living empire

People try to free themselves from Japan's undead empire through restoration of what was lost. South Koreans demolish Japanese buildings so that the lost past can be reconstructed. In Taiwan, Japanese shrines are restored in ways that have both nothing and everything to do with the empire. China and South Korea seek return of cultural patrimony looted by Japanese imperial soldiers or appropriated by civilian Japanese collectors. restored :the undead empire journeys back in time to look at what was lost to the Japanese Empire and how restorations keep the undead empire living even while they seek freedom from it.


: living empire story | Lip Tattoo

In November 2014 Japanese police arrested 5 South Korean men as they prepared to board a ferry from Japan to Busan. The men were charged with theft of a 1,000 year-old copper Buddha statue and a similarly antique Buddhist manuscript from Bairinji temple on the small southern Japanese island of Tsushima. Two years earlier, South Koreans had taken other ancient Buddhist artifacts from temples in Tsushima and transported them to Seoul. In both cases the Korean claim was that the statues and manuscripts were just a few of the 67,000 antique artifacts plundered by Japanese when Korea was part of the Empire of Japan, and that the empire would not properly end until all items were back where they belonged. Despite restoration of a few Korean manuscripts, paintings, statues and steles, most Japanese groups and collectors holding plundered Korean heritage refuse demands for its restoration. They ignore pressure. They claim that their collections were legally acquired, or taken during Japan’s invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1598, and are thus not the plunder of empire. Japanese intransigence about restoring plundered cultural heritage to the former colonies, and furtive attempts to restore it, refigure imperial displacements of cultural wealth and power and futile efforts to resist them.