Reminder to self: Complicating History

This is an old-fashioned web-log post: links that I don’t want to lose in the ether or the depths of my Eudora folders. Both are from Japan Focus, and both have to do with complicating our view of Japanese history.

The first is a conceptual and migratory complication, which I’m always in favor of, by Chris Burgess: “Multicultural Japan? Discourse and the ‘Myth’ of Homogeneity”. Burgess does a bit of deconstruction on both Nihonjinron and its attackers, problematizing both homogeneity and diversity. Then he talks about migration, but goes beyond the usual platitudes by addressing actual numbers and even coherent international comparisons! I’m not entirely convinced — limiting the migration discussion to in-migration always makes me a little wary — but that’s why I want to go back and read it again another time.

The second is Aaron William Moore’s “Essential Ingredients of Truth: Soldiers’ Diaries in the Asia Pacific War”, which includes not only a substantial discussion of WWII diaries, but also a contextual discussion of the tradition of diary-keeping in modern Japan, especially the military, a discussion of the publication of military diaries in Japan, and then concludes with a discussion of wartime military diaries from other countries, so as to put the Japanese diaries in the fullest possible context.

Go, read, and come back and discuss, perhaps? Perhaps not.

Update: Nobuko Adachi — editor of the recently reviewed collection of Diaspora studies in which I had a chapter1 — graces this week’s Japan Focus with “Racial Journeys: Justice and Japanese-Peruvians in Peru, the United States, and Japan”, which tells the story of the WWII era deportation to the US and interment of Japanese-Peruvians, and the slow realization by the governments involved that a grave injustice was done. She then goes on to discuss the dekasegi and other return migration (including that most famous Japanese-Peruvian, Alberto Fujimori) and the crisis created by Japan’s economic slowdown. Interesting stuff.

  1. In spite of the very positive review, the book’s rank at Amazon is just on the cusp of the top million…. 


  1. Aaron Moore did a nice paper at a conference I was at on Chinese wartime diaries. One of the points he was making was that they got a lot less interesting as the war went on and they were more and more likely to be used to keep tabs on people’s intellectual purity. Apparently this was not the case in Japan.

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