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Sunday, November 15, 2015, 3:00 pm

Japanese Occupation and the U.S. Media

Location: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church,
717 Rugby Rd., Charlottesville


The Japanese occupation of Korea which started in 1904 and only ended in 1945 was known for its brutality. Japan did its best to assimilate Korean culture into their own and to enslave its population forcing hundreds of thousands of young women to become sex slaves and obliging young Korean men to work in Japanese factories or to serve in its army. Japan felt it could take Korea because it had the strong support of both the United States and Britain at the start of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Japan's tactic was to convince the West that Korea was a "degenerate" and corrupt state badly in need of a helping hand and that Japan was just the country to save Korea.

Japan cultivated several then famous American war correspondents like George Kennan and Frederick Palmer who wrote highly complimentary articles in major American publications about Japan's advance as a thoroughly modern nation and how corrupt and decayed they found Korea. Both writers also served as unofficial advisors to President Theodore Roosevelt whose increasingly pro-Japanese stance emboldened Tokyo to seize Korea. The focus of this talk is on how the Japanese press used American journalists to sway American opinion in favor of Japan's seizure of Korea and how these journalists acted as a perfect propaganda tool for the Japanese.

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