Japan, Race, and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919

Japan, Race, and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919

Japan, Race, and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919

Japan, Race, and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919

Synopsis

Offering new insights, this is the first comprehensive analysis of the racial equality proposal, highlighting the complexity the politics and diplomacy surrounding it.

Excerpt

'we are a people whose glorious history will bear to be held up to the gaze of Western nations. We have learned a great many things from the West, but there are some instances of our having outstripped our tutors.'

So wrote Count Okuma in Fifty Years of New Japan, published in 1910, some five years after Japan had emerged victorious in the Russo-Japanese war. Over the 87 years that have elapsed since those words were written, the history of Japan's relations with the rest of the world has passed through phases more turbulent than Okuma could probably have imagined. The tragic and terrible history of the 1930s and 1940s gave way, however, to decades in which the Japanese forged an amazing (and often deserved) reputation for economic development and efficiency. The idea of the Japanese outstripping their tutors is no longer as exotic as it must have sounded to an English-speaking readership in 1910, but its content has been radically changed with the passage of time. Japan has been widely accused by some Americans and others of exploiting American goodwill and soft attitudes since the 1950s in such a way as to maximise ruthlessly the interests of Japanese corporations and the Japanese economy in general. Whatever the truth of these accusations, during the late 1990s many influential Japanese have been moving to the view that forces of globalisation leave Japan little choice in terms of national interest but to move towards a more open, less controlled, form of economic, political and social order. Entrenched resistance to such a fundamental systemic change remains strong, but the balance of influences is shifting significantly. How the Japanese seek to resolve the dilemma of how far they can preserve a distinctive Japanese identity and practice in an increasingly globalising world is fascinating to watch.

The Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies Series seeks to

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