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Intimate Rivals

Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China

Author: , Senior Fellow for Japan Studies

Intimate Rivals - sheila-a-smith-intimate-rivals-japanese-domestic-politics-and-a-rising-china
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Publisher A CFR Book. Columbia University Press

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Price $40.00 hardcover

384 pages
ISBN 978-0-231-16788-8


No country feels China's rise more deeply than Japan. Through intricate case studies of visits by politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, conflicts at the East China Sea boundary, concerns about food safety, and strategies of island defense, CFR Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China. She finds that Japan's interactions with China extend far beyond the negotiations between diplomats to include a broad array of social actors intent on influencing the Sino-Japanese relationship.

Some of the tensions complicating Japan's encounters with China, such as those surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine or territorial disputes, have deep roots in the postwar era, and political advocates seeking a stronger Japanese state organize themselves around these causes. Other tensions manifest themselves during the institutional and regulatory reform of maritime boundary and food safety issues. Smith scrutinizes the role of the Japanese government in coping with contention as China's influence grows and Japanese citizens demand more protection. Underlying the government's efforts is Japan's insecurity about its own capacities for change and its waning status as the leading Asian economy. For many, China's rise means Japan's decline, and Smith suggests how Japan can maintain its regional and global clout as confidence in its postwar diplomatic and security approach decreases.

More About This Publication

Video Interview

Podcast on Japan and the Rise of China

Sheila Smith speaks on the current state of China-Japan relations at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs. 

Video Interview

Public Lecture: Sheila Smith, Council on Foreign Relations

Sheila Smith discussed Intimate Rivals at an event jointly hosted by the Perth USAsia Centre and Murdoch University's School of Arts and the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs. 

Video Interview

Talking In Kanji

Rana Mitter, author of China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival, writes a review of Sheila Smith's new book, Intimate Rivals.  

Video Interview

Japan's China Challenge

The rise of China has put many countries around the world on notice. Some may see it as an exciting shift in the world order, and others may approach it with caution. However, no country feels China's rise more deeply than Japan. Dr. Sheila Smith, an expert on Japanese and regional politics, will discuss how Japan’s relationship with a rising China influences Japanese domestic and foreign policy. Whether it be conflicts in the East China Sea, managing a volatile North Korea or strategies of island defense, Smith will explore the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate this storied and often complex relationship.

Video Interview

Japan and China: 'Intimate Rivals'

Japanese citizens worry more and more about China but, Smith notes that while certain issues evoke a popular nationalism – such as Yasukuni shrine and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands – voters have not rewarded the better-known Japanese nationalists at the ballot box.

Defining Defense: Japan's Military Identity Crisis

While more Japanese express an interest in reconsidering Japan's pacific constitution, public opinion still remains deeply ambivalent when it comes to changing military policy, writes Sheila A. Smith.

Intimate Rivals

Sheila A. Smith explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China.

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