Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes

Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes

by Lisa Yoneyama

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In Cold War Ruins Lisa Yoneyama argues that the efforts intensifying since the 1990s to bring justice to the victims of Japanese military and colonial violence have generated what she calls a "transborder redress culture." A product of failed post-World War II transitional justice that left many colonial legacies intact, this culture both contests and reiterates the complex transwar and transpacific entanglements that have sustained the Cold War unredressability and illegibility of certain violences. By linking justice to the effects of American geopolitical hegemony, and by deploying a conjunctive cultural critique—of "comfort women" redress efforts, state-sponsored apologies and amnesties, Asian American involvement in redress cases, the ongoing effects of the U.S. occupation of Japan and Okinawa, Japanese atrocities in China, and battles over WWII memories—Yoneyama helps illuminate how redress culture across Asia and the Pacific has the potential to bring powerful new and challenging perspectives on American exceptionalism, militarized security, justice, sovereignty, forgiveness, and decolonization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822374114
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

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.

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Cold War Ruins

Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes

By Lisa Yoneyama

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2016 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-7411-4


Liminal Justice


To atone for your country and to demand redress for my daughter are one and the same. ... What I try to condemn, ultimately, is not merely an American crime but the cocktail party in and of itself.

Oshiro Tatsuhiro, Kakuteru pati [The Cocktail Party]

A disjointed or dis-adjusted time without which there would be neither history, nor event, nor promise of justice.

Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

In spring 2010, just less than a year after having led the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to its historic landslide victory in the Lower House election, Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio abruptly resigned from office. Previously during the campaign for the 2009 election Hatoyama had visited Okinawa and pledged to local voters that in the event of victory his party would completely remove base facilities at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (MCAS Futenma). The area surrounding the Futenma Air Station has been plagued by the histories of land appropriation, fatal accidents caused by high-risk military exercises, extreme noise, and other health and environmental hazards. Futenma became singled out as the paramount representation of Okinawa's base-related problems, especially following the 1995 sensational rape incident involving a twelve-year-old girl by three American servicemen. A year later the two governments agreed to relocate the naval station in Futenma to other U.S. bases. The plan would shift the Futenma facilities, partly to Guam and partly to the already existing base in Okinawa, Camp Schwab, which is in the Henoko District of Nago City. The Henoko plan came as a disappointment to those who aspired to a total removal of the military bases from the islands. It also raised serious environmental concerns and incited protests because the plan would involve extensive offshore reclamation.

The U.S. military seizure of Okinawa began with its land invasion during the final months of the Asia-Pacific War. During the 1950s the U.S. Army continued the land requisition with forcible measures relying on "bayonets and bulldozers" and converted most of the seized areas into airfields, a naval port, military stockpiles, boot camps, and various other facilities accommodating U.S. troops and their attendants. The U.S. State Department and the military had not necessarily agreed on the monetary worth of maintaining U.S. possession of Okinawa, and there were different understandings over time. Nonetheless, it was not until 1972 that the United States ended its total occupation and Okinawa became a prefecture in Japanese sovereign territory. This "Reversion to the Mainland" (hondo fukki) marked a significant turning point in the de jure status of Okinawa. But it did little to change the island's militarized condition. Today the U.S. military occupies about 20 percent of Okinawa's main island and 40 percent of its airspace. Because of the U.S. military presence, Okinawa has been implicated in virtually all major American wars since World War II — in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hatoyama's attempt to respond to local demands for lessening Okinawa's inordinate burden in accommodating U.S. bases in part resonated with his own broader political vision. He had advocated the establishment of what he called the East Asian Community in which Japan would seek to lessen U.S. influence over the region and instead cultivate closer fraternal ties with other Asian countries, including the PRC, through the establishment of an integrated currency and regional peace security arrangements. Investigative journalists clarified that political maneuvering in Tokyo and Washington had led to the spectacular failure of the Democratic Party's attempt to secure the U.S. government's consent to remove the American troops. Several preceding incidents also fueled pressure for the politician to step down, including his family's inappropriate political donations. But the public media, at least at the time, attributed the dissolution of his short-lived cabinet not so much to the monetary scandal as to his inability to keep his promise of relocating the U.S. base facilities.

