For about 76 years before Harry Truman dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Japan built a sprawling empire in Asia and the Pacific. Apart from the killing, pillage, exploitation, decimation and domination that goes with all modern empires, Japan also built cities and factories, hospitals and railroads, factories and hotels. It cut down forests, built dams and dug mines. Japanese soldiers, imperial managers, and settlers fell in love with, had sex and sometimes children with the locals. Once the atomic bombs were dropped and Tokyo surrendered, everybody figured that the Japanese Empire was pretty much over, and some of it is. Undead Empire is here to show you that although the old empire might be gone in legal terms, bits and pieces of it keep on cooking and fuming and shaping things all over the places that once belonged to Japan.
Between 1869 and 1945 Japan possessed an empire that at its peak stretched from the Aleutian islands through China, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea to the remote Pacific island of Nauru. Remnants of this great empire persist in the 21st century. Seen and unseen, they continue to form and influence how people are, how people think and act. Japanese imperialism in Asia still shapes politics, economics, and cultures in ways resembling Japanese imperialism itself. This is the undead empire, and Undead Empire takes us right into its heart in Asia, into its history, its people, its stories, and its undying power.
Undead Empire is a hybrid book and multimedia project bringing together 40 years of scholarship, travel, lived experience, field research, teaching and publication about and in Japan, its current imperial possessions in Hokkaido and Okinawa, and in its former colonies in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific. It examines and reports on how Japan's empire in Asia between 1869 and 1945 persists in the 21st century, still shaping lives, politics, culture, and thinking. The website supports the book project.