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World War II Anti-Japanese Propaganda

The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. (Declaration of War Against Japan) These words were said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his declaration of war on Japan on December 8, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor marked the official entry of the United States involvement in World War II and sparked a barrage of anti-Japanese propaganda. From posters to leaflets, radio messages to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public of the United States was constantly the center of attention for psychological warfare.

Propaganda of the World War II period reflected the American peoples anti-Japanese sentiment. Twenty years after the conclusion of World War I, Germany, Italy, and Japan started an international aggression campaign that would eventually bring the United States into a second global conflict. Lets Put the Axe to the Axis was a popular wartime propaganda song pushing action toward breaking the Axis power (The Enduring Vision 910). The Axis was the name given to the German, Japanese and Italian alliance. The Allied powers were the United States, Great Britain, France, and later, Russia.

The Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, as it is called, formed in 1936-1937, and the Allied countries came together shortly after. The United States did not want to enter the war, and as late as mid-November in 1941, the US felt the most essential thing now, from the United States standpoint, is to gain time. December 7, 1941, the date which will live in infamy, the United States was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Until December, the Japanese had pursued two courses of action for the current situation.

They attempted to get the oil embargo lifted without giving up the territory they wanted, and to prepare for war. On the other side, the US demanded the withdraw of Japanese troops from Indochina and China. All of this became irrelevant by mid-October. Japans new premier, General Tojo Hideki secretly set November 29, 1941 as the last day Japan would accept a settlement with the United States without war. Since the deadline was kept secret, it meant war was almost certain. The Japanese felt very confident with their plans for war.

The army and navy had proposed to make a fast sweep of Malaya, the East Indies, Burma, and the Philippines, all while setting up a defensive perimeter in the central and southwestern Pacific Pearl Harbor, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia). They expected the United States to declare war but have no intentions of fighting long and loosing many resources. The only hitch in their plan was a US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. To assure their plans went as intended, the Japanese decided to make a crippling blow to the base.

Around 8 a. m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. The Japanese bombers destroyed almost 200 American aircraft, sank or seriously damaged eight battleships and 13 other naval vessels and killed or wounded approximately 000 military personnel in less than two hours (The Enduring Vision 904-905). This attack brought the Unites States into the war on December 8, determined to fight to the end. The attack on Pearl Harbor also launched a rash of fear about national security, especially on the west coast.

In February 1942, just two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which relocated all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone (www. archives. gov/digital_classroom/ lessons/Japanese_relocation. html). In Oregon and Washington, the eastern oundary of the military zone was an imaginary line that ran along the edge of the Cascade Mountains and down the spine of California from north to south. From that line to the Pacific coast, the military restricted zones in those three states were defined.

The order was designed to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans who had strong anti-Japanese attitudes and prevent espionage. Roosevelt’s order affected 117,000 people of Japanese descent. The Issei were the first generation of Japanese in the country and the Nisei, numbering 70,000, were the second generation (www. rchives. gov/ digital_classroom/lessons/Japanese_relocation. html). Within weeks, all persons of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or enemy aliens, rich or poor, young or old, were ordered to assembly centers near their homes.

Soon they were sent to permanent relocation centers outside the restricted military zones. Relocation centers were situated many miles inland, often in remote and desolate locales. Some of the sites were Jerome, Arkansas; Granada, Colorado; Topaz, Utah; Poston, Arizona; and Heart Mountain, Wyoming. As the war drew to a close, the relocation centers were slowly vacuated, and Japanese Americans were able to return to their homes, but many chose to go elsewhere. The internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II instigated constitutional and political debates.

In the 1940s, two men and one woman named Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo, challenged the constitutionality of the relocation and curfew orders. While they had initially received rejecting rulings from the court, in the 1944 case Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo, the Supreme Court ruled that, “Mitsuye Endo is entitled to an unconditional release by the War Relocation Authority. ” Many people called he relocation camps concentration camps, while others called it a military necessity and an unfortunate situation.

One of the most ironic statements made during this debate over American civil liberties was said by an internee who, when told that the Japanese were put in those camps for their own protection, asked “If we were put there for our protection, why were the guns at the guard towers pointed inward, instead of outward? ” (www. archives. gov/digital_classroom/ lessons/Japanese_relocation. html) To sustain a spirit of unity, the Roosevelt administration managed public opinion. (The Enduring Vision 910-911). This concept of influencing peoples opinion, or propaganda, was not new however.

Massive modern propaganda techniques actually began with World War I. From the start, both German and British propagandists worked hard to win sympathy and support in the US. Once engaged in the war, the US started the Committee on Public Information. It was the official propaganda agency to mobilize American public opinion, and it proved very successful. After World War I, propaganda became a critical instrument of national policy in totalitarian states such as Germany, Italy, and Japan (Wartime Propaganda, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia).