I open this chapter with the relatively recent political upheaval involving Okinawa, Japan, and the United States for several reasons. For one, this political episode exposed more spectacularly than ever the United States' and Japan's continuing joint expropriation of Okinawa. The predicament demonstrated by the Hatoyama cabinet's downfall reflects the structure of the transpacific complicity between the United States and Japan and the historical sedimentations evident in Okinawa's current militarized condition. Though the degrees of commitment may have varied, since its takeover of Okinawa the U.S. government has consistently regarded it as a key strategic outpost for its military command over Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's pro–United States anticommunist party that came into power in 1955 and has ruled ever since except for a brief interruption in the 1990s and again between 2009 and 2012, has sustained Okinawa's status quo by its unwavering embrace of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (first signed in 1960, and automatically renewed since the second signing in 1970). Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) of the Security Treaty the United States maintains virtual extraterritorial use of the Okinawan land it seized during the initial phase of the occupation. The extraterritorial nature of SOFA also prevents U.S. military personnel accused of crimes from being handed over to Japanese police until there is an indictment, severely compromising the ability of Japanese police and local officials to gather evidence and build their cases.

Okinawa's political representatives have repeatedly requested Tokyo to implement measures to alleviate problems associated with the U.S. military's presence. Some civic groups have insisted that it is not enough for the U.S. military to leave Okinawa, only to move somewhere else in the Pacific or elsewhere. At a minimum, local legislators have requested the central government to lighten Okinawa's burden of accommodating U.S. troops in Japan — over 70 percent (as of 2014) of whom are stationed on Okinawa — by distributing them more evenly across other Japanese prefectures. Yet successive LDP-led cabinets have largely remained reluctant to respond, except by increasing financial support and compensation to locals and thereby further locking the local economy into a center-periphery dependency. To be sure, the U.S. government has not necessarily demanded the constant physical presence of U.S. troops in Okinawa; it nonetheless insists that all bases in Okinawa must remain available for American military use at any and all times. In response, the Japanese government continues to guarantee the U.S. government's privileged access to bases in Okinawa and their military use by honoring the SOFA. In this way, the Japanese government has been faithful to what Gavan McCormack aptly named "client-statism." This refers to the asymmetrical interstate relations in which the lesser country (i.e., Japan) willingly subordinates itself to seek the protection of the patron state (i.e., the United States) by succumbing to the latter's needs. With regard to Japan, however much individual Japanese mainlanders may have expressed sympathy for Okinawa's plight, they have for the most part acquiesced to the status quo. By largely containing the U.S. military presence to this peripheral island, and to a lesser degree a few other locations, the Japanese central government has managed to quell whatever discomfort or resentment mainland Japanese may harbor about transpacific "client-statism" and its obligatory political subordination. The 2010 diplomatic debacle over Futenma, then, is yet another instance that has brought international attention to the predicaments besetting Okinawa, which have originated in the U.S.-Japan Cold War alliance. It showcased the tenacity of the transnational forces committed to containing any destabilizing elements that might threaten post–World War II arrangements.

