Education About Asia

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Web Gleanings

Website Resources: Maritime Asia

MARITIME ASIA Asian Bodies of Water URL: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Asia-lakes.html This is a simple way for younger students to become familiar with the seas and oceans of the Asian continent. There are check boxes for selecting the location of a specific body of water; or one can also click on a map, and the sea or ocean will be identified with an accompanying descriptive blurb. Maritime Asia URL: http://maritimeasia.ws/index.html This site has a number of links on the...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding: History and Traditions

In Western maritime histories, Japan is not generally viewed as a major maritime power. The usual standards for preeminence in this regard have been measured by the reach of a country’s exploration and trade or naval might. Japan’s problem is largely one of timing. It did not become a naval power until the twentieth century, and most Western scholars have interpreted Japan’s maritime importance in light of its reclusiveness—a perception magnified by the timing of European contact. The We...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Some Notes on “Japanese Pirates”

Images of Pirates When today’s students think of pirates, the first image that likely pops into their minds is of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films from Disney Studios. While I feel certain that my colleagues specializing in maritime history find many inaccuracies in that image—as I’m sure they would find in the swashbuckling seafarer played by Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate or the romanticized figures of Black Dog and Billy Bones in Robert L...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Maritime Archaeology in the Classroom: Resources on the Online Museum of Underwater Archaeology

The online Museum of Underwater Archaeology (MUA, http://www.themua.org) hosts a number of resources to introduce maritime archaeology and the history of Asia to a classroom audience. The projects highlighted in the museum contain information that is of interest not just to history or archaeology teachers, but also has applications in classroom discussions on art, geography, science, cultural studies, political science, and even international law. The MUA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a...

Feature Article, Symposium: Conflict in the East and South China Seas

Taiwan’s Policy toward the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Dispute and the Implications for the US

The long-standing but subdued territorial disputes over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyu in China, Diaoyutai in Taiwan, and Senkaku in Japan, reignited in September 2012 when the Japanese government “nationalized” the islands in a purported “purchase” to preempt the controversial purchase proposed by the then-governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara. While most analysts focus their attention on the rising tensions between China and Japan and the implicati...

Symposium: Conflict in the East and South China Seas

Explaining Recent Senkaku/Diaoyu Tensions: The Domestic Dimension

China and Japan have an ongoing territorial dispute over a series of small islands (called Diaoyu 钓鱼 in Chinese or Senkaku 尖閣諸島 in Japanese) in the East China Sea. This brief essay begins with a cursory synopsis of recent events (since 2012) between China and Japan regarding this conflict. I then summarize China’s perspective on the dispute before offering some hypotheses regarding possible domestic drivers of Chinese foreign policy behavior in this context. The article concludes b...

Feature Article, Symposium: Conflict in the East and South China Seas

The Senkaku Islands and Japan’s Evolving Diplomacy

With surprising rapidity, tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, a small group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, are raising the specter of a potential armed clash between Asia’s two major powers. In 2010, a Chinese fishing trawler rammed two Japan Coast Guard (JCG) vessels in the waters around the Senkakus. For the first time, the Japanese government decided to indict the fishing trawler captain because of his dangerous and provocative behavior. A two-week ...

Feature Article, Symposium: Conflict in the East and South China Seas

History Lost in the Shuffle

Editor’s Note: The disputes among Asian nations concerning the East and South China Seas territorial and maritime sovereignty questions constitute a major geopolitical issue with potential global ramifications. The following symposium is intended to help instructors and students better understand key issues and conflicting national perspectives. Our four scholars at times offer differing and contrasting perspectives on key issues; this illustrates the complexity of the disputes. Japan has a n...

Online Supplement, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Sasabune: Hiroshima Riverboat

Even today in certain parts of Japan, people still use wooden boats to transport people and goods along the rivers far inland. The art of building these vessels is dying out, as in many cases there are no manuals or written instructions and fewer young apprentices. Before his death, I interviewed Mr. Mitsumori Kanji of Miyoshi (Hiroshima prefecture) about a type of riverboat that he had built countless times. With its pointed stem, elongated body, and blunt stern, the sasabune, named for the bam...

Film Review Essay, Resources

In The Grey Zone and A2-B-C

In the Grey Zone In these two highly revealing documentaries on the Japan triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear accident) of March 2011, film director Ian Thomas Ash gives us a picture of the Japanese people struggling with the immensity of the event. An American who has lived in Japan for eleven years, Ash’s command of the Japanese language, his patient ability to wait for answers from those he interviews, and his gentle mix of the visual harshness of the disaster cont...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Maritime Crossroads of Geopolitics in East Asia: A Reexamination of Historic Ocean Perspectives in Japan

Behind the “Island Mentality” Shimaguni konjo (island-nation mentality) is a Japanese phrase that refers to the inward-looking characteristics of the Japanese. Japanologist Donald Keane translates it as “insularism.” (note 1) It is equivalent to the popular English phrase “island mentality.” Both the English and Japanese phrases, whether meant to address metaphorical or literal island communities, are rooted in the notion that islands are isolated in the middle of the sea. In Japan,...

