Reinventing Nagasaki: the Christianization of Nagasaki and the revival of an imperial legacy in postwar Japan
ABSTRACT This paper explores how Nagasaki was reinvented from an imperial city to an “International Cultural, Christian city” and elicits the continuity of Japanese imperialism in postwar Nagasaki as well as the discontinuity between the war and postwar periods in the city. The paper seeks to determine what history and whose memory have been excluded or erased in the process of remaking Nagasaki into an international Christian city; it examines the particular historical and political conditions that enabled Nagai Takashi, Urakami Catholics and Kitamura Seibou’s Memorial Peace Statue to symbolize Nagasaki’s atomic bomb memory and postwar city identity as an “International Christian city” that “prays.” While Nagai is widely known as a spiritual, religious leader in postwar Nagasaki/Japan, and Kitamura’s Peace Memorial statue dominates Nagasaki’s commemoration space, this paper analyzes how U.S. dominance over Japan enabled the country to rehabilitate its imperial past and to revive the imperial legacy by appropriating the GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Powers)’s demilitarization and Christianization policies. It argues that Nagasaki’s postwar reconstruction signifies the failure of what Kuan-Hsing Chen (2010) calls the “deimperialization” of Japanese consciousness and subjectivity.
Keywords: Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki, Urakami Catholics, the Buraku, U.S. occupation, Deimperialization, Mitsubishi, Nagai Takashi, Kitamura Seibou
Tomoe Otsuki, is a researcher at Concordia University in Montreal. She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in 2016. She authored articles entitled “Ghostly Remnants of the Urakami Cathedral in Contemporary Nagasaki” (2015) published in online journal The Volta, and “The Politics of Reconstruction and Reconciliation in U.S-Japan Relations – Dismantling the Atomic Bomb Ruins of Nagasaki’s Urakami Cathedral” (2015) in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. She is currently writing a book manuscript on the space, identity and cultural memory of the atomic bombing in postwar Nagasaki. .