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A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan

Handbook of Oriental Studies

Handbuch der Orientalistik
Section Five
Edited by
M. Blum
R. Kersten
M.F. Low
A History of Nationalism in
Modern Japan
Placing the People
Kevin M. Doak

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ISSN 0921-5239
ISBN-13: 978 90 04 15598 5
ISBN-10: 90 04 15598 8
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printed in the netherlands
To my parents
Samuel and Peggy Doak
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Preface ix
Chapter One Representing the People as a Nation ... 1
Contemporary Nationalism Theory: What is Nationalism
and Who are the Nation. 5
Theoritical Influences on Japanese Discourse on the Nation .. 11
Contemporary Japanese Theories on Nationalism. . 25
Chapter Two The Preconditions of Japanese Nationalism. 36
The Bakamatsu Years and the Preconditions of National
Identity 37
Creating a Public and Building a State in Early Meiji . 45
Mitsukuri Rinsh and the Legal Theory of Minken. 65
Miyazaki Mury and the Concept of Minzoku .... 71
Mitsukuri, Miyazaki and Japanese Nationalist Discourse ...... 80
Chapter Three Tenn .. 83
The Monarch as Liberator of the Japanese People . 84
Monarchy and the Moral Nation .. 92
The Monarch as Emperor (Ktei)... 102
The Tenn as Symbol of the Nation .. . 113
Chapter Four Shakai . 127
Coming to Terms with Society in Meiji Japan ..... .. 129
Constructing Society, Conceiving of Shakai ..... . 135
Society as a Problem.. 143
Taisho Sociology and the Problem of the People.................. 149
Postwar Japan and Shakai . 154
Chapter Five Kokumin . 164
Civilization and Nationalism, 1868-1890 .................................. 169
Meiji Kokumin Aesthetics ...... 177
Meiji Kokumin Theology ... 184
Meiji Kokumin Political Theory ........................................... 191
From Political to Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1945 .. 194
The Postwar Return of the Kokumin, 1945-Present ... 203
Chapter Six Minzoku 216
Minzoku and Empire. .. 219
Minzoku and Liberal Political Theory .. . 226
Minzoku and War . .. 236
Minzoku and the Postwar Nation.... 250
Chapter Seven Afterword: The Place of the Nation in
Japan Today.. .. 265
Bibliography 275
Index 285
My effort to provide a comprehensive analysis of Japanese
nationalism has occupiedindeed, all too often, preoccupiedmy
thinking, research and publications for most of my professional career.
It stems from my first book published in 1994 that focused on a group
of romantic nationalists during the wartime, but seeks to provide a
broader context for that work by outlining the various strains of
nationalism that often vied for dominance and official recognition
over the course of modern Japanese history. The all-encompassing
nature of this study makes it more difficult than usual to identify the
particular sources of support and influence I have received from so
many people and institutions over the years I have been engaged with
this project. I am painfully aware of the fact, and need to admit it
from the outset, that many who gave tirelessly and patiently to help
me understand the nuances of nationalism, both in Japan and as a
general sociological feature of modern societies, inadvertently will be
overlooked in my acknowledgements, and to them I can only offer
my apologies.
This book is the result of work that I have done over the last
twelve years at six universities on three continents. The idea of a
synthetic approach to Japanese nationalism that emphasized the
internal contestations of nationalist discourse was sketched out in my
classes on Modern Japanese History at Wake Forest University in the
early 1990s. Exceptional colleagues and students accompanied me on
the incipient stages of that journey, and I particularly would like to
thank Yuri Slezkine, Alan Williams, Michael Hughes, Simone Caron
and a former student at Wake Forest, David Ellis, who is now an
Associate Professor of German History at Augustana College. The
actual research and writing of the book commenced during my tenure
at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 1994 to 2002.
I received financial support from a William & Flora Hewlett Summer
International Research Grant in 1995, and an early draft of Chapter
Two was composed during spring of 1997 when I was appointed a
Fellow in the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of
Illinois. During my eight years in Urbana, there were simply too
many colleagues, students and friends who stimulated my thinking
and provided various forms of support for me to list them all. But I
would be remiss not to mention Ronald Toby, George Yu, David
Goodman, Atsuko Ueda, Emanuel Pastreich, Jason Karlin, Jinhee Lee,
Paul Droubie, Curtis Gayle, Harry Liebersohn, and especially Fred
Jaher. To those whom I have neglected to single out, my apologies.
All of you have shaped me in ways that I may never fully realize and
for which I can only express my gratitude.
One highlight of those years was a grant I received from the Social
Science Research Council to conduct research on the formation of the
nation-state in Meiji Japan from May through August 1998 at the
National Humanities Institute, Kyoto University.
