Japanese Colonial Food Regime from 1895 to 1945: The Historical Origin of Japan-Led East Asian Developmentalist Statecraft

Monday, July 14, 2014: 7:43 PM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Huahsuan CHU , State University of New York
This essay examines Japanese colonial food regime, which primarily locates in Taiwan and Korea but geographically contains Manchuria and Southeast Asia, to pinpoint the difficulties of maintaining a stable food supply and the dilemma of minimizing the conflicts of interest in both of agricultural and industrial sectors that Japan encountered from 1895 to 1945. By embedding the colonial administration and agricultural policies into the history of sociomaterial practices in colonies and the dynamics of international relations in Asia then, I analyze how Japanese agricultural policies and its fruition was conditioned by the material endowments in colonies, such as population, climate, crops, rice varieties and so on, and, on the other hand, constrained by the western imperialists who competed to grab East Asia from the late nineteenth century. Based on this I argue that, while Developmental State scholarship provides an effective framework, especially exemplified by the comparison between Japan-led newly industrialized economies and Southeast Asian or Latin American countries, to demonstrate the significance of the state and its administrative measures in post-war prosperity, it requires more attention to the pre-war historical conjunctures which allowed the genesis and function of Japan-styled statecraft which should not ahistorically assumed. The exploration of the spatial-temporal background of Japan’s colonial statecraft helps avoid the conventional dualism to evaluate Japan’s legacies, as shown in the fierce debates among Japanese and Korean scholars about whether Japan contributes to the post-war economic miracles in its colonies. It also sheds light on the methodology of the comparative study of East Asia and other regions with a holistic comprehension of their respective dynamism. The focus on food will as well steer reconsideration toward the future challenges facing East Asia that may not be resolved anymore solely by developmentalist ideology and statecraft.