Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed by Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal

Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed by Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal

Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed by Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal

Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed by Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal

Excerpt

World news in the early months of 2003 was dominated by the war in Iraq, which caused serious rifts in the existing structures of international cooperation. Public opinion in Japan, with its pacifist tradition under the 1946 Constitution, was on balance opposed to military action against the regime in Iraq. The Government, however, of Mr Koizumi gave verbal and some material support to the American-led campaign.

At the time of the Gulf crisis and war of 1990-1 Japanese leaders and articulate opinion agonized about whether to participate or not. The decision to provide a total of $US13 billion to the cost of ending the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, but no troops on the ground, caused much international criticism. This criticism set in train a shift in Japanese opinion that was to lead to rather more participatory security policies 10 years later. What is striking, however, about international reactions to Japanese support for the Iraqi war of 2003 is that it hardly raised a ripple of interest in the world’s media. The centres of decision and action were a very long way from Tokyo.

Japan, of course, had its own pressing concerns much closer to home, in the shape of North Korea. For Japan, the Korean situation represents a crucial test of foreign policy, and for a while in the later months of 2002 it seemed possible that a breakthrough in relations between Japan and North Korea might be possible. Mr Koizumi visited Pyongyang on 17 September 2002 and signed a joint statement with the Korean leadership, envisaging normalization of the two countries’ relations. But further progress was frustrated by the issue of Japanese citizens spirited away to North Korea several years before. The news conveyed by the North Koreans to the Japanese side on 17 September that eight of the thirteen abductees had died affected Japanese public opinion far more than the Korean leader’s unprecedented apology. Later, the North Koreans admitted defiantly to an American government delegation, that they were engaged in nuclear development in breach of a 1994 agreement. This has been followed by further increases in tension over North Korea. Even though the prospect of war in the peninsula does not strike most Japanese as likely, many see the Korean situation as deeply troubling.

This is also at a time when the Japanese economy is suffering from deflation, bank indebtedness and lack of growth, with the problems of an . . .

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