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Re-rising Japan

Its Strategic Power in International Relations


Edited By Hidekazu Sakai and Yoichiro Sato

"The lost two decades" of Japan’s economic power since the early 1990s have generated the image among scholars in the discipline of international relations (IR) that Japan is no longer a significant player. Hence, today’s IR literature focuses on the rise of China. Re-rising Japan: Its Strategic Power in International Relations challenges this trend by showing up-to-date evidence that Japan is still a major power in today’s international relations where the interests and power of the United States and China have increasingly clashed over many issues.

Indeed, since the Abe cabinet re-emerged in December 2012, there has been growing academic interest in Japan’s bold monetary/financial/social policies (Abenomics) and relatively assertive security policy. Where is Japan heading, and what path has it taken since the 2000s? This book responds to these questions.

Re-rising Japan assembles the latest studies on Japan written by today’s young and energetic scholars. It consists of three parts: (1) Geopolitics, (2) Domestic Political-Social Norms and Values, and (3) Asian Regional Integration and Institutionalizations. The individual chapters reveal what power assets Japan has and their strength and weakness in today’s international relations. Readers will attain a complete picture of Japan and its evolving new strategy in the decaying U.S. unipolar system where China has been behaving as a revisionist state.

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Chapter Four: Japanese Nationalism and Foreign Policy (Keiko Hirata)


chapter four

Japanese Nationalism and Foreign Policy

Keiko Hirata


Right-wing nationalist movements in Japan have grown in strength over the last two decades.1 These movements defend Japan’s aggression in the Asia-Pacific War (1931–1945)2 and press for a more muscular Japanese foreign policy vis-a-vis both neighboring countries and this United States.

Nationalism manifests itself at different political levels, propagated by both individual political leaders and grassroots organizations. Political leadership and civil society can be intertwined, often influencing each other inextricably, as seen in antiforeign, nationalist movements in China,3 anti-immigration, nationalist movements in Europe,4 and insular, antiestablishment, anti-immigration movements in the United States.5

This chapter analyzes contemporary Japanese right-wing nationalism at the prime ministerial and grassroots levels. It examines how right-wing nationalism is expressed at these levels and how the two levels interact to affect Japanese foreign policy. The chapter first provides an introduction to nationalist ideology. It then analyzes nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historical views and←71 | 72→ political actions. It also examines three of the most prominent right-wing nationalist organizations in Japan today: Tsukurukai (Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho o Tsukurukai or Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform), Saiseikiko (Nihon Kyoiku Saisei Kiko or the Organization to Revitalize Education in Japan), and Zaitokukai (Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or Citizens against the Special Privileges of the Zainichi).

As discussed below, the prime ministerial and grassroots levels can be closely intertwined...

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