Japanese nationalism has had a dramatic change since WW2. Before the war, Japan led their people through strong government control of nationalism and militarism, in which they supported with their boasts of never having lost battles with the approval of the gods, but during the tragic time of WW2, Japan had its first big defeat. This defeat opened the eyes of many citizens, who started recognizing the power and control that the militarists and nationalists had over the japanese society and government and started the beginning of postwar nationalists.
The end of the Meiji period, which is the beginning of WW2, Japanese militarism and nationalism rose significantly. Since the Meiji period was ending the opportunity for new sources of power were appearing rapidly allowing chances for new sources of power to take control.(Deac) These opportunities were easily snatched up by the military since in Japan the ministers in the military were held equal to the Prime Ministers of the nation. This equality in power allowed the military to expand its views on a dominant political power typed nationalism. (Deac) While forcing this view onto most of the population the military also worked its way into the government, forcing parts of the governments that they did not approve of to shut down. A lot of the time, the branches that were shut down were branches that could allow either to much citizen power or prevent the military from achieving their goals.(Deac) With the military forcing itself into Japanese society, they also increased the importance of being either a nationalist or militarist. Being supportive of your government soon became a social standard and was expected from every citizen. The military’s control over the government convinced the citizens of Japan that everything was good with the military in control and that they should support it.(Empire and Land of the Rising Sun) A depression did also happen in Japan, like it did in the USA but unlike the USA, this depression revealed the flaws in the Meiji Constitution and helped pave a way for the military to rise into power with secrecy and success.(Japan before WWII) The military excused its actions by supporting their cause for extreme nationalism with the fact that Japan had never been defeated. The military used the expectation militarism and the nationalism they brought to power to support their claims of the land being approved by the gods. Throughout many years and wars Japan’s land stayed strong and never withered, therefore its land was sacred and had the acceptance and approval of the gods. (Saaler)
Since the Japanese took such pride in their sacred land they lived on the statement of being so strong and supported by the gods, when they surrendered August 15 , it shattered the militaristic standards and support of then-current nationalists.(Saaler) The Pacific War was very brutal and rough on the Japanese society, killing many innocent citizens and wearing out their army and navy. Japan stayed strong throughout most of the war but when 2 influential events occured, it began the end of the dominant political power and began a forceful change of nationalism.(Pacific War) The Soviet Entry was one of the events that severely impacted Japan’s decision to surrender. “The USSR’s entry into the war was a significant factor in the Japanese decision to surrender as it became apparent the Soviets were no longer willing to act as an intermediary for a negotiated settlement on favorable terms”.(Pacific War) The other event that was a sharp blow to Japan’s ability to stay in the war was the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Pacific War) Normal bombs that have been used before in war were known to be very harmful since they killed in mass but with the introduction of atomic bomb, the thought and fear of a bomb increased severely after witnessing the immediate effects of the bomb. These 2 atomic bombs caused brutal effects on the country the moment they landed but also for years to come from things such as radioactive materials. (Britannica) The impact of these bombs critically injured Japan, not only physically, but also their government since it took away one of their excuses to have a large amount of nationalism. Because of these 2 major events, Emperor Hirohito said, “Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization”(Pacific War) Throughout the war Japan put up a strong defense, trying to keep its reputation of the undefeated and sacred land alive to not only live up to the expectations of the gods but to also keep the military as the most dominant political power. (Saaler)
With the surrender of Japan in the Pacific War, Japan gave up its title as a major power nation and had to drastically change their opinion and power over them themselves and others. Also with the loss in the war, economic problems came upon Japan, who realized that they needed to interact with other nations and countries with kindness and the intention to start a kind and economic-goal-based relationship rather than forcing their said unbeatable military into other countries to get what they want. (Maruyama) After the collapse of the dominant political power, many people realized the change that needed to happen to their government and to their society. After the war, Japan renounced their war and military power, which gave them the opportunity to create a special relationship with the USA which gave them security and help them achieve fundamental reforms of their government, economic system, and society. (McCornac) Even with all these sudden changes in the country over 1,000 extremist right-wing groups still exist.(Japanese Nationalism) Most of these groups use violence to try to intimidate new political leaders who do not support their cause and public figures. These groups, such as Uyoku dantai, are still trying to live on the wartime-era and continue on the idea of a dominant political power even though most modern nationalists now do not agree with that statement or like the suggestion of even more power given to the military. (Japanese Nationalism)
Through just a few years, Japan’s whole society and government had made a significant shift. With the large events of WWII leaving behind a damaged country, Japanese citizens began to work to fix and improve their country. They left behind their controlling militaristic nationalism government and supporters and turned it into a type of nationalism that smoothly fit in with the changed Japan. The recognition of these problems and solutions helped Japan in fixing their ways by having them take a stand for their new type of nationalism rather than taking sides.