Japanese Nationalism from the Ground Up: A Profile of Nippon Kaigi and its Local-Level Activists

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Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Thursday, February 25, 20212:00PM - 3:30PMOnline Event, Online Event
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Recent years have seen a rise in attention to Nippon Kaigi, or “Japan Conference,” an unincorporated lobby association that is credited with providing ideological motivation and legislative guidance to Japan’s top elected officials and other powerholders. The group serves as a meeting-point for religious organizations, ethics training groups, political reform associations, and others that diverge in terms of teachings and practices but cooperate in efforts to return Japan to the imagined glories of its imperial past. While much ink has been spilled on the group’s history and the influence of its prominent signatories, comparatively little attention has been paid to Nippon Kaigi’s ground-level operations. In this presentation, McLaughlin will draw on his ethnographic engagements with Shinto priests, members of ethics training seminars, and other Kaigi affiliates to create a complex picture of how the group manifests through local-level activities. By paying particular attention to gender roles, ritual practices, doctrinal instruction, and other factors that are often left out of estimations of Nippon Kaigi’s political impact, McLaughlin will demonstrate how a profile of the organization that gives precedence to the quotidian lives of its participants may reorient research on nationalism in Japan today.

Levi McLaughlin is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University. He is co-author of Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan (IEAS Berkeley, 2014) and author of Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of a Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan (University of Hawai`i Press, 2019).


Mio Otsuka


Levi McLaughlin
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University

Phillip Lipscy
Director, Centre for the Study of Global Japan

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