History of Japan

Koizumi Junichiro was quite possibly the most successful Prime Minister Japan has had for decades (and certainly the best dressed). This week, we'll trace the rise of his career, his goals while in power, and the impact of his reforms on a Japanese state sometimes thought to be irreformable. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_83.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

After the fall of Tanaka Kakuei, one man has become known as the heir to his tradition. One man has attempted to manipulate the flow of politics in order to either serve as a populist champion for Japan or embody the worst of the Japanese political process (depending on who you ask). His name is Ozawa Ichiro, and he is our topic for this week.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_82.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In 1910, an anarchist plot to assassinate the Meiji Emperor was uncovered. Seizing the opportunity, conservatives in the government pounced in to arrest 26 anarchists. The background of this confrontation between the government and the radical left, the trials themselves, and their modern legacy are our topics this week.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_81.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week -- and if you're getting this on release day, 72 years and 364 days later -- we're going to discuss the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as its architect, the iconoclastic Japanese admiral Yamamoto Isoroku. Who was this man who came up with a bold plan to disable the entire US Navy in one shot? What was he thinking when he put this plan together? And why, in the end, did he have no prospect of victory?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_80.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Our topic this week is the life and legacy of one of Japan's greatest political leaders: Ito Hirobumi, author of Japan's first modern constitution. Born into a low-rank samurai family in Choshu, Ito would wear many hats in his life: radical, terrorist, student, diplomat, leader, and finally -- and fatally -- as the face of Japanese dominance in Korea. His life and his legacy are central to the story of modern Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_79.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Our topic this week is the Meiji intellectual Fukuzawa Yukichi. From the second son of a poor samurai family he rose to be one of Japan's most prominent intellectuals, and helped define what it meant for Japan to be a modern country. His influence was tremendous, but it also had a darker side; in his works lie the kernel of what would later become Japanese imperialism and ultra-nationalism.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_78.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Our topic this week is Hagakure, one of the best known works on bushido ever written. Where did it come from? What is its purpose? What is its legacy? All that and more, this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_77.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

We're turning our attention this week to Japan's first classic of poetry: the Man'yoshu, or the Collection of Ten-Thousand Leaves. We'll trace the origins of the work as well as its cultural impact through the ages, and talk about why it is we should care about a bunch of poems some of which date back to times contemporary with the Roman Empire.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_76.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to take a look at the collection of supernatural stories published by American author and journalist Lafcadio Hearn, called Kwaidan. We'll look at Hearn's life and how he came to Japan, and also discuss the nature of one of the creatures he describes: the yuki onna, or snow woman. We'll close with a reading of Hearn's story on the yuki onna

Direct download: History_of_Japan_75.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:33am PST

We'll be taking things back to the Heian Period this week for the story of the great rebel Taira no Masakado. His rebellion, however, is only half the story -- after he dies, things get very interesting indeed...

 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_74.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

After his defeat at the hands of Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu will lie low for a decade or so, biding his time. However, when the opportunity presents itself with Hideyoshi's death and the succession of his young heir, Ieyasu will strike at last, and gamble everything for one more shot at power.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_73.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, join us for part one of the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu. A brilliant and ambitious man, Ieyasu began his life as a hostage for the good behavior of his middling-rank family. By 1584, however, he would be in position to make his first bid for power.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_72.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to to talk about the life of Yamaguchi Yoshiko, the Chinese-born actress turned politician who went from propaganda actress to one of the most moving voices for Sino-Japanese reconciliation.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_71.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

As a supplemental to this week's episode, here's an entire episode of Zero Hour, courtesy of the Internet Archive. This episode is from September 14, 1944. If you're looking to hear some genuine old fashioned World War II propaganda, now's your chance!

