The Tamogami Affair: History and Security in Northeast Asia

Thursday, March 12, 2009
5:15 PM - 6:30 PM
Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room

Reckoning with the Past:  Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Asia

Is it possible to come to terms with the violent past and foster reconciliation with former foes, what are the obstacles and how can they be overcome? These are some of the questions we are asking in the "Divided Memories and Reconciliation" project. This colloquia will bring several scholars to Stanford to discuss the ‘history problem' in a series of lectures analyzing the ways in which past conflict has or has not been addressed and resolved in contemporary Asia. Examining issues of memory and forgetting, guilt and innocence, apology and restitution from diverse social science perspectives, our speakers investigate the handling of the violent past both within and between countries in contexts ranging from international diplomacy to the broadcast media to mass education.

In November of 2008, the head of the Japanese air self defense force, General Tamogami Toshio, resigned in a swirl of controversy over an essay he wrote entitled "Was Japan An Aggressor Nation?" The essay argued that Japan's seizure of Korea and of northern China was a legal act and that it had pursued a moderate policy of modernization in its colonial rule of Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria, superior to the colonial rule of the Western imperial  powers. General Tamogami also argued, in his published essay, that Japan's war with the United States was a result of being "ensnared in a trap that was carefully laid by the United States to draw Japan into a war." What is the story behind this controversial incident? What does it mean when a senior Japanese military officer holds such views of the wartime past? What are the implications of this for Japan's security relations with its neighbors and the United States?