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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An army for the people : the self- defense forces and society in postwar Japan

  • Author(s): Sasaki, Tomoyuki
  • et al.

This dissertation concerns the relations between the military and civil society in postwar Japan in the period between 1950 and the late 1980s. I examine the processes by which the military, namely the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), established close ideological and socio-economic ties with civil society and normalized itself in a constitutional order that renounced war and banned the possession of war potential. I first focus on how the US occupation forces and Japanese government leaders presented the event of rearmament at the discursive level, and then shift my attention to how the SDF and other state institutions interacted with civilians at the local and material level. My main argument is that not only the state but also civil society itself contributed to consolidating civil-military interdependency. The significance of this study is that it concerns the militarization of society as a structural problem immanent to the capitalist economy that operates with the nation- state as its basic unit. The military takes advantage of such problems as class difference and uneven development between the city and the countryside, and appeals to those who do not benefit from this economic system. By investigating this process, I demonstrate that the governance of civil society in the modern liberal state works not necessarily through suppression or prohibition but by encouraging the active participation and engagement of those governed

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