China and Japan: Facing History. By Ezra F. Vogel. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019. x, 523 pp. ISBN: 9780674916579 (cloth)
Journal of Asian Studies
that persuasively shows the groundswell of enthusiasm for Nazism, Hitler, and the Third Reich among so many Japanese, to say that "ascertaining fascism in Japan is difficult" (p. 11) is a bit puzzling. In Law's view, however, in Japan we see the "domination of the military man over the civilian" (p. 10), quite unlike in Fascist Italy or in Nazi Germany. This line of argument rests on the assumption, unconvincing to my mind, that we can separate ideology and institutions, as well as culture and
... olitics; it also gives undue privilege to European models, something that a transnational approach is supposed to be more aware of. Besides, I am not persuaded by Law's contention that wartime Japan lacked a "mass movement" (what about mobilization for empire after 1931, Konoe's National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, and the patriotic women's associations?) and a "comprehensive ideology" (what about all the kokutai rhetoric and pan-Asianism?). Finally, some readers will ask why Law's analysis stops in 1936. True, the Anti-Comintern Pact marks an important convergence, and Law is on solid ground that it did not come out of thin air. But the two countries proceeded, even if often hesitantly, with their diplomatic rapprochement. Both regimes radicalized. How did cultural relations, such as the ones described in the book, evolve? Such questions, however, do not diminish the importance of this book. Transnational Nazism is undoubtedly a welcome and significant addition to the scholarship on interwar Japan, relations between Japan and Germany, and movement of political ideas of the Right.