Apologies for cross posting.
Two weeks ago, AAS opened up registration for the 2016 Annual Meeting and I am sure many members will want to begin making their travel plans.
Shashi Interest Group is pleased to announce that Shashi Group sponsored Panel "Exporting Postwar Japan: Japanese Business and Culture Abroad" will be held on Sat. April 2 this year. Since 2012, many East Asian Librarians could not attend Shashi sponsored panels because the panels were always held at Sunday morning. Please take this opportunity to attend our panel this year. Please see the following abstracts of panel and papers.
Hiroyuki N. Good,
Chair, Japanese Company History Interest Group (Shashi Group)
Japanese Studies Librarian
University of Pittsburgh
207J Hillman Library
3960 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Shashi Wiki: Database of Japanese Company Histories Books in North America:
Editor, Shashi: The Journal of Japanese Business and Company History
"Exporting Postwar Japan: Japanese Business and Culture Abroad"
Sat, April 2, 3:00pm to 5:00pm, Washington State Convention Center, Room 205
Chair/Discussant: Professor Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu, Rice University
Session Organizer: William Chou, Ohio State University
Most historical studies of Japan's phenomenal postwar economic growth have revolved around how government-driven developments in the archipelago rippled through world markets. However, our panel argues that much of the success of Japanese exports can be attributed to initial grassroots corporate efforts in the U.S. markets. Diverging from typical economic histories, we use various postwar Japanese commercial exports to examine the networks, discourses, and methods behind the intersection of business and cultural construction processes that have made Japan resonate with American audiences.
William Chou shows how Japanese automobile manufacturers used technical and marketing collaboration with U.S. partners to create images and responses to the Japanese "small car" in the American market. Alisa Freedman demonstrates how misrepresentations of Japan on American television comedies have perpetuated national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. Robert Hegwood highlights the role of Japanese Americans in shaping cultural images of Japan and in helping Japanese food corporations Kikkoman and Aji-no-moto re-establish a presence in the American market. Yoshiko Nakano explores how Japan Airlines inaugurated its international service with Orientalist images created in conjunction with American market researchers and advertising firms. Discussant Sayuri Shimizu contributes her expertise on U.S.-Japanese cultural and business relations. Through examination of the business models these case studies represent, our panel re-evaluates the history of Japanese growth, peers into the dynamics behind the evolving image of postwar Japan abroad, and contributes to discussions of Japan's current soft power projects.
Yoshiko Nakano, University of Hong Kong
"Orientalism in the Sky: Japan Airlines Kimono-Branding in the 1950s"
In 1954, Japan Airlines (JAL) launched its first international service from Tokyo to San Francisco via Honolulu. JAL’s first advertisement in the U.S. proclaimed, “Even before you leave Golden Gate, you’re in Japan.” On board, the flight attendants served drinks in kimonos, and distributed paddle fans emblazoned with images of Mt. Fuji.
This paper considers JAL’s Orientalism in the 1950s, and illustrates how it was the outcome of an interactive approach, shaped by input from Japanese as well as American PR strategists. In 1953, the newly established national flag carrier was faced with the pressing issue of how to present and represent Japan in overseas advertising and in the air. JAL ultimately followed the suggestions of their American ad agency partners to feature the “romance and mystery of the Orient,” which often included a vision of kimono-clad “geisha girls.” The person behind this Orientalist strategy was marketing psychologist Ernest Dichter, who would later facilitate the successful launch of the Barbie doll. The introduction of the kimono was also a branding exercise aimed at distinguishing JAL from its competitors, Pan American Airlines and Northwest Orient, who both benefited from access to a substantial public relations budget. JAL went on to embrace its own brand of Orientalism, and by 1959, began to run a series of ad campaigns to subtly “de-geishanize” the kimono by emphasizing the flight attendants’ cultural sophistication and education. Using various archival documents and promotional materials, I consider how JAL’s Orientalist representations were negotiated across the Pacific. Yoshiko Nakano, University of Hong Kong
Robert Hegwood, University of Pennsylvania
“A Natural Affinity for Shōyu: Japanese Americans and Food Exports to the United States, 1945-1965”
The 2014 designation of washoku on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage has fueled the already lively field of culinary history and cultural diplomacy. Indeed, the decision is merely a recent reminder of the enduring popularity of Japanese food among foreign consumers --a popularity that has long worked to the advantage of Japanese food corporations. However, historians have tended to treat this phenomenon as merely part of the rising tide of popularity of Japanese culture in postwar America, with little explanation of how Japanese food was popularized at the social level. Japanese food products did not merely flow into American markets as a result of cultural exchange, it was the result of a transnational network of collaboration between Japanese corporations, Japanese government officials, and Japanese American entrepreneurs.
