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17 March 2016

Yasukuni Shrine and mourning the war dead in Japan

Haruko Satoh
Osaka University

Time: 4:30pm-6:30pm
Venue: CPD-1.24, Centennial Campus, HKU

click to see poster

Yasukuni Shrine, one of the youngest modern Shinto shrines, continues to symbolize the unrepentant Japan with regards to its role in World War II and the obstacle to reconciliation with its neighbours. Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits against all caution and protests left a particularly negative legacy in Japan’s regional standing. However, the shrine has been and still is controversial in Japan – a point that receives scant attention in the international media reporting. It represents a nationalist narrative of modern Japanese history and sense of nationhood that is increasingly untenable in post-war, post-Cold War and post-bubble Japan. It represents one strand of Shinto belief, but not all; in other words, it risks misrepresenting Shintoism, Japan’s ancient religion, and the culture and custom of how the Japanese regard and treat life and death. Without an understanding of the such cultural and historical context of Yasukuni closure of World War II is not forthcoming for both Japan and the rest of Asia.

Haruko Satoh is Specially Appointed Professor for Osaka University’s Centre for the Advancement of Research and Education Exchange Networks in Asia (CAREN) and adjunct professor at the Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), where she ran the MEXT Reinventing Japan project on “Peace and Human Security in Asia (PAHSA)” with six Southeast Asian and four Japanese universities. In the past she has worked at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), Chatham House, and Gaiko Forum. She has studied at Mount Holyoke College, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) – Bologna Center, and University of Cambridge (Centre of International Studies) and her interests are primarily in state theory, Japanese nationalism and identity politics. Recent publications include: “Rethinking Security in Japan: In Search of a Post-‘Postwar’ Narrative” in Jain & Lam (eds), Japan’s Strategic Challenges in a Changing Regional Environment (World Scientific, 2012); “Through the Looking-glass: China’s Rise as Seen from Japan”, (co-authored with Toshiya Hoshino), Journal of Asian Public Policy, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 181-198 (July 2012); “Post-3.11 Japan: A Matter of Restoring Trust?”, ISPI Analysis No. 83 (December 2011); “Legitimacy Deficit in Japan: The Road to True Popular Sovereignty” in Kane, Loy & Patapan (eds), Political Legitimacy in Asia: New Leadership Challenges (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), “Japan: Re-engaging with China Meaningfully” in Tang, Li & Acharya (eds), Living with China: Regional States and China through Crises and Turning Points, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).


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