"By Means of Sports": U.S.-Japan Baseball Exchange and the Construction of Post-War Japanese Identity
Seymour, John William
Scholarship has recognized that a shared passion for baseball between the United States and Japan helped facilitate reconciliation between the two states after World War II, but not enough focus has been put on the role the long history of U.S.-Japan baseball cooperation played in this change. U.S.-Japan baseball exchange, which started in the nineteenth century, enabled Japan to pivot away from its wartime identity during the U.S. occupation after World War II in two key ways. First, the return of domestic Japanese baseball institutions, built through exchange and communication with the American baseball community, provided a bridge to Japan’s pre-war history and values. Second, U.S. occupation and Japanese authorities promoted baseball in the post-war period to facilitate better U.S.-Japan relations, using the sport to encourage the spread of democratic values and favorable opinions of the United States in Japan, while also repairing Japan’s image in the United States. Through these mechanisms, baseball played a major role in building a post-war Japan disassociated with its wartime militarism and situated for long-term alignment with the United States.
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