The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple
Italy and Japan in WWII
Talks / Lecture

Recording date: 
25 July 2017

The alliance between Axis Powers during World War II brought together an unexpected coalition between Italy and Japan. Reversing decades of racist assumptions, orientalist views and diverging politics, this partnership sought to cross boundaries in order to cast the two countries as similar and united by common goals. Was this just an illusion created by war propaganda? Or did the encounter between these two countries in fact generate, at times, a sense of mutual understanding and intercultural penetration?  Dr Monserrati will respond to these questions based on his research of the rich personal papers of Arundel Del Re, an Italian expatriate in Japan who later settled in Australia, and other archival sources.  

Dr Monserrati is Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA.   His Fellowship research will inform his book Searching for Japan in Contemporary Italy.

Dr Michele Monserrati is a National Library of Australia Fellow Supported by the Harold S. Williams Trust for Research in Japan Studies.

Transcript

Speakers: Alex Philp (A), Dr Michele Monserrati (M)

Audience: Au (no microphone)

Location: National Library of Australia

Date: 25 July 2017

 

 

A:           Hello and good evening, everybody, welcome to the National Library of Australia for this Fellowship seminar. My name’s Alex Philp, I’m the Director of Overseas Collections here at the National Library and I reckon that makes me the luckiest person in the room.

 

Look, before we start I’d just like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land on which we meet tonight, the Nanbury and Ngunnawal people and to pay our respects to their elders past and present.

 

It’s a delight for me again to introduce a National Fellowships presentation. This one is The Odd Couple, Italy and Japan during the Second World War by Professor Michele Monserrati and apologies for mispronouncing your name. Professor Monserrati is the visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Languages at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He’s published articles on travel literature, cold war literature and poetry. His current research draws on the field of transnational studies to examine the experience of Japan in works by Italian writers who visited Japan beginning in the Meiji restoration period. His Fellowship research will inform his book, Searching for Japan in Contemporary Italy and it’s great to see that the deal for the book came through during the presence of his Fellowship just recently.

 

Now last Wednesday I had the privilege to introduce Dr Masafumi Monden’s presentation. Masafumi, are you here? Oh hiding up the back, hello. His presentation was a Portrait of Shojo, the Poetic Ambience of Japanese Girlhood. How many of you were here for that one as well? Fantastic. I was thinking about it today and how extraordinary it is that our wonderful Library has collections that support ground-breaking research on such diverse topics. It’s a real tribute to the foresight and the hard work of those who have built our collections over many years so thanks to you and there are some in the room.

 

Look, the Library’s Fellowship program was founded to promote the Library as a centre of scholarly activity and research to encourage scholarly use of the Library and to promote our rich and diverse collections. A couple of months ago we did a survey about the richness and the diversity of our Asian collections in particular and it was part of our broader research into the effectiveness of our collection-building. We’re very pleased to receive overwhelming response from the research community about that collection, that it meets their needs and also we found out during that that our collections are generally not available elsewhere.

 

It’s my very strong opinion that providing the opportunity for all of the Library’s Fellowships and study programs is a particularly valuable thing that we do and I'm really proud to be part of it. Those of you who were here last week might remember that I almost kind of half-announced the expansion of our study grants programs and I'm happy to fully properly announce that this evening. We got final confirmation today that we can expand the Asian Study Grant program to whole of our Asian collections so it’s great work and that it will increase the research into our collections so we’re very pleased with ourselves about that.

 

Look, there will be opportunity for questions after the talk but that’s enough from me at the moment so I’d like to introduce Dr Michele Monserrati.

 

Applause

 

M:          Thanks Alex and thank you all very much for coming. Let me take a moment to thanks the people who help me here during my stay in Canberra. Robyn, Bushra [3:49], [Bath] 3:49, Marie-Louise, Andrew, Alison, Trish, Margy, John, [Ola] 3:53, Sara and others and forgive me if I forget somebody. And of course thanks to the donors that make these Fellowships possible.

