China and Japan: Still at War

The cold but continuing conflict between China and Japan is the subject of sustained attention from scholars, says Jonathan Fenby.

Big tank battle (detail) Poster; Made in Shanghai. Ink and colour on paper © The Trustees of the British MuseumEast Asia, with a fifth of the world’s population, has developed faster than any other region in recent decades. Containing the second- and third-largest economies on earth in China and Japan, it holds the key to international growth at a time of sluggish performance in the West. Yet the region is deeply embedded in its past. History matters here, be it in China looking back to its imperial, Confucian past stretching over thousands of years, or in Japan’s celebration of the Meiji Restoration that propelled it to challenge the West in 20th-century wars and then to become a world leader in technology.

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