“Solid nation union to sail in rough sea” propaganda postcard, c. 1940.

1940sArts & CultureGovernmentPatriotism/Military
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“Solid nation union to sail in rough sea” (We are all in this boat together) propaganda postcard, c. 1940.

“By the 1930s the Japanese had already recognized that propaganda grew from a relationship between the state and the people and could not simply be imposed on them. Yokomizo Mitsuteru, the director of the Japanese government’s influential Cabinet Board of Information, said this explicity.

“While attending a September 1937 conference held to educate the public concerning the importance of the shisosen, or ‘thought war’, Yokomizo expounded on the need to recognize propaganda as a way to wage battle without weapons. Senden, or propaganda, Yokomizo explained to the Japanese public, was not the act of spreading lies or falsities. Instead, by ‘disseminating credible facts propaganda creates a situation in which one can seek understanding and resonance in order to achieve a certain goal.’

“Arai Zentaro, Home Ministry bureaucrat, former governor of Kagoshima, mayor of Kyoto, and later an official purged by the postwar occupation, elucidated further the government’s position on propaganda. Arai claimed that to make the people independent in spirit the government intended to push through propaganda programs ‘putting more and more strength into arousing national spirit which was key to urging the people to solve national problems on their own initative.’

“The Japanese did not view the goal of propaganda as the creation of a dependent population. To Japanese officialdom in the 1930s, propaganda meant the cultivation of cultural values and attitudes that would be held so deeply they would appear innate and not imposed.

“… The government and military openly explained the propaganda campaigns to the masses; they invited the people to ingest, enjoy, and respond to the propaganda, Propaganda was not a dirty word, nor was it a concept to be challenged, quite the reverse. Even though the agencies in charge of Japan’s propaganda overtly managed the campaigns, the government wished to draw as much individual participation as possible from the Japanese population.”

The Thought War: Japanese Imperial Propaganda, by Barak Kushner, 2006

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