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Constitutional Revision in Japan: Security in East Asia and the United States

OBERLIN, OHIO — Four national experts will discuss “Constitutional Revision in Japan: Security in East Asia and the United States,” in a symposium to be presented by the Oberlin College East Asian Studies Program on Saturday, September 20 from 1 p.m. to   5 p.m. in the Hallock Auditorium, located in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, 122 Elm St.

Related to the symposium will be an exhibit on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and nuclear proliferation on view September 14-27 on the main level of the College’s Mudd Center, 148 West College St. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information: http://www.oberlin.edu/eas/

“Japan, one of the United States’ most important allies and one of the world’s largest economies, is facing a constitutional and political crisis,” says Ann Sherif, director of the East Asian Studies Program.

The symposium guest speakers will explore the ways the constitution of Japan, and especially Article 9 —the war renunciation clause — has shaped postwar geopolitics in Asia and beyond.

“A heated debate currently taking place in Japan over whether to revise the ‘Peace’ Constitution has tremendous implications,” Sherif points out, “not just for American strategic concerns in East Asia, but for international security around the world.”

Richard J. Samuels, author of Securing Japan, will address the topic “Making Security Legal.” Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

“Constitutional Revision by Any Other Name Will Smell as Sweet: Administrative Law as a Shortcut” will be explored by Helen Hardacre, Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society at Harvard University. A scholar whose research focuses on the manner in which traditional religious doctrines and rituals are transformed and adapted in contemporary life, Hardacre is centering her current work on the issue of constitutional revision and its effect on religious groups.

Franziska Seraphim, a historian of modern and contemporary Japan, will present a talk titled “Courts of Law and Citizen Activism in Japan and Germany.” Seraphim is an associate professor at Boston College. Her research focus is on war in Asia in postwar politics, society, and culture and the contested place of Japan’s empire. She is currently writing on immigration and ethnic diversity in Japan.

“Constitutionalism in the Public Sphere: A Brief History” is the focus of the fourth speaker, Timothy George associate professor of history from the University of Rhode Island. Among his research interests are postwar Japanese history; relations among citizens, corporations, and the state in Japan from 1867-1989; and local history and environmental history. His publications include the book Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan, and he co-edited the second edition of Japanese History and Culture from Ancient to Modern Times: Seven Basic Bibliographies.

Media Contact:
Scott Wargo, 440-775-5197 / Scott.Wargo@oberlin.edu
Betty Gabrielli, 440-775-5423 / Betty.Gabrielli@oberlin.edu

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