A FOREIGNER IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY: JAPAN IN THE WORLD WAR II PERIOD THROUGH THE EYES OF A FRENCH JOURNALIST
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In Western civilization there is a custom to describe one's travels and meetings with foreign cultures. Such accounts, with descriptions of local customs in Africa, the Balkans, Russia or Japan, have been popular in the last two centuries. Tales of Japan seem to be the most interesting because they are not descriptions of a benighted and backward civilization, similar to the Europe of a few hundred years ago, as is the case with the Balkans. Japan was an entirely different space; foreigners visiting this country were convinced they were watching an advanced but completely alien civilization. One such book about Japan in the period of World War II is 'From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima' by Robert Guillain. It is mainly about Japanese politics in the war period, but far more important are the fragments about the nature of Japanese society and culture. In Guillain's vision, the Japanese are devoid of critical thinking because of the nature of their language. This is why Japanese militarists and industrialists were able to embroil the whole society in nationalist feelings and, finally, in the war in the Pacific. We can observe how the author combines Marxism with ethnic issues. It is a valuable source for an anthropologist, and unlike a depiction of Japan such as in 'The Chrysanthemum and the Sword', it is a story about constructing the image of a foreign civilization in one's mind.
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