The Philippines and Japan in America’s Shadow

Japan and the Philippines both spent part of the twentieth century under American rule, and the experience left an indelible imprint on both societies. Conventional wisdom suggests that American rule in the Philippines, while clearly a form of colonialism, was mitigated by American reluctance to be a colonial power and by early steps to transfer government functions to Filipinos. Similarly, the American occupation of Japan is understood to represent a necessary transitional phase between autocracy and democracy. The authors in this volume examine the issue from a wide range of perspectives (political science, history, anthropology, sociology and literature), and they suggest a different interpretation. American colonialism shows distinct characteristics of latecomer-colonialism, starting with the strong role of the state and the primacy of geopolitics. In contrast with other imperial powers, such as Britain, France and Japan, the Americans relied more on informal empire than on direct control of territory, an approach that suited an era when colonialism as such was increasingly difficult to defend. America’s relations with the Philippines and with Japan after 1945, often seen as laying the foundations of a post-colonial system, were in fact the prototype of a world order based in part on latecomer-colonialism.

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Japan and the Philippines both spent part of the twentieth century under American rule, and the experience left an indelible imprint on both societies. Conventional wisdom suggests that American rule in the Philippines, while clearly a form of colonialism, was mitigated by American reluctance to be a colonial power and by early steps to transfer government functions to Filipinos. Similarly, the American occupation of Japan is understood to represent a necessary transitional phase between autocracy and democracy. The authors in this volume examine the issue from a wide range of perspectives (political science, history, anthropology, sociology and literature), and they suggest a different interpretation. American colonialism shows distinct characteristics of latecomer-colonialism, starting with the strong role of the state and the primacy of geopolitics. In contrast with other imperial powers, such as Britain, France and Japan, the Americans relied more on informal empire than on direct control of territory, an approach that suited an era when colonialism as such was increasingly difficult to defend. America’s relations with the Philippines and with Japan after 1945, often seen as laying the foundations of a post-colonial system, were in fact the prototype of a world order based in part on latecomer-colonialism.

 

Publisher: NUS Press

Paperback

2011

ISBN: 9789971694692