Takashi Nishiyama, Sumiko Otsubo, and Walter G. Grunden


This brief study contextualizes key top-down and bottom-up changes in Japanese science, technology, and medicine from about 1600 to the present. Different frames of references are addressed, including global, regional/Asian, national, regional/local, institutional, organizational, and sectional. At the national level, many scholars have focused on some form of artificially constructed “system”—political, economic, social, technological, or environmental—that facilitates transnational comparisons. The technological system, for instance, includes designers, producers, managers, users, distributors, lobbyists, and the like. Studies of medical communities have dealt with human factors (scientists/practitioners, patients, and healthy individuals), as well as non-human factors (other terrestrial/marine organisms, infections, genetic conditions, chemical substances, and environmental changes). This essay also recognizes the importance of “ordinary people” in the historical landscape. It democratizes, racializes, and genderizes human agents of change by focusing partly on women and ethnic minorities within and outside the country.

An important issue to consider is the historical significance of features common to pre-modern and modern Japanese science—for example, the country’s geographical setting. While rejecting geographical determinism, we should consider the formative influence of geographical context on the transformation of science. How has geography/topography helped shape the parameters, content, and transmission of science, technology, and medicine into, within, and out of the archipelago? Notably, unlike European or Latin American nations, Japan shared no land borders with other countries; its geography and politics severely restricted entry of expertise and diseases from overseas, especially before the mid-nineteenth century. The country maintained its official policy of isolation and thus remained largely self-contained until the advent of the (political) modern era. Vital formative influences from the Asian continent continued in science (mathematics and astronomy), technology (metallurgy, agriculture, city planning, and porcelain), and medicine (acupuncture, cauterization, and medicinal herbs). But limited contact of Japan with the rest of the world (except for China, Korea, Rh?ky? islands, and the Netherlands) from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries seems to offer an opportunity for transnational comparisons, especially considering the spread of epidemic and endemic diseases around the world. A study of Japan since 1600 can refer to geographically similar archipelago settings in Asia, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, or the geographically dissimilar setting of the Eurasian continent.

Day 1: Science, Technology, and Medicine in Tokugawa Japan (1600-1867)

A first key issue we consider is the relations between the degree of central political control and the range of diversity in science and medicine in pre-1868 Japan. At least two cases can be cited. The field of mathematics, wasan, evidenced different schools of thought, each capitalizing on the multipolar growth of Tokugawa science. Another case in point involves the introduction of smallpox vaccination into the country with flows of technical knowledge from the periphery to the center. The technique, originally imported from China in the mid-1800s, did not become widespread in Japan. But in the early nineteenth century, Russians had brought the new technique to the northernmost frontier of Ezo (Hokkaido), an area mostly inhabited by the ethnic minority of the Ainu rather than ethnic Japanese. The Jennerian inoculation began to receive a wider support in the southern Saga domain after a physician, It? Genboku, vaccinated a daughter of the local feudal lord in 1849. After studying Chinese medicine, he studied with a German doctor, Phillip von Siebold (employed at a Dutch factory in Nagasaki); in 1858, together with several colleagues, It? founded the Vaccination Institute in the urban city of Edo where the Shogunate was located.

Relations between science and national security in politically decentralized Tokugawa Japan also merit attention. The Shogunate retained its control over expertise in key fields of studies to preserve peace from threats, real or perceived, from abroad and at home. For instance, the central government heavily regulated castle construction and maintenance in local domains. From the late seventeenth century, the Tokugawa office of Tenmonkata remained in charge of calendar making, astronomical observation, and topographical survey. Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751) encouraged Dutch learning, which included fields of study such as astronomy, cartography, internal medicine, and surgery. Under government sponsorship, In? Tadataka (1745-1818) conducted a series of coastal surveying/national mapmaking projects—a field of study important to national security. When Siebold was caught trying to take a copy of such a map with him to Germany, authorities deported him for violating a decree of 1828, which prohibited export of such information.

