This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
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...
View Full Document
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.
- Spring '13