New Books from Japan #6: “Women in Asia under the Japanese Empire”

New Books from Japan #6: “Women in Asia under the Japanese Empire”

Friday, May 31 2024 | 9:00-10:30 PM JST | 8:00-9:30 AM EDT | 1:00-2:30 PM BST

Please register for Zoom at the event webpage:

Presenter: 蔭木 達也 (Tatsuya Kageki, Keio University)

Discussant: Marnie Anderson (Smith College)

Contributors to this book provide an Asian women’s history from the perspective of gender analysis, assessing Japanese imperial policy and propaganda in its colonies and occupied territories and particularly its impact on women. Tackling topics including media, travel, migration, literature, and the perceptions of the empire by the colonized, the authors present an eclectic history, unified by the perspective of gender studies and the spatial and political lens of the Japanese Empire. They look at the lives of women in, Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, Mainland China, Micronesia, and Okinawa, among others. These women were wives, mothers, writers, migrants, intellectuals and activists, and thus had a very broad range of views and experiences of Imperial Japan. Where women have tended in the past to be studied as objects of the imperial system, the contributors to this book study them as the subject of history, while also providing an outside-in perspective on the Japanese Empire by other Asians.


New Books on Japan: “Asia and Postwar Japan: Deimperialization, Civic Activism, and National Identity”

New Books on Japan: “Asia and Postwar Japan: Deimperialization, Civic Activism, and National Identity”

Thursday, May 9, 2024 | 6:00-7:30 PM ET

Please register for Zoom at the event webpage:

Asia and Postwar Japan: Deimperialization, Civic Activism, and National Identity (Harvard University East Asia Center Press, 2022)

Author: Simon Avenell, Professor in the School of Culture, History, and Language, Australian National University

Discussant: Robert Hoppens, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The Modern Japan History Association invites the wider community to a conversation with Simon Avenell (Australian National University). Professor Avenell will be speaking about his new book, Asia and Postwar Japan: Deimperialization, Civic Activism, and National Identity (Harvard University East Asia Center Press, 2022). Asia and Postwar Japan examines Japanese deimperialization from 1945 until the early twenty-first century. It focuses on the thought and activism of progressive activists and intellectuals as they struggled to overcome rigid preconceptions about “Asia,” as they grappled with the implications of postimperial responsibility, and as they forged new regional solidarities and Asian imaginaries. Professor Avenell reveals the critical importance of Asia in postwar Japanese thought, activism, and politics—Asia as a symbolic geography, Asia as a space for grassroots engagement, and ultimately, Asia as an aporia of identity and the source of a new politics of hope. Robert Hoppens (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) will serve as discussant.

Population Sciences and Discourses in Modern Japan

Author: Aya Homei (The University of Manchester)

Science for Governing Japan’s Population (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Author: Sujin Lee (University of Victoria)

Wombs of Empire: Population Discourses and Biopolitics in Modern Japan  (Stanford University Press, 2023)

Discussant: Mina Marković – University of Cambridge


You are invited to a conversation with Aya Homei and Sujin Lee hosted by the Department of Japanese Studies, The University of Hong Kong. Dr. Homei and Professor Lee will be speaking about their new books. While many are now familiar with the rapid population decline in Japan and the challenges faced by its society, less is known about the longer history of population sciences and discourses in modern Japan during a time when the much-discussed “population problem” was actually about overpopulation.

In Science for Governing Japan’s Population, Aya Homei examines the evolution of population-related disciplines in Japan from the 1860s to the 1960s, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the development of population sciences, the emergence of the term ‘population’ (jinkō), and Japan’s modernization. Through this historical lens, Homei uncovers the intricate connections between population, sovereignty, and scientific discourse, offering fresh insights into Japan’s demographic governance.

In Wombs of Empire: Population Discourses and Biopolitics in Modern Japan, Sujin Lee navigates the discourse surrounding population during interwar and wartime Japan, highlighting these periods as pivotal arenas where conflicting visions of modernity clashed. Lee challenges entrenched views of motherhood and population by examining the influence of gender norms, contemporary knowledge, and governmental strategies. Lee exposes how demographic concerns fueled ethnonationalism, racism, colonialism, imperialism, and gender disparities throughout Japan’s modern era.

Dr. Mina Marković (Cambridge University) will serve as discussant.

