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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

When examining political thought in post-1945 Japan, we must acknowledge that the postwar philosophical landscape was fundamentally a trans-war one. Narratives that sought to rationalize the past war laid the foundations for a divided consciousness after the war that entrenched antagonistic opposites as the parameters for postwar discourse. State versus self, politics versus ethics, theory versus value, ideas versus action and intellectuals versus “ordinary” people were all manifestations of the desire in the postwar era to establish ethical legitimacy through the dynamic of normative distancing. Paramount in this endeavor was an insistence by Japan’s postwar thinkers on creating and maintaining a hostile separation between civil society and the state as the proof of a rehabilitated ethos for postwar democracy. This conceptual framing had consequences for postwar thought and how it was articulated. In effect, the retrospective fragmentation of subjective responsibility led to the alienation of politics and value in the postwar era, preventing the coherence of subjectivity and responsibility upon which the integrity of the trans-war narrative depended.

Keywords: Trans-war Japanese thought, autonomy, subjectivity, tenkō war responsibility, Maruyama Masao, Shimizu Ikutarō Yoshimoto Takaaki, Umemoto Katsumi, Matsumura Kazuto

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