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The politics of history and historical memory in China-Japan relations

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The current state of China-Japan relations is characterized by two seemingly contradictory developments adjacent to each other: while economic and cultural relations have experienced an unprecedented and continuous improvement since the 1980s, Chinese and Japanese public perceptions of each other have been deteriorating. This raises interesting questions. How do we explain this discrepancy and what are the sources of the increasing public animosity in China or Japan toward the other country? Can China and Japan maintain amicable relations and continue economic cooperation in spite of the enduring mistrust between their peoples? What is the role of public perception and memory of history in the foreign policies of East Asia? This paper addresses these questions, focusing especially on the last one — the role of history and collective historical memory in international relations and the interaction between public sentiment and government foreign policies. Through a detailed study of recent events and the issue of Japanese textbooks, the author argues that public perception of history can and should be guided toward more positive directions. Otherwise, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain amicable relations between the two countries, especially when new nationalism is on the rise in both counties.

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She had her PhD in History from University of Hawaii in 1995 (sponsored by a fellowship from the East-West Center). In 1995–1996 she held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She specializes in Chinese history and specifically in the cultural revolution. Dr. Jin is the author ofThe Culture of Power: The Lin Biao Incident in the Cultural Revolution (Stanford University Press, 1999). Her articles appeared in journals such asPacific Affairs, Historiography East and West andJounal of Chinese Political Science.

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Qiu, J. The politics of history and historical memory in China-Japan relations. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 11, 25–53 (2006).

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