The title is rather lofty isn't it? I know I ended yesterday's blog post with a hint that the next post will come in a week, but I found myself this evening reading an incredibly insightful article about the significance of Japan's post-3/11 trajectory, the 2020 Olympics, Tohoku, and Donald Keene's brilliant analysis. Normally, I would just post a link on my Facebook wall, but I'm taking an extended break from FB. So, instead I'll post it here. I wish more people were talking about this openly, and not just Americans or the American media, which has its own hypocritical role in what's currently happening in Japan. There's so much to say a bout Keene's memory of WWII and his warning about what's happening to Japan's Constitution.
By the way, most people outside of the world of Japan and East Asian scholars and historians (and maybe psychologists) rarely study the concept of Japan's collective memory, or collective memory in general. But it's important to recognize how we all simultaneously forget and remember the past in slippery ways. Japan is often accused of attempting to re-write its horrific imperialist history (which a faction of Japanese society would like to do), but it has also written and acknowledged its atrocities. It just depends on which side of the sociopolitical spectrum you fall on whether you view collective history one way or another. This isn't just a Japanese phenomenon either, but this culture attempts to maintain harmony to such a degree that having healthy debates and arguments about these things in public just doesn't happen. A good book on the topic of Japan's modern history (starting just prior to WWII to its current state) is John W. Dower's book of essays, "Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World." I highly recommend it. There's so much to say on this topic, especially in light of Abe's regime and the current political zeitgeist. I've been thinking about it often because everyday I go to work and interact with Japan's future generation. Why should the political leaders, who are mostly in their 50's and 60's, get to make decisions about how the youth get to live their lives? Didn't these same individuals get to live through a relatively peaceful and prosperous era during their own youth? I recognize that it's much more complicated than this simple reasoning, that there is so much lying underneath the surface of this culture, and that maybe we still do not really understand Japan's trajectory, its past, its present, or its future.