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Dr Sherzod Muminov

Modern Japanese and Soviet history including migrations in Asia; WW2 and postwar Japan; the Cold War in East Asia; Soviet propaganda; the Gulag and Soviet camps
Dr Sherzod Muminov

Research Associate, East Asian Studies

Office Phone: 01223 335156


Since completing my PhD at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies under the direction of Dr. Barak Kushner, I joined the Faculty as a Research Associate within the ERC Project "The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire".

Prior to coming to Cambridge, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations (with Honours) in 2005 from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, an MA in International Politics (with Merit) from the University of Manchester (2006) and, after two years of working with several UNDP projects in Uzbekistan, an MA in International Area Studies at the University of Tsukuba in Japan (2010).

During the four years of my PhD research, I spent fourteen months (2013-2014) as a Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Doctoral Fellow at the Boissonade Institute of Modern Law and Politics, Hosei University (Tokyo). I conducted extensive research in major archives, libraries and document repositories in Tokyo under the general guidance of Professor Nobuo Shimotomai. I have also made several research trips to archives in Moscow, the first of which was organised and supported by the Russian Archive Training Scheme of the Centre for East European Language Based Area Studies (CEELBAS).

Besides Uzbek, my mother tongue, and English, I am fluent in Russian, Japanese (JLPT Level N1) and Turkish.

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

Postwar Japanese history; Migrations in Asia; War memory in Japan; Japanese Empire; Postwar reconciliation; Allied Occupation of Japan; War crimes trials; Soviet history; Japanese-Soviet relations; Soviet propaganda; Soviet foreign policy towards East Asian countries; Gulag and the history of the camp system in the USSR; Soviet foreign POW camps; Media and propaganda; Cold War in East Asia.

Current research

My doctoral dissertation is an investigation of the so-called ‘Siberian Internment’ (Shiberia yokuryū) of over 600,000 former Japanese servicemen in the USSR after Japan’s defeat in World War II (1945-1956). The internment shocked the Japanese society at the time and contributed to deep-seated feelings about WWII and the USSR; its memory casts a long shadow on Russo-Japanese relations even today. I have studied this turbulent moment by consulting an extensive number of archival documents, memoirs, news stories, propaganda films and other sources in Japanese, Russian and English. My aim has been to write a history of Occupation-era Japan that will be among the first to break away from the fixation with the US-Japan nexus, and the narrow confines of national history. In the dissertation, I emphasise transnational factors and contexts, such as the Soviet influence, in Japan’s postwar rebirth. The history of the internment suggests a new outlook on the tectonic transformations dictated by the project of building the ‘new Japan’ under US tutelage. In the post-imperial society, the returnees from ‘Siberia’ represented the uncomfortable legacy of Japan’s failed empire, and their experiences were a stark reflection of the hurried changes in society, politics and identity.

The Japanese internees spent from several months to eleven years in the USSR’s forced labour camps, working in mining, logging, urban and railway construction, agriculture and other industries. The majority were repatriated by 1950, barring a few thousand ‘war criminals’ convicted by Soviet courts. In captivity, many Japanese internees submitted to a rigorous propaganda education; the Soviet ideologues appreciated their charges’ potential role in fostering pro-Soviet public opinion in the US-occupied Japan. This indoctrination meant that when they finally returned home, the Soviet-influenced repatriates were eyed with suspicion by the Japanese society. In short, the returnees encountered a Japan completely transformed from the motherland to which they had vowed to come back alive during their ‘Siberian’ captivity.

How they caught up with these changes is a theme central to my dissertation. Based on this rich material in three languages, I study the transformations in Japan during the first postwar decade through the experiences of the Siberian internees. Casting the internees’ memories of empire and captivity against the background of Soviet archives, I present a transnational perspective on Japan’s makeover from prewar empire into postwar nation-state, and from America’s wartime enemy to its Cold War ally. I plan to publish this research as a monograph that will contribute to several areas of history and foster wider understanding in society of colossal transformations that explain Japan as we know it today.

