Monday, April 09, 2007

War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945-2005

It's out!

Today's IHT - The Asahi Shimbun has an enthusiastic revue (no link yet) of Dr. Franziska Seraphim's long- awaited book on civil organizations and war memory.

(Partial disclosure: the reviewer, Dr. Ken Ruoff of Portland State University, deservedly considered the go-to guy on the Imperial House in the postwar era, was a contemporary of Dr. Seraphim's at Columbia University's East Asian Studies Ph.D. program)

Here is the description:

Japan has long wrestled with the memories and legacies of World War II. In the aftermath of defeat, war memory developed as an integral part of particular and divergent approaches to postwar democracy. In the last six decades, the demands placed upon postwar democracy have shifted considerably--from social protest through high economic growth to Japan's relations in Asia--and the meanings of the war shifted with them.

This book unravels the political dynamics that governed the place of war memory in public life. Far from reconciling with the victims of Japanese imperialism, successive conservative administrations have left the memory of the war to representatives of special interests and citizen movements, all of whom used war memory to further their own interests.
Here is the order page for the book.

Though my opinion is worth just about nothing (and that is how much people tend to pay for it) I would describe Dr. Seraphim as one of the six to seven smartest individuals I have ever met. Her monograph is most likely to be the definitive study on the subject of the use and misuse of war memory--though in his review Dr. Ruoff alerts the reader of the imminent publication of another study on the same subject.

Expertise abounds! And just in time for the much-ballyhooed summits!

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