CfP: Contesting Memorial Spaces in the Asia-Pacific, 6-7 November 2020

On 6-7 November 2020, Kyushu University Border Studies will host an international conference devoted to the operation and conceptualization of contested memorial spaces.

The aims of this event are threefold:

  • To consider how sites of memory operate across political scales, from the intensely local to the national, international, and global;
  • To understand how these spaces provide points of contact; and
  • To reflect on whether such sites can be transformed into spaces able to accommodate political difference.

We invite interested scholars to first submit abstracts (of up to 250 words) to the organizers by August 31, 2020.

For further details, and to submit an abstract, please see the link below:

“Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia” Conference Programme – July 31

July 18 and 31, 2020 – ONLINE (Zoom), through Kyushu University Border Studies

Friday 31 July, 9:30-12:30 (JST)

DAY 2: Contesting and Memorializing Sites of Heritage

Session 3: Edges of the Nation

“Desecration or Veneration: The Legacy of Shinto Shrines at the Borders of Imperial Japan”, Karli Shimizu (Hokkaido University)

By the end of World War II, the Empire of Japan stretched from the snowy plains of Hokkaido in the North to the tropical island of Taiwan in the South. Both of these peripheral territories, however, were only incorporated into the Japanese state in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The construction of Shinto shrines in these new territories was seen essential to their colonisation and modernization by the Imperial government. Shrines, often established in a top-down manner by the national or local government, were given the role of fostering a sense of loyalty and patriotism in the unruly population of indigenous peoples and settlers alike. Despite Shinto shrines having a similar role in both these areas during the prewar period, the perception of these shrines’ relationship with local deities has developed significant differences in these areas in the postwar. On one hand, Shinto shrines have commonly been seen as agents of colonial oppression and have been accused of desecrating indigenous deities. In other cases, Shinto shrines have become symbols of multiculturalism and have on occasion been adopted as a part of local veneration customs. This paper looks how the interaction between Shinto shrines, local deities, and national borders prewar and postwar has affected the complex legacy of overseas Shinto shrines.

“Remembering the Battle of Okinawa in the Yaeyamas”, Edward Boyle (Kyushu University)

This paper will introduce the concept of ‘Borders of Memory’ and apply it to the commemoration of the Pacific War that occurs in the Yaeyamas, the southernmost island group in Okinawa prefecture. The concept of ‘Borders of Memory’ aims to shed light on the links between memory and heritage by examining how heritage sites serve as spaces within which collective memory is able to be both affirmed and contested This allows us to survey the contours of the borders of memory that exist between different memory collectives. It is the competing meanings invested in the site, and the struggle over the narrative within which it is incorporated, that results in such sites coming to be demarcated as borders of memory. Understanding heritage sites as bordered spaces allows us to see them as being not only places in which antagonistic collective memories come into contact, but also spaces through which they connect. The paper will outline how the different scales at which the War in the Yaeyamas is able to be remembered means that its heritage sites remain cut through by borders of memory.

“Museum Education through Reenactment: Considering Historical Sites in Korea and Japan”, Jason Mark Alexander (Kyushu University)

The National Memorial Museum of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Occupation is a memorialized site of Pusan’s colonial history. Multiple aspects of the museum, like life-size mine tunnels and immersive soundscapes, place the viewer in the shoes of Korean laborers who labored and suffered under Japanese imperial rule. What are the positive and negative aspects of recreating the conditions of tragedy for museum audiences to walk through? There are museums similar in format and theme within Japan, but they are relatively toned-down. Drawing upon studies of communal memory of dark history, along with scholarship surveying the status of Korea-related museums in Japan, I investigate the coverage of colonization and war in museum education. Museums that aim to reenact the past need to cater to both adult and children as audiences to their exhibits. Appeals to emotions may indirectly inflame nationalist sentiments. Overall, experiential learning exhibits seem effective in how they convey emotional truths to the viewers, as they try to teach about trauma in an intimate manner that encourages empathy and peace.

