SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan

SERIES EDITOR: Christopher Gerteis (SOAS, University of London)

EDITORIAL BOARD: Stephen Dodd (SOAS, University of London) I Andrew Gerstle (SOAS, University of London) I Janet Hunter (London School of Economics) I Barak Kushner (University of Cambridge) I Helen Macnaughtan (SOAS, University of London) I Aaron W Moore (University of Edinburgh) I Timon Screech (SOAS, University of London) I Naoko Shimazu (NUS-Yale College, Singapore) 

The SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan series features new research monographs as well as translations of scholarship not previously available in English. Our goal is to publish high quality, peer-reviewed research on Japan and its history, politics and culture.

For more information visit the Bloomsbury Publishing website.

Published works include:

Japan as a Maritime Power
By: Masataka Kousaka | Translator: Paul Midford

Further details coming soon...

Gender, Culture, and Disaster in Post-3.11 Japan

Gender, Culture, and Disaster in Post-3.11 Japan
By: Mire Koikari

The Great East Japan Disaster – a compound catastrophe of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that began on March 11, 2011 – has ushered in a new era of cultural production dominated by discussions on safety and security, risk and vulnerability, and recovery and refortification. Gender, Culture, and Disaster in Post-3.11 Japan re-frames post-disaster national reconstruction as a social project imbued with dynamics of gender, race, and empire and in doing so Mire Koikari offers an innovative approach to resilience building in contemporary Japan.

From juvenile literature to civic manuals to policy statements, Koikari examines a vast array of primary sources to demonstrate how femininity and masculinity, readiness and preparedness, militarism and humanitarianism, and nationalism and transnationalism inform cultural formation and transformation triggered by the unprecedented crisis. Interdisciplinary in its orientation, the book reveals how militarism, neoliberalism, and neoconservatism drive Japan's resilience building while calling attention to historical precedents and transnational connections that animate the ongoing mobilization toward safety and security.

An important contribution to studies of gender and Japan, the book is essential reading for all those wishing to understand local and global politics of precarity and its proposed solutions amid the rising tide of pandemics, ecological hazards, industrial disasters, and humanitarian crises.

Imperial Japan and Defeat in the Second World War

Imperial Japan and Defeat in the Second World War: The Collapse of an Empire
By: Peter Wetzler

Informed Western understanding of Imperial Japan still often conjures up images of militarism, blind devotion to leaders, and fanatical pride in the country. But, as Imperial Japan and Defeat in the Second World War reveals, Western imagination is often reductive in its explanation of the Japanese Empire and its collapse. In his analysis of the Emperor, Imperial Japanese Army and Navy during the Second World War, Peter Wetzler examines the disconnect between nation and state during wartime Japan and in doing so offers a much-needed corrective to existing Western scholarship.

Rooted in the perspective of the Japanese, Wetzler makes available to readers vital primary and secondary Japanese archival sources; most notably, this book provides the first English assessment of the recently-released Actual Record of the Showa Emperor. This original study presents a nuanced and sensitive account of the critical period between the fall of Saipan and the end of the Second World War.

Imperial Japan and Defeat in the Second World War is an important advance in English-language studies of the Second World War in Asia, and is thus essential reading for all those wishing to understand this crucial period in Japanese history.

Overcoming Empire in Post-Imperial East Asia

Overcoming Empire in Post-Imperial East Asia: Repatriation, Redress and Rebuilding
Edited By: Barak Kushner, Sherzod Muminov

When Emperor Hirohito announced defeat in a radio broadcast on 15th August 1945, Japan was not merely a nation; it was a colossal empire stretching from the tip of Alaska to the fringes of Australia grown out of a colonial ideology that continued to pervade East Asian society for years after the end of the Second World War. In Overcoming Empire in Post-Imperial East Asia: Repatriation, Redress and Rebuilding, Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov bring together an international team of leading scholars to explore the post-imperial history of the region.

From international aid to postwar cinema to chemical warfare, these essays all focus on the aftermath of Japan's aggressive warfare and the new international strategies which Japan, China, Taiwan, North and South Korea utilised following the end of the war and the collapse of Japan's empire. The result is a nuanced analysis of the transformation of postwar national identities, colonial politics, and the reordering of society in East Asia. With its innovative comparative and transnational perspective, this book is essential reading for scholars of modern East Asian history, the cold war, and the history of decolonisation.

