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Deconstructing China’s response to the Yasukuni Shrine issue: towards an IR-grounded theory of Sino-Japanese relations

Griffith, Edward (2014) Deconstructing China’s response to the Yasukuni Shrine issue: towards an IR-grounded theory of Sino-Japanese relations. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The period of Koizumi Jun’ichirō’s tenure as prime minister of Japan from 2001 until 2006 was marked by a significant downturn in Sino-Japanese relations. One of the major causes of this deterioration was his repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial Shinto shrine in Tokyo that honours Japan’s war dead, including a number of ‘class A’ war criminals. China’s response was to seek to isolate the Japanese leader and refuse to allow formal bilateral summits whilst he continued the practice of visiting the shrine. Despite a handful of brief meetings in third countries, this meant that China and Japan went for a period of five years without a formal summit, representing the frostiest period of relations since the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978. This thesis explores China’s response to the shrine issue at this time through a combination of methodologies including content analysis across different categories of Chinese media reports and a series of in-depth interviews with policy-makers, advisors, analysts, diplomats and academics in both China and Japan. It posits a theory rooted in the constructivist school of International Relations (IR) that is influenced by the notion of structuration posited by Anthony Giddens. Using this theory it hypothesises that a normative or ideationally structural relationship guides the behaviour of both China and Japan as actors within the bilateral relationship, whilst simultaneously allowing both to retain the agency to affect these structures through their own actions, either consciously or otherwise. Through the analysis of the Yasukuni Shrine issue and a further case study of the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands the results support this hypothesis, showing that China not only retains agency within these ideational and normative structures but actively strategises in order to shape them in its own interests.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-897-8
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.629379
Depositing User: Leeds CMS
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 11:56
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7263

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