Time Event: May 2, 2:00PM HK standard time (7:00AM GMT, May 1 – 11:00PM PST, 8:00PM ET)

12 Questions for Jonas Rüegg: Japan and Oceanic History (with Paul Kreitman)

12 Questions for Jonas Rüegg: Japan and Oceanic History (with Paul Kreitman)

Monday, May 6, 2024 | 12:00-1:30 PM EDT | 5:00-6:30 PM BST | 6:00-7:30 PM CET
Please see event webpage ( to register for Zoom

Featuring: Jonas Rüegg, Senior Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Zurich, and winner of the 2024 Modern Japan History Association Dissertation Prize

Interviewer: Paul Kreitman, Associate Professor of Japanese History, Columbia University

The Kanrin Maru, the first shogunal steamboat, which had sailed to San Francisco in 1860 with Fukuzawa Yukichi other members of the Japanese embassy on board (National Diet Library)

In light of a broader “oceanic turn” in historiography, Jonas Rüegg (Zurich) and Paul Kreitman (Columbia) will examine Japan’s place within this broader historiography with reference to Professor Rüegg’s prize winning dissertation The Kuroshio Frontier: Business, State and Environment in the Making of Japan’s Pacific (Harvard University, 2022), and Professor Kreitman’s new book Japan’s Ocean Borderlands: Nature and Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Significant time will also be allotted for audience Q&A.

(Zoom) Japanese and Joseon Relations during the period of Ōuchi Dominion: 1392-1551

Choson History Society invites you to join our Zoom Speaker Series, presented by Thomas Conlan, Professor of Medieval Japanese History at Princeton. Thomas Conlan will illustrate how Japan was an ethnically diverse state from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries, closely bound by trading ties to Korea and China. His talk will reveal new archaeological and textual evidence proving that East Asia had integrated trading networks long before the arrival of European explorers and includes an analysis of ores and slag that shows how mining techniques improved and propelled East Asian trade. This Zoom event will take place on May 8th, 5:00 – 6:30pm Los Angeles Time / May 9th, 09:00 – 10:30am Seoul Time.

MJHA Roundtable: Remaking “Shōgun” – Historians Assess

Thursday, May 2, 2024 | 7:00PM-8:30 PM ET | REGISTER FOR ZOOM

MJHA Roundtable: Remaking “Shōgun” – Historians Assess

Please see event webpage ( to register for Zoom

Featured Panelists:

Mary Elizabeth Berry, Class of 1944 Professor of History Emerita, University of California, Berkeley
Eleanor Hubbard, Independent Scholar
Morgan Pitelka, Bernard L. Herman Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Henry Smith, Professor of History Emeritus, Columbia University

In the wake of the latest television remake of James Clavell’s celebrated novel Shōgun, a panel of distinguished historians of early modern Japan and England will consider what the shows and novel get right and wrong about history, examine how interpretations of the story and the source material have evolved over time, and look back on nearly 50 years of teaching with (and against) Clavell’s tale of an English sailor in late Sengoku Japan.

New Books on Japan: “Demarcating Japan: Imperialism, Islanders, and Mobility, 1855–1884”

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | 6:00-7:30 PM ET

Author: Takahiro Yamamoto, Singapore University of Technology and Design

Discussant: David Howell, Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University

Please see event webpage ( to register for Zoom

The Modern Japan History Association invites the wider community to a conversation with Takahiro Yamamoto (Singapore University of Technology and Design). Professor Yamamoto will be speaking about his new book, Demarcating Japan: Imperialism, Islanders, and Mobility, 1855–1884 (Harvard University East Asia Center Press, 2023). Histories of remote islands around Japan are usually told through the prism of territorial disputes. In contrast, Professor Yamamoto contends in Demarcating Japan that the transformation of the islands from ambiguous border zones to a territorialized space emerged out of multilateral power relations. Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Tsushima, the Bonin Islands, and the Ryukyu Islands became the subject of inter-imperial negotiations during the formative years of modern Japan as empires nudged each other to secure their status with minimal costs rather than fighting a territorial scramble. Based on multiarchival, multilingual research, Demarcating Japan argues that the transformation of border islands should be understood as an interconnected process, where inter-local referencing played a key role in the outcome: Japan’s geographical expansion in the face of domineering Extra-Asian empires. Underneath this multilateral process were the connections forged by individual non-state actors. Translators, doctors, traffickers, castaways, and indigenous hunters crisscrossed border regions and enacted violence, exchanged knowledge, and forged friendships. Although their motivations were eclectic and their interactions transcended national borders, the linkages they created were essential in driving territorialization forward. David Howell (Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University) will serve as discussant.