These governments deliberately molded public opinion through propaganda agencies. For instance, in Germany, Adolf Hitler established the ministry of propaganda which dominated all public utterances in Germany. The propaganda aspects of World War II were similar to those of World War I, except in larger scope. Radio played a major role in that both Germany and Great Britain tried to influence American opinion by using it. Germany gave support to isolationist movements in the US and played on anti-British sentiment (Wartime Propaganda, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia).

German propaganda efforts proved ineffective, especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the United States entered the war on the Allied side, the Germans refocused their propaganda efforts to weaken the morale of the US public. Allied propaganda efforts were different. They aimed at separating the people of an Axis nation with their governments. Radio and leaflets carried Allied propaganda to the people of the Axis. During this time, the US had two agencies responsible for propaganda.

The Office of War Information was responsible for spreading information at home and abroad. The other was the Office of Strategic Service, responsible for conducting psychological warfare against the enemy. . . . content of propaganda is always deliberately selected and slanted to lead the audience toward a predetermined mindset that benefits the cause of the propagandist. (www. auburn. edu/~johnspm/gloss/ propaganda. html) Propaganda comes in many forms.

First, there are word games including name calling and euphemisms (www. ropagandacritic. com). The name calling technique links an idea or person to a negative symbol in hope that the audience will reject the thing because of the connection. Euphemism is when the propagandist attempts to satisfy the audience in order to make an unpleasant reality more agreeable, usually by using dull and bland words. An example of this is the renaming of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Another style is false connections, which consists of transfer and testimonial.

The transfer approach is when the propagandist takes over the prestige, sanction, and authority of something people respect and revere to something they want us to respect. Thus, people will accept something that they may not have (www. propagandacritic. com). Testimonial cites individuals who are well recognized to support what is being propagandized. This method can be misused by having individuals who are not qualified make judgments about a particular issue. The third style of propaganda is special appeals, which includes the plain-folks, bandwagon, and fear techniques.

Plain-folks technique tries to convince the audience that they and their ideas are just like them, everyday people. The basic theme of bandwagon appeal is that everyone is doing something so you should too. Finally, the fear technique, very popular because of its success during World War II, warns members of he audience that disaster will result if they do not do a specific thing.

There are four elements to successful fear appeal, which if not all four are included, they are likely to fail (www. ropagandacritic. com). First is a threat, second is a specific course of action about how the audience should react, third is the audience believes that course will be effective, and fourth is the audience believes they can perform the suggested course of action. All three styles of propaganda were used during World War II can still be seen today in political campaigns and advertisements. The largest use of propaganda during the World War II era could be the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There are many people who say the attack on Pearl Harbor was a propaganda tool of the President Roosevelt to spark a widespread anti-Japanese and anti-Axis sentiment. Skeptics of the attack being a surprise say it is undeniable that President Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, and he kept it secret from other high-ranking officials to have a solid reason to enter the war with the Allied powers. President Roosevelt wanted, almost more than anything, for the United States to enter World War II.

In fact, at the Atlantic Conference, Churchill noted the “astonishing depth of Roosevelt’s intense desire for war,” Churchill cabled his cabinet, “(Roosevelt) obviously was very determined that they should come in.. ” (www. rense. com) To get the US into World War II, Roosevelt cut spending on an early warning radar detection system. This radar system would have given Pearl Harbor enough warning to defend themselves against the Japanese. Also, he baited the Japanese into attacking by leaving the large number of battleships and destroyers at Pearl Harbor.

On November 27, Roosevelt sent false information to the Hawaiian base commanders about the location of the Japanese carrier fleet and forced the fleet to stay stationed at Pearl Harbor, despite the advice of Admiral Richardson, the Commander of Pearl Harbor, that there was inadequate protection from air raids and torpedoes. All Japanese naval and diplomatic codes had been broken prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor (www. independent. org) On September 24, 1941 the US got a hold of the “bomb plot” message in a J-19 code from Japan Naval Intelligence to Japan’s consul general in Honolulu.

The message was requesting a grid of exact locations of ships pinpointed for the benefit of bombardiers and torpedo pilots (www. rense. com). This should have been a dead giveaway to President Roosevelt that an attack was imminent at Pearl Harbor and to strengthen their defenses. Roosevelt did nothing. Another reports, that was ignored was a Navy report that predicted that if Japan made war on the US, they would strike Pearl Harbor without warning at dawn with aircraft from a minimum of 6 carriers (www. rense. com).

Also, Kilsoo Haan, an agent for the Sino-Korean People’s League, told Eric Severeid of CBS that the Korean underground in Korea and Japan had positive proof that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor before Christmas. Among other things, one Korean had actually seen the plans (www. rense. com). Those three warnings from credible sources should have been enough to put the military at Pearl Harbor on alert. But Roosevelt continued to do nothing.

