ASIA212Varley

The shape of the novel is thus not architectural or

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Unformatted text preview: dingly mild-mannered man who was institutionally shielded from all but his closest aides and advisers and who could not plausibly have assumed the real powers of government. In fact, most of those who plotted and entered into coup attempts against the government in the 1930s seem to have given little thought to what should actually be done if their destructive efforts succeeded. As Professor Maruyama Masao has observed: . . . the content of their ideology was extremely vague and abstract, being the principle of accepting the absolute authority of the Emperor and submitting humbly to his wishes. One of the reasons that the participants’ plans covered only the violent stage of the operation and were not concerned with the aftermath is that their thoughts were based on the principle of the absolute authority of the Emperor. In other words, any attempt at formulating plans of reconstruction would be tantamount to surmising the will of the Emperor and thus an invasion of the Imperial prerogative. This leads to the mythological sort of optimism according to which, if only evil men could be removed from the Court, if only the dark clouds shrouding the Emperor could be swept away, the Imperial sun would naturally shine forth.35 In May 1932 a group of young naval officers assassinated the prime minister, and with dramatic swiftness the era of democratic, party governments came to an end in Japan. The two major parties continued to win Diet elections until they were dissolved in 1940 in the name of national unity, but the prime ministership from 1932 on was held either directly by military men or by bureaucrats who cooperated with them. This marked the beginning of what the Japanese regard as the phase of fascism The Fruits of Modernity 297 in their country that led to the Pacific War and, ultimately, to crushing defeat in 1945. Although most Western scholars are reluctant to apply the essentially European concept of fascism to developments in Japan during this period, it is clear that, under the pressure of interna...
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