Nationalism in East Asia, Japan and China

Nationalism was on the onset in Asia after World War I. Leaders such as Kemal Ataturk of Turkey and Ibn Saud found India was the product of nationalism. Ataturk succeeded in fighting the Islamic structure of the Monarchy and replaced it with a modernized republic in 1923. The demands for unifying the Arabs in Africa and those of Asian origin were barred by British Imperialism. The British, however, showed accommodation of the new arrivals by accepting the formation of Independent Egypt and Iraq in 1932. Similar decisions were made in India, where the Indian National Congress was founded in 1885, promoting nationalism inspired by the British (Foot & Goh, 2018). However, congress did not take root until after 1918, when it became radical. Germany influenced Japan to use modern industrialized techniques in more authoritative nationalism.

Nationalism is also evident in the history of the formation of the League of Nations, which was formed immediately after World War I elapsed, and the United Nations came into existence when the Second World War went to a halt. The Versailles treaty provided for the constitution of the League of Nations, which later reduced the empires of the central powers that were defeated in the war (Foot & Goh, 2018). Mainly Turkey and Germany were affected in that their territories were reduced, and Germany’s African colonies were placed under the administration of Britain, France, and Belgium. In the list of the original League’s members, only five countries belonged to the continent of Asia, and they were China, Japan, Thailand, India, and Iran. It added three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey.

Previously, only six members from the continent of Asia were in the organization of the United Nations. Thirty-five years later, by 1980, the United Nations added more members, approximately 100, most of whom were from Asia (Foot & Goh, 2018). Before, African and Asian countries were hardly a third of the members, but after including new members, the representation was more than one-half. Nationalism mainly spread to Japan and China through cultural interactions and social life (Foot & Goh, 2018). Japan was a monolithic nation. After the Boxer Rebellion and the signing of the Anglo- Japanese Alliance formed in 1902 after diplomatic relations that broke the relationship between China and Japan hence China declared war after claiming that the treaty had unequal objectives.

Japan had links with other Asian countries such as India, Greece, and China in the sixth to twelfth centuries. Japanese copied the ways of life and civilization of the Chinese. In this era, the Chinese were in front of the Japanese in terms of civilization. They changed their view on monolithic worship and hence started practicing other practices such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and other elements of Chinese culture that significantly impacted the Japanese culture. The classical period influenced the culture of the Japanese, and more effective was on the women’s clothes and pieces of jewelry. One central idea of the Japanese culture is that it does not shed the early periods like the Chinese culture.

Nationalism is still relevant to the politics of Japan and China. One of the latest goals in China is the Unifying of China and Taiwan early in the year 1991. Before then, they had many political differences that made them stay apart. The unification was a sign of nationalism even though Taiwan supports the democrats’ policy, despite the differences, their nationalism remains hanging. However, some opponents from Taiwan have claimed that Chinese nationalism is backward and is not compatible with modernized countries (Foot & Goh, 2018). They accused them of believing in traditional ethical superiority or rather Sino centrism. They blame the Chinese for immaturity and are embarrassing to the world despite being a mighty nation. Nationalism has made Japan return to the fore. Their current stagnation in trade and rampant insecurity led to the country losing international relevance. Nationalistic leaders such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, before his re-election, promised to advocate for a reinvigorated economy.

Nationalism has been on the rise in the two countries, even though the problem of political differences still exists. In China, nationalism has been bolstered by the new leader, who puts economic matters at the forefront. To increase support, China, through the Communist Party of China, makes use of history cards to show China’s next adventures throughout the centuries despite the difficult moments they faced. Japanese and Chinese leaders are looking for ways that can be used to reconcile the two countries through the “pathway to Reconciliation” in East Asia. One of the recommendations was to set educational forums where the views on the history of China and Japan would be presented in a better manner. In Japan, nationalism is also useful in the success of the country through several activities. Nationalism has been converted into competition in various sectors, such as in economics in different international sports (Foot & Goh, 2018). Studies show that the global position of Japan in Economic progress has greatly improved, and its role in the world has been of great impact. Recently, research has shown that there are fears that their nationalism may soon turn into one with military characteristics due to the mass production of military equipment.


Foot, R., & Goh, E. (2018). The international relations of East Asia: A new research prospectus. International Studies Review, 21(3), 398-423. Web.

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DemoEssays. "Nationalism in East Asia, Japan and China." January 3, 2023.