Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Establishment Constitutionalism in Postwar Japan: Regaining National Sovereignty, 'Incomplete Fascism,' and Democracy

Sat, June 25, 8:30 to 10:20am, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 110


Japanese Constitutionalism and the rescaling of Japan’s territoriality have historically formed a dynamic pair. In mid-Meiji, constitutionalism and imperialism were closely intertwined, as domestic struggles over the shape of a national constitution were overtaken by a push for empire, and imperialism elicited demands for a more democratic interpretation of the constitution. The (early) 1950s may be seen as another such “moment,” when the postwar “peace” constitution was both upheld and compromised by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and the regaining of territorial sovereignty in the Cold War world put conservative moves for constitutional revision in high gear. Since the 2000s, one might observe another such intersection of territorial and constitutional re-interpretation, and just as in the early postwar, there is much more at stake than Article 9.

This presentation looks at the historical conjuncture of the (early) 1950s to understand what the regaining of national sovereignty meant to the emerging conservative establishment as they negotiated the need for social reintegration and rehabilitation, that is, citizenship. This was not only a matter of political rivalries among the conservative elites, or managing relations with the United States, or efforts to curb the socialist opposition. “Establishment constitutionalism” dealt with the legacies of war and foreign occupation on a social level while calibrating the possibilities of revisionism (e.g. of occupation reforms) against Japan’s subordinate relationship with the United States. This points to similarities with West Germany at the time and suggests comparisons and contrasts to today’s situation.