Japanese ‘Job’, a Family Tree and its Annihilation

Dr Gwyn Mcclelland1

1Monash University, Australia

In this presentation, drawing on my historical work which has used a theological framework to examine Catholic memory about the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, I intend to introduce a new analysis of a family tree from the Japanese language book by Ito Akihiko, entitled, ‘Genshi-ya no Yobu-ki’, “Job in the atomic field”. Ito used the family tree to describe how eighteen percent of the family died due to the nineteenth century persecution of the Urakami Catholics and then eighty percent were killed in the 1945 atomic bombing. Some notable members of the family tree included Moriyama Jinzaburo and Takagi Sen’emon, both exiled to Tsuwano in the persecution of 1867.  The Catholics themselves draw deeply on the story of Job, the mythical figure who on the one hand appears to accept his fate, but on the other strongly questions God. I will compare the Japanese evaluation of Job in Nagasaki to the literature about the Shoah and add to discussion on remembrance, genocide and the silenced dead. It will also be possible to contrast the family tree with the digital archive, Nagasaki Archive and other written memorials to those annihilated by the atomic bombing.


Gwyn McClelland’s book, Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki: Prayers, Protests and Catholic Survivor Narratives is now available (Routledge: 2020). Gwyn has recently taught ‘The Fall and Rise of Modern China’ at Monash University and has an article out in the ASR entitled: ‘Silences: Catholics, hisabetsu burakumin and the Nagasaki atomic bomb’.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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