Public lecture video by Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS). This lecture was held on April 2, 2018. The speaker was Noell Wilson, 2017-18 Fulbright Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Hokkaido University and Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi.
2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration which has been feted in commemorations spanning academic conferences and special essay collections worldwide as well as local celebrations in Japanese cities such as Kagoshima and Kyoto. Parallel to these festivities, however, are activities in Hokkaido observing a connected, yet distinctive, 150th anniversary, that of the incorporation of “Ezo” into Japanese sovereign territory and its renaming as Hokkaido. Celebrations of both national and “Hokkaido” transformations frequently focus on the role of the ocean in the emergence of a modern Japan, from the process of renaming “Ezo” to the broader demarcation of sovereign water spaces circumscribing Japan’s perimeter. What do both sesquicentennials reveal about Japan’s emergence as a maritime nation over the past century and a half? And what role did Hokkaido play in that process?