In Memoriam: Kota Inoue

Kota Inoue was a member of ASLE.  Many participants in the Moscow conference will remember Kota, who was a friendly volunteer with the site host team. He greeted many of the conference attendees at the registration table, in multiple languages, and was a smiling and friendly face throughout the event. He will be greatly missed.

This memoriam for Kota was written by his mentor and dissertation advisor James Fujii, and is posted here with his permission:

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Kota Inoue, an Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at Washington State University at Pullman, who died in a car accident on December 14, 2016. Born in Fukuoka Prefecture and raised in Chiba Prefecture, he graduated from Rikkyo University before moving from Japan to the United States to pursue graduate work in American Studies and earning a Master’s degree from the University of Alabama. This degree would come in handy as he increasingly recognized that the study of modern Japan meant understanding the full might of pre- and postwar American imperialism.  Changing his field of study to Japanese literature at the University of Arizona where he received his M.A., Kota completed his studies with a Ph.D. at UC-Irvine and then secured a tenure-track position at the University of Redlands. His achievements there included winning their Professor of the Year award in 2011.  Professor Inoue’s publications focus largely on Japanese colonialism and literature in work that is distinctive in addressing with erudition and imagination complex state, private, and cultural expressions that converge in the formation of non-Western colonial practices.  That Kota excelled in producing both critically informed essays and adroit translations of Japanese works into English reflects a self-conscious effort to situate himself within Western academic protocols while resisting and subverting longstanding racial and culturalist politics that continue to shape the practice of Japanese Studies in the West.  Moving to Washington State University in 2012, he continued to teach with distinction while working on the latter stages of a manuscript exploring the relationship of colonialism to suburban space in interwar (1920s and 30s) Japan. His most recent work increasingly addressed the ecological implications of capital and imperialism. Kota was a committed scholar-critic-activist well ahead of the curve in urging fellow faculty and students alike to urgently foreground eco-environmental concerns in their work and in everyday life. The force of his ideas, his unmatched integrity, and his singular dedication to his students earned him the fierce loyalty and appreciation of faculty and especially a large number of students throughout his academic career.  He is survived by his partner, Nancy Mcloughlin, family members in Japan, his beloved cat Commie, and a remarkable array of friends ranging from academic colleagues, fellow ecologists, and war resisters, to farmer’s market vendors, coop members, and a legion of students who mourn the passing of a gentle and profoundly engaged soul.

James Fujii,
East Asian Languages and Literatures, UC-Irvine