Dai-Ōji: The Ōji Paper Company and Japan's Pulp Pipelines in Asia
David Fedman - Associate Professor of History, UC Irvine
This talk explores the tangled histories of green imperialism and green capitalism in Asia through the lens of a Japanese corporation: the Ōji Paper Company, historically one of the largest corporate consumers of Asia’s forests. For well over a century, Ōji has stood at the forefront of Japan’s control of woodlands across the Pacific Rim, whether as part of the colonial empire before 1945 or in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia thereafter. In the process, the conglomerate has supplied Japan, a country long celebrated for its vibrant print culture, with the bulk of its pulp products, from newsprint to magazines, cardboard to diapers. This project traces these and other pulp products back to their sources, revealing the deep historical roots beneath contemporary issues of environmental justice, indigenous rights, and plantation forestry in Asia.
David Fedman is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of the Seeds of Control: Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea (University of Washington Press, 2020) and co-editor of Forces of Nature: New Approaches to Korean Environments (Cornell University Press, 2023). With geographer Cary Karacas, he has also published extensively on the history, memory, and visual culture of the Japan air raids. This project is housed at JapanAirRaids.org, a digital archive they maintain.