Quelle: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus
Volume 15 | Issue 1 | Number 1 | Jan 2017
Japan’s Dark Industrial Heritage: An Introduction
Tze M. Loo
"Cultural heritage preservation is literally and metaphorically big business in Japan. Not only does the Japanese government commit considerable resources to the designation of heritage at local, national, and international levels, heritage preservation plays a central role in strategies to develop Japanese tourism on which the country’s economy is increasingly reliant. Many local communities are persuaded both by the idea of tourism as a path to economic development/revitalization, and by heritage preservation’s place in it, and vie to have heritage sites in their locales recognized for their cultural value. These combined local and national interests in heritage produce an ever-expanding landscape of acknowledged cultural heritage, which functions, in effect, as a circuit of statesanctioned national history and cultural value. Not surprisingly, the narratives told in this circuit are celebratory, speaking to Japan’s extraordinary cultural and aesthetic achievements, or its remarkable natural landscape. Where sites commemorate tragedy or disaster, the narratives slant towards positive attributes like resilience, peace, or a regard for nature’s awesome power.1
The papers in this collection - Hiromi Mizuno’s recovery of the forgotten history of Rasa’s island’s role in Japan’s industrialization; Miyamoto Takashi’s study of the use of convict labor in the Miike mines and its present-day representations; and Jung-Sun Han’s examination of contemporary grassroots movements’ efforts to recover the memories of wartime forced labor – offer something very different. Focusing on “dark heritage” – which Hanproductively defines elsewhere metaphorically as “heritage of shame” (funoisan) and literally as sites which are “unattractive” and “dark”– these papers not only focus attention on sites that mainstream heritage discourses and practices prefer not to address, they also probe the possibilities and limits of heritage preservation as a form of radical remembering and critique.2 ...."