This paper deals with how the public representation of Hong Kong’s conquest and occupation by Japan has evolved over the period since 1997. While focusing mainly on the war’s portrayal in two major local museums, the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, it also discusses representations of the war (or the lack of them) in the broader context of the colony’s postwar history, and of cultural and education policy in the years before and since the retrocession. This context has included a nation-building agenda to some extent shaped by mainland-style ‘patriotic’ messages, whose influence is certainly evident in school textbook portrayals of China’s ‘War of Resistance’. Meanwhile, the introduction since the mid-1990s of local history content into the school curriculum has also brought a Hong Kong dimension to textbook portrayals of this conflict. In discussing to what extent and why official portrayals of the war – in museums and school textbooks – differ from those seen in other Chinese societies, the paper especially highlights issues pertaining to the portrayal of the local Chinese elite. It concludes that the fundamental continuity of this elite, and its close relationship with the political authorities – British, Japanese or Chinese – accounts for peculiarities in the handling of the issue of collaboration. It is argued that the selective treatment of this issue reflects tensions inherent in the attempt to promote a vision of Hong Kong as both an apolitical capitalist utopia, and a staunchly ‘patriotic’ Chinese community.
is Professor of Comparative Education at Kyushu University, Japan. He has published extensively on education and political socialization, as well as the relationship between museums and identity politics, in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. His books include In Search of an Identity: the Politics of History as a School Subject in Hong Kong, 1960s-2002 (2003), Imagining Japan in Postwar East Asia (2013) and Constructing Modern Asian Citizenship (2015). With Zeng Xiaodong he is co-author of Education and Society in Post-Mao China (forthcoming with Routledge in 2017). He is currently Secretary General of the Comparative Education Society of Asia.