Shinichi graciously agreed to direct my work and gave generously of
his time and resources. I can never adequately thank him for all he did
for me during those hot summer months in Kyoto. His support
extended to securing for me Ministerial appointment as a Visiting
Researcher so I could return to Kyoto during 2002-03 to complete this
book. I regret that I was unable to accept that appointment as I had
just accepted a new position at Georgetown University that began the
same year. Undoubtedly, that appointment would have expedited
what was already a long-overdue book.
I would also like to thank Akitoshi Shimizu of Hitotsubashi
University for inviting me to present a paper on Nakano Seiichi and
Colonial Ethnic Studies at the workshop on Wartime Japanese
Anthropology in Asian and Oceania, held in 1999 at the National
Museum of Ethnology in Osaka. Some of the material from that
presentation is incorporated in Chapter Six of this book. Also, I am
deeply grateful to Konan University and its International Exchange
Center (KIEC) for support during 2000-2001 when I was appointed as
the Resident Director of Illinoiss Year in Konan Program. They
provided me with a quiet and spacious office, where I was able to
finish much of Chapter Two and parts of Chapter Five, in between
teaching a course and administrating the Year in Konan program.
Many faculty and administrators at Konan were extraordinarily
generous with their time and support and I thank them all, especially
Takano Kiyohiro. Over the course of that year, I was able to meet
other professors in Japan who were very generous in their support and
helpful in my work on Japanese nationalism. Yonehara Ken of Osaka
University invited me to make a presentation to his seminar and has
been an exceptional guide on Japanese nationalism, particularly
during the Meiji period. Matsuda Kichir at Rikkyo University has
also been an invaluable aid, providing me with research materials and
inviting me to join his collaborative project during 2001-02 on
Research into the Political Theory and Political Study of
Contemporary Problems in Ethnicity and Nationalism. Masako
Katano of Osaka University of Commerce alerted me to the range of
influence that Meiji Christian intellectuals had on civic nationalism.
And Takada Yasunari of the University of Tokyo has been an ideal
friend, collaborator and intellectual provocateur who opened up new
worlds of ideas to me.
I must thank also my colleagues at Georgetown University,
especially Philip Kafalas, Michael McCaskey, Yoshiko Mori, Jordan
Sand and Jingyuan Zhang. It was only after I joined them in 2002 that
this book really began to come together and their support has been
essential in bringing it to fruition. A semester leave in 2003 was
pivotal in making that final push to completion. I thank the Dean of
Georgetown College, Jane Dammen McAuliffe, for granting me the
leave and John Witek, SJ for taking on additional administrative
responsibilities so I could accept the leave. It was at this point that
Rikki Kersten at Leiden University began to make such a difference
in moving this project toward completion. First, she invited me to
present the gist of the project in a talk on Nationalism and the Issue
of Ethnicity in Japan as part of the workshop she organized with
Axel Schneider on Historical Consciousness and the Future of
Modern China and Japan: Conservativism, Revisionism, and National
Identity at Leiden University on May 25, 2003. Then, after including
me on a real instance of traveling theory that took this project on
historical consciousness to Harvard and then on to the annual meeting
of the Association for Asian Studies in Chicago, she invited me to
spend the month of June 2005 in Leiden as a Lecturer in Residence
for the Workshop on Historical Consciousness in China and Japan.
Traveling theory was fine, but nothing like spending a summer month
in Leiden devoted to writing the book. It was during this period, and
with remarkable resources from the Leiden University East Asian
library collection, that I was able to complete drafts of Chapters Four
and Five and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. During
that brief summer in Leiden, I was blessed with a rich intellectual and
social life, and I wish to thank Rikki, Axel Schneider, Maghiel van
Crevel, Christopher Goto-Jones and Albert Hoffstdt for showing me
a life in Leiden that even now seems as though it were only a dream.
To Albert and Patricia Radder, my editors at Brill, my deepest
gratitude for not giving up on me as this book missed one deadline
after another.
Finally, there are those whose influence on me and this book has
been so pervasive that they require special mention. Kosaku Yoshino
of Sophia University was a critical influence in helping me find the
conceptual tools and theoretical sources for understanding Japanese
nationalism in a comparative framework. Harry Harootunian and
Tetsuo Najita were true Doktorvaters: without them, none of this
would have been possible. In terms of this particular project, I am
indebted to Tets for teaching me to think about nations as internally
contested forms of identity (especially his model of bureaucratism/
idealism which has influenced my understanding of Japanese
nationalism as a struggle between civic and ethnic nationalisms) and
to Harry for turning me and a generation of his graduate students on
to the significance of minzoku ideology in modern Japanese culture
and politics. They, along with all those acknowledged above, cannot
be held responsible for the faults of this book: for that, the
responsibility is mine alone.
