The role of the "history issue" in Sino-Japanese relations (1972–2016)
Glosny, Michael A.
Weiner, Robert J.
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Relations between China and Japan suffer under the "history issue", an inability to reconcile these nations' relative perspectives on past wartime events. With emphasis on China's construction of the history issue, this thesis analyzes when and why China calls particular attention to Japan's past aggression and the degree to which China's actions have impacted bilateral relations from 1972 to 2016. Using elements from collective memory, national identity, and balance of power theories, this thesis makes four main arguments. First, provocative Japanese behavior revives the collective memories of past trauma and provokes criticism of Japanese politics. Second, when China perceives threats from Japan, it highlights Japan's past atrocities and lack of contrition to contain Japan's ambitions or gain relative power. Third, when collective memory is the main driver in shaping relations, balance of power plays a more supporting role and vice versa. Last, the public's collective memory and the volatile activation of the public's genuine anti-Japanese sentiments were the strongest factors in explaining the downturn of relations. As the United States implements its security strategy in East Asia, understanding historical disputes and their implications on the security status of the region is crucial, as they will affect agreements with our allies.
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimitedReissued 30 May 2017 with correction to department on title page.
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