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  #1  
Old 05 January 2007, 04:15 AM
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Glasses Images of Japanese soldiers

One of the stereotypical U.S. images of the Japanese during World War II portrayed their soldiers as squinty/slanty-eyed with round glasses, like so:



It occurred to me that I recall seeing a fair number of images (photographs and films) of Japanese soldiers from this era that *did* show some of them wearing round glasses, but I recall seeing few (if any) images of soldiers from the other major WWII participants (e.g., U.S., UK, Germany, USSR) wearing any sort of glasses at all. Am I just suffering from selective memory, or is there something to this? If the latter, what? (Did the other countries have stricter physical standards for their armed forces, or did they perhaps exert different controls over the wartime images they released?)

- snopes
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  #2  
Old 05 January 2007, 04:53 AM
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Perhaps the very high level of myopia among educated people (a level that increased in the years leading up to the war) made it much more difficult to make limits on eyesight for officers. (I have heard that the level is about 70% in college students now. I haven't confirmed that.)

Stereotypical German officers, of course, have monacles!
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  #3  
Old 05 January 2007, 05:07 AM
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This is a kind of long but interseting video interview on myopia in Japan. The Japanese ophthalmologist interviewed claims they had strict standards for soldier's eyesight, including myopia, in WWII. I'm wondering if that differed for officers. Anyway, interesting video:

http://www.digitalorient.org/mgt/tem....php?theme=14#

ETA
Unfortunately for those fighting them, the stereotype wasn't true for Japanese fighter pilots, as this Time article comments:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...3272-4,00.html

Last edited by ganzfeld; 05 January 2007 at 05:30 AM.
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  #4  
Old 05 January 2007, 08:40 PM
Meka Meka is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Perhaps the very high level of myopia among educated people (a level that increased in the years leading up to the war) made it much more difficult to make limits on eyesight for officers. (I have heard that the level is about 70% in college students now. I haven't confirmed that.)

Stereotypical German officers, of course, have monacles!
Aren't you forgetting the moustache?

Seriously as to the OP, while certain specialist fields (like aircraft pilots) required 20/20 vision, most service branches accepted corrected vision within certain broad limitations.
Additionally, I recall a scene in The Longest Day which depicted a soldier stopping to put his glasses on before taking a shot. Granted, it's a fictionalized account of the D-Day landings, but the fact that there's never been any public outcry about that "innaccuracy" (like there was with the depiction of the U.S. Rangers) suggests that the scene was plausible.
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  #5  
Old 08 January 2007, 08:57 PM
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Well, I would suggest that glasses tend to be fragile, even the big, clunky ones the U.S. Army uses (cf. Drew Carey for an example). I would expect them to be easily lost or damaged in combat. Ideally, you would remove someone from the combat theater if they couldn't see too well, but in practice I presume that might not happen for days, if at all.

Most of the photographs I have seen of period soldiers don't include glasses, even for Japanese and Chinese examples. I think perhaps the round glasses came from a caricature of Hirohito* or one of the top generals, and got into the public consciousness that way.

Gofer
*Here's a picture of Hirohito (known now in Japan as Emperor Showa) in 1928.
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  #6  
Old 08 January 2007, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gofer View Post
Well, I would suggest that glasses tend to be fragile, even the big, clunky ones the U.S. Army uses (cf. Drew Carey for an example). I would expect them to be easily lost or damaged in combat. Ideally, you would remove someone from the combat theater if they couldn't see too well, but in practice I presume that might not happen for days, if at all.
The army-issue BCG's are virtually indestructable. And there's no problem getting into the US military with bad eyesight. I've got about 20/400 vision, and it was never an issue.

"Read the lowest line you can see clearly"
"I think it's an 'E'..."
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  #7  
Old 09 January 2007, 08:02 PM
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Well, I bow to the superior knowledge of one who's actually been in the army.

Perhaps the little round glasses on the Japanese cartoon were to help define the eyes, or to help their image as pipsqueaks? The whole thrust was that we could beat 'em, hands down.

Gofer
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  #8  
Old 18 January 2007, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meka View Post
Aren't you forgetting the moustache?

Seriously as to the OP, while certain specialist fields (like aircraft pilots) required 20/20 vision, most service branches accepted corrected vision within certain broad limitations.
Additionally, I recall a scene in The Longest Day which depicted a soldier stopping to put his glasses on before taking a shot. Granted, it's a fictionalized account of the D-Day landings, but the fact that there's never been any public outcry about that "innaccuracy" (like there was with the depiction of the U.S. Rangers) suggests that the scene was plausible.
And the duelling scar.

The thought strikes (ouch!) that maybe German troops didn't wear glasses because they were expected to be perfect Ayrians with no physical defects?
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  #9  
Old 18 January 2007, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta-V View Post
The army-issue BCG's are virtually indestructable.
BC stands for Birth Control, right? (That's what an ex-military friend told me.)
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  #10  
Old 18 January 2007, 08:41 PM
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I've always been under the impression that the 'Japanese' caricature with the glasses and such, were based on General Hideki Tojo, PM of Japan when the US entered WWII.
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  #11  
Old 19 January 2007, 12:34 AM
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Glasses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wet Blanket View Post
BC stands for Birth Control, right? (That's what an ex-military friend told me.)
So called because you could never get a date while wearing them.
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  #12  
Old 19 January 2007, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrekkerScout View Post
So called because you could never get a date while wearing them.
A date? I was in the Air Force and even we got the more X-rated version of why they were called Birth Control glasses during basic training.
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  #13  
Old 19 January 2007, 02:08 AM
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Displaying a caricature of the enemy is a part of a propaganda campaign. Make the enemy look as silly as possible, then make them as hated as possible.
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  #14  
Old 20 January 2007, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrekkerScout View Post
So called because you could never get a date while wearing them.
Yep.

I remember that 'Pappy' Boyington's autobiography mentions they were told before shipping out to China that the Japanese pilots wore glasses and flew antiquated planes. This was supposedly based on analysis of the remains from crashed Japanese planes. Another pilot later commented that they simply wore glass goggles just like our pilots did.
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