Commentator: Jonathan Bull (Hokkaido University)

Session 4: Narrating Ruptures

“Collective history-making of WWII through dark educational tourism in Japan”, Kaori Yoshida and Huong Bui (Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University)

More than seventy years have passed since the end of WWII, and those who experienced the war first-hand have been dramatically disappearing. In the meantime, there is urgent need to seek for a new way to teach historical lessons to younger generations within the context of dramatic technological development and complex politico-social structure in Asia. In this circumstance various tourism operations, such as “dark tourism” (Lennon & Foley 2000), play an extremely important role in articulating collective memories of the war, while the growth of inbound tourists bringing with them different philosophical and political views has posed great challenges for dark tourism in Japan. This paper, viewing war-related museums and their materials as texts that articulate particular narratives, attempts to explicate the mechanism that operates between the texts and visitors. It focuses on two ever-ambivalent dark tourism destinations, Peace Museum in Okinawa and Chiran Peace Museum in Kagoshima, where the “dark” and the “light” paradoxically, yet meticulously interact, and demonstrates how particular memories are shaped as a national or local branding by means of tourism through narrativization. The paper analyzes the brochures of those museums, the museum layouts along with the neighboring areas that would significantly affect the interpretation of the museums as a part of story-teller. Grounded from critical discourse analysis and field observations, authors generalize a comprehensive theoretical model of the interactions between visitors and the dark sites incorporating contrasted aspect of interpretations of controversial and conflicted war-related sites in Japan.    

“The War Memorial of Korea, its Representation of War, and Citizens’ Struggle over Contested Memories on South Korea’s Burdening Past”, Dasom Lee (Independent Scholar)

The War Memorial of Korea was built under the last military regime in South Korea, the Roh Tae-woo administration, and it remains a Cold War zone. The War Memorial particularly has been criticized for not mentioning South Korea’s horrific involvement in the Vietnam War, including civilian massacre and sexual violence against women. Additionally, the Memorial doesn’t talk about another of South Korea’s burdening pasts, that a considerable number of South Korean soldiers who participated in the Vietnam War killed a great many civilians in Gwangju, 1980 as well, when citizens in Gwangju marched together for democracy and to raise their angry voices against Chun Doo-hwan’s military authoritarian regime. And many of the soldiers were traumatized in the aftermath of this.  Standing against such problematic representations at the War Memorial of Korea, an anti-war organization in South Korea called Civilian Military Watch tries to challenge the official narrative of the Memorial. My ethnography traces what the War Memorial of Korea doesn’t say, which memories become a “burdening past” for the South Korean state, and how the Civilian Military Watch plays a role in memory activism while creating domestic and transnational solidarity to produce counter-narratives.

“Framing negative heritage in disaster risk education: school memorials after 3.11”, Julia Gerster and Flavia Fulco (Tohoku University)

The disasters of March 11, 2011, washed away whole villages on the coast of Northeast Japan and destroyed the lives of thousands. Meskell (2012: 558) describes such places as “negative heritage, a conflictual site that becomes the repository of negative memory in the collective imaginary.” As the recovery of the Tohoku region in Northeast Japan continues, debates arose about which ruins should be kept as memorials. Most places chosen to be preserved represent cases of good evacuation practice. However, some survivors fought for keeping also those places where their relatives died, and the evacuation procedures failed to save them. In this paper, we explore the construction of the narratives surrounding two schools preserved as memorials in Miyagi Prefecture. While Arahama Elementary became a safe haven for 320 people, Okawa Elementary became an example of bad evacuation practice that led to the death of 74 children and 10 teachers. Drawing on the analysis of the “exhibitions,” the preservation efforts and first-hand accounts offered at the two sites, we aim to contribute to the understanding of the importance of negative heritage in disaster risk education. The process of framing negative heritage within the collective memory of the different communities is also crucial to understand the effect of the disaster on the local identities.

Commentator: Shu-Mei Huang (National Taiwan University)


“Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia” – Conference Programme (July 18)

July 18 and 31, 2020 – ONLINE (Zoom), through Kyushu University Border Studies

July 18 – 1600-1900 (JST)

DAY 1: Materials and Modes for Narrating the Past

Session 1: Time and the Nation

“The Chineseness of Chinatown in Singapore”, Ying-Kit Chan (Leiden University)

