Postwar Compilations on the History of Governing by the Japanese Ruling Elites of Colonial Korea: The Case of Yūhō Kyōkai

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Lee, Hyoung-sik
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Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, vol.3 no.1, pp. 127-160
collective memorypublic memoryJapanese ruling elites of colonial KoreaJapanese repatriatesYūhō Kyōkai (Friendly Nation Association)Central Japanese-Korean Association (Chūō Nit-Kan Kyōkai)
Postwar Japanese society sought to erase the memories of the nation’s colonial past after its defeat in the Asia-Pacific War. As colonial legacies lingered, however, including the problem of Korean residents in Japan and the outbreak of the Korean War, the so-called “Korea problem” (Chōsen mondai) emerged to the fore of Japanese society. It was against this backdrop that the former ruling elites of the colonial era organized into Yūhō Kyōkai (Friendly Nation Association) with the support of repatriated Japanese corporations and Korea-related firms. As the Fatherland Defense Corps of the League of Koreans in Japan (Choryŏn) sought to expand their influence after the outbreak of the Korean War, Japanese newspapers and magazines became fierce political battlegrounds on the issues of Korean residents and Japan’s colonial rule over Korea. Right-leaning newspapers and magazines began to publish malicious reports on Koreans in Japan, outwardly expressing their contempt and discrimination against them. In response, the leftist literary circles, composed of Korean residents, members of the New Japanese Literary Society, some conscientious Japanese and progressive intellectuals, and journalists began to criticize this approach to the problem. With this overall shift away from prewar militarism towards a “cultural” and “pacifist” Japan, the former officials of the Government General of Korea, who kept a relatively low profile under the US occupation’s censorship in postwar Japanese society, began to challenge the “collective memory” of oppression and exploitation constructed by the “colonized.” Instead, they disseminated their own memory of development and progress brought to Korea during colonial rule. With the support of Japan’s economic circles, including the Japan-Korean Economic Association, Yūhō Kyōkai established historical archives on the colonial era (Yūhō Collection, Historical Records on the Rule over Korea, Yūhō Series, etc.) in order to “historicize” the collective memories of “colonizers.” For the former officials of the Government General of Korea, the final agreement reached in 1965 for Korea-Japan normalization acted as a “seal” or a settlement of the issues surrounding Japan’s responsibilities for colonizing Korea. With this occasion and Japan’s rapid economic growth at the time, these “collective memories” of former colonial officials came to evolve into “public memories,” significantly influencing Japan’s postwar conception of the colonial era.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소)Seoul Journal of Japanese StudiesSeoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.3 no.1(2017)
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