Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes
Lisa Yoneyama is Professor of East Asian Studies and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, the coeditor of Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s), also published by Duke University Press, and the author of Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory.
Sovereignty, Apology, Forgiveness: Revisionisms
This chapter observes the latest manifestations of transpacific Cold War entanglements in the “military comfort women” issue. The chapter focuses on Japan’s historical revisionism. Rather than simply a sensationalist politics pursued by reactionary extremists, the current revisionism is a discourse historically structured by the political unconscious of Japan’s “client state” status in postwar U.S.-Japan relations. By attending to the racial and sexual dimensions of the revisionists’ narratives and the “culture wars” they have incited, the chapter considers several issues that the revisionists regard as interrelated. Each unveils enduring Cold War predicaments: the national-history-textbooks controversy, the politics of transnational feminist redress (the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery), state-sponsored apologies, China’s cold war leniency policy and expressions of contrition by former Japanese POWs (Chūkiren), and the aberrant feature in Japan’s Constitution that renounces the sovereign right to wage war.