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Identity, Culture and Memory in Japanese Foreign Policy

Edited By Michal Kolmaš and Yoichiro Sato

This book interprets the changing nature of Japanese foreign policy through the concepts of identity, culture and memory. It goes beyond rational interpretation of material interests and focus on values and ideas that are inseparable and pervasive in Japanese domestic and foreign policy. A set of chapters written by established Japanese and foreign experts show the nuances of Japanese self-images and their role in defining their understanding of the world. Stemming from historical memories of World War Two, the reconciliation between Japan and other Asian countries, the formation of Japanese self in media discourse to the role of self-perception in defining Japanese contemporary foreign and economic policies, the book offers a holistic insight into Japanese psyche and its role in the political world. It will be of utmost interest not only to the scholars of Japanese foreign policy, but also to a wide public interested in understanding the uniqueness of Japanese state and its people.

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2. Ideational Factors behind the Erosion of Japan’s Pacifism: Yoshinori Kaseda

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After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan underwent a significant transformation during the occupation effectively by the United States (U.S.), from an authoritarian, militaristic state to a democratic, pacifist state. The transformation resulted largely from its adoption of a new constitution in 1946, which had been drafted mostly by the U.S. and became effective in 1947. The new regime based on the constitution came to be called the “postwar regime (sengorejīmu).”

The new constitution made the Japanese government peace-oriented externally, in its relations with other countries, and internally, in its relations with the Japanese people, by preventing it from making military aggression at another country and from violating the human rights of the Japanese people. Thus, the postwar Japanese pacifism consisted of external and internal pacifism. Although it was drafted mostly by the U.S., the new, democratic, pacifist constitution received strong support from the Japanese people, who had suffered “the horrors of war through the action of government” of imperial Japan as stated in the preamble of the new constitution.

However, the postwar Japanese regime with the new constitution started with an internal contradiction because of the change in the U.S. policy toward Japan. Although it had disbanded Japan’s armed forces, in response to the breakout of the Korean War in June 1950, the U.S. made Japan rearm itself through the establishment of the National Police Reserve (NPR) in August 1950 and the Coastal Safety Force (CSF) in April 1952, which...

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