Research Law

Italy, Germany and Japan: Three Examples of How to Overcome Totalitarianism

, by Claudio Todesco
How three countries that have known dictatorship have equipped themselves to prevent the past from returning. An article by Elisa Bertolin explains it

Democracies that experienced a totalitarian interlude face a dilemma: should they become militant or not? In other words, should they restrict fundamental rights and freedom to prevent a new wave of authoritarianism?

In Censoring the past? Suggestions on the German, Italian and Japanese approach to the totalitarian past (published in the Bulletin of the Nanzan Center For European Studies), Elisa Bertolini focuses on the analysis of Italy, Germany and Japan. In the aftermath of World War II, those countries tried to balance the compression of fundamental rights with the need to protect the democratic legal order.

"They faced the same challenge, but they modulated differently their degree of militancy", Professor Bertolini says. "In Germany, the Constitutional Court rules on the question of unconstitutionality of parties that seek to undermine the democratic order. This is an universal ban, not being related to right-wing nor left-wing parties, whereas in Italy the XII Transitional and Final Provision, enforced through the Scelba Law, provides for the ban of reorganization of the Fascist Party only. In Japan, the Article 66 of the Constitution forbids to appoint any military as members of the executive power".

Another key element in understanding how the past plays a role in shaping the militancy of a democracy is the way history is taught to younger generations. "In Japan, there is a strict control on the preparation of textbooks aimed at eliminating any account of the most controversial circumstances of the World War II, specifically those that may create tensions with South Korea and the Popular Republic of China. The totalitarian past is denied or sugar-coated".

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