University of Tasmania

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The diary of Tamura Yoshikazu : writing under the gaze of the kokutai during the Japanese Imperial Army New Guinea campaign

posted on 2023-05-26, 04:29 authored by Eaves-Young, VL
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the influence of the social context of imperial Japan on the diary of Tamura Yoshikazu, a member of the Japanese Imperial Army stationed in New Guinea from January 1943 until his presumed death at the end of the same year. As one of the few remaining original diaries from the New Guinea theatre of the Pacific War, this material offers a unique opportunity to analyse the processes by which an ordinary foot soldier of Imperial Japan interpreted the extreme tropical war zone circumstances to which he was despatched. The thesis begins with a discussion of the discursive environment in which Tamura's diary was produced, referred to throughout the document as kokutai discourse‚ÄövÑvp in acknowledgement of the influence of the notion of kokutai ‚Äö- literally body of the nation‚ÄövÑvp but generally translated as national polity‚ÄövÑvp ‚Äö- on the socio‚ÄövÑv™political and cultural environment of pre‚ÄövÑv™war Japan. A major tension that drives the narrative of the diary is the conflict between Tamura's desire as a subject of Imperial Japan to follow kokutai teachings and lay down his life in the name of the Emperor and the contradictory desire to express a personal sense of self. In resolving this tension, Tamura often referenced the seasonal markers and the familiar natural imagery of the homeland, Japan, as a means of remaining grounded in the alien surrounds of the tropics. Memories of more favourable experiences as a soldier enabled Tamura to fantasise about a noble and glorious death.


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Copyright 2011 the Author

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