My neighbor, my enemy : understanding the protracted conflict between China and Japan
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. Despite numerous attempts at political reconciliation and increasing levels of economic interdependence, tensions between China and Japan remain high. The bitter rivalry, ostensibly rooted in the Second World War, grabbed the world's attention in 2005 when anti-Japan protests erupted in over 40 cities throughout China. This study examines why China and Japan remain sworn enemies even though they share realistic reasons to reconcile. While the existing literature acknowledges historical enmity as the primary source of conflict, it does not rigorously explain the underpinnings and dynamics of that enmity. Thus, the purpose of this study is to fill this analytic gap using ideas in conflict resolution and social psychology. I argue that China and Japan are mired in an identity-based conflict that is best understood by examining enmification, or the process of creating enemies, throughout its history of conflict dating back to the 16th century. Moreover, such a historical analysis must consider that while China and Japan share mutual animosity, their hostilities stem from disparate sources. For China, its umbrage draws upon bitter memories of Japanese troops storming their soil. On the other hand, Japan resists its label as the shamed aggressor, especially by the postwar generations who are left with few palpable traces of its war with China. Thus, I treat history as a dynamic process to illuminate how the political rhetoric fails to reflect the complexity of the China-Japan conflict beyond anything more than historical grievances rooted in the Second World War.
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