9 February 2012
Venue: Case Room 1, Owen G Glenn Building
Host: Professor Matt Allen, University of Wollongong
School of Asian Studies
Japanese Professorial Seminar
Victimhood and Sacrifice: Remembering Japan and the Pacific War 70 years on
Professor Matt Allen
Seventy years after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japan’s role in the Pacific War still generates international political controversy. At sites of public memory, such as the Yushukan military museum in Tokyo and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, memories of war are made and transmitted to a globally connected audience. These interpretations of events are culturally specific; they are also designed to have powerful emotional impacts on visitors. In producing narratives of belonging, each of these sites elides significant and relevant materials in order to make its larger case. Focusing on the current POW exhibit in the Australian War Memorial, and on the kamikaze exhibit at Yushukan, I look at how narratives that emphasise victimhood and sacrifice avoid dealing with uncomfortable memories in constructing national stories that foreground Japan’s involvement in the Pacific War.