As devastatingly horrific as World War II was, quite a few handsome magazines were produced in warring nations. The Japanese, as it happens, were responsible for the most beautiful of all propaganda magazines during that period—and that is no exaggeration. If only it had served the cause of peace and not savagery.
FRONT was a large-format photo magazine, published in 1942 by the International Press Photography Association under the direction of the army General Staff. It was published in 15 languages, including English, for distribution by the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Like Russia’s famed USSR in Construction, FRONT was noteworthy for its grand photographic covers and photo-montage interior spreads. The photographers were leaders in Japan, including Ihei Kimura (who also served as editor) and Hiroshi Hamaya.
The focus was, of course, on military heroics against the enemy, but the pristine layout and tonal photography transcended the typical hardcore propaganda imagery so common during the war. FRONT lived up to its name; it was much more avant garde than rear garde. Here are three of its English-edition covers.