Current Institutional Affiliation
Editorial Director, Sidewalk Labs

Award Information

Abe Fellowship for Journalists 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Author, Simon & Schuster
The Modern Legacy of Okawa Shumei's Pan-Asianism

What is the legacy of World War II-era Pan-Asianism in Japan today, and how might it influence relations with both Asia and the West? The purpose of my proposed project is to examine these questions through the lens of Okawa Shumei, a popular prewar Pan-Asianist who was indicted at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal. Okawa's narrow views urged Japan to unite Asia against the West, and some experts believe this divisive type of Pan-Asianism continues to haunt Japan's involvement in East Asia and to hinder regional integration efforts. Raising familiarity with Okawa's ideas will increase recognition of the outdated East-against-West style of Pan-Asianism and shift the focus of regional policy dialogue toward constructive blends of East and West—a critical distinction as Japan plays an increasingly active role in the formation of Asian communities. Despite a growing interest in Pan-Asianism, most works on the topic are confined to academic circles. Using a general-interest approach, I will examine the evolution of Pan-Asianism, from its early espousal by Okawa Shumei to its current form, which sometimes echoes but often denies and transcends the older version. A heightened awareness of the problematic aspects of Okawa's Pan-Asianism—namely, its hostility toward the West as well as toward other East Asian nations—can help policy leaders craft regional programs that strike a balance between upholding Japanese interests and encouraging transnational cooperation. The overall goal of my proposed project is to inform a wide American public about a historical ideology that still influences Japanese policy.