Accepted paper:

Russian Eurasianism and Turkism in the Japanese Empire


Shohei Saito (Hiroshima-City University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper compares the importance of Eurasianism and Russian Turkism in the Japanese Empire in the 1930s and 1940s.

Paper long abstract:

In the 1920s, Eurasianism, positing that Russia should be defined as neither Europe nor Asia, but as Eurasia, provided a new identity for those who had lost their home country with the fall of the Russian Empire. The movement was initiated by a heterogeneous group of highly creative, recently traumatized Russian emigre linguists, ethnologists, geographers, and historians living in Prague, Vienna, Paris, Berlin and other major European cities. Rejected and then repressed by both Communism and Fascism, supporters of Eurasianism had little room for maneuver in Europe. But further east there was fertile ground for their ideas: Eurasianism became central to the evolution of the geopolitically motivated, multi-ethnic ideologies of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese interpretation of Eurasianism not only challenged "European" convictions of racial supremacy and hegemony, but also provided a new interpretation of "Asian" identity and hence an ideological basis to integrate the multi-ethnic residents of occupied territories into the Japanese empire. Meanwhile, the ideologues of Russian Turkism had developed the plan for the liberation of Turks in Central Asia from the Soviet Union and future autonomy under Japanese rule. This paper compares the importance of Eurasianism and Russian Turkism in the Japanese Empire in the 1930s and 1940s. Whereas ethnic Russian and other Slavic emigres, resident in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (1931-1945), utilized Eurasianism to resist the concept of Pan-Asianism, Turkic Russian emigres were drawn to Pan-Asianism. Turkic Russians' relationship with Japan was different from that of European Russian emigres, because the Japanese largely considered the latter group to be white men, at least early on in their quest for a Pan-Asian utopia. While the Japanese exploited Russian Eurasianism in Manchukuo, they used Turkic Russians' nationalist sympathies to legitimize their political and geopolitical ambitions not only in Northeast Asia but also beyond Northeast Asia.

panel S7_07
The Circulation of Ideas between Japan and Northeast Asia: Possibilities and Limits of Global History