University of Pittsburgh
September 1, 2011

Pitt to Host International Conference on Japan’s Role in World War II and the War’s Lasting Impact on Japan’s Economy, People, and National Memory

Sept. 30-Oct. 1 event draws historians from Japan, China, Australia, the U.K., Israel and the U.S.
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh will host a two-day international conference examining Japan’s role in World War II and the lasting impact of the war on Japan’s economy and its people. The conference, titled “Japan’s World War II in Asia: 70 Years On,” will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland.

Sponsors for the event include Pitt’s Asian Studies Center and University Center for International Studies (UCIS). Richard J. Smethurst, professor of history at Pitt and a UCIS research professor, will serve as conference convener; his current research focuses on the Japanese origins of World War II in Asia and on industrial policy debates in mid-Meiji Japan. He has published three books—A Social Basis for Prewar Japanese Militarism (University of California Press, 1974), Agricultural Development and Tenancy Disputes in Japan, 1870-1940 (Princeton University Press, 1986), and From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan’s Keynes (Harvard University Press, 2007)—in addition to many articles and book chapters.

The conference is funded through the Mitsubishi Endowment Fund and the Japan Iron and Steel Federation Endowment Fund of the University of Pittsburgh.  

Historians from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Great Britain, Israel and the United States will join four Pitt faculty members in addition to Smethurst: Distinguished University Professor Seymour Drescher, Professor Peter Karsten, and Lecturer Bernard Hagerty from the Department of History and Akiko Hashimoto, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Sociology.

The historians will present four sessions with panel discussions examining a broad range of topics related to Japan’s role in World War II, including the rise of militarism in prewar Japan, how military and civilian planners created a centrally directed war economy based on German and Soviet systems, the impact of the war on the Japanese people, and the region's postwar memory of the conflict.

Following the panel presentations an open discussion with the audience will take place.

The conference is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To ensure seating, RSVP to Dianne Dakis at For a full conference schedule, visit  or contact Richard Smethurst at



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