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bodies of empire

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. 

: bodies story | Karja

In 2011 a Japanese charity in Bangkok discovered Karja Wiredja living in rags in a remote community near Thailand's border with Myanmar. Sixty-five years before he had been taken from his village in Java to work on the notorious Thai-Burma railroad. When Japan's empire in Asia collapsed in 1945, Karja was left stranded, impoverished and stateless in Thailand. The Japanese charity returned Karja to his small hometown in central Java but it was too late: his family had vanished and people could barely understand his way of speaking the local language. Karja is just one of hundreds of thousands of men from Southeast Asia who were taken far from home, forced to work on Japan's imperial projects, and never returned after the war ended. The imperial patterns of displacement and decimations of people persist well beyond the end of the empire itself. bodies of empire: undead empire tells the stories of people permanently displaced by the Empire of Japan in Borneo, the Andaman Islands, in South Korea, and China, and brings their lives and their stories into the light at last.