The Dismantling of Japan's Empire in East Asia: Deimperialization, Postwar Legitimation and Imperial Afterlife
The end of Japan’s empire appeared to happen very suddenly, and cleanly – but, as this book shows, it was in fact very messy, with a long period of establishing or re-establishing the postwar order. Moreover, as we argue empires have afterlives, which, in the case of Japan’s empire, are not much studied. This book considers the details of the immediate postwar, including repatriation of Japanese personnel, the redrawing of boundaries, issues to do with prisoners of war and war criminals, new arrangements for democratic political institutions, for media and for the regulation of trade. It also investigates the continuing impact of empire: on the countries ruled or occupied by Japan, where as a result of Japanese management and administration, both formal and informal, patterns of behavior and attitudes were newly adjusted.
Examining Japan's Lost Decades
This book examines five features of Japan’s ‘Lost Decades’: the speed of the economic decline in Japan compared to Japan’s earlier global prowess; a rapidly declining population; considerable political instability and failed reform attempts; shifting balances of power in the region and changing relations with Asian neighbouring nations; and the lingering legacy of World War Two. Addressing the question of why the decades were lost, this book offers 15 new perspectives ranging from economics to ideology and beyond. Investigating problems such as the risk-averse behaviour of Japan’s bureaucracy and the absence of strong political leadership, the authors analyse how the delay of ‘loss-cutting policies’ led to the 1997 financial crisis and a state of political gridlock where policymakers could not decide on firm strategies that would benefit national interests.
Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan (with a foreword by Funabashi Yoichi)
This book is an abridged translation of the Asahi newspaper edited volume on media and history, orginally titled in Japanese: 新聞と「昭和」: 朝日新聞「検証・昭和報道.
Slurp! A Social and Culinary History of Ramen - Japan’s Favorite Noodle Soup
In Japan there is only one word for noodle soup and that is “ramen.” Other noodles exist and used to be more popular but they lost ground in the 20th century and never dominated the international market like ramen. Udon, soba, and sômen are all fine noodle dishes with devoted followers but none have had the power to launch international industries, attract hundreds of millions of international customers, or have dozens of comic books, songs and movies devoted to them. The long evolution of ramen helps us enter the even longer and fascinating history of cuisine in Japan, charting how food and politics combined as a force within Sino-Japan relations. Cuisine in East Asia plays a significant political role, at times also philosophical, economic, and social. The main point is that ramen is a symbol of the relationship between the two major forces in East Asia – what started as a Chinese food product ended up almost 1,000 years later as the emblem of modern Japanese cuisine. How did that happen and what does it signify?
The Thought War-- Japanese Imperial Propaganda
The postwar perception of Japanese wartime propaganda was that it was a failure, falling short of reaching its major goal of unifying the battlefront with the home front. The Thought War
, reveals actually how a shooting war of enormous magnitude, ferocity, and breadth gained the participation of a civilian population that eagerly embraced its aims and supported its proponents.
“Heroes, victims, and the quest for peace: war monuments and the contradictions of Japan’s post-imperial commemoration”
Book chapter in Dominik Geppert and Frank Mueller, eds., Sites of Imperial Memory: Commemorating colonial rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015, p. 70-91.
“Chinese War Crimes Trials of Japanese, 1945-1956: a Historical Summary”
Book chapter in Morten Bergsmo, Cheah Wui Ling, Yi Ping, eds., The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law,
volume 2, Brussels: Torkel Opsahl Academic Publisher, 2014, p. 243-265.
“Empire’s Little Helpers: Juvenile Delinquents and the State in East Asia, 1880-1945”
“Empire’s Little Helpers: Juvenile Delinquents and the State in East Asia, 1880-1945,” in Heather Ellis, ed., Juvenile Delinquency and the Limits of Western Influence, 1850-2000
, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, p. 145-170.
“Unwarranted attention: the image of Japan in twentieth century Chinese humour”
This is a book chapter from a volume on the history and ideas behind humour in modern China. In the book by Jessica Davis and Jocelyn Chey, eds., Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times,
Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press 2013, p. 47-80.
“Ghosts of the Japanese Imperial Army: The ‘White Group’ (Baituan) and Early Post-war Sino-Japanese Relations”
Academic article analyzing Japan's postwar imperial assistance to the Chinese Nationalists. Chiang Kaishek invited former Japanese Imperial General Okamura Yasuji to head a group of Japanese military offices back to Taiwan to secretly train them to retake the Chinese mainland after the Communist victory in 1949.
“Sweetness and Empire: Sugar Consumption in Imperial Japan”
This work analyzes how new products altered the concept of "sweetness" as embodied in items processed with sugar, as an element in "modern" food. I argue that, although sugar was consumed as a luxury item in early-modern Japan, in the early decades of the twentieth century, and especially during the war years, the consumption of sweets became inseparable from the idea of Japanese modernity, linked to the act of consumption within the sphere of Japanese empire.
