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In Session: Pacifism, Human Rights, Popular Movement, and “History Activism”: The “Postwar” as a Transnational Space
2: The Specter of History: Shimizu Ikutaro (1907-1988) and the Question of Popular Movements in Early Postwar Japan
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
Rhodes College, United States
Shimizu Ikutaro (1907-1988) is one of the icons in postwar Japanese civil society movements. His anti-American position during the Anpo Protests was associated with his call for reinterpreting the history of Japanese imperialism. During the wartime period, he was arguably an advocate of American pragmatism and critical of his colleagues who presented imperial discourses such as the East Asian Community. My presentation discusses how Shimizu’s peculiar understanding of pragmatism and the ordinary people shaped his approaches to anti-elite nationalism in early postwar Japan. While he joined liberal and progressive popular movements in early postwar Japan, Shimizu based his notion of progress on the highly problematic interpretation of Japanese grassroot nationalism which simply endorsed Japan’s linear path to modern imperialism. During the Anpo Protests period, the concept of Asia only appeared when Shimizu criticized the American hegemony in Japan by grouping Japan and newly emerging nationalistic forces in former colonies as part of America’s victim. For this reason, my presentation aims to challenge the conventional approach to Shimizu as a converted (転向) intellectual from progressive popular movements to an advocate of a nuclear Japan. It will show Shimizu’s very understanding of modern Japan and the Japanese formed his continuing conservative notion of ethnic nationalism.