De-centralizing the Cold War Studies: New Perspectives from East Asia
World War II (WWII), which ended in the mid-20th century, resulted in a tremendous loss of human lives and devastating sacrifices. Japanese citizens, along with the rest of the world’s citizens, aspired sincerely to attain international peace, based on justice and order. However, immediately after the end of WWII, a new war—the Cold War—erupted, splitting the world into two camps. The Cold War defeated citizen’s hopes for international peace, forcing them to live in an age of distrust and fear.
The Cold War continued for nearly half a century, and 30 years have passed since the end of the war. In the post-Cold War era, many scholars began to tackle research topics on the Cold War. As most studies focus on Europe and the U.S., some regions such as East Asia and Africa have not yielded sufficient attention in the field of Cold War studies. My research analyzes the historical development of the Cold War from the perspective of East Asia. It sheds light on new aspects of the Cold War and de-centralizes Western-centered Cold War studies.
Media and Knowledge for the Analysis of U.S.-East Asia Interactions
In writing a new history of the Cold War in East Asia, my research project examines the interactions between the U.S. and East Asia. Particularly, I focus on the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Japan. The research tackles two questions. First, how did the U.S. make an impact on the ROK, the DPRK, and Japan? Second, how did these countries make an impact on the U.S. during the Cold War? Two important actors, the general public and the intellectuals, come into the picture. First, the project analyzes the impact on the public by answering the question: “How did the national government utilize the media to win the hearts and minds of the public?”*1 Second, the interactions are considered by tracing the process of knowledge production in the field of the social sciences, particularly, media/mass communication studies and the area studies.*2 In my research, primary sources such as diplomatic records, private papers, and congressional records, from multiple archives in the U.S., the UK, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, are investigated.
The findings of these studies provide clues to solutions of the social and international problems in today’s world from an historical perspective.
*1 My research interest has expanded into the role of the non-governmental sector. This follows my JSPS Kaken research project (in progress), which examines the public information activities of the United Nations during the Cold War.
Public Information Activities of United Nations and Psychological Warfare during the Cold War (principal investigator)
*2 Concerning the media/mass communication studies, the joint research project (principal investigator) was conducted in the FY 2017–2018, at the Institute of Journalism and Media, Nihon University. Further, the area studies were examined in a JSPS Kaken (co-project member) joint research project.
Comparative Study of Public Diplomacy through Science in Cold War East Asia
Co-edited books in Japanese and Chinese, resulting from the project, are forthcoming.
Somei KOBAYASHI is Associate Professor of East Asian History and Korean Studies at College of Law, Nihon University. He received his BA, MA and Ph.D. from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan. Before joining the faculty of Nihon University, he conducted research and education not only in Japan (The University of Tokyo etc.) but also in Korea (Seoul National University, Korea University, Kyung Hee University and Jeju Peace Institute), the U.S. (The University of Maryland and East-West Center in Washington), the U.K. (The University of Cambridge), and China (Shandong University). He is the author of Media Space of Koreans in Japan: Newspapers during the Allied Occupation of Japan (in Japanese) and he has numerous co-edited books, book chapters, and articles on media, propaganda, and cultural/public diplomacy in Cold War East Asia.