Japan at War

An Encyclopedia

by Louis G. Perez, Editor


Japan is one of the only countries to officially denounce the right to declare war—a fact which belies this nation's violent past. The dichotomy of Japanese military history—institutionalized violence amidst the enduring image of samurai honor and nobility—reveals a society conflicted by the mores of warfare.

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Cover image for Japan at War

January 2013


Pages 615
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Military History/Conflict and Wars

This compelling reference focuses on the events, individuals, organizations, and ideas that shaped Japanese warfare from early times to the present day.

Japan's military prowess is legendary. From the early samurai code of morals to the 20th-century battles in the Pacific theater, this island nation has a long history of duty, honor, and valor in warfare. This fascinating reference explores the relationship between military values and Japanese society, and traces the evolution of war in this country from 700 CE to modern times.

In Japan at War: An Encyclopedia, author Louis G. Perez examines the people and ideas that led Japan into or out of war, analyzes the outcomes of battles, and presents theoretical alternatives to the strategic choices made during the conflicts. The book contains contributions from scholars in a wide range of disciplines, including history, political science, anthropology, sociology, language, literature, poetry, and psychology; and the content features internal rebellions and revolutions as well as wars with other countries and kingdoms. Entries are listed alphabetically and extensively cross-referenced to help readers quickly locate topics of interest.


  • Topic finder lists
  • A comprehensive timeline
  • 10 maps of key military theaters
  • Essential primary source documents related to the military history of Japan


  • Features evocative summaries about people, battles, ideas, and politics regarding war in Japan
  • Provides the reader with interpretive essays about trends in institutionalized violence in Japan
  • Reveals misconceptions about samurai culture
  • Analyzes Japan's World War II atrocities, including the Bataan Death March, Comfort Women, the Rape of Nanjing, and Unit 731
Author Info

Louis G. Perez, PhD, is professor of Japanese history at Illinois State University, Normal, IL. His published works include Greenwood's The History of Japan, Revised Edition; Greenwood's Daily Life in Early Modern Japan; and Modern Japan: A Historical Survey, Revised Fifth Edition with Mikiso Hane.



"This volume is a valuable addition to the study of Japanese history, especially as it relates to armed conflict. Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

"It is an excellent starting point for those interested in the mutual influences that society and institutionalized violence have on each other, especially in the context of Japanese culture and history. Recommended for academic collections."Booklist

"The writing here is clear and free of jargon: the extensive information and resources will be accessible and useful to neophytes and beyond, from serious secondary students to collegiate and postgraduate specialists, as well as amateur historians."Library Journal

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