We move on to consider the relations between occupation-based social hierarchy and the transformation of science and medicine. Tokugawa society, following the official doctrine of Neo-Confucianism, consisted of four main classes from the top to bottom: warriors (roughly six to seven percent of the population, although this and other figures varied from domain to domain), farmers (about eighty percent), artisans (about seven percent), and merchants (about seven percent). In theory, medical doctors, along with Buddhist and Shinto priests, actors, artists, prostitutes, and social outcasts, did not fit into this scheme. Questions to ask include: What social ranks did traditional medical doctors occupy in society? Which groups of ordinary people gained wealth and privilege enough to receive medical care from doctors? How did public health policy differ from domain to domain, and why? What kinds of epidemics struck whom, how, when, and where? An issue worth exploring is the relation between religion and medicine. Given that “blood” and “death” meant defilement in Shinto, the surgeon’s social status was presumably low. But the ability to cure medical problems brought certain Tokugawa doctors prestige, wealth, and political connections—elevating some physicians to elite status despite religious stigma. How diverse was the Tokugawa medical community in terms of social status and class as well as family background? How did women, especially midwives, figure in this landscape?

Student Reading
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 13-54.
Brett L. Walker, “The Early Modern Japanese State and Ainu Vaccinations: Redefining the Body Politic, 1799-1868,” Past and Present, 163 (1999):121-160.

Extended Reading
James R. Bartholomew, The Formation of Science in Japan: Building a Research Tradition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 9-48.
Susan Burns, “The Body as Text: Confucianism, Reproduction, and Gender in Early Modern Japan” in Benjamin Elman, Herman Ooms, and John Dunkan, eds., Rethinking Confucianism: Past and Present in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam (Los Angeles: UCLA Asia Pacific Monograph Series, 2002), pp. 178-219.
Susan B. Hanley, Everyday Things in Premodern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
Shigehisa Kuriyama, “Between Mind and Eye: Japanese Anatomy in the Eighteenth Century,” in Charles Leslie and Allan Young, eds., Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), pp. 21-43.
Morris Low, “Medical Representations of the Body in Japan; Gender, Class, and Discourse in the Eighteenth Century,” Annals of Science, 53 (1996): 345-359.
Ellen Gardner Nakamura, “Physicians and Famine in Japan: Takano Ch?ei in the 1830,” Social History of Medicine, 13 (2000): 429-445.
Emiko Ochiai, “The Reproductive Revolution at the End of the Tokugawa Period,” Women and Class in Japanese History (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 1999), pp. 187-215.
Mark Ravina, “Wasan and the Physics that Wasn’t: Mathematics in the Tokugawa Period,” Monumenta Nipponica, 48 (Summer 1993): 205-224.
Timon Screech, The Lens Within the Heart: The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002).
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Sericulture and the Origins of Japanese Industrialization,” Technology and Culture, 33 (1992): 101-121.
Anne Jannetta, The Vaccinators: Smallpox, Medical Knowledge,
and the 'Opening' of Japan
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

Day 2: Rise of Modern Science, Technology, and Medicine, 1860s-1920s

This unit covers how modern science, technology, and medicine developed roughly during the time of the new Meiji government (1868-1912). The first theme is relation between national security on the one hand and transfer of science and technology on the other, both under the centralized political control of the new nation-state. One useful point of reference is the national slogan of “Rich Nation, Strong Army,” which provided political, military, and economic leaders with a rallying point amid a series of civil wars. Also faced with threats from the West, the resulting national security policy helped the government dissolve the remnants of the “feudal” political system, brought industrial production under the protection of the Meiji state, and built military strength for external wars that followed. A late-comer to industrialization, and geographically separated from other countries, Japan needed some kind of institutional, artificial framework to facilitate technology transfer from abroad. Questions we can ask in class include: What is “technology transfer”? Why did some efforts bear fruit while some others did not? What are some multiple contingencies that helped produce curious hybrids of foreign and home traits through a culturally nuanced process of technology transfer?

A second theme in this unit centers around these questions: How could a newly formed nation-state construct “modern” science, technology, and medicine at both regional/national and local levels? What is “modernity”? The experience of Japan during 1860s-1920s points to the importance of institutionalization of science, as well as the planned geographical distribution of the research establishments from the center to peripheral areas. As a beacon and capital of modernity, Tokyo hosted both public and private institutions for research and development; it was also the home of many professional societies in science, engineering, and medicine. Experimental stations and especially observatories were established in fairly remote, peripheral areas, while data were sent back to research centers. The establishment of Tokyo Imperial University (1877) was followed by other imperial universities in various regions; technical/training schools were concurrently set up in peripheral areas, often with financial support from local moguls, a process reflecting local tastes of science and engineering (e.g., saké brewing, dyeing). As a result, during this period, the Meiji government established numerous industrial research laboratories and arsenals, and supported formation of new research institutions in the private sector across the country.

