University Lecturer East Asia Studies
Casper Wits is a University Lecturer in the Institute for Area Studies. His research focuses on postwar diplomatic and international history in East Asia, with a special interest in the development of Chinese and Japanse foreign policy and Sino-Japanese relations in this period. He also takes an interest in contemporary EU policy towards the East Asian region.
Fields of interest
East Asian modern history and politics
International and Diplomatic History
Chinese foreign policy
Japanese foreign policy
My primary research interest is the postwar diplomatic and international history of East Asia, especially Sino-Japanese relations in this period. The overarching theme driving my research is an attempt to analyse the failure of reconciliation in the East Asian region, where the legacy of the Japanese empire and contested war memory continues to severely hamper interaction today. In my previous publications I have looked at the activities of Japan specialists in China and how they laid the foundations of Beijing’s Japan policy, as well as at the role of Japanese cultural figures and social movements in shaping the country’s relations with China. In my current research project I use the lens of journalism and media to dissect how postwar narratives about each other in Japan and China took shape in a manner that marginalised the voices of Japanese progressives as well as those of Chinese victims of Japanese imperial aggression, and how this has influenced the rapprochement process in a way that has precluded genuine reconciliation. Other research interests of mine are debates on China among Japanese conservatives; as well as the formation of EU policy towards East Asia.
Through my research I strive to gain new insight into the formation of China and Japan’s current state and international outlook. The troubled relations between Japan and its neighbours have hampered international relations in the region for decades, and with the rise of China this problem is set to become even more pressing. I believe that deepening our understanding of this issue is highly relevant for students and academics in Europe, due to the increasing economic and geopolitical importance of the East Asian region, as we grapple with the crucial question of how Europe should position itself vis-à-vis a rising East Asia in the future.
Before taking this position at Leiden University I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Tübingen. I received my PhD from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, in 2016, and before this completed my MA and undergraduate degree at Leiden University.
Teaching activities and supervision
I teach a variety of courses on the politics, international relations, and modern history of the East Asian region (China, Japan, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea). In the BA International Studies I teach the courses Politics: East Asia and History: East Asia. I welcome the supervision of BA and MA theses in subjects related to the politics and modern history of East Asia.
No relevant ancillary activities