Interpreting nationalism in Japanese–Chinese relations: contending approaches and analytical frameworks
The study of Japanese-Chinese relations, like most analyses of interstate relationships and foreign policy-making, has largely transpired within a broad range of analytical frameworks that straddle along different approaches and contending theoretical paradigms. Depending on their respective choice of central variables and level of analysis, these approaches have yielded rich, but often diverse explanations of their complex, multi-dimensional ties, and the periodic variations in Japanese policy with regard to the Chinese, when managing their bilateral affairs. This chapter discusses the efficacies and fallacies of the contending approaches, paying particular attention to their treatment of nationalism in explaining the nature of post-Cold War Japanese-Chinese diplomacy. It assesses and questions the viability of their respective interpretations, offering instead a realist-oriented, ‘hybrid’ analytical framework that bridges the reasoning of the competing disciplines and theoretical traditions, to systematically assess nationalism’s role in Japan’s policy-making in the context of the bilateral relationship.