Since joining the Faculty as a Research Assistant, I have started work on an edited-volume chapter on the Soviet attempts to influence the aftermath of the collapse of the Japanese empire. I analyse this issue by looking at the Soviet influence on the Japan Communist Party in the immediate postwar years (1945-1950), and the role of the returnees from the Soviet Union in the postwar political and social transformations in Occupation-era Japan.

Other Professional Activities

Professional Associations

Member of the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS)


Key Publications

Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov, eds., The Dismantling of Japan’s Empire in East Asia: Deimperialization, Postwar Legitimation and Imperial Afterlife (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2016).

Sherzod Muminov, “Prejudice, Punishment, and Propaganda: Post Imperial Japan and the Soviet Versions of History and Justice in East Asia,”in The Dismantling of Japan’s Empire in East Asia: Deimperialization, Postwar Legitimation and Imperial Afterlife, ed. Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2016).

Sherzod Muminov, "The Siberian Internment and the Transnational History of the Early Cold War Japan, 1945-1956.” In Transnational Japan as History: Empire, Migration and Social Movements, edited by Pedro Iacobelli, Danton Leary and Shinnosuke Takahashi. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Sherzod Muminov, “Reisen shoki Nihon ni okeru Kan Sueharu no gisei: akagari to Soren kara no hikiagesha” (Kan Sueharu’s Sacrifice in Early Cold War Japan: The Red Purge and the Returnees from the Soviet Union). In Nichiro kankei: Rekishi to Gendai, edited by Nobuo Shimotomai. Tokyo: Hosei University Press, 2015. Awarded the Murayama Tsuneo Prize for the Promotion of Research into the Siberian Internment.

Selected conference papers

“The Late Triumph of Victimhood: The Memory of the Siberian Internment in Postwar Japan, 1945-2015,” An invited lecture at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, April 2016.

"The Old and New Enemy: The Soviet Factor in the Making of the ‘New Japan,’ 1945-1956", presented at the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS) Annual Conference 2015, SOAS, University of London, 10-11 September 2015.

"The Japanese Returnees from the Soviet Union and their Impact on the Postwar Japanese Society", presented at the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) Congress 2015, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 29-31 May 2015.

"Soren kara no nihonjin kikansha no senryō jidai", presented at the Siberian Internment Workshop (Shiberia yokuryū kenkyūkai), Boissonade Institute of Modern Law and Politics, Hosei University, Tokyo, 28 October 2014.

"Cold War's First Victims in Asia: the Siberian Internment and the Post-Repatriation Lives of the Japanese Returnees from the USSR”, presented at the 6th Annual European Summer School on Cold War History, University of Trento, Italy, 5 September 2014.  

“Waiting for the Red Tide: the Japan Communist Party, the Soviet Union and the Fear of the ‘Violent Revolution’ in Early Cold War Japan, 1949-1952”, presented at the workshop Knowing Your Enemies: Intention Assessment and the Prospect of East Asian Security, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany, 24 June 2014.

“Dealing with the ‘Enemy’: Japanese Internees in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, 1945-1956”, co-written with Dr. Amy King (Australian National University) and presented at the 17th Asia Studies Conference Japan (ASCJ), J.F.Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan, 30 June 2013.

“Sibirskoe internirovanie iapontsev i sovetsko-iaponskie otnosheniia v poslevoennyi period, 1945-1956”, (The Siberian Internment and Soviet-Japanese Relations in the Postwar Period), in Russian, presented at the 3rd International Conference of Young Historians and Specialists “Clio-2013,The Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, Moscow, Russia, 10 April 2013. Awarded “The Best Presentation of the Conference” Prize.

"The Siberian Internment, the Soviet Other, and (Re)Writing the Japanese Nation", presented at the 22nd Annual Graduate Student Conference on East Asia at Columbia University, New York, USA, 16 February 2013.

"Japanese Narratives of the Siberian Internment", presented at the 8th PhD Workshop of the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS), Newcastle University, 31 May - 2 June, 2012

Other Publications


In 2012, I participated in the SOAS Translation Workshop in Japanese Studies and was part of the team that translated from the Japanese Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan (Bloomsbury, 2015) under the leadership of Dr. Barak Kushner.