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Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Title: Showa: A History of Japan
Page Count: 540
Genre: Biography, Historical, History, Non-fiction
Era: Modern
Cover Price: 29.95 USD; 24.95 CAD
Cover Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9781770461352
Country: Canada
Echoing Japan's enthusiasm for soldiers, gangs of boys fight ongoing violent battles with severe injuries.; Kwantung Army officers make Manchuria a colony in the form of a puppet state called Manchukuo. Many civilians and business people are disgusted at the right wing's ascendency, but feel helpless to stop it.; Right-wing officers and men attempt to seize control of the government in a coup d'état -- Shigeru's mother is sympathetic, for she knows one of the conspirators. The emperor and other military leaders put down the coup. Shigeru begins to win acclaim for his art, but the nation continues to be enthralled by sensational though meaningless events.; When fighting breaks out in Beijing, Japan steps up its attacks on China, initiating the Second Sino-Japanese War. Warring Chinese forces unhappily form a united front against Japan. Shigeru tries various jobs and schools, utterly without success.; Murdering and abusing liberals, leftists, academics, and even each other, right-wingers control Japanese government, thought, and social life.; Right-wing opponents are enraged when the government joins other nations in limiting naval strength. A terrorist tries to murder the prime minister, but he narrowly survives.; The Japanese government loses control of its army. The Japanese army provokes trouble in Shanghai and then attacks China, distracting attention from its creation of a puppet state in Manchuria.; As the war grinds on, the Japanese people suffer greater privation, even as government organs trumpet their patriotism in doing so. The right wing exerts more control over society, and puts down other modes of thought. Japan's soldiers commit unspeakable atrocities in China, and Shigeru continues to drift aimlessly.; As a small child Shigeru is devoted to NonNonBa, a grandmother figure in his life. He loves eating and wandering, while his father loves theater, modernity, and reading to the children.; When workers go on strike, one man perches atop a tall factory chimney and shouts demands. Executives give in rather than allow the Emperor to see such a sight on his visit to the area. Shigeru, NonNonBa, and many of Shigeru's classmates have scarcely any food. A small neighbor boy is sent to sea as a cook, and is killed in a storm.; Desperate, Shigeru's father moves to Osaka in hopes of finding work or business. Shigeru fights his way to acceptance from other students, but is often late for school and bossy with teachers.; The Great Depression makes matters worse for Japanese, and for Shigeru's family in particular. Right-wing terrorists murder the finance minister and a zaibatsu director.; Farm prices collapse, leaving farmers to starve. Right-wing military, business and political leaders use the tragedy to incite fascism, and begin Japan's long war.; Fearing cutbacks in military spending, army officers begin an invasion of Manchuria, correctly expecting that the civilian government will feel compelled to support it.; During the period of NonNonBa's death, war explodes among Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and Manchurians.; Japan becomes caught up in numerous crazes and mass hysteria.; A catastrophic earthquake is followed by business and financial catastrophes. As one consequence many small banks go out of business, or merge with larger ones.; Nonnonba takes Shigeru on a visit to her family in the mountains.; Shigeru's father is fired from his job at a bank. Since he's always liked plays and movies, he decides to open a theater. Despite his utter lack of experience, it's an immediate hit.; Despite the promise of elections the government cracks down hard on dissent, and begins a new invasion of China.; Desperate from a water shortage, Korean and Chinese farmers attack each other. Japan takes advantage of the conflict to conquer more of Manchuria.; Shigeru wanders through life at his own pace, usually enjoying himself but always late for school.; Shigeru's grandfather does well in Indonesia, even as Shigeru's father and uncle are going broke in Japan.; While Shigeru drifts, the Japanese army in Manchuria and Mongolia is suckered into a border war with Russia, and is badly defeated. An armistice allows Russia to jump into fighting in Europe, seizing half of Poland, while Japan continues to batter China unmolested. The Second World War gets under way as Tojo comes to power in Japan.; Economic collapse in America leads to the Great Depression around the world. In Japan, zaibatsu gain control of the economy.; Young Shigeru panics when trapped in a bath. Right-wing officers, embodying Japan's fanatical and impulsive condition, assassinate the prime minister.; Japanese people embrace modern innovations, but the government cracks down as leading thinkers and writers pass from the scene.; Despite various attempts at propaganda and disinformation, no one really believes Japan's excuses for invading China, and Chinese resistance stiffens.; While Shigeru struggles to gain acceptance from the older neighborhood boys, Shigeru's father seems to be doing well with his movie theater. Then someone steals the projector.; After fierce debate, the army general staff decides to pursue and enlarge the war in China, hoping to gain resources for a later conflict with Russia.