A third issue in this unit addresses the social impact of newly introduced modern science on ordinary citizens. Were ethnic minorities, women, elderly and children, and social outcasts discriminated against in receiving benefits of scientific knowledge? One useful case is the medical policy of 1874, which inaugurated the official adoption of Western medicine. This government initiative, deemed more effective in preventing epidemics and treating wounds caused by military strife, helped shape education. Rapid industrialization and resulting urbanization caused new “social problems.” The spread of tuberculosis among female factory workers would compromise Japan’s major export textile industry. The increase of the mentally unstable, neurasthenics, alcoholics, and syphilitics in the city were all considered degenerating to society. Social reformers advocated birth control among poor urbanites, who tended to produce more children than they could feed. Opponents, however, were worried that the relatively expensive new technology would spread among the educated middle class instead of the fertile and uneducated masses, resulting in the deprivation of leaders and the decline of national competitiveness. Health was also believed a measure of how civilized a nation was. Thus, conditions such as high fertility and mortality, malnutrition, and leprosy were believed to cast national shame on Japan. Authorities tried to control population quality and quantity, depending on the state needs, through public health policies; people enthusiastically supported, passively conformed, quietly ignored, or actively resisted such initiatives depending on their circumstances.

Student Reading
Sumiko Otsubo, “Engendering Eugenics: Feminists and Marriage Restriction Legislation in the 1920s,” in Barbara Molony and Kathleen S. Uno, ed., Gendering Modern Japanese History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), pp. 225-258.
Richard J. Samuels, “Rich Nation, Strong Army”: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 33-107.

Extended Reading
James R. Bartholomew, The Formation of Science in Japan: Building a Research Tradition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 49-124.
Susan Burns, “Bodies and Borders: Syphilis, Prostitution, and the Nation in Nineteenth Century Japan,” U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, English Supplement, 15 (1998): 3-30.
Susan Burns, “Contemplating Places: The Hospital as Modern Experience in Meiji Japan,” in Helen Hardacre and Adam L. Kern (eds.), New Directions in the Study of Meiji Japan (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), pp. 702-718.
Susan Burns, “Constructing the National Body: Public Health and the Nation in Nineteenth-Century Japan,” in Timothy Brook and Andre Schmid, (eds.), Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000), pp. 17-49.
Susan Burns, “From ‘Leper Villages’ to Leprosaria: Public Health, Nationalism and the Culture of Exclusion in Japan,” in Alison Bashford and Carolyn Strange, (eds.), Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 104-118.
Gregory Clancey, Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).
Steve J. Ericson, “Importing Locomotives in Meiji Japan: International Business and Technology Transfer in the Railroad Industry,” Osiris, 13 (1998): 129-153.
Sabine Frühstück, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
Aya Homei, “Birth Attendants in Meiji Japan: The Rise of the Biomedical Birth Model and a New Division of Labour,” Social History of Medicine, 19 (3) (2006) :407-424.
Aya Homei, “Sanba and Their Clients: Midwives and the Medicalization of Childbirth in Japan,” in Barbara Mortimer and Susan McGann, (eds.), New Directions in History of Nursing (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 168-183.
Morris F. Low, (ed.), Building a Modern Japan: Science, Technology, and Medicine in the Meiji Era and Beyond (New York: Palgrave, 2005).
Graeme J. N. Gooday and Morris F. Low, “Technology Transfer and Cultural Exchange: Western Scientists and Engineers Encounter Late Tokugawa and Meiji Japan,” Osiris, 13 (1998): 99-128.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 71-142.

Day 3: Science, Technology, Medicine for Colonial Expansion, 1890s-1945

In this unit, we consider how external wars helped develop science, technology, and medicine at home and abroad from the time of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) to the end of World War II in 1945. At a simplistic level, external war differs markedly from domestic civil war, for the former is far less demoralizing and physically less devastating at home than the latter, regardless of the outcome. Notably, Japan’s external wars took place every ten years: first against China (1894-1895), then against Russia (1904-05), and later against the Triple Alliance in World War I (1914-18). As a victorious imperial power that remained physically unscathed, Japan benefited from waves of postwar economic booms during these decades. Among the beneficiaries of the country’s territorial and economic expansion were light and heavy industries. For instance, the government-run Yawata Steelworks, beginning operations in 1901, received a continuous supply of iron ore from the Daye Mine of the Qing dynasty in China.

