With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 and the 1931 Manchurian Incident, Japanese intellectuals and business leaders appealed to the language of self-determination and Pan-Asianism to advocate for domestic reform and imperial expansion. At the same time, Indian nationalists in Japan, such as Rash Behari Bose, Anand Mohan Sahay, Aiyappan-Pillai Madhavan Nair, and others, viewed the creation of Manchukuo in 1932 as evidence of Japanese sincerity toward Asian nationalism, as well as a model of development that India and Asia should follow. These invocations were used to legitimize their own nation-building projects and critique trends within the mainstream Indian nationalist movement. This article analyzes the encounters between Japan, India, and the Indian merchant diaspora in East Asia from 1931 to 1938. The author argues that Japanese Pan-Asianists as well as some Indian nationalists sought to legitimize their own national and transnational projects during this period by appealing to a common Asian civilization that was mediated through a politics of comparison and deflection. The article also demonstrates that comparisons often occluded the issue of imperial violence and revealed the limitations of accepting nationalism and the nation-state as the foundation of civilizational discourse and transnational community.


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pp. 548-587
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2020
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