The Limits on Nationalism in Japan (The New York Times)


On July 21, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party had a landslide victory in elections for the upper house of Japan’s Parliament. In examining the potential impact of the elections, Dartmouth’s Jennifer Lind asks in her New York Times opinion piece whether the victory will “embolden Mr. Abe toward increasing nationalism that might further alienate Japan from some of its neighbors?”

The polls have “overwhelmingly attributed his victory to his main campaign promise, which was to keep improving Japan’s economy, rather than to pursue a nationalist agenda,” writes Lind, an associate professor of government.

Lind says that as Abe sets his political tone, it is important for him to learn from the experience of Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka. After Hashimoto made comments this spring attempting to justify Japan’s use of comfort women during World War II, he was met with backlash, writes Lind. “This recent controversy offers a cautionary lesson for Mr. Abe and other Japanese nationalists: within Japan’s democracy there is a growing commitment to greater truth telling about Japan’s wartime past and an intolerance for leaders who deny or speak insensitively about it.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 7/23/13 by The New York Times.

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