Vol. 19 (2012)

Peace through Historical Revisionism Yamamoto Shichihei on Sino-Japanese Relations in the 1970s

Robert Hoppens
University of Texas Pan-American


This article presents a detailed analysis of a series of articles by Yamamoto Shichihei, writing as the Jewish author Isaiah Ben-Dasan, entitled The Japanese and the Chinese. The articles, written in the wake of the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations in 1972, present a dramatic revisionist history of Sino-Japanese relations from the founding of the Japanese imperial institution to Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei’s visit to Beijing in 1972. Yamamoto’s history constructs an extended historical analogy that identifies the main source of discord in Sino-Japanese relations as a lack of Japanese national consciousness and prescribes the recovery of a “real†Japanese national history as the key to peace between Japan and China. Yamamoto’s articles reveal how issues of Japanese national identity, war responsibility and historical revisionism informed perceptions of Japan’s relations with China even before the internationalization of Japan’s “history problem†in the 1980s and 1990s.