In order to make sense of the organization of postwar Japanese politics, it is crucial to engage the social movements that were mobilized after the Tōhoku earthquake in 2011. Following the catastrophe, many problems within Japanese social structure became apparent. At the same time, the earthquake and its aftermath have thrown into relief the state's efforts to broadly regulate social practices. The reforms that took place after the earthquake are a direct reflection of the struggle that the Japanese state has waged since the early years of the postwar era to transform society. The Japanese government readily ignores any demonstrations by ordinary people against its policies. At the same time, Japanese corporations are largely immune to any efforts by laborers and consumers to resist their activities. The consequences for civil society are stark. Given the absence of a vital organized labor movement and a lack of confidence in representative democracy, the burden to address citizens' concerns has shifted to social movements.

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