Dreams of Empire
The catalogue was created for the Caskey Lees, Arts of Pacific Asia Show in San Francisco in February 2011. There were 150 pieces on display, all drawn from the MHJ collection. For the 40 page, color catalogue I wrote the main essay, "The Drive to Mobilize Wartime Society," which illuminates the historical, political and social context in which these extraordinary textiles were produced.
“Going for the Gold - Health and Sports in Japan’s Quest for Modernity”
This is a chapter in William Tsutsui and Michael Baskett, eds., The East Asian Olympiads, 1934-2008: Building Bodies and Nations in Japan, Korea, and China,
Folkestone: Global Oriental, 2011.
“Treacherous Allies: The Cold War in East Asia and American Postwar Anxiety”
The postwar US federal government spent a decade, initiated two federal treason trials, and dispensed over one million dollars in legal pursuit of John Provoo for his crimes in the Philippines as a POW and as a propaganda agent for the Japanese. In a strange perversion of justice the US attorney even invited to the federal court Provoo’s former captors – Japanese propagandists, military officials and POW guards – to establish his guilt. Why was the US government so keen to pursue and charge a lone second world war POW with treason? What dread did Provoo strike in the hearts of US officials? This article examines how Provoo embodied wartime and postwar American panic concerning East Asia, just as the situation in the region dramatically spiraled out of American control.
“Imperial Cuisines in Taisho Foodways,” in Eric Rath and Stephanie Assmann, eds., Japanese Foodways, Past and Present.
In this chapter I argue that Japanese foodways grew out of both a dialogue within Japan’s colonial empire and a discourse bent on separating the concept of national food away from and in distinction to China. For post-Meiji Restoration (1868) Japan, we cannot understand “Japanese cuisine” in a geographical and historical vacuum as a product that grew up in isolation. Indeed, one of the major ideological shifts in identity during the Taisho era (1912-26) was the incorporation and consumption of Chinese food and its influence on Japanese cuisine and diet, even as the very concept of Japanese cuisine was forming.
“Pawns of Empire: Postwar Taiwan, Japan and the Dilemma of War Crimes”
Examining the plight of the Taiwanese, who were pawns in the larger conflict of World War Two, helps us to understand the complicated process of the breakdown of the Japanese empire. The postwar legal adjudication of BC class Japanese war crimes in East Asia is a key element in unwinding the historical complexity of postwar power shifts, the formation of a Taiwanese identity, and its connection to Japan’s postwar foreign relations goals. This paper considers three
inter-related issues – analyzing how Japanese rule was restructured in the postwar former colonies, dissecting the prosecution of lower-level Japanese war crimes, and resolving the conundrum of collaboration within the former empire. These problems are tied intimately together due to the transformation of postwar identity and colonial politics.
Online article about the history of ramen and the politics of food in Japan and China.
Get the quick and dirty lowdown on the history of ramen and impress your friends and colleagues with your savvy and deep appreciation of food history in East Asia.
“'Noodle-ology': the politics of cuisine”
A very brief article detailing that what we often think is national cuisine originates from unlikely sources. Learn how Chinese interaction with pre-war Japan helped change national taste and influence the postwar. (Produced in the University of Cambridge Research Horizons journal, Summer 2008, p. 15).
“Planes, Trains and Games: Selling Japan’s War in Asia”
During Japan’s war to establish dominance in Asia, Japanese soldiers did not expect to return home alive, and few considered it even possible that Japan’s war would end quickly. In light of the demographic determinants that many believed would aid Japan’s military power on the Chinese mainland, and later against the Allies, Japan’s youth culture played a dominant role.
The purpose of this research is to center on the quasi unofficial, not the schools and educational content directly managed by the government, but that which existed outside the school, outside the daily purview and grasp of the government. In this regard, kamishibai, paper plays, fit the bill perfectly. Certainly kamishibai were censored, but the multiplicity of companies that produced the plays and the incorporation of traditional stories like Ōgon batto remained a potent force.
“Gojira as Japan’s First Postwar Media Event,” in the book, In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage
See my chapter in Bill Tsutsui's edited volume on Godzilla. Everything you thought you wanted to know about Godzilla and then some.
“'Negro Propaganda Operations': Japan's short-wave radio information broadcasts for World War II Black Americans”
Co-authored with Japanese scholar Sato Masaharu, this research is the only treatment using Japanese and American archives that examines the programs Japan initiated to attract Black-Americans toward Japan's side. Ultimately, the propaganda failed, but the lengths to which Japan stretched demonstrates a deep understanding of the racial divides that affected the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.
“Cannibalizing Japanese Media - The Case of Issei Sagawa”
This is the first article in English concerning the Sagawa case and its treatment in the Japanese media.