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How is it possible to write down the Japanese language exclusively in Chinese characters? And how are we then able to determine the language behind the veil of the Chinese script as Japanese? The history of writing in Japan presents us with a fascinating variety of writing styles ranging from phonography to morphography and all shades in between.
In Japanese Morphography: Deconstructing hentai kanbun, Gordian Schreiber shows that texts traditionally labelled as “hentai kanbun” or “variant Chinese” are, in fact, morphographically written Japanese texts instead and not just the result of an underdeveloped skill in Chinese. The study fosters our understanding of writing system typology beyond phonographic writing.
Editors / Translators: David Holm and Yuanyao Meng
This is an annotated edition of a traditional song text, written in the Zhuang character script. The Brigands’ Song is part of a living tradition, sung antiphonally by two male and two female singers. The song is probably unique in presenting the experiences of ordinary men and women during wartime in pre-modern China. The narrative relates how the men are sent off to war, fighting as native troops on behalf of the Chinese imperial armies. The song dates from the Ming dynasty and touches on many topics of historical significance, such as the use of firearms and other operational details.


This article assesses the Japanese diplomatic contribution through the prism of the Indochinese political situation in the early 1970s. The traditional literature depicts Japan’s non-existent proactivism in postwar foreign politics, based on its alleged unconditional dependence on Washington’s political agenda. However, throughout the 1970s there were occasions in which the country showed how it was independently engaged at a diplomatic level. This has often been overlooked by the literature produced in the field, but it is an irrefutable conclusion from the historical evidence and the analysis of the archival sources. Japan’s diplomatic commitment in solving the problem of peace in Cambodia, its double effort as a diplomatic intermediary between the political actors involved in the Indochinese issue and, at the same time, through the ODA policy, may offer the missing elements for a no longer univocal interpretation of its postwar diplomatic history—which is the aim of this essay.

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies