The havoc that Godzilla wreaks upon the people of Japan is certainly a symbolic representation of the devastation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. Yet Godzilla also works a symbol for the future of Japan as a reborn world power that focuses not only military might, but on mastering science and technology itself.
Almost immediately, Godzilla launches into specific commentaries on Japanese culture, especially its history of vulnerability to attacks from the Other, whether natural disaster or the threat of annihilation by a superior power. Nuclear testing in the Pacific proved to be causing significant health dangers to Japanese fishermen and the early images of an unknown lethal force destroying fishing boats on an island directly connects with those real life concerns. The concept of radiation creating problems for the people of Japan long after the actual atomic bombs goes to the core of Japanese life following those detonations. It is not just the man-made threat engendered by scientific progress that the film speaks to, however. It also is concerned with the historical concerns of the Japanese regarding the precarious position as a small island subject to the might of nature. Godzilla represents the obvious fears of helplessness that stem from being a small, isolated island nation suddenly stripped of its military might. In essence, the post-war treaty stripped Japan of its very right to defend itself while also providing precautions against its entertaining imperialist ambitions in the future. The vulnerability that the Japanese have always naturally felt was doubtlessly a contributing factor to their imperialist confrontations with Korea, China and Russia. Rather than waiting to be attacked and putting their ability to defend themselves to the test, their vulnerability could be counteracted by becoming the aggressors themselves. Faced with the unquestioned inability to defend themselves against an enormous opponent who could destroy lives and buildings on a massive scale, there can be little argument that at heart Godzilla was a concrete symbol of the fear of American might. But within that specific fear lies a much larger element.
America and its technological superiority did not just mean an end to Japan's imperialist ambitions in World War; those massive explosions signaled a host of other changes as well. America was barely a baby in comparison to the millennia-long history of Japan. The Japanese tradition of ancient warriors and rituals were epitomized by the existence of its emperor. One important element of the particular vulnerability that Japan faced following World War II was the death of their historical identity. The powerful nation that had beaten back far more imposing military powers and had conquered foreign lands was no more. A modern nation still ruled by ancient tradition saw, with the atomic bombings, their empire reduced to rubble and forcibly democratized. One pointed episode that takes place in the film may address this confusion of identity. The Diet Building had over the years come to symbolize the Japanese movement from its imperial tradition to its status among the democracies