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Unformatted text preview: tional and
domestic crises, the form of parliamentary democracy that had gradually
evolved in Japan from the mid-Meiji period disintegrated rapidly before
the rise of the military, who succeeded in establishing an oppressive
police state by the late 1930s.
The fascists in Europe were inspired by “heroic leaders”—Hitler and
Mussolini—and came to power through mass party movements that intruded themselves into the political systems from the outside. Japan, on
the other hand, had no Hitler or Mussolini, and the military advanced
to power not by organizing mass support for an attack on the government but simply by replacing the parliamentarians (that is, the political
parties) as the dominant elite in the national polity. The myriad ultranationalist groups that engaged in political violence during the early and
middle 1930s acted mostly in secret without popular backing and were
more of a symptom than a cause of the military’s rise.
In intellectual and emotional terms, the military came increasingly to
be viewed as the highest repository of the traditional Japanese spirit that
was the sole hope for unifying the nation to act in a time of dire emergency. The enemy that had led the people astray was identified as those
sociopolitical doctrines and ideologies that had been introduced to Japan
from the West during the preceding half-century or so along with the
material tools of modernization. Such identification was made part of a
newly articulated interpretation of the orthodox creed of state (kokutai)
in a tract published in 1937 entitled Kokutai no Hongi or The Fundamental
Principles of Our National Polity:
. . . it can be said that both in the Occident and in our country the deadlock
of individualism has led alike to a season of ideological and social confusion
and crisis. We shall leave aside for a while the question of finding a way out of
the present deadlock, for, as far as it concerns our country, we must return to
the standpoint peculiar to our country, clarify our immortal national entity,
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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