A new book edited by UCSB history professor
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa indicates that East Asia was a
“second front” of the Cold War — aside from the
conventionally recognized European Cold War front
— that was critical to third-world development.
The book, The Cold War in East Asia — 1945-
1991, explores how six nations — the United States,
Soviet Union, China, Japan and North and South
Korea — responded to Cold War tensions differently
from Europe. The text features perspectives from an
international collection of Cold War historians as well
as contributions from Hasegawa and contains archival
material in several languages. Hasegawa’s book also
questions whether the East Asian Cold War has ended,
and if so, when.
Salim Yaqub, director of the Center for Cold War
Studies and International History at UCSB, said
Hasegawa’s book correctly points out that a number of
wars began in East Asia, partly as outlets for Cold War
“East Asia was an arena where conflict could take
place without the U.S. or the Soviet Union coming into
direct conflict with one another,” Yaqub said. “They
were able to fight through proxies, which means that
the area was able to get much hotter.”
A colonial history also dominated Cold War politics
in East Asian countries, Hasegawa said.
“Another very important factor in East Asia is that
the Cold War was directly connected to decolonization,
which you did not see in the first front,” Hasegawa
Hasegawa claimed his publication is unique in that
it compiles historical information that until this point
only existed in separate texts.
“In the past there have been a number of books on
specific Cold War issues in Asia like China, Korea,
U.S. – Japanese relations,” said Hasegawa. “But there is
no single book to synthesize all of this.”
According to Hasegawa, he met a number of the
international contributors featured in his book during a
three-part conference series, “Reinterpreting the Cold
War in Asia,” held at UCSB between 2005 and 2007.
“We organized three conferences in 2005, 2006
and 2007, and we selected the best papers by leading
scholars in the field,” Hasegawa said. “There are
international contributors from Russia, from China,
two from Japan. These are the leading scholars on the
The conferences were hosted by the UCSB Center
for Cold War Studies and International History, which
works to promote comprehension of the Cold War,
according to Yaqub.
“The Center for Cold War Studies is designed to
promote an understanding of the significance of the
Cold War and other international issues,” said Yaqub.
“We put on events that help academics and the public
understand what the Cold War was all about.”