The other Rashomon story

International norms and continuing constructions of Japaneseness

Authored by: David Leheny

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387


 Download Chapter



For decades, writers on Japanese politics have struggled with notions both of Japanese uniqueness and of the country’s sensitivity to pressure from the outside world. Some early accounts of Japanese exceptionalism referred to distinctive cultural or civilizational traditions that made Japanese politics different from that of Western democracies, a position now rejected or at least heavily modified by most of the leading research on the country. More recently, others have noticed that Japanese political action—whether on trade, or human rights, or environmental regulation—often follows pressure from foreign governments (gaiatsu) or networked activities by international NGOs. Whether Japan is, in this sense, a “reactive state” (Calder 1988b) in which politics is relatively stagnant until foreign pressure breaks through a logjam or a system in which local actors can make effective use of external influence to achieve their own ends (e.g. Schoppa 1997), the direction of action is relatively clear. The outside world affects Japan, and Japanese politics is especially geared toward continued alignment with external forces.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.