For many young Singaporeans, the word “Chinatown” evokes (only) images of a busy MRT (Singapore’s heavy rail rapid transit system) interchange, an occasionally bustling marketplace selling essential items for the Lunar New Year and other Chinese festivities, and a food haunt for those with a Chinese palate. But for an older generation of Singaporeans, especially the Chinese who had lived in the shophouses and walked the verandahs of Chinatown, it is a site of nostalgia, a (declining) bastion of culture, and, as the earliest (colonially designated) Chinese settlement in Singapore, a source of local Chinese identity. The sense that Chinatown had been an organic ethnic enclave is widely shared among Chinese Singaporeans who are born and raised in the country; it was rendered more acute sometime in the mid-2000s, when a massive influx of immigrants from mainland China complicated the issues of ethnic Chinese identity and belonging in Singapore. Like the other phase of Chinese identity construction in Singapore (in the wake of independence, when all “sub-identities” of citizens who could claim descent from families in China were subsumed under the Chinese race and the Mandarin language), the latest (re-)construction of Chineseness shapes the ideas of authenticity and nativism vis-à-vis nation-building and national integration. This paper suggests ways in which the six cross-generational faces of Chinatown can be examined in light of such developments and heritage tourism, which intensified in the area during the early 2000s.

“The Inheritance of Voice, Intentionality, and Provincial Japan: Storytelling in Tsugaru”, Joshua Lee Solomon (Hirosaki University)

Aomori prefecture, located at the northernmost tip of Honshu, has been constructed in the popular imagination as a reservoir of authentic Japanese tradition and pastness. This discourse of authenticity, generated in large part by the postwar tourism industry, has been famously deconstructed in the scholarship of Marylin Ivy. However, that scholarship, much like the advertising campaign it analyzes, leans heavily on the perspective of Tokyoites/urbanites themselves. By contrast, this paper addresses the construction of heritage in the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture by and for the local people. Specifically, it introduces an ethnographic account of a group of contemporary storytellers who train to perform oral folklore using esoteric and increasingly anachronistic vernacular speech forms. These storytellers, a group of hobbyists called “Wa no mukashi-ko,” see themselves as creating meaning for both themselves and their audiences through the inheritance and stewardship of their language and craft. The paper continues to contextualize that storytelling work with the regionalist philosophy of Fukushi Kōjirō from the 1920s and 30s. Fukushi’s writing laid the foundation for a contemporary “dialect poetry movement” and subsequent mobilizations of “Tsugaru dialect” as a mode of cultural production. The paper concludes by arguing that this inheritance and practice of vernacular speech and oral performance attests to the conflicted status of regional Japan vis-à-vis the hegemonic, cosmopolitan culture of the so-called “center.” Through this work, I hope to balance the fascistic potential inherent in place- and tradition-centered movements against the personal value of lived folkways and identities of their participants.

“Politics of Heritage: The Takatori Residence as an Expression of Status for the Meiji Elite”, Arisha Satari (Kyushu University)

Architecture in premodern Japan served as an expression of high social status, cultural prestige, and wealth. In the Meiji period, this method was also employed by emerging professional groups (entrepreneurs, politicians). Members of these groups aspired to represent their new status in the visual and physical terms, which manifested in the residential architecture. My paper focuses on one object example, the Former Takatori Residence in Karatsu. The large residential compound was created and owned by the industrialist Takatori Koreyoshi 高取伊好 (1850–1927) and is characterized by an eclectic mixture of western and traditional Japanese architecture styles.

The building represents hybridity by incorporating previous traditions and then contemporary architectural development into one structure. In my interpretation, this demonstrates how tradition was established in a period of rapid change for the construction of social identities. The newly emerging groups appropriated the formal language of traditional architecture for its close associations with premodern elites and imbued it with positively evaluated undertones of “Japaneseness.” Simultaneously, they adopted signature elements of western architecture with the intention to express “modernity.” In this paper, I will focus my investigation on two rooms that served as semi-public spaces: the Noh Stage and the Western-style parlor. I will analyze the presentation of social identity that manifests in the structural and decorative elements of each room and the larger building complex. I aim to understand the Takatori residence in its present status as an example of national heritage that epitomizes a seminal moment in Japan’s political, social, and architectural history.

Commentator: Steven Ivings (Kyoto University)

Session 2: Repurposing Sites in/as Heritage

“World Heritage and Intimacies: Insights from ‘Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region’”, Raluca Mateoc (University of Geneva)

