Japan and the Socialist Bloc During the Cold War: Translating Cultures

Title: 1368 | Japan and the Socialist Bloc During the Cold War: Translating Cultures
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: Literature
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Irina Holca, University of Tokyo, Japan (organizer, chair, discussant)
Takashi Wada, Mie University, Japan (presenter)
Takamasa Fujiwara, National Institute of Technology, Yuge College, Japan (presenter)
Zhixi Yin, Graduate School of Humanities, Nagoya University, Japan (presenter)


As a member of the capitalist sphere during the Cold War, Japan did not have many governmental exchanges with the socialist world. Nevertheless, leftist intellectuals visited various socialist regions, interacted with the local intellectuals and wrote about their experiences. As a result, literary works and other cultural products traveled between languages and cultures, giving birth to new ideas subverting Cold War politics.
This panel discusses the interaction between Japan's leftist intellectuals and sympathizers and the socialist bloc.
First, Wada analyzes the essay "Soviet Journey", published in 1957 by Tokunaga Sunao, a novelist who belonged to the Japanese Communist Party after WWII, and shows the actual state of cultural exchanges between Japan, the Soviet Union and China around 1955, a period of radical transition for socialism.
Next, Fujiwara discusses the discourse of Japanese intellectuals who visited China during the Cultural Revolution, in particular Takeda Taijun's "Autumn Wind and Rain Aggrieve Me (1968) and Sugimori Hisahide's "China as It Is" (1972), clarifying the political background of the cultural exchanges occurring while diplomatic relations between Japan and China were being restored.
Finally, Yin focuses on several Okinawa-related performances by the Japanese theater group Haguruma Za (Cogwheel Troupe), translated in China and highly regarded as works opposing the Japan‐U.S. Security Treaty. She discusses the historical role of the collaboration between Chinese and Japanese theatre people during the Cold War.
Combined, our presentations will shed light on the complex networks of cultural translation and circulation between Japan, China and the USSR during the Cold War.

Panel Abstracts:
Longing for the Socialist State: USSR and China in the Mid-1950s as Seen by a Japanese Worker-turned-novelist
Tokunaga Sunao's "Soviet Journey" (1957) is a record of his three months stay in the USSR and China. Tokunaga is a novelist who joined the Japanese Communist Party after WWII, and on this trip, which started in December 1954, he was originally scheduled to be accompanied by humanitarian writers Shiga Naoya and Hirotsu Kazuo. However, since they could not go, he traveled with Watanabe Junzo, a friend of Tokunaga and a tanka poet. This travel essay, which was written while socialism was undergoing radical changes, discusses issues related to politics, such as criticism of Stalin and the Japan-China Fisheries Agreement, as well as literature, such as Ilya Ehrenburg's novel "The Thaw" and the Chinese writer Hu Feng. Interestingly, about the same time, Tsuji Masanobu, a member of the Japanese Conservative Party, also stayed in the USSR for three weeks and wrote a travelogue. Comparing the écriture of Tokunaga and Tsuji reveals the former's utopian thoughts on socialism and the latter's contemptuous view. In this paper, I will shed light on the actual state of cultural exchanges between Japan and the Soviet Union and China around 1955 by comparing Tokunaga's essay with contemporary discourse.

Between Personal Interest and Ideology: The Discourse of Japanese Intellectuals Who Visited China During the Cultural Revolution
This presentation discusses the discourse of Japanese intellectuals who visited China during the Cultural Revolution. Japan established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1972, but cultural exchanges had been conducted at the private level even before. Especially worthy of attention is the visit of Takeda Taijun, Sugimori Hisahide, Ozaki Hotsuki, Nagai Michiko et al, who were invited to China by the Chinese Writers Association, with the support of the Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association in 1967. During this trip, they were repeatedly encouraged to study the “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” which clearly indicates that the purpose of the visit was to promote the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. However, if we read the records of their experience, we find that the Japanese intellectuals did not write only in support of the party ideology. For example, Takeda focused on women revolutionaries other than Lu Xun, and Sugimori wrote critically about anti-Japanese theatre in China, which suggests that their personal interest arose from a place that was different from the ideology that China was trying to emphasize. Such considerations should be considered the result of meaningful cultural exchanges that went beyond the intervention of CPC. In this presentation, I will examine Takeda's "Autumn Wind and Rain Aggrieve Me" (1968), Sugimori's "China as It Is" (1972), and Ozaki's "New Face of China" (1972), all written about the same visit, in order to clarify the actual state of cultural exchanges between China and Japan during the Cultural Revolution.

Sino-Japanese Theater Interactions and the Image of Okinawa
Leftist cultural groups in Japan after WWII, under pressure from both the capitalist camp and various organizations like Cominform, the Chinese Communist Party and the Japanese Communist Party, repeatedly tried to establish their identities, through political movements as well as literary works. The Haguruma Za (Cogwheel Troupe) that this presentation discusses was established against the background of the Red Purge in the 1950s, and visited the People’s Republic of China in the 19760s-70s. While they were highly praised by Mao for their support of the Cultural Revolution, in Japan they were criticized by the Communist Party for their “blind obedience to Mao.”Moreover, their work “Nobi” (Wildfire) was significantly revised by the Chinese government before being performed in China, which caused the central figure Moroi Joji to leave Haguruma Za in 1967, a fact that clearly shows how complex their relationship with China was. Also, Haguruma Za’s theatrical works that were highly regarded in China, such as “Arashi” (Storm), “Hato” (The Wave), “Kawashimo no Machi Kara” (From the City Below) were not necessarily related to the Cultural Revolution, but instead focused mostly on Okinawa and the Japan‐U.S. Security Treaty. Why did Sino-Japanese theater people particularly value the issues of Okinawa in their collaboration, and how can we understand the relationship between their political and cultural activities, in the context of the Cold War? This presentation discusses these questions by looking at the case of the Haguruma Za, a small theater group caught up in the power struggles of the time

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 02 - Room 1

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