the Japanese “enemy” in the Pacific was perceived as hinging on the successful Americanization of the alienized Japanese American. By examining Okubo’s wartime illustrations, this essay inquires into the undertheorized role of Nisei cultural producers in imagining a US-sponsored, militarized postwar peace.