Sometimes through all the contemporary hyperventilating, it can be considered an almost extreme position to look for historical context that lies apart from the mainstream narrative of eternal, almost existential, national conflict between China and Japan. In a recent journal article, two scholars based in Stockholm have taken the steps of looking for that context. As the abstract explains:
For the last four decades Sino-Japanese relations have been characterized by steadily growing economic and sociocultural interactions. Yet, greater interdependence has developed in tandem with bilateral tensions. Many analysts have attempted to explain the latter as a result of Japan trying to balance or contain the burgeoning growth of Chinese capabilities. In this article, we question and qualify this widespread understanding of Japan’s response to China’s rise by examining how Japan has handled China’s rise between 1978 and 2011. More precisely, how has Japan dealt with China’s long-term core strategic interests, which are embodied in the post-1978 Chinese “grand strategy” that is believed to have been instrumental to China’s rise? Our main finding is that to a significant degree Japan has accommodated the rise of China rather than balanced against it.
The full text can be accessed by those with an in at a major research library; I’ll endeavor to plow through the whole thing soon and return with a report of some kind. In the meantime it’s all Manchukuo, all the time, for my own Sino-Japanese studies this short week.