Japan

Organized Panel Session

5 - Eternally Rising Sun: Biopolitics and Imperialist Fantasy in Japan's Postwar Empire

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Park Tower 8222, Lobby Level

As an economic and geopolitical blueprint for the future of Asia, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere laid the groundwork for conceiving Imperial Japan’s Pan-Asian postwar empire.  Building on the Confucian ideology of the Asian family, Japan imagined its relationship to other Asian nations in term of a shared destiny, common ideals and values, regional and global economic prosperity and geopolitical unity.  Nonetheless, while outwardly promoting Pan-Asianism, Imperial Japan’s Ministry of Health and Public Welfare set about to produce a secret internal document that outlined its future plans for Greater East Asia, claiming the innate racial superiority of the Japanese people over other Asians.  This document, known as An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus (1943), went even further, extensively mapping out the future of the Yamato race by means of controlling population growth, marriage and family, living space, environment, food production and migration patterns—in short, an entire biopolitics of the Japanese population.  The document warned in part against cultural assimilation and miscegenation and adapted the racial science and eugenics policy of the Nazis to the specific needs of the Japanese empire.  Drawing on current research on the above wartime document, the paper analyzes Japan’s biopolitical project of utopian engineering, combining mundane bureaucratic and statistical information and imperialist fantasy, fusing together a total war of annihilation and “eternal” imperial rule.  The paper offers a new comprehensive vision of a Japanese postwar empire that was seriously considered but never was.

Christopher A. Shinn

Howard University, District of Columbia

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5 - Eternally Rising Sun: Biopolitics and Imperialist Fantasy in Japan's Postwar Empire



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