Japan's incursion into Southeast Asia at the start of the Pacific War was largely directly at Indonesia, but it followed more than a decade of debate about the significance of Southeast Asia to Japan's future.
One of a very small number of scholars able to examine this process using both Japanese and Indonesian sources, Ken'ichi Goto marshals a vast array of materials to examine the thinking of key figures in both territories as the region moved toward war.
On the Japanese side, the country was shifting away from the Western orientation adopted at the time of the Meiji Restoration and, as the title indicates, ""Returning to Asia."" On the Indonesian side, youthful nationalists were seeking freedom from colonial rule and beyond that attempting to shape the future of their country. Ken'ichi Goto examines the experiences of Indonesian students and nationalist leaders who lived in or visited Japan and of Japanese civilians and military figures who lived in and or visited Indonesia during the 1930s and early 1940s, based on memoirs, diaries and interviews.
The result is a penetrating account of an evolving and many-faceted relationship with broad implications for future relations between two major Asian powers that provides deep insights into the thinking on both sides.