In recent years Japan has undergone seismic shifts in its political landscape as the Liberal Democratic Party has returned to power in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku disasters, with a more conservative, nationalist, and revisionist orientation at the impetus of Prime Minister Abe’s government. Spurning the concerns of the anti-nuclear sentiment that was provoked by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and returning to power after a brief period out of office while the Democratic Party of Japan presided over the disaster recovery, PM Abe pushed for fundamental changes in Japan’s security policy, “reinterpreting” the constitution to allow for a different military posture. This has given rise to political protests across the political spectrum, drawing in activists from the “old-school” pacifist movements as well the new civic activism that 3.11 has given birth to. Where is the Abe government headed now? What are the prospects for the civil society opposition to the security policy change?
Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia University
Koichi Nakano is Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia University. He specializes in the comparative politics of advanced industrial democracies, particularly Japan and Europe, and in political theory. He has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Tokyo, a second B.A. in philosophy and politics from the University of Oxford, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University. His research has focused on a variety of issues of contemporary Japanese politics from comparative, historical, and philosophical perspectives, including neoliberal globalization and nationalism; the Yasukuni problem; language, media and politics; amakudari and administrative reform in Japan; decentralization; the cross-national transfer of policy ideas, and as been taking an active role in the scholars’ opposition to the Prime Minister Abe’s recent security legislations.
In English, he has published articles in The Journal of Japanese Studies, Asian Survey, The Pacific Review, West European Politics, Governance, and a single-authored book entitled Party Politics and Decentralization in Japan and France: When the Opposition Governs (Routledge, 2010). He has recently co-edited Disasters and Social Crisis in Contemporary Japan: Political, Religious, and Sociocultural Responses (Palgrave, 2015). In Japanese, his publication includes Ukeika suru Nihon Seiji (The Rightward Shift of Japanese Politics) (Iwanami Shinsho, 2015) and Sengo Nihon no Kokka Hoshushugi: Naimu/Jichi Kanryo no Kiseki (Postwar State Conservatism in Japan: A Study of the Bureaucrats of the Ministry of Home Affairs) (Iwanami Shoten, 2013). He has also frequently commented on Japanese politics for the international and Japanese media, including BBC, CNN, Reuters, AP, The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, ABC, The Australian, and NHK.