Organized Panel Session
This panel upends the 1990s debate on Japan’s never-ending “postwar,” which reflected Japan’s regional disconnect with respect to the legacies of WWII and colonialism, by focusing on the “rights” discourse, popular movements and pacifism in Japan to examine the meanings of the “postwar” from a spatial and transnational perspective. Has the “postwar” ended? How long did it last? These questions were both extensively debated in Anglophone literature in the 90s and repeatedly asked by activists and reformers who lived the “postwar” themselves. However, such a temporal framing often obfuscates the fact that the “postwar” has also been a spatial regime in which such ideas about history, peace, and rights (vis-à-vis the nation) were exchanged transnationally. In our panel, Akiko Takenaka examines Japanese women’s peace activism in the contexts of U.S.-led Occupation and socialist-leaning Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF); Christopher Gerteis explores the former Class A war criminals’ attempt to pitch a radical vision of Japan’s place in the U.S.-led security regime to Japan’s “60s youth” on both left and right; and Keyao Pan traces the root of the human rights framing of Japan’s “historical issues” with its Asian neighbors back to GHQ’s creation of a jinken (lit. human rights) system and its role in the 50s movement for early release of Japanese war criminals and discourse on war and colonial legacy. Together, we seek to examine the transnational aspect of the “postwar” as a space that enabled the very discourse of the never-ending temporal “postwar” of the “enclosed” Japan.