Debates over historical consciousness

Authored by: Yoshida Yutaka

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter introduces the ongoing debate on Japan’s historical consciousness and war responsibility and examines how this debate, in all its political and social ramifications, has affected the attitudes of society at large. The main focus is on the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and historical revisionism, but the issues relating to Yasukuni Shrine and the role of the imperial family in postwar Japan are also addressed. The chapter emphasizes that the current government’s advocacy of historical revisionism, that is, its attempts to relativize Japan’s war responsibility, justify the war’s objectives and exculpate Japan’s war record, combined with territorial disputes with China and South Korea, have led to the rise of xenophobia in Japan, directed mainly at Koreans and Chinese.

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