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The “Asian-Hand” Journalists of Japanese Newspapers: Japanese Journalists in between Japan, Korea and China in the 20th Century

Date: 4 June 2018

Professor Tsuchiya’s talk identified several different stages in Japanese newspapers’ engagement with East Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan) during the 20th century, concentrating on two stages in particular: from 1911 to the Manchurian Incident in 1931 (stage two), and from 1931 to the end of WWII in 1945 (stage three). While prior to 1911 most Japanese journalists active on the Asian mainland had not been able to speak Chinese or Korean, during the second stage this would change with many major Japanese newspapers placing Asian-hand correspondents with a stronger language background in China and Korea. Additionally there were several independent Japanese-language newspapers published in China and Korea at this time. This stage is characterised by the close ties the Japanese journalists developed with local intellectuals and journalists, and the diversity of opinions expressed through their reporting. This would change during stage three, when from 1931 Japanese newspapers developed a close alignment with the military, and the work of Japanese “Asian-hand” journalists was to a large extent integrated with that of the military.

 

A clear example of this were two research associations connected to major newspapers and aimed at supporting the goals of the militarists: the “Association for Research of East Asia” founded by Motoyama Hikoichi (Osaka Mainichi Shimbun) in 1929 and the “Association for Research on Problems of East Asia” founded by Ogata Taketora (Tokyo Asahi Shimbun) in 1934. By the late 1930s all major Japanese newspapers had large East Asia sections populated by experienced “Asian-hands” whose reporting was entirely integrated with the war effort. After 1945 these East Asia sections at the newspapers were abolished and their activities largely forgotten. In her conclusion Professor Tsuchiya stressed the importance of questioning why these “Asian-hands” were unable to resist the push towards war, and additionally of contemplating how journalists today can make a more positive contributing to the avoidance of war. Finally Professor Tsuchiya called for the need for further in-depth study of the role of journalism in international relations and international history.

Workshop Poster


Chinese Archives and Digital Website Production Conference

Dates: 1 – 4 May 2018

Over a week in May scholars and graduate students from China, Japan and the UK gathered at Cambridge University to share their most recent research on the history of war crimes trials and the postwar in East Asia. Topics covered the KMT war crimes trials, the CCP trials, the political ramifications of both sets of trials within Sino-Japanese relations, as well as the role of Taiwan, how postwar violence was resolved, and related subjects. The group planned in detail how to proceed with further archival gathering missions to sites in China, how to advance the war crimes website which continues to expand in production, and other related activities. Drs Chang and Kushner also proceeded in discussions concerning further applications to UK and Chinese funding agencies to support finalization of the website project and to consider the next step in research. Conference papers and discussions were mainly held in Chinese and Japanese.

Conference Agenda

The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Yan Hai-jian, an associate professor in the Department of History at Nanjing Normal University. His analysis focused on the Japanese war crimes trials held by the Nationalist government led by the Chinese Nationalist Party/Kuomintang (KMT) after the Sino-Japanese War ended in 1945. The presentation began with the origin of the principles of the Japanese war crimes trials, inherited from the St. James Declaration signed on 13 January 1942 in London concerning punishment of German war crimes responsible for criminal acts.

Keynote Poster

Dr. Yan also mentioned that the uniqueness of the prosecution in the Japanese war crimes in China which included subverting sovereignty, running casinos, selling opium, and indiscriminate bombing, etc. He further compared the Japanese war crimes trials in Asia and the German war crimes trials in Europe and argued that the former, though held in Asia, were still mainly led by the Western powers. Dr. Yan stressed the fact that the Nationalist government’s war crimes trial principles followed the revealed a ‘weak-nation mentality’, where the KMT believed itself unable to fully manifest a proper outcome due to a variety of factors.

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Propaganda and Journalism during/on the second Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945

Date: 20 March 2018

Over two days we heard presentations from scholars based in Japan, China and the UK and engaged in discussion in Chinese, Japanese, and English concerning propaganda and media issues in East Asia.

Workshop Summary

 


Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees from the Viewpoint of East Asia

Dates: 16-17 March 2018

On Friday evening, 16 March, the conference on Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees from the Viewpoint of East Asia opened with a keynote from Dr. Mahon Murphy. The opening lecture emphasized the necessity of looking at the non-European theaters of war to more fully grasp the impact of how prisoners and their treatment affected the world at large and the future of warfare.

The following day, 17 March, Japanese and European scholars exchanged ideas about their research concerning prisoners and civilians in captivity during the first half of the 20th Century. A full program and pictures from the conference are below.

This conference was co-sponsored by Dr. Barak Kushner’s ERC grant on The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, and Dr. NARAOKA Sochi’s Spirits-funding from Kyoto University in Japan.

Conference Programme

Keynote Lecture Poster

 


Wartime Everydayness and Decolonization of the WWII

Date: 9 March 2018

Hans van de Ven, professor of Modern Chinese History at the Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies in Cambridge, delivered a talk elaborating on his new book China at War and vision for the next project on “wartime everydayness.” Following a sincere effort to incorporate the “China theatre” in the general account of WWII historiography, Prof. van de Ven first reviewed various issues in his monograph: contact between Chinese and Japanese military officials over the course of Japan’s surrender in 1945, Chinese Nationalist-Communist negotiations for peaceful post-war settlement following the dissolution of the Japanese Empire, Chiang Kai-shek’s “benevolent” policies towards post-war Japan as a “virtuous” leader, the applicability of “Clausewitzian victory” in China’s war, and the meaning of the Japanese downfall to the areas outside the China theatre. Prof. van de Ven acutely pointed out that “Japanese defeat” was only one of the issues in postwar Asia. He argued that Japanese imperialism in East and Southeast Asia during WWII and the immediate post-war era projected a new “opportunity” for former colonies under both Japan and European empires to reconceive their own state formation, and thus swiftly unleashed the decolonization process.

Prof. van de Ven then progressed to the second half of the lecture concerning his next project on “wartime everydayness,” which will be an ambitious plan to examine both living environments and the national consciousness in wartime societies across East and Southeast Asia. At the macro-level, Prof. van de Ven broadly compared Japanese de-imperialization to European counterparts in Asia, building on previous scholarship by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper. At the micro-level, he referenced memoirs and literary works written by Chinese Nationalist elites at war, such as Chi Pang-yuan (齊邦媛), Chen Yinke (陳寅恪), and Chen Kewen (陳克文), to name just a few. He suggested that WWII in China (and other East Asian regions) did not just create turbulence and impose violence. The war also precipitated geopolitical diversity in East as well as Southeast Asia, and fermented cultural vibrancy (widely defined) created by diasporic Chinese intellectual elites. The talk and ensuing discussion concluded that there is an increasing demand for research on “wartime everydayness” that will spur future scholars to examine the nuanced social complexity of WWII and postwar East Asia that might overcome the constraints imposed by conventional narratives that focus on confrontation and calamity.

Workshop Poster