The Origins of the Modern Japanese Bureaucracy

The Origins of the Modern Japanese Bureaucracy
By: Yuichiro Shimizu

What is a bureaucracy, from where does it come, and how does it develop? Japanese have long described their nation as a “kingdom of bureaucrats", but until now, no historian has fully explained the historical origins of the mammoth Japanese executive state. In this ground-breaking study, translated into English for the first time, Yuichiro Shimizu traces the rise of the modern Japanese bureaucracy from the Meiji Restoration through the early 20th century. He reveals how the making of the bureaucracy was none other than the making of Japanese modernity itself. Through careful political analysis and vivid human narratives, he tells the dynamic story of how personal ambition, new educational institutions, and state bureaucratic structures interacted to make a modern political system premised on recruiting talent, not status or lineage.

Bringing cutting-edge Japanese scholarship to a global audience, The Origins of the Modern Japanese Bureaucracy is not only a reconceptualization of modern Japanese political history but an account of how the ideal of “pursuing one's own calling” became the foundational principle of the modern nation-state.

Kenkoku University and the Experience of Pan-Asianism

Kenkoku University and the Experience of Pan-Asianism: Education in the Japanese Empire
By: Yuka Hiruma Kishida

Kenkoku University and the Experience of Pan-Asianism makes a fresh contribution to the recent effort to re-examine the Japanese wartime ideology of Pan-Asianism by focusing on the experiences of students at Kenkoku University or “Nation-Building University,” abbreviated as Kendai (1938-1945). Located in the northeastern provinces of China commonly designated Manchuria, the university proclaimed to realize the goal of minzoku kyowa (“ethnic harmony”). It recruited students of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Mongolian and Russian backgrounds and aimed to foster a generation of leaders for the state of Manchukuo. Distinguishing itself from other colonial schools within the Japanese Empire, Kendai promised ethnic equality to its diverse student body, while at the same time imposing Japanese customs and beliefs on all students.

In this book, Yuka Hiruma Kishida examines not only the theory and rhetoric of Pan-Asianism as an ideal in the service of the Japanese Empire, but more importantly its implementation in the curriculum and the daily lives of students and faculty whose socioeconomic backgrounds were broadly representative of their respective societies. She draws on archival material which reveals dynamic exchanges of ideas about the meaning of Asian unity among the campus community, and documents convergences as well as clashes of competing articulations of Pan-Asianism. Kishida argues that an idealistic and egalitarian conception of Pan-Asianism exercised considerable appeal late into the Second World War, even as mobilization for total war intensified contradictions between ideal and practice.

More than an institutional history, this book makes an important intervention into the historiography on pan-Asianism and Japanese imperialism.

Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan

Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan
By: Simon Gunn, Susan C. Townsend

Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan is the first book to consider how mass motorization reshaped cities in Japan and Britain during the 20th century. Taking two leading 'motor cities', Nagoya and Birmingham, as their principal subjects, Simon Gunn and Susan C. Townsend show how cars changed the spatial form and individual experience of the modern city and reveal the similarities and differences between Japan and Britain in adapting to the 'motor age'.

The book has three main themes: the place of automobility in post-war urban reconstruction; the emerging conflict between the promise of mobility and personal freedom offered by the car and its consequences for the urban environment (the M/E dilemma); and the extent to which the Anglo-Japanese comparison can throw light on fundamental differences in cultural understanding of the environment, urbanism and the self. The result is the first comparative history of mass automobility and its environmental consequences between East and West.

Engineering Asia. Technology, Colonial Development, And The Cold War Order

Engineering Asia. Technology, Colonial Development, And The Cold War Order. 
Edited By: Hiromi Mizuno, Aaron S. Moore, John Dimoia

Weaving together chapters on imperial Japan's wartime mobilization, Asia's first wave of postwar decolonization, and Cold War geopolitical conflict in the region, Engineering Asia seeks to demonstrate how Asia's present prosperity did not arise from a so-called 'economic miracle' but from the violent and dynamic events of the 20th century. The book argues that what continued to operate throughout these tumultuous eras were engineering networks of technology. Constructed at first for colonial development under Japan, these networks transformed into channels of overseas development aid that constituted the Cold War system in Asia.

