Unformatted text preview: ne the aim of education to serve the state rather than the individual. The culmination of
this new policy toward education was the issuance in 1890 of the Imperial Rescript on Education, a brief document that began as follows:
Know ye, Our Subjects!
Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a basis broad and
everlasting, and have deeply and firmly implanted virtue; Our subjects ever
united in loyalty and filial piety have from generation to generation illustrated
the beauty thereof. This is the glory of the fundamental character of Our
Empire, and herein also lies the source of Our education.13 From these few lines it is obvious that, after its earlier flirtation with the
ideals of Western liberalism and democracy, the Meiji government in its
critical education policy had determined to indoctrinate a social ideology
derived mainly from the Shinto-Confucian concepts that had evolved as
a new orthodoxy of thought in the late Tokugawa period. Morality was
once again to be based on such hierarchical virtues as loyalty and filial
piety, and the ultimate object of devotion for all Japanese citizens was to
be the throne, described elsewhere in the Rescript on Education as
“coeval with heaven and earth.” The new Japanese state was, in short, to
be conceived as a great and obedient Confucian family with a father-like
emperor at its head.
Nor was the government alone in its shift to conservatism in the 1880s.
Even the blatant Westernizers like Fukuzawa Yukichi began to have second thoughts about Japan’s previously uncritical acceptance of everything
Western in its rush to become civilized and enlightened. To a great extent,
such second thoughts were simply the result of a more sophisticated view
of the West. In their initial, excited response to the utopian ideals of
liberal democracy, many intellectuals (although not the leaders of the
Iwakura Mission) had failed to temper their pro-Westernism by acknowledging that the Western powers themselves were pursuing baldly selfinterested policies of world imperialism. Western theorists sought to justify these policies on the grounds of the social-Darwinist doctrines of...
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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 UBC.
- Spring '13