Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The transwar romance of "Japan-China goodwill"

In contrast to the inverted gender-national relations depicted in the accounts of abducted women in Fuqing, the wartime imperial state worked to promote a popular cultural image of "Japan-China goodwill" in which a masculine Japan overcame the ill-founded resistance of a feminine China—often by slapping or otherwise manhandling her—to realize a true romance between nations and prevent its sabotage by communists/agents of foreign powers. The film Shina no yoru (1940) typifies this genre.

These desires for Japanese-Chinese goodwill and romance persisted across the 1945 divide. For example, "The Heroine of the East China Sea" (1959), a swashbuckling adventure about a Japanese naval officer and a Fujianese woman pirate chief who fall in love and escape to Japan in the chaos at the war's end, represented a similar effort to consummate the turbulent relationship on Japanese terms (Ambaras 2018, 211-13).

Such fantasies faded, however, with the rupture in Sino-Japanese relations and Japan's full integration into the US-dominated Pacific and Cold War regime. The ideational distance between the two countries was reinforced by modernization theory, which celebrated Japan's "successful" non-communist development in contrast to the chaotic failures of China's communist revolution.

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