Nationalism in the Abe Era
The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 15 | Issue 3 | Number 4 | Feb 2017
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus
"Japan is Great"
Shirana Masakazu and Ikeda Teiichi
Translation by Joseph Essertier
Introduction by Nakano Koichi
The original Japanese version appears at the end of this article.
While it is important to note the eerie similarity of the “Japan is great” boom in the media today with that of the 1930s, as this article does, it also bears emphasizing that this is hardly a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. As the following article indicates, while the self-congratulatory praise of Japan by the Japanese media was temporarily dormant in the postwar period, it energetically re-emerged during the 1990s and since then, has become more and more vociferous. But this increase in praise has not come about merely as a spontaneous reaction to the decline of selfconfidence in the aftermath of the collapse of the bubble economy.
The reassertion of national pride and identity by the Japanese has also been actively encouraged as healthy and desirable by the United States. As the Cold War came to an end, Washington pressured Japan to shake off its postwar selfconstraints and project its influence and political power (even its military power) in international affairs more forcefully. This was demanded of Japan in order to make it better serve the goals of American foreign policy. .... In the United States itself, it has been pointed out that Ronald Reagan, as president between 1981 and 1989, ushered in a new era of patriotic language, including symbolically, the sign-off phrase “God Bless America” that has been standard presidential rhetoric ever since .... . In Japan, Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, Reagan’s counterpart in the 1980s, gave new force to the nationalist cause, which included not only historical revisionism but also rearmament, by couching it in rhetoric of iconoclastic reformism that claims to confront postwar taboos, constraints, and conventions ....
To date, the discourses of right-wing leaders of both countries continue to echo one another. ......