Japanese Colonialism and Whaling Geopolitics in Korea

Authors: Hanbyeol Jang*, Temple University
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Resources
Keywords: Japanese Colonialism, Colonized Korea, Resource Geopolitics, Whale, Whaling
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 46
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Japanese colonial expansion throughout the Second World War left many footprints in the colonized countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Under Japanese colonialism, Korea experienced the exploitation of resources to support the economy of mainland Japan. Literature on Japanese expansionism, however, has not paid sufficient attention to maritime resources that were highly exploited for the same reason. Among them, this paper is focused on how whales in Korean territorial waters became a lucrative resource for colonial whalers and how whaling practices may contribute to unveiling neglected colonial geopolitics about sea waters and maritime resources. Attention to the whales and whaling in colonized Korea reveals both temporal and spatial dimensions. First, it allows us to disentangle colonial historical dynamics that continue to have legacy effects today. Second, these colonial dynamics mediate connections between coastal and inland areas in Japan and Korea. Through employing pertinent literature and archival analysis, I develop the following set of interlinked arguments. (1) The process of Japanese intervention in whaling in Korea represents geopolitical tensions about occupying territorial waters and maritime resources there between nearby countries and other whaling countries during the period. (2) Most of the whales caught and processed in colonized Korea were transported to and consumed in mainland Japan, the revenues of which contributed to Japanese expansion in Asia. (3) Whaling in Korea has assumed a more pivotal role since Japan’s Pelagic whaling in Antarctica halted due to the onset of the Second World War.

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