2018 Volume 127 Issue 6 Pages 835-860
The development of geomorphology, human geography, history and methodology of geography, regional geography, and geographic education in Japan from 1945 to 1965 are described. Research objectives and methodologies of geomorphology diversified during this period. A series of natural disasters triggered by earthquakes and typhoons raised social demands for disaster prevention and national land-use management. Full-scale geomorphic studies, fused with geology and engineering, started. Historical geomorphology of lowland plains and process geomorphology began to develop, adding to traditional descriptive geomorphology. The Research Institute for Natural Resources and the Geographical Survey Institute contributed to the postwar reconstruction of geomorphology. Aerial photo interpretation and quantitative land surface analyses developed. A hierarchical landform classification for lowland plains was established and applied to many plains in Japan and developing countries, in order to predict areas subject to flooding and land use planning. The postwar education system increased the number of physical geographers. They contributed to the land classification of Japan as a whole and increased interest in Quaternary environmental changes such as climate and sea level changes, as well as crustal movements, which have produced landform diversity. In 1956, they established the Japan Association for Quaternary Research in cooperation with geologists, anthropologists, and archaeologists. Human geographical research in postwar Japan was far more active and diverse than in the prewar years. This was partly the result of an increase in academic posts devoted to human geography in relation to curriculum reforms in secondary and higher education. Initially, settlement geography was a major field of study. Subsequently, historical geography and economic geography were gradually popularized with the establishment of specialized academic societies, which were dedicated to both fields of study. Among the newly emerging fields were urban, social, and cultural geography. The history and methodology of geography were viewed as overarching fields connected to both physical and human geography. Despite ongoing diversification within geographical research, various topics in these fields were addressed by Japanese geographers. This reflected long-lasting debates concerning the disciplinary identity of geography itself. Regional geography and geographic education concerned both physical and human geography. These research fields were invigorated because of the relative importance of geography in Japan's secondary and higher education systems up to the early 1960s.