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Nationalism in the context of the Japanese entails a very wide range of ideologies and sentiments that have been adopted by the Japanese people for the past two centuries concerning their native nation, the culture, political structure and the changing and historical destiny. It’s hence imperative to distinguish different perceptions of nationalism like cultural nationalism from state-oriented nationalism which is also viewed as Japanese imperialism.
As history will have it, Japanese nationalism consists of a blend of indigenous and foreign political ideologies that were initially adopted by the Meiji administration to encourage national unity and loyalty. This was first in reaction to the colonization by European and later on the nationalism concept was to be used to attain the influence and equality that other great powers had. The concept has evolved very fast through the ‘Taisho era’ and ‘showa period’ hence justifying the growing totalitarian governance with more expansionism abroad.
The Changes in Nationalism
Over the past years, several scholars from western nations have made attempts to try and explain the essence of Japan as a very unique country. The task was not just to explain how Japan is unique but also to what extent this uniqueness had impacted other nations. Nationalism can be described as managing and mystifying identity (Nathan 23). In this way, several Japanese nationalisms can be described as being in the categories that are identified by other nations.
Basically, this means the Japanese can feel that they are so unique yet everyone else is feeling the same. Nathan believes that Japan is not prepared to discard its certainty of being so distinctive but rather explains how the Japanese are coping up with the challenges that face any other modernized country. His analyses assess the family system today where there is increased juvenile delinquency. The Japanese nonetheless have tactful ways of reacting to the stalled economic trend (Nathan 23).
Basically, Nathan sees issues like the way the Japanese military was treated after the Second World War and the amount of effort that was put down by the politicians to bring reform where contradictory forces had to work for the politics of Japan as a very unique thing. The Japanese society is basically cohesive though the current fracturing is what is making its future so uncertain. However, if societal issues like defiant children, breaking families and the shocking increase in juvenile crime are anything to go by, then only the renewal of their main force with is the Japanese nationalism can offer the cure (Nathan 134).
Nathan has studied the issue of national identity and that the Japanese feel about themselves. Basically, their problems are about an identity crisis. It seems that they are caught up in the crisis as they considered themselves to be isolated while at times they consider themselves as the key players in world affairs. The history of Japan embodies a very intense nationalism paradigm. Their nationalism emerged from elite patriotism that was inspired by very few extraordinary men who were the leaders of Japan in the period around 1600-1868 also termed as the Edo period (Nathan 134).
It was further advanced by Meija era leaders around the years 1869-1912. In the late 19th century, a constitution was created to allow authority for the processes that were informally recognized since 1868. In essence nationalism for Japan was very strong until 1945 (Nathan 136). This was attributed t the defeat of its military in the Second World War. Since then, the nationalist attitude has been very shaky and perhaps the most critical.
The loyalties to the government were in a way silenced after the Second World War through the bond among the citizens is still very strong and carrying a great weight. The Japanese have grown steadily in terms of the economy hence managing to keep the threat very low. The Japanese are experiencing very fast internationalization, a trend that was sparked after 1945. Rather than considering themselves as isolated, the Japanese now consider themselves as a very vital element to the world where it constantly interacts with the foreign states (Nathan 149). Its national loyalty is competing greatly with other personal loyalty like music, art and family among others.
Also important to note is the fact that Japanese literature, arts and cultures have grown to become cosmopolitan. Their style is so unique that even critics are unable to reject them or separate them for modernity as Japan itself is modern.
Modern Japan History and Nationalism Continuity
The Japanese have a great sense of feeling so unique, this is grounded from the long history where the nation considered itself as very isolated naturally but later the notion of isolation was self-imposed. The Japanese or rather Asian at large view a group’s wellbeing as the most imperative thing that personal interests (Nathan 149).
The sense of self is hence developed through their interaction with other people from outside the region. Individuals basically worked very hard in order to meet the needs of their families or the local community that they belonged to and currently for the country. On the whole, it can be said that either one is Japanese or is not. Concepts of demography that are very distinct in other ethnicities like culture, race, and language were very synonymous for Japanese and still are (Nathan 154).
Japanese viewed the westerners as very weird kinds or people while they saw black as fearsome. Nonetheless, they worked very well together and in the 19th century, they had advanced to catch up with the Chinese. In the 20th century, Japan developed further to catch up with the west. These steps have made the current Japanese history very strong presenting them as very unique. The entire past is basically described as having very great foreign influence and comprising the strong indigenous sentiment (Nathan 163). This basically returns modern Japan to their history of group welfare as presiding that of an individual.
Nationalism has not always been a good concept for the Japanese. It has moved the country through turbulent moments of an inferiority complex to the volatility of a superiority complex just as it was observed in the Second World War. Currently, it is like they are realizing that they must have set up a very bogus dichotomy that differentiated the west and their indigenous virtues. Technology is no longer considered as western as the Japanese now realize that it is not culture-specific (Nathan 163).
The concept of nationalism in Japan is greatly influenced by the process of globalization. In that regard, Japan is conserved as internationalizing and taking up most of the western technology, way of life and way of doing business as well as managing its economy. The modern history of Japan especially in the contest of nationalism in the post-war era is considered as a narration of how the nation has shifted from a situation of categorical susceptibility to the gradual achievement of autonomy that is very well-founded on the financial capacities and the financial resources that it has become a threat to other nations.
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With the breakdown of the Soviet Union threat and the termination of the cold war, Japan became even more independent in terms of security. It no longer depends on the US as it has developed its own world-class security system and hence it has room for manipulating resources to uphold its economy.
Nathan, John. Japan Unbound: A Volatile Nation’s Quest for Pride and Purpose, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.