In a recent discussion with Komori Yo¯ichi, the Chinese intellectual Sun Ge expresses her doubts about the efficacy of contemporary Japanese criticisms of the Japanese emperor system.1 She argues that while critiques of Japanese nationalism have by and large completely dissolved its intrinsic foundations on the level of rational knowledge, they do not appear to have had any effect whatsoever on the ‘society of the emperor system’ (tenno¯sei shakai), the ideology grounded in the socio-historical base of Japanese society and the everyday lives of the Japanese. Referring to the critiques of nationalism advanced in previous generations, Sun takes present-day Japanese scholarly discourse to task for focusing on criticism as an end in itself rather than making any meaningful contribution to changing the current state of affairs. According to Sun, the present Japanese discourse is especially lacking in its ability to take into account what she calls ‘the realm of the sense of the skin [hifu kankaku],’ the only route, she argues, by which criticism can penetrate the ideological centre of the system.2 While Takeuchi’s postwar efforts to advance people’s rights by creating a channel for articulating popular sentiment into a democratic politics (what he called nationalism) is singled out for praise, as an attempt to reroute popular sentiment away from the state nationalist cause, Sun thinks the majority of Japanese postwar intellectuals have failed miserably on this score. This, as far as it goes, is a criticism that every Japanese intellectual should take very seriously. At the same time, however, it has been my contention that while the problem of nationalism necessarily entails the question of practice, it must also be located in the context of strategic difficulties of integrating popular voices into the public political domain in our increasingly complex, pluralistic, and information-based societies. Only by doing this will we be able to see the current state of Japanese society, what Sun describes as ‘the society of the emperor system,’ in a historical context, one that is intimately related to the structural transformations of postwar Japanese society.