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Race for Empire

Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans during World War II

T. Fujitani
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    Race for Empire
    Book Description:

    Race for Empireoffers a profound and challenging reinterpretation of nationalism, racism, and wartime mobilization during the Asia-Pacific war. In parallel case studies-of Japanese Americans mobilized to serve in the United States Army and of Koreans recruited or drafted into the Japanese military-T. Fujitani examines the U.S. and Japanese empires as they struggled to manage racialized populations while waging total war. Fujitani probes governmental policies and analyzes representations of these soldiers-on film, in literature, and in archival documents-to reveal how characteristics of racism, nationalism, capitalism, gender politics, and the family changed on both sides. He demonstrates that the United States and Japan became increasingly alike over the course of the war, perhaps most tellingly in their common attempts to disavow racism even as they reproduced it in new ways and forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95036-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xx)
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. INTRODUCTION Ethnic and Colonial Soldiers and the Politics of Disavowal
    (pp. 1-32)

    Reflecting on her childhood years in early postwar Japan, the pioneering historian and activist Utsumi Aiko wrote in her 1991 contribution to the popular Iwanami Booklet series that she could recall no public memory from that time of the Korean and Taiwanese men who had fought for Japan as soldiers and sailors during the Asia-Pacific War. While she remembered those around her struggling to piece together their lives in the immediate aftermath of the war, or simply getting by from day to day, she had no childhood memories of these ethnic and colonial soldiers. “Thus, although the ‘War’ remained in...


    • CHAPTER ONE Right to Kill, Right to Make Live: Koreans as Japanese
      (pp. 35-77)

      In its official history of thirty years of Japanese rule in Korea, the Government-General of Korea noted that a fundamental transformation in the state’s understanding of “population” had taken place since the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Previously, the population problem had been understood as a matter of an excess—that is, concerned with such issues as the imbalance between a surplus population, on the one hand, and available food and employment on the other. However, because of the wartime need for “human resources” and future demands for “limitless [population] growth,” this worry had been totally reversed. “In...

    • CHAPTER TWO “Very Useful and Very Dangerous”: The Global Politics of Life, Death, and Race
      (pp. 78-122)

      Perhaps it goes without saying that in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, even the feeble signs that some Japanese Americans were becoming full-fledged members of the national community rapidly collapsed.¹ Throughout the prewar years the Japanese minority had been more outside than inside the national community. And technologies of human accounting, such as the census, had operated as much to exclude them from society, in fact to defend society from them, as it had worked to include them within the nation. It might be said that they had been incorporated within the larger American bio-political regime, but in large part...


    • CHAPTER THREE Subject to Choice, Labyrinth of (Un)freedom
      (pp. 125-162)

      The analogy of separating Japanese American goats from sheep that circulated so widely among civilian and military administrators points to another aspect of the shift from “vulgar” to “polite” racism that I have touched on but not adequately analyzed in the previous chapters: namely, that the new modality of governing this minority could no longer operate through repressive or negative means alone but needed in addition to urge them in a positive way and guide them toward making voluntary choices, including the decision to enlist in the military. The new political rationality would deploy an assemblage of positive practices that...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Reasoning, Counterreasonings, and Counter-conduct
      (pp. 163-205)

      In the previous chapter I charted the shift in modality of governing Japanese Americans toward a complex governmentality that mobilized exceptions and force precisely for the purpose of enabling liberal rule. As Dillon S. Myer put it in response to aggressive questioning in the Senate about the need to more strictly police the internees, “it is a question whether we are going to make more fifth columnists by one kind of treatment”—that is, by severity—“or whether by another type of treatment we are going to make more good citizens.”¹ Yet in the process I have only in passing...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Go for Broke, the Movie: The Transwar Making of American Heroes
      (pp. 206-236)

      Despite the failure of the Japanese American volunteer program to produce a large number of volunteers from the mainland United States, by commonsense standards those eventually inducted into the army from Hawaii and the mainland United States (mainly through the draft) cumulatively performed astonishing feats of military heroism while sacrificing their lives and bodies in numbers out of all proportion to their presence in the military. Perhaps most famously they served as combatants in Europe, first with the 100th Infantry Battalion, an outfit originally made up of Hawaiian Japanese, and then with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.¹ When war broke...


    • CHAPTER SIX National Mobilization
      (pp. 239-298)

      U.S. psychological warfare during the Second World War had as one of its key strategies the exploitation of class, racial, and regional divisions within the Japanese nation and larger colonial empire. While most Americans in the postwar United States have tended to believe that the Japanese are a homogeneous people, and wartime propaganda represented the Japanese as just like so many “photographic prints off the same negative,”¹ to use the filmmaker Frank Capra’s famous phrase, U.S. intelligence agencies understood that the enemy’s façade of unity veiled a nation and colonial empire fractured by deep cleavages. Even as U.S. propaganda tried...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Nation, Blood, and Self-Determination
      (pp. 299-334)

      The concerted disavowal of racism in the Japanese colonial empire during the late war years operated through media other than the documents and directives produced by the civil and military branches of the state. Newspapers, magazines, cinema, radio, literature, music, and other media also circulated stories about Japan’s empire of equality throughout not only Korea but also the metropole and other places within the Japanese imperium. Already in the late 1930s, the Japanese media in the metropole—paralleling liberal efforts among the Allies to discontinue use of blatantly racist terms such as “nigger” and “Jap”¹—conspicuously began to avoid the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Colonial and National Politics of Gender, Sex, and Family
      (pp. 335-374)

      In recent years some of the most incisive scholarship on the cultural politics of empire has emphasized that the management of families, gender, and sex was not of secondary concern for colonial and imperial powers, but was central to and implicated in the constitution and maintenance of larger structures of exploitation and domination. Thus, as Ann Stoler has put it, she has been concerned to interrogate “how and why microsites of familial and intimate space figure so prominently in the macropolitics of imperial rule,” a problematic that echoes with other feminist calls for attentiveness to why “gender dynamics were, from...

  11. EPILOGUE “Four Volunteer Soldiers”
    (pp. 375-386)

    In April 1947 Nakano Shigeharu, the Marxist writer, poet, and critic, published a short essay titled “Four Volunteer Soldiers.” More a column than an extended essay, Nakano tells the story of his encounter on a train with four young men in Japanese army uniform in September 1945—four men who had belonged to the first cohort of Koreans who had volunteered for the Japanese army in 1938. Like the youths, Nakano had just been demobilized, so when they met they shared a common history as soldiers in the Imperial Army. However, while Nakano was middle-aged, they were in their twenties;...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 387-446)
    (pp. 447-468)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 469-488)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 489-489)