Japanese resistance to the Hirohito regime during World War 2
December 7, 2004 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I think we've just about all heard about the Japanese internment camps of WWII. While I'm mildly curious to know if any actual pro-Japanese/anti-American espionage rings were discovered through that process, I'm really curious to know if Japan experienced the inverse-- that is, whether there was any sort of pro-American underground in Japan attempting to thwart the country's progress in its war against the US. I saw a documentary a couple of years back, probably on the History Channel, discussing how Japan had seen a lot of western modernism creep in in the 20s and 30s that then led to a strong backlash and trend towards nationalism, which helped lead to Japan's involvement in WWII. It occurred to me that some of those pro-westerners must have been plenty annoyed with their country; did any of them act on that anger?
posted by kimota to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
The historical evidence seems to show that fears of Japanese American espionage were based on xenophobia rather than solid military intelligence. Roosevelt eventually knew this but couldn't be bothered to straighten things out until after the 1944 election.

I don't have a full answer to your second question, but I do know that according to the testimony given in US court cases people suspected of being pro-American (usually Japanese Americans stranded in Japan during the war) faced significant abuse by Japanese officials.
posted by insideout at 2:09 PM on December 7, 2004

Slightly off point: there was some organized resistance to the war in Japan - the Japanese Communist Party, founded in 1922.
posted by WestCoaster at 2:28 PM on December 7, 2004

This is made more difficult by the fact that MacArthur refused to allow the OSS operate in the Pacific Theater. I don't know the answer, but I'm just pointing this out. The lack of an active intelligence operation (aside from whatever MacArthur came up with) probably reduced the likelihood of any anti-Japanese movements.
posted by BradNelson at 5:24 PM on December 7, 2004

You need to qualify your OSS statement, BradNelson. The OSS did serve in Asia, through Unit 101 (China/Burma/India) & (I believe it was) Unit 201 in China. My uncle did so, at least towards the end of the war, in China, & parachuted into Weisien (sp) to free the internees there.
posted by Pressed Rat at 5:57 PM on December 7, 2004

(Warning: take the following with a big bucket of salt:)

Political pundit Michelle Malkin recently wrote a book about Japanese espionage in America during WWII called In Defense of Internment, which got some harsh reviews, mainly because her thesis was trying to draw a direct line between Japanese-Americans in WWII and Arab-Americans in the War On Terror. You can read the back-and-forth historical bickering between Malkin and some of her critics here and here and here and here and probably a couple of other places too. (Malkin is herself Asian-American, FWIW.)

And it should be pointed out that while Japanese nationals and Japanese-Americans were the primary populations interred in the US, the camps also held tens of thousands of Italians, Germans, and Latin American nationals--but the distinguishing factor is that most of those people were aliens, not Nth-generation US citizens and their families being ripped away from their homes and businesses. See also Wikipedia.

(Canada had internment camps, too, but I think less research has been done on them.)
posted by Asparagirl at 7:18 PM on December 7, 2004

You are assuming that Japanese modernists would be pro-Western simply because they pushed for a modern, strong, Western-style Japan.

Not so. Most modernists in Meiji Japan wanted Japan to Westernize so to compete with, even beat, the West. And it worked in 1905, so hey, let's try it again!

The same impulse governs Chinese nationalism today. The pro-Westernizers want China to pulverize the West, not join it.

Yes, in Meiji Japan and in today's China there was & is a small pro-democracy, rule of law, human rights group. But the overwhelming desire is to rub the West's nose in the dirt.

So...in Japan, in China, and in India likewise, there is no contradiction at all in being a "Westernizer" and also a proponent of beating the West at it's own game, war included.
posted by mono blanco at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2004

Pressed Rat , you're correct. The OSS did not operate in the Japan islands, Philippines, and Pacific, but did operate on the Asian continent.
posted by BradNelson at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2004

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