Concepts of Asia in Japanese Pan-Asianism: from cultural to religious and political borders

Oleksandra Bibik


Pan-Asianism in Japan arose as a reaction against the imperialist policy of the West. Throughout the development of Pan-Asianism in Japan, one of the central issues for its followers was the definition of the criteria of “Asianness”; and questioning the boundaries of a new meta-geographical space - Asia. The article is devoted to the issue of the variations of the view on Asia within the Japanese Pan-Asianism of the II half of the XIX-XX centuries. The classification of Asian concepts according to the criterions of “Asianness” is derived. By using the methodology of discourse analysis, the article provides a detailed analysis of the development of these criteria in different contexts of Japanese culture, politics and religion. An analysis of the historical development of the vision of Asia in Japan allowed us to establish the bond between the evolution of views on Asia and the specifics of Pan-Asianism in general. The article also provides an analysis of the sources and history of the term “Asia” in Japan. The central importance of this concept for the phenomenon of pan-Asianism is proved as the result of the study. The study could be seen as the first comprehensive examination of Japanese pan-Asianism in terms of views on a meta-geographical space which was new to Japan- Asia. The study of this issue in modern Japanese studies is developing in the direction of analysing the historical, economic and political significance of Pan-Asianism, the concepts of Asia and its individual countries in Japan. A detailed examination of the historical formation of the concept of "Asia" in Japan will help to upgrade both the understating of Pan-Asianism and the modern specific of view on the features of "Asian" or "Eastern" civilizations. The presented study offers a broader view of one of the central issues of Japanese pan-Asianism in general.


Pan-Asianism; the concept of “Asia”; the concept “the West”; the concept “the East”; “Hakko Ichiu”; Western imperialism; “sangoku”

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