Asia’s global memory wars and solidarity

Quelle: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 5 | Number 6 | Article ID 5547 | Mar 01, 2021
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

Asia’s global memory wars and solidarity across borders:
diaspora activism on the “comfort women” issue in the United States

Daniel Schumacher

Calls for reparations and apologies for crimes committed during the 1930s/40s war in Asia have been major points of contention in East Asia’s public memory since at least the 1980s. In recent years, a “history/memory war” over the “comfort women” issue has intensified. At the same time, the battleground has also shifted to the terrain of “heritage” and has increasingly taken on a global dimension. This paper considers an increasingly significant arena for East Asian memory wars, involving diaspora communities in Western countries. Its particular focus is the coordinated “comfort women” activism of Korean-American and other Asian-American diaspora groups in certain regions of the United States. I argue that their decades-long activism has triggered a “memory boom” in its own right, helping to forge new inter-ethnic alliances and raising the political profile of Asian Americans. However, this has come at a cost, straining to breaking point postwar arrangements for symbolizing and cementing US-Japanese reconciliation. The paper illustrates how the expanding scope of Asia’s memory wars has made the struggle for appropriate remembrance, as well as control over narratives of the past, an increasingly global affair, with potentially lasting repercussions for societies far beyond East Asia. ....

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