Yagami, Kazuo

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Yagami, Kazuo

PERSONAL:

Born in Tokyo, Japan; son of Iko (in business) and Tomeko (a homemaker) Yagami; married Frances Tay (a financial analyst); children: Michelle, Michael. Education: Daito Bunka University, B.A., 1981; Florida State University, M.A., 1996, Ph.D., 2002. Politics: Republican. Hobbies and other interests: Watching college football games, swimming, playing guitar.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Tallahassee, FL. Office—Savannah State University, 3219 College St., Savannah, GA 31404. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of North Florida, Jacksonville, visiting assistant professor, 2002-03; University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, lecturer, 2004-06; Savannah State University, Savannah, GA, assistant professor, 2006—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Grant from Asian Studies Association.

WRITINGS:

Konoe Fumimaro and the Failure of Peace in Japan, 1937-1941: A Critical Appraisal of the Three-Time Prime Minister, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 2006.

Contributor to Virginia Journal of Asian Studies.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kazuo Yagami told CA: ‘I was born in Japan and came to the United States to advance my language proficiency. After taking some courses in American history, I fell in love with the United States and decided to further my education here. That led me to earning a Ph.D. in East Asian studies. Having grown up in Japan and later resided in the United States, I am diversely exposed to two pivotal cultures of the world. This has helped me to develop a keen interest in the relationship between modern Japan and the United States. Despite the amicable relationship established after the end of World War II, there are various issues that remain controversial due to an inadequacy of understanding. It is my pleasure to help the U.S. public to have a better understanding of modern Japan through my writing and my lectures.

"My first major work is a study of Konoe Fumimaro, a former prime minister of Japan during one of the most crucial periods of modern Japan, 1937-41. I had a few reasons to write this book. The first reason was to establish a fair assessment of Konoe. I feel that Konoe has been grossly misunderstood and unfairly assessed. Most of the postwar writers have portrayed him as a weak and indecisive leader who failed in his endeavor to save his nation from a suicidal fight with the United States. That is a bogus argument considering the complexity and dynamism of the epoch-making human event of World War II. The second reason is to make some contribution to an understanding of various issues regarding World War II. Knowing Konoe's pivotal role and involvement, it is my firm belief that to establish a ‘correct’ assessment of Konoe is essential and indispensable if there can be a settlement to the remaining unsettled issues. The third reason is to provide an English account of Konoe for non-Japanese readers. Despite the fact that he was a more essential figure than Tojo in Japan's involvement in World War II, he has been written about far less than Tojo by Western scholars.

"My current work is a study of U.S.-Japanese negotiations, with a close focus on Konoe and U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, came after a long period of negotiations between the United States and Japan. Since then, the scholarly debate over the issue of failed negotiations has shown no sign of ending. It is rather strange to find that no scholar so far has closely examined Konoe and Hull. It is worth taking a look at them not just as politicians, but also, perhaps more importantly, as individuals. They are known to be very contrasting individuals, especially in their family background, upbringing, personality, and political point of view.

"In my studying and writing on modern Japan, several prominent scholars have made crucial impacts on me, scholars such as Chalmers Johnson, James Fallow, Ezra Vogel, and Edwin O. Reischauer. Their polarized and insightful points of view on modern Japan help me to see, not only how Japan rose as one of the most successful industrialized nations in the modern era, but also, more significantly, the controversial aspects associated with this success, particularly with regard to Japan's relationship with the United States. To a great extent it is their points of view that helped me to develop my research interests."