Workshop on Public Memory: Session IV
(This report on the US-Japan Joint Meeting in Hawaii, March 24-26, 2001, is posted with the permission of the workshop organizer)
The Impact of Historical Perceptions on US-Japan Relations in the New Century
Session IV: Social Groups and Public Memory
Papers by Toyomi Asano (Chukyo University), Marc Gallicchus (Villanova University), Haruo Iguchi (Doshisha University) and Frank Ninkovich (St. Johnís University)
Conclusion by Chihiro Hosoya and Akira Iriye
Session IV Ė Afternoon of March 25
Professor Asano reviewed his article on the development of the post-war cultural state in Japan. Professor Oshiba asked about the role of GHQ during the occupation in shaping these policies and society in general and the views of Koreans. Professor Yang asked about Japanese efforts to reconcile relations with the United States with relations with Asia and effects of Asian foreign relations on Japanese views of the war and the cultural state since the 1960s. Professor Asano responded that before and during the war the view of Asians as subjects was the main unifying theme; since the war some have focused on the role of other Asians as victims and their suffering as a building block of Japanese democracy and relations with the United States. He also highlighted the importance of relations between individuals and the state and the idea of mononational Japan in influencing postwar Japanese views. Professor Iriye commented that viewing the Pacific as one unified war was probably a good idea, particularly because modernization could be seen as a driving force of the entire conflict. Professor Oshiba agreed but wondered if a single memory were practical.
Professor Gallicchus explained his article on African American perceptions of Japan during and after World WarⅡ. Professor Oshiba asked about how Professor Gallicchus' research fit into the shaping of overall US memories of the war. Professor Gallicchus responded that black Americans tended to think more in terms of collective memory than whites, although they are hardly a monolithic community. The selective views of Japan during the war derived in part from the satisfaction of seeing whites suffer setbacks. After Japan's defeat and civil rights movement, Japan's ability to provide this satisfaction and blacks' need for it declined and black and white American memories of the war came closer. Professor Hosoya asked about the effects of African views of Japan, which were also shaped by the Versailles peace conference. He said that during the 1960s African representatives in the UN referred to this record. Professors Ma and Hosoya mentioned that the Japanese foreign ministry took US racial divisions into account when making policy, such as the signing of the Tripartite Pact, and hoped to capitalize on it in case of conflict. Professor Sasaki pointed out that this thinking also showed up in A Japan That Can Say No. Professor Gallicchus responded that the idea of black Americans as a fifth column showed up in 1920s pulp fiction and that the Japanese goverment did try to use funds to influence blacks but that the money was frequently wasted. He added that some blacks saw China as a collaborator with imperialists in the 1930s that should help Japan against whites, although this was not a universal view since black communists and New Dealers often differed. In genenal, some blacks Americans ascribed purely racist, imperialist motives to white Americans and opposed any US foreign policy in east Asia.
Professor Iguchi explained his work on Bonner Fellers, an American psychological warfare officer who worked as an aide to MacArthur and a member of the Republican right. He stressed that his presentation was preliminary and that he hoped to do more research at Stanford and Iowa. Professors Oshiba, Iriye, and Hosoya suggested that Professor Iguchi work more on tying his paper into public memory. Professor Iguchi responded that the project would shed light on the formation of elite memories. The effects of the perception of the Showa emperor's and President Roosevelt's war responsibility would also help explain the alliance between Japanese conservatives and the Republican right. Professor Iriye also pointed out that Professor Iguchi's work would tie into earlier accounts of conspiracy to create a new memory about imperial responsibility for the war.