This paper aims at examining how Japan recontextualized nationalism to rationalize the logic of imperialism and identifying the transformation process. In the view of the researcher, Japan created its own nationalism in the process of translating “nationality” as kokusui (国粋, lit. national characteristic) and giving the concept new meanings. Therefore, engrossed in its own logic of nationalism or imperialism, Japan has not yet reached the stage of decontextualization. In this respect, identifying which principle is intrinsic in Japan’s worlding process of chauvinism is thought to be significant in revealing the thought structure reflected in Japanese imperialism.
Japan’s chauvinism and Japaneseism were born from an attempt to overcome the ambivalent position of anti-Western and anti-Chinese study. The concept of ‘nationality’ in the West was translated as kokusui, and the term was taken from the standpoint that it is irrelevant to imperialism and nationalism. In this context, it was claimed that the term connoted the pursuit of cosmopolitanity as a solution to the problems related to human freedom, liberation and awakening. Nevertheless, the worlding context created based on chauvinism and Japaneseism was a process centered on Japan and served the rationalization of totalitarianism and the justification of imperialism. This process led to the birth of the new concept of cosmopolitanism, which was national morality, and this ultimately resulted in totalism based on morality. To elaborate on this process, this paper first examines the attitude of accepting the concepts of Western theories and the cosmopolitanity found in the way of grafting the Western concepts onto the native language, and how it explains the matter of the subject. This approach will enable to identify the logic that forms the foundation of Japanese chauvinism and Japaneseism, with a focus on the issue of individual awakening as a universal human issue. The intellectual logic that gave birth to Japanese chauvinism and Japaneseism was a new worldview forged by combining Wang Yangming’s theory of liangzhi (良知, lit. original knowing) and the thoughts of Green and Nietzsche with Nichiren Buddhism, under the influence of Schelling and Schopenhauer. This worldview was thus an international perspective created under nationalism, Japaneseism and cosmopolitanism. That is, it was conceived by the unnatural connection of cosmopolitanism borrowed from the West to the internal nationalism and emperor system. To find a subject that can recognize this unnaturalness, there is a need for the awareness of the process where this chauvinism was transformed into a means to explore the world in the world system of the time that was towards imperialism.