AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 89

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Session 89: "Empire, Planning, and Contingency": Northeast Asia, 1920s-late 1960s

Organizer: John P. DiMoia, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Chair: Aaron S. Moore, Arizona State University, USA

Discussant: Tae-Ho Kim, Hanyang University, South Korea

Empire, Planning, and Contingency: Northeast Asia, 1920’s-late 1960’s Chair: Dr. Aaron Moore Discussant:Dr. Tae-ho Kim Organizer: Dr. John DiMoia Panel (5 members) Dr. Nobuhiro Yamane, Waseda University Dr. Aaron Moore, Arizona State University Dr. John DiMoia, National University of Singapore Dr. Tae-ho Kim, ARI (Asia Research Institute) & Columbia University Dr. Manyong Moon, Chonbuk National University Northeast Asia, a region encompassing the intersection of Manchuria, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and Russia, has long been the object of competing interests. While recognizing earlier forms of practice, this panel seeks to interrogate a succession of ambitious twentieth century attempts to construct industrial and technical visions for the region and its resources by examining the overlapping interests of Japanese Empire (1920’s), (1937-1945), American occupation and technical assistance to South Korea (1945-1948, as well as post-Korean War), and the emerging Cold War interests of China and the Soviet Union. If the rich timber resources, mineral deposits, and hydroelectric power driven by northern rivers represented a source of great appeal to a Japan preparing to intervene in mainland Asia, many of these same resources and sites would figure prominently in a succession of competing technical visions, some of which continue to inform the techno-politics of the region to the present. In particular, the panel will trace the elaborate pre- and wartime planning of Japan in constructing large industrial facilities in what is now North Korea and China, only to see these ambitions reconfigured by the political divisions of 1945. Rather than these eliding Japanese plans, however, actors with subsequent interests in the region have had to accommodate the resources left behind, whether in the form of ideology, material infrastructure, or human expertise.

Painting Future Visions of Urban Modernity -The Limits of Comprehensiveness in Japan’s Wartime National Land Planning-
Nobuhiro Yamane, Waseda University, Japan

By examining town planning movements during the 1920s and 1930s in Japan, this paper analyzes the critical frictions between colonial and domestic development within visions of urban modernity. With the rise of “garden city theory” in early twentieth century Europe and the US, urban planning shifted from a policy of growth control to one of building new relationships between metropolitan areas and satellite cities for the sake of promoting good urban living and working conditions. Under the influence of international opinions regarding “garden city theory,” various officials gradually fostered Japanese town planning movements in an attempt to mobilize multiple private sectors into nation-building. In these processes, large cities such as Tokyo came to assert their rights to self-government. At the same time, during the 1930s, the Japanese state pursued various advanced development projects such as multi-purpose dam building, and planning and building colonial metropolitan areas as “megalopolises” in its expanding empire. By the 1940s, Japanese bureaucrats and planners had acquired experience in developmental projects ranging from large-scale to local-scale through synthesizing and improving both physical and administrative technologies. In the end, their trials failed to put together the various urban, regional, and colonial development projects in the form of an appropriate “national land plan” (kokudo keikaku). However, these trials and plans contributed greatly to the formation of postwar developmental visions.

Constructing East Asia:” Coastal Industrial Cities and Regional Planning in the Japanese Empire and Beyond
Aaron S. Moore, Arizona State University, USA

In 1931, Japanese bureaucrats and engineers set about creating what Ramon Myers has called a “modern enclave economy” in Japan, Manchuria, and North China consisting of mines, industrial zones, cities, transportation and communications networks, and dams and electricity grids as part of its vision of building a “New East Asian Order.” This paper examines one of these large-scale plans during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)—the construction of a coastal industrial zone region centered around Sup’ung Dam on the Korea-Manchukuo border (present-day North Korea). Through an analysis of these plans and construction, this paper examines how colonial ideology and power operated through universalizing tropes of comprehensive planning, development, and modernization prevalent throughout the world at the time. In conclusion, it traces some post-colonial continuities of these visions of regional development around Sup’ung Dam in the form of North Korea’s “Grand Plan to Remake Nature” and Japanese overseas development projects in Southeast Asia. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Before the Atom: South Korean Electrical Reconstruction, 1945-1956
John P. DiMoia, National University of Singapore, Singapore

