Free Japanese Nationalism Essay Sample

The growing nationalism of Japan is occasioned by the nation’s desire to develop a more autonomous foreign policy and to enhance its military power. Many people in Japan are committed to realize the return of the ever powerful Japan in the past.  Fomenting nationalism among the people of Japan is considered to be a very vital development increasing the support for a well-built military.  Even though in the past such degrees of nationalism would be restricted, based on the nation’s recognition of its fierce expansion throughout East Asia in the early 20th century, in modern times, the society of Japan has seen a lot of changes. The memory of the actions of Japan prior to and after the WWII is slowly fading away (Dower, 1999). Compared to Japan, China is experiencing a dramatic increase in its power. The difficulties experienced by the United States in Iraq have diminished any hopes that Washington will get involved in completely defending Japan in the event of any conflict with China.

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As a result of the scenario mentioned above, there is an emerging segment of the political elite in Japan that has been stoking the nationalism of Japan in an effort to develop the societal conditions favorable for the growth of the military. Tokyo has put forward a claim for a sequence of islands chains, like Tokdo Takeshima islands. Tokdo Takeshima islands are currently occupied and held by South Korea. Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, on the other hand, are held by Japan despite the contest arising from Taiwan and China. Moreover, Tokyo has opposed international pressure to incorporate a lot of its militant WWII-period past in its history books.   For instance, a recently approved history textbook by the Ministry of Education of Japan has found a major use because of omitting the strained seizure of 100,000 to 200,000 "comfort women".  These women were utilized as sex slaves and prostitutes for troops of Japan. Other issues included the use of forced labor and the failure of the textbook to talk about the details of the military actions of Japan in Nanjing, China. During this time, thousands of Chinese prisoners of war and civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers in 1937 (Hobsbawm, 1992).

The Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform was the organization that authored and published the contentious textbooks. The organization comprised of nationalist academics who were mainly concerned with the severe state of Japanese education in pre-historic times. The vice head of the organization, Nobukatsu Fujioka, gives an explanation that Japan is presently educating children making use of unsubstantiated enemy and wartime propaganda.  The main issue of concern was that it would be disturbing for Japanese children to realize that the Japanese ancestors were deadly monsters. In actual sense, there is no proof that the war crimes of Japan were any worse than the crimes committed by other nations in war (Shirane and Tomi, 2001).

Concerning the “comfort women,” Fujioka reiterated that prostitution is ideally a tragedy, although, there is no proof to show that the women were coerced into prostitution by Japan’s military forces.  If this was the case, the arrogant Koreans would have been very much irritated to the point of killing all Japanese regardless of the repercussions.  The neighbors of Japan are very sensitive to the history of Japan. Based on this, the endorsement of the former statements by Tokyo is likely going to lead to anti-Japanese nationalism in the nations that were affected by the early 20th century Japan expansion which was a development that is even evident up to modern times. The demand of South Korea and China to have Tokyo incorporate such kind of information in the textbooks has been opposed by political elite of Japan as being anti-Japanese rhetoric, which consequently ignites the nationalism of Japan moving the masses further in supporting rearmament, as well as a nationalist overseas strategy. Fujioka asserts that many people share Japanese resistance with putting self-hatred in the children of Japan (Harootunian, 2000).

Exploring Japanese nationalism with an audience from the West would require the examination of a number of premises. In matters of language, Japanese applies three words, nationality, nation and people without making a clear cut between them (Shirane and Tomi, 2001).  For instance, the Japanese constitution provides that the law shall determine the conditions under which a person can become a Japanese national. Japan happens to be one of the few nations of ancient times with an almost homogenous population. Modernization has significantly played a role in the nationalism of Japan. Modernization is dated back to 1869 with the inauguration of the “Meiji Restoration”. Before that time, the policy of the government of Japan was to deter the entrance and influence of the rest of other nations.  However, the Opium War of Britain against the United States and China put pressure on Japan. Japan was, thus, forced to leave its policy of isolation and start the formation of the modern nation (Hobsbawm, 1992).

Later on, Japan started to adopt more developed systems from the United States and Europe.  One of the systems was the sovereignty concept and the nature of Government as evident in the Prussian Empire that was characterized with the establishment of a state that was highly centralized. Previously, Japan was a kind of federal state with its basic unit of organization being the feudal relations. Consequently, Japanese got a more clear awareness of themselves and they started to regard themselves as Japanese. This was a clear indication that they now stopped seeing themselves as citizens belonging to a clan. They were now members of a big Japanese nation (Hein and Selden, 2000).