My wife Therese and my sons Anatole and Emile have contributed
to this book in ways that go beyond the usual things families often
endure in the course of a book project. Yes, they put up with my
frequent absences and my inattentiveness to them even when I was
home. But they also gave up much of their lives to accompany me to
Japan not once, but three times. Anatole and Emile accepted their new
life as students for a year in Okamoto Dai-Ni Elementary School in
Kobe, where they learned Japanese in order to do their assignments
and speak with their classmates, and they had to develop new
techniques to deal with soccer fields composed more of sand than
grass. But through their experiences in Japan and at home, and
especially through what they have taught me about soccer, I have
been able to understand nationalism from a vantage point that all the
libraries in the world could not have given me. But it is to Therese
that I must confess my greatest debt: she has not only prepared the
final manuscript, under great pressure and time constraints, but she
has been my constant companion throughout my journey into the
world of nationalism and the nationalism of the world. There are
some debts that no formal acknowledgement will ever suffice to
cover. My debt to her is one.
Much of what is written about Japanese nationalism is not really
about nationalism at all. This is the first paradox that anyone who
wishes to understand the past, present and future of Japanese
nationalism must confront. It is not only true about academic writing
on nationalism in Japan, but a fortiori of journalistic accounts of
rising nationalism or neo-nationalism that plague so many of the
contemporary English language media reports on politics in Japan.
When narratives of this neo-nationalism in Japan today are tied,
implicitly or explicitly, to the historical militarism or expansionism of
Imperial Japan during World War II, then misunderstanding of
Japanese nationalism only deepens. That is not to say that history is
irrelevant to nationalism in Japan or elsewhere. It certainly is relevant,
and that is one reason that this study takes a historical approach to
understanding Japanese nationalism. It is, rather, a question of
getting the history right, or in this case not only of getting the
history right, but of accurately identifying the subject of analysis:
nationalism itself. The legacy of World War II, compounded with the
institutional bias of postwar modernization theory, has left a strong
tendency in works on Japanese nationalism to focus on the role of the
state. State indoctrination, state control of the economy and education,
state predominance over regional and local governmentsall
combine to yield the impression that the main story line of Japanese
nationalism is how the state emerged to control so much of life in
modern Japan. This study does not deny the significant presence of
the state in modern Japanese life, and particularly in political life. It
simply argues that much of this narrative about the state is not really a
narrative about nationalism. In fact, the statist bias in some writings
on Japanese nationalism often yields a lesson, not in seeing like a
state, as James C. Scott put it,
but in how trying to see like a state

James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the
Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).
can result in a blindness to the reality of nationalism. Put succinctly,
nationalism is a principle that asserts the people as the privileged
principle of political life. But this principle of the people is more than
a political one. It makes certain cultural claims that go to the heart of
identity, individual and collective, and as such it can place itself as a
conflicting relationship with the state. It certainly did so for much of
modern Japanese history.
More than twenty years of reading the literature on Japanese
nationalism has left me with a strong sense that what is said in
English and what is said in Japanese about the subject are often
worlds apart. This difference is not so much one of evaluative
positions: it is easy enough to find authors in either language who
reject nationalism completely or who support it, at least for limited
strategic reasons (most commonly, for what is believed to be its value
in anti-imperialism). But what has been most striking is the rather
casual use of the term nationalism in English writing, and the more
attentive and discriminating use of terminology to convey the idea of
nation or nationalism in Japanese. In part, this is due to a specific
linguistic feature of Japanese that needs to be stated at the outset here,
and indeed in any study on Japanese nationalism. There are two
distinct words in Japanese for nationalism, kokuminshugi and
minzokushugi, just as there are two distinct words in Japan for
nation, kokumin and minzoku. A third term, kokkashugi, is often
mis-translated into English as nationalism, but it really denotes
what the French language captures better as tatisme, or statism.
And, similarly, the root word kokka should be translated into English
as state rather than nation. Anyone who speaks or writes on
nationalism in Japanese must come to some understanding as to what
these different ways of articulating nationalism in Japanese signify,
and then sometimes make a choice between these alternative ways of
articulating nation or nationalism.
To choose one term over the
other is to select, explicitly or implicitly, a particular understanding of
what nationalism is.
