The Showa Period of Japanese History

Naomi Rose Sturman (Imai Naomi), Kyoai Gakuin High School

In school I recently began the study of the Showa period (1926-89) of Japanese history. The most important years of this period were 1931-1945.

In September 1931, Japan invaded Northeastern China. Japan used the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 1937 as an excuse to launch an all out war on China. Though Japan became bogged down in China, the nation started the Pacific War in December of 1941, which ended in eventual defeat in August of 1945. The official surrender date was September 2nd, 1945.

In Japan this period is known as "The Fifteen Years War". From the Japanese point of view, the most tragic events of the war were the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Another event recognized by the Japanese as tragic occurred on the island of Okinawa. The phrase, "Himeyuri-no-tou" is a monument to the many young female students, who as nurses cared for Japanese soldiers trapped in caves without water, medicine or food. Eventually the remaining soldiers were killed or committed suicide.

I am interested in these events because my parents are both American and Japanese. My Japanese grandfather personally experienced the tragedy of this war. He lost four brothers during the war. His first-hand experiences of the war, which he has related to me, have also helped to awaken my interest in this period.