Nationalism and supranational regional solidarity : the case of modern Japanese nationalism and its perception of Asia, 1868-2001
Recently, there has been growing interest in the subject of supranational regionalism in East Asia among East Asian politicians and intellectuals. At the ASEAN+3 summit of 2001, the East Asian Vision Group, which consisted of representatives of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and China, Japan and South Korea, recommended the development of an East Asian community as one of the common goals for the East Asian region. One of the difficulties in the transformation of the East Asian region into an East Asian community is that it required the formation of the concept of 'Asia' with which peoples of East Asia could identify themselves. The concept of Asia is a historical product. The problem is that the region has been deeply divided by nationally framed historical memories. Based on the hypothesis that national historical memories define, and are defined by nationalism and national identity, this thesis aims to examine the role of Japanese people's historical memories of their imperialist aggression, and of the Asia-Pacific War, in the lack of positive identification with Asia among the Japanese. To this end, the thesis examines such issues as the role of Japanese popular religion, the shame of Japanese memories of war, the official treatment of Japanese war victims and museum displays of victimhood. Since the formation of memory involves psychological processes, this study recognises the importance of psychological variables in addition to political, economic and social factors in the ideological process of nationalism. This will cast light on those aspects of Japanese nationalism which have been relatively neglected by other approaches. In the concluding section, I shall assess the prospects for supranational regional solidarity in East Asia using the findings of this study of the nature of Japanese nationalism and national identity.