To fully appreciate the subtle differences that emerge from the
choice of terminology requires some understanding of basic political

In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency to use the English word
nationalism in phonetic form (nashonarizumu). This approach has had two effects
on Japanese discourse on nationalism: one, an increase in theoretical ambiguity about
what exactly is being addressed (i.e., what is nationalism?); and two, a tendency to
exoticize nationalism as something that comes from, or is characteristic only of, the
theory on nationalism and the state. But in the first place, it is
important simply to recognize that the Japanese language forces a
conscious choice in terminology on one who wishes to discourse on
nationalism in Japanese. When a person speaks or writes about
nationalism in Japanese, he must decide whether the subject is
minzokushugi, kokuminshugi, or even kokkashugiwith considerable
differences in connotation. The first nationalism is rooted in a
concept of minzoku, the people as an ethnic (some argue racial)
group; the second is based on the principle of the kokumin, the people
as constituted into a political unit (which may, but need not, be
ethnic); and the final, as we have seen, is really about placing the state
(kokka) above all else, potentially even above the nation. The English
language has not developed a plurality of terms for nation or
nationalism. Consequently, in recent years, theorists of nationalism
writing in English have developed modifications of nationalism to
convey these distinct conceptions of nationalism: ethnic
nationalism, civil nationalism, political nationalism, and the like.
Cultural nationalism is less a modification of nationalism than an
umbrella term that reminds us of how ideologies mobilize identity
within various forms of nationalism. Cultural nationalism can be
merely a way of indicating how ethnic, civil and even statist variants
of nationalism are mobilized through cultural discourse. In Japanese,
the term cultural nationalism (bunka nashonarizumu) is an
awkwardly translated term at best, since the existing terms in
Japanese for nationalism already convey a particular theory and mode
of cultural nationalism.
The primary challenge in writing an English language handbook
on Japanese nationalism then is how to represent the subject matter
without either relying on the traditional, and inadequate, modes of
writing about Japanese nationalism in English (and erasing the
distinctiveness of specific language choices in the Japanese sources)
or falling into that particular form of Orientalism that asserts the
inherent incommensurability of languages and concepts of non-
Western cultures (emphasizing those different terminologies as if they
were untranslatable). Language issues aside, such an Orientalism is,
as many have already pointed out, fatally flawed for its ethical
implications alone. But it is especially important to note that it would
be tautological in a study on nationalism to employ Orientalist

Cf. It Kimiharu, Yanagita Kunio to bunka nashonarizumu (Tokyo: Iwanami
Shoten, 2002). Yoshino Ksaku, Bunka nashonarizumu no shakaigaku (Nagoya:
Nagoya Daigaku Shuppankai, 1997).
conceits: for it is not Orientalism that presents the strongest case for
cultural incommensurability, but nationalism itself. Any argument
about Japanese nationalism that even implicitly asserts the uniqueness
of Japanese ideas about their national identity would not inform us
about Japanese nationalism so much as it would merely re-present
that nationalism itself. To deny the uniqueness of Japanese
nationalism is not, however, to reject the historical particularity of
people, ideas and debates that contributed to a received discourse on
nationalism in modern Japan. Here, we need to walk a fine line
between the obvious fact that a universal human nature underlies all
intellectual activities (including conceiving of national distinctive-
ness) and the equally true fact that all intellectual work is done by
particular individuals in particular historical and social contexts and
thus cannot be reproduced completely in another place or time.
Explanations of Japanese nationalism that merely assert Japan as
another case of a universal theory of capitalism or the ubiquitous state
of human nature simply are not particular enough to constitute a
compelling argument about Japanese nationalism, just as a history of
the Japanese as a distinct, unchanging nation from ancient times to
the present are less histories of Japanese nationalism as instances of
nationalism itself!
Given this inherent challenge in identifying the subject of
nationalism without running aground on the Scylla of a reductive
Japaneseness or the Charybdis of a bland universalism, it is essential
to chart a middle course. My own approach is first to foreground my
understanding of Japanese nationalism in an overview of major
developments in nationalism theory (theory that, I hasten to add, is
not a Western mastertext to be applied to a non-Western case study,
but which has been fully absorbed by Japanese political theorists and
to which Japanese theorists have contributed). Theory and culture are
not in conflict, but in many ways mutually interdetermined. This is
particularly so in the case of nationalism, which is at once a theory of
culture and a cultural manifestation of a particular theory of identity
and politics. But once we have come to understand, through a
theoretical introduction, what the subject of nationalism is, we must
then move to the particular manifestations of that theory in the
substance of Japanese nationalism itself. Thus, in the body of this
book, I trace the historical developments in modes of conceiving the
nation in Japan in concrete detail, alongside the historical events that
provided the context for major nationalist assertions. Finally, in the
conclusion, I return to the question of what such a historical approach
can tell us about nationalism in Japan, past and present. Whether this
course will avoid shipwreck is for others to decide: for my part, I will
try to maintain a steady course through these perilous waters so as to
avoid the dangers that lie on either extreme.
