This paper examines public memory of the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese border war via the life, death, and afterlife of a Japanese reporter, Isao Takano. As the only foreign journalist who died in that conflict, he assumed an outsized significance in official Vietnamese commemoration. A shrine and monument were built for him, and Vietnamese film, music, and poetry praise his lofty sacrifice for the truth. Though Takano was once the “courageous witness” of Chinese violent aggression and a symbol of the Japanese-Vietnamese friendship for a decade, public memory about him has fluctuated depending on Vietnam’s relations with China and the geopolitical conditions in the region.

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