Patriots and Traitors
A Japanese Cultural Casebook
Sorge and Ozaki
2009, 208 pages • illustrated
ISBN 978-1-878282-90-3 Paper $35.00
Patriots and Traitors helps define the nature of important intersections between culture and politics in postwar Japan. A new shift in consciousness during the 1950s and after can be observed in the sustained public response to various events surrounding the Sorge/Ozaki affair, one of the most celebrated spy cases of the period. Ozaki Hotsumi, a prominent Japanese intellectual during the 1930s, was an astute writer on China, a reporter for the Asahi newspapers, and, eventually, a highly placed government adviser. In his attempt to fight fascism in prewar Japan, he began to collaborate with the Soviet Union through his associations with the Soviet spy Richard Sorge, justifying this clandestine activity as the only means he could find to combat those forces of domestic repression he felt were ultimately to destroy his own country.
Ozaki and Sorge were executed before the end of the war, but the reverberations of Ozaki's actions, and of his execution, left significant traces in the minds of many Japanese as they attempted to come to terms with the ultimate meaning of their involvement in the Pacific War. The Sorge case remains a cultural phenomenon and reveals some of the strategies undertaken by the educated public to discover ways in which to deal with important and disturbing issues in their collective past.
J. Thomas Rimer discusses the reception of the Sorge affair in the postwar period; Chalmers Johnson addresses the historical facts of the case; Hiroshi Nara translates letters written by Ozaki from prison; Keiko McDonald examines several filmed versions of the incident; and Lawrence Rogers translates in full the famous Kinoshita Junji play A Japanese Named Otto.
J. Thomas Rimer is Professor of Japanese Literature and Theatre, University of Pittsburgh (emeritus) and was Paul I. Terasaki Chair in U.S-Japan Relations, UCLA (2006-2008). He has written and translated dozens of books on Japanese literature and culture.
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