Book Talk: Interconnected Worlds with Henry Yeung

On Thursday, May 23 from 3:30 to 5pm in THO 317 and online, the UW Taiwan Studies Program will welcome Henry Yeung (National University of Singapore) to discuss his book Interconnected Worlds: Global Electronics and Production Networks in East Asia. His book offers key empirical observations on the highly contested and politicized nature of semiconductor global production networks since the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic. In this capital-intensive manufacturing industry, governance and power dynamics are manifested differently from many other industries due to highly complex technology regimes, production network ecosystems, and, more recently, geopolitical imperatives. While some of these critical dynamics had been in play ahead of the 2020s in China, Taiwan, and South Korea, their intensity and significance became more apparent by the early 2020s. The book also examines the need for strategic partnerships with technology leaders toward building national and regional resilience in the US, Western Europe, and East Asia.

Professor Henry Yeung has been a Distinguished Professor at the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, since 2018, and a Professor of Economic Geography since 2005. As a leading academic expert in global production networks and the global economy, his research interests cover broadly theories and the geography of transnational corporations, East Asian firms, and developmental states. He is the first geographer based in Asia to receive both the 2018 American Association of Geographers Distinguished Scholarship Honors (“in recognition of his extraordinary scholarship and leadership in the discipline”) and the UK’s Royal Geographical Society Murchison Award 2017 (for “pioneering publications in the field of globalisation”). In November 2022, he was conferred the 2022 Sir Peter Hall Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Field by the Regional Studies Association in London: “acknowledging and celebrating excellence in the field of regional studies”.

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

Book Talk: Renegade Rhymes with Meredith Schweig

Renegade Rhymes invites readers into Taiwan’s vibrant underground hip-hop scene to explore the social, cultural, and political dynamics of life in a post-authoritarian democracy. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of martial law (1949-1987), the book follows Taiwan’s earliest rappers and DJs as they critiqued the island’s political system, spun tales from their perspectives as members of marginalized ethnic communities, and reimagined previously suppressed local musical forms. A series of ethnographic and historical chapters trace an arc between these earliest interventions and the innovations of present-day musicians, who grapple with ongoing existential uncertainty imposed by the island’s ambiguous geopolitical status and accelerating neoliberalization. The book argues that rap artists past and present configure post-authoritarianism as a creative political intervention, whose ultimate objective is the reordering of epistemic hierarchies, power structures, and gender relations.

New Books on Japan: “Dream Super-Express: A Cultural History of the World’s First Bullet Train”

The Modern Japan History Association invites the wider community to a conversation with Jessamyn R. Abel (Pennsylvania State University). Professor Abel will be speaking about her book Dream Super-Express: A Cultural History of the World’s First Bullet Train (Stanford University Press, 2022), which was recently awarded the inaugural Modern Japan History Association Book Prize. Dream Super-Express sheds fresh light on postwar Japan’s rise to technological and economic superstardom. Integrating the histories of technology, infrastructure, economics, politics, diplomacy, and empire, Abel argues that the Tōkaidō Shinkansen—the first bullet train, dubbed the “dream super-express”—represents the bold aspirations of a nation rebranding itself after military defeat, but also the deep problems caused by the unbridled postwar drive for economic growth. Abel contends that understanding the various, often contradictory, images of the bullet train reveals how infrastructure operates beyond its intended use as a means of transportation to perform cultural and sociological functions. As the train variously enchanted, enthralled, and enraged government officials, media pundits, community activists, novelists, and filmmakers, it prompted a reimagination of identity on the levels of individual, metropolis, and nation in a changing Japan. Yuting Dong (University of Chicago) will serve as discussant.

Diversity in Asian Studies Session 1

The Diversity in Asian Studies Event Series will address the need for diverse perspectives in the field of Asian studies. This year’s series focuses on linguistic diversity, highlighting East Asian languages beyond Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese.

