Chauvinist Nationalism in Japan’s Schizophrenic State

Gavan McCormack


By clinging to the Pax Americana, the Japanese government, especially under Abe Shinzo (prime minister 2006-2007 and 2012-present), sometimes referred to as ‘nationalist’, is better considered a ‘client state’. Seventy years after defeat in war, Japan is led by a politician who (in)famously looks with pride on Japan’s feudal and fascist past, but who, Janus-like, is at once deeply hostile towards the United States and utterly servile to it, being perhaps the most enthusiastically pro-American of contemporary world leaders. The type of chauvinist nationalism he displays is really what political scientist Nakano Koichi calls ‘air nationalism’. Yet Abe Shinzo, despite – or even perhaps because of – being the very epitome of ‘slavish mentality’, looks assured of a rosy political future. Virtually unopposed in the Diet, he seems set to become the longest lasting and most ‘successful’ of all modern Japan’s prime ministers.

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