Organized Panel Session
Our panel examines the various boundary formations that have defined modern Japan from the interwar period into the early postwar era. Through its development as a modern empire and its collapse following the Asia-Pacific War, modern Japan experienced a time of dynamic territorial/national expansion and contraction. Bearing on this historical context, this panel explores how Japanese intellectuals, including literary authors and religious figures, engaged in producing Japan’s boundaries. The boundary question was closely related to the formation of imperial and postwar identities as well as the integration and differentiation of diverse territories, cultures, and populations in and out of Japan. The four presentations comprising this panel address such crucial aspects of boundary-making in modern Japan from several methodological perspectives. While Willems examines the 1920s Japanese travel literature focused on Japan’s far north region and its reflection of Japanese imperialist consciousness, Hoshino traces interwar border-crossing activities initiated by a Japanese Christian organization and explains how migrants’ at-times illicit activities led to the formation of a broader Japanese imperial nation. Kasai’s and Lee’s papers address the link between prewar and postwar discussions of boundary-making. Kasai explores a Japanese scientist’s characterization of Hokkaido as a unique juncture at the Japanese periphery that embeds the colonial gaze in its discourse, evincing only a superficial discontinuity between the prewar and postwar periods. Finally, Lee traces “radical” Japanese social scientists’ discourses on Asia from the wartime period and examines how it contributed to the production of a problematic postwar political view.