Contemporary Nationalism Theory:
What is Nationalism and Who are the Nation?
To ask what is nationalism? first requires that we understand what a
nation is, for nationalism, as chimeric as it can seem at times,
certainly is a matter ultimately of elevating the nation to the central
principle of social and political life. Historically, the concept of
nation is older than the concept of nationalism. As theorists of
nationalism have consistently stressed for decades, the English word
nation and its European cognates have their origins in the Latin
word natio, meaning a being born, having come into being. It is
also sometimes pointed out that this word natio has a common root in
the word for nature, thus linking a nation with something natural. Yet,
we need not leap to the conclusion that nations are natural entities.
The word nationem was used in Medieval European universities to
loosely distinguish students by geographical or linguistic regions.
Thus, the nation de France included students from France, Italy and
Spain, the nation de Germanie included those from England and
Germany, the nation de Picardie referred to Dutch students, and the
nation de Normandie were students from the Northeast. Yet, as
Liah Greenfeld points out, this national identity was merely an
administrative category and not an identity embraced by the students
themselves: this identity was immediately shed when their studies
were completed and they returned home.
It was certainly not a
natural identity for these university students. As the universities sent
representatives to church councils (especially the Council of Lyon in
1274), the concept of nation was applied to mean representatives of
cultural and political authority, or a political, cultural, and social
Of course, concepts are not easy to control, and there is some
evidence that the concept of nation in the medieval Europe was used
also in a more broad sense to refer to the people.
Even so, the word

Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1992), 4.
Greenfeld, 4-5.
Susan Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900-1300,
(Oxford: Claredon Press, 1984), excerpt reprinted 137-40 in John Hutchinson &
nation lacked its contemporary meaning, one that would connect it to
the later emergence of nationalism.
The origins of nation in its modern sense are found in early
sixteenth century England, when the word nation in its conciliar
meaning of an elite was applied to the population of the country and
made synonymous with the word people.
Greenfeld maintains that
nationalism began at this moment and spread around the world from
its origins in England. In the process, it gave rise to different
apprehensions of the people based on the historical conditions
found in the major incubators of nationalism: England, where the
people were defined as equal; France, where the people were defined
by social contract in relation to tatism; Russia, where the people
were defined in paradoxical relationship to the soil and the state;
Germany, where resentment against England and France gave rise to
an ethnic (Volkisch) concept of the people, and America, where
British contractual nationalism gave birth to an idealistic civic
nationalism. Because Greenfeld identifies the emergence of this new
concept of the nation at this early date, she also concludes that
nationalism began at that very moment. Hers is an intellectual history
of nationalism precisely because she, following Hans Kohn, grasps
that nationalism is first a mode of conceiving of identity and only
then a political movement:
The specificity of nationalism, that which distinguishes nationality
from other types of identity, derives from the fact that nationalism
locates the source of individual identity within a people, which is
seen as the bearer of sovereignty, the central object of loyalty, and the
basis of collective solidarity. The people is the mass of a population
whose boundaries and nature are defined in various ways, but which is
usually perceived as larger than any concrete community and always as
fundamentally homogeneous, and only superficially divided by the
lines of status, class, locality, and in some cases even ethnicity. This
specificity is conceptual. The only foundation of nationalism as such,
the only condition, that is, without which no nationalism is possible, is
an idea; nationalism is a particular perspective or style of thought. The
idea which lies at the core of nationalism is the idea of the nation.

Anthony D. Smith, eds., Nationalism: Oxford Readers (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1994), 140.
Greenfeld, 6.
Greenfeld, 3-4. Cf. Nationalism is first and foremost a state of mind, an act of
consciousness, which since the French Revolution has become more and more
common to mankind. Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in Its Origins
and Background (New York: Collier Books, 1944), 10-11.
Greenfelds understanding of the nation as an idea corresponds to
Hans Kohns similar approach that seeks the origins of the idea of
nationalism. Both emphasize that the nation is a mode of conceiving
of the people. But because Kohn starts with nationalism and works
back to the nation, while Greenfeld starts with the nation and then
deduces nationalism from it, they arrive at very different conclusions
about nations and nationalism. The most significant difference is that
Kohn insists on the centrality of popular sovereignty in relation to
territory, while Greenfeld considers the territorial question secondary
(cf. in sixteenth

century England, the territorial question was not a
significant one in the emergence or historical impact of the idea of
nation). In this regard, Greenfelds approach to nationalism is more
helpful in understanding nationalism in Japan, where the territorial
issue was more similar to the situation in sixteenth century England
than to disputes that emerged elsewhere over state boundaries or even
the creation of new states as national homelands for displaced peoples.
