chapter  1
12 Pages

Forty years of diminishing cordiality: Anglo- Japanese relations, 1902–41

ByIAN NISH

Introduction Myths and stereotypes exist in all inter-state relations. Historians have a role to re-examine these myths from time to time in order to clear up misunderstandings. In the case of international history it is best if this can be done by collaboration between scholars of the states concerned. It is to be hoped that historians of the two countries will jointly study their sources with sensitivity and formulate their views after listening to arguments on both sides and sharing their insights. I was involved as the British coordinator of one such endeavour, the AngloJapanese History Project, which existed from 1995 to 2003. It produced ten volumes covering the history of relations between Britain and Japan between 1600 and 2000.1 It originated in 1995 as the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Pacific War approached. Murayama Tomiichi of the Japan Socialist Party was presiding over a coalition cabinet with the Liberal Democratic Party. There was much controversy within the government and the country about the need to make an appropriate apology for the Pacific War. Murayama made his apology and simultaneously announced his Peace, Friendship and Exchange Programme which in part read as follows:

While this Initiative will focus primarily upon neighbouring Asian countries and areas where Japan’s past actions have left deep scars to-day, I also want to include other regions as appropriate in the light of the Initiative’s objectives.2