Abstract: Feminized Diplomacy: Japanese Fashion Magazines and U.S. Censorship in Occupied Japan

J. Malia McAndrew


The close of military operations in Japan signaled the end of World War II and the start of a new cultural campaign through which the United States sought to "educate" Japanese citizens about freedom, democracy, and other core American values. Rebuilding Japan in America's likeness meant going beyond simply changing the nation's political leadership. Rather, Occupation leaders viewed influencing the actions and behaviors of ordinary citizens as a matter of considerable significance. This paper analyzes the ways in which the U.S. Occupation worked with private Japanese print publications to effect cultural change in the postwar nation. While postwar Japanese print culture came largely from the hands of Japanese writers, editors, and publishers, it was produced within a foreign-directed political framework that censored and shaped it. Women's magazines were seen by the Occupation as an ideal vehicle through which the American lifestyle could be promoted to Japanese women. Indeed, Occupation leaders theorized that Americanized Japanese women could become democratized Japanese women, thus thwarting the spread of communism in the Asia-Pacific region. By working with Japanese media outlets, and in particular women's magazines, this paper demonstrates the feminized diplomatic strategy that America used to help realize its postwar political agenda in Japan.