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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 August 2015
Competing interests among big powers played a role in the making of World War II. But, and not separated from this, another element had a serious impact: the sense of psychological insecurity experienced, each in its own way, by Germany and Japan in the context of their quest for recognition by other major powers – Great Britain, France, Russia, and the United States – and the implications this had internationally. In connection with their material conditions (internal and international) compared to other great powers, this pushed Germany and Japan to embrace policies that were ultimately self-defeating. It led them to see and assess themselves, others, and the international environment in conflicting terms and, faced with the unwillingness of other big powers to accommodate them to the extent they wanted, to overplay their hand, with lethal outcomes as a result.
This article follows two previous articles published in this journal.1 It is a case study that focuses on Germany and Japan, and the making of World War II. In the first section, it begins with highlighting the overall relevance of this case study in the context of the analysis of emotions and passions in international politics. In the second section, it shows that both for Germany and Japan a sense of psychological insecurity regarding their international status and their urge to catch up and compensate, put them on a collision course with the great powers of the period. In the third part, the article explains how, in time, this contributed to the fact that Germany and Japan embraced negative and exclusionary political emotions and passions that translated into belligerent policies. In the fourth section, as a way to conclude, the article touches upon how a better understanding of the nature and role of emotions and passions in international affairs can encourage a psychology of peace, and international peace altogether.
1 Coicaud, Jean-Marc, ‘Emotions and Passions in the Discipline of International Relations’, Japanese Journal of Political Science, 15 (3) (2014): 485‒513 andCrossRefGoogle Scholar‘Towards an Integrated Theory of Emotions/Passions, Values and Rights in International Politics’, Japanese Journal of Political Science, 15 (4) (2014): 603–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2 Dower, John W., War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1986, p. 3.Google Scholar
3 Coicaud, ‘Emotions and Passions in the Discipline of International Relations’.
4 For an overview of recent publications on emotions in international affairs, refer to Jean-Marc Coicaud, ‘Emotions and Passions in the Discipline of International Relations’.
5 Ibid. and Coicaud, ‘Towards an Integrated Theory of Emotions/Passions, Values and Rights in International Politics’.
6 The analysis from the emotions/passions and psychology standpoint we offer in this article does not pretend to be all there is to say on the emotions/passions and psychology issues in the context of World War II. It is a more the exploration of one of the possible angles on the question.
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37 Ersnt Nolte's interpretation of the interactions between Communism and Nazism, in the context of which he sees a causal nexus making the former a reason for the latter, has been accused of such revisionism. See Ernst Nolte, La guerre civile européeenne 1917‒1945: National-socialisme et bolchevisme, translated by Jean-Marie Argelès, Paris: Ed. des Syrtes, 2000, for example pp. 24, 146‒9, 186‒7, 240, 599‒600, and 622. Consult also the exchange of correspondence between Francois Furet and Ersnt Nolte, in Francois Furet and Ersnt Nolte, Fascism and Communism, translated by Katherine Golsan, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. The author is in agreement with Francois Furet's interpretation of Ersnt Nolte's thesis and the problems it entails.
38 The notion of ‘proper place’ has been long used in Japan to legitimize inequitable relationships in Japan itself. In the context of World War II, it was mobilized by Tokyo to justify the hierarchical regional order it envisioned in Asia and the top position it reserved for itself in it. See Dower, War Without Mercy, pp. 9-11, 205-06, and 264-6.
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56 Nazism and Japanese fascism, as well as other various fascisms of the pre and World War II period, shared a cult and culture of death comprising a whole palette of emotional intensity and a variety of modalities that would be worth exploring.
57 For Japan, Pyle, Japan Rising, p. 204. For Germany, Burrin, Ressentiment et apocalypse, pp. 75-6.
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62 Conrad, Sebastian, The Quest for the Lost Nation: Writing History in Germany and Japan in the American Century, translated by Nothnagle, Alan, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010Google Scholar, chapter 3. It is generally considered that Germany has done better than Japan in this area. The author is not convinced of this. See Coicaud, Jean-Marc, ‘Apology, a Small yet Important Part of Justice’, Japanese Journal of Political Science, 10 (1): 93–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On Japan's victim mentality and evasion of responsibility, for instance refer to Kushner, Barak, Men to Devils, Devils to Men. Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2015)Google Scholar, especially chapter 6.
63 In the field of law, recent attempts to rehabilitate and stress the need to factor in emotions and passion in the understanding of law mechanisms and dynamics include Sajὀ, Andrảs, Constitutional Sentiments, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011Google Scholar; Karstedt, Susanne, Loader, Ian, and Strang, Heather (eds.), Emotions, Crime and Justice, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011Google Scholar, and Rossner, Meredith, Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
64 Coicaud, Jean-Marc, ‘Legitimacy, Socialization, and International Change’, in Kupchan, Charles A., Adler, Emanuel, Coicaud, Jean-Marc, and Khong, Yuen Foong (with the assistance of Jason Davidson and Mira Sucharov), Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order, Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2001, p. 70.Google Scholar
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