Restoring Historicity and Multiplicity to Sino-Japanese Relations

Catherine L. Phipps, University of Memphis

Joshua A. Fogel. Maiden Voyage: The Senzaimaru and the Creation of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. 320 pp. $60 (cloth/ebook).

Eric C. Han. Rise of a Japanese Chinatown: Yokohama, 1894-1972. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 266 pp. $40 (cloth).

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Marius Jansen, a pioneer in English-language studies on Sino-Japanese relations, stated in 1992 that, “despite the importance of the subject for Chinese and Japanese history, writings in Western languages on the relations between Japan and China are surprisingly few” (Jansen 2000, 123). Since that time, however, this body of work has grown to include publications aimed at understanding wartime diplomacy (Howland 2008; Paine 2003); the framework of imperialism that governed relations among China, Japan, and the Western powers (Cassel 2012); national discourse on military activities (Middleton 2007); and moments of mutual cooperation (Harrell 2012). Especially prominent among such research endeavors have been the abundant contributions by Joshua Fogel on topics ranging from historiography and travel to art and exchange. Fogel and Eric Han have now offered two more fine contributions to this expanding literature. Han’s ambitious Rise of a Japanese Chinatown aims to reveal the complexities of national identity formation within the local Yokohama Chinese community in Japan. By contrast, Fogel’s Maiden Voyage, a meticulous re-creation of the Senzaimaru’s officially sanctioned journey to Shanghai in 1862, details the ship's Japanese members’ encounters with the city and its people....