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Historical Memory And Shiba Ryōtarō: Remembering Russia, Creating Japan

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the historical narrative on Japan and Russia in the works of the novelist Shiba Ryotaro, whose writings have had unrivalled influence on the development of contemporary Japan's historical narrative. Shiba's literary accounts of Russian history and Russo-Japanese relations, just like other academic works on Russian national character that emerged in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s, have created a hierarchical relationship between the two national identities. Shiba explicitly stated that he does not have any prejudice or preconceptions related to Russia. Shiba's construction of Japan and Russia has been an integral part of the political discourse on bilateral relations during the Cold War, when the 'threat from the North' and the 'stolen territories' have been the main concepts that defined Japan's interactions with the Soviet Union. The Cold War ended more than a decade ago and Japan's interactions with post-communist Russia have become more complex and diversified.

Keywords: bilateral relations; Cold war; Japan; Russia; Shiba Ryōtarō; Soviet Union



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