Situated Knowledge: The Pro-China Trend in China Studies in Cold War Japan

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Based on interviews with 23 Japanese Sinologists as well as other oral materials, this article examines the origins of the pro-China trend among Japanese Sinologists during the Cold War, primarily from the perspective of ‘situated knowledge’. This article first contextualises how China scholars had been ‘situated’ socially and culturally in the ‘post-war’ discourse, and depicts the role of these scholars, whose production of knowledge can be seen as an embodiment of ‘post-war’ thought in Japan. Subsequently, the article discusses how the pro-China trend was born, how it intensified, and finally how it faded, by considering three conditioning factors: the China experiences of the Sinologists in initiating the reinterpretation of Japan’s locus in Asia; the memorial site of war where these scholars shouldered a spiritual burden in relation to China; and the localised power structure of the global Cold War in which China scholars took the People’s Republic as a robust ideological symbol as they challenged Japan’s conservative state under US patronage. In so doing, the article argues that the meandering journey of these Sinologists to constitute the meaning of ‘post-war’ through these three factors prompted the emergence of the pro-China trend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-703
Number of pages19
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2022


  • Cold War
  • Japan
  • Lived experience
  • Sinology
  • ideology
  • pro-China trend
  • war memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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