Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia – Research Group Presentations

Date: 15 June 2015

On June 15, 2015, the research group held internal debates on and presentations of our respective research projects. We also welcomed the participation of several outside guest commentators including an historian of Chinese law, Dr. Glenn Tiffert from UC Berkeley (but soon to take a post-doc at the China Center at the University of Michigan); Anja Bihler, a PhD candidate analyzing Chinese war crimes trials at the University of Heidelberg; and Dr. Matthew Shores, a specialist in Japanese rakugo at the University of Cambridge. More information follows the photo gallery.


Dr. Arnaud Doglia delivered an excellent summary of his forthcoming book, L’arme biologique japonaise, 1880-2011: réalités historiques et anatomie de la mémoire, (Japanese Biological Warfare, 1880-2011: Historical Realities and the Anatomy of Memory), and the group debated the intricacies of why war crimes were not pursued against Japan’s biowarfare scientists and how that situation intertwined with ethics issues in postwar Japan. Dr. Deokhyo Choi gave us an overview of his developing manuscript project, which looks at how violence erupted between Koreans and Japanese in Japan’s failed empire on the dawn after surrender and how contemporary Japanese scholarship has ignored the legacy of empire. Dr. Choi provided a keen analysis of how this “radicalized” environment shaped Japan and its memory of the empire.

PhD candidate Sherzod Muminov offered his investigation on the internment of 600,000 Japanese POWs in Siberia after the war in his dissertation Eleven Winters of Discontent: The Siberian Internment and the Making of the New Japan (1945-1956). His ability to conduct research in Russian and Japanese allows his work to produce one of the first transnational examinations of this era and his conclusions suggest that while the Japanese suffered that was not the aim of the Soviets, nor were the Japanese exclusive victims of Soviet efforts to build up the Far East. PhD candidate Aiko Otsuka is interested in digging into the issue of defeat and how that experience was responded to and internalized within the Japanese former imperial armed forces in Identity of ‘Defeat’: Military Men and War Experiences at the Asia-Pacific Theatre, 1930-1965.