The Legacy of the Sun – The Battle for the Collective War Memory in Postwar

This is just to let you know that the next meeting of the Kansai Modern Japan Group will be on Japanese war films. Any of you in the vicinity of Kyoto are most welcome.

The Kansai Modern Japan Group is an interdisciplinary platform for scholars based in or visiting the Kansai area who work on modern and/or contemporary Japan. The lecture will be in English, the comments and discussion either in English or Japanese. All interested are most welcome.

This meeting will be co-hosted by the Italian School of East Asian Studies and the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient. As this is our last meeting of the year the lecture will be followed by a bonenkai at a local izakaya.

Here are the data:

SPEAKER: Dick Stegewerns (University of Oslo & Kyoto University)
TITLE:   The Legacy of the Sun – The Battle for the Collective War Memory in Postwar Japanese War Films
DATE:    Thursday 15 December
TIME:    18:30
PLACE:   Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University

We will use seminar room 1 on the ground floor of the main building of Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in Humanities (IRH), also known as Jinbunken. You can find a map under ‘Access & Contact’ at
For those who cannot read Japanese, the IRH is on the northeast side of Kyoto University’s main campus, immediately to your right when you enter through the north gate (kita-mon). It is a short walk from Hyakumanben, the crossing of Higashioji-dori and Imadegawa-dori. When walking east from Hyakumanben, the north gate is the second gate on your right hand side.

Those willing to present at one of our monthly meetings, please send an abstract of the presentation you propose to <> and <>.

Best regards,

Dick Stegewerns
Kyoto University & University of Oslo




The Legacy of the Sun – The Battle for the Collective War Memory in Postwar Japanese War Films

During the allied occupation of Japan a strong regime of media control was in force, under which the Japanese film world was directed to make films dealing with the wartime period or the aftermath of the war in a way that was in line with the American interpretation of a ‘Pacific War’ and the verdict of the Tokyo Tribunal. However, no sooner had the occupation forces left the country or the battle for the collective war memory of the Japanese people flared up. Films by leftist directors focusing on the grimness and cruelty of the war continued to be made, but they found a formidable foe in production companies such as Shin-Tōhō which started to portray the war in a more positive manner. This paper analyzes the main themes and settings, the historical and institutional background, and the impact of the large and continually growing body of Japanese re-enactments of the Second World War. It will concentrate on the post-occupation period, when the genre of war films was re-established, but will take the story up to this very day, by discussing this year’s harvest of war films such as ‘A Man Called Fox – The Miracle of the Pacific’, ‘The Legacy of the Sun’, ‘One Postcard’ and ‘Admiral Yamamoto – The Untold Story of the Pacific War’.

Dick Stegewerns is associate professor at the University of Oslo and visiting professor at Kyoto University. His present research projects deal with Japanese views of the outside world, democracy in Japan, Tōzai Bunmeiron and other visions of a unique position of Japan in the world, Japanese new wave cinema, and postwar Japanese war films. His writings include ‘Adjusting to the New World – Japanese Opinion Leaders of the Taishō Generation and the Outside World’ and ‘Yoshida Kijū – 50 Years of Avant-Garde Filmmaking in Postwar Japan’.

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