Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Impact of Humiliation in Japan’s Framing of the Dispute

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

In March 2012, then Tokyo governor, Shintaro Ishihara proclaimed his intention to buy three of the disputed island in the East China Sea between China and Japan, from their Japanese private owner. Consequently, he set loose a diplomatic crisis that have irrevocably soured Japan-China relations. An issue that prior to 2012 was an irritant in Sino-Japanese relations, became an intractable conflict of interest.

However, why has Japan pursued a strategy that eventually undermine full control of the air and maritime space around these islands, instead of quietly managing it?

Most accounts focus on nationalism from China’s side, and the relative inexperience in foreign affairs of the Democratic Party of Japan, who was for the first time in power. Nonetheless, the role of emotions is often neglected, focusing only on China’s desire to avenge for past humiliations during the war with Japan. This paper addresses the role of humiliation in also driving Japan’s desire to stand up to China in the dispute, and pursue a route that was evidently leading to a diplomatic crisis. It looks at Japan’s government cabinet members’ publically available diplomatic and media narratives from March 2012 to September 2012, when Tokyo announced it was purchasing the islands, to trace how the crises was framed and why it escalated. More importantly, it challenges established assumptions of nationalist narratives fuelling the dispute to hypothesise that humiliation is the powerful driver of this dispute for both nations.

Paulo Ricardo Miranda Ribeiro

Kobe University, Japan


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1 - The Impact of Humiliation in Japan’s Framing of the Dispute

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