Thursday, September 10, 2009

Would It Make More Sense to Translate It as “Conventional State”?

You know, that “normal country” thing. I do believe that post-WW II Japan has been an “unconventional state,” constitutionally speaking. And it worked. But “abnormal country”? I think not.

No time for anything else today. Tomorrow for sure.


Durf said...

Is "abnormal" the only possible antonym for "normal"?

"Conventional state" sounds good and I'd be tempted to use it in a translation, but I'm afraid at this point NC has the weight of precedent behind it. Sort of like 聖域なき改革 and the duelling translations of "reform without sanctuary" and "reform without sacred cows." I think the former ended up winning; I don't particularly like either of them.

Ooh, I know, "a nation that can act just like any other nation without raising too many eyebrows." Too long?

Bryce said...

In "kokka no hinkaku," that rather amusing little piece of trash about Japan reclaiming its spirit lost to the forces of "American" rationality, Fujiwara Masahiko posited that the best way for Japan--and other nation (except America) for that matter--to develop its foreign policy was to become a "special nation." Of course, he was talking about an imaginary future Japanese foreign policy based on the precepts of bushido... or something. Fujiwara's vagueness aside, it shows that there are alternative interpretations as to what "abnormal" or "special" is.

Funny also how the term "normal nation" means different things to different people. For those who believe that international relations is just a question of conventional power arrangements it means the remilitarisation of Japan. For others, more of the "English school" of international relations theory, it seems to mean Japan as a responsible international citizen that that proactively follows whatever prevailing norms in the conduct of foreign policy are. I think the latter is the way Ozawa envisioned the term.

And I prefer "normal nation" although it isn't really the proper translation. There is a lot to be said for alliteration.

Jun Okumura said...

Durf, Bryce: Both your points are well taken. I never got around to reading Fujiwara’s book; I have an aversion to any kind of 精神論. If anything, I prefer the R-rated soap-opera morals of the Tales of Genji, or the youthful intellectualism and aesthetics of Otomo no Yakamochi and his Nara Era contemporaries.