Asian Identity: Regional Integration and Collective Memory of the Pacific War in Contemporary Japanese Society

Abstract

Ever since late 1980's, concepts of common Asian identity and strengthening intraregional integration have become one the reoccurring themes discussed in the region. Due to un-preceded economic success, Japan seemed as a natural leader. However, rise of China and slow decline of Japanese power have made relations in the region more difficult. Japan is no longer considered a natural leader, and its cooperation with China has recently become strained. It seems impossible to imaging further Asian integration without participation of both China and Japan. Collective memory of the Pacific War is one of the crucial factors influencing international relations between those two Asian powers. Moreover, it's a social phenomenon influencing collective identities not only within Asian states but also across them. European Union is often brought up as a model of successful cultural and economic integration, which lead to creating a common identity, despite tragic past experiences. However, situation in Asia seems to be more complicated. Collective memory of the Pacific War is heavily fragmented and diversified among countries of an entire region. However, what seems to be even more important is the memory of the Pacific War in contemporary Japanese society, which manifests itself by Yasukuni controversy, Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, and discussion regarding history textbooks. Japanese perception of its past, combined with its deeply rooted conviction of being a natural leader in Asia, creates a tension in the region, particularly with China and Korea. However, overcoming it through cooperation and discussion with Japan's Asian partners might make future integration possible.



Author Information
Maciej Pletnia, Tokyo University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2013
Stream: Asian Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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