Professor Koichiro Matsuda2, Dr Janet Borland1, Professor J. Charles Schencking1, Dr Tadahiko Miyachi3
1The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan, 3Senshu University, Tokyo, Japan
Chair: Dr Janet Borland
The presenters in this panel sift through the ruins of nineteenth and twentieth century disasters with the aim of offering new insights into authority, politics, and commemoration in modern Japanese history. We examine the aftermath of both natural and manmade disasters – the 1855 Ansei Earthquake, the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, and World War I – and explore relationships between a range of individuals and organisations that have previously been overlooked in existing scholarship. From Edo townsmen and government officials in 1855, to anguished parents and a far-sighted sculptor in 1923, we will discuss how and why disasters often foster political contestation and controversy. Disasters and catastrophic events such as war also, however, nurture transnational exchanges. In this context, our panel will explore the transpacific ties that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s following the First World War and the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Exchanges took the form of humanitarianism and campaigns of gratitude, as well as personal correspondence between bureaucrats, administrators, and police officers, highlighting the Anglo-American influence on Japan’s police administration in the interwar period.