Direct download: Zero_Hour_9-14-44.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 5:00am PST

Note: This is a revised version to fix a technical issue with the original release

This week, we're going to talk about the life of Iva Toguri, the woman most associated with the infamous (and legendary) role of the Tokyo Rose. Labelled as a traitor for her actions during the war, Toguri fought hard for her citizenship and her reputation, and was rewarded for her tenacity decades after the fact.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_70.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In our final episode on the US-Japan relationship, we'll bring things up to the modern day and discuss the revival of the US-Japan alliance in the 2000s. After decades of tension, today the US-Japan relationship seems closer and more natural than it has ever been. Still, where will things go from here? Only time will tell.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_69.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're jumping ahead to cover the 1950s through the 1980s; Japan and the United States, former foes, are now allies in the Cold War. The relationship, however, is not as smooth as it seems on the surface.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_68.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we take the final plunge to Pearl Harbor. Backed into a corner by foolish decision-making and serious misreadings of their situation, the leaders of Japan will scramble at the last minute to avoid war, but refuse to make any serious concessions to do so. In the end, war will happen not because anyone really wants it but because no one wants to avoid it badly enough.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_67.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll discuss the Second Konoe Cabinet, which was torn by indecision and plagued by bad leadership. The Japanese leadership will alienate the US by signing the Tripartite Pact, and their attempts to bridge the gap with the US will be plagued by bad management and failure. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_66.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:18pm PST

This week, we'll delve into the origins of Japan's war with China and the strain that conflict placed on Japan's relationship with the US. In the course of the 9 years from the invasion of Manchuria to the second appointment of Konoe Fumimaro as Prime Minister, Japan will become bogged down in an unwinnable war and find itself facing a far more assertive United States. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_65.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll discuss America and Japan's new roles as Great Powers in the 20th century. We'll discuss the reasons Japan and America came together to support the Allies in World War I, the rationale behind Japanese support for an American-dominated world order after 1918, and the early arms control and peace initiatives supported by Japan and the US.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_64.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're beginning a multiparter on the modern relationship between America and Japan. We'll cover the background of both countries and their relationship leading up to the 1905 Russo-Japanese War.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_63.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, Sam Timinsky will be joining us for another guest podcast, covering changes in masculine identity in the wake of Japan's economic bubble and bust in the 1980s and 1990s.

 

As a reminder, there will be no new episode next week; the week after that we will resume normal service.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_62.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04am PST

This week, a special guest reader will be coming on to read a script on Akutagawa Ryunosuke, one of modern Japan's foremost authors. As the script is still mine, any errors are my own; join us for a distinctly non-expert look at one of the great minds of Japanese literature!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_61.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26am PST

For our first ever guest episode, an old colleague and dear friend of mine named Sam Timinsky will be coming in to discuss the history of women's activist movements in Japan. Sam does an excellent job with a very difficult topic, and this episode gives you a chance to get a different perspective from my own on modern history!

Sam is a PhD student (like myself) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_60.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:56am PST

This week, we're covering two women whose work in the Occupation helped reshape Japan into a modern state. Beate Sirota was the Austrian-born Jewish-American woman who pushed for Japan's equal rights clauses in its Constitution, and Eleanor Hadley was a Seattle native who fought to disestablish Japan's powerful zaibatsu.  We'll discuss the lives and contributions of these two incredible women.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_59.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

This week, we'll be discussing the most important premodern Japanese philosopher that no one has ever heard of: Motoori Norinaga, the leading light of Kokugaku (National Studies) in Edo-period Japan. We'll be covering his life, a barebones overview of his philosophy, and his impact on Japan.

 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_58.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:17pm PST

This week, we're discussing one of Japan's most famous tales: 47 warriors without a master who, during the height of Japanese feudalism, took it upon themselves to avenge their former lord's death. In doing so, they catapulted what was a fairly obscure feud into the pages of history and legend, and remain figures of incredible popularity in Japan (and to a certain degree, the West) to this day.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_57.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:37pm PST

This week, we're going to be talking about Japan's legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu. We'll discuss his cultural background, the reasons for his rise, his sudden fall, and his massive impact on Japanese culture.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_56.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:01am PST

This week, we'll be discussing the history and possible future of Article 9, the peace clause of Japan's constitution.  Where did it come from?  How has it been interpreted?  What does its future look like? All that, this week!

