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The "Abnormal" State: Identity, Norm/Exception and Japan
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Political Science Section. Utrikespolitiska institutet.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7495-055X
2015 (English)In: European Journal of International Relations, ISSN 1354-0661, E-ISSN 1460-3713, Vol. 21, no 1, 122-145 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The term ‘abnormal’ has frequently been used to describe post-war Japan. Together with the idea that the country will, or should have to, ‘normalise’ its foreign and security policy, it has been reproduced in both academia and Japanese society. Why is Japan branded as ‘abnormal’, and from where does the desire to ‘normalise’ it come? Drawing on a relational concept of identity, and the distinction between norm and exception, this article argues that the ‘abnormality–normalisation nexus’ can be understood in terms of three identity-producing processes: (1) the process whereby the Japanese Self is socialised in US/‘Western’ norms, ultimately constructing it as an Other in the international system; (2) the process whereby the Japanese Self imagines itself as ‘legitimately exceptional’ (what is called ‘exceptionalisation’), but also ‘illegitimately abnormal’ — both of which are epitomised by Japan’s ‘pacifism’; and (3) the process whereby both the Self’s ‘negative abnormality’ and China/Asia are securitised in attempts to realise a more ‘normal’ (or super-normal) Japanese Self. How Japan is inter subjectively constructed on a scale between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ enables and constrains action. Although Japan has not remilitarised nearly as much in the 2000s as is often claimed, these processes might very well forebode an exceptional decision to become ‘normal’ and therefore more significant steps towards remilitarisation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 21, no 1, 122-145 p.
Keyword [en]
Abnormality, identity, International Relations, Japan, normalisation, norm/exception
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Statsvetenskap med inriktning mot strategi och säkerhetspolitik
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-5750DOI: 10.1177/1354066113518356ISI: 000350467300006OAI: diva2:893063
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Available from: 2016-01-12 Created: 2016-01-12 Last updated: 2016-01-12Bibliographically approved

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