Since its promulgation in 1947, recurrent debates about the so-called Peace Constitution have influenced how Japanese political elites and the general public formed distinctive social institutions, imagined foreign relations, and framed contemporary problems. While much scholarly discussion has focused on the origins of the constitution during the Allied Occupation of Japan, this panel adopts a broader view. We explore the multifarious ways in whichsocial forces in Japan competitively invoked, reinterpreted, and appropriated the American-imposed constitution to promote their own interests and ideas throughout the postwar era. Our papers show how these forces consolidated their positions within the contentious domestic politics, while at the same time solidifying the status of the new constitution. Adam Bronson discusses the role constitutional debates and opinion pollsplayed in fostering a critical understanding of public opinion across the political spectrum and shaping postwar media culture. Taeju Kim analyzes conservatives’ efforts to defend the constitution as a strategy postwar academics used to appropriate American power and justify the presence of the United States military within the context of anti-colonialism in the 1960s. And Seiko Mimaki critically evaluates the current conservative government’s promotion of constitutional revisionism and national security through military spending by examining how it has triggered a progressive reaction for “people-oriented” security policy that improves the living conditions of people vulnerable to economic crisis. Together, these papers illustrate the nuanced and divergent outcomes of the Japanese people interpreting and reinterpreting and disputing the Peace Constitution in unexpected ways.
Paper Presenter: Adam Bronson – Durham University
Paper Presenter: Taeju Kim – Brigham Young University
Paper Presenter: Seiko Mimaki – Takasaki City University of Economics