An Idea of Postwar Japan: Hitoshi Ashida and Japanese Liberalism

About the Speaker

Dr Ueda will speak in Japanese. English interpretation will be provided.

Makiko Ueda is a lecturer and research associate in the School of Law, Department of Political Science at Keio University. She has worked as a research fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and academic assistant for the Japanese Modern Historical Manuscripts Association and the Imperial Household Agency, Shoryōbu. Makiko has recently completed her doctoral dissertation on Japanese liberalism, in relation to domestic and foreign policy, and holds a BA in Modern Japanese History (Sacred Heart) and a Masters degree in Political Science (Keio). She was awarded the Japan Student Services Organization Fellowship (2005, 2006), the Shinzō Koizumi Fellowship (2006, 2007) and Keio University Fellowship (2006) and her publications have appeared in International Relations, Kokusai Seiji and Keio University Press.

Makiko will commence a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for International Studies at MIT, later this year.

Abstract

Scholarship on the structure of postwar Japanese politics has focused almost exclusively on the "Yoshida Line"- the policies that defined the political strategy of postwar Prime Minister, Yoshida Shigeru. There has been little attention given to other influential liberals of the time, such as Hitoshi Ashida, who presented alternatives to Yoshida's idea of postwar Japan, as part of an 'anti-Yoshida' directorate.

Ashida, a diplomat turned politician, was one of the most well-known Japanese liberals. He managed Japan's two-term coalition cabinet from 1947-1948 and led the national movement for rearmament in the 1950s whilst being critical of the 'de facto rearmament' of the Yoshida administration. His liberal theory encompassed human nature, the domestic system and international relations; his middle-course strategy attempted to bridge Japan's conservatives and progressives to protect the parliamentary system from class conflict. Ashida attempted to link postwar nationalism to democracy- a similar agenda to that put forth by progressive intellectuals such as Masao Maruyama. In this way, the 'Ashida Line' was characteristic of postwar liberal democracy.

This paper will broaden the conventional understanding of Japan's postwar foreign policy and present a more nuanced analysis of the development of liberalism in postwar Japan. With a particular focus on Ashida and his anti-Yoshida counterparts, this paper will explore the diverse and competing forms of liberalism in postwar Japan.

 

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