17 juli 2006

How Patriotic are YOU?

Since my appointment with my thesissupervisor last Wednesday, I've been working on my thesis like mad! And what do you know, it's fun! I never thought I would be motivated this much. I do not want to bore anyone too much with talking about Japanese patriotism, but chances are that you will find me referring to it every now and then, just because its on my mind these days.

The current Koizumi administration has been working very hard to show the Japanese people that it is not a bad thing to love one's country. Raising the flag, singing the anthem, visiting Yasukuni to honour the people who died for Japan in the war... the list goes on and on. The theme of my thesis is the current debate on patriotism in Japan. There is a revision of the Basic Education Law waiting to be discussed in the Diet (Japanese parliament). This bill includes a phrase which says that schools must make an effort of teaching children about love of their country.

When I discussed this theme with my thesissupervisor, I told him that I had never been confronted with patriotism at school in the Netherlands. No teachers telling me to love my country, ever. So, why would such a thing be necessary in Japan? He then told be, to my surprise, that he thought the Dutch were a very patriotic people. Now, that came as a surprise. I always thought we made a very big thing out of NOT being patriotic. No, he told me(he's British), you Dutch are very patriotic. Explicitly only when the Dutch football team plays, but implicitly whenever you get a chance. According to him (and he should know because he is very smart;) ), there is a subconscious consensus about what it means to be Dutch and that loving the Netherlands is a very natural thing for us. The problem in Japan seems to be that this consensus is lacking, at least according to the politicians. They think this consensus is necessary, hence this law. Leaves me questioning about whether its a good thing to enforce patriotism, but well.. I've got some weeks left!

Thinking about patriotism in Japan did make me think about patriotism in the Netherlands as well. I have always said that I am very Dutch. But what does that mean? I am proud of my country.. we complain a lot, but I guess we've built ourselves a pretty good society/system here. I am not proud of Dutch food, like the Japanese are of their food. But I guess I am happy to be Dutch, is that it?

Let me ask you, how patriotic do you feel about your country?

13 opmerkingen:

Kei zei

You know me. ;-)
I am Japanese and I like being Japanese even if many of my foreign friends say I am not a ordinary Japanese.
There are some things very unique to Japan which I proud of. (like the hair brush you got here.)
And, of course I complain about politics and govenment, like many others in other countries.

If we visit "many" other, not another, countries and talk to many people in Japan and out side Japan, we can realize how much we like this country, I think.

Since Japan is islands and closed country, we don't have much chance to have a look at our own country from different point of view if we don't try to.
Many foreign people say they are interested in my country, although some good images they have are different from reality, I feel happy to hear that.

In short, I don't think this law is the best way to teach children to love their own country.

The more let them study about the world and Japan in the world, not only good things but realities and facts, the more they may find the good things of their own country.
Let's find good/bad things of our countries instead of just complaining about things in front of us.
what do you think?

cheruchan zei

Hey, my favorite aikokusha ;)

I actually think you are pretty Japanese, Keiko-san! With your slippers, and sunhat and all..

No, but I think you are right.. Enforcing patriotism on children is not a very good idea. And sometimes you do need other people to tell you good things about your country to make you realize the worth of it.

I think that realizing something on your own is the best way to learn something and to make it stick.

wtr. zei

"Now, that came as a surprise. I always thought we made a very big thing out of NOT being patriotic."

That is just the case, by stating that we, the Dutch people, are not patriotic we make a statement about our Dutch mentality. I think this claim about nonpatriotism is as patriotic as any other. We are proud of our independent lifestyles, but then again we are very keen to attribute this independancy to the lifestyle of Dutchmen.

cheruchan zei

Good point. But how does solidarity with our fellow countrymen fit into that picture, how far should independence from each other go?

Jota zei

Well, not sure about this being the best way to splash into your blog, leaving behind my former role as a only-reader and becoming a reader-and-part-time-comentator. Anyway, there I go!

For us, Spaniards, patriotism is quite a controversial topic. Reasons? Well, there could be plenty of grounds for it, but I'd highlight a big one that started exactly seventy years ago today (July the 18th, 1936). In two dark words: civil war. While most Western Europe found itself dealing with the need of facing together a common threat, we had to fight our fellow countrymen, our neightbors, even our brothers. Nothing like being invaded by a foreign country to remind you what your own country means, to put everyone fighting together a common enemy. The same way, maybe nothing like an internal, bloody, three-year lasting war (plus the following decades of hate, retaliation, vengeance and fear) to build thick, high walls among those meant to share a life in common afterwards.