And one week before the attack, the US found in a message on November 30, 1941, that “Japan under the necessity of her self-preservation and self-defense, has reached a position to declare war on the United States of America. www. rense. com) “… everything that the Japanese were planning to do was known to the United States… ” Army Board, 1944. Allowing the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor and thus thrusting the United States into war was the most ingenious plan of propaganda. Roosevelt knew that an attack on America would rouse the public and get the support he needed to declare war. It could be called the single biggest piece of propaganda in history, sending a nation instantly into global war.

In addition, it sparked thousands of smaller-scale techniques such as leaflets and posters to flood the American people. Posters were another very effective propaganda tool and many were done by the famous childrens author Dr. Seuss. Theodor Seuss Geisel, a. k. a. Dr. Seuss, lived from 1904 to 1991 and is commonly only thought of as a childrens book writer, but he was also a political cartoonist. He was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948) and during his three years working there (1941-1943), he drew over 400 cartoons (http://orpheus. scd. edu/speccoll).

There were many political cartoons, but these of particular interest superbly demonstrate anti-Japanese feeling in the United States and had very obvious propaganda echniques. In a cartoon printed on March 12, 1942, Dr. Seuss uses the fear tactic by attempting to make it seem that American people were in direct danger from the Axis powers. The title of the cartoon is Measuring up a couple of new prospects (http://orpheus. uscd. edu/speccoll). The picture shows the Ye olde axis ball and chain shoppe with Japanese and German looking people working there.

The Japanese man is looking at two men in the distance labeled You and Me and he is telling the German man wrist 7 1/2, ankle 9 1/2, neck 15. The German is writing in a book labeled Order Book. This cartoon is implying that you and I are going to be slaves of the Axis if it is not stopped, but gives no recommendations about how to fix it. According to the four key elements to a successful fear appeal, this cartoon fails, only demonstrating two of them. The next cartoon, printed on September 4, 1942, uses the name calling technique.

It depicts a Japanese looking man saying Cheer up boys! Your Congress is going to declare an all out war . . . after those November elections to a prison that says 35,000 United States Prisoners of War (http://orpheus. uscd. edu/speccoll). This is using name calling by linking the egative symbols of US prisoners of war and the Japanese to the slow response of Congress in making more affirmative action against Japan. The cartoonist is trying to motivate the American public to give more support to an all out war against Japan and to demand Congress takes action sooner.

This cartoon is effective because it plays on the emotions of the public and stirs them to want to take more immediate action. Wipe that sneer off his face! was at the top of a cartoon printed on October 13, 1942 (http://orpheus. uscd. edu/speccoll). It showed a picture of the stereotypical Japanese person with a grin. Some of the features included were thick glasses, slanted and squinted eyes, upward turned nose, mustache, large bucked teeth, and bald except for some hair on the sides of his head. Below the picture, it said Buy war savings bonds and stamps.

This uses the generalities technique and is the most effective of the three cartoons. The picture and the word on top of the picture play to the emotions of the American people that they didnt want the Japanese to be happy about anything. Then, at the bottom, it does something none of the other cartoons did; it gave a solution to their problem. This poster both parked peoples emotions and told them something they could do about it. There were many posters done by other artists that were also effective ways of propaganda. Not all posters however were aimed at raising fear and tensions with the Japanese and other Axis powers.

One called How to tell a Jap from a Chinese Man was an attempt to help Chinese Americans escape the prejudices Americans were giving them because of their close physical resemblance to the Japanese (http://web. mit. edu/21h. 153j/www/). Printed in the December 1941 issue of Life magazine, the article had two pictures, one of the Typical Jap and one of the Typical Chinese Man. The Japanese man was described as having parchment yellow complexion, more frequent epicanthic fold, higher nose bridge, never has rosy cheeks, lighter facial bones, and a longer, narrower face.

This generalization was used in many cartoons later as a rough base for what the typical Japanese villain looked like. Propaganda n : the spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Propaganda of the World War II period reflected the American peoples anti-Japanese sentiment. During the time however, not all Japanese Americans were considered threats. In 1943 and 1944 the government created a combat unit of Japanese Americans for the European theater.

It became the 442d Regimental Combat Team and gained fame as the most highly decorated of World War II. Their military record bespoke their patriotism (www. archives. gov/digital_classroom/lessons/Japanese_relocation. html). But despite these accomplishments, propaganda still existed and tried more than ever to influence Americans. Excited by these propagandas, it is likely that many of us Americans may loose our heads, throw reason out the window, and follow courses of action we may regret later (http://newdeal. feri. org).

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