Embracing Hiroshima

The main purpose of this paper is to examine an episode in John Hersey’s book Hiroshima (1946) and the occupational policy of General Headquarters (GHQ), the organization which administered the defeated land of Japan during the Occupied Era (1945-1952). It is John Dower and his readers that should be interested in the episode because in his seminal work, Embracing Defeat (1999), Dower touches on Hiroshima in terms of the GHQ’s censorship of Japanese writings about the atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What matters most in terms of the episode is that in 1951 the GHQ allowed copies of Hiroshima to be imported from the United States to be sold in Japan. In the same year some of Japan’s university professors were invited to teach it in their English classes. A controversy over the use of this work as a textbook arose among Japanese university teachers of English, and Rintaro Fukuhara and Takashi Nozaki exemplified these opinions. Their contrasting views on the text suggest the ways in which intellectuals or academics can or cannot cope under the pressure of a hegemonic cultural power.