Sino-Japanese Relations since 1945

Rose, Caroline and Griffith, Ed orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8297-2900 (2018) Sino-Japanese Relations since 1945. In: Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies. Oxford University Press (OUP), New York.

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The study of Sino-Japanese relations since 1945 can be divided into three main periods in which dominant themes have emerged. The prenormalization period (1949–1972) is marked by the lack of diplomatic relations, but there are nonetheless important things to say about informal diplomacy and the ways the two sides maintained channels of communication. Thus the importance of key individuals with an interest in reviving China-Japan relations, the role of the private sector in Japan, and the role of China’s people’s diplomacy help shed light on the internal dynamics and structural underpinnings of the relationship as it adjusted to a Cold War environment in which both sides were constrained by the foreign policies and demands of the superpowers. The postnormalization period (1972 to the late 1980s) brought about a boom in China-Japan relations buoyed by Japan’s economic prowess and China’s reform and opening up policies. Literature on this period offers an insight into Chinese and Japanese foreign policymaking, the role of Japanese aid in China’s development, the emergence of the history problem, and a burgeoning tension between complementarity and competition in economic relations. The end of the Cold War, the rise of China, and the relative decline of Japan usher in the third period of Sino-Japanese studies, in which rivalry (political, economic, and military) becomes a recurring theme in the literature. The legacy of Japan’s aggression in China during the war and questions over Japan’s willingness to acknowledge its war responsibility have provoked emotional and recurring controversies. Thus the history problem in China-Japan relations remains a rich area of study as a means of attempting to understand the obstacles to reconciliation. Studies of traditional and nontraditional security issues have also come to the fore since the 1990s, reflecting the various tensions between China and Japan over their unresolved territorial dispute, energy security, Taiwan, the nature of the US-Japan alliance, jostling for regional leadership, and so forth. Here again, competition and cooperation are the two axes around which much of the debate is focused. This article provides an overview of selected English-, Chinese-, and Japanese-language sources on the various aspects of the relationship, highlighting the debates and dominant approaches as they have evolved since the early postwar period.

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