To a great extent this era of mounting militarism

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Unformatted text preview: e especially apparent in the late 1920s and 1930s, when shingeki became so openly “proletarian” that it eventually came under attack from the newly emergent militaristic leaders of Japan. The relative lack of success of shingeki before World War II may be attributed, therefore, to several reasons: its failure to produce a significant repertoire of original plays, its tendency to use the stage for ideological propagandizing, and the official suppression that this propagandizing incurred. The early and middle 1920s were a time of general tranquility in East Asia, when the Western imperialist powers and Japan pursued cooperative 296 The Fruits of Modernity policies in exploiting the commercial potentialities of their holdings and interests in China. But by the end of the decade the Japanese, in particular, found their position on the continent increasingly threatened both by Chinese nationalist aspirations and by Russian pressures from the north. The world market crash in 1929–30 heightened demands that Japan abandon its unproductive policy of cooperation with the Western powers and act independently and forcefully in foreign affairs. It was the military that spoke out most stridently for action, and in September 1931 the army provoked an incident in Manchuria (the bombing of tracks north of Mukden, which the Japanese railway guards falsely blamed on the Chinese) that led within a year to the founding of the puppet state of Manchukuo and, in 1933, to Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations. As the army embarked on aggression abroad, right-wing ultranationalist groups in Japan—both in and out of the military—began terrorist and putchist activities against capitalists, party leaders, and others whom they held responsible for the country’s critical state of affairs. In traditional manner, these ultranationalists called for a Shòwa Restoration— that is, destruction of the bad ministers of state and the return of power to the emperor. The emperor himself was an excee...
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