Book Review, Resources

The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel

  What is it like to live in North Korea? Satellite images and the testimony of escapees from this isolated, brutal dictatorship have opened up knothole glimpses of the oppression and extreme privation in which North Koreans exist. Through these sources, we know that beatings, torture, starvation, and hard labor are the fates of the thousands of citizens imprisoned in brutal prison camps. Vital as accounts such as Escape from Camp 14 in documenting these human rights abuses are, they mak...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Southeast Asia: Past & Present (Seventh Edition)

The seventh edition of D.R. SarDesai’s Southeast Asia: Past and Present is an ambitious and updated study that gives the reader a sweeping and informative view of the history of the region. In about 370 pages, SarDesai seeks to introduce readers to the major themes and problems in Southeast Asian history from the prehistoric period to the present. For students of Southeast Asian history, this text offers a solid introduction to the region while providing an ample base from which to leap into m...

Online Supplement

Further Resources to accompany the feature article “Remonstrance”

Andrew, Anita, and John Rapp. Autocracy and China’s Rebel Founding Emperors: Comparing Chairman Mao and Ming Taizu. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000. “The Confucian Tradition.” Asia for Educators. Accessed September 23, 2014. http://tinyurl.com/o52yxvb de Bary, William Theodore and Irene Bloom. Sources of Chinese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600. Volume 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Hucker, Charles O. China’s Imperial Past: An Introductio...

Online Supplement

Discussion Questions and Bibliography for “Visions of the Sea in Early Japanese Literature”

The following questions can lead students into discussion and deeper analysis if they are given primary texts, such as plays or chapters from The Tale of Genji and/or The Tale of the Heike. 1. Questions of genre: In the West, we associate prose with factual accounts and poetry with the imaginary. What is gained or lost when the narratives The Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Heike interweave prose and poetry? Related bibliographic note: Translators need to address questions of genre, even...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Another Floating World: Maritime Japan through Woodblock Prints

Modern-day viewers can glimpse the maritime world of Edo period (1603–1867) Japan through the ubiquitous ukiyo-e, woodblock print. The majority of early woodblock prints were pictures of beautiful women often associated with the pleasure quarters and available for mass consumption. As printing techniques improved, artisans experimented with new perspectives, and subjects’ woodblock prints attained a higher status. Changes in society’s perception of actors, courtesans, and artists mirrored ...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Passing the Baton: World War II’s Asian Theater and the Coming of Age of the Aircraft Carrier

  Nowadays, when aircraft carriers rush to potential conflict arenas, we rarely question the supreme importance of this type of warship to major naval powers. Likewise, few would dispute the place of the present-day carrier as one of the ultimate symbols of naval dominance and national power—American power in particular. This type of warship is such a vital element in postwar American naval hegemony in Asia. Moreover, the carrier fleet maintained by the United States Navy (USN) is not ...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

The Saga of Manjirō

Editor’s Note: Readers who enjoy this article will be interested in Junya Nagakuni and Junji Kitadai’s Drifiting Toward the Southeast (Spinner Publications, 2003). The same waves wash the moles of the new-built Californian towns, but yesterday planted by  the recentest race of men, and lave the faded but still gorgeous skirts of Asiatic lands, older  than Abraham; while all between float milky-ways of coral isles, and low-flying, endless,  unknown archipelagoes, and impenetrable Japa...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Visions of the Sea in Early Japanese Literature

The sea has exerted a profound effect on virtually all Japanese culture including its literature. The six vignettes that follow are sketches drawn from a variety of texts and sources. Hopefully, they offer instructors and students some sense of the multileveled and diverse historical, political, mythical, and aesthetic impact of the ocean on people from long ago who visited and lived in the archipelago. The historical chronicles also include myths, poetry, and intense feelings. Early Japanese re...

Feature Article

Remonstrance: The Moral Imperative of the Chinese Scholar-Official

Editor’s Note: Readers interested in this article should be aware that a paperback edition of Henry Rosemont’s A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects (Palgrave Pivot, 2012) will soon be available. A review of the work appears on page 83 of Education About Asia 19, vol. 1 (Spring 2014). Introduction This essay will offer an approach that helps instructors of survey courses in world or Chinese history to introduce the concept of remonstrance—a key component of the training, motiv...