Crossing the 1945 divide explored in new book

Dr Christine de Matos, Associate Dean and Lecturer at the School of Arts & Sciences, Sydney
with Mr Endo Nao, Director, The Japan Foundation, Sydney.

25 November 2015

The complete reversal of the power dynamic in the Asia-Pacific region after the end of World War II is explored in a new book edited by Dr Christine de Matos from The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Dr de Matos, an Associate Dean and Lecturer at the School of Arts & Sciences, Sydney, edited and contributed to Japan as the Occupier and the Occupied in collaboration with Professor Mark Caprio from Rikkyō University, Tokyo. The book, six years in the making, brings together scholars from Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia exploring different aspects of Japan as both the occupier and occupied.

“It explores the power shift that Japan goes through at the end of World War II, from having power over other parts of the world as a coloniser/military occupier and then as an empire in retreat where Japan itself becomes occupied by other nations post August 1945,” Dr de Matos said.

“The impact of the trans-war transition in Japan proper and the various territories that it controlled during the Asia-Pacific War, including Korea, Borneo, Singapore, Manchuria and China and the continued legacies of the era are also examined.

“Rather than seeing 1945 as a divide between two different parts of history we are looking across those years to see how the power shift occurred, what impact it had on those formerly occupied by Japan and what the legacies of occupation were.

“We look at how Japan and the Japanese people reacted, the impact on the occupied people, how Japan went from being occupied by other powers and how the Japan's leadership and people managed the transition from that of occupier of other territories to that of being occupied by foreign powers. So it’s a complete reversal of the power dynamic in the Asia-Pacific Region to where it had been prior to August 1945.”

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, the book was launched by the distinguished scholar of Japanese studies Professor Vera Mackie, from the University of Wollongong, last week at the Japan Foundation, Sydney.

Professor Mackie described Japan as the Occupier and the Occupied as a pioneering, interdisciplinary and important collaborative work by a group of international scholars headed by Dr de Matos and Professor Caprio. "It is in line with recent trends in transnational history, whereby historians focus on the flows and influences across national borders, rather than just focusing on one nation-state," Professor Mackie said. “The volume brings new perspectives to our understanding of modern Japanese history, in its focus on continuities before and after 1945, rather than seeing 1945 as a decisive break".

Dr de Matos, a Lecturer in History at Notre Dame is also the author of Imposing Peace and Prosperity: Australia, Social Justice and Labour Reform in Occupied Japan (2008) and has co-edited, with Robin Gerster, Occupying the `Other` (2009) and, with Rowena Ward, Gender, Power, and Military Occupations (2012).

Mark E. Caprio is Professor of Korean History in the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyō University, Japan. He is the author of Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 (2009).

For more information please go to:

Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0407 408 177;