Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
"Dilemmas of a Japanese Historian of Southeast Asia: Tatsurō Yamamoto (1910-2001) and the Ghost of Pan-Asianism"
Takamichi Serizawa, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Tatsurō Yamamoto (1910-2001), known as a pioneering scholar of Vietnam and Southeast Asian history in Japan, once in the mid-1970’s, made a speech in front of young university students in Tokyo. His speech was entitled “The Orient and Japan” and was about the current unclear Japanese perspectives on Asian countries and people as opposed to the past when Japan was once an imperial nation. Before and during WWII periods, he recalled that the Japanese had a clear national agenda of increasing wealth and military power so that Japan could be the country in order to lead Asian countries and people. Meanwhile he did not forget to remind the students that this agenda failed because Japan committed imperial exploitation, invaded and oppressed many countries in Asia. His speech, held during the midst of Vietnam War, ended with his suggestion that Japan’s agenda today was to bring true happiness for Asian people. This suggestion reveals that the “pan-Asiatic discourse” that heavily circulated during the time of WWII still haunted Yamamoto’s academic thought and attitude in the post-war era. This talk will analyze the dilemmas for the Japanese historian studying Southeast Asian history which were created by Japan’s defeat by the US and the experience of GHQ/SCAP occupation, which tried to place Japan again on the “right track” of Western democracy.