Following the events mentioned above, the desirable political model became one of the rescues of Japan from Asia for both, political leaders and powerful intellectuals, hence, became part of Europe. All the same, this was not an indication that Japan was completely westernized. The main agenda was to study the Western system of politics and technology. There was a suppressed awareness amongst the people of Japan that they were not like the Europeans. All the same, the Japanese regarded themselves as superior in spiritual and cultural matters to the rest of the world. From ancient times, the culture of Japan was greatly influenced by the culture of China and Korea. However, with the Meiji Restoration, the nation started to feel that Korea and China were inferior in matters of culture. They depicted this by detaching themselves from Asian nations. Japan adopted imperialism unconditionally in the 1930s and invaded some Asian countries in what was seen as a move to liberate the people of Asia from the powers of the West. The WWII in the Pacific between the United States and Japan was described as a racial war that was remorseless (Connor, 1994). 

Generally, Japanese nationalism that existed before 1945 was really ambivalent and unstable. This also formed within a very short time period between the Western nations’ threat and superiority notion towards the nations of Asia. The conservative leadership in politics and many Japanese during the WWII were convinced that the 1945 defeat of Japan was linked to power insufficiency, in particular, to the military power. Masao Maruyama was one of the main leaders of politics in Japan. Masao alleged the defeat to a system of politics founded on the emperor system, and even though the theory was very much influential amongst many intellectuals during the time, it was not an opinion shared by the Japanese majority. Many Japanese supported the demilitarization policies and the democratization process that was put forward through the General Headquarters (GHQ). This was occasioned by people who were exhausted by the 15 years period of war that started with the antagonism on Manchuria. The people anticipated freedom from authoritarianism and militarism (Takemae, 2002).

The GHQ carried out its occupation through the Japanese government and the emperor. Emperor Hirohito and the traditional government did not resist the policies of GHQ/SCAP regarding democratization and demilitarization. However, it cannot be said that their support was fully given. For instance, the once a time Prime Minister Shigeru who was a very close partner to MacArthur in the government of Japan is a testimony to this. History has Yoshida as the greatest politician of postwar Japan. Yoshida cooperated with the policy of occupation, even though he cracked a joke with the GHQ acronym telling the masses that it meant “Go home quickly”. This, however, indicated how much he cared about the democratization of GHQ/SCAP. The Japanese had some particular feeling towards the United States concerning the promulgated constitution at the start of the occupation and the security and peace treaties that were sealed towards the end of the occupation (Takemae, 2002).

During the initial months of the occupation, SCAP recommended to the government of Japan to write up a fresh constitution. The government developed a draft that was just a broad revision of the Meiji constitution. SCAP declined to take on the draft and, according to them, it was merely too conservative. The revision by the government alleged that the sovereignty of the nation is with the emperor and it also diverged little with what was guaranteed in the Meiji constitution pertinent to human rights as would be provided inside the scope of law. This evidently shows that the government of Japan had no idea that the defeat of Japan in war was mainly occasioned by the nature of their political system (Hein and Selden, 2000).

As a result, General MacArthur decided that the government of Japan was not in a position to draft a modern constitution and he went further to order the SCAP Government Section surreptitiously draft a constitution. On this occasion, the draft proposal was not merely an outline. It was a conclusive text of a constitution. This was what was given over to the government of Japan. This was a shocking event because what the GHQ presented to the government of Japan was beyond expectation. For the conventional government during that time, the fact that the constitution of the nation was to be formed by foreigners was a great insult, despite Japan’s position of being under occupation (Takemae, 2002).

A decree was made to GHQ/SCAP not to make the document public. Therefore, the fact that the GHQ/SCAP had drafted the Japanese constitution was a secret for a long time until the occupation was over in Japan. The particulars were published after the occupation came to an end through the people involved in the negotiations with the General Headquarters. To make these facts widely known, the conventional government alleged that the constitution was enforced on them by SCAP. The need to revise the constitution has been argued up to modern times by the government based on the assertion that the constitution was forced on Japan. Nevertheless, no revision of the kind has been effected, since the conventional advocacy of the revision is one of sustaining the self-defense power of the military, empowering the emperor’s authority and infringing the human rights. It is normally thought that what was advocated for revision is anti-GHQ or, in other words, anti-American, although, they continue to be the most pro-American forces of Japan (Takemae, 2002). This is the gateway to the nationalism riddle pertinent to the United States on the part of the Japanese conventional powers (Harootunian, 2000).

