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

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Japan and the Socialist Bloc During the Cold War: Translating Cultures
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.