Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan: Reading between the Lines

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byJ. Marshall Unger

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This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were bothnecessary and moderate. Although the United States Education Mission of 1946 recommended that the Japanese give serious consideration to the introduction of alphabetic writing, key American officials in the Civil Information and Education Section of GHQ/SCAP delayed and effectively killed action onthis recommendation. Japanese advocates of romanization nevertheless managed to obtain CIandE approval for an experiment in elementary schools to test the hypothesis that schoolchildren could make faster progress if spared the necessity of studying Chinese characters as part of non-language coursessuch as arithmetic. Though not conclusive, the experiment's results supported the hypothesis and suggested the need for more and better testing. Yet work was brought to a halt a year ahead of schedule; the Ministry of Education was ordered to prepare a report that misrepresented the goal of theexperiment and claimed it proved nothing. The whole episode dropped from official and scholarly view--until the publication of this book.

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From Our Editors

This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence, showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were both necessary and moderate. Although the United St...

From the Publisher

This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were bothnecessary and moderate. Although the United Stat...

From the Jacket

This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence, showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were both necessary and moderate. Although the United St...

J. Marshall Unger is at Ohio State University.

other books by J. Marshall Unger

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Paperback|Nov 30 2003

$33.82 online$36.00list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 8.62 × 5.83 × 0.79 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195101669

ISBN - 13:9780195101669

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From Our Editors

This book challenges the widespread belief that overzealous Americans forced unnecessary script reforms on an unprepared, unenthusiastic, but helpless Japan during the Occupation. Unger presents neglected historical evidence, showing that the reforms implemented from 1946 to 1959 were both necessary and moderate. Although the United States Education Mission recommended that the Japanese give serious consideration to the introduction of alphabetic writing, key American officials in the Civil Information and Education Section of GHQ/SCAP delayed and effectively killed action on this recommendation. Japanese advocates of romanization nevertheless managed to obtain CI&E approval for an experiment in elementary schools to test the hypothesis that schoolchildren could make faster progress if spared the necessity of studying Chinese characters as part of non-language courses such as arithmetic. Though not conclusive, the experiment's results supported the hypothesis and suggested the need for more and better testing. Yet work was brought to a halt a year ahead of schedul

Editorial Reviews

"[Unger's] account, meticulously documented at every step, is a tale of conflicting positions, misguided supervision, muddled research and missed opportunities....Unger's clear and convincing account of Japanese script reform, verified by the many new sources he was able to locate, is afascinating study of gradual forward movement, subsequently halted by the current movement against restrictions on kanji. It also chronicles a period of manipulation, conflict and lost opportunities during the Occupation, when some of the arguments about Japanese orthography that persist today mighthave been resolved. This is a book that deserves wide readership."--Social Science Japan Journal