Greater Self-Assertion and Nationalism in Japan

Kazuhiko Togo


Out of the deep spiritual vacuum from defeat in the Second World War, two fundamental rifts emerged in Japan. First, on the foreign policy front, the realism embraced by the conservative government was opposed by strong idealistic pacifism advocated by opposition parties and media, and this rift continued until the end of the Cold War. Second, with regard to the war in Asia, the Japanese gradually learned of atrocities committed, for which Japan owed an apology. However, views prevailing at the time to totally reject the past caused discomfort aming many Japanese, and the issue of lost identity was left unanswered during the Cold War. When the Cold War ended, Japan began to move towords a more responsible and self-assertive security and defence policy. A series of initiatives toward clearer apology and reconciliation were confronted by a strengthened nationalism, and the issue of lost identity remained unresolved at the end of the 1990s. Koizumi has done well to implement a more responsible, proactive, realistic and self-assertive security and defence policy; moreover relations with the US have been considerably strengthened. But in East Asia, the issue of lost identity has reappeared and foreign policy towards Russia, Korea and China has resulted in a hardning of Japan's position in the region. Japan needs to have the courage to overcome this unresolved issue, while other countries' greater understanding of Japan's move toward a re-established identity will facilitate this process. Genuine dialogue is needed on all fronts.

Full Text:



Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
ISSN (print): 1395-4199, ISSN (online): 2246-2163

Hosted by CBS Library