The Fall of the 1955 System in Japanese Politics and the Current Crisis of Hegemony

By Iida, Momo | Social Justice, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview

The Fall of the 1955 System in Japanese Politics and the Current Crisis of Hegemony


Iida, Momo, Social Justice


The Four '89s and Civilizational Transformation by Global Citizens

The evolutionary and world historical events of 1989 - the massacre at Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall - brought about an end to the East-West Cold War, the collapse of socialist systems, and the Persian Gulf War. After plunging into a simultaneous worldwide recession, the world began to pressure Japan as a great power to clarify its role and direction in a new age of international society. We will soon stand at the crossroads of history.

The year 1989 proved to be a historical turning point both for postwar world history and for contemporary history, which began after World War I and was crystallized in the political arena as Lenin versus Wilson. Taking a macroscopic view of the "four '89s" in history, the year 1989 is the fourth instance, following 1689 with the Bill of Rights in England, 1789 with the Declaration of Human Rights in France, and 1889, which witnessed the Second International and Japan's Meiji Constitution.

From this perspective, the current turning point, at the fin de siecle, may imply a comprehensive reevaluation of modern history at least since the Industrial Revolution and perhaps since Columbus as a problem of civilizational transformation by global citizens. We have reached a critical juncture where the progress of modern civilization is destroying both nature and human beings due to excessive development.

Following this trajectory of modern history, the fourth '89 revealed itself as a historical moment that reaffirmed civil liberties, universal human rights, democracy, and respect for the individual. It also made clear that socialism itself could not be revived unless it were reformulated in the context of modern democracy. In addition, 1989 initiated a revision process of the Charter of the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations by redefining its mission in terms of "coercing peace through military force" and "oppression and development of the South by the North." Linked with this was the campaign to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution [which states categorically that the Japanese people will "forever renounce war as a sovereign right" as well as the "threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes"]. These developments are currently being played out in the formative process of the New World Order, which has been led since the Gulf War by the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China) and the Group of 5 or G5 (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Japan).

Collapse of the Contemporary Socialist Countries and the Catastrophe in the Capitalist World

The postwar socialist systems were shaped within the Cold War structure by the infamous balance of nuclear terror and were transformed into the opposite of a supposedly ideal socialism; the project collapsed. This collapse was attributable to the distorted quantitative expansion of "productive power" by a state-owned or state-operated centralized economy that gave priority to "munitions industrialization" via the military-industrial complex and to the swollen bureaucracies characteristic of the Communist dictatorial "states."

The global dissolution of the socialist structure gave rise to boisterous and flippant, though temporary, pronouncements on "the victory of capitalism," "the victory of liberal democracy," and "the end of history." However, reality set in as the global economy was hit by worldwide recession, compounded by the hellish worldwide eruption of regional conflicts over ethnicity, minority rights, religion, language, customs, culture, and values.

The contemporary capitalist world-system - which is controlled economically and politically by the transnational corporations, the IMF, GATT, the World Bank, members of the Security Counsel (PS), and the Summit (G7) - is manifesting several severe structural problems: a critical exacerbation of the gap between North and South and the development of an ecological and environmental crisis. …

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