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“The Yalu River Era of Developing Asia”: Japanese Expertise, Colonial Power, and the Construction of Sup'ung Dam

  • Aaron Stephen Moore

Abstract

Through investigating the construction of one of Japan's largest infrastructure projects during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), this article examines the formation of a technocratic regime of colonial development expertise that was an important pillar of Japanese imperial rule and continued to have powerful effects throughout postwar Asia. It analyzes how a particular form of technical expertise and the wider discourse of “Scientific Japan” as the modernizer of Asia were legitimated and naturalized, as well as how they operated as a system of colonial power. Japan and other East Asian regimes after the war continued to invoke forms of technocratic expertise with origins in the colonial era as part of their state-led development programs, often with adverse effects on their populations. Thus this article concludes that there is a continuing need to critique, historicize, and denaturalize such regimes of expertise invoked by networks of bureaucrats, businessmen, engineers, and experts.

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