Professor Henning Klotter will provide an overview of Taiwan’s language situation by taking stock of the languages that are currently spoken, their sociolinguistic status and their social and geographical distribution. Special attention will be given to the phenomenon of language shift, i.e. the exclusive use of Mandarin and the discontinuation of regional language use among younger speakers. In the second part of the presentation, he will look at the visible manifestation of different languages in the linguistic landscape of Taipei city. Taking street name signs as an example, he will show that until today, official signage strictly reflects language norms and official standards of the post-1949 period and excludes non-standard linguistic alternatives such as Southern Min or Hakka. The profound ideological shift towards ‘nativisation’ that gathered momentum at the turn of the 21st century has left almost no visible traces on street signage.

Dr. Mirshad Ghalip’s talk will delve into the language attitudes and ideologies of the Uyghur diaspora community in the US and their relationship with efforts to maintain their heritage language. Initially, a quantitative approach was employed via a survey to explore participants language attitudes. Subsequently, qualitative methods were used to delve deeper into these attitudes and ideologies. The study also considers the impact of the Chinese government’s genocidal policies since late 2016 on participants’ language attitudes and ideologies. Data was gathered from 76 participants, revealing a prevailing positive attitude towards the Uyghur language, culture, and identity in the US diaspora. The qualitative findings indicate that language ideology significantly influences heritage language maintenance efforts, particularly ideologies viewing the Uyghur language as integral to Uyghur identity and speaking it as a form of resistance against Chinese government oppression. Furthermore, the data suggests that the Chinese government’s policies are measurably affecting participants’ language attitudes and ideologies, further bolstering their positive outlook towards the Uyghur language.

Zoom Talk: Order-made Korean Tea Bowls and the Transcultural Impact of Chosŏn Dynasty Art in Seventeenth Century Japan

Please join Sol Jung’s (Smithsonian Institute) talk,

“Order-made Korean Tea Bowls and the Transcultural Impact of Chosŏn Dynasty Art in Seventeenth Century Japan”

Presented by Sol Jung, The Shirley Z. Johnson Assistant Curator of Japanese Art, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The event will take place on April 10, 5:00 – 6:30pm Los Angeles Time / April 11, 09:00 – 10:30am (Seoul Time).

Please register here:

Displaced from their original context of production and consumption, Korean ceramic tea bowls, called kōrai chawan in Japan, became valuable objects sought out by Japanese military elites, wealthy merchants, and monks. These men participated in sixteenth-century Japanese tea practice, chanoyu, a specialized cultural forum for aesthetic discourse. The appreciation for kōrai chawan marked the beginning of Japanese interest in collecting non-Chinese objects, and this shift had a profound impact on sixteenth-century Japanese aesthetics, as well as both Korean and Japanese artistic production later in the seventeenth century. The early kōrai chawan were Korean ceramics initially made for a domestic market, which were transported to Japan and repurposed in the context of tea practice. However, the seventeenth century gave rise to the production of order-made Korean ceramics to suit the tastes of Japanese collectors. Remarkably, this continued Japanese interest in Korean ceramics persisted despite the disruption caused by the Imjin War (1592-1598). The examination of this seventeenth-century development in Korean ceramic production has been largely limited to the field of Japanese art history, as extant tea bowls mostly survive in Japanese collections. This presentation examines how order-made Korean tea bowls speak to the transcultural impact of Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910) art in the early modern period.

About the Presenter
Sol Jung is the Shirley Z. Johnson Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art, where she oversees the museum’s collection of premodern to contemporary Japanese ceramics, lacquerware, metalwork, and tea-related objects. Jung specializes in Japanese art history with a focus on how transnational maritime trade impacted Japan’s visual culture during the premodern period.

The Asking: New and Selected Poems—A Conversation with Poet Jane Hirshfield and Pacific Zen Institute’s Jon Joseph Roshi

Pacific Zen Institute: Live Online Event with poet Jane Hirshfield

The Asking: New and Selected Poems —A Conversation with Poet Jane Hirshfield and Pacific Zen Institute’s Jon Joseph Roshi, Wednesday March 27, 2024, Live Online at 6 pm Pacific Time


Join by donation on a sliding scale: Starts at zero—suggested is $12–20.

We hope you’ll join us!

