A Democratic Solution for Japan’s Fading Political Public Space: Constitutional Inquiry into Article 1


With the upper house election scheduled for July 2016, the topic of constitutional amendments is gaining growing attention in Japan. While Article 9 of Japan's post-World War II Constitution, which defines the country's position in terms of war and military, continues to be the centre of public controversy, the nation's debates on Article 1 - which designates Japan's Emperor as the symbol of the state and thereby determines Emperor's constitutional and normative locus in relation to the Japanese citizenry - may need to come before anything else. The public space, where a community of citizens is formed, is fading in postwar Japan. Hannah Arendt's study of authentic politics, to which this paper turns, criticizes the disproportionate extent to which the state adopts the principle of secularization and argues that a sustainable polity depends upon the public space's unsevered interaction with an ultimate authority which embodies spirit in the country's norms and laws. As in a widespread public indifference to the nominated public festival days such as National Foundation Day, cerebrating the events associated with Emperor has been silenced owing partly to Japanese citizens' fear of nationalist accusation however. By dissecting postwar Japan's case, this paper highlights the contra-democratic consequences which the modern state's inadequate application of secularization brings about. It proposes the significance of relocating Emperor's locus to the head of state, the relocation which may help resuscitate Japanese citizens' freedom, rather than leading to the revival of Emperor's sovereignty, which is incompatible with the sovereignty of the general will.

Author Information
Yaya Mori, Curtin University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: IICJ2016
Stream: Japanese Politics and International Relations

This paper is part of the IICJ2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon