This study of Japanese political culture from c. 1940 to 2009 challenges standard periodizations of "postwar" Japan, arguing that the postwar period began, much later than previously argued, when a culture of pacifism developed. We can see evidence of this in feature films from the era and in the activities of groups involved in film promotion and criticism. Film and Political Culture in Postwar Japan asks us to take Japanese pacifism seriously and not assume that it is merely a passing phenomenon. This study of the political left questions previous assumptions about such marginalization after the Red Purges of 1950 and the sectarian infighting of the 1960s. Michael H. Gibbs provokes the reader to look beyond the standard "national" parameters of Japanese culture, to examine the role of other states in fomenting war during the 1940s-1970s and in keeping the subsequent peace. In addition, he challenges the neglect of mainstream Japanese film criticism in English-language scholarship, focusing on many filmmakers seen as important in Japanese film culture but relatively little discussed in the west. Gibbs sets the canon of Great Japanese Directors to one side and focuses on the work of Kinoshita, Yamamoto, Masumura, Kuroki, Yamada, Higashi, Negishi, Sakamoto, and Nishikawa. Scholars and students of Japanese and East Asian history, film, war and peace studies, and comparative and world history should find this volume of great interest.
Michael H. Gibbs, who received his PhD in modern East Asian history from UC Berkeley, is the author of Struggle and Purpose in Postwar Japanese Unionism (2000). He has been the recipient of Fulbright and Japan Foundation fellowships. He teaches history at the University of Denver, focusing on Japan and East Asia but also on world history. His work combines an interest in social and political history with cultural, specifically the history of film.