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

15 Questions re: Jeff Kingston’s Japan Focus Essay (2008) Regarding the Nanking Massacre

Dr. Jeff Kingston is a historian of contemporary Japan who occupies a number of important positions at Temple University’s Japan campus. In 2008, he published the following essay on the subject of memorials and Nanking Massacre controversy; this essay is the focus of the questions that follow: Jeff Kingston, “Nanjing’s Massacre Memorial: Renovating War Memory in Nanjing and Tokyo,” Japan Focus, August 22, 2008 <http://japanfocus.org/-Jeff-Kingston/2859&gt;. In 2010, … Continue reading 15 Questions re: Jeff Kingston’s Japan Focus Essay (2008) Regarding the Nanking Massacre

“Hitler’s Stomach” in Beijing: A Review

Today in Berlin, I was cruising through the Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, the businessman’s preferred paper, for German response to the Wen Jiabao visit when I ran across an article so completely fascinating that I decided to translate it for inclusion on the blog, as it actually adds something new to the giant slapping waves of somewhat repetitious commentary in the area of China’s relations with Germany. … Continue reading “Hitler’s Stomach” in Beijing: A Review

Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC

In walking around Chinese book markets, perusing Chinese newspapers, talking to Chinese scholars and intellectuals, and just plain thinking here in the PRC, the remarkable fact emerges of the enormous gap between what is printed and discussed here and how we talk about it back in the West. In other words, there are some thorny themes being worked out here in the PRC that seem … Continue reading Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC

On Potsdam’s “Hiroshima Plaza”

In describing German responses to the Hiroshima commemoration yesterday, I made reference to an editorial which appeared in a major Berlin daily paper last June 30: …probably the most interesting item on the Hiroshima commemorations to emerge of late in the German press…is an editorial by Robert S. McKay…[which] foregrounds [and disputes] all of the [Hiroshima] commemorations with the notion that Japanese focus on war … Continue reading On Potsdam’s “Hiroshima Plaza”

A Little Huanqiu Nationalism

If the above link to a gallery of Chinese volunteers in Vietnam [浴血南疆对越自卫反击战 ] fails to satisfy, be sure not to miss some obligatory Xinhua praise of the Boxer Movement [义和团运动 ] as “a patriotic, anti-imperialist movement of farmers in North China” or an extensive reminder in this scintillating lead from  “战后日本 关于民间“认罪”的不完全记录 [ Postwar Japan’s Record Regarding Collective ‘Guilt’ is Not Complete]”: 如今很多日本人却不了解历史的真相。二战结束以来,日本右翼组织从未停止过扭曲史实、美化侵略的行动。几十年来,篡改教科书、参拜靖国神社、挑起钓鱼岛主权争端、阻碍奥运火炬日本传递……不仅挑拨着受害国家人民的神经,也在战争之后一次又一次伤害他们的心灵。 Nothing … Continue reading A Little Huanqiu Nationalism

Nanjing Commemoration Controversies

University students in China are buzzing over this simple banner at a university in Wuhan, Hubei province: In analyzing the banner, even People’s Daily online is now questioning China’s official culture of reflexive commemoration of Nanking.  After all, commemorations in December, 2007, in Wuhan got fairly heated, and the city is a unique node of remembrance of the War of Resistance, having served for a … Continue reading Nanjing Commemoration Controversies

December 7 in Chongqing

This morning I gave one of those lectures I enjoy delivering because it wakes people up and reconnects me with my Sino-Japanese research: a survey of aerial bombing of civilian populations during World War II (1937-1945). In the context of a class already primed for war crimes research studying the Rape of Nanking through the galvanizing lens of Iris Chang, it is important to broaden … Continue reading December 7 in Chongqing

Oe Kenzaburo on War Memory

The following excerpt from a dialog about the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War contains one particularly interesting idea tendered by Oe: the Tenno system, or the Japanese emperor, as the “pedal tone” of historical continuity in Japan.  But metaphors aside, this discussion of pre-war and post-war continuities with one of Japan’s leading writers is itself worth discussing.  And particularly so: … Continue reading Oe Kenzaburo on War Memory