Due July 7: Short Reflection

June Readings: What is Nationalism? National Narratives and Japan 

Due July 7: Write a short reflection (300-500 words approx) on the prompt below. You may answer one or both of the questions. 
  • What do you think of Anderson's idea of the nation as an "imagined community"? Anderson emphasizes the role that commercial printing played in fostering a national consciousness from the bottom-up, but Sugimoto points out that the state also plays an active role in shaping these imaginings. What do you see as the most important factors shaping national identity in Japan and in the US?  (Feel free to discuss factors not mentioned by the readings based on your own personal experience!)
  •  Sugimoto makes the point that Japan, like many countries, is "faced with the challenge of generating a narrative that can both accommodate the reality of increasing ethnic hybridity while still embracing a notion of national homogeneity" (p. 481). Is this an inherent contradiction, or can nationalism incorporate ideas of multiculturalism or pluralism?

Current Events: Week of June 19

Nobuhiro, Kubo. "Japanese warship takes Asian guests on cruise in defiance of China." Japan Today. N.p., 24 June 2017. Web. 24 June 2017.

The fight over ownership of land and claims to ambiguous areas of land, like the Senkaku islands, have been going on for a long time. China is known to be one of the most aggressive nations in laying claims to lands and its surrounding waters; China has even created manmade islands in an attempt to claim more of surrounding seas, even though the seas are far from China’s main coastline. Recently, there have been rising conflicts in the South China Sea, as more neighboring nations are taking action in defiance of China’s claims on the sea. Despite being named the “South China Sea”, this body of water is recognized as international waters by the majority of nations in concern, and Japan’s actions this week have demonstrated that they are not intimidated by China, and will not submit to China’s assertiveness. By sailing a warship through the waters, Japan is taking on more of a leadership role; the act is also “unseen coordinated push by Japan's Self Defense Forces and defense bureaucrats to bolster ties with countries ringing the contested waters” (Nobuhiro). In this way, Japan is taking action to stand up for itself and smaller neighboring countries to unite against unjust claims to land. According to Japan Today, “Abe's government believes Japan may be better placed to prise Southeast Asian nations away from Chinese influence than its U.S. allies with a gentler approach that emphasizes a common Asian heritage”. By using its identity as an Asian nation, Japan is hoping to improve relations with other Asian nations in similar situations, and together, contribute to fighting for less territorial views on lands and seas that are international.

Kyodo. "Japan eyes U.S. nuclear pact that renews automatically amid Trump administration vacancies." The Japan Times. N.p., 20 June 2017. Web. 24 June 2017.

Now, more than ever, with the Trump administration decreasing emphasis on climate change and environmental protection, it is crucial that other countries step up and continue to help protect the environment. With nuclear products still playing a large role in energy production and such, getting rid of wastes and keeping nuclear material at safe levels is a global challenge that many nations, including both the U.S. and Japan have to face. The previously established nuclear pact is the Bilateral Agreement, which “entered into force in July 1988 authorizes Japan for 30 years until July 2018 to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system”. However, since this agreement is set to expire soon, new pacts need to be made; this time, Japan is looking towards establishing a more long-term, self-renewing solution. Once again, this depicts how Japan is rising as a leader in many front-end global issues to hopefully find more permanent solutions.

Current Events: Week of June 12

"Japan and South Korea Want to Look to the Future But They Can't Agree on the Past,"The National Interest, 11 June 2017.

Although Japan and South Korea share common perceptions of threats (from North Korea, for example), they diverge in terms of how they want to deal with these threats and their willingness to work with one another. This divergence is rooted in each countries' conceptions of their own and each other's national narratives, particularly with respect to historical issues, which are a major sticking point between Japan and South Korea. Many South Koreans want to renegotiate the settlement deal negotiated by Prime Minister Abe and former President Kim that was supposed to resolve the "comfort women" issue once and for all. They perceive the agreement to be illegitimate and to insufficiently address the wrongs that were committed against Korean women during World War II, while many Japanese people feel that the issue has been dealt with and are frustrated with South Korean actions. (For a more comprehensive comparison of Japanese and Korean attitudes, see "70% think relationship with South Korea won’t change," The Japan News, 13 June 2017.)

"SDF still seeking U.N. opportunities 25 years after peacekeeping law’s passage," The Japan Times, 17 June 2017.

Japan's identity as a "peace-loving" country is a key part of its post-World War II national narrative, but since the end of the Cold War, this narrative has been challenged by repeated demands from the international community that Japan do more to contribute to global security. Japan has struggled to reconcile its commitment to peace with its international responsibility since being criticized of "checkbook diplomacy" during the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s, and this struggle continues today.

Required Readings and Assignments to Prepare for Japan

Preparing for the Program-All Readings and writing assignments posted to blog.

**Before arriving in Japan: read the Orientation Packet thoroughly and become familiar with Program Schedule (both posted on blog):

June Reading: What is Nationalism? National Narratives and Japan
      Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1983) [excerpt].
      Yoshio Sugimoto, “Nation and Nationalism in Contemporary Japan,” Sage Handbook of Nations and Nationalism (2006), pp. 473-487.
      Short reflection (300-500 words approx) due by July 7. Prompt and guidelines are posted here.

July Reading: Japan in Historical Context
      John Dower, Embracing Defeat (1999), pp. 19-30.
      Anne Allison, Precarious Japan (2013), pp. 21-42.
      Short reflection (300-500 words approx) due by August 7. Prompt and guidelines are posted here.

August Reading: Political and Cultural Nationalism
      Jeff Kingston, Japan’s Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the Twenty-First Century (2004), pp. 225-256.
      Watch Spirited Away (2001)
      Andrew Yang, "The Two Japans of 'Spirited Away'," International Journal of Comic Art (2010), pp. 435-452.
      Short reflection (300-500 words approx) due by August 25 on your research interests and what you have learned so far about this topic. What you would like to learn/think about more in Japan?

Consider attending if you are in Seattle this summer:
Seattle Hiroshima Festival on August 6 - Students can attend and/or volunteer

Other Resources will be posted to the blog (optional readings, films, and activities)