A related issue worth exploring is what a nation-state could do to construct imperialism abroad and at home. What are some roles of science, technology, and medicine in the process? Japan’s annexations of Taiwan (1895), Korea (1910), and later Manchuria (1931) seem to offer a meaningful case study. Its colonial policy, followed by military escalation, helped war-related business conglomerates expand geographically in Asia. Japan’s colonial expansion induced faster and wider spread of sexually transmitted disease within the occupied areas. The quality and quantity of the Japanese citizens beyond the country’s shores became official concerns as modern Japan began to rule and populate its new, expanding multi-ethnic empire. The territorial expansion helped develop colonial medicine, including research on bodily differences of various ethnic groups and tropical diseases. Especially into the 1940s, expansionist wars also presented the opportunity to develop more lethal, less expensive chemical and biological weapons against combatants and non-combatants alike in China.

A third issue of historical importance is the impact of modern science on center-periphery power relationships in the world during the age of imperialism. By the late 1910s, Japan had escaped colonization and emerged as a colonizer in Asia through massive industrialization and militarization. As a non-Western colonial power in Asia, Japan seems to offer a useful example to illuminate the volume, direction(s), and contingencies influencing the complex traffic of scientific knowledge in the world. By no means a mere consumer of technical knowledge of the West, Japan emerged as a producer and emitter of modern scientific knowledge within its Asian empire by the early twentieth century. Besides, those under Japan’s colonial rule received scientific information not only from Japan but also from the West. How did these complex relationships figure in the circulation of scientific, technological, and medical knowledge around the world? Scientific ideas purportedly flew from the center to the periphery, but we remain relatively unfamiliar with how ideas circulated within the “peripheries” of knowledge production and how the periphery attempted to transform itself into the center.

Student Reading
Robert John Perrins, “Doctors, Diseases, and Development: Engineering Colonial Public Health in Southern Manchuria, 1905-1926,” in Morris Low, (ed.), Building a Modern Japan: Science, Technology, and Medicine in the Meiji Era and Beyond (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 102-132.
Yuki Terazawa, “Racializing Bodies through Science in Meiji Japan: The Rise of Race-Based Research in Gynecology,” in Morris Low, (ed.), Building a Modern Japan: Science, Technology, and Medicine in the Meiji Era and Beyond (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 83-102.

Extended Reading
James R. Bartholomew, The Formation of Science in Japan: Building a Research Tradition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 199-263.
Yuehtsen Juliette Chung, Struggles for National Survival: Chinese Eugenics in a Transnational Context, 1896-1945 (London: Routledge, 2002).
Chin Hsien-yu, “Colonial Medical Police and Postcolonial Medical Surveillance Systems in Taiwan, 1895-1950s,” Osiris, 13 (1998): 326-338.
Barbara Molony, Technology and Investment: The Prewar Japanese Chemical Industry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), pp. 216-266.
Morris Low, “The Architecture of Japanese Colonial Science: The Establishment of the Shanghai Science Institute,” in Yung Sik Kim and Francesca Bray, (eds.), Current Perspectives in the History of Science in East Asia (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 1999), pp.226-237.
Geoffrey W Rice, “Pandemic Influenza in Japan, 1918-19: Mortality Patterns and Official Responses,” Journal of Japanese Studies, 19 (1993): 389-420.
Akihito Suzuki, “A Brain Hospital in Tokyo and Its Private and Public Patients,” History of Psychiatry, 14 (2003): 337-360.
Akihito Suzuki, “The State, Family, and the Insane in Japan 1900-1945,” in Roy Porter and David Wright, (eds.), The Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 193-225.
Akihito Suzuki, “Were Asylums Men’s Places?: Male Excess in the Asylum Population in Japan in the Early Twentieth Century,” in Marijke Gijswijt-hofstra, Joost Viselaar, Harvery Oosterhuis, and Hugh Freeman, (eds.), Psychiatric Cultures (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005), pp. 295-311.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Debating Racial Science in Wartime Japan,” Osiris, 13 (1998): 354-375.
Elise Tipton, “Birth Control and the Population Problem,” in Elise Tipton, (ed.), Society and the State in Interwar Japan (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 42-62.

