journal of world history, june 2003 The Victim as Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan. By james j. orr. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2001. xix + 271 pp. $22.95 (paper). James J. Orr has two overarching aims in this well-researched and eminently readable monograph. First, he describes how the postwar Japanese--after having lost their colonial empire and putative divinity as descendents of the Sun Goddess--went on to create a new national "myth" in the sense of a commonly held view of themselves grounded in enough shared experience to seem cogent. Their post1945 myth, that of being war victims extraordinaire, formed the core of a reconstituted national identity, that of being pacifists par excellence. Orr's second overall aim is to relate how Japanese special interest groups repeatedly fought for and won monetary compensation from the postwar government justified on the basis of their suffering and /or sacrifices for the national good. These interest groups comprised demobilized military personnel and their dependents, families of servicemen who had died in action, atomic-bombing victims, repatriates from former colonies and occupied areas, and absentee landlords disposed under the seven-year U.S. occupation that ended in 1952. Orr notes that
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: May 27, 2003
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