Over at Frog in a Well – China I have posted “The History of Sino-Japanese Relations as seen in Japan’s Most Popular Travel Guide” which examines the portrayal of Chinese history and China’s relations with Japan in the 2006-7 China edition of the 地球の歩き方 travel guide series. Frog in a Well – Japan readers might be interested. I will be adding a second post on the treatment by the series of Korean history over at Frog in a Well – Korea soon.
Mea maxima culpa. Due to a regrettable lack of focus on bloggerly things, I’ve let my carnival friends down. First, I never congratulated Roy Berman on a wonderful September AHC. If you haven’t read it yet, you should: he did a great job of rounding up and presenting the material, and it could well inspire you to …. submit to the upcoming carnival: That’s right, the next AHC is just days away (two days, to be exact), so get your nominations for your best work over the last month to Nathanael Robinson, Quickly!
While you’re considering what of your recent blogging is good you might also consider taking a look at the September Carnival of Bad History, and if you think any of your blogging is worthy, send it in to that one, which is also coming up shortly. If you’ve got history blogging which is more Early Modern (actually, they still need a host for October, which I can tell you, is really fun), or just plain ol’ Historical (Jeremy Boggs is hosting this weekend’s edition of the grand HC, and I have very high expectations), you’ve got plenty of outlets.
Finally, a rare political plug: American Historical Association Members needed for free speech resolution
In other news
WWII, of course: The last barracks in New Jersey where Japanese Americans were interned has been demolished to make way townhouse developments. Why were they in NJ, I hear you ask? They were working in a food processing plant, which was actually a welcome change for some after the boredom of the other camps, but they were still isolated and not free. Obviously, there are shades of good and evil: new revelations of Japanese medical experimentation on POWs. New PM Abe dances around the Yasukuni question..
Everyone’s been talking about how Nationalist PM Abe is, or is going to be, etc. His views on the Yoshida Doctrine era suggest he’s …. well, actually, I think he sounds like a pretty mainstream Republican most of the time, which does represent something of a change from the 60s and 70s, but not so much from the last twenty years.
Japanese corporations dominate the list of economic entities as big as countries. Though, to be really accurate, the GDPs of the US and Japan should be reduced by the amounts credited to the various corporations….
Finally, Iva Toguri d’Aquino, infamously tagged with the “Tokyo Rose” label, passed away. Here’s a short roundup of some of the best commentary I’ve seen
Self-Immolation Tactics as Media Spin, Cultural Pretense and Strategic Initiative: Japanese and Jihadist Cases (A “companion reader” for Yuki Tanaka’s upcoming (Oct 10) Reischauer Institute lecture)
Next Monday (Oct 10), Professor Yuki Tanaka of the Hiroshima Peace Institute will be delivering a lecture at Harvard, under the auspices of the Reischauer Institute, titled “Japan’s Kamikaze Pilots and Contemporary Suicide Bombers: War and Terror”. Operating under the assumption (which may very well come back to bite me for a classic Roseanne Roseannadanna moment) that the content and main theses of Professor Tanaka’s lecture will be basically unchanged from his November 2005 Japan Focus article http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/1606 of the same title, I would like to post here a piece I have written that should be considered not necessarily a rebuttal of the professor’s positions, but rather, a companion reader it is hoped will add some perspective to the lecture. Before moving on to my piece, I would like to take the opportunity to wish Professors Tanaka and (moderator) Andrew Gordon the best of success with the lecture, and to express my regret that I cannot attend in person to enjoy the talk and participate thereafter in the stimulating discussions that will no doubt follow. So, without further ado…
Self-Immolation Tactics as Media Spin, Cultural Pretense and Strategic Initiative: Japanese and Jihadist Cases
“THE AMERICANS LOVE PEPSI, WE LOVE DEATH”
“War is our best hobby,” a proud young mujahedin commander told British journalist David Blair in Peshawar, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. “The sound of guns firing is like music for us. We cannot live without war. We have no other way except jihad…The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death”. What a stinging little Information Age soundbite that is, I recall thinking the first time I read it, as clouds of asbestos-laced concrete dust and atomized human remains were still settling over downtown Manhattan. “We love death”! What chance did the rest of the world stand against fighters possessing such awe-inspiring primal überwarrior mojo?
A few years after my first sobering encounter with the “Pepsi” quote, I came across the line once again in a wonderfully incisive book by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit titled – obviously with a tip of the hat (and perhaps a slight cock of the snoot) to the late Edward Said – Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004). But what I experienced upon reading the quote this time around was not shock and awe at the mujahedin commander’s paradoxically nihilistic yet triumphant contempt for my bourgeois frailty; rather, thanks in part to Professors Buruma and Margalit and my own research of the kamikaze subculture of the Asia-Pacific War, it was a spark of realization that the remark could just as easily have come from the text of a Japanese admiral’s pre-attack send-off speech to kamikaze pilots in 1945 or a passage of Ernst Jünger or Oswald Spengler as from the mouth of a media-savvy jihadi in 2001. I found this notion somehow comforting – my bogeyman’s zeal rendered derivative and thus a bit pathetic now – but at the same time, it still disillusioned me; how many millions, I wondered, had marched (or sailed or flown) happily off to their deaths over the last century or two after having their heads filled with chauvinistic bunk like this, and how many other millions innocent of any such crusading fervor had been destroyed as “collateral damage” in the process? Would the carnage this century prove to be even worse?
An astute student in my Japanese Women class sent me this link [very adult content] with the thought that I might use it…. to stimulate…. class discussion! I’m actually quite intrigued… by the historical context and puzzle it presents. For those of you who wisely refrained from clicking through on first link, it’s a catalog of sexual devices and medicinals, bearing the imprint
Arita Drug & Rubber Goods Co.
Export and Import
1 Motomachi St.
Tel. Sasanomiya (3) 1465