On Tuesday, September 15th, the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*) hosted Dr. Ezra Vogel (Harvard University) for a webinar on postwar China-Japan relations as part of its “Japan Politics & Society” interdisciplinary public speaker series. The event was 21JPSI’s first-ever webinar, and the series started out with a bang—attracting an audience of nearly 170 active participants from all over the world (the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, the UK, etc), and more than 300 registrants. (To watch a recording of the event, please click here.)
In introducing Dr. Vogel, 21JPSI Director Liff referred to him as a “legend in the fields of both China studies and Japan studies, not only as a scholar and mentor to generations of students, but also as the former director of both Harvard’s Program on US-Japan Relations and its Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.” In addition to his scholarship, Dr. Vogel played a central role in founding both the National Committee on US-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program and the Mansfield Foundation’s US-Japan Network for the Future, and served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia at the U.S. National Intelligence Council (1993-1995). Currently, he is the Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard. He is the best-selling author of Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979), Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (2011), and most recently, China and Japan: Facing History (2019).
During Dr. Vogel’s opening remarks, which were based on his 2019 book, he discussed the vicissitudes of China-Japan relations since the end of World War II, including the establishment of informal trade between Japan and China before the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1972, warming relations from 1972-1992, and finally the deterioration of relations from 1992 to the present. Dr. Liff then engaged him in a spirited back and forth regarding the significance of (now resigned) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2012-2020) for the relationship, and asked what advice Dr. Vogel would offer to leaders in China, Japan, and the United States on how to improve the relationships among them in the years ahead. For the final 20 minutes of the session, Dr. Liff asked Dr. Vogel a series of questions sourced from among the nearly two-dozen submitted by audience members. In total, the spirited discussion and Q&A session lasted for roughly 30 minutes. (21JPSI would like to thank all participants for joining from around the world, and for their engaging questions for Dr. Vogel.)
Before beginning his lecture on China-Japan relations, Prof. Vogel paid tribute to George Wilson, former director of Indiana University’s East Asian Studies Center, and Herman B. Wells, former Indiana University president. “Of all the university presidents I have heard about, nobody, in a way, has had a longer, more dedicated, more interesting career than Herman Wells,” said Dr. Vogel. President Wells is well-known for his role in the post-WWII internationalization of IU and is often quoted for his mission of “bringing the world to Indiana and Indiana to the world.”
Dr. Vogel concluded the event by praising Indiana University for its significant investments in and large faculty with expertise in China and Japan (most of whom are now based in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global & International Studies), noting that “China and Japan are very well represented at Indiana University.” (Editor’s Note: IU’s robust East Asian Languages and Cultures department and one of the country’s largest coteries of experts focused on contemporary East Asian politics, society, and international affairs are expanding their ranks by two faculty in AY 2020-2021: Japan experts Drs. Hannah Airriess and Hilary Holbrow)
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty search; new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences and webinars on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to email@example.com