Memory Politics and Memory Drama

Jordan Sand’s A Year of Memory Politics in East Asia: Looking Back on the “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan” is immensely timely: I spent a few hours just yesterday arguing with people on twitter about the Comfort Women issue. I had tweeted about a new documentary, testimony from some surviving women, and […]

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Immigrant Panics, then and now.

There’s not all that much to add to George Takei’s devastating response to Roanoke Mayor David Bowen’s attempt to rationalize refusing Syrian refugees by citing the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. I’ve written about the internment before, and my conclusion thirteen years ago stands up reasonably well: What is the […]

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Reading Note: Oleg Benesch, “Inventing the way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushido in Modern Japan”

Before I praise Benesch’s book, a complaint: Oxford UP pricing is absurd. Now that’s not unusual for academic hardbacks, monographs that go to libraries and specialists. But 1) Benesch’s book should be a standard teaching text in modern Japanese history and culture, 2) there’s no reason for the ebook version to cost US$78. There are […]

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Modern Japan in Anglophone Historical Fiction

ASPAC 2013 Jonathan Dresner Pittsburg State University “But writers of fiction do not stumble onto locales or times: they choose them and they use them to serve their narrative and aesthetic ends.” — Jonathan Dresner “…flaws typical of the genre: a carefully set but very selective milieu; characters cobbled together from cultural and psychosocial fragments; […]

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Senkaku Islands: New Sources, New Clarity?

NYT reporter Nick Kristof brought in a guest blogger, Han-Yi Shaw of Taiwan, to examine some new mid-Meiji documentation about Japan’s relationship with the contested Senkaku/Daiyou islands. The core of Shaw’s findings is the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885. After several abortive attempts to survey the islands, the Japanese […]

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Atomic Bomb Symposium at Federation of American Scientists

There’s almost no new historical content here, aside from some biographical ruminations. Stanley Kutler’s, reprinted at HNN, is the most historically interesting, highlighting the “all or nothing” fallacy in many debates about the use of the bombs versus other tactical options. Milton Leitenberg’s rejoinder (right after Kutler in the alphabet, by chance) recaps the “saved […]

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Feeling Like an Empire: Colonial Radicalization

What makes Louise Young’s Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism such a fascinating, troubling work is that she details the way in which the Manchurian experience, and the strategic vulnerability of the Manchurian adventure, rebound into the politics and culture of Japan itself. It reverses, in a way, the traditional narratives […]

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When desperate to stabilize the currency

I encountered these pages when I was flipping through a thick, unsorted bunch of materials regarding the industrial campaigns that the youth associations conducted in the immediate postwar period. Apparently this is a song promoted by the headquarters for the currency stabilization (通貨安定対策本部).  You can tell how desperate they were to persuade people to make […]

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