In several English-language histories, the war of 1937-45 in Asia still derives its historical significance as the ‘War in the Pacific’, an extension of the conflict in Europe. But of the 24 million people who lost their lives in the region from 1937 to 1945 an estimated 98% were non-Allied personnel. The extreme trauma unleashed across Asia by this conflict generated a range of wartime genres through which contemporaries reported, recorded and sought to make sense of the carnage.
Some of these sources were circulated at the time; others took form years after the conflict; some reflect the way the state perceived and portrayed the war; others reveal the individual grappling with the reality of the battlefield or the complexities of resistance and collaboration; many provide an insight into the mobility and social transformations that the conflict generated. The collection, translation and analysis of these sources enables us to document the forgotten voices of the war of 1937 to 1945, and to (eventually) assess the convergences and contrasts in its popular experience.