ABSTRACT

The Pacific War has often been characterized as a theater of World War II. This not only folds the Pacific War within a Euro-Centric narrative, but casts the Pacific War as a conflict between the Anglo-American Allies and the Empire of Japan. This chapter, however, offers an alternative perspective, one that reminds us that the Pacific War (1931–1945, also known as the Fourteen Year War) as it is remembered in Asia, was essentially an Asian conflict. Rather than focusing on specific events, many of which remain contested, this chapter focuses on how and why certain events have, or have not, been incorporated within national histories. While national commemorative markers of the Pacific War—events, memorials, museums, or other sites of memory—are important in their own right, they are also part of a broader tapestry of contradictory regional histories. With the exception of the US, which is included due to its continued political, economic, and military importance within the region, this chapter focuses on how the Pacific War has been remembered in China, South Korea, and Japan. It is within East Asia that the debates related to the Pacific War have been the most intense and where interstate relations have been most strongly affected. Similarly, given the sheer number of contested “facts” and histories, each of which is intertwined with the identity politics of a particular nation, this chapter incorporates contemporary (2014–2016) events that are reflective of the impact of the past on the present.