Propaganda often employs emotional appeals to encourage specific actions. Whether through invoking fear, anger, or national pride, emotional rhetoric can be a powerful motivator. In the case of Imperial Japan, emotional appeals were often centered around loyalty to the emperor and nation, calling on citizens to contribute to the war effort, whether through enlistment or other forms of support.
Recruitment poster for the Tank School of the Imperial Japanese Army. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Leaflet warning landing American soldiers of their impending death. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Calls to Action
Direct calls to action are a hallmark of propaganda aimed at encouraging specific behaviors. These can range from urging citizens to buy war bonds, to encouraging enlistment in the military, to promoting social and cultural norms. The language is usually urgent and the messages are designed to provoke immediate action.
Japanese propaganda poster featuring Japanese agrarian immigrants in Manchukuo, designed for a Westerner audience. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Echoes of Empire: The Power of Japanese Propaganda
The topic of propaganda has become increasingly relevant in recent years. With the advancement of technology, people are increasingly more vulnerable to disinformation. Japan experienced a similar situation in the early 1900s and 1930s. With the rise of mass production of newspapers and magazines amidst the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese population became instilled in nationalism and militarism. Despite the era of demilitarization and democratization that followed after World War I, the Japanese Empire, once again, became fixated on expansion. This time, advancements in radio and film propagated a sentiment for total war.
Echoes of Empire: An Analysis of Imperial Japanese Propaganda focuses on the themes of Japanese propaganda during the imperial era (1868–1945). By emphasizing the content of Japanese propaganda, the publication achieves a rigorous and holistic account of propaganda from the imperial period. The publication closely examines four key themes: Glorification, Youth, Women and Sex, and Race War. Each section discusses various forms of propaganda, both official (government and military) and unofficial (civilians and private companies). While each chapter focuses on a specific theme of Japanese propaganda, all inquire into the impact propaganda had on the Japanese on an individual and societal scale. The analysis serves to enlighten people on the mechanism and influence of propaganda and the danger of ignoring its significance.