MJHW (Online Meeting) on Conservatism and National Identity - Friday, June 12th

Joelle Tapas's picture
Subject Fields: 
Japanese History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Political History / Studies

Please join us for the next meeting of the Modern Japan History Workshop on Friday, June 12th at 6 pm JST.  Our presenter this month will be Karin Narita (Queen Mary University of London), who will present her work on conservatism and national identity (details below).

This month’s session will be held online through ZOOM, and can be accessed using the following sign-in information:

Meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/97063154482

The password for the meeting will be posted on the home page of the MJHW website from June 8th onwards.

The workshop is open to all, and no prior registration is required.

Please direct any questions to Joelle Tapas at tapas@fas.harvard.edu.  We hope to see you there!



Conservatism and National Identity: Reactionary Historical Revisionism in Post-War Japan


Since the mid-1990s, the issue of war-time history has been a key trigger for international political disputes in East Asia. Taken up by various politicians, intellectuals, ideologues, and civil organizations, the denial of atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army throughout the region and simultaneous erasure from domestic memory has marked a qualitative ideological shift in Japanese conservatism. In the years since, this reactionary historical revisionism has settled as a central constituent theme in conservative culture and has spurred on various nationalist political projects as an end in itself. Tracing this turn to the emergence of the New Right in Japan in the late 1960s, we will explore the intellectual foundations upon which historical revisionism is based, with particular attention paid to the thought of the influential cultural critic Etō Jun. In so doing, this presentation will show that conservatives consider Japan to have lost its authentic cultural identity, through the foreign-originated and domestically implemented process of post-Second World War modernization. Severed from the historically real in this way, according to conservatives Japan has since been in a state of limbo – or “fraudulence” – both culturally and politically. We will untangle the various ways in which conservatives utilize nationalist history as a historiographical method to rectify this perceived state of affairs. In so doing, the presentation will demonstrate how reactionary historical revisionism has been an integral logic to bolster Japanese exceptionalism internationally and justify ethno-cultural majoritarianism domestically.