The effects of the Asia-Pacific War (1931–1945) still linger through the region. Among those many factors that prolong the “life” of this war is the Japanese inability to recognize other peoples’ losses. Seventy-three years after the end of this war, these victims’ voices widely resound, a constant reminder that justice is yet to be achieved. This essay will explore, through ethnographic and textual analysis, these insistent but vanishing voices as they are evoked by former war criminals from Japan. These uncommon witnesses say that by testifying with the self-consciousness of former invaders and colonizers, they are listening and responding to their victims’ accusations. What these witnesses regard as their responsibility for their acts turns out to be their response-ability to their victims. This essay will pursue the latter concept to examine the degree to which it enables dialogues in the region, which is currently under a “memory war.”
Responding to Other Voices: War Criminals’ Testimonies on the Asia-Pacific War, 1931–1945
Etsko Kasai received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Her research interests include cultural aspects of fascism, war and peace, and the post – World War II reconciliation process in Asia and the Pacific. Her article will appear in Anthropological Theory. She is currently working on peace movements in contemporary Japan.