Led by a new group of conservative leadership, Japan is undergoing a rise in nationalism fueled by complex mixture of causes spanning from internal politics, economy, perception of new threat from China, and external influence know in Japan as Gaiatsu. Meanwhile, East Asia is experiencing a dramatic shift in regional dominance from Japan to China. Due to the rapid growth in China's economy, East Asian nations, having depended on Japan for regional leadership and economic aid, are now faced with a choice of adopting either a pro-China or pro-Japan policy. The rise in Japan's nationalism and its associated nationalistic actions are agitating many nations who have suffered from the Japanese colonial day. This trend, if continued, will lead to Japan's alienation from East Asian nations.
"The origins of Japanese nationalism are based on the following: (1) a belief that the Emperor is a descendant of God, (2) geographic isolation, (3) a desire for expansion within the region. Different kinds of nationalism have emerged during different periods in Japan's history?(Council on Foreign Relations, 2005). However, current Japanese nationalism is defined by Wikipedia's statement that "From a political point of view and in the years leading up to World War II, the particular political and ideological foundations for the actions of the Japanese military can be called a Japanese nationalist ideology?(Wikipedia, Japanese Nationalism). Additionally, Matthews in his article Japan's New Nationalism, claims that Japanese nationalism took its modern form as a philosophy with fascist underpinning. These two statements, combined with the fact that, for much of its history, Japan was ruled by military leaders, allow for a deduction that the military is at the core of Japanese nationalism. Hence, it is fair to state that actions by current Japanese leadership to proliferate its military forces are a sure sign of the rise of Japanese nationalism.
Is it Really Here?
Matthews in his article Japan's New Nationalism contends that issues of Prime Minister Koizumi's continued visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, Japan's history textbooks, and debate over the revision of Article 9 of its constitution are wrong signs of Japanese nationalism. Contradictorily, these events are all linked to the core of Japanese nationalism ?the military, as mentioned above. As Fujiwara Kiichi stated in Shorrock's article Emerging Public Opinion Heats Up Northeast Asia, "One possible cure to the rise of nationalism ?would be for Japanese prime ministers to stop visiting Yasukuni (Shrine). And rather than use that site as the national memorial to World War II, Japan should build a monument to honour all the war dead, including the millions of Koreans and Chinese who died " This comments clearly state, even from a Japanese academic perspective, that the issue of Yasukuni Shrine visit is a nationalism issue. While maintaining its pacifistic ways, previous prime ministers of Japan restrained themselves from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in fears that it will irritate its neighbors and sour its relationship with those nations, mainly China and South Korea. However, Prime Minister Koizumi pays annual visits to the Shrine even at the cost of broken talks and risk of worsening bilateral relationship with China . "South Korea President Roh Moo Hyun suggested to Prime Minister Koizumi that an alternative to Yasukuni be built expressing the sensitivity of the Shrine itself?(Min, 2005). Other "issues at the forefront of the current discussion of nationalism in Japan are Article 9 of Japan's Constitution and history textbook reform. Many Japanese nationalists favor a stronger Japanese presence on the world scene and would like to see Japan have a stronger, full-fledged military, instead of being confined to the Self Defense Forces as dictated by the Japan's Constitution?(Council...