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Post-war Transitions across New Borders: Economic and Political Activities of Repatriates in Post-War Japan and Germany

Sun, June 26, 3:00 to 4:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 118

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


The themes of this conference are 'Asia in motion' and 'horizons of hope'. Both are fully encapsulated in this panel, which examines one of Northeast Asia's most significant mass migrations: the repatriation of millions of Japanese from their former Empire. This panel has two main aims. First, to trace the “passage through” wartime imperialism to post-war democracy in Japan. In this light, Nishizaki examines the post-war occupational transitions of employees of the South Manchuria Railway as Japan moved from recovery to high-speed growth. Nakayama then focuses on Karafuto and Taiwan, investigating the post-war lives of a select group of agricultural experts who played prominent roles in mobilizing people for the empire. Some of these individuals also appear in Bull’s paper, which examines the incorporation of repatriates into Japan’s public war memory—a process that reveals the multifaceted relationships among the repatriates and government. Overall, these papers question the emphasis on repatriates’ 'victimhood' in conventional narratives. The second aim is to place Japanese repatriation within a wider context. Ivings does this through a comparison with refugees in Germany, challenging us to re-examine our existing assumptions within a global framework, which he argues brings a fresh perspective to the growing body of research on the Japanese empire and its aftermath. To conclude, one of the leading experts on repatriation – Lori Watt – will offer her insights and a discussion of the contemporary relevance of the study of the 'refugee crises' of this period will be encouraged among the audience.

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