By Kevin M. Doak

This magisterial historical past of jap nationalism finds nationalism to be a contested and pluralistic perform that seeks to middle the folks in political lifestyles. It provides a wealth of fundamental resource fabric on how jap themselves have understood their nationwide identification.

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Extra info for A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan: Placing the People (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 5 Japan)

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It was not the case that such historical events determined Japanese nationalism. Rather, they became key interventions in how nationalism was understood and articulated, but this intervention often raised counter-articulations to the expectations of the dominant structures. At the heart of Japanese discourse on nationalism was a belief that the nation was both imminent and transcendent, that it actually existed in the present but also had potential that was yet unrealized. This belief shaped the development of nationalism in Japan in ways that emphasized articulation, discourse, and representation as the very stuff of nationalism.

Contemporary Japanese Theories on Nationalism Without a doubt, the most important political theorist of postwar Japan was Maruyama Masao. The influence and scope of Maruyama’s thinking on political issues was so vast that it is nearly impossible to overestimate and certainly impossible to do justice to it in this short a space. 42 Here, I will only focus on the core contribution of Maruyama to nationalism theory: his approach to the perennial question of what a nation truly is, and how he saw the overall dynamics of nationalism in Japanese history.

Subsequent nationalism was an effort to recover those initial democratic aspirations for nationalism and to reassert the people as the truly sovereign subject of cultural and political life in modern Japan. But he parted company with those who sought to use the concept of minzoku to achieve this goal, recognizing that however attractive minzoku might seem in articulating presumptions of oppression by Western powers, it wreaked more havoc in destabilizing the delicate balance of democratic possibilities and autocratic structures that had taken shape in modern Japan.

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