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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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There’s almost no new historical content here, aside from some biographical ruminations.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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Turnbull Book on Ako

Stephen Turnbull, one of the most prolific and controversial writers on Japanese military history, has written a book on the 47 Samurai incident. The Samurai Archives review is quite positive, though Turnbull’s involvement as historical consultant on the upcoming Keanu Reeves version does raise concerns. It’s nice to see Turnbull stepping up his game a […]

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Old Myths, New Myths: Problems of Informed Punditry

The Asia/Pacific Journal, aka Japan Focus, has a fascinating interview with Heinrich Reinfried, Senior Lecturer in East Asian Studies at the University St. Gallen, Switzerland, conducted by a Swiss weekly. “Sushi and Samurai: Western Stereotypes and the (Mis)Understanding of Post-Tsunami Japan” begins and ends with a credible historical and thematic deconstruction of some of the […]

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