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DIJ History & Humanities Study Group


Dismissal, Reinstatement, Resignation. The Politics of Higher Education Personnel from Prewar to Occupation Period Japan, 1930 to 1952

19.09.2002 | 18.30

Hans Martin Krämer, Ruhr-University Bochum/Tōkyō University


The "removal of undesirable personnel" from positions of influence in Japanese society under the US occupation of Japan has long been received unfavorably both in popular as well as academic writing. Not having gone far enough for the liberal mainstream of historians, it has also often been ridiculed as having been only a weapon of political opportunism for getting rid of old-time enemies or as simply inefficiently administered.

Not much time has been spent with obtaining an objective assessment of the actual effects of the purge; even where attempts at quantification have been undertaken, they have not taken into account the overall change of personnel after 1945 of which the purge was only a part. This paper will analyze personnel change in the field of higher education, comparing postwar to prewar and considering dismissals and resignations occurring independently from the occupation army’s efforts at cleansing the teaching profession.

Not only had many more teachers resigned from their posts before the educational purge got under way in May 1946 than were removed from office afterwards; self-organized "grassroots" movements disposing of ultranationalistic teachers had also started as early as October 1945. A detailed case study will shed light on who fought for what interests in these "housecleanings" and on how much influence these movements antedating the purge had. Dealing with the early resignations and dismissals, the occupation's screening, the "depurge", and the red purge of 1949/50 will show that the change in higher education personnel was much more marked than is commonly assumed, but at the same time much less influenced by occupation policies.

Koordination: Sven Saaler


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