Allegories of Historical Revisionism: Yamamoto Shichihei on Sino-Japanese Relations in the 1970s.
Tue, November 13, 2012 • 3:00 PM • GAR 1.102 -November 13, 2012
Yamamoto Shichihei burst into Japanese public consciousness in 1970 as the translator and publisher of the best-selling book The Japanese and the Jews written by Isaiah Ben-Dasan. Yamamoto went on to become one of Japan’s most prolific authors and commentators in the 1970s, both as Ben-Dasan’s translator and writing in his own name. Yamamoto is best known for his ruminations on Japanese national character and as a major figure in the historical revisionist movement for his participation in the Nanjing Massacre controversy. Less well-known is his writing on another major issue in 1970s Japanese politics – Japan’s changing relations with China. In this talk I will focus on a series of articles by Ben-Dasan and translated by Yamamoto that interpret Japan’s relations with China in the context of a dramatic revisionist history of Sino-Japanese relations from the founding of the Japanese imperial institution to Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei’s visit to Beijing in 1972. I will suggest some of the ways that these articles shed light on how issues of Japanese national identity, war responsibility and historical revisionism informed perceptions of Japan’s relations with China even before the internationalization of Japan’s “history problem” in the 1980s and 1990s.
Robert Hoppens is assistant professor in the Department of History & Philosophy at the University of Texas Pan-American where he teaches courses in modern Japanese, Chinese and East Asian history. His research interests include the history of Sino-Japanese relations, the Cold War and nationalism in East Asia.