Through the kaleidoscope : Uchiyama bookstore and Sino-Japanese visionaries in war and peace

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2013-05

Authors

Kato, Naoko, active 2013

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Abstract

The Republican period in Chinese history (1911-1949) is generally seen as a series of anti-imperialist and anti-foreign movements that coincide with the development of Chinese nationalism. The continual ties between Chinese nationalists and Japanese intellectuals are often overlooked. In the midst of the Sino-Japanese war, Uchiyama Kanzō, a Christian pacifist who was the owner of the bookstore, acted as a cultural liaison between May Fourth Chinese revolutionaries who were returned students from Japan, and Japanese left-wing activists working for the Communist cause, or visiting Japanese writers eager to meet their Chinese counterparts. I explore the relationship between Japanese and Chinese cultural literati in Shanghai, using Uchiyama Bookstore as the focal point. The ongoing Sino-Japanese tensions surrounding the "history problem" overemphasize the views of the right-wing nationalists and the Japanese state, dismissing the crucial role of left-wing groups. Uchiyama is a key link to understanding the ideological connection between Pan Asian anti-war activists in the pre-war period with peace activists in post-war Japan who were often accused of being "China's hand." Uchiyama, valued for his prewar connections with prominent Chinese intellectuals, becomes one of the founding members of Sino-Japan organizations upon his return to Japan after the war. I situate non-governmental Sino-Japanese organizations within the larger peace movement in Japan, which are transnational, in contrast with intergovernmental organizations that operate on the basis of nation-states. This work will contribute towards a growing recognition of histories that transcend nations, by focusing on both Chinese and Japanese cosmopolitan individuals who continued to form ties with each other, even as their respective nation-states were either at war, or did not have normalized diplomatic relations. I hope to also shed new light on histories of Republican China and post-war Japan, as well as explore issues related to empire and globalization in East Asia.

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