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Webinar: Beyond the Trappings of State Animosities: Sino-Japanese Civil Society Cooperation in the 21st Century

January 28, 2021 - 11:00-13:00

Webinar organized by CEAS with Kamila Szczepanska (CEAS, University of Turku, Finland) and Anna Caspari (POA, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany)

Abstract: Whereas the official relationship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China has always been marked by tensions in multiple fields, in the background of high-level politics the contacts and exchanges between civil society actors have grown steadily. This presentation aims to illuminate further the matter of collaboration between civil society actors from mainland China and Japan, with a special focus on cooperation between civil society organisations (CSOs) and the obstacles they encounter when attempting to pursue joint initiatives. In doing so we utilise perspectives and concepts from Social Movement Theories focusing on political opportunity structure and resources to analyse the performance of civil society actors and their collaborative initiatives among each other. The presentation first explores the nature and characteristics of cooperation between Chinese and Japanese civil society actors by analysing greening and anti-desertification initiatives conducted by Japanese CSOs in mainland China. We take a special note of the extent to which Chinese CSOs, either officially sanctioned (i.e. including government-organised NGOs or GONGOs), or grassroots actors without a proper legal status, were involved in greening projects pursued by Japanese organisations. And second, drawing on evidence from joint symposiums devoted to fostering Sino-Japanese CSO cooperation organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and its Chinese partners, we elucidate the challenges inherent in facilitating closer cooperation between Japanese and Chinese CSOs. Here, we put emphasis on investigating the significance of inhospitable and opaque legal frameworks for CSOs in China, and the relative scarcity of resources in Japanese CSOs, as a hindrance for establishing collaborative relationships.


Kamila Szczepanska is a University Lecturer at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku, Finland. She holds a joint PhD from the University of Sheffield (UK) and the Tohoku University (Japan). Her research interests include Japanese and East Asian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in regional/global governance, civil society and social movements in Japan, and the ‘history issue’ in East Asia.


Anna Caspari studied East Asian Economics and Politics at Ruhr University Bochum and completed her Master’s degree in 2015. Since 2016 she has been a lecturer in the Department of East Asian Politics at Bochum’s Faculty of East Asian Studies while working on her dissertation on civil society in China. Her research interests include Chinese and Taiwanese politics with a focus on civil society and social movements.



To receive a Zoom link by email prior to the event, please contact Kamila Szczepanska (kamila.szczepanska@utu.fi). We hope to see you there!

Please note the time is 11:00-13:00 CET/12:00-14:00 EET

Webinar: Beyond the Trappings of State Animosities: Sino-Japanese Civil Society Cooperation in the 21st Century


January 28, 2021


CEAS: Center for East Asian Studies, University of Turku