Although there is considerable debate over when, how and in what
forms the concept of nation emerged in world history, there is
substantial agreement that it was an effort to conceive of the people
in a significantly new fashion. Even scholars of nationalism who
emphasize the pre-modern originals of nationalism recognize that the
nation was an effort to represent the people in some collective
fashion. Hugh Seton-Watson and John Armstrong both argue for the
emergence of nations before nationalism, and both accept that the
nation was a means of referring to the people and not to a unit of
Perhaps the most influential theorist on the question of
what is a nation is Anthony D. Smith who has argued forcefully that
the core of any true nation lies in what Smith terms a pre-modern
ethnie, or an ethnic community. What is an ethnie? In the first
place, it is an ideal, but one that has tremendous attraction for those
who are caught in its web. Smith lists six characteristics of an ethnie:
(1) a collective proper name; (2) a myth of common ancestry; (3)
shared historical memories; (4) one or more differentiating elements
of common culture; (5) an association with a specific homeland; (6)
a sense of solidarity for significant sectors of the population.
that while Smith finds an ethnic origin to all nations, he stresses that

See Hugh Seton-Watson, Nations and States (London: Methuen, 1977) and John
Armstrong, Nations before Nationalism (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North
Carolina Press). Both works are excerpted in John Hutchinson & Anthony D. Smith,
eds., Nationalism, 134-7 and 140-7.
Anthony D. Smith, National Identity (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1991),
this ethnie is not equivalent to race, nor does this ethnic origin of
nations negate the fact that all nations have both ethnic and civic
elements to them.
The association with a homeland opens the door
for an ethnie to later become a nation through the mediation of a
territorial state. But Smith is quite persuasive on the distinctiveness of
the nation as rooted in a primordial sense of ethnic identity, and not in
either biological race or a territorial, administrative sense of the state.
The distinction between a nation and a state is recognized even by
political theorists for whom the state is the primary focus of concern.
Charles Tilly, one of the foremost practitioners of state-centered
political analysis, noted this distinction in a volume on the rise of
national states which he edited thirty years ago. Speaking for his
collaborators, Tilly noted that
we concentrated our attention increasingly on the development of states
rather than the building of nations. There were several reasons for this
drift. One was the greater ease with which we could arrive at some
working agreement on the meaning of the word state. Nation
remains one of the most puzzling and tendentious items in the political
lexicon. Another was our early fixation on the periods in which the
primacy states was [sic] still open to serious challenge; they were not
generally periods of nationalism, of mass political identity or even of
great cultural homogeneity within the boundaries of a state.
Abstract theory and historical discourse converge in testifying to the
important distinction between nation (minzoku, kokumin) and state
(kokka), a singularity shared from early modern Europe to
contemporary Japan. In fact, Gidon Gottlieb reminds us that the idea
of nation is entirely absent from the definition of the state which can
be found in the writings of the thinkersMachiavelli, Bodin, and
Hobbeswho first mapped out the new landscape of the modern
political world.
To understand the dynamics of nationalism, either
as a political or cultural ideology, we must first recognize the
distinctive claims that can be raised in the name of the state or in the

Smith, 15, 21. Cf. In fact, every nationalism contains civic and ethnic elements
in varying degrees and different forms. Sometimes civic and territorial elements
predominate; at other times it is the ethnic and vernacular components that are
emphasized. (13).
Charles Tilly, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975), 6.
Gidon Gottlieb, Nation Against State: A New Approach to Ethnic Conflicts and
the Decline of Sovereignty (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1993),
137. Gottlieb is summarizing the work of A. Passerin dEntreves, The Notion of the
State (Oxford, 1967).
name of the nation, and particularly how the nation configures the
people into a privileged subjectivity for cultural and political purposes
in a way that is not necessarily true of the state.
