The Map: From the East, From the West, 1942

A Japanese map produced during the Second World War encouraged children to follow the Empire's military effort, explains Kate Wiles.

This Japanese map of Europe, Asia and northern Africa was published in 1942 as part of a children’s annual, Daitoua Nenkan (Annual of the Great East Asia War). Throughout the 20th century, Japanese children were expected to follow the progress of the imperial forces; by mid 1945, the annual’s young readers were encouraged to train to fight with bamboo spears in case of an invasion by the United States. The theatres of war are clearly labelled for young readers.

The map, titled ‘From the East, from the West’, was produced at a highpoint in Japan’s war, before the Empire’s deteriorating military situation had to be hidden from its people. Japan is, unusually, not central on this map, which instead focuses on the movements into Europe and Asia of the Axis powers, marked by arrows. Each country is illustrated with its natural resources: flora, fauna, architectural sites and foodstuffs. 

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