Identity, Ideology, and Cinema: Making Sense of Japan's Foreign and Security Policies in the 1950s and 2000s Dissertation

(2015). Identity, Ideology, and Cinema: Making Sense of Japan's Foreign and Security Policies in the 1950s and 2000s . 10.25148/etd.FI15032159

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Ito, Yukari


  • Japan is an important ally of the United States–the world’s third biggest economy, and one of the regional great powers in Asia. Making sense of Japan’s foreign and security policies is crucial for the future of peace and stability in Northeast Asia, where the possible sources of conflict such as territorial disputes or the disputes over Japan’s war legacy issues are observed.

    This dissertation explored Japan’s foreign and security policies based on Japan’s identities and unconscious ideologies. It employed an analysis of selected Japanese films from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, as well as from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. The analysis demonstrated that Japan’s foreign and security policies could be understood in terms of a broader social narrative that was visible in Japanese popular cultural products, including films and literatures. Narratives of Japanese families from the patriarch’s point of view, for example, had constantly shaped Japan’s foreign and security policies. As a result, the world was ordered hierarchically in the eyes of the Japan Self. In the 1950s, Japan tenaciously constructed close but asymmetrical security relations with the U.S. in which Japan willingly subjugated itself to the U.S. In the 2000s, Japan again constructed close relations with the U.S. by doing its best to support American responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by mobilizing Japan’s SDFs in the way Japan had never done in the past.

    The concepts of identity and unconscious ideology are helpful in understanding how Japan’s own understanding of self, of others, and of the world have shaped its own behaviors. These concepts also enable Japan to reevaluate its own behaviors reflexively, which departs from existing alternative approaches. This study provided a critical analytical explanation of the dynamics at work in Japan’s sense of identity, particularly with regard to its foreign and security policies.

publication date

  • March 25, 2015


  • Film
  • Foreign Policy
  • Identity
  • Ideology
  • Japan

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)