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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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5. National Identity, National Pride, and Armed Force in Japan: How to Verify the Existence of Pacifist Culture in Japan: Takashi Hosoda


In the past decades, many scholars have attempted to apply constructivism to explain Japan’s postwar antimilitary culture (Katzenstein 1996; Berger 1998), although some point out existence of the Japan-U.S. alliance (Miyashita 2006) or buck-passing to the United States by Japan (Lind 2004) is the major element to explain Japan’s low-key postwar security approach.

Over the past several years, due to North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship and the coercive responses from U.S. President Donald Trump, the security environment around Japan worsened dramatically, even though a kind of moratorium works nowadays. In particular, Japan is concerned about North Koreaʼs nuclear program and the prospects for denuclearization. In Neorealist theory, when a country faces a serious security threat, it should arm with a sufficient level of military might to protect its territory and sovereignty. This means Japan should counter the North Korean nuclear threat with nuclear deterrence supplied by its ally or, if that “nuclear umbrella” becomes less reliable, going nuclear itself. According to opinion polls conducted by Genron NPO, however, Japanese people are clearly more hesitant to arm their country with nuclear weapons than the South Koreans (see Table 5.1).

It is natural to suppose that the Japanese don’t need to rush indigenous nuclear armament as long as the U.S. continues to supply “extended nuclear deterrence” (a nuclear umbrella) for Japan. However, the Japanese have a much more consolidated consciousness of nuclear weapons due to the ←103 | 104→countryʼs experiences with atomic bombing. Table 5.2...

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