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Japanese Racism in US WWII Propaganda

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Maggie Clapp

on 14 February 2013

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Transcript of Japanese Racism in US WWII Propaganda

Japanese Racism in USA
World War II Propaganda 1944- The "Murdering Jap" poster was published by the United States Army, depicting a drawing of a Japanese soldier hitting a defenseless American soldier with the butt of a gun, with a clipping of the news article "5200 Yank Prisoners killed by Jap Torture." The purpose of the poster was to motivate Americans to work harder to avenge the deaths of prisoners of war overseas in the pacific. The poster demonstrates the American army's willingness to exploit racism against the Japanese to fuel the war effort on the homefront, as well as increase hatred towards the Japanese in the United States as a means of enhancing a want for revenge on the Japanese for their actions in the war. The poster depicts the American soldier as defenseless to show the Japanese as a ruthless people who want to kill all allied soldiers, regardless of their ability to fight back. The poster also shows the Japanese soldier with an angry expression on his face, to demonstrate that the Japanese hated Americans. The poster adds to the racist idea that all Japanese soldiers were unforgiving and did not adhere to the rules of warfare. This cartoon shows a Japanese soldier scattering human skulls over a barren landscape. The artist and purpose are unknown, but it can be inferred that the cartoon depicts the world if the Japanese had won the war. Th soldier has a bag of human skulls, probably of U.S. soldiers. His skin is a shade of pale yellow. He is almost faceless and this, along with his unusual body shape, makes him seem almost nonhuman. 1941 - The "Death Trap for the Jap" poster was created for the Thirteenth Naval District concerning the Japanese's occupation of the Alaskan Islands. This poster depicts a rat, with Japanese features, approaching a trap that reads, "Army, Civilian, Navy," which sits on top of a map of Alaska. This poster displays anti-Japanese racism by using a rat to illustrate a Japanese soldier. Rats are usually thought of as disgusting creatures that live in the sewer. Furthermore, the Japanese rat in the poster has fangs and blood dripping out of of its mouth. This makes it appear more monstrous than it would be in real life. 1941-1943: The Office of War Information publishes "Japs Execute Doolittle Men" poster, depicting Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo being strangled by hands wearing sleeves with stars and stripes of the American flag. The purpose of the poster was to convince Americans to buy war bonds in order to "pay Tojo back" for his war crimes. The poster demonstrates the use of Japanese Racism as Tojo is being strangled, implying that if Americans were to purchase the bonds, America would effectively choke the Japanese as revenge for Japanese execution of American Soldiers. The poster shows Tojo as having unnaturally pointy canine teeth, to further the idea that the Japanese are monster-like creatures. 1942-43 - "Tokio Kid" was a cartoon series that appeared on the back cover of "Douglas Airview," the monthly publication of Douglas Aircraft. The cartoons always featured a monster-like Japanese character, believed to be Hideki Tojo. In this particular cartoon Tojo is holding a sign that reads, "Much wast of material make so-o-o-o happy! Thank you." In Tojo's left hand is a bloody dagger. The cartoon is telling American workers to stop wasting materials, because it makes the Japanese happy and is helping the Japanese war effort. This cartoon displays anti-Japanese racism, firstly by depicting Hideki Tojo as a human-monster hybrid. Secondly, the bloody dagger can be seen as depicting the Japanese as murderers. Also, the words on the sign appear to have been written by the blood from the dagger. Lastly, the broken English of the text illustrates the stereotypical Asian accent. Introduction: Japan & The United States One day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, The United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War Two. Tension was already present between the USA and Japan, as the United States had provided aid to China in the Second Sino-Japanese war and disapproved of Japan's actions in aggressively taking over territory in Asia. The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in not only a declaration of war, but also large amounts of hatred and resentment towards the Japanese. These feelings were both used and fueled by propaganda in the United States to motivate Americans to work harder, buy war bonds, or join the army. The already existing racism towards the Japanese brought a new element to war propaganda and the role of the home front in total war. This exhibit provides a look at the evidence of racist implications present in US Propaganda during World War Two. Historiography Although these posters are frowned upon today, during WWII the general consensus was that the Japanese were vicious, cruel monsters. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, these posters began to bombard the public, urging them to take arms against "those murdering Japs." However, the view of this propaganda today consists confusion, discomfort, and anger. This exhibit's bias is that it only focuses on anti-Japanese propaganda. There were plenty of pro-American and pro-ally propaganda posters, including promotion of war bonds. Although this bias is a limitation, it can also be a value. It shows the darker side of U.S. propaganda during WWII, and, although many veterans and propaganda curators may object, it shows that the Japanese were mistreated by these American posters. 1943: The cartoon "Tokyo Jokyo" was published by Merrie Melodies in order to convey the Japanese as incompetent and increase American morale. In the cartoon, Japanese are shown to lack technology and military strategy. This fuels the stereotype that the Japanese were unsophisticated and stupid, and could not win the war. About the Authors Peter Coan Maggie Clapp Works Cited http://www.slideshare.net/timothyjgraham/anti-japanese-sentiment-and-propaganda-in-wwii


http://brainz.org/10-most-xenophobic-pieces-anti-japanese-wartime-propaganda/ IB Diploma Candidate and Design Editor of the Cardinal Times website, Maggie Clapp is a junior at Lincoln High School and is a part of Mr. Fox's 4th period IB 20th history class. Peter Coan is a junior at Lincoln High School, and is an IB Diploma candidate and a student in Mr. Fox's 6th period IB 20th Century World History class.
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