Subverting the past: An analysis of Japans construction of state indentity

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science


College of Liberal Arts


Political Science

Thesis Adviser

Julio C. Teehankee

Defense Panel Chair

Dennis D. Trinidad

Defense Panel Member

Divinagracia Z. Roldan
Benjamin A. San Jose


This thesis is an attempt towards a critical discourse analysis of how Japan consolidates its state identity through multivalent mechanisms of forgetting as a means for identification. It briefly draws from Japans previous conduct of state identity construction from the Meiji Restoration to the postwar Occupation to analyze the dissonance in Japans current pacifist state identity, characterized by the nationalist pursuit to become a normal state and the unfavorable perception of it being an impenitent state. Contrary to the essentializing tendency of dominant International Relations (IR) discourse on state identity that universalizes states into a set of concrete criteria, the dissonance is considered to be symptomatic of Japans struggle to identify with what it perceives to be ideal, and at the same time, aspiring to be superior to this ideal. Using the concept of identification instead of identity, with Lacans notion of subjectivity serving as a supplement, this study shows that Japans attempts to consolidate its identity is tied with the desire to appropriate chosen characteristics of the ideal Other (sameness) and be desirable to the ideal Other (superiority) and is often conducted in ways of historical revisionism that includes tampering with historical thought, mnemonic sites and documents. Identification for Japan, rather than just being driven by a strategic narrative, is a contentious and painful, sycophantic process of historical alteration rupturing in moments of crisis.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc ; 4 3/4 in.

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