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The Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi): an Elusive Conglomerate

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This study has focused on the organizational and structural aspects of Nippon Kaigi, a major rightist lobbying group in Japan. It argues that Nippon Kaigi may not be that powerful despite the group’s influential outlook. By examining the elements of the organization and their relationships with each other, this study observes that Nippon Kaigi as a whole may not be very cohesive.

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  1. For a list of Nippon Kaigi members in the current Abe cabinet, see Appendix 1.

  2. For example, Ishiba Shigeru, then a cabinet minister and a Nippon Kaigi member, has consistently expressed a contrary view.

  3. For a list of Nippon Kaigi’s main activities and goals, see Appendix 2.

  4. The Japanese Imperial Calendar is a system of regnal years. For example, 1979 is Year 54 of Showa—under the previous Emperor—and 2017 is Year 29 of Heisei under the incumbent Emperor. In Japan, this system was once legalized in the Meiji era, but the clause was nullified when Imperial Household Law was amended under the 1946 Constitution.

  5. This may have something to do with modern Nichirenism (Nichiren shugi). For Nichiren shugi, see Matsuoka [8] and Otani [9].

  6. These numbers are based on an Asahi Shimbun article cited on the website of the Hiroshima branch of Nippon Kaigi [11].

  7. For these groups, for example, see Shibuichi [21].

  8. Kokuchūkai was founded in 1914 by Tanaka Chigaku, who promoted modern Nichirenism.

  9. The characteristics of pre-war Shintoism have been open to debate. For example, see Murakami [23] and Ashizu [24].

  10. The number of local governments in Japan has decreased from about 3300 in 1999 to 1700 in 2014.

  11. These included electoral reforms, legal reforms concerning political funding and administrative reforms to the central bureaucracy.

  12. Japanese politics follows the British system, or the Westminster system, where the Prime Minister is chosen by a majority vote in parliament.

  13. The aforementioned district-level legislator [5] complains that votes from Nippon Kaigi’s affiliated groups are dispersed and not as helpful as before, as the numbers of Nippon Kaigi district-level legislators has seen a substantial increase.

  14. Other areas where local governments enjoy certain decision-making power are daily public services, infrastructure building, medical issues and welfare.

  15. Japan’s “political reforms” in the 1990s aimed to forge a typical Westminster system where legislators are strongly bound to the intentions of their party’s leadership. The Westminster system was originally formed in the UK and has spread to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, etc.

  16. A “frame” can mean a set of specific interpretations and a certain understanding of events, situations, and the world as held or defended by participants of a given social movement.

  17. See Shibuichi [36].


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Correspondence to Daiki Shibuichi.


Appendix 1

Table 1.

Appendix 2

Nippon Kaigi’s main activities and goals

Historical perception related

  • Justify Japan’s war efforts in World War Two

  • Oppose Japanese government making apologies for wars and colonialism

  • Argue against China on Nanjing Massacre and South Korea on “comfort women”

  • Pressure legislators to visit Yasukuni Shrine

Education related

  • Promote patriotic education

  • Oppose over-emphasizing citizens’ rights in education

  • Oppose what they call liberal gender education

  • Promote loyalty to the state and emperor

  • Publish and promote school textbooks that fit its views

Amendment of constitution/policy related

  • Rebuild the armed forces

  • Promote the notion of collective self-defense

  • Re-designate the emperor as Head of the State (Kokka-genshu)

  • Oppose the government project to promote gender equality in the workplace

  • Oppose giving voting rights to non-citizens

Imperial institutions and Shinto related

  • Legalize the Imperial Calendar (achieved)

  • Commemorate the late Shōwa Emperor

  • Pressure the government so that mourning and accession ceremonies for emperors should be conducted in the Shinto style

  • Pressure the government to organize Shinto-style ceremonies to celebrate the day when the mythical Emperor Jinmu acceded to the throne as Japan’s first Emperor

  • Oppose female emperor as well as female-line succession of emperors

Custom related

  • Oppose legalizing the system of husband and wife retaining separate family names

Foreign relation related

  • Oppose subsidies provided by local governments to resident North Korean schools

  • Demand North Korea to return Japanese hostages

  • Demand North Korea to stop developing WMDs

  • Demand China to stop sending government vessels to Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

  • Demand South Korea to return Takeshima/Dokdo island

  • Demand Russia to return Northern Territories


  • Oppose and criticize leftist/liberal mass media outlets

  • Oppose leftist Japan Teachers’ Union

  • Legalize national flag and anthem (achieved)

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Shibuichi, D. The Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi): an Elusive Conglomerate. East Asia 34, 179–196 (2017).

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