Author: Adam Cathcart

Keeping Tabs on Revisionist Groups Active on the ‘Comfort Women’ Issue

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history and memory / Japan / War Crimes / World War II
Comfort Women Protest ROK via the Nation

Gaining even a cursory familiarity with the statements and logic of some right-wing revisionists groups in Japan is a salutary experience. While most Japanese people (judging from polling data) find such groups to be embarrassing, and they surely do not represent the mainstream, these groups are, nevertheless, comparatively loud. More recently, they also have a kind of harmonization of rhetoric with the state which itself is being more vocal and “aggressive” (i.e. “pro-active”) with respect to […]

Toward understanding North Korean state fears of Dandong

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Borderlands / North Korea / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations
north-korean-spies-comic

On March 26, the Korean Central News Agency reported at length on a truly remarkable press conference. I say “remarkable” because it dealt with a topic that, if even half of the allegations stated were true, contained more than a few bombshells about a cluster of sensitive subjects. This characterization of sensitivity holds — not only because Dandong is the key conduit for Chinese-North Korean trade — ultimately because the narrative tacitly consists of a North Korean […]

On Northern Ireland and Hong Kong

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China / EU-East Asia relations / Hong Kong
Macartney in Peking 1793

Telling the story of Hong Kong from 1840-now, Northern Ireland — or the six counties of Ulster — may seem an odd place to begin. What, after all, could be further away from Hong Kong’s density, its economic fecundity, its almost magnetic international capital and trade flows, its apparently successful blending of Asian and Western traditions, sitting perpetually as it does within the nook — or was it a suffocating embrace? — of the Chinese […]

Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

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China / EU-East Asia relations / history and memory / Japan / Sino-Japanese Relations / World War II
Shenyang Trials Case File for Fujita

From the very beginning of the so-called ‘post war,’ the territorial and temporal parameters of the memory wars between China and Japan were never drawn particularly cleanly. The war ended formally in Tokyo Harbour on 3 September 1945, but it took nearly another week for Okamura Yasuji to formally surrender to General He Yingqin at Nanjing. It then took months (in some rare cases, years) for Japanese troops to disengage themselves from the mainland. After […]

On Reincarnation

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China / Chinese communist party / Tibet
Barbara-Hannigan-007

As everyone knows, the Chinese Communist Party is fully committed to reincarnating itself as the Qing dynasty, but with more aircraft carriers and a Communist Dalai Lama who tells choking city dwellers to be less materialistic. In today’s lead editorial, Huanqiu Shibao puts it this way: “众所周知,中国藏传佛教的活佛转世有一整套历史定制和宗教仪轨,持续三百多年,从清朝开始,新达赖的确定必须得到中央政府的批准。达赖这几年不断抛出人们闻所未闻的异端邪说,称他可以转世为外国人、女人等等。最近又干脆说他可以不转世了.” In other news, women who believe in stopping sexual harassment on public transport in China have been targeted and detained by the state. It’s almost as if the Standing […]

Angela Merkel and Japan’s Wartime Past

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EU-East Asia relations / German / German-Japanese Relations / history and memory / Japan / Sino-Japanese Relations / War Crimes / World War II
Comfort Women in Java

The German Chancellor was in Tokyo for a couple of eventful days. Although Merkel sees Abe Shinzo regularly, she noted before leaving  that she has not been to Japan, the country that she tactfully calls “Germany’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia” (after China, naturally), since 2008. There cannot be a great deal of desire on Merkel’s part to talk about World War II amid the rest of this massive bilateral agenda — mainly the Chancellor wants to […]

Lisa Yoneyama in Toronto; Readings on the ‘Comfort Women’ System

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history and memory / Japan / US-Japan relations / War Crimes / World War II
US Army photo of comfort women, via Truthout

Yesterday I had a chance to meet briefly in Toronto with Lisa Yoneyama, who is one of the most prevalent scholars working today on issues of transnational war memory politics and World War II in Asia. We both had good things to say about new work by Barak Kusher (University of Cambridge, head of the War Crimes and Empire project) and Nicola Henry (a scholar at LaTrobe University who has been extremely productive  in placing the […]