Direct download: History20of20Japan2055.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll be talking about Japan's first great political reform: the Taika, or Great Change. We'll discuss its causes, effects, its parallels with the Meiji Restoration some 1200 years later, and its legacy -- which reaches a lot farther than you might think.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_54.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to take a look at the first figure in recorded Japanese history: Himiko, queen of Yamatai. Despite the fact that the records on her are extremely brief, she's assumed a position of tremendous importance in our thinking about the early history of Japan. We'll look at our records of her life, and her legacy in Japanese history and self-identity.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_53.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to be talking about one of Japan's most famous religious movements: Nichiren Buddhism, devoted to the veneration of the text know as the Lotus Sutra. We'll discuss the life and education of Nichiren, as well as the legacy his teachings have for Japan and the world.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_52.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're taking a look at the darkest incarnation of Japan's new religions: the cult known as Aum Shinrikyo. We'll discuss their background, philosophy, and the chain of events which led them to commit the deadliest terror attack in Japan's history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_51.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For the one year anniversary of the show, join us for an extra-long Q&A show; I'll be taking questions submitted by the audience. Thank you all for a great year, and here's to many more!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_50.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, join us for a very special podcast where we talk about the rise and not-quite-fall of Japan's video game industry. We'll cover the histories of the major Japanese gaming companies, and even discuss my own very tangential involvement in Japan's video game sector.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_49.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In this final segment on the rise of the imperial military to power, we'll discuss the process by which the military hijacked Japan's foreign policy and shut down the democratic process. After this was done, the army briefly turned on itself before taking the final plunge into a war with China.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_48.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll continue with our story of the rise of Japan's military to power; after the crushing of Russia in 1905, the army and navy will lose power and influence to the civilian government as political parties rise to prominence. However, storm clouds gather on the horizon as World War I convinces some military leaders of the necessity of a military state and antagonism between the armed forces and the civilian leadership grows.

Direct download: History_of_JApan_47.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Join us this week for a tale of Japan's rise to military greatness, as Yamagata Aritomo situates the army and navy during the 1880s for their rise to power and prominence. Under his leadership, Japan will defeat China, the unchallenged master of Asia for millennia. However, a new threat is looming on the horizon: the colossal Russian Empire.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_46.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm PST

This week, we'll be beginning our first four-part series as we look at the rise to power of the Imperial Japanese Military. We'll be tracing the military from its origins in the fall of the Tokugawa to the start of war with China in 1937.

This week, we'll be covering the inception of the Imperial military, its early form, and its early trials abroad and at home as the new Meiji government struggles to solidify its hold over Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_45.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 1:35pm PST

This week, we'll be going all Tom Cruise for our second media review, and discussing the actual history behind the mishmash of stories used as the background for the 2003 film The Last Samurai.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_44.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll be doing our second Shogunal biography. We're going to discuss the life and legacy of the man who destroyed the Hojo family, established the Ashikaga bakufu, and who was until very recently reviled as the worst traitor in Japanese history: Ashikaga Takauji.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_43.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to discuss the Russo-Japanese War from a different angle; we're going to talk about the effect it had in generating nationalist movements around Asia and in breaking the spell of European invincibility. From Sun Yat-sen to Mohandas Gandhi, the Japanese victory resonated around the world, and helped shape the 20th century as we know it.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_42.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to discuss the ninja, or at least what we can discern about them from the limited information that's out there. We'll discuss their origins, historic exploits, and the mythologization that turned them into the pop culture warriors we know and love today.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_41.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 1:18pm PST

This week, we'll discuss the arrival of William Adams, the reversal of fortune for Spain and Catholicism in Asia, and the suppression of Christianity by the Tokugawa.  We're also going to discuss the legacy of Japan's Christian century, and how it relates to our conception of history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_40.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll continue our discussion of Japan's Christian century with the high-point of Christian missionizing in Japan, starting with the arrival of St. Francis Xavier. Xavier's mission will mark the start of Christianity's spread through the islands, but within half a century the progress of the missionary movement will have halted and Japan's Christians and the powers that support them will be facing serious threats to their power and position.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_39.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am PST

This is part one of an eventual three part series on the rise and fall of Christianity in medieval Japan. This week, we'll cover the background of events in Europe and Japan, as well as the arrival of the first Portuguese traders in the country.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_38.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll be tackling an oft-requested topic; women warriors in the samurai class. Contrary to what you might think, women were actually very active in the roughly 800 years that make up the dominant time of the samurai class. Today, we'll be discussing just a few of them and learning about their accomplishments during Japan's war-torn past.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_37.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

We're back for the start of 2014, and to kick the year off right we're looking at this year's most significant anniversary: 1914. We'll be talking about the effects of World War I in Japan, and the ways in which it marked a turning point for Japanese policies in Asia.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_36.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am PST

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