Is Nationalism on the Rise in Japan?

Observers argue that in recent years, particularly under the Shinzo Abe government, Japan has grown more nationalistic. At a precarious time in East Asian international relations, such a trend would have significant implications for Japan’s relations with China, South Korea, and the United States. But is Japanese nationalism actually behaving as many commentators assert? This paper defines and measures Japanese nationalism across time and across space. It finds that Japanese nationalism is not “on the rise”: that it is actually moving in a more cosmopolitan (rather than nationalistic) direction.

Jennifer Lind is the author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics, a book that examines the effect of war memory on international reconciliation, has authored scholarly articles in International Security and the International Studies Quarterly, and writes for wider audiences within the Atlantic and Foreign Affairs. Jennifer Lind is a Fellow in the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future (a network for leading U.S.-based Japan specialists, run by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership) and was previously a Fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a Visiting Scholar at the Waseda University for Advanced Study in Tokyo, and worked as a consultant for RAND and at the U.S. Department of Defense. Her current research projects include an article about the coming struggle for the Western Pacific between the United States and China, and a book project about the speed and complexity with which countries rise to the status of great powers.