The art of (not) being a nuclear power. Hiroshima and Nagasaki legacy in contemporary Japan

The talk will be held online on Tuesday November 29th at 17:00 JST.

by Prof. Marco Zappa (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

At the time of writing, Japan is still the only country ever to be hit by two atomic bombs. The presentation aims at addressing the following question: to what extent the atomic bombing legacy still influences Tokyo’s defense posture and diplomacy? The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombardments in August 1945 came at the culmination of US counteroffensive against Japan in the Pacific and after a year of continuous fire-bombing raids on major cities in the archipelago. There are several interpretations regarding the factors leading to Truman administration’s decision to drop the ultimate weapon on Japan. Officially, the decision was strategic as the costs of a full-scale amphibious landing on Japan would have had an immense human cost for the US Army. Nonetheless, the two explosions literally vaporized tens of thousands lives in one instant, erasing two cities from the maps of the time and had long-lasting effects on those who were exposed to the radiation released by the two blasts. Moreover, they had major consequences on postwar Japan’s diplomacy and governance. Also faced with the US military administration’s pressure, in its 1947 Constitution, Tokyo eternally renounced war as a means of conflict resolution and a few decades later pledged to not possess, not produce and not permit the introduction of nuclear weapons on its territory. Faced with major transformations in the international and regional order, however, in the last decade, conservative administrations, particularly the Abe II, and more recently, Kishida’s, are reviewing the country’s policies regarding the enhancement of its defense capabilities and even nuclear deterrence.

Marco Zappa (Ph.D.) is Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies at Ca’ Foscari University Venice. His research interests revolve around the history of Japan’s external relations and development assistance, particularly in continental Southeast Asia. In this regard, he investigates human resource development programs, and development assistance-related spatial policies such as urban transformations and urban technology exports. Furthermore, he is exploring territorialization strategies and special economic zones (SEZ) establishment in the Asia-Pacific and their environmental impacts. Besides Japan, he has worked and conducted research in China, Germany, Vietnam, and more recently, South Korea.

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