Caught between empire and occupation: censorship, deimperialization, and Koreans in Postwar Japan
The collapse of the Japanese Empire in 1945 plunged East Asia into a state of flux and upheaval, making necessary the redrawing of geopolitical borders and the redefining the “boundaries” of nationality, language, and legal status. As part of this broader process, Koreans in occupied postwar Japan, via the platform of the magazine Democratic Korea (Minshu Chōsen), advocated for a joint process of decolonization and deimperialization whereby both Koreans and Japanese could construct a society free of imperial hierarchies. U.S. Military Occupation policy and censorship, however, thwarted these efforts and disallowed the possibility for the inclusion of a Korean subjectivity within the space of the Japanese nation. Facing intense political pressure, Koreans in Japan started to shift toward a “non-national” Zainichi Korean subjectivity distinct from the two Korean-nation states established in 1948. Further, through analyzing the case of Koreans in occupied Japan, this article sheds light on the broader impact of occupation censorship on postwar Japanese society and how the post-imperial transition to a nation-state model was a rather tumultuous one.
Censorship; decolonization; deimperialization; postwar Japan; Zainichi Koreans
Jonathan Glade is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Melbourne. His research interests include modern Korean and Japanese literature, decolonization, Zainichi Koreans, and the post-World War II occupation of Japan and southern Korea.