 

Today I will lay out the [minutiae] 4:08 of the chapter of my book manuscript that I have been writing during my time in Canberra and offer some specific examples. In the second part of my presentation I will describe how the Arundel del Re Collection at the National Library of Australia has enriched this research.

 

In this chapter titled Mussolini in Japan, Nippon Representations in the age of fascism, I examined the literature of Italians travelling and living in Japan throughout the 1920s and 1930s and as I identify in the axis alliance between Italy and Japan from 1937 to 1943 a fundamental shift in the mode of representing Japan through travel writing. This historical event is a watershed that separates the chapter into two sections. Before <inaudible> 5:05 of the military alliance a nationalistic approach informed by a sense of Italian cultural supremacy defined the attitude of Italian writers who landed in the East Asian country. The writing of this period are more likely to stress anthropological differences based on a supposedly unfathomable character of the Japanese society as well as adopt the language of racist and sexual biases.

 

By contrast I argue that during the years of the military alliance between Mussolini’s Italy and Hirohito’s Japan a narrative aimed at promoting commonalities and mutual goals in Japan took place in Italy. Leaving aside the first section of the chapters so 1920s and early 1930s today I will contrast on the period that the axis alliance which I approach for two opposing perspective. On the one hand I focus on the propaganda-driven narrative of Japan as a country that shares with Italy the same vision of a prestigious and glorious future, the same deification of its leader, the same collective belief in patriotic faith and the same ethical values. I especially focus on the cultural apparatus organised by the government to support its military agenda.

 

On the other hand because of the political ties between the two countries I’m interested in the flow of ideas, people, cultures and languages between Japan and Italy that took place during the alliance beyond the political propaganda. Therefore my talk is organised around two potentially antithetical concepts, one is nationalism and the other transnationalism. In the first part I will offer examples of how a fascist political ideology bolster the unlikely alliance between two nations that had until then little history of diplomatic relations on record. By removing obvious differences they managed to advance the political agenda of both countries.

 

In the second part I will concentrate on the case of Arundel del Re who was an Italian immigrant to Japan in the 1920s but who remained aloof from the politic of Italian regime and connected to a transnational network of people and countries. So by showing two contrasting example of nationalism and transnationalism I hope to offer a glimpse of the [itelogenius] 7:50 movement of people and ideas between Italy and Japan during the years of the axis alliance beyond the political propaganda.

 

When Benito Mussolini proudly announced that the Italians had joined the Japanese, German [anti-Communist] 8:12 pact in 1937 Italians realised for the first time that Japan was no longer an exotic land nor a hostile nation but was likely going to become a friendly ally. Such a pollical partnership with a - East Asian country was problematic in its nature as he presumed to align self-proclaimed fascist countries like Germany and Italy with a distant nation – and here you can see the distance – whose nationalistic p – this is a postcard – whose nationalistic politics were built on a radical different premise.

 

Indeed Japan was devoted to the same divine persona of the Emperor who was independent from party politics and ideologies. Unlike Germany and Italy Japan’s nationalism was less the result of a political party seizing – party organisation seizing power by forcing the opposition to silence and more the consequence of a specific ideology that predicated Japanese exceptionalism and its vision of an Asian continent under the East Asian League. Therefore a more convincing reason was necessary to pave the way for the axis alliance other than its commitment to fight Communism.

 

Here I want to address the dramatic shift in the representation of Japan that took place in Italy around 1938 until the end of the war. A country that was considered a potential threat to west hegemony in the world and undermined by orientalist views all of a sudden was cast as a friendly partner that shared common goals, a comparable history and similar values.

 

The Italian Government devised a series of strategies to promote the friendship with the Asian ally including the foundation of a Societa degli amici del Giappone, a Society of Friends of Japan and its equivalent in Tokyo, Itaria no yujin-tachi no shakai, Society of the Friends of Italy. At the apex of these official efforts to fill the cultural and historical gap between these two countries there was a diplomatic visit to Japan by an official delegation of the Italian regime in 1938. Here is a short clip of a documentary that the Italian Film industry, Istituto <inaudible> 10:50 was circulating in Italy as a way to advertise the friendship with Japan. You will hear an Italian audio screaming that the Italian delegation in Japan is receiving a warm welcome at a stadium in Tokyo. While the Italian Ambassador and the leader of the mission salutes the people the crowd is shouting Benito Mussolini [bonsai] 11:27.

