Although they are obviously in love with him the

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Unformatted text preview: ugh perhaps relatively ignored during the liberal euphoria of the 1870s, it inevitably drew the renewed attention of government leaders and conservative intellectuals in the 1880s. For nothing was more venerably Japanese than the imperial institution, and anyone wishing to revive traditional values, whether moral or cultural, was almost perforce obliged to start with recognition of the throne as the font of Japanese civilization. No simple explanation, however, can be given of the throne’s role in modern Japan. For the most part the emperor has been held “above politics” and, with few exceptions, his participation in governmental affairs has not been made public. But there can be no question that, as the living embodiment of kokutai, he was a potent symbol for radically nationalistic emotions in the period up through World War II. A corollary to emperor glorification in the kokutai ideology was that, of all the peacetime occupations, government service was the most cherished because it meant, in effect, employment by the emperor. Although the Satsuma-Chòshû oligarchs continued to control the highest councils of state, a vast expansion of the bureaucracy during the final years of the nineteenth century created ample opportunities for good careers in government, careers that were avidly sought by youths of all classes. Tokyo Imperial University, moreover, was made a kind of orthodox channel for governmental preferment, further proof of the degree to which Japanese society and the aspirations of its members were subjected to state manipulation in the middle and late Meiji period. Japanese prose literature by the time of the Meiji Restoration had sunk to an extremely low level. Tedious didacticism, bawdy comedy, and Encounter with the West 257 bloody adventure were the stock-in-trade of the authors of these years, and there was little prospect, in the absence of stimulation from outside, that the quality of their work would soon improve. But this remains conjecture, for the fact is that, within a few decades of the Restoration, Western influences had wrought a change in prose literature as profound as in any other ar...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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