The House of Representative and the House of Peers were the bicameral governmental bodies according to the Meiji Constitution. These two bodies were the ones that were responsible for deliberations on the constitution of the pos-twar Japan. After the constitution was adopted by the Representatives, no Conservative stood against it. The opposition only came from eight people of the Communist Party. The idea that the constitution was forced on the Japanese defeated the principle of the constitution. It was the second conquer in war.  Nevertheless, the conservative government was debased by the United States’ power. Therefore, while talking to Japanese, it would be said that the constitution was forced on them. However, the case would be different when talking to Americans.

From the year 1960, Japanese leaders in politics have been very much pro-American because of the Japan-US security treaty. This was the foundation of the ties between Japan and the United States after the end of WWII (Dower, 1999). This was from the time of great economic expansion in the 1960s. The security treaty is regarded as a treaty of the military. Definitely, this is very true. However, the background from which the treaty was established and the reference that the treaty makes for the post-war times of Japan is something bigger than just being military treaty. The security treaty was founded in 1951 with the United States as the core entity and as the mutual package with the peace agreement. A new government had been founded in China. At the same time, the Cold War was still underway and the Korean War had already begun. In an effort to deter the Soviet Union expansion into Asia, the United States came up with a policy prioritized towards Japan on the recovery of economy, remilitarization and reconstruction. The treaty of peace does not mention any of the responsibilities of Japan in contributing to the emergence of the WWII. All the same, it additionally gives a determination of the fact that the Allied Powers are unlikely to make any request for indemnification of the loss that was realized for the duration of the war with Japan (Connor, 1994).

Despite all these occurrences, the security treaty expects Japan to recognize the stationing of the forces of America in Japan and Japan’s remilitarization.  From the adoption of the security agreement up to the 1960s, an opposition revolution against it and naval installations, as well as US military, became stoutly established. The United States military and installations of the navy movements of opposition continued to be established. The movement was put together by the labor unions, students and socialist political parties.  Based on the US-Japan security agreement, the status of the US-Japan agreement forces was culminated which determined that the armed forces of the US may be stationed within the land of Japan, and no change has been realized in this agreement from 1951. Most of the current installations of the United States are intense in Okinawa, quite a distance detached from the major islands of Japan.

There have been continued crimes by the United States. For instance, a marine raped a Japanese girl in 1995. The status of Forces treaty dictates that when a member of the United States military forces commits a felony off the installation, the police on Japan side are expected to arrest that individual. At the same time, the individual cannot be interrogated or detained by the Japanese police. As provided in Japanese nationalism, the Japanese police are expected to hand the criminal over to the military police of the United States. The Okinawa region has been tirelessly working on the federal government to have such regulations revised, although, the federal government has put up positive moves in respect to that.

On the contrary, the many compensation agreements culminated with Asian countries towards the end of 1950s. This largely contributed to the economic recovery of Japan. Both the Japanese political leaders and the Japanese people have expressed their support for the political system that was developed through the security agreement.  The then Prime Minister in the 1970s, Takeo Fukuda, alleged that the prosperity of Japan was realized through US-Japan agreement. The peace agreement between the Allied Powers and Japan does not touch on the responsibilities of Japan for the WWII and the fact that it did not acknowledge the demand for compensation has basically been the cause for a great discouragement from the Pacific and Asian nations. Indonesia and Philippines signed the agreement, although, ratification was not effected by the legislatures in both countries. This is one of the reasons as to why the Japanese nationalism has largely differed from that of the other nations (Dower, 1999).

The Philippines did not approve until a voluntary compensation treaty was signed in 1956. For Indonesia, it was not until 1959 when it signed a similar treaty with Japan. Both, North and South Korea did not sign the peace agreement as they were liberated countries and did not form part of the Allied Powers.  The “roving ambassador” of the United States, John Foster Dulles, who would later become the state secretary after the two years suggested to Yoshida that South Korea should be pointed out as a concerned nation. However, Yoshida rejected the idea. The normalization of the affairs between Japan and South Korea did not occur awaiting the year 1964, when the two nations brought to the conclusion the Japan-ROK Basic Agreement with the Korea Republic.

The China Republic and the Soviet Union were not called to the treaty meeting. The United States was the nation that came up with the idea that Japan would not be expected to recognize the responsibility for the WWII and that it would not be required to pay up any reimbursements. The Philippines, for instance, expected Japan to pay up $8 billion dollars in compensation, but Dulles rejected the demand by President Quirino and alleged that the efforts of the United States in the process of rehabilitating Japan were not occasioned by the love towards Japan, but instead, as a result of the belief that a healthy and stable Japan would be the desire of everyone in that region. According to Dulles, Japan was one of the main areas that the Communists desired and that if the manpower resources and industrial potential of Japan were included to the Chinese and Soviet Communists, the Philippines would be in a great danger. This was the theory of the Cold War (Hein and Selden, 2000).

