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Making Japanese Citizens

Making Japanese Citizens: Civil Society and the Mythology of theShiminin Postwar Japan

Simon Andrew Avenell
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Making Japanese Citizens
    Book Description:

    Making Japanese Citizensis an expansive history of the activists, intellectuals, and movements that played a crucial role in shaping civil society and civic thought throughout the broad sweep of Japan's postwar period. Weaving his analysis around the concept ofshimin(citizen), Simon Avenell traces the development of a new vision of citizenship based on political participation, self-reliance, popular nationalism, and commitment to daily life. He traces civic activism through six phases: the cultural associations of the 1940s and 1950s, the massive U.S.-Japan Security Treaty protests of 1960, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the antipollution and antidevelopment protests of the 1960s and 1970s, movements for local government reform and the rise of new civic groups from the mid-1970s. This rich portrayal of activists and their ideas illuminates questions of democracy, citizenship, and political participation both in contemporary Japan and in other industrialized nations more generally.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94767-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    Who is a citizen and how is citizenship expressed? Is it all about qualifi cation, or is citizenship just as much a performance—as much doing as it is being, to borrow from one of Japan’s great thinkers?¹ For Matsushita Keiichi, a local government reformer and author of the above observation, democratic citizenship certainly depends on the robustness of institutions, but he also saw citizenship in a performative way, as a creation of ordinary people engaging in the public sphere and making politics their own. Such performative citizenship was especially important for Matsushita and others because its supposed earlier absence—...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Before the Shimin: The Dark Energy of the People
    (pp. 20-61)

    Conventional treatments of theshiminidea and civic activism—especially in Japanese-language scholarship—usually begin with the anti-security-treaty protests of 1960 or just before.¹ This starting point is quite understandable: before this event the termshiminwas hardly used in political discourse, and when it was the connotation was most often negative or, at best, qualified. For most Marxists,shiminandshimin shakai(civil society) amounted to no more than the bourgeoisie and bourgeois society and, as such, could—at best—be a step on the pathway to somewhere better. The fact that many of Japan’s major cities lay in...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Mass Society, Anpo, and the Birth of the Shimin
    (pp. 62-105)

    Reaching its apex in the summer of 1960 , the struggle against renewal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (Anpo tōsō) witnessed some of the largest mass protests in modern Japanese history. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded into the streets to express their anxieties about the treaty, the prime minister, and the apparent threat to peace and democracy in the country. As the pledge above evidences, some understood their protest as a moral crusade for democracy, a kind of definitive clash between the progressive forces of the future and those who would draw Japan back into its ill-fated past. Indeed,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Beheiren and the Asian Shimin The Fate of Conscientious Civic Activism
    (pp. 106-147)

    For many, Beheiren the Citizens’ Alliance for Peace in Vietnam is the quintessential Japanese new social movement.¹ Beginning in early 1965 after the commencement of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam, the movement diversifi ed into over three hundred local chapters in its nine years, making it one of the most broad-based and high-profi le civic mobilizations in the postwar era. Building on the model of the conscientious civic activism of the Anpo struggle, Beheiren promoted nonalignment, organizational pluralism, individual autonomy, small-scale mobilization, and single-issue politics. Participants intentionally avoided hierarchical organization in the mode of the old left, forming instead a...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Residents into Citizens: The Fate of Pragmatic Civic Activism
    (pp. 148-194)

    The history of Beheiren reveals how a conscientious model of civic activism born during the Anpo struggle could be married to more parochial and deep-seated commitments to the ethnic nation and the Pan-Asian struggle against so-called U.S. imperialism. Detaching (and purifying) the nation from the state freed movement intellectuals to remake theshiminas a patriot, a good-willed internationalist, and an envoy for other “colonized” Asians. This was certainly a vision with broad appeal in 1960s Japan, but it was by no means the only vision: while Oda and others plumbed their primordial impulses to fashion a movement of Asian...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Shimin, New Civic Movements, and the Politics of Proposal
    (pp. 195-238)

    In the mid-1970s, citizen activism in Japan was at a crossroads—or, at the very least, many at the time seemed to have thought so.¹ Pointing to the waning of local protest, some observers predicted a period of decline(taichōki)and even the onset of an ice age(fuyu no jidai)for citizens’ movements.² In 1976 , theAsahi Yearbooknoted how people had begun to speak of the bells of winter(fuyu no furin)for residents’ movements, as though a glorious age of protest was slowly drawing to a close.³ There is no doubt that civic activism began to...

  11. CONCLUSION: The Shimin Idea and Civil Society
    (pp. 239-258)

    In 1992 a group of Japanese scholars published an unassuming volume on political strategy and civic autonomy in contemporary Japan.¹ Although by no means a best seller, the book is interesting historically, because it represents a conjuncture in the theory, history, and politics of civic activism in Japan at that moment. Conceptually, the authors were attempting to connect theshiminidea and its postwar history to the then-ascendant notion of civil society(shimin shakai)— a novel undertaking because, apart from a few important exceptions, the two concepts were essentially divorced in progressive discourse throughout most of the postwar period.Shimin,...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 259-308)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 309-334)
  14. Index
    (pp. 335-356)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 357-357)