When we hear that in a given society, nation and state are one and
the same thing or, alternatively, that ethnicity and nation (minzoku,
kokumin) are identical, or that making such distinctions is a
meaningless parsing of the real integral nature of nationalism, we are
likely hearing not so much an objective analysis of nationalism as an
instance of nationalist aspirations. Similarly, arguments that assert
nationalism is always a method by which a nation achieves its own
territorial state reveal a particular nationalist agenda, and when that
nation is conceived as an ethnic group, then the formula simply
expresses ethnic nationalist ideals. One of the reasons that this
handbook does not include a chapter on the state (kokka) as a key
component of Japanese nationalism is to counter precisely this
nationalist presumption that nationalism is always intertwined with
the state, in spite of so much scholarship that demonstrates that the
nation and the state are separate matters. More political histories of
Japan should follow Tillys lead and decide whether they will focus
on the state or the nation, not confuse the two in an effort to do both
simultaneously. In this study, I opt for the nation as my subject of
analysis. But having said that, I do not completely ignore the Japanese
states (prewar imperial and postwar democratic), rather I note when
the trajectories of nation and state intersected and collided in Japans
modern history, and especially what the historical and political
implications of those periodic intersections were.
Just as the nation is not the same as the state, neither is the nation
reducible to ethnic identity. As Greenfelds study reveals, not all
nations are ethnic ones, and similarly not all theorists of nationalism
assert ethnic nationalism as the only form of nationalism. Some do.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, for example, adopts an anthropological
perspective on social identity that leads him to conclude that true
nations are ethnic nations, although he allows for a distinction
between a nation and an ethnic group based on whether a certain
ethnic people have their own state. When they do not, they may be
considered merely an ethnic group; when they do, then they are an
(ethnic) nation-state. The process by which an ethnic group obtains its
own state is called nationalism, but it is possible for an ethnic group
residing within the boundaries of another ethnic national state to
express its identity in terms of a nationalism against the state.
ethnic reductivism aside, Eriksens anthropological perspective thus
augments the point that Kohn, Greenfeld and many others have made:
nationalism is a product of intellectual or emotional activity, rather
than the expression of a primordial object or the natural manifestation
of an underlying reality independent of human cognition.
At the identity level, nationhood is a matter of belief. The nation, that is
the Volk imagined by nationalists, is a product of nationalist ideology:
it is not the other way around. A nation exists from the moment a
handful of influential people decide that it should be so, and it starts, in
most cases, as an urban elite phenomenon. In order to be an efficient
political tool, it must nevertheless eventually achieve mass appeal.
While Eriksen sides more with Ernest Gellners nationalism creates
nations rather than Greenfelds nations create nationalism, in his
emphasis on the core element of ethnicity and his recognition of the
key role of subjective agency involved in determining national
consciousness, he is closer to Greenfeld. Yet, overriding their
differences on these minor points is a broadly shared belief that
nations are not to be reduced to states but that the nation is a
particularly powerful way of conceiving of the people, as a cultural
unit with a shared identity, and as a political agent independent of the
political state.
The state of theory on the nation at present may be summarized in
the following manner. There is now a general agreement among most
specialists that nation refers to a particular mode of conceiving of the
people as a collective subject of cultural and political identity. Further,
this concept of the people, which often historically has been rooted in
an ethnic sense of identity, can at times be extended to a political
sense of civic unity (eg., citizenry), although there remains a
vigorous debate over whether non-ethnic, or civic, nations are
likely to have the same historical staying power as ethnic nations have
demonstrated over the years. There remains a further divide over the
historical origins of nations between modernists like Greenfeld and
Gellner who assert that nations are recently constructed subjectivities
that have much to do with the contingencies of historical events,
industrialization, political centralization, uniform educational systems,

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological
Perspectives (London: Pluto Press, 1993) 109-111.This idea of nationalism against
the state is shared by the legal scholar Gidon Gottlieb who, nonetheless, takes a
diametrically opposed position to Erkisens on whether nations must always be ethnic
ones. See Gottlieb, Nation Against State.
Eriksen, Ethnicity and Nationalism, 105.
etc., and primordialists like Smith who argue that nations are rooted
in ancient ethnic identities that underlay what often passes as civic or
modern forms of nationality.
Yet, all these theorists recognize the difference between a nation
and a state, and in fact that distinction is one of the most important
features of contemporary nation theory. For primordialists, the
relation between nation and state is often a contentious one,
particularly if a given ethnic nation does not possess its own state.
This tension is often articulated in terms of anti-imperialism and
movements for national self-determination. Yet, even among
primordialists (and quite common among modernists), one finds a
recognition that national identity, even ethnic identity, is a mode of
conception, a way of thinking about identity that need not have any
necessary basis in nature. Consequently, how national identity is
produced, propagated and consumed is also a major area of debate
among contemporary theorists of nationalism. All of this suggests that
nationalism is ultimately a complex and multi-leveled effort to
address the relationship of a people with each other, and also with the
political organization particular to their collective life: the state.
When the nation and the state are in close conformity, one can then,
and only then, speak of the existence of a nation-state. But a true
nation-state is more frequently the ideal goal of nationalist rhetoric
and action than it is a source of nationalist ideology.
