’s Nation-Empire: Ideology and Rural Youth Mobilization in Japan and Its Colonies
(Cornell University Press, 2018) tackles the fraught question of how and why young men in marginalized and rural areas of Japan and its colonies became emotionally invested in the project of Japanese nationalism and militarism. Why did so many rural youth, especially in colonial Taiwan and Korea, actively participate in Japanese imperial and wartime programs, including volunteering as Japanese soldiers? Nation-Empire
explores the role of the seinendan
(village youth associations) in youth mobilization within the Japanese empire, focusing on a comparison of villages in Okinawa and Miyagi prefectures, Japan; Xinzhu province, Taiwan; and South Ch’ungch’ŏng province, Korea. Chatani’s translocal study highlights the local social dynamics of the creation and mobilization of rural youth and rural modernity within Japan’s national empire. In particular, she unearths the subjectivity of these young men as they used the new category of youth—and rural youth in particular—to advance their own interests vis-à-vis their elders and the national-imperial society in which they lived.