Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Anti-japanese Protest: The Senkaku/diaoyu Dispute and Sino-japanese Diplomacy

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

Since the Patriotic Education Campaign in the early 1990’s China’s Communist Party has tried to actively mobilize and channel popular feeling against Japan to enhance its domestic legitimacy, which had been eroded by the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Moreover, it has used domestic protest against Japan, and subsequent threats to social stability, as a bargaining chip to derive concessions from Tokyo. Nonetheless, indulging in anti-Japanese rhetoric erodes already diminished goodwill and trust towards China. Indeed, the role of public protest and discourse against Japan cannot be overestimated in affecting Japan’s stance in this dispute.


Both anti-Japanese protest and rhetoric have often been connected to the phenomenon of “apology fatigue” in Japanese society. Recently, this has given rise to a growing feeling of misrepresentation of Japan by China. A sense of “unfairness” that, in turn, has been enabling the Japanese political to construct China as a “perilous revisionist” other. In essence, constructing a narrative of victimization at the hands of a “bullying” China.


Thus, our article investigates the impact of anti-Japanese protest in Japan’s public and political elites in fomenting this dispute.


This paper looks at opinion polls, newspaper articles, official statements and secondary literature on the 2012 crisis and its broader context. Exceptional for its scope, we hypothesize that it strengthens the argument that the combination of anti-Japanese rhetoric and government tolerance of vandalism help solidify China as a negative other against which a “norm-abiding peaceful” Japan is constructed. 

Diogo Santos

Kobe University, Japan

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