Pan-Asianism (also known as Asianism or Greater Asianism) is an ideology aimed at creating a political and economic unity among Asian peoples. Various theories and movements of Pan-Asianism have been proposed, particularly from East, South and Southeast Asia. The motive for the movement was the values of Western imperialism and colonialism, and that Asian values preceded European values.[1]

Satellite photograph of Asia in orthographic projection.

Japanese AsianismEdit

Greater East Asia Conference in November 1943, the participants were (L–R): Ba Maw, representative of Burma, Zhang Jinghui, representative of Manchukuo, Wang Jingwei, representative of China, Hideki Tōjō, representative of Japan, Wan Waithayakon, representative of Thailand, José P. Laurel, representative of Philippines, Subhas Chandra Bose, representative of India

Pre-World War II Japanese Pan-Asianism was, at its core, the idea that Asia should unite against European imperialism.

Japanese Asianism developed in intertwining among debates on solidarity with Asian nations who were under pressure of Europe and on aggressive expansion to the Asian continent. The former debates originated from liberalism. Their ideologues were Tokichi Tarui (1850–1922) who argued for equal Japan-Korea unionization for cooperative defence against the European powers,[2] and Kentaro Oi (1843–1922) who attempted domestic constitutional government in Japan and reforms of Korea.[3] Pan-Asian thought in Japan began to develop in the late 19th century and was spurred on particularly following the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). This created interest from Indian poets Rabindranath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo and Chinese politician Sun Yat-sen.

Japanese Pan-Asian writer Shūmei Ōkawa

The growing official interest in broader Asian concerns was shown in the establishment of facilities for Indian Studies. In 1899, Tokyo Imperial University set up a chair in Sanskrit and Kawi, with a further chair in comparative religion being set up in 1903. In this environment, a number of Indian students came to Japan in the early twentieth century, founding the Oriental Youngmen's Association in 1900. Their anti-British political activity caused consternation to the Indian Government, following a report in the London Spectator.

However, Japanese society had been strongly inclined to ultranationalism from the Freedom and People's Rights Movement. The latter debates on aggressive expansionism to Asia became clearly apparent. Their representatives were the Black Ocean Society and the Black Dragon Society. The Black Dragon Society (1933) argued for Japanese imperialism and expansionism, and they led to a debate on securing the Asian continent under Japanese control. Exceptionally, Ryōhei Uchida (1874–1937), who was a member of the Black Dragon Society, was a Japan-Korea unionist and activist of Philippines and Chinese revolutions.

Tōten Miyazaki (1870–1922) consistently supported a Chinese revolution of Sun Yat-sen with spiritual sacrifice and sympathy under imperial Japan. Okakura Kakuzō (1862–1913) criticized European imperialism as a destroyer of human beauty, and argued for romantic solidarity with diverse "Asia as one" against European civilization.

ASIA is one. The Himalayas divide, only to accentuate, two mighty civilisations, the Chinese with its communism of Confucius, and the Indian with its individualism of the Vedas. But not even the snowy barriers can interrupt for one moment that broad expanse of love for the Ultimate and Universal, which is the common thought-inheritance of every Asiatic race, enabling them to produce all the great religions of the world, and distinguishing them from those maritime peoples of the Mediterranean and the Baltic, who love to dwell on the Particular, and to search out the means, not the end, of life.[4]

In this Okakura was utilising the Japanese concept of sangoku, which existed in Japanese culture before the concept of Asia became popularised. Sangoku literally means the "three countries": Honshu (the largest island of Japan), Kara (China) and Tenjiku (India).[5]

However, most Pan-Asianists were nationalistic and imperialistic and were connected with rightist[clarification needed] organizations. They discussed self-righteous solidarity which led to ideology such as a "new order" of East Asia and "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" based on Japanese supremacy.

New Greater Asianism from ChinaEdit

From a Chinese perspective, Japanese Asianism was interpreted as a rationalized ideology for Japanese military aggression and political absorption (cf. Twenty-One Demands). In 1917, Li Dazhao (1889–1927) argued for the liberation of Asian nations and equal greater Asian union. In 1924, Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925) stated that the West was hegemonic and the East was Confucian, and he argued for full independence by resisting colonialism with "Greater Asianism" which unified Asian nations.[6]

Early period of Pan-AsianismEdit

More significant and successful spread of Pan-Asianism than Japan's period in World War II was seen during the reign of Genghis Khan (Temuchin)..[7] At the beginning of the 13th century, Genghis Khan wanted to unite all the tribes in Central Asia (especially the nomadic tribes) and unite them into a single nation and gather the Mongolian political identity under the same roof.[8] and established the world's largest contiguous empire.[9]

Turkish Pan-AsianismEdit

Pan-Asianism in Turkey has not yet been fully explored,[10] it is not known how many people hold this ideology and how widespread it is. However, Turks who supports Japan in the Second World War and has the Pan-Asianism ideology uses a redesigned Turkish flag based on Japan's flag in the Second World War.[11][12]

Pan-Asianism post World War IIEdit

Political leaders from Sun Yat-sen in the 1910s and 20s to Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s argue that the political models and ideologies of Europe lack values and concepts found in Asian societies and philosophies. European values such as individual rights and freedoms would not be suited for Asian societies in this extreme formulation of Pan-Asianism.[citation needed]

The idea of "Asian values" is somewhat of

a resurgence of Pan-Asianism. One foremost enthusiast of the idea was the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. In India, Ram Manohar Lohia dreamed of a united socialist Asia.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian Identity and Solidarity, 1850–Present". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Archived from the original on 20 March 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  2. ^ Tarui, Tokichi (1893) Daito Gappo-ron
  3. ^ See Osaka Incident of 1885.
  4. ^ Okakura, Tenshin (1904) Ideal of the East
  5. ^ Bialock, David T. (February 2007). Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from The Chronicles of Japan to The Tale of the Heike. Stanford University Press. p. 186. ISBN 9780804767644.
  6. ^ 1924 speech on Greater Asianism
  7. ^ "Cengiz Han Türk mü? Cengiz Han kimdir? Cengiz Han Türk müdür?". Haberler (in Turkish). 13 September 2021. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  8. ^ "Genghis Khan: the Mongol warlord who almost conquered the world". Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Genghis Khan | Biography, Conquests, Achievements, & Facts". Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  10. ^ "pan-Asianism | Insight Turkey". Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  11. ^ Telli̇el, Yunus Doğan (1 June 2011). "Cemil Aydın, The Politics of Anti- Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-İslamic and Pan-Asian Thought". Osmanlı Araştırmaları (Ottoman Studies) (in Turkish). 37 (37): 249–253. ISSN 0255-0636. Archived from the original on 21 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Ötüken Kitap | Panislamizmden Büyük Asyacılığa A. Merthan Dündar". (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  • Chen, Jian (1994). China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-10025-0.


Further readingEdit