The Chinese History Podcast

Diplomacy, War, and Interstate Order in the Late 13th century East Asia: A Reconsideration of the Mongol Invasions of Japan

April 3, 2022

The two Mongol-Yuan invasions of Japan (1274 and 1281) were important events in Japanese history. The two typhoons that destroyed the Mongol fleet, known as "divine wind," (shinpū 神風, better known today as kamikaze) would forever be etched into Japanese historical memory, directly influencing the so-called kamikaze suicide bombers of World War II. Most scholarship on the topic has focused primarily on the military aspect, but before and after the invasions there was also an intense diplomatic effort behind the scenes involving the Mongol-Yuan, Kamakura Japan, and Koryŏ Korea in an attempt to integrate Japan peacefully into the Mongol world order. In this episode, Greg speaks to USC PhD candidate Lina Nie about her dissertation research on this diplomatic effort. Lina will share with us some new perspectives on why the Mongols wanted to engage and ultimately invade Japan, what the diplomatic negotiations can tell us about the interstate order of East Asia during that time, and how her research both complements existing scholarship and adds a new layer in our understanding of the Mongol invasions of Japan.


Lina Nie


Lina Nie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Southern California. She graduated from the Hong Kong University with double majors in Chinese History and Japanese Studies and received her MA from Harvard University. Her research interests are on maritime, diplomatic, military, and cultural exchanges among China, Korea, and Japan. She is also interested in global history and comparative history in a broader geographical context that goes beyond East Asia. Her Japanese article discussing the traditions of Japanese culture won the second runner-up in the annual essay contest held by the Japanese Consulate General in New England in 2017.

Greg Sattler


Gregory Sattler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on sea merchants in East Asia from the ninth to thirteenth centuries, with a particular consideration of their place in society, their trade networks, and their relationships with government officials. Gregory has recently published an article titled “The Ideological Underpinnings of Private Trade in East Asia, ca. 800–1127” (Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University 6) and he is currently working on two additional manuscripts. He has received degrees in Taiwan and Japan, and is a proficient speaker of both Chinese and Japanese.


Episode no. 10

Release date: April 3, 2022

Recording location: Los Angeles, CA


Bibliography courtesy of Lina Nie



Cover Image: The famous battle scene depicting the samurai Takezaki Suenaga escaping the Mongol forces. (Image Source)


Map of the two Mongol invasions. (Image Source)


A 1266 letter Khubilai sent to Japan. (Image Source)


Japanese samurai boarding a Yuan ship during the 1281 invasion. (Image Source)


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