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August 1945 in the Asia-Pacific Theater: From Total War to Nuclear War

Friday, August 6, 2021   20:00

  • Aaron William Moore (University of Edinburgh)
  • Sayaka Chatani (The National University of Singapore)
  • Ran Zwigenberg (Pennsylvania State University)

Webinar Overview:

The year 1945 was probably the worst year of the war. Millions of lives were lost in the Götterdämmerung that was the downfall of the Axis. These were not just military deaths. For the first time in the history of modern warfare, the deaths of civilians exceeded those of soldiers. The culmination of the ever-increasing brutality of WWII was in the two nuclear bombs that exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the slaughter started much earlier, with civilians targeted in Nanjing, Warsaw, London, Manila, Hamburg, Tokyo, and many other places. Both the Allies and the Axis targeted non-combatants as a deliberate policy, abandoning earlier efforts to only strike military targets. In Japan, the United States Army Air Force burned whole cities in an effort to “break Japanese morale” with the use of the new and destructive weapons like napalm. At the same time, Japanese atrocities on the continent were continuing right up to and beyond the official end of the war. Why did governments that had previously decried the mass slaughter of civilians as “barbaric” now target them with ever-increasing killing power?

In our round table, we look at the problem of atrocities through the lens of imperialism, total war, and mass mobilization. Treating the American nuclear attacks of August 1945 as part of a continuum, we examine the development of mass atrocities, bombing strategies, psychological warfare, and the mobilization of the whole society. We examine both the longer history and postwar ramifications of these events, as governments continued to put non-combatants to work for the purposes of waging war, arguably making them legitimate targets in the age of “mutually assured destruction”.

Webinar access


Meeting ID: 919 8987 0513 | Passcode: 759598

Friday 6 August 2021
8:00 pm Tokyo (JST) | 12:00 pm U.K. (BST) | 7:00 am U.S. (EST)

Information: Kyle Cleveland, ICAS Co-Director
Email: kylecl@temple.edu


Date & Time:
Friday, August 6, 2021   20:00
Registration is encouraged (e-mail to icas@tuj.temple.edu), but not required. 登録なしでも参加できますので、直接会場へお越しください。

This event is organized by Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS).

Note: All ICAS events are held in English, open to the public, and admission is free unless otherwise noted.


Aaron William Moore

University of Edinburgh

Aaron William Moore is the Handa Chair of Japanese-Chinese Relations at the University of Edinburgh. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 2006 and held post-doctoral positions at Harvard and Oxford University. In 2010 he was appointed as a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Manchester, where he primarily taught modern Chinese history for seven years and was made Senior Lecturer. He has presented his research as invited lecturer, keynote speaker, and chair around the world, especially in Britain and continental Europe, North America, and East Asia. He is the author of many articles on Chinese and Japanese wartime childhood and youth, as well as two books: Writing War (2013, Harvard), which analysed over 200 combat soldiers’ diaries from China, Japan, and the United States, and Bombing the City (2018, Cambridge), which compared the air raid experiences of civilians in British and Japanese regional cities. In addition to the history of early East Asian science fiction, he is currently working on a book about the global experiences of wartime youth entitled, What Can Be Said, a translation volume of works by the critical theorist Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke, and an edited volume on the early history of the People’s Republic of China, entitled How Maoism Was Made (Oxford, forthcoming). In 2014 he was awarded the Leverhulme Prize for his work on transnational and comparative history. Website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/professor-aaron-william-moore

Sayaka Chatani

The National University of Singapore

Sayaka Chatani is Assistant Professor and Presidential Young Professor at the Department of History, the National University of Singapore. She specializes in social history of Japanese imperialism, particularly in youth mobilization in the colonies. She is the author of Nation-Empire: Ideology and Rural Youth Mobilization in Japan and Its Colonies (Cornell University Press, 2018; a recipient of Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award). Her articles on Japanese imperialism and youth as well as zainichi Koreans have appeared in the American Historical Review, the Journal of Asian Studies, and Comparative Studies in Society and History, among others. Website: https://www.sayakachatani.com/

Ran Zwigenberg

Pennsylvania State University

Ran Zwigenberg is Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on modern Japanese and European history, with a specialization in memory and heritage history. He has taught and lectured in the United States, Europe, Israel, and Japan, and published on issues of war memory, heritage, atomic energy, psychiatry, and survivor politics.  Zwigenberg’s first book, Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2014), was the winner of the 2016 Association for Asian Studies’ John W. Hall book award. His second, co-authored book, Japan’s Castles: Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace, came out with Cambridge University Press in 2019. He is currently working on a manuscript on the reaction of psychiatry and its allied professions to the A-bomb. Website: https://history.la.psu.edu/directory/ruz12