 

Audio recording plays

 

M:          Another example of propaganda in this period is a booklet titled Sogni delle Hawaii, Dreams of Hawaii which was printed and distributed in Italy at the end of 1944 when it was becoming obvious that Japan was losing ground in the Pacific battles. This document contains an accurate list of Anglo American losses of both ships and airplanes during the Pacific war since the Battle of Pearl Harbour. Of course in contrast to the report of this booklet the reality was quite different, for instance as evidence of Japanese military success this document mentions the Formosa Air Battle of October 12 to October 16, 1944. October 12, Black Day. When in fact at the end of which the Japanese losses were as three times as the American ones. The cover illustration shows a person relaxing on an exotic beach in the foreground. In the background a huge sunrise emerges from the sea and a paper with musical notes is superimposed over the image. The propaganda in this image is based on a dual interpretation of a system of signifiers.

 

At first reading they express an idea of exoticism, the palm tree, the island, the sun, the [bata] 15:09, the phrase, the dream of Hawaii. But as [Roland Bars] 15:16 will say none of this information is innocent. What propaganda uses evocative exotic images to fulfil its purpose? A political signification is disseminated in the way that this signifier assembled. In this sense the sun on the horizon stands as a metaphor of their upcoming victory of the empire of the rising sun in the Pacific war. The information of the name of the island, Hawaii, of the Japanese victory at Pearl Harbour. The dream of Hawaii therefore stands for the dream of a colonial empire that Italy as a member of the axis pact is on the verge of being part of.

 

The successful effect of the message relies on signifiers employed by mass tourist agencies to advertise their exotic journeys. Information about military operation overlaps with a message about Hawaii as a paradise for a relaxing vacation. The use of these exotic signifiers to convey a political message has the advantage of locating the content of the message in an <inaudible> 16:24 distance. The distance separate any exotic location from the civil world of tourist consumers. At the time in which Italians were coping with the idea that the war was irrevocably lost exoticism was a useful source for delivering what in the US we had begun to refer with the now infamous term, fake news. By relocating the conflict in a space, in a time completely apart from the present. However I argue that the operating of aggrandising of the Japanese Italian alliance was the result of fascist propaganda at its worst and an opportunity to deepen the knowledge and to increase the cultural exchange between the two countries at its best.

 

An example of this productive and fertile intermingling is located at the National Library of Australia, specifically in the papers of Arundel del Re. Del Re was born in 1892 in Florence, Italy to an Irish poetess and an Italian military officer. He grew up in Tuscany at a time when Anglophone artists and writers from [Gotham Creeks] 17:45 to Edward Morgan-Forster chose Italy as a muse to inspire their artistic creations. Arundel lived in Tuscany until his college years before moving to England in 1920 where he worked for the poet and editor, Harold Monro, in the poetry bookshop, an experience which introduced him to poets such as Ezra Pounds and William Yeats.

 

Between 1920 and 1927 he was lecturer in Italian at Oxford University and at London University. In 1927 del Re with his English wife, Joanne, made the most adventurous decision of his life by accepting a position as English professor at Tokyo Imperial University where he taught both English and Italian literature at the end of which in 1930 he moved to Taiwan, at the time Formosa where he became professor of English and Latin language and literature at Tokyo Imperial University until 1943.

 

When the alliance between Italy and Japan fell apart after September 8, 1943 del Re refused to swear allegiance to Mussolini’s social republic and for this reason he was arrested with his family and interned probably in Tokyo for two years, between 1943 and 1945. After the war he was able to reinvent himself by offering his experience in the field of education in Japan at the service of the American occupational forces where he was employed by the Chief for the Civil Information and Education sector about all matters pertaining to educational reorganisation of Japan between 1945 and 1951.

