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Transnational Civil Society and the Politics of Memory in Sino-Japanese Relations: Exhibiting the “Comfort Women” in China

Gustafsson, Karl LU (2014) In Working Papers in Contemporary Asian Studies
Abstract
Since 2009, Japanese civil society groups have arranged exhibitions in China dealing with the so-called comfort women issue in cooperation with local Chinese organizers, including state-run war museums that function as patriotic education bases. Organizing these exhibitions has required much time and energy. A fundamental aim of these groups is to make the Japanese government compensate the victims. Why do these groups arrange exhibitions in China even though it is time and energy consuming instead of concentrating their activities in Japan? Why do these groups, who embrace a clear gender perspective and state that one of their principles is to be independent of any government, cooperate with Chinese government-run war museums that serve... (More)
Since 2009, Japanese civil society groups have arranged exhibitions in China dealing with the so-called comfort women issue in cooperation with local Chinese organizers, including state-run war museums that function as patriotic education bases. Organizing these exhibitions has required much time and energy. A fundamental aim of these groups is to make the Japanese government compensate the victims. Why do these groups arrange exhibitions in China even though it is time and energy consuming instead of concentrating their activities in Japan? Why do these groups, who embrace a clear gender perspective and state that one of their principles is to be independent of any government, cooperate with Chinese government-run war museums that serve as patriotic education bases and clearly subsume genderbased identities to that of the nation?

Through an analysis based on key assumptions in theories on transnational advocacy and collective memory of material provided by the actors involved, it is demonstrated that activities in China are a means of exerting pressure on the Japanese government by institutionalizing the memory of the “Comfort women” more firmly in China. At the same time, the exhibitions might be regarded as a “Trojan horse” as its emphasis on gender and international solidarity among women might potentially undermine the emphasis in official Chinese narratives about the past, which strongly stress national identity. The paper illustrates that civil society can play a role in the international politics of memory, something often ignored in elite-centred research on collective memory in Sino-Japanese relations. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Japan, China, Keywords: Transnational advocacy, exhibitions., “comfort women”, war memory
in
Working Papers in Contemporary Asian Studies
issue
41
pages
26 pages
publisher
Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
ISSN
1652-4128
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
e2313eea-b944-4a2e-9605-9b12d26b5b59 (old id 4530038)
date added to LUP
2014-07-02 09:07:14
date last changed
2016-10-11 08:46:14
@misc{e2313eea-b944-4a2e-9605-9b12d26b5b59,
  abstract     = {Since 2009, Japanese civil society groups have arranged exhibitions in China dealing with the so-called comfort women issue in cooperation with local Chinese organizers, including state-run war museums that function as patriotic education bases. Organizing these exhibitions has required much time and energy. A fundamental aim of these groups is to make the Japanese government compensate the victims. Why do these groups arrange exhibitions in China even though it is time and energy consuming instead of concentrating their activities in Japan? Why do these groups, who embrace a clear gender perspective and state that one of their principles is to be independent of any government, cooperate with Chinese government-run war museums that serve as patriotic education bases and clearly subsume genderbased identities to that of the nation?<br/><br>
Through an analysis based on key assumptions in theories on transnational advocacy and collective memory of material provided by the actors involved, it is demonstrated that activities in China are a means of exerting pressure on the Japanese government by institutionalizing the memory of the “Comfort women” more firmly in China. At the same time, the exhibitions might be regarded as a “Trojan horse” as its emphasis on gender and international solidarity among women might potentially undermine the emphasis in official Chinese narratives about the past, which strongly stress national identity. The paper illustrates that civil society can play a role in the international politics of memory, something often ignored in elite-centred research on collective memory in Sino-Japanese relations.},
  author       = {Gustafsson, Karl},
  issn         = {1652-4128},
  keyword      = {Japan,China,Keywords: Transnational advocacy,exhibitions.,“comfort women”,war memory},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {41},
  pages        = {26},
  publisher    = {Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University},
  series       = {Working Papers in Contemporary Asian Studies},
  title        = {Transnational Civil Society and the Politics of Memory in Sino-Japanese Relations: Exhibiting the “Comfort Women” in China},
  year         = {2014},
}