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A Tale of Two Occupations

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Hunting Wildlife in Occupied Japan, 1945–1952

image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

This article explores divisions over hunting game in postwar Japan, illuminating a neglected aspect of the u.s. Occupation—namely the interrelationship between General Headquarters, Armed Forces Pacific (ghq, afpac), its military organization, and the more familiar General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (ghq, scap), with the primary mission of democratic reform. It also examines the previously overlooked work of scap’s Natural Resources Section, particularly its wildlife branch under its leader Oliver Austin, who clashed with members of the u.s. military over the need to restrict their hunting activities. A keen ornithologist, Austin worked hard to uphold a conservation program based on sound economic and ecological principles, viewing the mist netting of small insectivorous birds for food as counter-productive in agricultural terms. In contrast, he regarded the netting of waterfowl on special preserves where shooting was illegal as an efficient and sustainable means of harvesting game for domestic consumption. Members of the u.s. military objected to such limits, choosing to shoot in protected areas despite the damage done to the livelihoods of Japanese netting communities. The behavior of these Americans, who resented any restrictions on their leisure activities, reveals a colonial mindset that supported the belief that u.s. military control over Japan excused them from complying with Japanese laws.

Affiliations: 1: University of Winchester,


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