 

When the American occupational forces left Japan in 1951 del Re moved to Nagoya to become Chair of the English Department at Nanzan Catholic University. In 1954 due to medical reasons he moved from Japan to Sydney and from there in 1958 to Wellington, New Zealand where he was a lecturer in English and Italian at Victoria University until 1967. In Sydney del Re was founding member of the Oriental Society of Australia while in Wellington he was founding member of the Japan Society of New Zealand. In parallel with Japanese culture del Re was fully involved in promoting Italian culture as well. In fact he organised the exhibition for the Michelangelo Centenary at Centre Gallery in Wellington in 1964 and a year later he was involved in organising an exhibit to celebrate the birth of Dante at the National Art Gallery still in Wellington. As a result of his commitment to multiple countries del Re received a gold medal for his services to Italy and a special order from the Emperor of Japan. In the last few years of his life del Re returned to Australia to finally settle in Melbourne where his – with his family until his death in 1974.

 

Del Re’s nomadic life across nations and continents never contemplated the permanent return to his birthplace yet Italy among the countries in which he lived was the one that he remained most committed to, not only by promoting its cultural heritage but also by collaborating with its instructions. During the first world war he publicly defended the right of Italy to enter the war and he became Private Secretary to the Military Attaché in the Italy Embassy in London where he worked from 1916 to 1919. In his 27 years in Japan del Re did not endorse the fascist government but he nonetheless helped Italian institution in a form of cultural expertise and logistic support. For instance in Taiwan he was appointed as Honorary Consular Agent, a position that he held until 1943 while in Tokyo he acted as a Personal Secretary of the Italian Ambassador, Pompeo Aloisi, with the goal of organising the exhibition of Japanese art in Rome of 1930. In other words his migrant trajectory was characterised by a progressive form of movement from country to country but without neglecting his origins.

 

In spite of his strong ties to Italy Arundel decided to remain in Japan at the end of the war to help the country rise to its feet after so much loss and destruction. He could have good reason to leave the people that kept him prisoner of war for two years. Unfortunately in this regard the Arundel del Re collections at the NLA does not reveal anything about the experience of Arundel and his family as a POW. However we know from the stories told by the Italian ethnologist, Fosco Maraini, also interned in Japan that prisoners were starved and bullied to the point of desperation.

 

And here the Harold Williams Collection I found the article that described Fosco Maraini’s experience of a POW of chopping off one of his fingers and throwing it to his guards as an extreme attempt to call attention and obtain better treatment for himself and his family. Can you believe that?

 

In an article published upon his departure from Japan Arundel looks back over the war years and right after the liberation using words that help explain the reason of his decision to stay in Japan and he says, never did I experience so intensively the strength of the community feeling that knit together spontaneously those of us who had watched Tokyo in flames and remember the wailing of sirens and those evil looking fish flying overhead and the deadly swish of the fire bombs. Nor am I likely ever to forget the scenes I witnessed after the nightmare was over when people slowly returned to cautiousness wandering in search of familiar landmarks and happy memories through this strange city, a wilderness of rubble and solitary chimney stacks dotted here and there with small oasis miraculously forgotten of trees and greenery sprawling endlessly over hill and valley. But most impressive of all was the sudden meeting with old friends and students mysteriously stepping like ghost after the past. The renewal of old friendship and the forging of newer, stronger links with it clear in sight into the significance of the Japanese past not as something dead to be dug up and embalmed by scholars but as perennial fountain of life and creative force. He was a good writer, definitely.

 

Del Re envisioned collaboration with American occupation troops in Japan as an opportunity to be an effective actor for rebuilding the relationship between Japan and the west. At least it is what del Re writes on the pages of the Japanese journal, The Rising Generation when he was already relocated with his family in Sydney. However the document in possession of the National Library reveal how controversial this decision was and how increasingly uncomfortable <inaudible> 25:45 became after the war. The most significant moment of this experience was the memorandum that he wrote for the education section of the American occupation forces about the risk of transferring western values to the Japanese education plan. This document contradicts the positive attitude and the possibility of integration to which del Re alludes in article written as a farewell to Japan. In writing to the American Chief of Education del Re lays out the problem of collaboration in essentialist terms. In his own words, there exists an essential dividing line between ourself, westerners, and the Japanese which constitutes perhaps the greatest obstacle to a deep spiritual communion.

