Japanese Popular Cultural Narratives of the Shōnan-tō Experience



About the Seminar

Japanese popular cultural texts that were introduced for propaganda purposes during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942 to 1945) are invaluable sources for research into the war experiences of the Japanese. They include military songs, films and comics. Unlike war-related documents that the Japanese military systematically destroyed when World War II ended, these popular cultural narratives have survived. More easily accessible and disseminated than the autobiographies and memoirs of those who participated in the Occupation, such materials have transcended time and space. Many Japanese and Singaporeans who lived through the Occupation would have remembered them although it is a question of selective memory about violence, and the narratives would have shaped practices and identities of the different groups. These cultural texts thus shed light on how they remember and communicate the Occupation to the post-war generations, and how war memories may be mobilised in the narration of national history.

This seminar will introduce the audience to a variety of Japanese popular cultural products, or cultural narratives that emerged during the Occupation. An example is the military song “Senyū no ikotsu o daite” (Carrying the Ashes of My Comrade) that the Japanese sergeant Tsujihara Minoru wrote on the night of the Fall of Singapore. Along with textual analysis of these narratives, the stories behind their respective production and reception will highlight humanitarian aspects of those Japanese who were involved in the Occupation. Overall, this seminar aims to contribute to ongoing discussions about the alternative portrayals of the Japanese Occupation within narratives of the “Singapore Story”.

About the Speaker

Dr Eriko Ogihara-Schuck is a lecturer in American Studies at TU Dortmund University, Germany. She is the author of Miyazaki’s Animism Abroad: The Reception of Japanese Religious Themes by American and German Audiences (McFarland, 2014) and the co-editor of Teo Poh Leng’s poetry collection, Finding Francis: A Poetic Adventure (Ethos Books, 2015) and Teo Kah Leng’s I Found A Bone and Other Poems (Ethos Books, 2016). Her current book project is on the reception of American literature and culture in Singapore, and her recent presentation was titled “ʻLike Topsy, It Has Just Grown’: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Singapore’s Decolonisation” (British Library, 2017).


For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 14 August 2018.


Aug 15 2018


10:30 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2