Ching, Leo T. S. Anti-Japan: The Politics of Sentiment in Postcolonial East Asia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. xii + 163 pages.
Anti-Japan is the third book written by Leo T. S. Ching, a specialist in Japanese and East Asian Cultural Studies. His work analyzes the politics of the anti-Japanese sentiment that has existed in East Asia since the end of the Second World War. Ching notes that the sustained anti-Japanism in the region is due to an absence of decolonization following the end of the war and is a symptom of the rapidly shifting power structure in the region today.
Ching argues that post-WWII East Asia did not experience decolonization as it happened in other regions of the world. Instead, Asia was thrust into Cold War politics under U.S. hegemony. As both a victimizer and a victim of the nuclear bombs, Japan was largely shielded from taking immediate responsibility for its war crimes in China, Korea, and Taiwan after the War and while under U.S. occupation. Ching notes that the U.S. Cold War agenda prioritized economic recovery that truncated decolonization in the region. A Japan-centered economic order was, thus, quickly reestablished and continued until recently with the rapid emergence of China. Ching argues that it was in this new context of the shifting power structure that anti-Japanism continued its vigor in the region. Drawing from his background in East Asian Cultural Studies, Ching analyzes anti-Japanism in China, South Korea, and pro-Japanism in Taiwan, mainly through an examination of films, documentaries, and literature.
Ching argues that anti-Japanism in China was largely a state sponsored political strategy and often had little to do with Japan. The War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945), a common theme in Chinese films, was portrayed as positive history at one time, and negative history at another, to serve the different political objectives of the state. Before the 1980s when national unity and the legitimacy of the Communist Party leadership were top priorities, the War of Resistance was portrayed as positive history emphasizing the power of unity of the people and the successful leadership of the Communist Party in defeating Japan. Since the 1980s, however, the War of Resistance began to be portrayed as negative history of China's victimization. Ching notes that the shift from positive to negative portrayal of the same history reflected the changing political objectives of the Chinese government...