The inscription of Japan’s cultural property “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region” in June 2018 on the World Heritage List brings out a scholarly and everyday re-visitation of the “Hidden Christians”, or the descendants of Japan’s evangelized population who chose the concealment of their faith while Christianity was forbidden in the archipelago. The cultural property’s Outstanding Universal Value stands in the religious tradition and lifestyle that the “Hidden Christians” of the Nagasaki region nurtured during the ban. Previous work approached the configurations of the nomination and the transformation of the Kakure Kirishitan (contemporary Hidden Christian) religious tradition into a national heritage, while looking at specific regional groups. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2017-2018, this paper takes a novel approach by examining the connection between heritage and tourism in the overall cultural property, a “serial” property gathering twelve components spread over Nagasaki and Kumamoto Prefectures. After discussing the institutional tourism engagements and memory spaces, I depict the life of three elements – the church, the tangible aspects of historical Hidden Christians, and the overall coastal / offshore village – in the narratives of local residents and guides and related cultural intimacy forms (Herzfeld, 2005). When doing so, I show that there is no dominant narrative related to the connection between heritage and tourism in the cultural property. The paper will contribute to understanding the role of “World Heritage” in the reconfiguration of intimacies at institutional and everyday level in Japan and beyond.

“Art in former military sites: spectres of geopolitics in South East Asia”, Gabriel Gee (Franklin University, Lugano)

In the late twentieth century, former industrial warehouses have been found throughout the globe to provide ideal spaces for the exhibition of contemporary arts. Following the diversification of practices at the turn of the 1960s, abandoned factories offered ideal opportunities for the development of new artistic forms such as installation and performative works. They also embodied significantly the shift from fordist and modernist societies, to more flexible consumerist models. In parallel, one might notice that former military and surveillance sites have on many occasions encountered a similar fate. In South East Asia, the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Singapore for example is located in the former Gillman Barracks of the British army. In the Kinmen Islands off the Chinese coast and under the control of the Taiwanese government, the floating island project in 2013 revisited bunkers and battery sites through site specific contemporary art interventions. More generally, sites that had been used as barracks or part of surveillance apparatus, have re-emerged as cultural centres, such as the Tai Kwun police station in Hong Kong, or the State Side Town in Naha, where American soldiers and their families used to live. This paper aims to reflect on the repurposed functionalities of such past military sites, and the manner through which military history and heritage in South East Asia survives, visibly and invisibly. Furthermore, the reinvention of such sites does not attest to the disappearance of military infrastructure and pressure, simply relocated to more appropriate facilities. Military and surveillance heritage sites offer an opportunity to consider the changing textures of geopolitics, and the profound reminders caught and voiced in their fabric by the spectres of history.

“Japanese War Sites as Contested Heritage”, Justin Aukema (Kyoto Women’s University)

Since the 1990s in Japan there have been growing calls to preserve war sites (senseki or sensō iseki) such as former military facilities from theAsia-Pacific war. But Japan’s Asia-Pacific war sites have been a contested heritage. Part of this is due to and the difficulty of preserving the “negative heritage (fu no isan)” of war and atrocity. Another reason lies in the history of the sites themselves. As this essay argues, memories of the wartime past have had to compete and vie for attention within sites’ larger “biographies of place.” Often this has resulted in the marginalization of war memories within the space of war sites. To illustrate this, the essay highlights buildings from the former Army 16th Division in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward. The 16th Division (Dai-jūroku shidan) was involved in painful past events such as the 1937 Nanking Massacre and the 1944 Battle of Leyte. Yet when the former military facilities were repurposed in the postwar, first as a Catholic women’s school and later by war bereaved and former veterans’ groups as a commemorative “site of memory,” difficult events from the 16th Division’s past played little part in their newly acquired identities. Even after being designated Cultural Properties (bunkazai)in 2016, in the absence of any detailed historical explanations at the site, they remain detached from their wartime past. The essay thus raises questions about the ability of Japan’s Asia-Pacific War sites to fully “narrate” the war. And it sheds light on the complex relations between shifting historical memories on the one hand and the heritage of war and atrocity on the other

Commentator: Edward Boyle (Kyushu University)


Call for Papers for Sessions on Heritage, Kyushu University, July 18-19 2020

Call for Papers

“Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia”

Sessions Sponsored by the British Association of Japanese Studies

Kyushu University, Nishijin Plaza, Fukuoka

July 18-19, 2020

On July 18 and 19, Kyushu University will host a two-day international conference on “Identity Politics and the Challenges of Cultural Diversity Across Contemporary Asia”. As part of the program, we will organize a number of sessions with the collective title of “Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia”. These sessions will examine issues of Heritage in contemporary Asia, and will build upon the results of an earlier conference held at Kyushu University in December 2016, on “Borders of Memory”.

