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

On Heartbreak, and Bix on Hirohito

In our culture of oversharing and social media, there is such an excess of verbiage that the words ‘must read’ or ‘essential’ have basically lost their meaning. The same is true for words like ‘heartbreaking’ — if it was really breaking your heart, you wouldn’t be on Twitter. What happens if you don’t read something ‘essential’? Usually, nothing, because the term has been turned into … Continue reading On Heartbreak, and Bix on Hirohito

Pan-Asianism and the Japanese Wartime Empire

This past spring, upon the invitation of Peter Anderson, I gave a lecture to all of the first-year History students at Leeds University on the following topic, as part of a module on world history. Some of the reading materials listed at the conclusion are paywalled (or, like Marc Driscoll’s stunning Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque, should just be bought), but most are free, and all … Continue reading Pan-Asianism and the Japanese Wartime Empire

Enemies and Allies in North Korean Art and Archives, 1948-1952

This is the introduction to a paper which I prepared for an Association of Asian Studies panel on captured wartime documents in Korea, Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 29 March 2014.  The panel was organized by Chuck Kraus and the discussant was Bruce Cumings. The images that accompany the presentation can be accessed via clicking on this link for PowerPoint slides. — Adam Cathcart Usually in modern … Continue reading Enemies and Allies in North Korean Art and Archives, 1948-1952

Leaflets from the Sky

The UN Commission of Inquiry’s up-close-and-personal warning to Kim Jong-un may have been bold, but it was hardly unprecedented. In October 1950, US/UN field commander Douglas MacArthur dumped leaflets all over the skies of Korea, both North and South. They warned Kim Il-song specifically that the end was near, and that he, and any relevant North Korean commanders, would be held responsible for international war … Continue reading Leaflets from the Sky

North Korea and China’s Response to the UN Commission of Inquiry Report

North Korea has ever been the subject of journalistic inquiry, but in the past couple of years things seem to have hit a kind of new high point. Likewise, public consciousness in the US and Western Europe of the importance of Pyongyang’s relationship with China seems also to have taken a major leap forward. So what happens when a United Nations special report on North Korean human … Continue reading North Korea and China’s Response to the UN Commission of Inquiry Report

Hatoyama in Nanking

Hatoyama Yukio [ 鳩山由紀夫]  is the former Prime Minister of Japan (2009-2010) and the grandson of Hatoyama Ichiro [鳩山 一郎]. Today, he continues on a somewhat quixotic but surely very necessary quest to calm Sino-Japanese relations. And I’m reading student essays about the Nanking Massacre (Dec. 1937- Feb. 1938). Further images of his visit by clicking the image above.   Continue reading Hatoyama in Nanking