Report on Opium in China from the German Embassy in Tokyo, 1944

On June 8, 1944, the German Embassy in Tokyo sent a report back to the Auswärtiges Amt, or Foreign Ministry. Unlike so many other files dealing with foreign affairs, at this particular dispatch showed no signs of Ribbentrop’s blue pencil — the German foreign minister was notoriously narcissistic and had to see the full text of every article mentioning his name. Instead the leader dealt … Continue reading Report on Opium in China from the German Embassy in Tokyo, 1944

The WIDF and the Debate over Korean War Crimes

In a  recent essay for Japan Focus, Rutgers University historian Suzy Kim includes a retrospective on the Women’s International Democratic Federation’s 1951 report from North Korea and that delegation’s function as a cornerstone in what she calls “a feminist history of Women Cross DMZ” 2015. Having spent the last couple of days researching the WIDF in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, I absolutely agree with Dr. … Continue reading The WIDF and the Debate over Korean War Crimes

On the PRC Ambassador in Pyongyang, ‘Comfort Women’ Activists, and the Women Cross DMZ Reception

This morning I turned on my computer and immediately became wrapped up in a somewhat quixotic quest to find the origins of a rumor. The rumor being that the Chinese Ambassador in Pyongyang ‘had yet to be recognized by the North Korean government.’ A question to that effect had been asked (or should we say planted?) at the 25 May Ministry of Foreign Affairs press … Continue reading On the PRC Ambassador in Pyongyang, ‘Comfort Women’ Activists, and the Women Cross DMZ Reception

On Memorial Day, and Korea

One day in May back in the 1990s, an old man stood about ten meters from a small flag on my father’s grave in Minnesota and gave a speech about Korea, the ‘forgotten war.’ For me, the war hadn’t been so much forgotten as learned and immediately neglected. One simple dot-matrix printout had been made (being a hoarder who needs to read everything multiple times … Continue reading On Memorial Day, and Korea

Full Comment on Women Across the DMZ March

As observers of current events on the Korean peninsula will be aware, a group of peace activists is presently in North Korea and will be crossing the DMZ tomorrow, from Kaesong, into the South. Their efforts have been the focus of much conversation.  I was asked to share my views with the Christian Science Monitor, which yesterday published a short extract from the following remarks. 1. Do … Continue reading Full Comment on Women Across the DMZ March

Unrest in the Southwest: The Linshui Protests in Historical Perspective

Unrest in the Southwest: The Linshui Protests in Historical Perspective by Adam Cathcart and Li Wankun, University of Leeds for University of Nottingham China Policy Institute Blog Due to the outbreak of social disobedience and subsequent violent confrontation with police, this week the world is focusing on Linshui, a small city in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Since 16 May, tens of thousands of residents … Continue reading Unrest in the Southwest: The Linshui Protests in Historical Perspective

Last Call for Abe Shinzo Congressional Speech Op-eds

The Stimson Center’s Yuki Tatsumi threw down the gauntlet in The Diplomat on May 7 in a piece pointedly entitled ‘Stop Obsessing over Abe’s Congressional Speech.’ The conclusion read as follows: Continuing to criticize Abe for his congressional speech is futile, even counterproductive. […] Would the audience have rather heard Abe spend most of his speech apologizing for Japan’s past wrongdoings and offer very little on his … Continue reading Last Call for Abe Shinzo Congressional Speech Op-eds

Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

The death of North Korean civilians at Sinchon is significant on a few levels. On the one hand, it calls our attention to the always fractious topic of war crimes in Korea, and the contested nature of the memory of those crimes. On the other hand, the Sinchon massacre has underpinned a great deal of anti-U.S. propaganda in the DPRK and today remains a touchstone … Continue reading Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

Collaborative Research and the New North Korean Social History

The writing of North Korean history is a difficult, exciting, contested, and increasingly social endeavour. Research networks and sharing of sources of ideas are more important than ever. Charles Armstrong’s publications of the early 2000s pointed in the direction of archivally-sourced and culturally-based treatments of early North Korean history, both during the period of state formation and during the Korean War (1945-1953). Much work, however, … Continue reading Collaborative Research and the New North Korean Social History

Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan

Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo Bureau Chief for The Times (London), kindly alerted me to an open letter recently published by a large number of academics nicely timed to follow on the heels of the various controversies which had been re-stirred by the Abe Shinzo visit to the United States. The letter manages to delicately get around a frequently-encountered problem: The essentializing of “Japan” in discussions of how the … Continue reading Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan