‘Dark Link: Japanese New Order Theorists and Italian Fascism’


13 March, Wednesday, 12 noon to 1 pm, Japanese Studies Centre, Auditorium. Building 54, Monash University Clayton campus, Wellington Rd., Clayton [map]

Speaker:   Dr. Reto Hofman, SOPHIS, Monash University

 Abstract:  Dr. Hofmann will discuss the role of Italian Fascism in Japanese New Order thinking from 1931 to1952. It reveals how, in the early 1930s, Fascism became a central subject of public debate. Fascism, however, did not “influence” events and ideas in Japan. Indeed, Japanese right-wing leaders, conservative intellectuals and politicians, military activists, as well liberal commentators strove to deny the usefulness of Italian fascism for Japan. Yet, I argue, this stance was less as rejection of fascism than an attempt to overcome it by formulating an autonomous New Order politics. This effort failed. By tracing the contradictory discourse on Italian Fascism, I show how Japanese – wittingly or unwittingly – recognized the commonalities between Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. The talk sheds new light on the mechanism of fascism and suggests that the categories of “militarism” and “ultra-nationalism” should be rethought in light of the ideological relations that linked Japan to Fascist Italy.

 Author Bio: Reto Hofmann specializes in modern Japanese political and cultural history, with wider interests in 20th-century Asia and Europe, especially fascism, empire and imperialism, and political thought. Before coming to Monash, Reto was an INTERACT Postdoctoral Fellow (2010-2012) at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. He completed his PhD in history at Columbia University (2010) and received his undergraduate education at the University of Western Australia (BA, Hons, 2000). His first monograph, Fascist Reflections: Politics and Ideology in Twentieth-Century Japan, is currently under review.