Japan’s occupation of java in the second world war

Japan’s Occupation Of Java In The Second World War. A Transnational History
By: Ethan Mark

Japan's Occupation of Java in the Second World War draws upon written and oral Japanese, Indonesian, Dutch and English-language sources to narrate the Japanese occupation of Java as a transnational intersection between two complex Asian societies, placing this narrative in a larger wartime context of domestic, regional, and global crisis.

Japan's occupation of Java is here revealed in a radically new and nuanced light, as an ambiguous encounter revolutionary in the degree of mutual interests that drew the two sides together, fascinating and tragic in its evolution, and profound in the legacies left behind. Mark structures his study around a diverse group of Japanese and Indonesians captivated by the wartime vision of a 'Greater Asia.' The book is not only the first transnational study of Japan's wartime occupation of Java, but the first to focus on the Second World War experience in transnational terms 'on the ground' anywhere in Asia.

Gathering for Tea in Modern Japan

Gathering for Tea in Modern Japan: Class, Culture and Consumption in the Meiji Period
By: Taka Oshikiri

By examining chanoyu - the custom of consuming matcha tea - in the Meiji period, Gathering for Tea in Modern Japan investigates the interactions between intellectual and cultural legacies of the Tokugawa period and the incoming influences of Western ideas, material cultures and institutions. It explores the construction of Japan's modern cultural identity, highlighting the development of new social classes, and the transformation of cultural practices and production-consumption networks of the modern era.

The History of Japanese Psychology: Global Perspectives, 1875-1950

The History of Japanese Psychology: Global Perspectives, 1875-1950
By: Brian J. McVeigh (University of Albany)

The birth of Japanese psychology was more than a mere adaptation to the challenges of modernity: it heralded a transformation of the very mental processes it claimed to be exploring. With detailed appendices, tables and charts to provide readers with a meticulous and thorough exploration of the subject and adopting a truly comparative perspective, The History of Japanese Psychology prove to be a unique study that will be valuable to students and scholars of Japanese intellectual history and the history of psychology. The History of Japanese Psychology is nothing short of a landmark achievement in the history of psychology.

Mass media, consumerism and national identity in postwar japan

Mass Media, Consumerism and National Identity in Postwar Japan
By: Martyn David Smith

Mass Media, Consumerism and National Identity in Postwar Japan addresses Japan's evolving nationalism and national identity in relation to its newly rising consumerism during the two decades from 1952 to 1972, through a study of the transformation of the print media and the market for weekly and monthly magazines.

IMG - Laura Hein

Post-Fascist Japan: Political Culture in Kamakura after the Second World War
By: Laura Hein
Late 1945 local Japanese turned their energies toward creating new behaviors and institutions that would give young people better skills to combat repression at home and coercion abroad. They rapidly transformed their political culture-policies, institutions, and public opinion-to create a more equitable, democratic and peaceful society.  By focusing on people who had an outsized influence on Japan’s political culture, Hein’s study is local, national, and transnational. She grounds her discussion using specific personalities, showing their ideas about ‘post-fascism’, how they implemented them and how they interacted with the American occupiers.

IMG - Sari Kawana

The Uses of Literature in Modern Japan: Histories and Cultures of the Book
By: Sari Kawana

The Uses of Literature in Modern Japan explores the varying uses of literature in Japan from the late Meiji period to the present, considering how creators, conveyors, and consumers of literary content have treated texts and their authors as cultural resources to be packaged, promoted, and preserved.  Moving beyond close reading of texts to look at their historical context, the book will appeal not only to scholars of modern Japanese literature but also those studying the history of the book and modern Japanese cultural history.

Japan's Postwar Military and Civil Society by Tomoyuki Sasaki

Japan's Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life
By: Tomoyuki Sasaki (Eastern Michigan University)

Japan's Postwar Military and Civil Society details the interactions between the SDF and civil society over four decades, from the launch of rearmament in 1950. These interactions include recruitment, civil engineering, disaster relief, anti-SDF litigation, state financial support for communities with bases, and a fear-mongering campaign against the Soviet Union. By examining these wide-range issues, the book demonstrates how the militarization of society advanced as the SDF consolidated its ideological and socio-economic ties with civil society and its role as a defender of popular welfare. While postwar Japan is often depicted as a peaceful society, this book challenges such a view, and illuminates the prominent presence of the military in people's everyday lives.


