In literature as in other cultural and intellectual

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Unformatted text preview: robably the single most shocking event to the Japanese before World War II was the revelation in 1910 of an anarchist plot to assassinate the Meiji emperor. Scores of arrests were made and twelve men, most of whom were not actually privy to the plot, were executed. The severity of the government’s “anti-radical” action at this time effectively stifled all left-wing activities, and it was not until after World War I that they were resumed. Japan’s participation in World War I on the side of the Allies was minimal; yet, as a result, it was able to enlarge its empire through the acquisition both of Germany’s island possessions in the Pacific and of the former German interests in North China. World War I also brought an unprecedented economic boom to Japan, which took over most of the Far Eastern markets temporarily abandoned by the European belligerents. Many economists, in fact, judge that it was about this time that Japan finally achieved economic modernity. However such modernity may be defined, Japan by World War I had obviously become a capitalist state of a highly monopolistic character. Much of the country’s industry and commerce was controlled by a small number of financial combines or zaibatsu, whose managing families were plutocratically associated through marriage and other ties with leading members of the Japanese bureaucracy and political parties. The Allies claimed to have fought the war “to make the world safe for democracy.” And although Wilsonian idealism was largely ignored by the authors of the Versailles Treaty, who were mainly intent upon punishing Germany and furthering their own national interests, the postwar period was a time when Western-style democracy seemed clearly to be in the ascendant in the world. At the same time, the successful Communist revolution in Russia gave new hope to radicals and revolutionaries everywhere. Partly in response to this, and even as Taishò democracy flourished, the long-dormant left wing became once again active in Japan. Probably the leading theoretician of Taishò democracy and what it might have been was Yoshino Sakuzò (1878–1933). An early convert to Christianity, Yos...
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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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