Is there Life in the ‘Asian Peace’?
Northeast Asia in recent years has seen a resurgence of retrospective nationalism and geopolitical contest. This calls into question the so-called “Asian Peace” hypothesis, founded on strong socio-cultural exchanges, economic interdependence and a lack of war for decades. Why are transnational relationships in deteriorating and becoming more volatile?
Amid a sea of realism prevalent today in scholarly, media and policy discourses on international relations, Clements explores the identity and ideational dimensions of the relationships among the major Northeast Asian countries: China, Japan and Korea. This endeavor is relevant and legitimate in that collective historical memories, deeply ingrained in their national identities, cast a long shadow over interstate and international relations in the region.
Fifteen contributors probe how national identity is constructed in the three countries, in which collective historical memories are generating threat perceptions through the (re)constructing of an inimical “Other;” these are then reflected in their foreign and security policies. Clashes of identity have been stopping the three from nourishing stable co-operative relationships. While power-oriented realists would argue that Northeast Asian relations are determined primarily by regional power politics and big power transitions, the essential proposition driving this book is that the relationships remain unresolved and intractable because they flow primarily from clashes of identity and divergent memories of suffering and pain, all of which are heavily anchored in the past and result in a generalized inability to trust one another.
Identity, Trust, and Reconciliation in East Asia:
Dealing with Painful History to Create a Peaceful Present Edited by Kevin P. Clements
Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 302 pages, $118.51 (Hardcover)