Takeda Taijun in Shanghai: Recollections of Republican China and Imperial Japan
Hartley, BT, Takeda Taijun in Shanghai: Recollections of Republican China and Imperial Japan, Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Interarea Panels and Abstracts, Session 22, Foreign Bodies: Foreigners and Foreign Institutions in Republican China, March 15-18 2012, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Canada EJ (2012) [Conference Extract]
In mid-1944, the then little-known writer and translator of Chinese, Takeda Taijun (1912-1976), boarded a boat bound for Shanghai. Takeda first travelled to Shanghai in October, 1937, as a Japanese Imperial Army conscript. On this second visit he went as a civilian to work as a translator. After his repatriation in February, 1946, he became a prominent writer of fiction and non-fiction in Japan. This paper will draw on Takedaís reminiscences of Shanghai to demonstrate the fraught nature of the contact zone cohabited by the Japanese invaders and the local residents of occupied China. While drawn to this zone, as a subject of Imperial Japan Takeda was inevitably influenced by the "novel [modern] mythologies of nation and empire" (Saurabh Dube, 2002). He was therefore inextricably tied to the excesses of Japanís imperial project. In 1976, during the final months of his life, Takeda published Shanhai no hotaru (1976, Shanghai Firefly), a candid, semi-autobiographical account of his time in Shanghai. One of the key themes of this work is the nature of the interaction between the first-person narrator/ protagonist and the local community. The ambivalent status of a "friendly" Japanese in war-time Republican China is the source of much of the tension that drives Takedaís narrative. This presentation will discuss a selection of excerpts from the novel that foreground this tension, including the protagonistís drunken account of how Japanese soldiers at the front hold and shoot a gun while his Chinese hosts sit impassively and listen.