RAS Lecture

Tavern at the Radisson Xingguo Hotel

My Shanghai, 1942-1946 – CANCELLED

Speaker: Keiko Itoh

In Shanghai after Pearl Harbor. Eiko Kishimoto, a young, London-educated Japanese housewife, settles into a privileged existence in the French Concession as a member of the community of the Occupying Power. As war progresses, and Japan tightens its control within China, however, tensions mount, relationships unravel, and allegiances are questioned. It is not long before Eiko awakens to the meaning and implications of occupation for both her international friends and for Japanese civilians.

Keiko Itoh will talk about the making of her debut novel, which takes inspiration from her own mother’s war experiences in China. Based on extensive historical research, Itoh throws light on the Pacific War from the unusual perspective of a young Japanese woman caught between her Christian values and loyalty to her country. “A rare and sensitive look at Japanese civilians living in occupied Shanghai, and their fascinating interactions with an array of other peoples from German Nazis to Jewish refugees, American Quakers, and Chinese nationalists and collaborators alike. Itoh gives us not the familiar story of fanatical Japanese militarists, but of a cosmopolitan young woman who questions Japan’s ruinous war against China and the Western powers,” writes Sheldon Garon, Nissan Professor of History, Princeton University.

About the Speaker

Keiko Itoh, a London-based writer and interpreter, was born in Kobe, Japan. After obtaining her BA from Swarthmore College and MA from Yale University, she worked at the United Nations in NY, and then at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank in London. In mid-career, she decided to return to university to research the historical context of her unusually international family. Her first book, The Japanese Community in Pre-war Britain: From Integration to Disintegration (Curzon Press 2001), based on her PhD dissertation from the London School of Economics, is a social history of the Japanese community in London to which her grandfather and mother belonged.

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