Japanese Taiwan Edited by Andrew D. Morris

Japanese Taiwan: Colonial Rule and its Contested Legacy
Editor: Andrew D. Morris (California Polytechnic State University)

Japanese Taiwan provides an interdisciplinary perspective on these related processes of colonization and decolonization, explaining how the memories, scars and traumas of the colonial era have been utilized during the postwar period. It provides a unique critique of the 'Japaneseness' of the erstwhile Chinese Taiwan, thus bringing new scholarship to bear on problems in contemporary East Asian politics.



Politics and Power in 20th-Century Japan: The Reminiscences of Miyazawa Kiichi

Politics and Power in 20th-Century Japan: The Reminiscences of Miyazawa Kiichi
By: Mikuriya Takashi (Open University of Japan), Nakamura Takafusa (Tokyo University)

Miyazawa Kiichi played a leading role in Japan's government and politics from 1942 until 2003, during which time he served as Prime Minister, and also as Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Director General of the Economic Planning Agency, and Chief Cabinet Secretary. In this oral history autobiography, he discusses with candor and detail a wide range of topics, including his 1939 visit to the United States, recovery policies during the postwar occupation, the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and Japan's role in international organizations such as GATT and OECD, and gives a thoughtful insider's view of six decades of Japanese politics, closing with his thoughts on Japan's role in the 21st century.


Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan

Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons
Editors: Patrick W. Galbraith (Duke University), Thiam Huat Kam (Rutgers, University of New Jersey), Björn-Ole Kamm (Kyoto University)

Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan disrupts the naturalization and trivialization of 'otaku' by examining the historical contingency of the term as a way to identify and contain problematic youth, consumers and fan cultures in Japan. Its chapters, many translated from Japanese and available in English for the first time explore key moments in the evolving discourse of 'otaku' in Japan. Rather than presenting a smooth, triumphant narrative of the transition of a subculture to the mainstream, the edited volume repositions 'otaku' in specific historical, social and economic contexts, providing new insights into the significance of the 'otaku' phenomenon in Japan and the world.


Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations on Screen - book cover

Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations on Screen: A History, 1989-2005
By: Griseldis Kirsch (SOAS University of London)

Covering the years from 1989 to 2005, this book looks at Sino-Japanese relations through film and television drama in the crucial time of China's ascent to an economic superpower in opposition to Japan's own ailing economy. It provides an overview of how Japan views China through its visual media, offers explanations as to how oppositions between the two countries came to exist, and how and why certain myths about China have been conveyed. 


Jan Bardsley - Women and Democracy in Cold War Japan
Women and Democracy in Cold War Japan

By: Jan Bardsley (University of North Carolina, USA)

Examining the shifting personae of the housewife, especilly in the appealing texts of women’s magazines, Women and Democracy in Cold War Japan reveals the diverse possibilities of postwar democracy as they were embedded in media directed toward Japanese women.





Emily Anderson: Christianity and Imperialism in Modern Japan

Christianity and Imperialism in Modern Japan: Empire for God
By: Emily Anderson (Washington State University, USA)

Christianity and Imperialism in Modern Japan explores how Japanese Protestants engaged with the unsettling changes that resulted from Japan's emergence as a world power in the early twentieth century.






The China Problem in Postwar Japan by Robert Hoppens

The China Problem in Postwar Japan
By: Robert Hoppens (University of Texas Pan-American, USA) 

The China Problem in Postwar Japan challenges some common assertions or assumptions about the role of Japanese national identity in postwar Sino-Japanese relations, showing how the history of Japanese relations with China in the 1970s is shaped by the strength of Japanese national identity, not its weakness.




Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan by The Asahi Shimbun Company

Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan 
By: The Asahi Shimbun Company

Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan investigates the role played by the Asahi Newspaper, one of Japan's largest daily newspapers, as a mediator of information and power during the 20th century, explores the relationship between media and society during the postwar era and into the 21st century. 




We welcome proposals for new books in the series. If you would like to discuss contributing, please get in touch with the series editor at