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

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

Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor”

In the process of teaching about East Asia during World War II (and the road to that conflict, whose origins in Asia are still controversial), I have frequently made use of Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning film, “The Last Emperor.”  Much of the film was shot on location in the Forbidden City in Beijing and in various palaces and government buildings which are still existent in Changchun dating … Continue reading Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor”

Bibliotheque Blast Out #4: United Nations Library, Geneva

With but nine minutes to go and up against a French keyboard in the UN Library and Archives in Geneva, Switzerland, a few thoughts: – Yosuke Matsuoka is a tough guy even though it took Japan (and Germany) another two years to completely withdraw from League of Nations (reams of film footage here); at the same time it’s possible that Matsuoka got schooled by his … Continue reading Bibliotheque Blast Out #4: United Nations Library, Geneva

Materials for Cognition and Cogitation

In lieu of long missives from Chengdu, where one’s ear is pressed so firmly to the Sichuan earth (and also to cellos hewn of spruce and maple from the Russian Far East, resonating with Soviet realist harmonies) that great leaps forward in prose production seem awfully distant, I’ll simply offer up the work of my colleagues: Feng Chongyi’s immense essay on the roots and structure … Continue reading Materials for Cognition and Cogitation

ganz im Dunkeln getappt: Nazi News in Manchukuo

Another find from the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.  This a document from the German news agency in Berlin, April 15, 1941, to Hsinking (present-day Changchun, in northeast China), capital city of Manchukuo, expressing frustration at a number of conditions present for German propaganda efforts in East Asia.  “Tapping around in in the dark,” or “being in the dark,” as it were.   Speaking now directly and across … Continue reading ganz im Dunkeln getappt: Nazi News in Manchukuo

More Manchukuo on Film

I enjoyed this Japanese-language film on normal life in the the occupied city of Shenyang: But this was a real gem: a History-Channel-style 10 part series on “The Battle of Manchuria” (part 1 of 10 here).  It really gets going around the 2′ mark, and then at 3’37” we get rolling with the Russo-Japanese War.  Matsuoka shows up at the League of Nations at 8’40”: Continue reading More Manchukuo on Film