With Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War, people spoke of the need to build a New Japan. While there was widespread horror at the devastation caused by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was also awe at the harnessing of science to cause such destruction. Whereas conservative politicians such as Yasuhiro Nakasone yearned for the past and continued to embrace the idea of samurai spirit, the physicists (some of whom were of samurai background) chose the imported discourses of science, Marxism, democracy, and freedom to frame themselves in a new light. There was championing of the need to think like a scientist, to value freedom of inquiry and expression, and to be skeptical and critical of authority.1 Instead of portraying knowledge as the domain of a select elite, scientists sought to work toward the democratization of knowledge.2


Nuclear Weapon Atomic Bomb Conservative Politician International Scientific Community Defense Agency 
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  1. 1.
    Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, “Introduction,” in Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (ed.), Modern Japanese Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 1–29, esp. p. 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andrew E. Barshay, “Postwar Social and Political Thought, 1945–90,” in Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (ed.), Modern Japanese Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 273–355, esp. p. 304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 5.
    See the essays contained in Hideki Yukawa, trans. John Bester, Creativity and Intuition: A Physicist Looks at East and West (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1973). Many of the essays were originally written in the 1960s.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    S.S. Schweber, In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Yoshida; The Associated Press, “Japan Considered Nuke Arsenal,”, June 18, 2004; Yasuhiro Nakasone, Jiseiroku: Rekishi hōtei no hikoku toshite (The Meditations: A Defendant in a Court of History) (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 2004).Google Scholar

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© Morris Low 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morris Low
    • 1
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA

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