How are we to address and redress, if at all, the transpacific triad sustaining Okinawa's dilemma? I will begin with a brief historiographical exploration of Cold War Okinawa as a space of at least three overlapping liminalities — epistemically within academic discourse, legally with regard to its sovereignty and territorial belonging, and materially as a space of violence in a supposedly postviolence world. Okinawa's liminality, above all, is characterized by its ambiguous post–World War II, Cold War condition as a "liberated yet occupied" space under U.S. occupation. At the same time, in the transition from wartime to Cold War geopolitical and military mapping, Okinawa was located at the intersections of the "American Lake" and the "Far East/northeast Asia." The chapter then introduces Kakuteru pati (The Cocktail Party, 1969), an award winning novella by Oshiro Tatsuhiro, who is one of Okinawa's most prolific and renowned authors. I will read Oshiro's story alongside the metadisciplinary self-interrogation of Cold War area studies in anthropology and Asian studies. The critique of knowledge production we find in both The Cocktail Party, published at the Cold War's height, and the postnineties, post–Cold War self-reflections from within the academic disciplines, will reveal the problematic ways in which Okinawa came to be studied and represented on the cusp of the midcentury Pax Americana. By placing the geohistorical insights of Oshiro's text in dialogue with more recent academic reflections on the ways in which area studies and American anthropological knowledge have been militarized, the chapter hopes to identify critical analytics with which we might grasp the complex sedimentation of violent histories in Asia and the Pacific Islands since the war's end.

Ultimately, my reading encourages us to understand The Cocktail Party as a hermeneutics critical of Cold War formations, both transpacific and transnational. The Cocktail Party reveals that the instrumentalization of knowledge about Okinawa's culture and history was integral to the justification and establishment of the United States' sovereign presence across the post–World War II Pacific. Importantly, Oshiro's story exposes the limits of the modern categories according to which we habitually understand and present history and memories of violence. Okinawa's Cold War liminality as "liberated yet occupied" blurs the binary lines that supposedly demarcate and indicate the mutual exclusivity of liberal and illiberal, democracy and autocracy, peace and war, life and death, free and unfree, and amity and enmity. Such a perspective, which is critically attuned to Okinawa's liminal condition, introduces an alternative articulation of historical justice that compels us to move beyond the debilitating post–World War II, Cold War legacy. It may well incite us toward different historical sensibilities that help discern alternative spatial imaginations and temporalities, making it possible to envisage a different justice in Okinawa, and by extension, a different decolonized world.

Before we begin, however, it is important to note a curious remainder of the 2010 political drama. The debacle over the Futenma base relocation did not conclude with the prime minister's resignation, but unfolded with a stunning discursive turn. At his inaugural press conference (June 4, 2010) the DPJ leader Kan Naoto, who immediately succeeded Hatoyama as prime minister, was asked his political visions for the Futenma issue. To the reporters' astonishment, the new prime minister replied abruptly and without hesitation that he had been gaining insights into Okinawa's history from a nonfiction novel, Ryukyu Disposition, a Novel (Shosetsu Ryukyu Shobun). The historical novel Kan referred to is our author Oshiro's magnum opus, which was written around the same time as The Cocktail Party. If the latter thematized the postwar Okinawa under U.S. military occupation, Ryukyu Disposition, a Novel portrayed the end of the nineteenth-century annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom by the then emerging and expanding Japanese modern colonial empire.

The nomenclature the "Ryukyu Disposition" refers to a series of administrative measures the Meiji State undertook to encroach upon the region. The process, which ultimately concluded with the 1879 incorporation of Ryukyu into the Japanese body politic as Okinawa prefecture, involved the overthrow of the Ryukyu monarchy, followed by enlistment of the Okinawan royal family into the ranks of the modern Japanese aristocracy, and attempts to integrate the Ryukyu region by severing the multidimensional ties the kingdom had maintained over many centuries with the Chinese and other neighboring states. Ryukyu Disposition, a Novel first appeared in 1959 as a yearlong series in the local daily newspaper, Ryukyu Shimpo. Kodansha later published the novel in a single volume in 1968. The novel centers on Matsuda Michiyuki, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the Meiji government who was appointed to an administrative position that mandated the entire annexation process between 1875 and 1879. According to Oshiro, Matsuda left a colossal archive made up of official and unofficial documents, compilations of journals, diaries, and his own essays related to the disposition, all of which then became the basis for fictionalization. For average Japanese mainland readers, Oshiro's monumental novel was not necessarily the most well-known literary piece within his enormous body of works. The prime minister's startling mention of it during his national press conference brought the novel unexpectedly back into the spotlight. Given the heightened media attention on the Futenma relocation issue, the novel was republished soon after the press conference and became available in a paperback edition.

