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Making Japanese CitizensCivil Society and the Mythology of the Shimin in Postwar Japan$
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Simon Andrew Avenell

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520262706

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520262706.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Shimin Idea and Civil Society

Conclusion: The Shimin Idea and Civil Society

(p.239) Conclusion: The Shimin Idea and Civil Society
Making Japanese Citizens

Simon Andrew Avenell

University of California Press

The shimin idea has made possible the construction of an idea of civil society in Japan that is at once national and international. In defining civil society, Satō Yoshiyuki, speaks of a civic public sphere or shiminteki kōkyōen where “individuals liberated from communal groups express their own ideas and opinions through words and action.” He calls such individuals “shimin.” For Satō, the civic public sphere is formed by the diverse associational groups that discuss and take action on specific issues, and as an aggregation, this becomes a civil society. This new civil society or atarashii shimin shakai, Satō points out, is not bourgeois civil society or capitalist society but the sphere of the daily-life or seikatsu sekai outside the market and state. The connections between the shimin idea and shimin shakai extend further than the genealogy or history of ideas. It was this convergence that paved the way for the contemporary imagination of shimin shakai as a harmonious space for social capital initiatives by largely apolitical civic groups.

Keywords:   shimin, Satō, shimin Shakai, civic groups

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