ICAS Event: Wartime Japan Reconsidered - based on Ken J. Ruoff new book "Imperial Japan at its Zenith"

Thursday, January 20, 2011
7:00 p.m. (Talk will start at 7:30 p.m.)
TUJ Azabu Hall 303 (Access)
Kenneth J. Ruoff
Kyle Cleveland
Free. Open to general public.
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The Japanese often remember the war as a "dark valley" of unrelenting suffering, but was this really the case? For example, 1940 was the peak year for tourism in Imperial Japan, with tens of millions of Japanese touring the archipelago, and many hundreds of thousands touring the empire. The most popular national heritage site outside of Japan proper was Port Arthur, a battle site in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 rendered sacred in the aftermath of that war, and especially after the Manchurian Incident of 1931. This paper provides a window into what Japanese tourists experienced on their guided bus tour of Port Arthur circa 1940, and analyzes the carefully packaged historical narrative that these tourists consumed during their visit. It also introduces the notion of national heritage tourism as a form of self-administered citizenship training, and debunks the notion that the war was a blanket dark valley for the Japanese.

About the Speaker

Kenneth J. Ruoff is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University. He is the author of Imperial Japan at its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2,600th Anniversary (the Japanese version is titled: 朝日選書「紀元二千六百年 消費と観光のナショナリズム」). He is also the author of The People's Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945-1995, the Japanese translation of which was awarded the Osaragi Jiro Prize, Japan's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, in 2004 for the best book in the social sciences published the previous year.

About ICAS
The Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) is an organization dedicated to fostering study and research on various topics related to contemporary Japan and Asia.

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