Together with the tension emerging from UNESCO recognition accorded particular sites of national heritage in East Asia, there has been increased interest in the possibilities for heritage serving as “cosmopolitan” sites of memory, ones able to transcend national boundaries and function within different mnemonic communities. In these sessions, we are particularly interested in the ways that heritage, and its specific material manifestations, works as a means of transcending borders for memory collectives, whether national or local.

The borders referred to here are both spatial and temporal. One concern is the relation between heritage and spatial division, how particular sites of memory are able to speak to communities located in distinct, and frequently antagonistic, national spaces. A second series of borders in which we are particularly interested are the ways sites of heritage “concretize” narratives across temporal boundaries, providing the material foundations for the channelling of contemporary claims about the past.

In bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to reflect on how memories are made, materialized and memorialized within and across societies, these sessions will deepen and enrich our understanding of the significance of heritage for national identities and international relations in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

We invite interested scholars to submit abstracts (of up to 250 words) to the session organizer by March 31, 2020.

Thanks to the generosity of the British Association of Japanese Studies, who will sponsor these sessions on Heritage, there will be three awards (of 25,000 JPY each) available to support the attendance of graduate students or early career scholars. Please indicate if you wish to be considered for these awards when submitting your abstract.


Ted Boyle:

Labouring for Connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh

Latest piece by Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman and myself is out now in volume 2 of the journal Roadsides, curated by Galen Murton. Our contribution examines the development of connectivity in the Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India, focussing on the circulation of labouring bodies necessary for connectivity to tbe constructed.

The article, as well as the rest of the theme issue and all Roadsides pieces, is available from their website:

Borders of Memory

The Japan Forum Special Issue that grew out of the Borders of Memory conference in December 2016 if finally about to see the light of day.

It consists of four excellent articles on the Maizuru Repatriation Museum, Miike (one of the 23 Meiji Industrial Sites recognized in 2015), Ainu remains and the new Ainu Museum at Shiraoi (scheduled to open in April 2020), and the Okinawa Peace Park.

Many thanks to all of the authors, Jonathan Bull, Atsuko Hashimoto, Steve Iving, Yusuke Matsuura, Naohiro Nakamura & David Telfer. Further details at:

If you want a copy of the (lengthy) introduction by yours truly, drop me a line.

Countdown to the opening of the new Ainu museum at Shiraoi, located at the entrance of the Akarenga building. Now a tourist attraction, the former Hokkaido government office was a key symbol of Japanese modernity in Hokkaido.

ABS 2019 Conference and Tijuana

The end of April saw the Association for Borderlands Studies hold its Annual Meeting in San Diego, providing a perfect setting for the themes with which the conference sought to grapple. The increasing salience of Asia’s border for their study globally was apparent in the two panels in which KUBS participated. The first, organized by Po-Yi Hung of National Taiwan University, brought together a collection of papers that considered the role of the borders in everyday life in East Asia, and featured Akihiro Iwashita, Naomi Chi, Yu-Hsiu Lien and myself.

The second was based around the Jean Monnet Network grant comparing Migration and Border Policies in the EU, Canada, and Japan, which was established under the Borders in Globalization project headed by Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly of the University of Victoria. The panel built upon the results of Workshops which had been held in Strasbourg, Brussels, Ottawa, Hokkaido, and Victoria over the previous three years, and provided an opportunity for Oliver Schmidtke, Birte Wassenberg, Naomi Chi and myself to set out what we had learned and reflected upon during the course of these workshops. Each of the three teams is producing a series of special issues and edited collections on their own area of study, while also contributing to the comparative work emerging through the project.

San Diego itself was a pleasant enough city,

in the somewhat identikit West Coast mould of Vancouver or Seattle, but was more interesting when viewed both as a borderland and as a city defined by the border fence that runs between itself and the Mexican City of Tijuana to the south.

This was not just for the great craft beer, but also reflected the ways in which the border exists in daily life, and how it is experienced for large sections for the population. One place where this was particularly apparent was at Chicano Park, a small community space beneath freeway off-ramps that was home to a beautiful series of murals proclaiming allegiance to a broader Mexican or indigenous identity. Painted up since the 1970s, the murals spoke to a sense of cross-border community being maintained in the heart of the old Mexican Barrio in San Diego. Yet one gardener’s story of how money for park maintenance was being siphoned off by the park’s management sadly reflects the ways in which community cohesion is increasingly hostage to private interests.

Fortunately, the ABS Meeting anticipated the interest in discovering the border by its participants, and in partnership with El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), arranged a tour across the border and series of events on the other side.

