While the modernization of Asia and Africa took place predominantly under the overwhelming Anglo-American influence, Korea, China and Japan stood out from other parts of Asia because they leaned toward the German model. The three countries established close relations irrespective of the great distance to Europe in the 19th and 20th century with Germany in the fields of (foreign) policies, military or the economy, but above all in the cultural field. This German-orientation shaped the modernization of these countries up until the late 20th century when the American influence became more predominant. Germany had a great influence on East Asia not only in science and technology but also on the arts.
The strength of “German Soft Power” is not consistent with the minimal politico-military and economic presence of Germany in the region. This inconsistency is the starting point for the question: Why and how did the East Asian affinity for Germany come about? Questions about the past always offer up clues as to how we should deal with current and future problems. Discussions at this conference will provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the global position of Germany in the 21st century, a time increasingly determined by how we maintain our own image on the international stage using cultural measures and the attractiveness of a country’s own cultural assets in comparison to other countries.