Life Magazine’s 1941 article “How To Tell Japs From The Chinese”

I’ve got sort of a time machine of an article that will get you to ask yourself, “Boy, how times have changed anthropology… or have they?” I read the transcribed 1941 article, and wonder how we view Asian ‘races’ any different now in 2007? Be sure to digg this too.

This is basically the whole article, but it is my favorite excerpt,

“U.S. citizens have been demonstrating a distressing ignorance on the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a Jap. Innocent victims in cities all over the country are many of the 75,000 U.S. Chinese, whose homeland is our stanch ally. So serious were the consequences threatened, that the How To Tell Japs From The ChineseChinese consulates last week prepared to tag their nationals with identification buttons. To dispel some of this confusion, LIFE here adduces a rule-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japs.

To physical anthropologists, devoted debunkers of race myths, the difference between Chinese and Japs is measurable in millimeters. Both are related to the Eskimo and North American Indian. The modern Jap is the descendant of Mongoloids who invaded the Japanese archipelago back in the mists of prehistory, and of the native aborigines who possessed the islands before them. Physical anthropology, in consequence, finds Japs and Chinese as closely related as Germans and English. It can, however, set apart the special types of each national group.

The typical Northern Chinese, represented by Ong Wen-hao, Chungking’s Minister of Economic Affairs (left, above), is relatively tall and slenderly built. His complexion is parchment yellow, his face long and delicately boned, his nose more finely bridged. Representative of the Japanese people as a whole is Premier and General Hideki Tojo (left, below), who betrays aboriginal antecedents in a squat, long-torsoed build, a broader, more massively boned head and face, flat, often pug, nose, yellow-ocher skin and heavier beard. From this average type, aristocratic Japs, who claim kinship to the Imperial Household, diverge sharply. They are proud to approximate the patrician lines of the Northern Chinese.”

6 thoughts on “Life Magazine’s 1941 article “How To Tell Japs From The Chinese”

  1. How can we think that man has evolved from one form in the first place. If you think logically all forms of man have inbreed for millions of years and some have kept themselves apart from the rest, only to come up with the races that live on the planet today. Neanderthal’s live among us today in my opinion. Just look at the folks who resemble one today, who we associate with every day. How can we say they’ve died out, when actually they have been absorbed into the modern population of europeans? The theory of the super continent splitting up explains a lot about how the races living today have come about. Each area of the world has evolved into what they are, due to being split apart for millions of years. Before that there could still have been many varieties of humans, just like the variety of like animal species today. The only difference of us and other animal species is that we can interbreed without as much the possibility of genetic deformaties as them. The more the mix, the better. I know that closely related people can have genetic problems when reproducing, therefore there is not anyway that we came from one source, unless that source was somehow genetically altered to begin with. That would be like having more than one set of genes to pass on, and not passing on the same each time. There are people with that condition walking with us today. That to me is some proof that we have a lot more geneological diversity than what most people think. Chad Cosens

  2. Chad,

    Thanks for your comment. I have to say I’ve read it and I’m shocked at how much of a massive idiot you are.

    Neandertals live amongst us? The theory of the super continent split making races?

    I don’t even know what to think about this line of yours,

    “The only difference of us and other animal species is that we can interbreed without as much the possibility of genetic deformities as them.”

    Do you have any clue what you are talking about? And this how does this all relate to the above blog post?

  3. Chad,

    I appreciate your comment, but there are some definite holes. First– the fact that closely related people are more likely to have genetic deformities is not evidence that we came from a different source. The reason for the likelihood of deformities is that closely related people are succeptable to the same defects in their DNA, when you mix people who are succeptible to different defects, but have overlap (i.e. the father is at risk for a genetic disorder, but the mother is not— the mother’s genes are half the baby’s line of DNA, so he is not succeptible to the father’s disorder). So THAT is a matter of genetic ‘toughness’ or adaptability. Second— the reason that Neanderthals could never live among us is because they are, literally, a different species. Just like you can’t fuck an orangeatange to make a baby– you couldn’t fuck a neanderthal. We are cro-magnons, and even they are too genetically distant for that to work. There are definitely genetic differences between Japanese and Chinese people, if you spend enough time with them you will begin to be able to tell them apart, the problem with this article is that it is impossible to teach those genetic differences with two photos, and it is wrong to label individuals with the identity of their race when their individual actions define an identity entirely different (i.e. All Japanese people are hostile, even ones living in the United States, therefore anyone who looks Japanese in the United States is hostile.)

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