Engaging with the historical category of transwar, this panel explores particular aspects in the histories of Korea, Indonesia, China and Japan between the 1930s and 1960s in order to consider the possibility of developing a transwar history of East Asia. Since the 1990s, scholars working on East Asia have challenged the historical division between the pre- and postwar periods in their respective fields. Such challenges often took the form of locating continuities of prewar institutions into the postwar period in a particular national context. This panel seeks to push this rethinking further by moving beyond notions of rupture/continuity by exploring further the complex processes through which certain ideologies, practices and/or institutions were reconfigured to new postwar contexts. Ultimately, our objective is to consider how these various reconfigurations can contribute to our understanding of transwar East Asian history.
This panel considers the different transwar legacies that were redefined and recalibrated to postwar conditions in Korea, Indonesia, China and Japan. Deokhyo Choi’s paper explores how the legacies of Japanese wartime colonial mobilization molded the legal-governmental system in postcolonial South Korea. His paper focuses particularly on the formation of the “national movement” in late 1948 and discusses its connections with Japan’s total war and colonial National Spiritual Mobilization Movement. Ethan Mark discusses the ambiguous implications and afterlife of Japanese wartime training of Indonesian paramilitaries within the charged political constellations of Indonesia’s Cold War. Brian Tsui analyzes how revisions made in 1953 to the Chinese Nationalist Party canon, Three People’s Principles, bridged the Guomindang’s interwar and wartime anticommunism with its early Cold War priorities. Turning to Japan, Max Ward traces the transwar institutionalization of criminal rehabilitation in Japan from its initial application to political criminals in the 1930s to its expansion at the beginning of high economic growth in the 1950s, and its changing symbolic connections to the Japanese imperial household.