Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews during the Holocaust Era

Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews during the Holocaust Era

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Meron Medzini

Series: Jewish Identities in Post-Modern Society
ISBN: 9781618115225 (hardcover), 9781644690314 (paperback)
Pages: 236 pp.
Publication Date: October 2016

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Even before Japan joined Nazi Germany in the Axis Alliance, its leaders clarified to the Nazi regime that the attitude of the Japanese government and people to the Jews was totally different than that of the official German position and that it had no intention of taking measures against the Jews that could be seen as racially motivated. During World War II some 40,000 Jews found themselves under Japanese occupation in Manchuria, China and countries of South East Asia. Virtually all of them survived the war, unlike their brethren in Europe. This book traces the evolution of Japan's policy towards the Jews from the beginning of the 20th century, the existence of anti-Semitism in Japan, and why Japan ignored repeated Nazi demands to become involved in the "final solution."

Meron Medzini was born in Jerusalem and received his Ph.D in East Asia Studies from Harvard University. He began teaching modern Japanese history at the Hebrew University in 1964. Since 1973 he has been an Adjunct Associate Professor of modern Japanese history and Israeli foreign policy at the Hebrew University. Medzini is the author of six books and scores of articles.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Early Jewish Settlers in Japan
Chapter 2: Jewish Settlers in Japan at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Chapter 3: Japanese Images of the Jews: Myths, Canards and Fears
Chapter 4: Nazi Antisemitism and its Influence on Japan in the 1920's and 1930's
Chapter 5: Japanese Experts on Jews, Judaism, and Zionism
Chapter 6: Japan and the Jews of Manchuria Beginning in 1931
Chapter 7: Passports, Entry Visas, and Transit Visas: Japan's policy toward Jewish Refugees (1935-1941)
Chapter 8: The Jews of Shanghai under Japanese Rule
Chapter 9: Jews in the Japanese-Occupied Territories during the War Years
Chapter 10: A Japanese Righteous Gentile: The Sugihara Case
Chapter 11: The Japanese Policy toward the Jews in Japan’s Home Islands
Chapter 12: "The Jewish Question" in Japanese-German relations, 1936-1945
Chapter 13: The Japanese, the Holocaust of European Jewry, and Israel

Selected Bibliography


Indeed, the strength of Medzini’s book lies in the fact that he sees this key issue, namely the survival of Jews on Japanese-controlled territory during the war, not only in the context of Jewish-Japanese relations, but also as an Asian story more broadly. … Meron Medzini’s book must be regarded as a commendable contribution to understanding the complex nature of this important chapter of Jewish-Japanese relations.
— Thomas Pekar, Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
The great value of this book is that it brings together Medzini’s own and numerous studies by others in assessing how we might ultimately evaluate the Jewish experience under Japan. The lengthy bibliography in various languages and far-flung presses will give the reader an idea of what the range of diverse work on this topic has been. It would be no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best surveys of the topic that we now have in English—perhaps the best.
— Joshua A. Fogel, York University, Journal of Japanese Studies Vol. 44:2
[Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun] is a very good addition to Japanese-Jewish historical literature. ... While there are other general books about Jews in Japan, this book’s focus on the WWII years makes it somewhat unique. The book contains an excellent selected bibliography as well as endnotes which will aid students and scholars for further research. Recommended for all academic libraries and libraries that collect in Diaspora or WWII history.
— Suzanne Smailes, Wittenberg University, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, Vol. VIII No. 1 (2018)
Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun is a timely book that presents both experts and laymen with an excellent overview of up-to-date research on this topic in a readable and engaging form.
— Rotem Kowner, Professor of Japanese History and Culture, University of Haifa, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
In this fascinating and highly readable book, Meron Medzini offers a sweeping overview of Japan’s ambivalent attitude towards the Jews living in its empire before and during World War II and the controversial treatment meted out to them.
— Rotem Kowner, Professor of Asian Studies, University of Haifa
Japan has been neglected in most literature on the modern history of the Jews. However, Japan was involved in the fate of the Jews at their critical moments. Although Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany during the War, the Japanese gave a refuge for the Jews fleeing from Nazism. This stood in sharp contrast to the case of the “enemy nationals” who were rather inhumanly treated under Japanese occupation. Meron Medzini’s book provides a fascinating scholarly insight into the history of Jewish-Japanese relations, adding a new chapter to the works of Ben-Ami Shillony and Rotem Kowner.
— Naoki Maruyama, Professor Emeritus of Law, Meiji Gakuin University
Anyone wishing to learn about the fate of the Jews in Japan during the years of the Holocaust will gain immensely from reading this eye-opening book. Few people know this generally overlooked history as well as Meron Medzini and can tell its story in as authoritative and engaging a way as he.
— Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Professor of English and Jewish Studies, Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies, Indiana University
Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun is a masterpiece that goes beyond its title. It analyses the attitude of the government and people of Japan towards persecuted Jews in various historical contexts, including: Japan in modern world history; Japan in Asia; the history of Jewish communities in Asia as well as their relations with Jewish communities elsewhere and the Zionist Movement; and Japan’s attitudes toward Zionism and the State of Israel. The book covers a variety of related themes and is rich in details, analyses, insights, and reasonable inferences and hypotheses based on a multiplicity of sources. Most notable is Medzini’s conclusion that the attitude of the Japanese government and people toward the Jews was ‘by and large fair and even humane.’
— Ehud Harari, Emeritus Professor of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem