Tokyo College Event “Japan That Breaks Away from ‘the Postwar’ ” by Prof. Park Cheol Hee - Tokyo College

Tokyo College Event “Japan That Breaks Away from ‘the Postwar’ ” by Prof. Park Cheol Hee

2019.07.22 @ 17:00 – 18:30

Professor Cheol Hee Park gave a lecture on “Japan that Breaks Away from ‘the Postwar’.”

On July 22, 2019, Professor Cheol Hee Park (Tokyo College, Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University) gave a lecture on “Japan that Breaks Away from ‘the Postwar’.” Professor Park, who specializes in politics and Japanese studies, lectured in Japanese on a form of Japan that is neither a “continuation postwar” nor “a return to prewar,” focusing on a Japan “that breaks away from ‘the postwar’.” In the latter part of the session, Professor Park participated in a dialogue with Professor Shunya Yoshimi (University of Tokyo), who specializes in sociology and cultural studies.

First, Professor Masashi Haneda (College Director) introduced the theme taken up by Tokyo College, “The Earth and Human Society in 2050,” and remarked that Professor Park’s lecture is well-placed to examine “Japan seen from the outside and Japan seen from within.” Professor Park then explained Japan as achieving a break from the postwar in terms of changes to the concepts, systems, and social mechanisms that supported the postwar structure. He then positioned Japan’s lost 20 years as a period of change, and argued that the end of three phenomena in that period—the end of (1) the Cold War, (2) rapid economic growth, and (3) village society—also had a major impact on politics.

Shifting focus from concepts that had supported the postwar structure

Professor Park defined the “breaking away from ‘the postwar’” as “conceptual separation from ‘the postwar’,” and explained that the Liberal Democratic Party, which had an anti-socialist structure in 1955, has now transformed into an anti-liberalism party. He stated that as the trend of anti-liberalism has strengthened, the nature of the debate concerning constitutional reform and historical issues has itself changed. Focusing on the institutional changes seen in Japanese politics in recent years, as well as changes in foreign policy, Professor Park pointed out that recently in Japan the Prime Minister’s authority has become extraordinarily strong (supported by the centralizing system of the Prime Minister’s Office), and that there is an intention to move away from the conservative mainstream of the Yoshida Doctrine, with an emphasis on Japan’s position as a great power in diplomacy and security. He said that the idea has taken root in the direct connection between international security and Japan’s security.

Where is this “Japan that breaks away from ‘the postwar’” headed?

In response to the concern of neighboring countries that Japan might return to its prewar condition, Professor Park stressed that politicians from the postwar generations have a rather different understanding of war and colonies to that of the politicians before them, and stated that, “Japan is now a democratic, rather than imperialist or militarist, country and, above all, it is a country where postmodernism has been well-established by social values, so a return to the old days is almost impossible.” Finally, Professor Park pointed out four issues faced by Japan as it breaks away from the postwar. It has become clear that Japan needs to face the following interrelated issues: (1) the issue of checks and balances on power; (2) the unresolved historical issues; (3) how to maintain the status of a major power as the population shrinks and ages, and the financial burden grows; and (4) how to bring stability to an increasingly stratified and unstable society.


After the lecture, there was a discussion between Professor Park and Professor Yoshimi. First, having explained that there are several views about when “postwar” began and ended, and that they all have different interpretations of the postwar concept, Professor Yoshimi suggested deepening the discussion into what “postwar” means in Asia—how the term is understood in mainland China, the Korean Peninsula, and Southeast Asian areas such as Vietnam. He then asked questions concerning the relationship between the political changes and social changes such as aging and the transformation into an internet society; as well as how Japanese politics, economics, and social structures changes during the Heisei era relate to the history of the world as a whole (the turning point of global history), which has changed significantly since the end of the 1970s. In response, Professor Park expressed the view that the postwar period began from 1951 to 1952, and that the postwar regime began to shake from the latter half of the 1980s to the early 1990s. In addition, the dialogue saw spirited discussion relating to the impact of changes in media and mass communication since the 1990s on politics and society.

Coincidentally, the lecture was held the day after the House of Councillors election. Through his analysis of Japanese politics, Professor Park delved into the issues facing Japan today, and set out the tasks ahead without being pessimistic about the future.
Furthermore, the dialogue between a Japanese sociologist and Korean political scientist highlighted how concurrent global events give rise to different political impacts and responses from country to country. On the other hand, it also became apparent that the development of global business, pursuing profit regardless of ethnic or national borders, is an extremely important factor when looking at the future of any country.

Date(s) July 22nd (Mon), 2019, 5:00-6:30pm (4:30 pm Doors Open)

Fukutake Learning Theater, The University of Tokyo (B2 Floor, Fukutake Hall, Hongo Campus)

Registration Pre-registration required (160 seats available -First come, first served)
Language Japanese (Simultaneous translation available)
Organized by Tokyo College, The University of Tokyo

Upcoming Events

The Question of Despotism in the Reception of Montesquieu’s De l’Esprit des lois in Japan and China (Lecture by Prof. Anne CHENG)

イベント予定共催/Joint Event講演会/Lecture

Thursday, 18 April 2024, 14:00-16:00 JST

One of the most famous quotes from Montesquieu’s De l’Esprit des lois is: “China is thus a despotic state of which the principle is fear”. Before jumping to hasty conclusions driven by the present context, I suggest that we should start with delving into the history of the reception of Montesquieu’s thought and most famous work first in Meiji Japan, and then in late imperial China.

Fortifying Digital Frontiers: Navigating the Cybersecurity Journey of Saudi Arabia (Lecture by Prof. Muhammad KHURRAM KHAN)

イベント予定共催/Joint Event講演会/Lecture

Monday, 24 April 2024, 15:30-17:00 JST

This lecture explores Saudi Arabia’s dedication to strengthening its ICT infrastructure to protect businesses and individuals from cyber threats. The discussion includes the Kingdom’s initiatives to reassess its cybersecurity capabilities, its investments in a vision of a digitally secure economy, and a strategic framework to position itself as not only a regional leader but also a global pioneer in collective cybersecurity.

Bringing Dark Heritage to Light: Monuments to Wartime Foreign Laborers in Japan (Lecture by Prof. Andrew GORDON)


Friday, 26 April 2024, 14:00-15:30 JST

Monuments mourning the deaths of wartime foreign laborers bring to mind two meanings of the term “dark” in relation to heritage: the commemoration of tragic episodes in history and the importance of little known, nearly hidden monuments to this history. What messages are conveyed at these doubly dark locations?

Conscience and Complexity (Lecture by Prof. Alexander R. GALLOWAY)


Tuesday, 7 May 2024, 10:00-11:00 am JST

Complexity questions the duality of existence, favoring multiplicity over singularity. In philosophy, Leibniz and Deleuze explored this intricacy. Mathematicians like Cantor, Gödel, and Turing delineated the boundaries of rationality. Freud and Lacan proposed the psyche's autonomy and symbolic realm. This ongoing discourse reaffirms metaphysics' relevance in contemporary thought, highlighting a preference for complexity.

What is a Global Historian’s Archive? (Lecture by Prof. Martin DUSINBERRE)


Friday, 10 May 2024, 10:30-12:00 JST

This lecture follows the Yamashiro-maru steamship across Asian and Pacific waters, innovatively reconstructing the lives of migrants who left Japan for work in Hawai'i, Southeast Asia and Australia in the late-nineteenth century. These stories bring together transpacific historiographies of settler colonialism, labour history and resource extraction in new ways. Drawing on an unconventional and deeply material archive, the lecture addresses key questions of method and authorial positionality in the writing of global history.

Thinking through Permafrost (Lecture by Prof. Sabine DULLIN)


Tuesday, 14 May, 2024, 16:30-18:00 JST

In this lecture, Prof. Dullin will discuss how Permafrost was invented as a scientific issue, while also being a natural and meaningful ground for the native communities living on it. Then, she will show how Permafrost took, at the turn of the 21st century, a political meaning in the search for sovereignty in different Arctic substates, such as Yakutia.

The Putative Unity of the West: On Anthropological Difference (Lecture by Prof. SAKAI Naoki)


Friday, 17 May 2024, 14:00-15:30 pm JST

The modern world's international landscape is shaped by an investment in anthropological difference since the emergence of "Europe" in the early modern era. This difference, distinguishing humanitas from anthropos, is anticipatory, guiding humanity's path as a regulative idea rather than a factual norm. It consolidates dichotomies such as Europe/Asia, West/Rest, and white/colored, fostering intricate affiliations. This lecture delves into the identity politics of whiteness, where individuals invest in European culture, Western civilization, and a race devoid of color. However, true belonging remains putative, only realized through contrast with the non-European, non-Western, and non-white.

