During World War II, major powers across the globe utilized propaganda posters as a means of communication and persuasion.
In the context of this conflict, Japanese propaganda posters stand out for their remarkable artistic quality and distinctive messaging approach.
Unlike many of their counterparts, Japanese propaganda posters did not seek to prescribe specific behaviors or emotions.
They refrained from urging men to enlist or imploring people to “Keep Calm” and “Carry On.” Instead, these posters primarily conveyed symbols of national pride and unwavering commitment.
This unique approach can be attributed to the prevailing belief among Japanese authorities that their populace was already deeply dedicated to the nation’s cause.
This assumption was not unfounded, considering Japan’s exceptional homogeneity among the major powers of the time. The unwavering loyalty of its citizens was essentially a given.
However, Japan faced a particular challenge when crafting its propaganda posters. Emperor Hirohito, regarded as a deity, was conspicuously absent from these visual narratives.
The revered Emperor’s divine presence was deemed unsuitable for representation through crude caricatures.
In contrast to the Soviet Union’s veneration of Stalin or Germany’s adoration of Hitler, Japan celebrated a secondary leader, General Tojo. This departure from the norm underscored the unique character of Japanese wartime propaganda.
The most that Japanese posters could do with regard to Emperor Hirohito was to include his photograph alongside those of Japan’s allies.
This gesture adhered to a prevailing theme in wartime posters, emphasizing unity with the nation’s allies as a symbol of strength and solidarity.
Another prominent theme within Japanese propaganda posters centered on fostering a sense of national pride.
These posters skillfully depicted the Japanese populace as heroic warriors, often drawing upon the iconic imagery of Samurai.
This celebration of martial prowess also extended to Japan’s achievements in modern technology. The Imperial Air Force and Navy, in particular, were showcased as sources of immense pride and admiration.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / James Bjorkman via WW2 FilmInspector).