Returning to the International Community: UNESCO and Post-war Japan, 1945–1951

  • Takashi Saikawa


Since its formal entry in 1951, Japan has consistently been one of the most ardent advocates among the member states for the fundamental principles of UNESCO and its programs, and the country is today one of the organization’s biggest financial contributors. The Japanese diplomat Matsuura Koichiro1 served as the director-general of UNESCO from 1999 to 2009, and there are at present 270 UNESCO associations throughout the country with a view to advancing private cooperation activities in conformity to the constitution of the organization. Altogether, it is evident that UNESCO has in general been widely and positively recognized in Japan for decades.


Japanese People Executive Board United Nations Educational National Federation Social Council 
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  1. 2.
    Little historical research in the Japanese language has been conducted on the relationship between UNESCO and Japan. In fact, there are only brief descriptions or personal stories about UNESCO written by its former officials. See Noguchi Noboru, Yunesuko: Gojunen no Ayumi to Tenbo [UNESCO: Its 50-year History and Prospect] (Tokyo: Shingurukatto Sha, 1996); Matsuura Koichiro, Yunesuko Jimukyokucho Funtoki [Laborious Days of the Director-General] (Tokyo: Kodan Sha, 2004); Matsuura Koichiro, Sekai Isan: Yunesuko Jimukyokucho wa Uttaeru [World Heritage: An Appeal from the Director-General] (Tokyo: Kodan Sha, 2008). On the other hand, it is also arguable that very little attention has been paid to Japan in the historiography of UNESCO. For example, see Chloé Maurel, Histoire de l’UNESCO: Les trente premières années. 1945–1974 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010); Fernando Valderrama, A History of UNESCO (Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1995); James P. Sewell, UNESCO and World Politics: Engaging in International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    For details about the social circumstances of Japan in the aftermath of World War II, see John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ibid., 63. See also Nihon Yunesuko Kokunai Iinkai ed., Nihon Yunesuko Katsudo Junenshi [Ten Years’ History of UNESCO Activities in Japan] (Tokyo: Nihon Yunesuko Kokunai Iinkai, 1962), 3; Peter J. Katzenstein, Cultural Norms and National Security: Police and Military in Postwar Japan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996); Thomas U. Berger, Cultures of Antimilitarism: National Security in Japan and Germany (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    In concert with “A Statement by eight distinguished social scientists on the cause of tensions which make for war” issued by UNESCO in July 1948, leading Japanese intellectuals formed Heiwa Mondai Danwakai (Peace Problems Discussion Group) and expressed principles for the problem of world peace, as well as the problem of the peace settlement for Japan. Advocating the overall peace, the maintenance of neutrality, the opposition to giving military bases and the objection to rearmament, this group played the central role in the debate over peace in post-war Japan. For Japan’s pacifism, including this group in this period, see Rikki Kersten, Democracy in Postwar Japan: Maruyama Masao and the Search for Autonomy (London: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Nihon Yunesuko Kyokai Renmei, Yunesuko Minkan Katsudo 20 Nenshi [Twenty Years’ History of Private Activities for UNESCO] (Tokyo: Nihon Yunesuko Kyokai Renmei, 1966) and Liang Pan, “Senryoka no Nihon no Taigai Bunka Seisaku to Kokusai Bunka Soshiki” [Japanese International Cultural Policy under the US Occupation and International Organizations: The Case of UNESCO Cooperation Movement], Kokusai Seiji 127 (2001): 185–205.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Religions and Cultural Resources Division, “Press Translation and Summaries”, 7 November 1948, CIE (B) 8000, Kensei Shiryoshitsu. The suggestion of a Japanese membership of UNESCO was made by the US educational mission to Japan, which was requested by SCAP and dispatched in March 1946. The head of the mission was George D. Stoddard, who later became a US representative to UNESCO and a strong supporter of UNESCO activities in Japan. For the Stoddard Mission, see Takemae Eiji, Robert Ricketts and Sebastian Swann transl., Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002), 352–359.Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    Beikoku Yunesuko Kokunai Iinkai ed., Nanba Monkichi transl., Yunesuko to Shokun [UNESCO and You] (Tokyo: Nihon Kyobun Sha, 1950); Gaimusho Bunkaka transl., Gunpuku wo tsukenu Hitobito no Yosai [12 Speeches Delivered by Dr Jaime Torres Bodet] (Tokyo: Nihon Kyobun Sha, 1950); Julian Huxley, Ueda Koichi transl., Yunesuko no Mokuteki to Tetsugaku [UNESCO: Its Purpose and Philosophy] (Tokyo: Nihon Kyobun Sha, 1950).Google Scholar
  8. 26.
    Lee Shi-mou, “Heiwa Undo to Yunesuko” [Peace Movement and UNESCO], Kaizo 30:8 (August 1949): 38–41.Google Scholar
  9. 33.
    “Report of SCAP Observer to Fifth Session, General Conference, UNESCO”, 13 July 1950, Civil Information Section, CIE(B)7841, Kensei Shiryoshitsu. See also Monbusho Kanbo Shogai Yunesuko ka ed., Yunesuko Dai Gokai Sokai ni Shusseki shite [Observations on the 5th General Conference of UNESCO in Florence in 1950] (Tokyo: Monbusho Daijin Kanbo Shogai Yunesuko ka, 1950), 6.Google Scholar

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© Takashi Saikawa 2016

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  • Takashi Saikawa

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