Ocean, Empire and Nation: Japanese fisheries politics

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Water, Sovereignty and Borders in Asia and Oceania, 2009, 1, pp. 38 - 49
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Water has been as important as land in Japanese senses of self and belonging in relation to place.' Scholar Amino Yoshihiko has proposed that ways of life revolving around the sea were at least as influential as wet rice agriculture in the historical development of Japanese cultures, and that Japanese people should be understood as being 'sea folk' (kaimin) (Amino 1994). Other scholars who have contributed to this field include Tanabe Satoru, who wrote of 'sea people' (kaijin), and proposes that the coastal peoples of Japan shared a common culture with coastal peoples in areas we now call China, Korea and Taiwan (Tanabe 1990; Habara 1949). This kaijin culture was based on shared experiences of lives lived on or ncar the sea, involving fishing, travel, trade and piracy. Marcia Yanemoto (1999) has written of Japanese imaginaries of the world in the Tokugawa era (1608-1868) through to the early modem era being made up of a 'complex web of regional and global connections' across the seas.
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