Asian studies in changing. Until now, as a global scholarship, Asian studies has been shaped by the European Oriental studies and the American “area studies”. Each of them has its notion of ‘Asia’ and its emphasis on certain fields, subjects, and disciplines of studies that responded to the demands of the colonial and the Cold War environments respectively. Currently, however, those environments have gone, although the legacies of both styles of Asian studies will remain for some time to come. Meanwhile, Asia is on the rise in many respects, including in the global higher education. Scholarship from Asia is likely to become more prominent in Asian studies too. Two particular changes are notable in Asian studies in recent years. First, the demography and the location of the production of knowledge in Asian studies has changed. The number of scholars from Asia or with Asian heritage is rapidly increasing even in the Euro-American academia. They do not approach Asia as the Other. Programs, networks and associations for studying Asia among scholars within Asia are emerging, stronger, active, and recognizable, adding to the previous ones mostly in the Euro-American academia. Secondly, the spatial notions of ‘Asia’ and its regional division based on the American view of geo-politics during the Cold War, has been challenged. The new space of Asia as put forward in the field has become more diverse: from new definitions of regionalism, transnational or trans-border and trans-Asian subjects, sea and ocean-centered studies that emphasizes networks and connections, to the upland areas as opposed to the lowland centers as conventionally studied. The configurations of scholars and scholarship are changing. Although the style of the emerging Asian studies is still unclear, the prospect of Asian studies is up to scholars in Asia. In order to engage in shaping the emerging Asian studies, two tasks are urgently needed. First, given the multiple sites of knowledge production, we should understand the different “environments” of the academia in Asian countries: their historical backgrounds and developments, their strength and weaknesses or limitation, and so on. Second, language and academic translation are critical to the emerging Asian studies. Apart from the likely prevalence of English that could remain a problem for many academies, mediations across Asian languages and academies themselves are urgently needed as language differences are barrier to intellectual engagement.
This paper presents an historical analysis of the policy formation process within the Japanese government regarding the issues of claims between Japan and South Korea (below, “Korea”) for the period from February 1951, the start of the first round of Japan-Korea talks, to October 1953, when the talks were suspended. This paper aims at providing an overview of the Japan-Korea talks from a novel perspective via elucidation of the situation within the Japanese government during the early 1950s—a period mostly blank in previous research. The process of forming concrete policies for relations with Korea during this period in Japan was clarified as described below. The paper first presents its overview findings, while referencing previous research, of the Japanese government’s negotiation strategies regarding the Japan-Korea claims issue before the Japan-Korea talks officially began, specifically in regards to how these initial strategies impacted the first round of talks. It was during this period when differences in attitudes towards the claims issue surfaced between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, and considerations are presented regarding the background for such. Described next is the formation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the “mutual abandonment of claims ‘plus alpha’” concept around the time that the negotiations became locked and had their first suspension. This included the concept of justifying Japan’s claims on Korea, with both sides then together abandoning their claims, and Japan agreeing to make monetary payments to Korea while avoiding the nomenclature of “claims.” Examination is made of how the processes of discussions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs converged on this idea, with focus on the interactions of the logic of the Asian Affairs Bureau, which viewed foreign relations with Korea as important, international circumstances at that time, and commitments Japan had to the United States. Finally, in the midst of opposition between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance regarding policy proposals for the Japan-Korea claims issue, clarification is made as to what kind of arguments were presented that led to the Japanese government’s adoption of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ plan as the official policy for negotiating with Korea. The flexible attitude toward Korea by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs due to its emphasis on international relations was taken up as part of the Japanese government’s initial Korean strategy, and made possible a conceptual framework for government policy proposals that were more suited for mutual agreement. Also, in tandem with the changing international circumstances on the Korean peninsula, Japan could not avoid improving its relations with Korea, and this served to soften the hardline policy stance that the Ministry of Finance had adopted towards Korea. When one considers the progression of the debates within the Japanese government, most worthy of notice is that Japan did not abandon its original perceptions towards Korea, but rather conceived a solution that had as its premise exclusion of the term “claims” (literally, “the right to make claims”). It is of deep interest that this concept was similar to that inclusive within the solution of the claims issue in 1965 with the adoption of the “economic cooperation” policy in the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.