Through an examination of corporate histories, nikkei community histories, and oral histories, I examine how grassroots collaboration with the Japanese American community was essential to the success of Aji-no-moto and Kikkoman Soy Sauce corporations’ reentry into the American market in the 1940s and 1950s. Particularly, nikkei-owned sukiyaki restaurants and trading companies provided an initial foothold for marketing efforts to win over American palettes. Drawing on the insights of studies linking the cultural dimensions of the Japanese empire to the colonial periphery and a burgeoning field of transnational studies of the Japanese diaspora, I argue the nikkei community served as a vital social foundation for these corporations’ efforts to reshape the American image of Japanese food, one bite at a time.
William Chou, Ohio State University
“The Appeal of the Small Japanese Car: Transpacific Construction and Reception from 1957-1982”
The continued market dominance of Japanese automobiles is an enduring icon of Japan's successful postwar economic development. Yet existing accounts of the automotive industry’s growth and penetration of the U.S. market isolate their attention on Japan-centric production processes to the exclusion of advertising and marketing. Moreover, these business-only studies also ignore the larger diplomatic and cultural circumstances in which Japanese automotive exports advanced. An approach that integrates a wider set of factors and contexts can explain how sustained engagement between Japanese automobile manufacturers and U.S. government officials, businesses, and consumers created reputations for quality and appeal for Japanese small cars.
This paper focuses on the Japanese automobile industry across 1957-82, arguing that transpacific technological exchanges, market research, cultural reception, and trade negotiations were central to the industry’s development and evolving global strategies. By using a multidimensional approach that integrates diplomacy, business, and consumer culture, it situates Japanese automotive exports within concurrent developments such as the Cold War security environment and the postwar consumer boom. This creates a more holistic understanding of postwar U.S.-Japanese relations, and also speaks to ongoing research on national-branding discourses and local approaches to globalization.
Alisa Freedman, University of Oregon
"TV Japan: Screaming Samurai Join Anime Clubs in the Land of the Lost"
I will discuss the serious political, economic, and cultural issues underlying misrepresentations of Japan in American comedy television from the 1970s through today. I will focus on the United States because of the global domination of American television and because many Japanese marketers have viewed brand familiarity in the United States as a benchmark for success. Television reacts things in the public eye and tends to perpetuate rather than subvert dominant discourses. Television cannot take controversial stances as easily as novels, fine arts, and other media due to the need for mass audiences, advertisers, and state support of commercial networks. I will focus on three well-known examples representing different genres and comedic forms: samurai parodies (prevalent in the 1970s), Bubble Era in "Sesame Street’s Big Bird in Japan" (1988), and “Cool Japan” parodies (especially after 2010). These examples show changing patterns of cultural globalization and different views of Japan in the American imagination; they perpetuate national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. Parody, which works only when the subject is mainstream enough for audiences to easily get the joke, shows the extent of the export of Japanese culture and cements fan communities through shared jokes. Parody also renders possible competitors less powerful by exaggerating their characteristics and making them laughable. Television comedies can be viewed as an alternative history of American fascinations with and fears of Japan.