Right-Wing Nationalism in Japan: The Rise and Fall of Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe became Japan’s prime minister in September 2006, capping a political rise termed by one scholar as “extraordinary.” Public opinion polls at that time showed widespread support for Abe who proposed, among other things, to revise the country’s constitution and education system and to make it once more a “beautiful nation.” One year later, however, he resigned in defeat and disgrace, a leader described, in another scholar’s words, as “an unmitigated disaster.”

Abe’s rise and fall must be understood within the context of a series of economic, social, and political crises that have beset Japan since the late 1980s and the continued strength of right-wing nationalists within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The presentation focuses on the issues that brought Abe to power, the policies he implemented during his short term in office, and the ongoing crises that underpin the desire in some quarters for a return to militant nationalism.

Speaker: Dr. Trevor Harrison

Dr Harrison was born and raised in Edmonton, and holds a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg, an M.A. from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge and Interim Director of the university’s Prentice Institute of Global Demography and Economics.

Dr. Harrison is the author or co-author of six books examining Alberta and Canadian politics. In the fall of 2006, he and his family traveled to Japan where they spent the next four months. That period in Japan witnessed the election of a new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose right-wing nationalist platform called for changes to Japan’s constitution and a greater role for its military. Dr. Harrison had a first hand view of these events, resulting in the recent publication of his book Twenty-First Century Japan: A New Sun Rising.

Moderator: Trevor Page

Mr. Page is a retired United Nations Director

Date: Thursday, May 8, 2008 Time: 12 Noon – 1:30 p.m. Location: Ericksen’s (lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. Cost: $10 (includes lunch)

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