Date: 8 February 2018
This lecture by Dr. Y. Chong, a visiting scholar at SOAS from Meiji Gakuin University, embraced a broad range of problems under the common theme of Japan-Korea historical memory issues. Dr Chong decided to elaborate on how zaininchi Koreans – those who emigrated to Japan during the colonial era and their descendants – perceived the results of the Tokyo Tribunal and evaluated Japan’s responsibility for the colonial rule in Korea.
The narrative commenced with the outline of the main points of dispute: first the problem of de-Japanization and the responsibility for colonial rule in the postwar seemed to be a key question. This was followed by the related issues of finding appropriate sources and whether to treat the problem as the one belonging solely to Japanese history or to the Korean side as well. The statistic material on the changes in the numbers of the Korean population outside Korea and, especially, in Japan proved to be useful for understanding the situation of Koreans and their organizations in Japan before and after World War II. The presenter paid significant attention to the historic figures who played important roles in the evolution of zainichi Korean associations in Japan and pointed out the politics supported by the zainichi community when evaluating the “justice” or lack thereof during the Tokyo tribunal.
The talk was followed by a Q&A session, where most of those present had a chance to pose queries. While some of the questions concerned the statistics used in the presentation, others touched upon issues such as the differences of the manner in which calls for war repatriations in mainland Korea and the zainichi community were dealt with. The lecture proved to be very informative and was a truly unique opportunity for students and guests to communicate in Japanese.
Date: 18 January 2018
Dr Kyung-Min Park, currently a postdoctoral researcher with Barak Kushner’s ERC project, delivered an exciting presentation on his recent research regarding the key role resident Japanese in Korea played in resolving the war repatriation issues. Contrary to previous research that set the preliminary discussion of 1951 as the starting point, Park’s investigation began from August of 1945, the end’s Japanese colonial rule of Korea. By doing so, he disclosed the important presence of resident Japanese in the normalization of Japan-Korea diplomatic relations. What further distinguished his research is his careful selection of a lexicon, choosing the term enkosha (縁故者) in contrast to the commonly used zaichō nihonjin (在朝日本人), to describe resident Japanese. He closed the talk by addressing the relevance of his research to contemporary issues concerning historical recognition between Japan and Korea. The talk and lively discussion were held in Japanese.
Date: 27 November 2017
Professor Sheldon Garon delivered a very detailed and transnationally oriented talk to a packed house concerning his most recent research. Forecasting his future book, Garon explained to the audience the nexus of “learning” that took place among the various warring nations of WWII concerning how to more effectively bomb civilian and military targets. Garon’s investigations reveal that contrary to the myth of Japanese wartime isolation it was actually quite aware of and interacting with what was happening in wartime Europe. Lastly, his conclusion helped listeners call into question, once again, the issue of how and why WWII was brought to an end and cast doubt on the use of the atomic bomb as a deciding factor.
Date: 21-25 September 2017
From 21 September to 25 September, 2017 Dr. Barak Kushner (University of Cambridge) hosted Dr. Chang Chihyun (Shanghai Jiaotong University), Professor Kishi Toshihiko (Kyoto University), and GIS specialist He Jiawei from Feng Chia University (Taiwan), along with graduate students from Shanghai Jiaotong University, Leeds and Bristol Universities. Over several days the group cooperated in the building of a website to geographically analyze the shifting landscape of power from imperial to postwar East Asia. The goal was to plot the location and time of Japanese war crimes and create a database that can be used to lay out a visual geographical map of both the violence during the war and how justice was pursued by trials in the aftermath. The event was held at at the University of Cambridge and funded by a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant.
Summary of Workshop (Chinese)
Date: 20 September 2017
How did the leadership of the Japanese Communist Party, which had been ruthlessly oppressed since the late-1920s, emerge suddenly after defeat in 1945 to become one of the most organized and powerful political groups in post-imperial Japan? In a guest seminar, Professor Suzuki Norio of Aichi University presented his latest research on the postwar Japan Communist Party and the idea of postwar revolution. Suzuki began with a discussion of the state of archival material on the Japan Communist Party, as well as ongoing efforts of Japanese historians to document party activities during the early-Cold War. In particular, Suzuki’s presentation broke new historical ground by focusing on the hitherto neglected role of the Tokyo Preventive Detention Center as the wartime crucible of the banned Communist Party, from where party leaders and affiliated members debated the shape of the postwar world, the future role of the emperor system, as well as objective conditions for revolution in Japan and East Asia. Through the lives of postwar Japanese Communist Party leaders, such as Tokuda Kyuichi, Nosaka Sanzo, and Ito Ritsu, this presentation revealed the way individual lives and political careers rose and fell with shifts in political and ideological alignments between Moscow and Peking. Bringing together the strands of the wartime and postwar Japanese Communist Party, Suzuki provided a powerful demonstration of the need to see late-imperial and postwar Japanese political history as international history. (The talk and discussion were held in Japanese).