Day 4: Science, Technology, and Medicine for War, 1930-45

In this unit we explore the relationship of science to war that became paramount during these fifteen years. The rise of militarism underlay Japan’s road to war from its invasion of Manchuria in 1931 to the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Healthy citizens, male and female, were mobilized for total war until military defeat in August 1945. In this context, for instance, the National Eugenics Law and National Physical Strength Law were passed in 1940 to regulate the health of Japanese population before and after birth. These initiatives attested to the importance of women’s roles in reproduction and nurturing for a nation at war. Important topics relating to science during 1930-45 include Japan’s own research for the development of an atomic bomb, as well as the infamous Unit 731 that experimented on captured human subjects in China for the development of biological and chemical weapons.

Another issue of historical importance is why and how Japan mostly failed to develop “Big Science” for modern warfare. A point to note is that, especially when compared to other industrialized countries, Japan lacked an effective central policy-making body for science and technology. Many examples could point to disintegrating, demoralizing effects of sectionalism. Aside from the Army-Navy inter-service rivalry, the Army in particular interfered in civilian agencies; government agencies and offices were established one after another to provide oversight for funding, mobilization, and administration of both public and private research institutions. Sectionalism was not unique to wartime Japan, but what contrasts with comparable cases in other countries was the extent and duration of the quiet, demoralizing subterranean wars among sections at home while fighting against foreign enemies. What factors help explain this? One revealing case involves Miyamoto Takenosuke, an engineer, and his proposal for the creation of a “New Order of Science and Technology” in the 1930s. In his view, a “Technology Agency” was to be established as an administrative center for coordinating scientific research on a national scale, and more importantly, to act as a liaison between civilian and military research institutions. Bureaucratic sectionalism within the top levels of the government, however, impeded this agenda, and the military services, especially the Army, further complicated matters by refusing to submit their research institutions to civilian control or domination by civilian scientists, as the New Order legislation proposed. The initiative bore little fruit as a result. By the time the Technology Agency (Gijutsu-In) officially opened in early 1942, its original purpose as a central office to enforce science and technology policy had been virtually eliminated. Where once Miyamoto and the technocratic lobby had envisioned something akin to the Office of Scientific Research and Development that emerged in the United States during the war, the Technology Agency, in fact, became little more than an office of the army charged with oversight of aviation research and development.

Next, we move on to consider some consequences of the ineffective science policy of wartime Japan. Comparisons of different fields of science in the country can help us examine the issue. For example, advanced weapons projects could include radar, long-range missiles, and nuclear weapons, all of which required massive funding, as well as the coordination and collaboration of various public, private, military, and civilian agencies. In wartime Japan, these projects stumbled along, competing for resources against numerous other research and development projects with far less potential for contributing to the war effort. As a result, radar technology did not progress much further than its state at the outset of the war, and research in nuclear weapons development remained at a comparatively rudimentary stage. In the area of weapons of mass destruction, Japan excelled only in the development of biological warfare. Why did some fields advance more than others, and other than sectionalism, what factors can explain the variance?

Student Reading
Walter Grunden, Secret Weapons and World War II: Japan in the Shadow of Big Science (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006).
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 143-157.

Extended Reading

Day 5: Science, Technology, and Medicine for Peace, 1945-60s

This unit examines the impact of foreign-power occupation on the (re)shaping of science, technology, and medicine for twenty years or so after the end of World War II. One way to explore this issue is to examine Japan within a bi-national or broader international context; for instance, the experience of postwar Japan and that of Germany seem comparable in many ways, for both came under the Allied Occupation. The presence of the United States was more pronounced in Japan, playing a formative role in the politicization of professional societies, the rise of the Left, and changing landscape of higher education. One notable difference is the presence or absence of brain drain. Unlike many German scientists and engineers who emigrated after the war (e.g., architect of the Apollo Program, Wernher von Braun), almost all Japanese (with few exceptions including female physicist, Yuasa Toshiko) were contained in their country during the U.S. Occupation years of 1945-52. They could not simply walk or swim across national borders into neighboring countries, which remained deeply hostile given Japan’s wartime aggression. What are some push and pull factors that could encourage or discourage the emigration of scientists and engineers in peacetime?

