2019: Renewing and Reframing Hiroshima

Hiroshima & Nagasaki 2019
Quelle: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 17 | Issue 15 | Number 6 | Aug 01, 2019
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

Renewing and Reframing Hiroshima
Jeff Kingston, Professor of History, Temple University Japan (July 2019)

History Lite
The 1981 version, presented in a relatively modest facility that has since been greatly expanded, gave a bare bones account that conveyed the impression that the atomic bombing came out of the blue, like an unpredicted and unprecedented natural disaster. There was no context regarding the war or the previous firebombing of 64 Japanese cities, and no reference to the subsequent Nagasaki bombing. The displays focused exclusively on the horrific consequences for the city and its people. Uncomplicated by any analytical interpretation, the scenes of devastation were viscerally powerful. This version reflected the broader embrace of a victim’s narrative that emphasizes what happened to Japan. It largely overlooked what Japan had perpetrated across Asia from 1895-1945 and the wartime elite’s decision to plunge the nation into a reckless war of aggression in China, Asia, and the Pacific from 1937, and the escalating tension between the US-Japan that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.3 The campaign to subjugate China and the subsequent widening of the war to Southeast Asia in the name of Pan Asian liberation claimed at least 15 million lives and displaced countless other millions. In the 1980s, there was a very incomplete reckoning about Japan’s rampage in Asia, although at that time many Japanese, including celebrated historian Ienaga Saburo, were contesting that absence. Ienaga challenged the Ministry of Education’s censorship in several court cases, but the government remained resolute bout keeping the blinkers on regarding the Nanjing massacre and other atrocities that he wanted to include in his textbooks.4 He thought it the height of folly to censor such events from the official narrative—not least because doing so was reminiscent of the wartime era-- and sought to draw the collective gaze to the horrors of war beyond Japanese suffering.

The Heisei Awakening ....

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