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Japanese cultural diplomacy in action: The Zenrin kyōkai in Inner Mongolia, 1933-45

Boyd, J.G. (2011) Japanese cultural diplomacy in action: The Zenrin kyōkai in Inner Mongolia, 1933-45. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 41 (2). pp. 266-288.

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In studies of Japanese "cultural diplomacy" between 1933 and 1945, the part played by the Zenrin kyōkai (Good Neighbour Association), a semi-official humanitarian organisation that provided medical assistance and educational opportunities to the Mongols and Hui (Han Chinese Muslims) living on the fringe of the Chinese Republic, has been largely overlooked. Dismissed by some as merely a front for intelligence-gathering operations, this article re-examines the operations of the Zenrin kyōkai, both in Inner Mongolia and in Japan, and argues that the relationship between it and the military was more complex than earlier studies have shown. In particular, the humanitarian activities of the Zenrin kyōkai went beyond military control and set the organisation apart from the other main agents of Japanese "cultural diplomacy" active in the region. Although not always successful in its attempts to woo the local population, the Zenrin kyōkai was a crucial instrument of the Japanese imperial project in the region and a reflexion of the complexity of that project.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: © 2011 Journal of Contemporary Asia
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