 

There is no doubt that del Re’s overriding concern is to work through the differences in order to promote cooperation yet the logic of his discourse betrays a classic orientalist approach predicated upon patronising assumptions. In fact he observes, to those who have come into close contact with the Japanese it will have become apparent that their actions and way of thinking are merely determined by emotion rather than thought. The key words here are to come into close contact. Del Re explains that the phenomenon that must be factored in when attempting to understand the Japanese is the fatal influence that the country has on its own people. In fact he says the more one becomes conditioned to Japan the more one becomes conscious of the predominance of the sensorial and emotional rather than intellectual elements in individual and social life, controlling, directed in accordance with the traditional patterns expressive of its naturalistic culture.

 

While del Re acknowledges the Japanese are not intrinsically irrational because they live according to values and mores rooted in their tradition he fails to see the <inaudible> 27:58 racism of his discourse based on a subjective notion of reason and morality beyond which only the territory of irrationality can unfold. His rational approach fails in accounting for the rationality of the other and thus limits the possibility of common understanding. If the dividing line between us and them is conceived as a sense of belonging to a nation with <inaudible> 28:24 language and history, the consequences that coexist and so the foreigner with the other in a foreign land becomes increasingly problematic and harmful in the long term. Between the lines of the memorandum it is possible to read the sense of discomfort due to a lack of empathy and into subjective understanding that del Re must have experienced in Japan.

 

He recalls the phenomenon he observed of Japanese living abroad and speaking English fluently as becoming completely different individuals once they come back to their country. In his own words he indicates – here the quote’s underlined – indicates that however westernised and un-Japanese they may have seemed until that moment they become in some subtle way different persons. Meet them again at parties or on university campus in short time afterwards and in spite of their Saville Rowe tailor and command of colloquial English you felt that a kind of barrier has grown up between you and them.

 

Del Re must reckon with the limits of his national identity that was the trademark of his success as international scholar. It is certainly true that the failure is partially due to the fact that he never learned Japanese in his 27 years of time spent in the host country. In this sense the memorandum is perhaps a rationalisation at the cultural and historical level of a barrier that is subjective and personal. In any case the American lieutenant, Colonel Donald Nugent, had a PhD in Far Eastern History from Stanford University, received the memorandum and while he appreciated and shared their race observations he also suggests keeping it secret as the content could have offended the locals.

 

As a Japanese scholar himself Nugent understood that the memorandum – [why burn] 30:51 over an attempt at finding new avenues for an intercultural dialogue could be interpreted as an indictment against the Japanese for being isolationist and hostile toward cultural hybridisation. However Japan is not at [the end] 31:03 of the race transnational journey. His failure to negotiate his own identity with the Japanese character did not result in the countermovement of tracing back his steps toward the sameness of his own country of origins, whether that might be Italy or England.

 

His decision to live in Anglophone nations between Australia and New Zealand is a choice obviously determined to favour his cultural integration, nevertheless is also derived from the desire to follow the transnational geography of migration that is a space populated by individuals like him whose stories reveal far-reaching ties and allegiances to other countries around the world. While apparently finding refuge in the English spoken word del Re was in search of an in-between space where cultural traditions met in new forms of mutual understanding where required.

 

In other words his move indicates not an effacement of his inclination toward intercultural exchange but rather a recalibration of it toward the restatement of the distance between the south and the other that is a necessary space for cultural dialogue to happen.

 

In a letter to his colleague in Japan, Arthur Loomis, on July 3, 1967 del Re, who was about to leave Wellington to relocate in Melbourne, looks back at his time in New Zealand and comments on how such a country has represented the middle ground space that allowed him to negotiate his multiple identities. I think the peacefulness of New Zealand, a country that physically and climatically often recalls Japan has served to establish a kind of critical equilibrium between west and east and between Romans and Germanic cultural reactions and emotions.

