- 年報政治学 (ISSN:05494192)
- vol.62, no.1, pp.1_11-1_48, 2011 (Released:2016-02-24)
The word “国民”, ‘kokumin’, is used too much without a close examination and this word should be abandoned in many contexts, even not all. The use of “国民” is almost pervasive in Japanese political and legal discourses. “国” means the state or the country, and “民” means the people. Usually “国民” can be translated to “the people” or “the nation”. Historically “国民主権”, national sovereignty, was used for substitute of the popular sovereignty to make obscure which has sovereign, the Emperor or the people. In the Constitution of Japan, “We, the Japanese people,” is translated to “日本国民”, which can mean Japanese nationals or Japanese nation. It is not easy to change the constitution, however, the ambiguous “国民” should not be used as much as possible or at least should be interpreted as the people “人民” and as including all the people who live long enough under Japanese sovereignty. As EU conceptualized EU citizenship, many countries have been forced to redefine each concept of nationality and citizenship. Japan has a large number of non-citizens residents, which include Koreans who lost Japanese nationality in 1952. Recently voting rights of those people in local elections has become one of the big political issues. We argue that separation of citizenship and nationality is necessary for not only living with those people but also constructing multi-layer political units with each level of citizenship. “国民”, the national people, as the subject of the sovereign should be transformed to “人民”, the people, constituted with “市民”, citizens, of course, who do not mean exclusively the national citizens. 国民, and maybe “nation” also, is the concept of the modern, the historical stage dominated by sovereign nation-states. We should scrutinize necessity of these words carefully for the emerging next stage.