chapter  16
Taira: A Provincial City in the Pacific War
Pages 12

DURING the reflective, reformist years of the 1970s the historiography of Japan’s localities has undergone a vivid and expressive transformation. In megacities, Okinawa and substantial urban communities radical governors and populist academics have impelled a wave of local research and publication which has abandoned the mannered antiquarianism of earlier years. As in politics this campaign has combined the vigour of citizen activists with the intellectual approaches of scholars, and has swung attention from safe historical distances to the uncomfortable proximities of the Pacific War.1 It has combined foreign and domestic documentation with the evidence of oral history, and has pioneered important fields of enquiry which have been largely untracked by academic historians. The impact of this historiographical version of municipal socialism has been surprisingly far reaching, and has done much to reshape survey histories and the interpretation of the wartime years.2 No longer is the recent history of the Japanese people seen as a simple story of elites, cliques or abstract masses, but has come to embrace millions of individual men, women and children whose names, vitality and suffering would otherwise have been lost to emerging generations of scholars and citizens.