The Abe Experiment and the Future of Japan: Don't Repeat History

The Abe Experiment and the Future of Japan: Don't Repeat History

by Junji Banno, Jiro Yamaguchi


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With an author's Foreword written on the day that the Abe cabinet decided to 'revise the Japanese Constitution by reinterpretation' (Tuesday, 1 July 2014), this timely examination of Japan's post-war history by two leading historians committed to democratic politics is highly instructive and prompts serious reflection by anyone concerned with the future of Japan. Originally published in Japan by Iwanami Shinsho, The Abe Experiment and the Future of Japan, records a wide-ranging dialogue between two eminent Japanese scholars - Junji Banno, a political historian, and Jiro Yamaguchi, a political scientist - regarding Japan's modern political history. The focus of the conversation is on what they perceive as disturbing parallels between the 1930s and the recent policy trajectory of the Abe government, in which relations with Japan's immediate neighbours have seriously deteriorated. The translation is by the distinguished Oxford scholar and author Arthur Stockwin, formerly Director of the Nissan Institute.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781898823216
Publisher: Renaissance Books
Publication date: 01/01/2016
Series: Renaissance Books Asia Pacific Series , #1
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Professor Jiro Yamaguchi was born in 1958 in Okayama. After graduating from the Law Faculty of Tokyo University, he was for many years Professor in the Faculty of Law at Hokkaido University. In 2014, he moved to Tokyo, to join the Faculty of Hosei University. Professor Junji Banno was born in Yokohama in 1937. In 1963, he graduated from the Department of Japanese history within the Faculty of Humanities. He was appointed Professor at the Institute of Social Science of Tokyo University.

Table of Contents

Foreword Yamaguchi Jiro ix

Translator's Preface xi

Conventions xiii

Chapter 1 Should the Aim be to Prevent Constitutional Revision? 1

From a letter written four years ago 1

The deep historical roots of anti-Japanese feeling in China 6

'Japan-China friendship' as an ongoing concern 9

Do we want to have a pretend war? 12

Can we fight for constitutionalism? 15

The difference between 'cabinet politics' and 'politics based on the people' 19

Should we rely on shifting public opinion? 24

Chapter 2 Why was Post-war Pacifism Defective? 27

Why the roots of 'peace' are shallow 27

Who did Japan lose to? 32

Japan remains outside the world of victorious nations 35

'Peace' in post-war democracy 37

Turning point after the Cold War 43

Chapter 3 Is there a Political Elite in Japan? 49

If an anti-system elite holds power 49

The present Prime Minister is part of the anti-system elite 55

Why does a rational elite not emerge? 57

The rationale of breaking through popular consciousness 60

Chapter 4 Is the Liberal Democratic Party Really Tough? 64

One aspect of conservatism: native conservatism 64

A second aspect of conservatism: liberal conservatism 67

The rallying of pre-war conservative forces 70

The light and shade of the LDP pursuit of equality 72

Scenario of a two-stage revolution 76

Have they mixed up principle and policy? 79

Strength and weakness of party adherence 81

Is the Abe Government as firm as a rock? 82

The possibility of liberalism plus social democracy 84

Chapter 5 Why Can't We Tackle Reduction in Inequalities? 88

Why is social democracy weak in Japan? 88

Differences brought about by war 93

The 'age of the new middle class' also existed in the pre-war 97

The problem of diversity and poverty has suddenly appeared 99

Japan's modern history of samurai, peasants, artisans and merchants 103

Why did the Democratic Party line of giving highest priority to welfare fail? 106

The Japanese left wing likes small government 108

Chapter 6 Where Should Japan Go From Here? 113

How should we regard Abe politics? 113

Freedom is dangerous 117

A two-party system without social classes won't work 119

Directionless Japan 123

Japan-China friendship, and international co-operation, once again 126

A society in which everybody can lead lives befitting human beings 129

Problems of raising an elite that can oppose 132

Afterword Banno Junji 137

Index 139

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