 

The new country becomes an imaginary space where east and west are reconciled in the mind of the author as del Re’s own Italian and English cultural heritage is being equally represented. Transnationalism normally implies a movement between home and abroad but in the case of Arundel del Re the place of origin, Italy and England, as well as the elsewhere place, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, are equally blurred and the link between local and global is compromised by interferences and experience of displacement. By locating his transnational story during the times of Japan’s rising nationalism and its alliance with fascist Italy del Re complicates the picture that portrays Italian residing the far east as representatives of the regime and its political ideology.

 

His post-war trajectory on migration to New Zealand and Australia [inscribe] 34:16 his biography within the community of cosmopolitan citizens whose sense of belonging and their t<inaudible> 34:21 styles are transient and far-reaching. Indeed the National Library of Australia is fortunate to own this extraordinary collection and thank you very much for listening.

 

Applause

 

A:           Look, thanks for that wonderful presentation, Michele. I particularly like the parallel between looking at the expatriate archives of Del Re in Japan with our own Harold Williams Collection who was an Australian expatriate in Japan at around the same time and he left us his collection but also a huge bequest which does pay for some of the fellowships including yours so there’s a nice parallel. Look, we’ve got some time for questions so I’d like to open it up to anyone at all who’d like to ask Michele any parts of his research. Oh Robyn, I thought you were going to put your hand up.

 

Au:         Michele, when we received your application it seemed so surprising that an Italian who lived in America was coming to live – to want to research this extraordinary collection that we thought we didn’t know that much about and I'm interested in how you found this collection, why you thought it was important to your book and to the arguments <inaudible> 35:55 about the cultural, intercultural relations between Italy and Japan? And whether it’s actually due to the archive <inaudible> 36:07?

 

A:           Yes, it is, it is, it is. Right, thank you for the question. For sure I bump into this collection by studying Fosco Maraini who is an ethnologist, Japanologist who lived in Japan for more than 30 years and his collection, Fosco Maraini’s collection is in Florence and in Florence which is now the site of the largest Asian collection in Italy thanks to his - Maraini Collection, in Florence there are letters of Arundel del Re sent to Fosco Maraini in 1942 during the war. And so I become interested to these types of Italians you know these type of Italians who were not sent by Mussolini to spread the propaganda you know I wanted to make the point that you know the Japanese Italian relationship in that period were not just based on you know pure propaganda as I show in the first part of my talk but there was also genuine cultural exchange you know these Italians were trying to introduce Japanese culture in Italy and they were trying to make the ties between the two countries stronger you know beyond the fascist period. As a matter of fact you know [Marini] 37:34 remained in Japan in the 1960s and he continue you know to improve this relationship. But yeah, this is sort of in my story.

 

Au:         And has the collection fulfilled what you expected to find?

 

M:          Well I came here with an idea and I was interested to the war years and I was hoping to find this collection like documents related to the time when he was prisoner – when del Re was prisoner two years and – but I couldn’t find anything you know there is a sort of instinct of self-effacement in this collection you know they purposefully not left any documents, I suppose, that period. It is my you know my idea, my feeling after three months of research. This collection is very rich for the time of 1960, 1970s but he prefers not to talk about the 1940s and during the war so that’s why I think that the document I found about the memorandum is interesting because it shows some inconsistency with the narrative that this collection want to show about Arundel del Re that was so happy with the Japanese and so there is some inconsistency that I found thanks to this, the memorandum was an exceptional document I think that kind of proves the point that it goes in a different direction. So you know I wasn’t planning to come to find this you know particular document but I was really pleased for this surprise. And I keep continuing to research about you know Arundel del Re documents around the world because you know in the US because of this collaboration with the Americans there are you know in Virginia there are other archives there have his own like letters and so it’s a very transnational you know collection. Yes.

 

Au:         Did Arundel go back to Italy at all <inaudible> 39:43?

 

M:          I don’t think he ever came back to Italy after the war. Whether - the collection shows many contacts that he had with Italy so he definitely invited Italians you know both in New Zealand and Australians, there are many letters with Italian relatives in Italy but to my knowledge I don’t think he ever came back to Italy. Yes.

