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[japan@ihj] Interpreting Japan’s Mid-century Modernity: Imperial Japan at its Zenith


[An edited version of this lecture is available in the IHJ Bulletin, Vol.31, No.1, 2011.]

  • Date: Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, 7:00-8:30pm
  • Speaker: Kenneth J. Ruoff, Professor, Portland State University
  • Moderator: Totani Yuma, Associate Professor, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa
  • Admission: Free
  • Language: English (no Japanese translation provided)

In 1940, Japan was into the third year of its war with China, and relations with the United States were deteriorating, but it was a heady time for the Japanese nonetheless. That year, the Japanese commemorated the 2600th anniversary of the founding of the Empire of Japan. Characterizing the year was a coexistence of dark and light, of suffering and joy. In looking at these celebrations of Imperial Japan at its zenith and at wartime modernity, e.g. consumer culture and Imperial tourism, Dr. Ruoff will shed new light upon the history of Japan at mid-century.

Kenneth J. Ruoff

Kenneth J. RuoffHaving earned a Ph.D. in Japanese history from Columbia University, Dr. Ruoff is widely regarded as the foremost authority on the contemporary Japanese monarchy. After a year as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, he joined Portland State University. He teaches courses on Japanese history, Japanese-American relations, the Japanese-American experience, and modernity. His major publications include The People’s Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945-1995 (Harvard University Press, 2001) and, Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2600th Anniversary (Cornell University Press, 2010). The Japanese translation of The People’s Emperor, Kokumin no tenno (Kyodo News Publications, 2003), was awarded the Osaragi Jiro Prize for Commentary in 2004.