Russia and Japan in Embrace of Space and Time

Meshcheryakov A.N.,

Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Professor, Russian State Humanitarian University and Russian Academy of Economics and Government under the President of Russia,

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2016.03.13
For citation:

Meshcheryakov A.N. Russia and Japan in Embrace of Space and Time. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No. 3. P. 160-172. (In Russ.).


A Japanologist with encyclopedic worldview reflects on a monograph ‘Russia-Japan Relations. Parallel History’ summarizing the results of three-year project carried out by an international team headed by Anatoly Torkunov and Makoto Iokibe on parallel history of Russia and Japan. The study showed that Russian-Japanese relations were the product of general historical development trajectory. At the beginning of the modernization process (second half of 19th century), both countries belonged to the group of countries with “catching-up” modernization pattern. In the course of modernization, in both countries, the political landscape of the world has been radically revised. This is evident from totally transformed concept of chronotope. In Japan, the beginning of the revision process dates back to the Meiji period, in Russia, the most noticeable changes occur as the result of the second revolution of 1917: the “pre-revolution” period was declared defective, “post-revolutionary” period was acknowledged to become the “beginning of a new era.” However, in spite of the change of the ruling elite, notions of public space have not undergone radical changes. After searching of the first post-revolutionary years, concern about the “gathering lands” and expansion (both in the form of a direct connection, or in the form of the creation of buffer zones) again became one of the main priorities of the Soviet state.

As for Japan, the reforms there were interpreted as a return to the ideal standards of antiquity. The spatial concept has been revised: instead of the previous closed public space appeared the idea of expanding space. As in Japan, and the Soviet leadership put utopian goal, which led to the dominance of force in politics, the primacy of metaphoric (poetic) language description, pragmatic deficit, lowering the competence and efficiency of decisions. Both countries have positioned themselves as the bearers of “light,” which should be translated to the external world using coercive methods. In this regard, the metaphor of the “struggle” belonged to a prominent place in the linguistic picture of the world. A characteristic feature of the political culture of the two countries was the anthropomorphism of the state. In Japan, it took the form of kokutai (“state body”). In the USSR, the state inevitably was displayed by Stalin’s figure. In both countries, the State appealed to human emotions. One of the key emotions was a sort of “being insulted” by the outer world. 

Russia (USSR); Japan; parallel history; bilateral relations; chronotope; anthropomorphic state; metaphor of “light”; “fight” metaphor.

Content No. 3, 2016

See also:

Pecherskaya N.V.,
To Know or to Call: Metaphor as Cognitive Resource of Social Knowledge. – Polis. Political Studies. 2004. No2

Nezhdanov D.V., Rusakova O.F.,
«Political market» as system-forming metaphor of modern political-science discourse. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No4

Virtual workshop: metaphor in modern political discourse. – Polis. Political Studies. 2006. No5

Solovyov A.I.,
Transcellular Structures as Form of Construction and Source of Self-Development of the State. – Polis. Political Studies. 2006. No6

Round Table of the «Polis» Journal, Streltsov D.V., Chugrov S.V., Karelova L.B., Oznobishchev S.K.,
Russia and Japan. Part II. View from Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No1



Introducing an article

Polis. Political Studies
1 2017

Krasin Yu.A.
Majesty and Tragedy of the Soviet "Experiment"

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