Occupying North Korea, Witnessing Massacre? Military Sources and the Question of US/UK Forces in Sinchon

The North Korean state claims that US troops arrived in Sinchon, Hwanghae province, on 17 October 1950 and promptly began butchering civilians, culminating in over 35,000 dead by the time of their retreat on 7 December. To my knowledge, no serious writing outside of North Korea has been made to determine if the body count is accurate. However, writers and scholars like Hwang Sok-yong and Kim … Continue reading Occupying North Korea, Witnessing Massacre? Military Sources and the Question of US/UK Forces in Sinchon

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

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

Pu Yi as Witness

In his 1946 testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo Trials), Pu Yi, the former Emperor of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, proved to be an exceptionally difficult witness. The following extract from the IMFTE Proceedings (p. 4,085) seems to capture the obdurate and unproductive nature of his eight-day appearance at Tokyo. Q. On what date was Manchukuo established as a … Continue reading Pu Yi as Witness

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

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