In the post-war years both Germany and Japan faced the task of rebuilding their armed forces. This process included recruiting personnel and acquiring weapons; the most difficult challenge, however, was to develop and implement measures that assured the integration of the newly founded armed forces into the meanwhile democratic states and societies of Germany and Japan. Clarifying the armed forces’ relations to their dissolved predecessors and defining an appropriate demeanour of remembering pre-1945 military history was one of the central tasks of the integration efforts.
In this presentation, I will address the question of how Japan’s Selfdefense Forces (SDF) define themselves and their place in the nation’s military history. I argue that the three (Air, Ground and Maritime) SDF’s perceptions of their own past vary significantly. I will illustrate my observations by analyzing how SDF’s military history and collective memory are being displayed in SDF museums and public relations centres. Adding a comparative perspective, I will furthermore show how and to what extent democratic elements have become part of post-war soldierly demeanours and military education. For this purpose I will compare the SDF’s members’ code of conduct (jieikan no kokorogamae) with the German Bundeswehr’s concept of Innere Führung (lit. internal guidance or leadership).
André Hertrich is a student in the M.A. program at the Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps-University Marburg. He also is a Ph.D. candidate in Japanese Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich.