Universalism and colonialism: reconsidering the postwar democracy in Japan
ABSTRACT This article reconsiders the postwar democracy in Japan in terms of a certain involvement between universalism and colonialism. Recently, some scholars have criticized the legislation of new national security law in Japan as destroying the legacy of the postwar democracy. It seems, however, not to be allowed to regard this legislation as a fundamental turnover of the basic position in international policy of postwar Japan. As well known, Japanese government in postwar era has kept its pacifism whose ideal is explicitly expressed and realized by the article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Although the security law legislated in last year could be seen as breaking this ideal of pacifism, the Japanese government’s official statement declared that the new security law inherited pacifism under the name of “provocative contribution to peace.” This article tries to reinterpret the postwar democracy from this point. By reading critically on-going debates of wartime comfort women issue and Nambara Shigeru’s democratic thoughts, a certain war which has been a fundamental root of the postwar democracy in Japan, that is, “a war against the enemy of all” has sustained itself in an interwoven relation between universalism and colonialism.
Keywords: the postwar democracy in Japan, universalism, colonialism, war against the enemy of all, wartime comfort women, Nambara Shigeru
Hang Kim is currently the Associate Professor at the Institute of Korean Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. His recent publications are: 제국일본의 사상 [The history of thoughts in the Japanese empire] (Seoul: Changbi, 2015); 帝国日本の閾 [A threshold of the Japanese empire] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten).