Conservative Movements and Political Threat Structure: Focusing on History Issues Related Groups in Post-Cold War Japan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:54 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Yoojin KOO , The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Since the 1990s, a growing set of conservative movements has become conspicuous in Japan. Major movements that have brought media’s attention and political and diplomatic struggles have emerged starting from history-revising movements led by the Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho o Tsukurukai up to Xenophobia movements led by the Zaitokukai in recent years. Taking these movements into account, this paper asks: what triggers conservative(or right wing) movements in post-Cold War Japan?

Social movement scholars have argued that mobilization is incurred from political opportunity structure(POS), which simply put, when political opportunities open, people gather together for contention. However, although POS theory has provided a great deal of explanatory power, it also exposes its explanatory weakness: where a movement occurs when POS closes. This leads to shed a new light on political threat structure(PTS). While POS refers to favorable political environments, PTS presumes the opposite like repression. In this regard, this paper focuses on PTS and argues that PTS influences mobilization in the case of Japanese conservative movements. When observing conservative movements after the 1990s, movements were triggered though POS closes.

In order to support the argument, this paper first addresses the relations between POS and PTS and what constitutes PTS: threatening Cabinet’s ideology and formal speeches like the Murayama Speech, unfavorable remarks and behaviors by politicians, etc. Next, by selecting three ‘major’ conservative civic groups and through discourse analysis of these groups, it explores how they were mobilized under PTS. Lastly, this paper attempts to find whether certain combination of PTS factors exist to stimulate movements. 

This paper intends to contribute to understating the mobilization of conservative movements - Japanese one in particular - and to the academic discourse of the relation between POS/PTS and movements.