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Filed under: — kosho @ 3:57 am Print
みなさん、こんにちは。 興正(Kosho)といいます。 これからよろしくお願いします。 東京都立大学で文化人類学(cultural anthropology)を勉強しています。 今は、ソウル大学のLanguage Instituteで韓国語を勉強しています。 関心は、韓国現代史(特に70年代のパクチョンヒ政権)と在日朝鮮人の関係です。 オーラルヒストリーをもとに、dissertationを書きたいと思っています。 同時に、日本のナショナリズムや植民地研究にも興味がありますので、ぜひ皆さんの鋭い意見を聞きたいと思っています。 英語を使うときは、僕はnative speakerではないので、すこしおかしな表現になることがあるかもしれませんが、お許しください。 一週間前に、済州島4.3事件を勉強するキャンプに行ってきました。主催者のなかには、パクチョンヒ政権のときに逮捕され、19年間獄中にいた徐勝先生もいました。韓国民主化闘争の英雄だけに、いろいろと話を聞かせてもらいたいといつも思っているのですが、マイペースな方なのでなかなか難しいです(笑)。 とにかく、このようなすばらしいコミュニティーに参加できて幸せです。よろしくおねがいします。


Yasukuni and Japanese Flags

Rod Wilson and I visited Yasukuni on August 15 to check out the right-wing festivities, which was a pretty...interesting...experience. It was everything you'd expect with the ridiculously nationalistic speeches all day, right-wingers wearing all manner of Japanese military uniforms, jack-booted young wannabe fascists with shaved heads, and the black noise vans everywhere. There was even a choir of elementary school children singing gunka. Rod in particular got some nice photographs because he also went in the morning when the crowds were the largest. Unfortunately we both missed the speech by Ishihara Shintaro, but we did see a speech by an old woman who kept talking about the need to remember the sacrifices of Japanese soldiers and the "onshirazu" of Japanese today. At the climax of the speech, she dramatically revealed that that she wasn't Japanese as we had thought all along but actually a native Taiwanese, and then wrapped up with an anecdote about how kind and gentlemanly the Japanese soldiers were to her as a young girl in wartime Taiwan, before concluding with a thundering declaration in English saying "Americans go home! Stay out of Japan! Not your Business!" to the roar of the enthralled crowd. Konrad would doubtlessly have enjoyed the chance to hear the speech - apparently some World War II collaborators are alive, well, and still collaborating. On a related note, Rod and I were pondering how to refer in Japanese to the flag with the radiating rays of sun used by the Japanese navy during the war. We'd heard it referred to in English variously as the "naval ensign" or the more evocative "sunburst flag", but we weren't sure about what it's called in Japanese. We both sort of half-remembered the term "Nisshouki" (日章旗), but it turns out that that is just the official name of the regular Japanese flag more commonly known as the "hinomaru" (日乃丸). Well, we did a little research and found out that the "sunburst" flag is called the "Kyojitsuki" (旭日旗) in Japanese, which makes sense. But the question still remains, what are the best terms to use to distinguish these two flags in English? The best translation for 旭日旗 would probably be "rising sun flag", but that is problematic because the regular flag is commonly called the "rising sun flag" in English publications and even on EDICT, leaving only "naval ensign" or "sunburst flag" for the Kyojitsuki. Perhaps it would be better to come up with a more accurate translation of hinomaru/nisshouki? "Sun circle flag" perhaps? "Sun disc flag"? "Sun emblem flag"?


Early Modern Japan On-Line

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 12:34 pm Print
Philip Brown has announced that Early Modern Japan, the journal of the Early Modern Japan Network will become an on-line publication. Back issues are already available as PDFs through the EMJ webpage, and the prospect of reaching a larger audience with lower costs is too good to pass up. In other Early Modern News, most of us in the field have probably already heard about the death of Edo scholar extraordinaire Donald Shively. [thanks to my translator friend for the NYTimes obit; it's good that he's getting wider notice] My library is replete with his work, and yours should be, too. Our sympathies to his family.


The Price of Historical Accuracy

Filed under: — tak @ 2:58 am Print
Recently I received an email from a novelist out on the West Coast who is working on a historical novel set in 1946 Japan. She wanted to know how much things cost at that time. Being an anthropologist and not a historian, I really had no idea where to look, other than to say that in 1946 prices must have been really unstable because of inflation, SCAP's attempt to engineer the market while at the same time implement labor-friendly policies, and the proliferation of the black market. A great description of the social landscape at that time is in John Dower's superb Embracing Defeat, especially the first section where he takes you right to the streets of postwar Tokyo so that you can smell the cheap kasutori liquor and see the pan-pan girls hanging onto U.S. servicemen. (Another book I have read that deals with this same time period is Chalmers Johnson's gripping Conspiracy at Matsukawa). But I asked around to see if there are easier ways of finding out other than combing through long passages, and sure enough our ever resourceful Jonathan Dresner recommended two reference books: Estimates of Long Term Economic Statistics of Japan since 1868 (bilingual) and the Historical Statistics of Japan. He also had a brilliant suggestion of looking at microfilms of newspapers at that time and picking off prices of products through ads. I would never have thought of that! (For those wishing to have questions answered, a more helpful place to ask might be over at H-Japan, a resourceful user group that focuses on Japanese history. They cast a much wider net of scholars there, so you might get more in-depth responses.) I have to say, its nice to see fiction writers taking the time to do some historical research for their writing. When films like The Last Samurai mutilate history, it really is a travesty because a little veracity would have made the film truly powerful (my opinion). Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is also that much more convincing to the reader. So perhaps it's worth paying the price of meticulous research to push for historical accuracy. But then, I also think that if you're writing a novel like Kazuo Ishiguro's Pale View of Hills, then accuracy doesn't really matter because it is all about how memories from one moment of your life become all confused with things that happened in other moments. (This is not to say that Ishiguro's novel contained historical inaccuracies.)


Kotaji on Korea (& Japan)

Filed under: — tak @ 9:56 am Print
I wanted to quickly mention two fascinating posts by Kotaji in the last two weeks that may be of interest to readers here. First, he refers to an article in OhMyNews about a village near Kyoto composed of those of Korean descent who are resisting the destruction of their neighborhood. Kotaji picks up on the dissonance between the way the South Korean media has covered this story and the villagers who are squatting in defiance. Second, he reports on a talk at Yonsei University given by Pak Noja . A part of the lecture (transcript here in Korean) focuses on the links between North Korea and the legacy left by Japanese imperialism, and Kotaji has graciously translated a few paragraphs into English. Here is Pak's main point:
So, when General Kim Il-sung was constructing a nation state, he brought in considerable parts of the apparatus of state control and repression that were taken from the mechanisms of administration of the Japanese imperialists, the very people he had been struggling against up until then. In other words, it is hard to get rid of the sense that the state created by the nationalists in some way inherited a great deal from the imperialist state.


The Lost Tribe

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 9:27 pm Print
Ralph Luker sent me a link which I'd seen before, but lost: Arimasa Kubo's "Israelites Came To Ancient Japan" pages. It's a great mix of logical and historical fallacies, mostly having to do with ignoring actual archaeological evidence of Japanese origins and traditions. Most of the rest have to do with ignoring the commonality of certain practices among world religions (as my father says, if all you have is two points, you can draw a line). There are a few which are kind of interesting, but they are usually local customs which are not "Japanese" in the sense of being common to any significant portion of the population and which are rather poorly sourced. At some point, I suppose, I ought to check out the books that he cites, to see if they have footnotes to anything remotely credible.


The Wushe Incident on Film

Filed under: — tak @ 11:25 am Print
Kerim at his blog Keywords alerts us to a film, currently under production, that reconstructs the Wushe Incident (霧社事件), the famous aboriginal Taiwanese rebellion against the Japanese in 1930. The planned title of the film is "Seediq Bale" (賽德克巴萊), and the official site has previews. As you'll see from the video the film is in Seediq and Japanese, with either Chinese or English subtitles. [Warning: the preview has a few violent scenes and may not be for the squeamish] In Japanese the uprising is known as the Musha Jiken. Interesting tidbit: according to the Japanese Wikipedia entry on "Aboriginal Taiwanese" (台湾原住民), after the Wushe Incident the Japanese officers used the aboriginal headhunting practice to squash the uprising by offering large sums of money in exchange for the heads of the rebellion leaders. In the same post Kerim also cites the excellent journal article on the Wushe Incident by Leo Ching, which in an altered form is also included in his book Becoming Japanese: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation. Here is the article citation: Ching, Leo T. S. 2000. “Savage Construction and Civility Making: the Musha Incident and Aboriginal Representations in Colonial Taiwan.” Positions 8 (3): 795-818.


Jazz in Japan

Filed under: — tak @ 3:43 pm Print
Michael Molasky, who teaches at University of Minnesota and has published on Okinawa literature (this and this), has recently released a book in Japanese on the history of jazz in postwar Japan. (I could not find an English version at Amazon so perhaps it is not appearing in English.) The book title is 戦後日本のジャズ文化―映画・文学・アングラ, which translates as Jazz Culture in Postwar Japan: Film, Literature, and the Underground. The last phrase, angura, refers to the underground art scene that flourished in the 1960s. According to the bio on Amazon taken from the book, the author is also a jazz pianist and plays regularly in Tokyo. (via 作品メモランダム)


Nearing the End Picture Collection

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 2:26 pm Print
As we approach the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII and Japan's defeat, a number of Japanese newspapers are beginning to turn out articles and other materials related to the war and its conclusion. The English language Mainichi Daily News has already posted a collection of photographs that might be worth a look. There is an interesting unity of theme in the collection which is useful to point out. Most photos are of evacuated children, shacks appearing in bombed out areas, defiant children's letters and drawings, government officials handling claims related to bomb damage, and pictures showing enthusiastic military recruits as the war nears an end. Overall, the photos gives the strong image of a strong and resilient Japan. This image, of course, most likely reflect the scarcity of photos taken from this period that show anything but the kinds of images the government of the time would want to show. UPDATE: A second batch, with many more pictures is now online with more scenes from the end of the war.


I hate this time of year

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 5:20 am Print
I hate this time of year. I've hated it for a long time, and for good reason. Now, thanks to my good friend Ralph Luker, I have more reasons to thoroughly hate it again. Worse, I'm going to have to go through it again in a few months, what with my 20th century Japan class coming up this semester....

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