This book argues that the war crimes tribunals in East Asia formed and cemented national divides that persist into the present day. War crimes tribunals allow for the history of the defeated to be heard. In contemporary East Asia a fierce battle between memory and history has consolidated political camps across this debate. The Tokyo Trial courtroom, as well as the thousands of other war crimes tribunals opened in about fifty venues across Asia, were legal stages where prosecution and defense curated facts and evidence to craft their story about World War Two. These narratives and counter narratives form the basis of postwar memory concerning Japan's imperial aims across the region. The archival record and the interpretation of court testimony together shape a competing set of histories for public consumption. There is compelling evidence that despite the passage of seven decades since the end of the war, East Asia is more divided than united by history.
バラク・クシュナー and浅野豊美,「戦争・ホロコストと帝国・植民地支配表像をめぐるメディアの正義と和解〜ヨーロッパとアジアをまたぐ複眼的視座を求めて」in 浅野豊美編集『和解学, volume 6 - 想起する文化をめぐる記憶の軋轢: 本欧州・アジアのメディア比較と歴史的考察』明石書店, 2023, p. 317-349.
This is a co-authored article with Asano Toyomi about isses concerning reconciliation and history comparing Europe with East Asia.
The Manchurian Candidate myth that Americans could be psychologically manipulated and turned into secret agents of a foreign power emerged in the early Cold War. The belief combined fears that Soviet/Chinese mind manipulators were so adept that they could transform honorable American soldiers into turncoats. We need to unravel the PRC's take on the processes of "thought reform" to understand why it kept returning to a policy designed to "re-educate" prisoners of war, often doubly labeled as war criminals. These policies not only reveal how the CCP aimed to render justice beyond the conclusion of its war with Japan but also demonstrate how this practice then grew into a later catalyst for unification plans in PRC-ROC relations during the 1970s.
A Japanese translated book chapter concerning "The origins of the history problem in East Asia as seen from Europe."
This was a series of 8 episodes covering the history of the trials of Japanese war crimes atrocities. I was the host and lead narrator for the three episodes that covered China.
This chapter is part of the Fanning the Flames volume which takes a comprehensive look at how Japan deployed popular arts for propaganda that created an imperialist fervor. Kushner joined a host of scholarly essays and utilized rich illustrations from the collections of the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, including woodblock prints, photos, posters, and the rarely examined street paper plays called kamishibai, to analyze how Japan mobilized its imperial populations.
Host and narrator for three of the eight episodies from a documentary series on postwar war crimes trials of the Japanese, produced by the Shanghai Media Group. These were broadcast in Chinese and English on Chinese television, first in September 2020. Now available to view online or on DVD.
In the Ruins of the Japanese Empire: Imperial Violence, State Destruction, and the Reordering of Modern East Asia
In the Ruins of the Japanese Empire concludes that early East Asian Cold War history needs to be studied within the framework of post-imperial history. Japan's surrender did not mean that the Japanese and former imperial subjects would immediately disavow imperial ideology. The end of the Japanese empire unleashed unprecedented destruction and violence on the periphery. Lives were destroyed; names of cities altered; collaborationist regimes—which for over a decade dominated vast populations—melted into the air as policeman, bureaucrats, soldiers, and technocrats offered their services as nationalists, revolutionaries or communists. Power did not simply change hands swiftly and smoothly. In the chaos of the new order, legal anarchy, revenge, ethnic displacement, and nationalist resentments stalked the postcolonial lands of northeast Asia, intensifying bloody civil wars in societies radicalized by total war, militarization, and mass mobilization.
When Emperor Hirohito announced defeat in a radio broadcast on 15th August 1945, Japan was not merely a nation; it was a colossal empire stretching from the tip of Alaska to the fringes of Australia grown out of a colonial ideology that continued to pervade East Asian society for years after the end of the Second World War. In Overcoming Empire in Post-Imperial East Asia: Repatriation, Redress and Rebuilding, Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov bring together an international team of leading scholars to explore the post-imperial history of the region.
From international aid to postwar cinema to chemical warfare, these essays all focus on the aftermath of Japan's aggressive warfare and the new international strategies which Japan, China, Taiwan, North and South Korea utilised following the end of the war and the collapse of Japan's empire. The result is a nuanced analysis of the transformation of postwar national identities, colonial politics, and the reordering of society in East Asia. With its innovative comparative and transnational perspective, this book is essential reading for scholars of modern East Asian history, the cold war, and the history of decolonisation.
The Dismantling of Japan's Empire in East Asia: Deimperialization, Postwar Legitimation and Imperial Afterlife
Book chapter in Huang Zijin's co'edited, two volume series: 〈法律與帝國—對日關係中「正義」的掙扎（1944-1947）〉, 黃自進, 潘光哲編輯 《中日戰爭和東亞變局』》下冊,Taipei: Taiwan, 稻鄉出版社, 2018, p. 331-364.
in Sven Saaler and Christopher W.A. Szpilman, eds., Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History, London: Routledge, 2018, p. 251-263,
“The question of complicity: Japan’s early postures toward war crimes and war responsibility in the aftermath of the Second World War”
in Kerstin von Lingen, ed., Debating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1956, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, p. 151-176.
“Heroes, victims, and the quest for peace: war monuments and the contradictions of Japan’s post-imperial commemoration”
“Ghosts of the Japanese Imperial Army: The ‘White Group’ (Baituan) and Early Post-war Sino-Japanese Relations”
“Imperial Cuisines in Taisho Foodways,” in Eric Rath and Stephanie Assmann, eds., Japanese Foodways, Past and Present.
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.
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.