Economic Dependence on Japan and China’s Response to Anti-Japan Demonstrations from 1985 to 2012

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It has been more than 50 years since Japan and China normalized their diplomatic relationship in 1972. Now, China and Japan are the world’s second and third-largest economies which play an essential role in the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region. However, until now, both countries have not realized a long-term stable relationship.
One of the serious challenges to improving the bilateral relationship is Chinese public sentiment toward Japan. After the normalization of diplomatic relations, there were several anti-Japan demonstrations in China:1985, 2005, and 2012. The 1985 case occurred in response to the Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Nakasone visited the Yasukuni Shrine. The 2005 case occurred in response to Japan’s bid for a permanent Security Council seat in the United Nations (UN). The 2012 case occurred in response to the “nationalization” of the Senkaku Islands by the Noda administration. In each case, there was Chinese public anger that affected both the Japanese and the Chinese governments. However, the actions of the Chinese government varied. Only in some cases did the Chinese government tolerate the demonstrations, and only in some cases did the CCP strategically use public sentiment to increase its domestic and diplomatic interests, once the anti-Japan demonstrations broke out. The question is why China responded differently.
While there have been a number of studies on these demonstrations, as I will discuss below, this thesis will try to shed additional light on why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted different attitudes towards anti-Japan protests over time. The central research question is under what circumstances does the CCP government repress or tolerate the anti-Japan protests.
In contrast to much of the existing on these protests, I will focus on China’s economic dependence on Japan, which has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. China, when the first anti-Japan demonstrations broke out in 1985 is very different from the one when the more recent demonstrations occurred in 2012. China went from being a poor developing country in 1978 to overtaking Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy in 2010. This change in economic status may be one possible reason why China’s reactions changed over time. I will examine whether the CCP’s management of the anti-Japan demonstrations over time is correlated with changes in the nature of China’s economic relationship with Japan.


Type of resource text
Date created June 9, 2023
Publication date June 9, 2023


Author Deguchi, Yoshiki
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Stanford Global Studies, Center for East Asian Studies
Thesis advisor Oi, Jean


Subject Anti-Japan demonstrations
Subject Japan-China relations
Subject Economic dependence
Subject 1985 to 2012
Genre Text
Genre Thesis

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Deguchi, Y. (2023). Economic Dependence on Japan and China’s Response to Anti-Japan Demonstrations from 1985 to 2012. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at


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