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Memory And Identity: Japanese POWs In The Soviet Union

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Chapter Summary

The issue of Japanese POWs and their internment in the Soviet Union has featured prominently in the history of Russian-Japanese relations. This chapter demonstrates the role visual media, in particular paintings, museum exhibitions and theatre performances, has played in transforming the traumatic experiences of POWs into Japanese collective memory. It explores the relationship between the POW experience and the evolving image of Japan's northern neighbour. The chapter proceeds from the assumption that visual means of representation are not only historical sources, but also persuasive 'memory sites', especially so in the case of pictures drawn by former detainees from memory only. It argues that POW memories and related 'memory sites' must be selected in order to reconcile individual and group identities with the requirements of the Cold War and, with the interests of various local agencies, such as the Maizuru Repatriation Memorial Museum.

Keywords: Cold War; Japanese POWs; Maizuru Repatriation Memorial Museum; memory sites; Russian-Japanese relations; Soviet Union; visual media



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