Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, History, Western Michigan University

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Assistant Professor, History, Western Michigan University
Remembering War, Commemorating Colonialism: A Comparative Analysis of Postwar Japanese Peace Activism and Museums

Memories of the Asia-Pacific War (1931-45) continue to be profoundly divisive, creating continual controversy between Japan and its neighbors on the Asian mainland . The principle source of this conflict is the myth that Japan tries to forget its colonial past and whitewash its wartime atrocities. This myth, however, ignores the fact that starting the 1950s, a vigorous Japanese pacifist movement emerged to remember the foreign victims of Japanese imperialism and war atrocities, and by the mid-19 90s, this movement had flourished throughout the nation. One of the most important results of this movement was the establishment of numerous micro-museums to remind visitors of Japan' s wartime colonialism and atrocities. This study examines the peace movement from 1945 to the present and includes an analysis of the collections of these privately run micro-museums, many of which are in renovated garages or converted rooms in the proprietor's house. One important contribution of my project is to examine this homegrown pacifist movement as separate from other postwar Japanese pacifist movements designed to oppose nuclear weapons, the US-Japan Security Treaty, American military bases, or revision of the Constitution . In doing so, it will point out ways that these pacifist movements diverge and converge at various points in history . This analysis will explain the emergence in the 1990s of the acute revisionist movement denouncing postwar history education as a product of increasing awareness and self-criticism of the war. The study will also compare war museums in Japan, China,Taiwan, and South Korea in order to point out the different ways that each nation has remembered the events of the Asia-Pacific War. Moreover , it discusses the many micro-museums and monuments in Japan that have become centers of regional movements to educate the Japanese citizenry about peace. It also surveys the many grass-roots movements that have sprung up among Japanese people and examines the motives and agendas of the participants of various given regions. This study is my second book project. This study will contribute to facilitating reconciliation not only between Japan and its neighbors, but also offer a fuller knowledge toAmericans who believe in the myth and who are increasingly frustrated with dealing of its past by the Japanese government.