Reading The Three-Body Problem as Utopian International Thought

Liu Cixin’s Three-Body trilogy can be profitably interpreted from the standpoint of international relations theory, in particular the offensive realism that is prominent in contemporary IR practice, the logic of which parallels several key developments in the story. Such, indeed, was my initial impulse upon being introduced to Liu’s work (Dyson, 2019). In this talk I would like to supplement and in some degree challenge that original interpretation with a counter-reading, one motivated not by the security focus of international relations theory but by the humanistic focus of science-fiction studies – the academic discipline directed towards the interpretation of science fiction texts.

Stitching the 24 hour city: life labor, and problem of speed in Seoul

Seo Young Park’s book, Stitching the 24-Hour City: Life, Labor, and the Problem of Speed in Seoul, reveals the intense speed of garment production and everyday life in Dongdaemun, a lively market in Seoul, South Korea. Once the site of uprisings against oppressive working conditions in the 1970s and 80s, Dongdaemun has now become iconic for its creative economy, nightlife, and fast-fashion factories, and shopping plazas. Park follows the work of people who witnessed and experienced the rapidly changing marketplace from the inside. Through this approach, Park examines the meanings and politics of work, focusing on what it takes for people to enable speedy production and circulation and also how they incorporate the critique of speed in the ways they make sense of their own work. Stitching the 24-Hour City provides in-depth ethnographic accounts of the garment designers, workers, and traders who sustain the extraordinary speed of fast fashion production and circulation, as well as the labor activists who challenge it. Attending to their narratives and practices of work, Park illuminates how speed is, rather than a singular drive of acceleration, an entanglement of uneven paces and cycles of life, labor, the market, and the city itself.

Book Talk: Island X with Wendy Cheng

On Wednesday, April 24 from 3:30 to 5pm in THO 317 and online, the UW Taiwan Studies Program will welcome Professor Wendy Cheng to discuss her newest book entitled Island X: Taiwanese Student Migrants, Campus Spies, and Cold War Activism. Wendy delves into the compelling political lives of Taiwanese migrants who came to the United States as students from the 1960s through the 1980s. Often depicted as compliant model minorities, many were in fact deeply political, shaped by Taiwan’s colonial history and influenced by the global social movements of their time.

Drawing on interviews with student activists and extensive archival research, Wendy Cheng documents how Taiwanese Americans developed tight-knit social networks as infrastructures for identity formation, consciousness development, and anticolonial activism. Raising questions about historical memory and Cold War circuits of power, Island X is a testament to the lives and advocacy of a generation of Taiwanese American activists.

Wendy Cheng is a Professor of American Studies at Scripps College. She received her A.B. from Harvard University in English and American Language and Literature, her M.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Changs Next Door to the Díazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), which won the 2014 Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Asia and Asian America, and coauthor of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2012), which won the Association of American Geographers’ Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography and the SCIBA Nonfiction Award.

“Chinese Art History in the Undergraduate Curriculum” webinar

Organized by the Association for Chinese Art History, the webinar “Chinese Art History in the Undergraduate Curriculum” provides a forum for participants to hear from and ask questions of faculty who are engaged with the teaching and mentoring of undergraduate students, which is critical for fostering the pipeline for Chinese art history and pathways to academic, museum, and other careers. Allison Miller is Department Chair of the Department of Art History, Associate Professor of Art History, and Coordinator of the East Asian Studies Program at Southwestern University. Winston Kyan is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Utah and has previously taught at Macalester College. Karil Kucera is Professor of Art and Art History & Asian Studies, Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and General Studies, Director of the Center for Integrative Studies, and Director of Asian Conversations at St. Olaf College. Moderated by ACAH board member Michelle C. Wang, the event will be 90 minutes in length. In the first half of the program, each panelist will discuss their approaches to teaching and supporting Chinese art history from the perspective of their respective faculty and administrative roles and institutions, as well as pertinent issues, challenges, and opportunities. This will be followed by Q & A with the audience. We hope that all who are presently or will be engaged with undergraduate teaching and mentoring will join us!

This event will take place on Monday, February 26, 2024: 4:00pm PST/6:00pm CST/7:00pm EST. Please register here and the Zoom link will be sent to you before the event (please note, the event will not be recorded):

We look forward to conversing with our panelists and seeing you then!

