“My Japan”

A conversation with a friend last night reminded me of this incredible WWII propaganda film. It was made to sell U.S. war bonds in the final months of the war, and it features an American actor playing a Japanese narrator, explaining why the Americans will never win the war.

During the first couple of minutes, it’s abysmally stupid, as the narrator talks about flowers and bunnies and “Mount Fujama” (a mispronunciation of “Fujiyama,” itself a mistransliteration of “Mount Fuji”). By the middle, though, the film is brutally effective at its aim: terrifying the average American, who was almost sure that Japan had no chance of surviving, into thinking that Japan might pull through and deal incredible damage to America in the process. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the war era.

(There are a few nauseating racial stereotypes in the film, but not the kind you’re probably used to seeing in WWII propaganda. In fact, the film goes out of its way to debunk some of the classic images of short, bespectacled “Jap” soldiers, and that adds to its effectiveness.)