154 pages | 10 B/W Illus.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Japan has experienced a radical shift in its self-perception. After World War II, Japan embraced a peaceful and anti-militarist identity, which was based on its war-prohibiting Constitution and the foreign policy of the Yoshida doctrine. For most of the twentieth century, this identity was unusually stable. In the last couple of decades, however, Japan’s self-perception and foreign policy seem to have changed. Tokyo has conducted a number of foreign policy actions as well as symbolic internal gestures that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago and that symbolize a new and more confident Japan. Japanese politicians – including Prime Minister Abe Shinzō – have adopted a new discourse depicting pacifism as a hindrance, rather than asset, to Japan’s foreign policy. Does that mean that “Japan is back”?
In order to better understand the dynamics of contemporary Japan, Kolmaš joins up the dots between national identity theory and Japanese revisionism. The book shows that while political elites and a portion of the Japanese public call for re-articulation of Japan’s peaceful identity, there are still societal and institutional forces that prevent this change from entirely materializing.
Introduction: Changing Japan?
Chapter 1: National identity and the study of contemporary Japan
Chapter 2: Sedimentation of the pacifist identity
Chapter 3: Abe’s convictions and ideological background
Chapter 4: Deconstructing Abe’s narrative on constitution change, school education, security policy and regional leadership
Conclusion: A limited change for Japan
Asia’s dynamic economic growth during the past three decades has elevated the region’s significance in the global economy. The growing American economic linkage with the region has also elevated the region’s significance in U.S. foreign policy, as typified by President Obama’s "Rebalance to Asia" policy. While U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist outlook cast some doubt about the continuing U.S. engagement with the region, Asia’s growth has not only been an economic blessing, but also a potential destabilizing factor in regional security. The continuing isolation of North Korea and its development of weapons of mass destruction, China’s rapid military modernization and growing maritime ambitions, uncertainties about U.S. security commitment to the region, and responses of the major powers (like Japan, India, and Russia) have dynamically interacted to shape the transformation of regional security.
At the same time, economic growth has affected domestic socio-political balance in each country, and the growing economic linkages have also boosted transnational interactions between both legitimate and illegitimate societal actors; business alliances, human rights groups, environmentalist networks, and transnational criminals are some examples. These changes in governance in the region have offered a very important subject to study.
This series aims to cut across the arbitrary sub-regional focus of much of Asian Studies and to explicitly incorporate the role of the United States in the region. In order to capture the dynamic economic, political, social, and cultural transformation of the region, a broader geographical scope must be studied together in multi- and inter-disciplinary fashion. Topics covered will include international relations, comparative politics, history, popular culture, media, crime, urbanization and economic integration.