Historically, the Ryukyu Disposition marked the beginning of Okinawa's colonial modernity. Following annexation the population of Okinawa as well as those who migrated to mainland Japan as industrial and service laborers were subjected to various modern technologies of nationalization and normalization in schools and factories, including strict imposition of the standardized Japanese language, a disciplinary work ethic and heteronorms conducive to industrial capitalism, and a lifestyle and conventions of etiquette that were deemed appropriate for the modern and civilized "first class" nation that Japan was then striving to become. Yet in Japan's mainland such knowledge about Okinawa's modernity has been for the most part overshadowed by cultural memories of the Battle of Okinawa and the U.S. military-colonial settlement that ensued. Popular media representations have unfailingly portrayed Okinawan residents during the war as martyrs who tragically sacrificed their lives for the defeated nation. To be sure, the audience in mainland Japan has been exposed to news of the pernicious U.S. military presence in Okinawa and the series of failed governmental measures. Today, in the liberal multicultural milieu, the overt racism many Okinawans have experienced in the mainland has also become part of popular knowledge. Yet rarely does the Ryukyu Disposition figure as a decisive historical juncture in the asymmetrical relationship between mainland Japan and Okinawa. Okinawa's two histories before and after World War II are divorced from one another and do not seem to occupy the same space. The 2010 disquiet around Oshiro's historical fiction must be read against this dominant discursive configuration.

If anything, the publics' bewilderment with the citation of the nineteenth-century historical episode in deliberations on Okinawa in the twenty-first century betrayed the widely accepted epistemic injunction against making explicit associations between the U.S. military settlement in Okinawa and Japanese colonial annexation. This sense of bafflement signaled the discursive habit of ignoring the entanglement of transpacific geohistories before and after 1945. What this episode brought to light, then, was the way in which "trans-war connectivity" — that is, the ability to make connections, to perceive affinities and convergences of geohistorical elements that have worked together to constitute mid-twentieth-century violence — has been repressed, if not entirely denied, in the production of knowledge about Okinawa. And yet, the dissensus over Futenma could not help but summon the specter of Japan's colonial empire. If there was indeed a ghost haunting the discursive perimeters of Okinawa's American base issues at the time, it was there to mark that very epistemic repression. Whatever the politician himself may have intended, the evocation of nineteenth-century Okinawan history was utterly unexpected for the media and the public at large. It caught people by surprise across the Okinawa-mainland divide, sounded awkward, and left the impression that the politician had made an erroneous statement that was grossly irrelevant to the realpolitiks of his immediate situation.


Excerpted from Cold War Ruins by Lisa Yoneyama. Copyright © 2016 Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
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Table of Contents

Preface  vii

Introduction. Transpacific Cold War Formations and the Question of (Un)Redressability  1

Part I. Space of Occupation

1. Liminal Justice: Okinawa   43

2. Liberation under Siege: Japanese Women  81

Part II. Transnational Memory Borders

3. Sovereignty, Apology, Forgiveness: Revisionisms  111

4. Contagious Justice: Asian/America  147

5. Complicit Amnesia: For Transformative Knowledge  177

Epilogue  203

Acknowledgments  215

Notes  225

Bibliography  285

Index  307

What People are Saying About This

The Intimacies of Four Continents - Lisa Lowe

"In this monumental book, Lisa Yoneyama analyzes the predicaments and possibilities of redressing war violence in Asia and the Pacific Islands, considering military tribunals, truth commissions, laws, historical debates, and museums. No other scholar has examined with such rigor and clarity the Cold War politics of knowledge that divides aggrieved and aggressor, the redressable and unredressable, the forgiven and unforgiven. With the publication of this book, the fields of East Asian Studies, American Studies, and Asian American Studies will be forever changed."

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