TITLE: Pivot of Empire: Settler Politics in Japanese Manchuria, 1913-1916
SPEAKER: Emer O'Dwyer
EVENT DATE: 05/24/2012
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 58 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
In April 1895, Japan was victorious in battle and humiliated in diplomacy. The Triple Intervention orchestrated by France, Germany and Russia compelled the nascent Meiji empire to relinquish its most recent additions, the Kwantung Leasehold and Railway Zone, both located in Northeast China. Journalist Tokutomi Soho was famously "vexed beyond tears" at news of the reversal of Japan's fortunes, and his grief echoed the consternation of the nation. To memorialize his sense of loss, Soho kept a handful of gravel from the leasehold in a souvenir box on his desk in Tokyo. Ten years later, following Japan's defeat of Russia, the land was Japan's again, though the vulnerability of this "significant soil" to outside threats would be enduring. Emer O'Dwyer examines an episode of settler activism during the World War I period that captures settlers' complicated relationship with the politics of place in the empire and which foreshadowed later struggles to keep the Kwantung leasehold a center of popular participation in imperial governance.