Kazuma Obara

Far East – A Stolen Father

Collective memory is based on the official narrative of each country, and in the case of Japan, the historical account of the Second World War revolves around the atomic bombs and the victimisation of the population, omitting any details about the invasions of neighbouring countries and the acts of violence committed there by the Japanese army. Obara subverts the official versions by reconstructing the memory of the conflict from the point of view of prisoners of war, Asian forced labour and Colonial soldiers. More than 200,000 people of 10 nationalities including Australians, Koreans and local Asian were condemned by the Japanese government to harsh forced labour on the railway line between Thailand and Burma. This is a little-known issue brought to life again by this young photographer after making various trips to Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, in search of survivors and children of those forced workers. His work focuses on the pain of the anonymous protagonists of a story that is neglected inside and outside Japan. In an attempt to overcome the static idea of winners and losers, Obara rescues the echoes of a forgotten and unforgettable war.


Kazuma Obara (Japan, 1985) is a photographer based in Japan. He studied at London College of Communication Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. He has published several books as Reset Beyond Fukushima, Silent Histories (selfpublished) or Exposure, among others. Silent Histories was shortlisted for the Paris Photo / Aperture Photobook Award and was selected by TIME, Lens Culture and Telegraph as Best Photo Book in 2014. His project Exposure won World Press Photo 2016 People category, 1st prize. He also won Magnum Photos Graduate Photographers Award in 2017. His photographs appear in The Guardian, Courier international, ZEIT, El Mundo, Le Point, BBC, NHK, IMA Magazine or Wired Japan.