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

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