To the Discussion Leader
Forum. If a good speaker with firsthand knowledge of Japanese problems can be obtained, a forum may be your best type of discussion. If your group is fairly large—forty or more—you may find the forum method the best way to present basic information and major phases of the subject yourself. In either case, the informative talk will be followed by discussion based on questions asked by members of your group.
Symposium. You may be able to obtain two or more persons familiar with the problems of Japan’s future. Or you can select from two to four members of your group, assign each a portion of the subject far enough ahead of the discussion date for them to prepare adequately, and give them an opportunity to study this pamphlet and any available supplementary material. General discussion can follow the symposium talks.
Panel. This is an appropriate subject for panel discussion. Persons participating in the panel should either be familiar with problems of Japan’s future from firsthand experience or should study this pamphlet and other available material on the subject. By discussing the major issues and asking each other questions, they can present the problems to the group in an interesting and effective manner. Following the panel discussion, those present can direct questions at panel members. This general discussion would conclude your meeting.
Informal discussion. If members of your group have an opportunity to read this pamphlet or other pertinent material before the meeting, or if they are already fairly familiar with Japanese problems, you can throw your meeting into a general discussion with only enough preliminary remarks to define the main question for discussion.
What are the major issues?
Principal questions on what to do about Japan are arranged for you in the contents of this pamphlet. You can develop any type of discussion around them.
On page 19 five major goals for postwar relations with Japan are suggested. For your guidance, these are restated here:
- The Japanese must be prevented from starting another war.
- Japan must be stripped of the territories it has seized.
- Japanese war criminals responsible for lawless and inhuman acts against civilians and members of the armed forces of the United Nations must be punished.
- Japan’s economic fate must be such as to benefit rather than harm the world and particularly the peoples of East Asia.
- The Japanese people must learn to govern themselves in such a way as not to endanger their neighbors, with a view to Japan’s ultimate acceptance as a member of the family of nations.
Differences of opinion among members of your group will probably not lie so much in what the postwar goals are as in how these goals can be achieved after victory to assure a prolonged peace in the Far East. These methods of attaining the desired goals are the thorniest problems facing the men who will make the peace. They will probably be the points of greatest interest to your discussion group.
Further questions for discussion.
Although key questions are raised in the section headings of this pamphlet and other discussable questions appear in various parts of the text, here are some additional questions, which may be helpful in organizing your discussion:
- Where do you think the chief source of Japan’s troublemaking lies? In its peculiar patriotism and religious beliefs? In the rapid growth of its population? In the desire of its people for wealth and high living standards through foreign trade? In the Japanese love of fighting and military glory?
- Do you think that warmongers in the Japanese army represented the feelings of the Japanese people as a whole? Or did the warmongers use strong-arm methods to bring a reluctant public into line for their program of aggressive war?
- Will the defeat of Japan solve the conflict between the various great powers for commercial interests in China? What would be the stand of the United States if another nation tried to invade China or monopolize Chinese trade? Why?
- Do our chief war aims, summarized on page 19 and restated above, conflict with one another? Which are the most important? Can you suggest other major war aims?
- What do you think of the proposal made by some prominent Americans that we should “exterminate the Japanese”?
- Should America continue an active part in Far Eastern affairs, or should we withdraw after the war, giving up our bases there, and trust to the international security organization to keep the peace?
- Should the Japanese be permitted to rebuild (a) all their prewar industries? (b) only their small industries making harmless consumers’ goods? (c) none of their industries? If you are convinced that Japan should be deprived of its industries and trade, do you feel this should be done as a punishment for war guilt or to keep Japan too weak to start another war?
- What methods would you suggest for attempting to cure the Japanese of their one-sided nationalistic view of the world’s problems?
Aids for organizing discussion
War Department Education Manual, EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders, is a pamphlet that gives numerous valuable suggestions for organizing and conducting group discussions. This Guide will be helpful in planning discussions on any of the other GI Roundtable subjects listed in the back of this pamphlet.
Leaders who desire to broadcast roundtable discussions on stations or sound systems of the Armed Forces Radio Service will find many practical suggestions on radio discussion techniques in War Department Education Manual, EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable.