Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

I feel this story describes more my mother’s generation than my own — then again Japan never fails to shock on the gender front. Guess my own marriage is hardly typical, what with my Japanese husband in charge of the home and both of us happy with no kids https://t.co/NfAg7LKHk1 — Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) February 3, 2019 'The problem is with those who didn't give … Continue reading Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

Documents on Crown Prince Hirohito’s visit to the United Kingdom in 1921

Historian Herbert Bix describes Hirohito’s long voyage to the United Kingdom in 1921 as a number of things: it was a test of the court and the conservatives in Tokyo (some factions did not want him to go at all), it was a means of showing the soon-to-be-regent some world trends, it was a possibly dangerous undertaking (he was ashore in Hong Kong for all … Continue reading Documents on Crown Prince Hirohito’s visit to the United Kingdom in 1921

On History and the “Comfort Women” Debate

As illuminated by recent anniversaries and commemorations, history is both a malleable plaything and an obsessive object of dispute for states in Northeast Asia. In Tokyo, Abe Shinzo and his Liberal Democratic Party rework histories of colonial expansion into halcyon inspiration for an enslaved Asia, seeking to move firmly beyond the bonds imposed by Douglas MacArthur and the postwar occupation. In Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party has absorbed the Nanking Massacre victim narrative in toto, and takes … Continue reading On History and the “Comfort Women” Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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) … Continue reading Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

Angela Merkel and Japan’s Wartime Past

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 … Continue reading Angela Merkel and Japan’s Wartime Past

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

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

The Shenyang Trials of 1956: Presenting the Resurrection of Defeat in Heidelberg

The University of Heidelberg will be hosting a conference later this month on post-1945 war crimes trials in East Asia, at which I will be presenting. An abstract and bio follow: The Shenyang Trials of 1956: The Resurrection of Defeat  Using now-closed files from the Chinese Foreign Ministry Archive and contemporary sources in Chinese, this paper, investigates the role of the Shenyang Trials of 1956 … Continue reading The Shenyang Trials of 1956: Presenting the Resurrection of Defeat in Heidelberg