Dr. Carol Gluck, chair of Columbia University’s Committee of Global Thought, shared her thoughts on the ongoing postwar period of Japan on Feb. 6 at an event held at PSU.

By Karisa Yuasa, February 11, 2020

World War II ended in Japan on Aug. 15, 1945 with the surrender of Imperial Japan. 75 years later, Japan is the only country in the world that still considers itself in the postwar period, known in Japan as “sengo.”

“For the people who lived through [the war], what the postwar actually meant was very visceral,” Gluck said. “It wasn’t only the nation that was rebuilding, but this was a profoundly individual experience.”

Japan was already engaged in fighting and territorial disputes in China by the time the United States entered World War II in 1941. Japanese citizens had been living constantly in times of war up until sengo.

“The war was hard for everyone with very few exceptions,” Gluck said. “Most people in Japan—and in lots of other places too—were not focused on national defeat or national victory or American occupation, not on the nation, but on food and shelter and also particularly liberation from war and the return to private life.”

Sengo started with the massive economic growth in Japan caused by the Korean and Cold Wars. This led to not only economic transformation, but social and political changes for the country.

This time of growth and change slowed by the 1970s. According to Gluck, some economists believe this is where the sengo period ends.

In everyday society, however, the ideas of sengo continue.

Originally published in PSU Vanguard. Read the entire story here.