For our purposes, the year 1945 serves as a convenient division between war and peace, and between the country’s prewar and postwar science policies. One topic of discussion is whether or not the U.S. Occupation policy sped up or retarded the process of postwar reconstruction in science and technology. What fields of science, technology, and medicine in Japan benefited more than others from the U.S. Occupation, and why? A key administration was the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP), which had the mission to demilitarize and democratize the war-torn Japan. In aircraft and naval engineering, SCAP (at least temporarily) forbade research and development, as well as production of all types of armaments and munitions, including warships and all aircraft. Equally hit was the field of nuclear physics. At one point, the authority’s relentless pursuit of mission led to the destruction of four cyclotrons (nuclear particle separators) then available in Japan—one dumped into the Bay of Tokyo, which astonished those in the Riken’s Nuclear Physics laboratory and the world scientific community. Furthermore, the war separated Japan’s scientific communities at least temporarily from their counterparts around the world. How were the ties restored and with what consequences within the context of the Cold War? Certain individuals seem to have been crucial, one being Harry C. Kelly, a physicist who had worked at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during the war. Recruited into the U.S. Occupation bureaucracy, Kelly served well as a liaison; he helped soften the early, rather draconian Occupation policy and earned the trust of his Japanese colleagues.

Next, we consider the impact of the end of militarism at home and imperialism abroad. Successful spin-off of wartime science and technology became readily observable in most cases by the late 1960s, especially when manifested as visible objects. Cases in point include the use of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter’s aero-engine technology in postwar Nissan automobiles, and civilian application of wartime aeronautical technology in the development of the Shinkansen high-speed bullet train. More nebulous, thus more difficult to explicate, were cultural elements of wartime science, technology, and medicine that survived beyond 1952. Recent scholarship has pointed out continuity in personnel and organization in trans-World War II Japan, but what helped determine which wartime elements (e.g., ideology, policy, system, etc.) survived into, or ceased to exist in, the following decades and with what consequences? What happened to medical science and system of Japanese empire in Asia after the war’s end in 1945? What factors successfully turned—and more importantly, what factors failed to turn—the military defeat into “creative destruction”? How did female scientists benefit from the Occupation policy that opened the door for their higher education?

Student Reading
Takashi Nishiyama, “War, Peace, and Nonweapons Technology: The Japanese National Railways and Products of Defeat, 1880s-1950s,” Technology and Culture, 48 (2) (2007): 286-302.
Richard J. Samuels, “Rich Nation, Strong Army”: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 130-153.

Extended Reading
John Beatty, “Scientific Collaboration, Internationalism, and Diplomacy: The Case of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission,” Journal of the History of Biology, 26 (1993): 205-231.
Bowen C. Dees, The Allied Occupation and Japan’s Economic Miracle: Building the Foundations of Japanese Science and Technology, 1945-1952 (Surrey: Japan Library, 1997).
Walter Grunden, Secret Weapons and World War II: Japan in the Shadow of Big Science (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006), pp. 197-204.
David Kaiser, Kenji Ito, and Karl Hall, "Spreading the Tools of Theory: Feynman Diagrams in the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union," Social Study of Science, 34 (2004): 879-922.
Susan M. Lindee, “The Repatriation of Atomic Bomb Victim Body Parts to Japan: Natural Objects and Diplomacy,” Osiris, 13 (1998): 376-409.
Shigeru Nakayama, Kunio Got?, and Hitoshi Yoshioka, (eds.), A Social History of Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan, Volume I: The Occupation Period, 1945-1952 (Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2001).
Takashi Nishiyama, “Cross-disciplinary Technology Transfer in Trans-World War II Japan: The Japanese High-Speed Bullet Train as a Case Study,” Comparative Technology Transfer and Society, 1 (3) (2003): 305-325.
Tiana Norgren, Abortion before Birth Control: The Politics of Reproduction in Postwar Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
Sumiko Otsubo, “Women Scientists and Gender Ideology in Japan,” in Jennifer Robertson, (ed.), A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 467-482.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 161-208.

Day 6: Science, Technology, and Medicine Since 1952

Our first focus in this unit is how Japan has developed “Big Science” and big business at home since the time of the U.S. Occupation. One challenge the country faced was how to build a prosperous, peace-oriented, industrialized economy without colonies abroad. A crucial crutch for the country’s speedy recovery was the Korean War. Japan, now a reliable Cold War ally in Asia, became a logistically convenient supplier of vehicles and electronics to the United States and benefited from U.S. war procurement needs. Japan’s postwar high-speed industrial recovery and economic growth followed, particularly in heavy industries (shipbuilding, steel, electronics, and automobile industries) from the late 1950s through the 1960s. What supported this transformation included business leadership, ideology, female labor force, and managerial techniques (e.g., quality control and rationalization) in the private sector; and top-down government policies, export-driven economic structure, and social networks of information, among other factors, in the public sector. The three agencies that dominated science policy during this period were the Science and Technology Agency, the Science and Culture Division of the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Policies favored the promotion of “big” national projects, such as the development of the nuclear energy industry, outer-space rocket/satellite development, and exploitation of ocean resources, which arguably ushered in the age of “Big Science” in Japan at last.

