The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was a turnig point in modern world history. By defeating the allegedly mighty Russian army in a series of pitched battles during a conventional war, Japan was the first far-eastern country that had been accepted into the club of great powers. Moreover, the Russo-Japanese War was one of the first examples of modern warfare, not only because both sides employed modern weapons and tactics, but also because they fought under the glare of media lights. For this very reason, the Russo-Japanese War also represented a watershed in the European representations of Japan. During this war, Western public opinion became acquainted with a “warlike” image of Japan, which replaced those of an exotic but westernized country that characterized the imaginary of late 19th century. Taking into account the Western perception of modern Japan, historical research has so far focused on individual national contexts. I argue, rather, that the development of such an image of Japan was a European phenomenon at least, which should be analyzed through transnational lenses. In this paper, I present a comparative study on the newspaper account of the Russo-Japanese War in France, Germany, and Italy. The source selection tries to cover the whole political spectrum from socialist newspapers to nationalist ones. The aim of this study is to sketch the development of the image of Japan in each of these countries, as well as to stress both national differences and transnational analogies. Finally, I focus on the emergence of a popular discourse on Japan that, by meeting anti-modernist feelings of heterogeneous right political circles, stated the need for the renewal of traditions, the refusal of liberal modernity, the celebration of spiritual and soldierly virtues, the criticism towards pacifism and universalism, the importance of hierarchy and authority – an image of Japan that casted dark shadows on the European politics during the interwar period.

L’immagine europea del Giappone durante la guerra contro la Russia zarista Un confronto tra i casi francese, italiano e tedesco

Nicola Bassoni
2021-01-01

Abstract

The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was a turnig point in modern world history. By defeating the allegedly mighty Russian army in a series of pitched battles during a conventional war, Japan was the first far-eastern country that had been accepted into the club of great powers. Moreover, the Russo-Japanese War was one of the first examples of modern warfare, not only because both sides employed modern weapons and tactics, but also because they fought under the glare of media lights. For this very reason, the Russo-Japanese War also represented a watershed in the European representations of Japan. During this war, Western public opinion became acquainted with a “warlike” image of Japan, which replaced those of an exotic but westernized country that characterized the imaginary of late 19th century. Taking into account the Western perception of modern Japan, historical research has so far focused on individual national contexts. I argue, rather, that the development of such an image of Japan was a European phenomenon at least, which should be analyzed through transnational lenses. In this paper, I present a comparative study on the newspaper account of the Russo-Japanese War in France, Germany, and Italy. The source selection tries to cover the whole political spectrum from socialist newspapers to nationalist ones. The aim of this study is to sketch the development of the image of Japan in each of these countries, as well as to stress both national differences and transnational analogies. Finally, I focus on the emergence of a popular discourse on Japan that, by meeting anti-modernist feelings of heterogeneous right political circles, stated the need for the renewal of traditions, the refusal of liberal modernity, the celebration of spiritual and soldierly virtues, the criticism towards pacifism and universalism, the importance of hierarchy and authority – an image of Japan that casted dark shadows on the European politics during the interwar period.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5003198
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