Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China

Sheila A. Smith. Columbia Univ., $40 (384p) ISBN 978-0-231-16788-8
This well-informed study explains, with admirable clarity, the increasingly involved and complex attitudes in Japanese domestic politics regarding China. Smith, a Japan specialist and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a fine-grained analysis reaching back to the aftermath of World War II and especially the 1970s, when relations between the former combatants were normalized. Postwar narratives of the Second Sino-Japanese War have remained important in both strengthening diplomatic relations and—especially as manipulated for nationalist sentiment by conservative Japanese politicians like prime minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro—stoking tensions. One key factor are the countries' trade and economic ties, seen for years in Japan, which was instrumental in China's market reforms, as a remedy for historical fears and bad blood. Another factor is Japan's close relationship with the U.S., which adds yet another powerful party to an already delicate balancing act. China's recent rise as both a regional and global power has exacerbated tensions with increasingly security-conscious, former economic hegemon Japan, particularly over natural resources in areas like the East China Sea. Smith plumbs the intricacies of these critical developments, not without an eye to their implications for the United States, stressing the "importance of popular opinion about China" in the delicate web of policy and diplomacy that must be calibrated to a changing global order. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/16/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 237 pages - 978-0-231-53802-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-231-16789-5
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