"DIVINE" INTERVENTION: JAPANESE AND AMERICAN CHRISTIAN NARRATIVES OF THE PACIFIC WAR, THE ATOMIC BOMBINGS, AND THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION
Elmendorf, Hilary E. L.
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In 1995, American public opinion rallied around the sacrosanct "Good War" and its atomic culmination above Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum contemplated an inclusion of the Japanese victims of atomic warfare in an exhibit planned for the fiftieth anniversary of the Pacific War's end, the intense public furor against the purportedly revisionist undermining of the "American Century's" greatest triumph extirpated the Enola Gay from any consideration of the bomb's enduring civilian toll. In short, fifty years after the dual incinerations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seemed that the same American consensus supporting the righteousness of the atomic bombs still existed, as it had since 1945. <p/><p/>This dissertation seeks a re-examination of American and Japanese memories of atomic warfare, grounded in the dissent that appeared as early as August 1945. By returning to the years of Japan's Occupation, from 1945-1952, we can trace the counter-narratives of atomic tragedy that emerged from Japanese and American Christians, questioning not only national celebrations of the just nature of Hiroshima and Nagasaki's destruction, but also national adherence to the long-held identity as an exceptional Christian democracy. Immediate opposition to the use of the atomic bomb to end war in the Pacific, particularly from vocal Christian activists, revealed the lack of any national consensus that shadowed nuclear war from its birth and that complicated the memory of World War II as the "Good War" in America's past. Confirmed by the victory of war, the United States embarked on a new Christianizing mission in Occupied Japan that extended the boundaries of American democracy, in the Cold War's fight against communism, across the globe. As General Douglas MacArthur fostered democracy in recently militaristic Japan, he called on Christian missionaries to assist the American transformation of its former enemy. Among the Christians to respond to MacArthur's call were those, such as many of the founders of International Christian University, who based their active commitment to improving Japan on their desire to apologize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki; this dissent disappeared from American collective memory as the Cold War bolstered support for nuclear arsenals.