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Japan in the Shadow of War Memory

Japan in the Shadow of War Memory

Colloquium with Akiko Hashimoto, Sociology/Asian Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

Monday, February 27, 2006
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Faculty Center
Hacienda Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Winners and losers remember wars differently. For every victor who remembers a good, honorable war, there is a vanquished counterpart who remembers a humiliating failure. If winners accept victory as a mostly uncomplicated affair, losers, by contrast, face a predicament of living with a discredited past that stains national history. Winners and losers are also remembered by the world differently. If winners mostly accrue respect for their courage and sacrifice at war, losers often face the task of recovering from censure and blame. Much is at stake in the losers’ projects to regain economic productivity, moral credibility, national dignity and international reconciliation. The outcome of their projects ultimately defines their postwar national identity. In the global world at the turn of the century, Japan still attempts to recover from the burden of World War II, and revise its national goals. The original goals of peace, prosperity and security seem stale to the postwar generation -- now already two-thirds of the population -- after the end of the Cold War, the bursting of the economic bubble, the death of the Showa Emperor, and the Gulf War. It is obvious to them that a new vision of what it means to be Japanese is needed, and it seems urgent to formulate new goals suited to the emerging global environment. At this pivotal time of social transition, Japanese citizens remain deeply divided in their vision of the future between neoliberal and neonationalist directions.

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