The 78th Tobunken-ASNET seminar "Ōtani Kōzui, John Lucian Savage and the Wartime Origins of the Three Gorges Dam"

【Date】 Oct 17 (Thu), 2013, 17:00-18:00

【Venue】 Lobby, 1F, Tobunken

【Speaker】Paul Kreitman (Visiting Fellow/ Princeton University)

【Title】 Ōtani Kōzui, John Lucian Savage and the Wartime Origins of the Three Gorges Dam

The origins of China\'s Three Gorges Dam are usually traced either to the "father of the nation", Sun Yat-sen, or to a Soviet blueprint for modernization imported after 1949. But the plan for a large dam on the Yangtze crystalised during the Sino-Japanese War, a globalized conflict that inspired dueling foreign governments to craft a techno-utopian vision of China’s future.
Two foreigners, a Japanese and an American, played a prominent role in this process. Ōtani Kōzui over his life worked variously as a religious scholar, journalist, and all-round booster for Japanese interests in East Asia. In 1939, as a member of the Konoe cabinet, he compiled the "Ōtani Plan" for Asian Development - in which he envisioned a dam ten times higher than anything previously proposed.
In 1944 John Lucian Savage, the architect of the Hoover Dam, travelled to Chungking as a US State Department liaison. With Kuomintang cooperation, Savage also drew up a report recommending the construction of a large dam on the Yangtze. Both projects were thwarted by the tides of war - but they did succeed in crafting a techno-utopian vision that would have a potent afterlife in China after 1949.