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Nationalism in Japan around WWII - Essay Example

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Nationalism in Japan around WWII

The nationalism was state-oriented based on historical traditions and their ramifications. Historians state that "Japanese associations more generally became obstacles in the hostile and racist wartime political climate" (Shaffer 1999, p. 599). Maintaining a low political profile benefited Japan by aiding its accumulation of economic power, but there has also been a cost. Japan's policy of taking a back seat on political issues also reinforced its image as less than a great power in the fullest. Economic power became a more important element by which a state's comprehensive power status (Ezra 1979).
Traditionally, Japan's foreign policy had been isolationist, pragmatic, and opportunistic, and had the tendency to follow the lead of a more powerful state. Particularly in the war period, its position as a primary state on the political front allowed its foreign policy to be inward-directed in refraining from political involvement and allowed it to become involved in many international political problems, usually in such a way as to benefit its national interest above all other considerations. It can no longer indulge in self-interested isolationism. Its economic success, and the demand for resources and markets upon which that success was based, made it interdependent with the rest of the world (Stegewerns, 2003).
WWII strengthened such ideologies as Bushido (the way of the warrior) and religious ideology of Shinto, ideas of the "New Structure' and "Consensus State". These different forms of nationalism were mutually acceptable. The "New Structure" was a necessary component of nationalism, and new institutions had to be imported as a means of linking all Japanese to one national bureaucracy for political and economic centralization (Sachs 1989). The very act of importing these institutions, the values upon which they were based on a direct support to the social and cultural traditions formed the essence of the Japanese nation. In contrast to other states preached individualism, Japanese nationalism was based on the idea of collective identity and objectives which helped to unite the nation against 'outside' world. The emperor did not play a dominant role in political and social life. Critics suppose that control over the countries and its political strategies were established by the military, formed by the Emperor and Government. During the WWII, Japanese practiced kamikaze as one of the main national traditions. They had special kamikaze units in the Japanese Fleet who made a great damage to enemies. Because Japanese believe that the world in which they lived and the political world were two separate entities, it was difficult to get the public to identify with the state and political institutions. The social system had a higher importance in Japan than the political system, and political institutions had very little cultural meaning to Japanese. As occurred in the Meiji period, Japan's defeat led to a wholesale rejection of prewar institutions and a wholehearted adoption of most of the occupation reforms as a means of ridding Japan of its inferior status (Gunn 2004).
A new stage of nationalism began when the United States entered WWII. This decision to fight became even more justified in the eyes of Japanese by the end of the war when the atrocities that were committed before and during the war were publicized (Kishimoto 2004). Japanese felt more than justified in going to war ...Show more


World War II had a great impact on national identity and self-consciousness of Japanese citizens and their national ideology. Nationalism in Japan was based on cultural and religious elements, unique national self perception and radical right doctrines. WWII influenced ideas of cultural uniqueness and national supremacy…
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Nationalism in Japan around WWII essay example
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