Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History

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Sven Saaler and J. Victor Koschmann (eds.):

Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History. Colonialism, regionalism and borders.
London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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Regionalism has played an increasingly important role in the changing international relations of East Asia in recent decades, with signs of integration and growing regional cooperation. This volume, the result of a conference organized by the German Institute for Japanese Studies in 2002, analyzes various historical approaches to the construction of a regional order and a regional identity in East Asia. It explores the ideology of Pan-Asianism (or Asianism) as a predecessor of contemporary Asian regionalism, which served as the basis for efforts at regional integration in East Asia, but also as a tool for legitimizing Japanese colonial rule. The mobilization of the Asian peoples occurred through a collective regional identity established from cohesive cultural factors such as language, religion, geography and race. In discussing Asian identity, the book aims at bringing historical perspective to bear on approaches to regional cooperation and integration, as well as analyzing various utilizations and manifestations of pan-Asian ideology.

The concept of a “pan”-movement originated within the framework of European history and international relations. However, since the end of the nineteenth century, terms such as “Asian solidarity” (Ajia rentai), “Raising Asia” (ko-A), “Asianism” (Ajia-shigi or Ajia-shugi), “Pan-Asianism” (Han-Ajia-shugi or Zen-Ajia-shugi) and “Asian Monroe-ism” (Ajia Monro-shugi) had a wide circulation in Japanese discussions of foreign policy-making as well as in the discourses leading to the construction of modern identities in East Asia. Pan-Asianism developed in the discursive space between already established national identities and possibilities for transnational cooperation. It appeared in a wide variety of forms, as the variety of terms in use demonstrates, and it was also used in different ways. In all its historical manifestations, Pan-Asianism emphasized the need for Asian unity, mostly vis-a-vis the encroachment of Western colonialism and imperialism, and at the same time led to an emphasis of common indigenous traditions. While Pan-Asianism was originally directed against Western influence and colonialism, it also functioned as a tool for legitimizing Japan’s claim for hegemony in East Asia and Japanese colonial rule, i.e. as a way for Japan to deal with the emerging nationalisms of other Asian nations.

The contributions in this volume, covering the history of Pan-Asianism in Japan from the 1880s to the present, introduce, for the first time in a Western language, Japanese Pan-Asianism as an important facet of modern East Asian identity and as a major force in the history of international relations in East Asia.


1 Pan-Asianism in modern Japanese history: overcoming the nation, creating a region, forging an empire (Sven Saaler)
Creating a regional identity: ideal and reality

2 Pan-Asianism in modern Japan: nationalism, regionalism and universalism (Miwa Kimitada)

3 The Asianism of the K?a-kai and the Ajia Kyokai: reconsidering the ambiguity of Asianism (Kuroki Morifumi)

4 Universal values and Pan-Asianism: the vision of Omotokyo (Li Narangoa)

5 Pan-Asianism and national reorganization: Japanese perceptions of China and the United States, 1914?19 (Kato Yoko)
Regionalism, nationalism and ethnocentrism

6 Between Pan-Asianism and nationalism: Mitsukawa Kametaro and his campaign to reform Japan and liberate Asia (Christopher W. A. Szpilman)

7 Forgotten leaders of the interwar debate on regional integration: introducing Sugimori Kojiro (Dick Stegewerns)

8 Were women Pan-Asianists the worst? Internationalism and Pan-Asianism in the careers of Inoue Hideko and Inoue Masaji (Michael A. Schneider)
Creating a regional hegemony: Japan’s quest for a “new order”

9 Visions of a virtuous manifest destiny: Yasuoka Masahiro and Japan’s Kingly Way (Roger H. Brown)

10 The temporality of empire: the imperial cosmopolitanism of Miki Kiyoshi and Tanabe Hajime (John Namjun Kim)

11 The concept of ethnic nationality and its role in Pan-Asianism in Imperial Japan (Kevin M. Doak)
Pan-Asianism adjusted: wartime to postwar

12 Constructing destiny: Royama Masamichi and Asian regionalism in wartime Japan (J. Victor Koschmann)

13 The postwar intellectuals’ view of “Asia” (Oguma Eiji)

14 Overcoming colonialism at Bandung, 1955 (Kristine Dennehy)

15 Pan-Asianism in international relations: prewar, postwar, and present (Hatsuse Ryuhei)

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