Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 February 2009
The relationship between China and Japan is a many-layered cake, impossible to eat all at once. This article will concentrate on the diplomatic layer of the relationship. Diplomatic history is essentially about the decisions of governments and the documents that are subsequently exchanged. Each of these aspects has its difficulties for the historian of East Asia. For substantial parts of the period under review “government” in a western sense hardly existed in China, while in Japan even the considered decisions of the government in Tokyo frequently failed to reflect the situation on the ground. In Japan's relations with China there was often a dual – if not a multiple – diplomacy at work where the army (among others) had an independent hand in fashioning “policy.”
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