War memories and Japanese citizens’ views toward the self-defense forces

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War memories among the Japanese have played a critical role in shaping their perceptions of peace, providing various opportunities where they can learn about World War II. In spite of their critical importance in Japanese society, very few studies have systematically examined how war memories influence Japanese citizens' views toward defense issues. The present research addresses the gap in the literature. More specifically, this study examines how exposures to war memories shape Japanese citizens' opinions of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Building upon the implications from studies on peace education and international relations, I hypothesize that exposures to war memories enhance Japanese citizens' support for the SDF's “reassurance” Strategy, which emphasizes a more conciliatory stance in the world. Results of the statistical analysis relying on the survey data in Japan verify the validity of this hypothesis. By dissecting the process through which Japanese citizens develop their opinions about defense policy, this study significantly advances our understanding of the relationship between peace education and international relations, thus providing critical implications that are highly useful in understanding Japan's security culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Japan
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Japan
  • Self-Defense Forces
  • reassurance
  • war memories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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