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Memory Maps

Memory Maps: The State and Manchuria in Postwar Japan

Mariko Asano Tamanoi
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Memory Maps
    Book Description:

    Between 1932 and 1945, more than 320,000 Japanese emigrated to Manchuria in northeast China with the dream of becoming land-owning farmers. Following the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and Japan’s surrender in August 1945, their dream turned into a nightmare. Since the late 1980s, popular Japanese conceptions have overlooked the disastrous impact of colonization and resurrected the utopian justification for creating Manchukuo, as the puppet state was known. This re-remembering, Mariko Tamanoi argues, constitutes a source of friction between China and Japan today. Memory Maps tells the compelling story of both the promise of a utopia and the tragic aftermath of its failure. An anthropologist, Tamanoi approaches her investigation of Manchuria’s colonization and collapse as a complex "history of the present," which in postcolonial studies refers to the examination of popular memory of past colonial relations of power. To mitigate this complexity, she has created four "memory maps" that draw on the recollections of former Japanese settlers, their children who were left in China and later repatriated, and Chinese who lived under Japanese rule in Manchuria. The first map presents the oral histories of farmers who emigrated from Nagano, Japan, to Manchuria between 1932 and 1945 and returned home after the war. Interviewees were asked to remember the colonization of Manchuria during Japan’s age of empire. Hikiage-mono (autobiographies) make up the second map. These are written memories of repatriation from the Soviet invasion to some time between 1946 and 1949. The third memory map is entitled "Orphans’ Voices." It examines the oral and written memories of the children of Japanese settlers who were left behind at the war’s end but returned to Japan after relations between China and Japan were normalized in 1972. The memories of Chinese who lived the age of empire in Manchuria make up the fourth map. This map also includes the memories of Chinese couples who adopted the abandoned children of Japanese settlers as well as the children themselves, who renounced their Japanese nationality and chose to remain in China. In the final chapter, Tamanoi considers theoretical questions of "the state" and the relationship between place, voice, and nostalgia. She also attempts to integrate the four memory maps in the transnational space covering Japan and China. Both fastidious in dealing with theoretical questions and engagingly written, Memory Maps contributes not only to the empirical study of the Japanese empire and its effects on the daily lives of Japanese and Chinese, but also to postcolonial theory as it applies to the use of memory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6359-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Introduction: “Manchuria” in Postwar Japan
    (pp. 1-23)

    The frontispiece of this book may look like one of the paintings of Jean-François Millet or Théodore Rousseau, leaders of the Barbizon School of painting in mid-nineteenth-century France. Yet this is not a painting but a photograph (circa 1934) of the landscape of Manchuria (Northeast China), where Japan’s imperial power reached at the turn of the twentieth century. The photo depicts the countryside, not the city; the margins, not the center; and “the foreign” in the eyes of the Japanese. In the age of empire, this photo must have captivated millions of Japanese, who eventually left Japan proper (naichi) and...

  5. 2 Memory Map 1: Oral Histories
    (pp. 24-52)

    Memory is infinite, yet oral memory is definitely more infinite than written memory.¹ When I ask a question, my informant, using some portion of his or her memories, offers me a story. When I ask a similar question in a different sentence, the same informant, relying this time on someone else’s memories, which he or she heard or read, recounts for me yet another story. In this respect, the conventional definition of oral history, “the interviewing of eye-witness participants in the events of the past for the purposes of historical reconstruction” (Perks and Thomson 1998a:ix), refers to only some of...

  6. 3 Memory Map 2: Repatriate Memoirs
    (pp. 53-83)

    In Japanese, the verb “to repatriate” (hikiage-ru) has multiple meanings; among these are to pull up, raise, refloat, pull out (of a place), and (close a business and) return home. As a noun, “repatriate/s” (hikiage-sha) becomes not only historically but also morally charged in postwar Japan (Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Henshū Iinkai 2001:172). Repatriates are those who emigrated to Japan’s overseas territories in the age of empire but were forced to (close their businesses and) return home after Japan’s capitulation in the Asia-Pacific War. Once in Japan, however, they were often seen as social misfits, largely because the dominant perception of...

  7. 4 Memory Map 3: Orphans’ Memories
    (pp. 84-114)

    Modern wars always result in a large number of orphans. The last war that Japan fought in Asia and the Pacific is no exception.Sensō koji(war orphans) were the youngest of the war victims, and they involuntarily participated in the making of an empire. In postwar Japan, war orphans are usually associated with the U.S. bombings of major cities in Japan. The bombings deprived over one hundred thousand children of their parents and homes.¹ They were therefore forced to live “in railroad stations, under trestles and railway overpasses, in abandoned ruins,” and they captured the attention of writers and...

  8. 5 Memory Map 4: Chinese People’s Memories
    (pp. 115-139)

    “We are beginning to understand Manchuria as a place in the Japanese imagination. Yet situating Manchuria in theChineseimagination seems to be a work still at an earlier stage of progress,” writes Rana Mitter (2005:25, emphasis in original). Although the works of scholars such as Mitter (see also Mitter 2000), Carter (2002), Duara (2003), Fogel (1995, 2005), and Shao (2005) have brought to the Anglophone reader much about the Chinese imagination of Manchuria in the age of empire, we are still short on knowledge aboutordinaryChinese people’s memories. In part, in China, where “history writing has been the...

  9. 6 Conclusions: “The State” and Nostalgia in Postwar Japan
    (pp. 140-162)

    Today the state is conventionally understood as “a system of public organs, powers or authorities through which an independent nation, a sovereign community, governs itself” (Pelczynski 1984a:55–56). This state is the nation-state, the idea of which did not emerge in Western Europe until the late fifteenth century. Before then, there were Greek city-states, the Roman republic, multiethnic empires, small dynastic states, and so forth. While the system of modern nation-states, often called the “Westphalian system,” grew in Western Europe in the late seventeenth century, it did not spread into every corner of the world until the second half of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 163-184)
  11. References
    (pp. 185-204)
  12. Index
    (pp. 205-212)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-214)