After almost forty years of a dictatorship ruled by the winners -winners who did not let a single day without reminding everyone who won and who lose-, the youngest generations still breathe the fainted smelt of a nation once smashed into pieces, a nation which puts it difficult to feel comfortable in, a history sometimes it's difficult to feel proud of. That's, maybe, why Spaniards are so aware of the smaller communities they belong to. Sometimes, I think Spaniards want to join dozens of nations at the same time, though there's only one they really feel a part of: the singularity of the one; him/herself.

Forty-two million Spains live in Spain nowadays. Patriotism?? What the f*ck!?

Greetings, Mom!

wtr. zei


I suppose this solidarity should show itself by being tolerant to the values of other people. Live and let live so to say, but in reality this tolerance often slips into a state of indifference where people don't bother any more to get to know eachother, to make the attempt to not only let live but to celebrate the different ways in which every person lives his live, and the fact that in this feature we are all alike.

So to answer your question: I think that this independence is a very strong feature, but we should be independent and strong enough to allow other independent people into our lives without the fear of being influenced by one another. Embrace our differences and let this embracement be the glue that holds us together.

cheruchan zei

Thanks for changing roles dear!

Your comment is very interesting. It turns out that more countries are struggling with their 'patriotism' than I had ever thought of. It does make me think about whether one day we will feel patriotic about the European Union, do you think people could feel patriotic about two entities?

cheruchan zei


This sort of taps into the discussion we had the other day about being friendly to peope you don't know. Maybe all boils down to the struggle between confidence and fear. Maybe I should make that discussion into a blogpost...

Yusuf zei

After reading your column, I had to write a little answer too :D.
Is it ok, if I am an Earth-Patriocist? And that I am proud of the ´city´ The Netherlands, I´m living in, and the ´city´ Turkiye, I was born many years ago? And also like you all, I agree that every ´city´ has it´s own charmes..... that´s why I hope to see every ´city´ on this beautifull land The Earth, before my time has come, to upgrade to an other level.

Greetzz Yusuf

cheruchan zei

Dear Yusuf, Thanks very much for your comment, I think I checked out your Hyve this week and 'respected' something, right?

Anyways, I couldn't agree with you more. For my thesis I have been reading some theories on patriotism and you are (and I guess I would like to be too) a cosmopolitan patriot. This means that you are proud of and love the place you call home, but do not hate or dislike the places you do not call home. So you think of the world and its population in a positive, loving way, reserving a special place in your heart for your home. Isn't that beautiful?

At the moment I am reading a book called "For Love of Country, debating the Limits of Patriotism". Different people (Benjamin Barber, Amartya Sen, Michael Walzer etc.) respond to the plea by Martha C. Nussbaum for cosmopolitan patriotism (or patriotic cosmopolitanism). Very interesting!

interesting link:

Yusuf zei

Hi cherochan,

Yes, you are very right, thank you for that, by the way!! I really apriciated that :D.
Well, I just made Earth my home, so it makes it easier to love. Everybody likes to come ´home´, no matter there state of mind. Postitive or negative, I still love to be home :D. And, if I want to feel alone, I can always go to my ´room´ :D.
And for me, it´s enough to know who I am. I´m just Yusuf, doing my best to be human as much as I can and to enjoy life as it is ment to be.

Greetz Yusuf

cheruchan zei

ok, but if you call earth your home, how do you call the places (holland, turkey) that you are proud of/more familiar with? your favorite room? :)

Yusuf zei

Haha, a very good point actually. I see the world as my home, with city´s like The Netherlands and Turkiye on it. The reason I am proud of them, is because I feel more conection with them. Why? Because I was born in one and raised in the other :D. And I see my house as my ´room´ on the piece of reality we live on, which I like to call ´home´.
What I actually am doing is, making my reality bigger, by making my fantasy smaller :D. It´s not just a planet for me. It´s my home. And thát inspiers me to want to explore other planets, or lands, like I prever to call them. All I am doing, is trying to make it easier, to realize how much new things there are to explore, so that I can make it easier to deal with the things that are ´not so new´ anymore. What I than started to realize is, we are not doing what we tell ourselfs to do, for milions of years now. All we are doing, is WANTING to listen to ourselfs. Well, I allready started listening to myself (I´m sorry I´m allready ahead of you guys, hehe) and it feels goooooood!!!! :D. I only want people to know, how great they are. Nobody has to proof he is a human being. All that we want, we allready have, plenty of it. Our only job here, is keeping our home clean en peacefully. But,that´s just me being myself......:D.