The United States had singled out Japan as a link in the war against Communism. This later resulted in the Japan-Philippines Reparation Agreement of 1956. In this agreement, 800 millions dollars reparation was given, which was only 10% of the request made by the Philippines. Agreements of the similar kind came to an end by mid 1960s with other nations from Asia like Burma, South Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines as well. After the peace agreement denied other nations the right to get compensation from Japan, Japan made a lot of profit. During that time, Yoshida accepted the treaty due to its non-punitive nature. However, Japan lost any opportunity of having friendly relations with other Asian nations.  Despite that, what turned out to be more serious is that the parties that were in opposition and the intellectuals had no concern in the responsibility of Japan in WWII and the relations with Asia.

When the Diet was discussing the compensation pact with Philippines, one of the parties that were in opposition, the Social Democratic Party, declared that it was a set back, because the reimbursements would be a burden on the taxpayers. The concept of delineating Japan from Asia and, thereby, making it a part of Europe was very much alive and well following the post-war democratization. That was not the end. The Cold War policies compelled Japanese perceive reality from either the standpoint of the USSR or that of the United States. This peace treaty left Japan in the camp of the United States. Thus, the group that was against this camp showed great interest in the idea that a peace agreement with the Soviet Union had not yet been effected. This made them lack any concern with the Asian nations. What is even of the greater significance is the perspective they had lost on the human rights of all individuals who formed part of the nation (Harootunian, 2000).

After signing of the Basic Relations agreement between Korea and Japan in 1964, many people were opposed to it in both nations. Some were opposed to it because of the clause that declared that the Korean Republic Government was the only legitimate Government in Korea as pointed out in the Resolution 195 (III) of the United Nations General Assembly. Even towards the end of the 1960s, there was no decisive perception in Japan that an agreement had yet to agree on the responsibilities towards the victims of Japan in WWII. Most of the Asian nations during that time were governed by military dictatorships. This is mainly the reason why the people who were guided by democracy and reforms in Japan stood in opposition to the better relations with such kind of dictatorship. However, the most important thing to note is the fact that the Japanese did not see the situation from the side of taking care of the human rights beyond the a nation’s structures (Hein and Selden, 2000).

The democratization of the nations in Asia in the 1980s made victims of WWII in Asia appeal to Japan to restore the human rights violation that were perpetrated on them during that war time. These are the earlier aforementioned “comfort women” who were compelled to prostitution for the sake of the Japanese navy and army and the war prisoners who were brutalized and put under slavery. All the same, the government of Japan endeavored to find a solution to this matter. The Japanese people, on the other hand, did not have any interest and concern in the issue as they had no chance to learn and to think about their responsibilities for the WWII. If the people of Japan could have won over their nationalistic sense towards Asia, which came about during the modernization process, they could have been in a position to have a view on human rights that would make them deal with the problem as human beings in a manner that surpassed nation. In this regard, it is a very significant event for the modern history of Japan that the citizen movement groups of Japan have propagated their activities in support of Asian victims to date from the 1980s, even though they did not have an idea of the Japan prior to this time (Harootunian, 2000).

Currently, Japan is speedily building a legal system of military. The nationalistic sense of Japan is rising, specifically, towards North Korea. This nationalism is somehow different from that which was experienced before 1945 that centered on arms. Under the Japan-US security administration, there is no objective of implementing armed force against the West, specifically, the United States and Europe. One thing that Japan apparently learnt from the WWII was the need to cooperate with the United States. Nevertheless, instead of being the sense common to the people of Japan, it is a turn of phrase of the lessons learnt through the people in power who consider that it was the United States’ power that defeated them in WWII. Therefore, since then, Japan has become a chief economic power during the 1980s.

After realizing such a success in the economy, the authorities started to declare that there was nothing more for them to learn from the United States and from the West in general. This was an indication that Japan had attained its objective that was declared in the Meiji time between 1868 and 1912. This was seen as a win over the West by Japan in an economic war. All the same, Japan has not yet fulfilled its tasks and neither has it taken any responsibility for its participation in the war on Asia. The Meiji of “extricate Japan from Asia and make it part of Europe” remains essentially similar as it has been in the past. Japanese nationalism is, thus, a response to what the nation perceives as a changing power balance in the East Asia. China’s growth made Japan rethink its strategy concerning the foreign policy. Japan now realizes that despite having success in the trade relations with Beijing, the trade between the two nations grew up in 2004. China is indeed a threat to the influence and power of Japan in East Asia, because the current path will displace the role of Japan as the most powerful state in the region


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