 

Au:         Thank you for this paper. It highlights the cultural problem of a western Roman Catholic-educated Italian trying to cope with fascism and my question is really about how did he reconcile this? He was obviously a humanist. You didn’t mention that he was a practising Roman Catholic. How much impact did his Catholic education have on him? Because that would make it very difficult for everybody in Italy, in Germany I know to have subscribed to a dictatorship of fascism as you had under Italy with Mussolini so how did he cope with that? Is there anything in the records, which suggests that his loyalty to human values derives from his innate Catholicism?

 

M:          Yes you know I found a certificate of naturalisation of Arundel de Re in New Zealand when he became New Zealand citizen and in these documents I – they say that he was Roman Catholics so he never mention of it but he was Roman Catholics. And it’s interesting, the relation with – during fascism, I think in the – during world war one he was really endorsing the Italian Government. In the 1920s I think – like people like Fosco Maraini, they went to Japan actually to escape from fascism, they didn’t want anything to do with that so one of the reason why Maraini and del Re were in Japan was actually to not to have anything to do with the fascist government in Italy. Although he, as I mentioned, he collaborated with fascistic institutions in Japan so he didn’t want to you know go against of it but he clearly did not endorse the fascist regime while in Japan unlike many other Italian who did. As a matter of fact he was arrested as Fosco Maraini because you know in 1943 you were required to answer the question are you pro or against you know Mussolini fascist government and he said to be against so that’s why he was arrested. So I’m not sure if I answering your questions –

 

Au:         Yeah, it comes close.

 

A:           Think we’ve got one more over here on the left.

 

Au:         Thank you so much for your interesting presentation. I don’t know whether <inaudible> 43:17 but tripartite relation, Japan, Germany and Italy <inaudible> mentioned in Japan but it’s usually in the context of Japan, Germany. Italy’s presence and role is not really mentioned much in Japan. I wonder if you through your research, do you have any idea why that is so? And then also in Italy when it comes to these tripartite relations how Japan’s role was remembered?

 

M:          Okay, yeah, thank you, a good question. Sure, in the last few years there is a scholarship that is trying to re-evaluate the importance of Italy and Japan for their rising of nationalism. For sure from an Italy point of view the alliance with Germany was a better deal for Japan but from an ideological perspective the roots of fascism and the model of nationalism that Japan was trying to implement in the 1930s was actually look after the Italian model, Mussolini’s model. They were interested in the type of leader and the type of propaganda and image of himself that he was projecting. So I think Japan became interesting in Italy especially when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 because you know as Japan invaded the Manchukuo state you know a few years earlier you know there were two countries that were going against the League of the Nations and so at this point they were very similar you know they have a very similar historical position to defend you know two nation that were against the - Britain and the United States in the League of the Nations. So what Italy did after Ethiopia was much interested to Japan as a model you know to what they were going to do with the Manchukuo state and with the 1937 wars in China. But there is a scholar here in Australia, [Rita Hoffman] 45:56, from University of Melbourne who wrote a book about this and so he actually shows this relationship in a much more detailed way.

 

A:           Look, that’s great, thanks very much. Look, apparently there’s a perception that staff at the National Library get to sit around and read the books and dip into the manuscript boxes all the time. I can assure you that’s not true which is why it’s an absolute extra delight to hear from people such as yourself, Michele, and last week, Masafumi as well to tell us about the richness and the wonderful things in the collection items we don’t get time to look at so thanks for that extra bit of interest. Look, before I let you go I just wanted to say thank you for your presentation, thank you for fitting in with the staff of the National Library over the last three months, the same way Masafumi did as well and also introducing us to your wife, Nicole, and I think your daughter as well who’s come in a few times and been part of the team so it’s been a really good contribution. Thank you all for attending. If you haven’t seen the Melodrama in Meiji exhibition do so. You’ve got another month or so, it’s fantastic and there’s also a lovely collection of Chinese propaganda posters at the end of the Treasures Gallery which for those of you who were here last week I encouraged you to see as well but look, thanks again and please join me once again in thanking Professor Michele Monserrati.

 

Applause

 

End of recording

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