This week, we’ll be talking about the height of postwar Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. On the surface, it’s a time of great accomplishment when the dream of catching up to the West had finally been realizing. Looking deeper, however, we find the roots of many of the problems which would bubble to the surface during the economic troubles of the 1990s.
Listen to the episode
The Making of Modern Japan.
Schlesinger, Jacob M.
Shadow Shoguns: The Rise and Fall of Postwar Japan’s Political Machine
Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)
Tanaka Kakuei meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1973. Tanaka was legendary for his corruption and use of bribery and porkbarrel politics to support his position, a tactic that became standard for the LDP for the next 20 years.
President Ronald Reagan (right) and Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro (left) at Nakasone’s private home. The two men had a close friendship, making Nakasone more sympathetic to US interests than most Japanese leaders. As a result, Nakasone was one of the few LDP leaders to advocate for a stronger role for Japan in international politics.
A destroyed Iraqi battle tank (either a T-54a or T-59) during Operation Desert Storm (the first Iraq War). The perceived humiliation of Japan by the other coalition members was a major factor in pushing through new legislation allowing the Japan Self-Defense Forces to engage in some peacekeeping operations.
A high school exam in Kanagawa Prefecture in the 1950s. Exams (particularly university entrance exams) became one of the most important factors in determining future success.
The student above is celebrating success in the entrance exam for Tokyo University, the most prestigious school in the country. Entrance into a good school remains to this day a very important factor in determining future prospects.
Feminist and Dietwoman Kato Shizue (1898-2001). One of the first women elected to the Diet, and a popular leader in both the Japanese Socialist and Feminist movements.