Turning Anti-Japanese in China

Peering up from the various forms of wreckage spawned by the United States — be it the lamentable state of transportation infrastructure, the gory aftermath of multiple-front wars in southwest Asia, international media coverage of police killings of African-Americans, or sequestration and the swaths of red enveloping the national budget —  the very notion of a “success story” of American foreign and economic policy today … Continue reading Turning Anti-Japanese in China

Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

In the wake of the Upper House elections in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed a reshuffling of his cabinet. As described by Japan hand Michael Cucek, it was not a particularly inspiring set of choices made by the newly-consolidated Prime Minister: Taro Aso (the right-wing former PM perhaps best recalled for his off-the-cuff endorsement of Hitler’s constitutional revision style) remains at the helm … Continue reading Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

Foreign correspondents are crucial conduits for insights into contemporary East Asia. As I’ve learned from my conversations with various bureau chiefs, stringers, and greybeards in the region, there are few people willing to share insights as journalists, as it is their job to be, and to stay, plugged in. For the contemporary historian, reading the accounts of journalists in the region in the 1940s an … Continue reading Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

Report on Opium in China from the German Embassy in Tokyo, 1944

On June 8, 1944, the German Embassy in Tokyo sent a report back to the Auswärtiges Amt, or Foreign Ministry. Unlike so many other files dealing with foreign affairs, at this particular dispatch showed no signs of Ribbentrop’s blue pencil — the German foreign minister was notoriously narcissistic and had to see the full text of every article mentioning his name. Instead the leader dealt … Continue reading Report on Opium in China from the German Embassy in Tokyo, 1944

On the ‘Cairo Declaration’ Fiasco

While the tendency of the CCP to insert itself at the main junctures of Chinese history in the 20th century is anything but new, there has been an increasing alignment with the earlier Republic of China that has been quite pronounced, I would argue, since at least 2005. For the past ten years, scholars have interpreted this (and the inclusion of ROC troops in various … Continue reading On the ‘Cairo Declaration’ Fiasco

Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan

Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo Bureau Chief for The Times (London), kindly alerted me to an open letter recently published by a large number of academics nicely timed to follow on the heels of the various controversies which had been re-stirred by the Abe Shinzo visit to the United States. The letter manages to delicately get around a frequently-encountered problem: The essentializing of “Japan” in discussions of how the … Continue reading Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan

Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

At the conclusion of eight years of Japanese occupation of nearly every major city in the Republic of China, Chinese journalists were prepared not just to celebrate victory but to join the Allied nations in occupying Japan. The desire to undo the fundamental reorientation of the Sino-Japanese hierarchy of 1894-95  and restore China to regional preeminence was nearly universal, as was the consensus of seeing China … Continue reading Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

From the very beginning of the so-called ‘post war,’ the territorial and temporal parameters of the memory wars between China and Japan were never drawn particularly cleanly. The war ended formally in Tokyo Harbour on 3 September 1945, but it took nearly another week for Okamura Yasuji to formally surrender to General He Yingqin at Nanjing. It then took months (in some rare cases, years) … Continue reading Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

Angela Merkel and Japan’s Wartime Past

The German Chancellor was in Tokyo for a couple of eventful days. Although Merkel sees Abe Shinzo regularly, she noted before leaving  that she has not been to Japan, the country that she tactfully calls “Germany’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia” (after China, naturally), since 2008. There cannot be a great deal of desire on Merkel’s part to talk about World War II amid the rest of … Continue reading Angela Merkel and Japan’s Wartime Past

Xi Jinping’s Tripod: Updating the National Humiliation Narrative in Nanjing

This essay was originally published at the China Policy Institute Blog at the University of Nottingham on 15 December 2014, under the title ‘Xi Jinping’s Nanking Massacre Commemoration and China’s Anti-Japanese Calendar,’ and is republished here with permission.  2014 has been a banner year for the Chinese Communist Party’s politics of historical commemoration of the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945). As the Party has faced a … Continue reading Xi Jinping’s Tripod: Updating the National Humiliation Narrative in Nanjing