The Network against The Politics of National Symbols


  • prospectus

  • Transnationalizing Protests against the Hinomaru-Kimigayo Legislation

    Protests against the legalization of Hinomaru and Kimigayo as Japan's national flag and anthem have mobilized not only Japanese nationals, but also non-nationals residing both inside and outside of Japan.

    To be sure, for non-Japanese or non-residents to become involved in Japan's legislative process may be seen as a contradiction given that only those who possess Japanese nationality can formally participate in national politics. Yet, we believe it is important that the issues raised in the protest against the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation be discussed beyond the confines of Japanese nationality for the following reasons.

    First, Hinomaru and Kimigayo are national symbols that are intimately associated with Japan's history of military and colonial aggression. Thus legislation concerning their status cannot be discussed as solely a Japanese domestic issue. Second, national symbols necessarily work to produce, through their symbolic violence, the boundary between the inside and the outside. While disciplining the former and excluding the latter, they thereby foster a sense of privilege and membership. This dimension of national symbols is not unique to Japan and needs to be questioned in global perspective.

    Among those who object to the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation, some may assume chauvinistic and/or Orientalist positions: they may object to Japanese nationalism while absolving their own. To be sure, when we consider specific histories of colonialism and military occupation, we cannot treat and deny all nationalisms as if they operate in the same manner. At the same time, we ought not to pursue our protests against the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation without critically reflecting on other forms of chauvinistic nationalism. We believe that if our protests against the legalization of Hinomaru-Kimigayo were to acquire any global significance, the thoughts and ideas that have been nurtured thus far in these movements must also begin to disrupt  common sense about the nation-state and things national elsewhere. Moreover, objections to the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation must be linked to resistance throughout the world against the symbols and practices of those countries that have histories of invasion and which have violated the human rights of others. Finally, we believe that protests against the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation ought to be directly linked to various efforts to establish the human rights and dignity of those who became minoritized in the process of nationalization.

    We believe that it is of utmost urgency to generate a public sphere in which minoritized thoughts, cultural practices, and people are not violated under the principle that national borders are sacrosanct.  Access to public resources and the means for protecting individual rights must be guaranteed to all. Therefore, we believe that such a publicity should not be confined to Japan's nationalized domain. It must be envisioned transnationally. We have established this network in the hopes of establishing an ongoing site where it will be possible to continue discussions -- in Japanese and in languages other than Japanese -- regarding the Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation and the more general questions of nationalism and national symbols We hope that this e-mail network will help foster transnational coalitions against symbolic and other forms of national violence and serve as a site for the exchange of information and ideas about similar engagements taking place in different localities.

    mailing list: (English) (Japanese)

    *MLs in other languages are under consideration.

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