Next, we explore some negative consequences of the rapid economic growth of postwar Japan. What were some cases of environmental pollution, and how did ordinary citizens respond in their local communities? How did business corporations and the national government try to solve industrial pollution while vigorously promoting the country’s fast economic development? How did scientists respond, and what were their responsibilities, to nuclear pollution in the only country in the world that had come under two atomic-bomb attacks? One topic of interest in this line of questioning is the public roles of women concerned about birth defects of their young and/or yet-to-be-born children. Some women, particularly ordinary housewives, were active in promoting safer nuclear power plants, materials used in housing and public facilities, and residual agricultural chemicals in imported and domestically produced foodstuffs. Many women remained reluctant to imbibe chemical substances; for instance, contrary to feminist activism elsewhere, they opposed deregulation and use of low-dose oral contraceptives as late as the 1990s.

Finally, this unit deals with Japan’s efforts to use science and technology politically in the international arena during and after the Cold War. A bi-national framework seems useful for our study. For instance, the U.S.-Japanese alliance has promoted cooperation in applied science and technology since 1952. Cases in point include United States-Japan Cooperative Programs in Natural Resources (1964), Medical Science (1965), and Brain Research (2000); other bilateral agreements include U.S.-Japan Environmental Protection Agreement (1975) and U.S.-Japan Science and Technology Agreement (1979). In a global framework, Japan became a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1957) and hosted the international forum for cooperation in the field of nuclear science (1965). Japan’s formative role around the globe shows in environmental science, as in the formation of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1997). Questions worth asking include: How and why did Japan mobilize science, technology, and medicine to promote internationalism during and after the Cold War, and what were some limits in doing so? Is internationalization of science chiefly a product of World War II and/or the Cold War? How can the seemingly irreconcilable tension between “nationalism” and “internationalism” in science be solved? How have Japan’s efforts been perceived in the rest of the world?

Student Reading
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 161-244.
Shigeru Nakayama, Science, Technology, and Society in Postwar Japan (London: Kegan Paul, 1991), pp. 199-216.

Extended Reading
Michael A. Cusumano, The Japanese Automobile Industry: Technology and Management at Nissan and Toyota (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985).
Timothy S. George, Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), pp. 45-70.
Margaret M. Lock, “Globalization and Cultures of Biomedicine: Japan and North America,” in Helaine Selin and Hugh Shapiro, (eds.), Medicine across Cultures: History and Practice of Medicine in non-Western Cultures (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press, 2003), pp. 155-174.
Morris Low, Shigeru Nakayama, and Hitoshi Yoshioka, (eds.), Science, Technology, and Society in Contemporary Japan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
Shigeru Nakayama, Kunio Got?, and Hitoshi Yoshioka, (eds.), A Social History of Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan, Volume III: High Economic Growth Period, 1960-1969 (Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2006).
Simon Partner, Assembled in Japan: Electrical Goods and the Making of the Japanese Consumer (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
William M. Tsutsui, Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).
Sharon Traweek, “Big Science and Colonialist Discourse: Building High-Energy Physics in Japan,” in Peter Galison and Bruce Hevly, (eds.), Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 100-128.
Jun Ui, “A Basic Theory of K?gai,” in Nakayama Shigeru, David L. Swain, and Eri Yagi, (eds.), Science and Society in Modern Japan: Selected Historical Sources (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1974), pp. 290-311.
Kenneth E. Wilkening, Acid Rain in Science and Politics in Japan: A History of Knowledge and Action toward Sustainability (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).

Possible Topics for Student Research
1.  What is “modern” science/technology/medicine?  Can it be independent from political or economic modernity? If so, how and why?
2.  What facilitates the diffusion of scientific knowledge among regions or nations?  How does knowledge transfer differ from knowledge diffusion?
3.  How do such factors as class, gender, and race/ethnicity figure in the formation of scientific, technological, and medical knowledge?
4.  What are some characteristics of “Big Science” in our modern world? To what extent did Japan succeed in its efforts during and after World War II, and why?
5. What are some roles of scientific communities in forming nationalism and internationalism in modern Japan?

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