Issue Presentation: Official narratives of Sino-Japanese relations-China Perspectives 2013/4


 Room Segalen, 25/F, Admiralty Centre, Tower 2, 18 Harcourt Road, Hong Kong (Admiralty MTR station, exit A)

Speaker: Edward Vickers

Reservation & Contact: Miriam Yang

[email protected] / tel: 2876 6910



Edward Vickers is Associate Professor of Comparative Education at Kyushu University, Japan. During the 1990s, he worked for eight years in Hong Kong as a schoolteacher and author of English language textbooks, before moving to Beijing in 2000 to work for the People’s Education Press. Having taught history in a local secondary school in the years leading up to 1997, for his doctorate he researched the politics of history as a school subject in late twentieth century Hong Kong. He has since conducted research on school curricula and political socialization in Chinese societies, and on the role of museums and cultural policy in contemporary identity politics. His publications include Imagining Japan in Post-war East Asia: identity politics, schooling and popular culture (Routledge 2013; edited with Paul Morris and Naoko Shimazu); History Education and National Identity in East Asia (Routledge 2005; edited with Alisa Jones), Education as a Political Tool in Asia (Routledge 2009; edited with Marie Lall), and In Search of An Identity: the Politics of History as a School Subject in Hong Kong, 1960s-2002 (Routledge 2003).


Referring to the recent China Perspectives special feature on ‘Chinese Visions of Japan’, this presentation reviews contemporary Chinese portrayals of Japan, analyzing their significance both for domestic politics and for Sino-Japanese relations. The case of mainland China is compared with Hong Kong and Taiwan (and to some extent also to Singapore), to illustrate the ways in which depictions of Japan have served as a foil for the propagation of different visions of what it means to be Chinese (or Taiwanese, Hongkongese or Singaporean). While the main focus is on official narratives, as manifested in school textbooks and museums, the relationship between official and popular discourse is also considered. Developing arguments put forward in the special feature by He Yinan and Stephen Robert Nagy, further reflections are also offered regarding official and popular discourse on China in contemporary Japan. While Japanese portrayals of China are certainly more diverse than (mainland) Chinese portrayals of Japan, attitudes to the other country are profoundly influenced in each by a conviction of national victimhood, with troubling implications for bilateral relations. However, beneath its authoritarian carapace, Chinese state legitimacy is relatively fragile, and the popular appeal of anti-Japanese messages means that radical moves to ratchet down tension are unlikely to come from Beijing. Therefore, irrespective of the moral case for either side, realpolitik dictates that the onus for altering mutual perceptions must lie primarily with Japan.



This seminar will be held in English.
Sebastian Veg, Director of the CEFC, will chair the session.
Snacks and drinks will be served after the seminar.
Seats are limited. Please confirm your attendance.