By exploring the exchange of political thought and concepts of international law and Empire between Japan and Northeast Asia in the early twentieth century, our panel addresses broader issues of the possibilities and limits, faced by Japan historians, in writing global history.
Global history has attracted increasing attention over the past two decades. However, global historians often fail to overcome a Eurocentric perspective and have yet to formulate a comprehensive program on how to write global history, except to call for tackling big questions with big implications (Guldi and Armitage, History Manifesto). Nevertheless, global history offers several new perspectives for analyzing (1) the transnational connectedness of national policies, including welfare, war propaganda and prohibition; (2) intellectual exchange of religious or political thought beyond national borders; and (3) power relations of race and class, arising from global interactions. Specifically, with reference to Japan, global history helps us to deconstruct paradigms of Japan's allegedly unique path to modernization. In this panel, we explore how more globally minded approaches to Japanese history would contribute to global history itself. Our focus is on the historical relations between Japan and Northeast Asia in the early twentieth century. Session 1 explores the circulation of political ideas between Japan and North East Asia, including Anarchism, Bolshevism, Right-Wing Radicalism, Pan-Asianism, Eurasianism and Turkism, and their meaning as pan-movements in the Japanese Empire (Tatiana Linkhoeva, Christopher W. A. Szpilman, Saito Shohei). Session 2 analyzes the shifts in concepts of international law and Empire specifically during wartime, including the First World War, the Siberian Intervention and the Second World War (Rotem Kowner, Sven Saaler, Daniel Hedinger). By presenting specific case studies, we address the following questions: What do the historical relations between Japan and North East Asia, i.e. peripheral regions in the case of Manchuria and a 'non-western' power in the case of Russia, tell us about concepts of Empire, the nation-state and modernity? What new perspectives does the focus on a region, geopolitically remote from the West, give us on Japan's development in the early twentieth century? And finally, what are the possibilities and limits, faced by Japan historians, in writing global history.