With the shut-off of electrical power by the soon-to-be North Korea in Spring 1948, the region south of the 38th parallel lost much of its access to electrical power, with the majority of the peninsula’s resources based in the north. Prior to this development, the south had subsisted for nearly three years, with American representatives purchasing surplus power from the Russians, keeping the electrical grid essentially intact. This paper examines the decade long period during which South Korea attempted to compensate for this loss through a variety of conventional sources, including temporary barges (1948-1950), new thermal stations (1955-56), and finally the decision to turn to the atom (1956) in the long run. These ambitious new schemes, many of them bringing new actors to prominence, came only a short while after ambitious Japanese schemes had built the peninsula up during the preparation for war with China. In particular, the paper will focus on the Cold War ideology and material practice informing electrical reconstruction, especially the construction of new thermal stations by the Bechtel Corporation, followed by the successful packaging of the atom.

Dependent on the Enemy’s Path: Japanese Fertilizer Factories and Synthetic Fiber Industry in North Korea
Tae-Ho Kim, Hanyang University, South Korea

This paper shows how post-colonial North Korea appropriated industrial resources accumulated during Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), how it redefined them as parts of the narrative of its post-colonial industrialization, and how those adopted elements again affected the path of further development. In 1961, North Korean government proudly began the mass-production of “Vinalon,” a polyvinyl alcohol synthetic fiber developed by North Korean scientists. As it was made in North Korea, from local resources, and by domestic technology, Vinalon was praised as the symbol of the self-sufficient industrialization of North Korea, well ahead of its rival in south. However, this official narrative deliberately de-emphasized the roles of colonial elements: the Vinalon factory was built adjacent to the former Japanese nitrogen fertilizer complex, and key members of the Vinalon research team had been educated and trained in Japanese institutions. In addition, although the continuities of facilities and technology contributed to rapid and successful industrialization of Vinalon, they also hindered North Korea in the transition into newly emerging petrochemical industry.

Origins of Science and Technology Policies in South Korea
Manyong Moon, Independent Scholar, South Korea

South Korea’s science and technology (S&T) policies were created in the 1960s, and were influenced by many factors, including Japanese experiences and advice from the US. This paper examines origins of S&T policies in South Korea, and traces the government’s effort to promote S&T. Since Korea’s Liberation from the Japanese colonization in 1945, Korean scientists believed that S&T is an essential element in building a new Korea. They constantly requested that the government establish an advanced research institute and a central administrative agency for S&T policy, which could make comprehensive plans for S&T promotion. Their request originated from the experiences of Japanese S&T policy during the war, from observing the Soviet Union’s S&T development. However, the government pushed S&T back on their priority list and S&T was mainly mentioned in the context of education. After the 1961 Coup, the new military government’s agenda of modernizing the country has given the scientists the needed backing to realize their requests. The government advocated economic development as a national goal and thought S&T was the way to achieve it. They devised a five-year plan for an economic build-up which was linked with a five-year plan for technology promotion (1962~1966). The plan was the first of its kind in Korea, still focusing on training of technical manpower. However, the government started a comprehensive S&T policy in earnest when KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology) was founded in 1966 with the aid from the U.S. government. The following year, the South Korean government enacted a law to promote the country’s S&T and created MOST (Ministry of Science and Technology), an agency for implementing S&T policy. MOST formulated many important policies regarding S&T, including a long-term comprehensive plan for S&T development (1967~1986). Finally, the scientists’ long-awaited requests came to fruition, and Korea’s modern S&T policy became established.