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Research Activities > Team Research Projects > Tōzai bunmeiron: Theories of Japanese Uniqueness and the Idea of Japan as the Only Bridge Between East and West

Research Funds Misuse and Research Misconduct Measures

Team Research ProjectsFY 2018

Tōzai bunmeiron: Theories of Japanese Uniqueness and the Idea of Japan as the Only Bridge Between East and West


In modern and contemporary Japanese thought there is a strong tendency to place Japan in between East and West. Whereas geographically and in other ways there can be no doubt that the country belongs to the East, at the same time there is the proud notion that it is also the most successful disciple of the West. The conviction that it more than any other combines the best of East and West has frequently resulted in dreams of Japanese unicity. That conviction sustains the notion that because of its dual character Japan has been most qualified to act as a bridge and bring about mutual understanding between East and West. Especially at the time of the First World War dreams of unicity developed into delusions of superiority. The “Tōzai bunmeiron” (discourse on Eastern and Western civilizations) envisioned Japan as having been given the special mission of amalgamating the Eastern and Western civilizations, elevating them to a unified world civilization on a higher level, and taking upon itself the leadership of this new world civilization. Because of similarities with wartime propaganda, in which Japan positioned itself as the leader of Asia within the framework of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere and asserted its right to lead China and the others, the Tōzai bunmeiron term was shunned in the postwar period. The mindset of that discourse, however, has continued as before. This research group will analyze the long-term lineage, characteristics, and influence of this kind of thought in various fields.

Research Representative Dick Stegewerns 国際日本文化研究センター・外国人研究員
Team Researcher 細川 周平 国際日本文化研究センター・教授
John BREEN 国際日本文化研究センター・教授
楠 綾子 国際日本文化研究センター・准教授
瀧井 一博 国際日本文化研究センター・教授
松田 宏一郎 立教大学法学部・教授
奈良岡 聰智 京都大学法学研究科・教授
野島 陽子 東京大学文学部日本史学科・教授
中西 寛 京都大学公共政策大学院・教授
宇野田 尚哉 大阪大学大学院文学研究科・教授
米谷 匡史 東京外国語大学大学院総合国際学研究院・教授
山口 輝臣 東京大学大学院総合文化研究科・准教授
五百旗頭 薫 東京大学大学院法学政治学研究科・教授
福家 崇洋 京都大学人文科学研究所・准教授
伏見 岳人 東北大学法学部・准教授
Pekka Korhonen University of Jyväskylä、社会科学哲学研究所・教授
Torsten Weber ドイツ日本研究所・人文科学研究部部長