Why are Japan and China perpetually at odds? In this talk, Christian Collet will discuss the growing role of public opinion in bilateral tensions and the conflicting images that are held by Chinese and Japanese of one another. While there has long been a mixture of affection, anger and rivalry at the diplomatic level, Collet will explain that the roots of contemporary discontent lie, in part, in contradistinctive citizen impressions: in China, perceptions of threat borne of history and new media; in Japan, discontent manifest in domestic political culture, including eroding trust and right-wing ideology. Collet will examine the potential of soft power for ameliorating the relationship, providing some evidence to suggest that pop cultural exchanges may have a desired impact on segments of both publics. But soft power can only go so far to soften a negative image; concerted efforts, Collet will argue, also need to be made by opinion leaders to reassure citizens and restore trust in governmental decision-making.
Christian Collet (PhD, University of California, Irvine) joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) during the 2012–13 academic year from International Christian University, Tokyo, where he serves as senior associate professor of American politics and international relations.
His research interests focus on public opinion in Asian Pacific/American contexts and the influence of race, ethnicity and nationalism on political mobilization. During his time at Shorenstein APARC, he is working on a project that uses comparative survey data to examine the dynamics of Japanese opinion toward domestic politics, China and Southeast Asia. He is also finishing up a project concerning the role of Vietnam in the political incorporation of first generation Vietnamese Americans. In 2004–05, he held a visiting appointment at Viet Nam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, under the U.S. Fulbright Program.
Collet's work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, The Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Japanese Journal of Political Science, PS, Amerasia Journal and Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts. He is the co-editor, with Pei-te Lien, of The Transnational Politics of Asian Americans (Temple University Press, 2009).