East Asia at Crossroads – China and Japan as Historical Mirrors, and Contemporary Images in International Relations

Title: 1061 | East Asia at Crossroads – China and Japan as Historical Mirrors, and Contemporary Images in International Relations
Area: Northeast Asia
Stream: International Relations
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Egas Moniz Bandeira, Tohoku University, Japan (presenter)
Ernest Ming-Tak Leung, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China (presenter)
Shahana Thankachan, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (organizer, presenter)
Keyi Jiang, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China (presenter)
Juan Luis Lopez Aranguren, University of Zaragoza, Spain (discussant)
Toshihiro Minohara, Kobe University, Japan (discussant)
Srabani Roy Choudhury, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (Chair)


The relationship between China and Japan remains a pivotal aspect of Asia in the 21st century. As Japan adjusts to China’s growing power so does China try to determine what it means for itself to be a big power. The sentiment that today’s China is mirroring early 20th century Japan, as well as the emulation of Beijing’s securitization of its environment by Tokyo, are contributing to building further resentment on both sides.
This panel will investigate the historical and political process whereby both countries have been interacting with each other. It will show that shifting power balances have been changing political discourses since the late 19 century, but also that a complex mixture of rivalry and cooperation has brought about not only contradictions but also similarities in appraising and responding to new developments.
The first paper looks at how the Japanese notion of an unbroken line of Emperors was appropriated by Chinese leaders to advance a nationalist cause at the beginning of the 20 century. From this comparison, the subsequent paper will argue that, historically, China’s development model was a product of Japanese appropriation of European economic thought. The following paper investigates the present developmental aid model that China and Japan joust to implement in Africa. As Japan decries China’s approach to aid in Africa, the fourth paper investigates the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute to show how issues of humiliation and pride affect Japan’s relations with China. The final presentation reveals the negotiations on pan-Asianism between Japan and China and how their roles have shifted from the 1930s to today.
By the end, the audience will have a new appreciation for the modern China-Japan relationship beyond rivalry, but as a complex intertwined connection that mirrors as much as repels the other.

Panel Abstracts:
Japan's Impact on China's Written Constitution
The notion of an unbroken line of Emperors ruling the country since antiquity (bansei ikkei/wanshi yixi 萬世⼀系) is strongly connected to Japan. Yet, this paper argues that the notion played a significant role in the formation of modern states across East Asia, especially in China. Its adoption into the 1908 Constitutional Outline of the Qing Empire (Qinding xianfa dagang 欽定憲法⼤綱) as well as other constitutional documents of the time (the Korean constitutional document of 1899 and the19 Constitutional Articles of the Qing Empire of 1911) met with considerable resistance not only amongst revolutionaries, but also amongst legal scholarship and the constitutionalist press of the time. It was an important element in the dwindling support for the government’s policies, as it nurtured suspicions that “constitutional preparation” was only serving the Court’s selfish interests. But its most important contribution might have been a hidden one: The Japanese model of an unbroken ruling dynasty was de-dynasticised and applied to the notion of the constitution and even to the State itself. As the Confucian classics were no longer sufficient to legitimize rulership, the new notion of eternal government fused with traditional notions of permanent principles of governance and helped to establish a written constitutional charter as an ineluctable element of the modern Chinese state.

World War One, State Socialism, and the Origins of Authoritarian Developmentalism in East Asia
The origins of the “authoritarian developmentalist” political model in East Asia have often been equated with Confucian or "Asian values", or to post-WWI Marxian and Keynesian ideas. Yet its history goes back much further. I seek to point out the existence of a “State Socialist Phase” of developmentalist thinking, formed from the early 1890s onwards. Its maturity was reached with the 1918 State Socialist manifesto, Strategy for Economic State-Building, commissioned by JapanesePrime Minister Terauchi Masatake and written by his advisor Nishihara Kamezo. Nishihara was eager to break out of the conquest-resistance vicious cycle. He argued that the economic growth of China is not to be feared but should be fostered as complementary to Japan’s prosperity. He proposed a “Marshall Plan” for China, and an “East Asian Economic League” with a Bretton Woods-like arrangement. Nishihara also actively incorporated the vision of Republican Chinese industrial bureaucrats. He also advocated industrial rationalization, land reform and agricultural collectivization in Japan. I will trace the European origins of Nishihara’s thinking, first to the French industrial philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon, and then to the German economist Friedrich List, and to Bismarck, whose impact on economic thinking in China and Japan has been underestimated.

The Role of Norms in China and Japan's Presence in Africa
Norms typically inform how political actors define what they want to achieve. Africa, having been the focus of both China and Japan of direct investment, offers an opportunity to study how norm-setting can reveal both countries’ intentions. Japan has been present in Africa since the second half of the twentieth century through the Official Development Assistance. Currently, the focus is on the development of infrastructure in the East African Coast due to the increasing geopolitical importance of this region. China, on the other hand, was a late entrant in Africa but has overtaken Japan in terms of the volume of economic investment. The culmination of this came with the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative. There is a major difference in the Japanese and Chinese approach in Africa. The Japanese initiatives revolve around the emphasis on the “rhetoric” of “holistic development” and “people to people connectivity”. This is often compared with the emphasis on “cost-effectiveness” by China. Similarly, the perception of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy” further difficult its capacity for attraction in Africa. This study aims to study the role of “norms” in China and Japan’s economic and geostrategic presence in Africa in the last 2 years, measuring the impact these norms have had through an analysis of public opinion and media discourse in Africa. Moreover, it will show that the evolution of the role of norms for both countries is a direct response to each other as they compete for the hearts and minds in Africa.

Negotiating Asianism in Japan and China
Asianism is widely understood in the context of Japan’s wartime visions of leadership over Asia. However, this controversial ideology is currently experiencing a second life in contemporary China. This reemergence of Asianism in contemporary China, its acceptance or rejection among other Asian countries, and its connections with its predecessor in Japan make it critical for scholars to rethink the relevance of Asianist ideology across time and space. Past research on Asianism demonstrated a deep and comprehensive knowledge of primary archives and provided us with abundant chronological details. However, the implicit connections between contemporary Asianism reemerged in China since the 2000s and Asianism emerged in Japan since the 1850s have yet to be constructed. This research thus tries to lay bare the understudied connections between these two lives of Asianism and demonstrate why Asianism continues to capture the imagination of contemporary thinkers in China by conducting the following three sub-projects: 1) Historicization: to investigate both the continuity and discontinuity between contemporary Asianism in China and historical Asianism in Japan; (2) Systemization: to situate Asianism in the world-system as a communicative event between semi-peripheral Japan and China with the other core or periphery countries; (3) Ideological Criticism: to uncover the network of implicit or explicit meanings of Asianism and its relationship with social contexts and collective behaviors by adopting the methodology of text-based discourse analysis and to ask the critical question of whether Asianism contains a set of distorted cognitive perceptions that can constrain our options to solve fundamental real-world problems

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 04 - Room 8

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