Central Banks in the 21st Century (Lecture by Prof. Luiz Awazu PEREIRA DA SILVA)


Wednesday, May 29th, 2024, 15:00-16:30 JST

Central banks, and central bankers, stand at a crossroads. They face five major forks in the 21st century requiring careful reflection: (1) the re-emergence of inflation and uncertainties; (2) climate change; (3) inequality; (4) digital financial innovation; and (5) artificial intelligence. Modern central banks have always strengthened their analytical thinking when facing challenges in the past, balancing risks properly and choosing the best path. Now, these new issues imply that central banks will have to carefully identify and analyze their challenging implications.

The Salon ー Conversations with Prominent Professors at the University of Tokyo (Season 2)


Every Friday from June 7, 2024 (Available from 17:00 JST)

“The Salon” is a new dialogue series featuring distinguished scholars in the humanities at the University of Tokyo that aims to transcend disciplinary boundaries. It is hosted by Professor Naoko Shimazu of Tokyo College.The conversations occur over a cup of coffee. We invite you to listen to an informal discussion between experts in different fields, as if you are sitting next to them.This is a chance to see a new side of our guests that you have never seen before.

Previous Events

Why the Destruction of Property Rights is Necessary (Lecture by Prof. Frank UPHAM)


Monday, 15 April 2024, 17:00-18:30 JST

The World Bank, the American government, and virtually all scholars agree that “Property rights are at the heart of the incentive structure of market economies” and that a “free and robust market can thrive only where property rights are accorded respect.” Drawing on empirical reality, I argue the reverse: that property rights must be destroyed for rapid economic growth and to realize the social benefits that growth can provide.

Gandhi and the Regime of (Human) Rights (Lecture by Prof. Vinay LAL)


Monday, 25 March 2024, 05:30-7:00 pm JST

This talk traces the evolution of the idea of "rights" in the West and the notion of rights-talk, and then discusses Gandhi's thinking on rights, his philosophical, ethical, and political reservations about the idea of rights, and his anticipation of the Anthropocene.

International Women’s Day Event: A Conversation with Akutagawa Prize-winning Author MURATA Sayaka


Monday, 18 March 2024, 17:00-18:30 JST

To celebrate International Women’s Day this March, Tokyo College’s “Gender, Sexuality & Identity” collaborative research group will host a special webinar event with MURATA Sayaka, author and winner of the 155th Akutagawa Prize for her novel ”Convenience Store Woman” (2016). Through discussing Murata’s writing, experiences, and inspirations, the event hopes to generate reflection on society’s gender and sexuality “norms” and how they shape our world.

Wild Pedagogies: Planetary Boundaries and Perils of a Globalizing Status Quo (Lecture by Prof. Bob JICKLING)


Monday, March 11th, 2024 15:30-17:00 JST

Education is a necessary partner in addressing global sustainability challenges. Wild Pedagogies aim to re-examine human relationships with places, landscapes, nature, non-human beings, and planetary boundaries. They foreground nature as a teacher and challenge globalizing trends towards increased control over pedagogy. Wild Pedagogies are offered to all—parents, students, community educators, teachers, academics, business leaders, policymakers, wilderness guides, and more—who wish to expand their horizons and are curious about the potential of wilder practices.

Soft Robotics (Lecture by Prof. Jean Louis VIOVY)


Monday, 4 March 2024, 15:00-16:30 JST

Robotics is gaining increasing importance across a wide range of applications, including industrial production, agriculture, assistance to individuals and households, and medicine. However, its progress is still constrained by the mechanical basis of construction and operation. The disadvantages of the constraints can be radically reduced by the advent of “soft robotics”. In this lecture, Prof. Viovy presents and illustrates the potentialities of this emerging field with a few examples, and discusses its future and potential limitations.

The Social and Behavioural Turn in Macroeconomics (Lecture by Prof. Edward John DRIFFILL)


Wednesday, 28 February 2024, 15:00-16:30 JST

Macroeconomics has been a contested field since it was invented in 1936. It is dominated by sophisticated models that assume that people behave rationally. But slowly, the recognition that people do not behave like “homo economicus” is changing things. Hours of work, use of leisure time, patterns of spending, are affected by social norms and conventions; and these things affect how the economy responds to disruptions like wars and pandemics.