The pedestrian border crossing appears to have been designed as a paradigmatic representation of contemporary border trends, all exposed metal, barbed wire, cameras, and the incessantly channeling of human bodies along specific, well-defined tracks.

A more spontaneous, emotionally-charged version of the border was made available to us at the end of the trip, as we were taken to the famous section of border fence initially constructed by Clinton at the coast. While the US side of this section is a deliberately abandoned area of sand dunes and scrub, euphemistically labelled an ‘International Park’ on the map whilst being circled by border patrol agents and helicopters overhead, on the Mexican side, as appears to be the common pattern, the border is built right up to and, in a sense, taken possession of.

A border space at once haunting, celebratory and defiant.

Yaeyama Trip 2018

On August 28-30 2018, I was lucky enough to visit the islands of Ishigaki and Hateruma in Okinawa. These two islands are part of the southernmost group of islands in the prefecture, collectively known as the Yaeyamas.

Tojin-baka, a memorial to shipwrecked Chinese from Amoy shipwrecked and later slaughtered on Ishigaki in 1852. The memorial was first constructed in 1971 and renewed in 1992.

The trip formed part of a project being conducted by a six-member group led by Professor Koji Furukawa, of Chukyo University, which was looking to undertake “Comparative border research on island countries and regions of the Asia-Pacific: the Yaeyamas and Palau”. This research was funded for the years 2018-2019 by a Ryukyu University Research Institute for Islands and Sustainability (RIIS) Research Grant. Within the project, I was granted responsibility for examining notions of War Memory and Heritage, which allowed for me to examine these areas through the lens provided by the concept of Borders of Memory.

Peace Memorial at Japan’s Southernmost point, on Hateruma Island.

However, my interest in these marginal spaces of the nation is not limited to their material capture in heritage memorials, and also includes how such spaces operate and exist within the national imagination today. This is particularly through examining infrastructure, the various means through which island spaces are tied into the state’s national body, whether through (mothballed) airports or something as banal as manhole covers.

Manhole cover on Hateruma, ‘Japan’s Southernmost point where the Southern Cross glitters’.

The existence of this island of Hateruma as the edge of the nation comes also to be tied into more global questions, as the island hosts a key institution of Japan’s Center for Global Environmental Research, monitoring environmental change, particularly changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, from this remote corner of the nation (see on this

Hateruma Global Environment Monitoring Station

Cross-cutting borders

Particularly interesting is the way in which the spatially- and temporally-distinct ways in which these islands relate to the national and prefectural stories that they reference in their heritage. One aspect of this is the invocation of Hateruma as Japan’s southernmost point, a claim which obviously ignores not only the prefecture’s forceful incorporation in 1879, but the 35 years of American military rule after 1945. The ending of the latter is celebrated in a number of monument’s at the island’s southern point, most notably in the serpentine sculpture that ties stones from all of Japan’s prefectures to Hateruma’s soil.

Reversion Monument, Hateruma

The Yaeyamas are also distinguished by their memory of the War itself. The cataclysmic carnage of Okinawa’s experience is well-known, but the Yaeyama tragedy was distinct, with the forced removal of the island group’s population to malaria-infested areas and subsequent deaths of many of them. This is commemorated in the small Peace Museum in Ishigaki, latterly run as a branch museum of the main institution on Okinawa itself, as well as at a relatively new monument in Banna Park on Ishigaki Island.

Memorial to the Victims of Malaria, Banna Park, Ishigaki Island

Conveniently reflecting the ambiguity of notions of Japan in thinking about the Yaeyamas, a few weeks before our visit had seen an incident of vandalism occur at yet another monument at the southernmost point of Hateruma Island, with the scars still clearly visible on its flag. This conveniently captures the complex and contradictory ways in which the nation, and the island’s place in them, comes to be memorialized in the present.

Our 13th Border Bite is now available

Hot on the heels of last week’s succulent offering, our 13th Border Bite is a substantial morsel from Ed Pulford, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University, who provides us with a tasty treat in his analysis of the remote Hokkaido town of Nemuro’s position at the centre of Japan’s leading edge, its Northern Territories dispute with Russia. Touching on the malleability of political space, importance of vision and cognition, and paradoxical position of Nemuro within this dispute, where it both decries and depends upon its place at the border, there is plenty for everyone to get their teeth into. We hope you enjoy.

All the Bites are available HERE