Bardiness

"..a bardy view!"

Japanese Propaganda in WWII

CrushAngloAmericansI bought a coffee-table book the other day – on a visit to the local garden centre – you know the type, large, rich and glossy.

Generally they are about plants and flowers and cooking etc., or even nostalgia with pictures of a bygone age.

Harmless innocent books generally reduced by at least 50% of their original price.

Well, the one I found was very different from the norm.

It was about propaganda posters of WWII, not just those of Britain, but every country involved in the war.

Flicking through randomly I came across the image here. I'd never seen it before, but it is a reminder that the Japanese were equally adept at propaganda.

It is striking because it is written in English and regarded in military circles as PSYOP: Military actions designed to influence the perceptions and attitudes of individuals, groups, and foreign governments.

This poster was produced in 1943. Note the perception of the Japanese and their view of "Anglo-Americans" – the call to rally the populace and build up the "New Philippines" within the Japanese Empire – as coloured red.

As early as 1937 the Japanese army published a manual stating that "the main objectives of propaganda was to destroy the will of the enemy to fight, and to deceive the enemy concerning our movements, and to make the inhabitants of the battle area respond to ideological and ethical appeals. The Inhabitants should be made to revere us, by skilful dissemination of propaganda relating to our military glory, and we should practice military virtues so that they will be glad to serve us."

In contrast the USA didn't get around to this until as late as 1942, when their propaganda told the Japanese "that they were fighting for a small military clique, that their equipment was inferior, that they were outnumbered, cut off, and would surely lose the war."  Tame by comparison.

The Japanese claimed to be fighting a war of liberation, with a promise to free the colonial peoples from their masters, and said the Allies were fighting a war of profit for big business in an attempt to split the Australian, British and American forces railed against them.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, they also dropped thousands of propaganda leaflets, with pictures of ships exploding and proclaiming "Listen to the voice of doom, open your eyes blind fools."

The allies came late to the party. Nazi Germany and Japan were well ahead of the game as far as propaganda was concerned.

Indoctrinate the people, fuel fear of the enemy, and instil pride in the right of freedom to fight the forces of western imperialism. The Japanese rolled over in glorious worship.

 The world chose to ignore them, even when in 1937 they were creating war crimes in China – the Nanking Massacre for example. Meanwhile, Hitler was building up his Third Reich and invading his neighbours. Britain was worried, the USA was uninterested, and Churchill complained impotently. He was out of office.

This salutary lesson, through the history of propaganda posters, should tell us that the world is a volatile place, that nothing should be taken for granted, and that complacency is a weakness. Our world is not comfortable, it is unstable.

At the flick of a switch our internet, our voices, our rights to free speech can disappear in the wink of an eye. What then?

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August 9, 2012 - Posted by | Books, Education, Europe, History, Politics, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom, USA

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