Modern empires are factories of affect. Upon conquest, they reorganize and recontour how people feel. New external social organizations and discourses subdue and modify human subjectivity and human emotions. The Empire of Japan paid especially close attention to the feelings of its subjects, yet new affects developed unintentionally too at each time and place the Empire landed. A lot of affective change was inadvertent, especially the feelings in the colonies against Japan. Most change in the shape of feelings occurred unnoticed “in the delicate and least tangible parts” of human activities: love; desire; preferences; fears; ethics; morality. Ruins of these changed feelings endure unfinished in Japan’s former colonies now.
: feelings story | Fangzheng
In Fangzheng County, east of the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, there is a cemetery for Japanese colonial settlers who perished during the Soviet invasion of the Japanese client state in Manchuria, Manchukuo. Many Fangzheng families have Japanese members: old women and old men now, abandoned and lost as children during the rush of Japanese settlers to get to safety as the Empire came down around them in the last quarter of 1945. Until the 1990s, Chinese families with a Japanese member felt ashamed of themselves. Since the Japanese government began allowing these undead remains of its Empire to return to Japan and reclaim citizenship for themselves and their Chinese families, feelings of shame have changed to a sort of pride. Fangzheng locals who do not have Japanese family members look up to families who do, for they are richer and able to access the wealth and opportunities available in Japan.