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Subjectivity and Bilateral Relations: A Lacanian Discourse Analysis of the Sino-Japanese ‘History Problem’ from 1982 to 2012

Guo, Hai (2018) Subjectivity and Bilateral Relations: A Lacanian Discourse Analysis of the Sino-Japanese ‘History Problem’ from 1982 to 2012. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Despite deepening economic interdependence, Japan and China had rocky relations due to the so-called ‘history problem’, a controversy over the very different understanding of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945) held by the two sides. Why did the ‘history problem’ persist as a political issue in Sino-Japanese relations? To the question, this thesis has a twofold argument: 1) The ‘history problem’ was a discourse revolving around the ‘Victim-victimizer Duality’, a bilateral norm that relationally structured Japan and China’s respective subject position (identity) as the victimizer and the victim; 2) The ‘history problem’ persisted, because the different discursive strategies that social agents on both sides deployed to negotiate the Victim-victimizer Duality had created a vicious circle, a situation in which the Chinese government demanded recognition of victimhood from Japan while the Japanese government responded in ways that fragmentised China’s victimhood. Over time, the vicious circle accumulated resentments between the two sides, thereby turning the ‘history problem’ into a persisting bilateral issue. Using a method rooted in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, the thesis analyses three major sub-issues in the ‘history problem’, i.e., the Textbook Issue, the Yasukuni Issue, and the Nanking Massacre Debate. The data of the discourse analysis are based on primary sources including news articles in People’s Daily, official documents of the Diet proceedings, unclassified documents collected from the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and interviews with members of the Japan-China Joint History Research Project, etc. Overall, this thesis contributes to the study of Sino-Japanese relations by offering new insights into the bilateral dynamics centred around the ‘history problem’; it also contributes to International Relations (IR) theory by developing a methodology that enables IR researchers to more effectively analyse how subjective factors (e.g., identity, fantasies, anxieties, etc.) shape the formation of political discourses in international relations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: History Problem, Sino-Japanese Relations, Victim-victimizer Duality, Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory, International Relations Theory, Discourse Analysis
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > East Asian Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Hai Guo
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 16:38
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2019 16:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22774

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