Contemporary Japan’s Quest for “Normalcy”
Namazu under Kashima Shrine’s “Pinning Rock”
first, in terms of the absence of ‘normal’ capabilities
(that is, a powerful military together with legal mechanisms, and social will, to employ it) ...
and second, in terms of the absence of ‘normal’ legitimacy in the international system
(that is, the apparent failure of Japan to ‘come to terms with its past’ and to apologize to its neighbours). (Modern Japan, 126)
Since the end of the Cold War, the importance of addressing this legitimacy deficit has increased dramatically. Many of Japan’s attempts to develop a leadership role in the region have been undermined by the persistent suspicion that its imperial ambitions remain unreconstructed. ...
Modern Japan, 137-9)
As was the case in many nations around the world, the turn of the new millennium was an opportunity for reflection in Japan. The 20th century had witnessed its remarkable and tumultuous emergence as a leading, modern nation on the world stage. And yet surveys of public opinion and professional reflection revealed a less than bouyant atmosphere. The last hundred years had seen the establishment of a nation-state, the development of modern industry, a huge but ill-fated regional empire, devastation, and then miraculous economic success, but the heaviest shadow over the millennium was cast by the 1990s — the so-called ‘lost decade’. Indeed, far from being the post-industrial techno-utopia envisioned during the confident heights of the 1980s, Japanese society seemed wracked by anxieties and insecurities about its identity and place in the world. Various public surveys showed that levels of unhappiness and satisfaction were low, and suicide rates in Japan were among the highest in the world. (Modern Japan, 140)
What do we mean by the term “Japanese identity” ...
and what is Japan’s place in the world?