Noriko Kawamura, Washington State University
Chunling Peng, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
The goal of this roundtable is to reassess the significance of the 1919 moment from principally Japanese and Chinese perspectives. We do not discount or ignore the global influence of the war and peace in Europe, where Japanese and Chinese voices received limited hearing at Versailles and the Soviet Union was excluded from the world order defined by the League of Nations. Nor do we overlook the fact that 1919 was the year that the United States attained predominance in global affairs at the expense of the demise of Pax-Britannica. Nevertheless, we emphasize that events in East Asia, and the actions of Japanese and Chinese leaders and intellectuals, had their own internal dynamics that were not always dependent upon the decisions made in Europe and the United States. In addition, developments within East Asia during and immediately after 1919 re-shaped global balances of power, and the networks through which ideas and models circulated, in ways that were fundamental if not always immediately apparent. The participants will engage in conversation with each other, and with members of the audience, around common questions about the history and historiography of 1919 from the standpoints of Japanese and Chinese intellectuals, and Japan’s political and military leaders. Collectively, we will argue that these figures helped shape the inter-war world and defined their own realities within that context. In the process, they offered a significant and new challenge to European and American hegemony within the established international order.