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Response to Review of Pan-Asianism

The editors of the two works are grateful for this positive review. We generally agree with the issues raised, but, having been asked by the editors to respond, would like to take this opportunity to explain a number of points.

The reviewer correctly identifies some weaknesses of the 2007 volume, such as a certain lack in uniformity as regards terminology and methodology as well as the fact that some of the questions raised in the introduction were not addressed properly in the articles that followed. We would like to point out that the 2007 volume was a collection of articles whose goal was to emphasize the continuity of East Asian regionalism and pan-Asian ideas from the 19th century down to the present day. Since no researcher could have accomplished such an ambitious objective on his or her own, the book was the result of cooperation by a number of scholars who took part in an international conference held under the auspices of the German Institute of Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo in 2002.

The defects noted by the reviewer are a consequence of the collaborative nature of the project, but it would have been impossible to put together a book on the longue durée history of Pan-Asianism without some shortcomings creeping in. We are convinced nevertheless that the work made a significant contribution to the advancement of the study of Pan-Asianism and thus achieved its objective.

The second major point raised by the review is that the 2007 volume addressed only Japanese Pan-Asianism. The editors were aware of this limitation, as expressed in the subtitle, but the limitation was a matter of deliberate choice. To make the project manageable with limited resources available, it was thought necessary to concentrate on Japan. Besides, the editors feared that to include the Pan-Asianisms of other countries and areas in these initial exploratory stages would have blurred the focus of the work, lowering its quality, rather than raising it. That is why in the Preface to the volume the editors clearly stated that, while ‘hop[ing] that this volume will stimulate further research on regionalism in East Asia’, they were ‘keenly aware that a volume on a transnational ideology should not be limited to analyzing the manifestations of this ideology in only one nation-state’ (p. xvi).

When we set out to put together Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History published in 2011, we strove to overcome this geographical limitation, but were to some degree thwarted by practical difficulties. Thus it is to our deepest regret that our Documentary History, which was originally planned as a single volume but grew in size in excess of a quarter of a million of words, contains no texts by authors from Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, while Korea and Mongolia are probably underrepresented. Nevertheless, we think that the work has filled a yawning gap in the field of Japanese history. Moreover, it offers a wealth of material for teaching courses on Asian regionalism. As such, as the reviewer recognizes, it is of great use to researchers in diverse fields and disciplines who deal with issues related to Pan-Asianism and Asian regionalism.

The reviewer thinks that we already have ‘heard enough for the time being from Kita Ikki or Okakura Tenshin’, but we disagree. Precisely because we were aware that Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History would serve as a sourcebook, we could not possibly leave out these classic texts in a line-up of representative pan-Asian texts that teachers and students alike could easily refer to.

The above comments notwithstanding, we would like to reiterate that the review does present an accurate summary and interpretation of our works. We can only hope that the readers will follow the reviewer’s recommendation to ‘go and buy all three books’. We are confident that they will prove useful to colleagues in Asian Studies and related fields.