Duty and Emotion: Polarities of Filial Identity in Contemporary Sinophone Culture with Professor Christopher Lupke

One of the great themes of modern Chinese and Sinophone culture is the emergence of new forms of individual identity that break free of the confines of what May Fourth intellectuals such as Lu Xun, Wu Yu, Chen Duxiu, Ba Jin, and others have imputed to filiality 孝, one of the cornerstones of traditional Chinese thought, ethics, and subject-formation. But filiality has not retired from the scene of intellectual discourse as quickly and easily as some had thought it would. The modern era is in one sense a battle between the time-honored obeisance to one’s elders on the one hand and individualism on the other. This Manichean conflict presumes that we think of filiality in terms of duty: devotion to one’s parents and ancestors; heterosexual bonding and marriage; the production of biological heirs, especially sons; and honorable deeds that bring pride to parents and family.

Deeply engrained in Chinese society since pre-Confucian times, and codified by Confucius, Mencius, and their followers, the filial structure of selfhood and conduct is virtually synonymous with the fundamental essence of Chinese culture in its purest form. This is only true if we conceive of filiality as a prescribed protocol for upright behavior. But what about the feelings associated with filiality? In a recent book that promises to redraft our perspective on filiality, Maram Epstein seeks to place affect, or the emotional component of human existence, at the forefront of our understanding of the nature of filiality, suggesting that the modern repudiation of filiality has tainted our entire thought-structure as to what filiality means historically and how it functions.

Epstein’s work on Ming and Qing China has prompted Professor Lupke to reflect on his own understanding of filiality, asking how it fosters emotional bonds such as affiliations to one’s parents in positive ways. In this presentation, Professor Lupke will use his refreshed attention on affect to explore the emotional terrain of filial relationships in contemporary Sinophone works. He will examine works by Huang Chunming, Bai Xianyong, Wang Wenxing, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and the contemporary US-based poet Zhang Er. At issue is the crucial role that overwrought emotions play in the filial dynamic in intergenerational relations that we see so much of in the Sinosphere and in Sinophone cultural production.

Book Talk: Taiwan Lives with Niki Alsford

The UW Taiwan Studies Program will welcome Professor Niki Alsford to discuss his newest book entitled Taiwan Lives: A Social and Political History. Published by the University of Washington Press as the first book in the Taiwan and the World book series supported by UW-TSP, Taiwan Lives traces Taiwan’s complex history through the lens of colonial influences from Austronesian expansion to the economic and democratic polity it is today.

Alsford explores this arc of history by recounting the life stories of its inhabitants. Taiwan Lives delves into the lives of twenty-four diverse individuals, including a merchant, exile, activist, pop star, doctor, and a president. These stories span different time periods, social classes, ethnic backgrounds, and political affiliations, yet all offer glimpses into the varied historical epochs and highlight the interconnectedness of colonialism.

Niki J.P. Alsford is Professor in Asia Pacific Studies and Director of Asia Pacific Institutes at the University of Central Lancashire. In addition, he is a Research Associate at the Centre of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, the University of London, and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford. Alsford is the author of Transitions to Modernity in Taiwan: The Spirit of 1895 and the Cession of Formosa to Japan, published by Routledge in 2017.

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

The Legacy of WWII Asian-Pacific Comfort Women

Background: In 2023, 4 more comfort women survivors from Taiwan, Mainland China, the Philippines, and South Korea left us. On a significant legal front, the UN issued a groundbreaking CEDAW ruling early in the year, holding the Filipino government accountable for its discrimination and neglect of Filipina comfort women. Later in 2023, the Seoul High Court made a historic decision, supporting a comfort women claim for compensation against Japan, marking a reversal of a previous ruling that had upheld Japan’s state immunity under international law. Despite these unprecedented developments, the reality is that the number of survivors is dwindling. In order to ensure that these women did not suffer in vain it is time to discuss their legacy – what are the lessons that we have learned and, in the future, should learn in regards to rape and sexual violence during conflicts?

Two-fold Objective: Firstly, to raise awareness and increase understanding of recent 2023 developments. Secondly, to celebrate the positive contributions that the comfort women movement has made towards advancing women’s rights in international law, and to point out areas for improvement.

SPEAKER LINE UP: Dean Gillian Lester, Judge Lillian Sing, Prof. Alexis Dudden, Ms.Indai Sajor, Chairwoman, Na-Young Lee, Ms.Sharon Cabusao-Silva, Prof. Diane Desierto, Dr. Thomas J. Ward, Prof. Katherine McGregor, Prof. Peipei Qiu, Prof. Edward Vickers