Rezension: Sabine Frühstück, Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan

Sabine Frühstück, Playing War. Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan: Berkeley: UCP  2017.

Rezensiert für den Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung bei H-Soz-u-Kult von: Akiko Takenaka, Department of History, University of Kentucky.

In „Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan“, Sabine Frühstück examines ways that both the image of children and the concept of childhood have been appropriated in order to moralize war and sentimentalize peace. Frühstück draws attention to the troubling alliance that has been forged between children and war from the late nineteenth century to the present through a close examination of a wide array of case studies, from children’s activities such as outdoor games and board games, songs, classroom lessons, and physical education classes, to how children have been visually depicted in print publications. Drawing on Cynthia Enloe’s idea of „maneuvering,“ i.e. the militarization of society (and women in the case of Enloe’s work), Frühstück reveals how children’s lives have been militarized and how children have been used to militarize society throughout modern Japan.[1] The assumed qualities of children, such as vulnerability and innocence, have been employed to convey particular kinds of messages concerning warfare during Imperial Japan (1868–1945) and of peace, especially in the recent decades during which the Japanese Self Defense Forces have come under scrutiny.

The book is organized into two parts „Playing War“ and „Visualizing War.“ Children’s war games had existed before modern Japan. But the popularity of war games and the intensity with which children engaged in them (injuries and even deaths have been reported) surged along with the escalation of Japan’s militarism. „Playing war“ did not take place only on the playgrounds and in the fields. Both elementary and secondary schools followed the army infantry manual in setting up their physical education programs. The objective was twofold: to improve the children’s physical stature and to instill discipline into their young minds. In the classrooms, children learned of courageous acts by Japanese soldiers on the battlefield and became accustomed to weapons of war through textbooks that featured them. A new school subject called „spiritual education“ forged a connection between „male maturity and military service, and boys‘ war play with men making war.“ (p. 31). weiterlesen

[1] Cynthia Enloe, Maneuvers. The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives, Berkeley 2000.

Empfohlene Zitierweise
Akiko Takenaka: Rezension zu: Frühstück, Sabine: Playing War. Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan. Berkeley  2017 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 22.03.2018, <>.