Theoretical Influences on Japanese Discourse on the Nation
All too often, historians of Japan seek to uncover cultural and
intellectual features of Japanese life by eschewing theory itself as
foreign to Japan and relying on an implicit, indigenous assumption
of Japanese culture. Or, alternatively, historians who use theory
merely impose current theories (almost always from the West) on the
presumed indigenous field of inert cultural data drawn from Japan.
The first approach is merely insufficient, if not dishonest, since there
are always theoretical assumptions employed in any cultural analysis,
and the indigenous approach itself is deeply entrenched in a particular
theoretical assumption about the incomensurability of social and
cultural orders. Most commonly, this approach derives from a theory
about the incomensurability of Japanese culture (as Oriental) and
Western theory, and it often makes an implicit argument about
cultural imperialism. Eschewing any theoretical component to the
study of society not merely indulges in a particular romantic embrace
of particularity and collective authenticity, but it also reproduces the
very assumptions of cultural, especially ethnic, nationalism in its
interpretive framework. As noted above, such an indigenous cultural
theory is merely a tautology when it attempts to explain nationalism.
At the same time, efforts to explain Japanese nationalism through
whatever theory happens to be in vogue at the time is at best only half
a solution. It can shed light on our current prejudices, but it does not
necessarily explain the internal development of the object of analysis:
the nation itself as a historical development of concepts of identity
that stems from particular ideas about self, other, and culture. For that,
we need to both address theoretical influences on how a particular
mode of conceiving the nation came to be, and also to be aware of
which theoretical approaches were read, absorbed and debated within
the discourse of a particular nation.
That is to say, a universal one-size-fits-all theory cannot explain
every national formation in the world, but neither can a rejection of
theory in the name of empirical indigenousness suffice to explain the
historical formation and reformation of a nation. So, to understand the
historical formation of concepts of the nation in modern Japan, I turn
next to those theories about the nation that have been widely and
demonstrably influential on Japanese discourse on the nation. Of
course, we cannot assume that Japanese writers on the nation merely
reflected the conclusions of these non-Japanese theorists. To complete
our understanding of the relationship of theory to the formation of
national consciousness in Japan, we will conclude with a look at how
influential Japanese language theorists understood and discussed the
problem of the nation.
One of the most influential developments in nation theory was
Friedrich Meineckes distinction between the nation as a cultural
body (Kutlurnation) from the nation as invested in the political state
Meineckes distinction was, of course, part of his
own national concerns, especially a sense that by the late nineteenth
century the Bismarkian state had lost its chance at winning over the
hearts and minds of the German people. Under these conditions, he
turned to romantics like Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel and Adam Mller
as the true bearers of the German nation.
Note that, in contrast to
modernization theorists for whom the nation is only of interest to the
extent it is involved in a movement toward building a nation-state,
Meineckes theory worked against the presumption that a nation-state
was the inevitable political expression of the nation. For this reason,

Anthony Smith, National Identity, 8.
Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism, trans. Guy Oakes, (Cambridge, MA: The
MIT Press, 1986), 27.
his sense that true national identity was cultural was attractive to
many early twentieth century Japanese nationalists, since their own
monarchical state had rejected calls for a true nation-state and
severely restricted the franchise. It had placed the people on the
margins of political life. Disappointments with the failure of the
Peoples Rights Movement led to an embrace of Meineckes
concept of a Kulturnation in post-Constitutional Japan. Takayama
Chogy introduced this concept as Kulturvlker, which he then
rendered into Japanese as jimbun minzoku. In contrast to Meinecke,
Takayama argued that civilization required that a nation (minzoku)
had its own state: he was not ready to give up on the modern state just
yet. In fact, his overriding concern was to identify the conditions and
procedures through which a people moved from the category of a
Naturvlker (shizen minzoku) to a Kulturvlker. But he had no doubt
that all Naturvlker would inevitably become Kulturvlker, and at
that point they would become their own kokumin, or a Staatsnation.
Takayamas argument about the historical development of nations
moved in precisely the opposite direction of Meineckes. But the
more important point is how he incorporated Meineckes romantic
concept of the nation in Volkisch terms. In doing so, Takayama not
only provided the foundations for the modern Japanese concept of an
ethnic nation, but he did so in explicit contrast to the concept of the
political, or statist nation.
Japanese theorists on national identity and nationalism used this
distinction in various ways. Takayama used the idea of a Kulturnation
to challenge broad racial categories that, albeit popular in late
nineteenth century political theory, undervalued the particularities of
specific nations with a single racial category. But in the wake of the
populism and culturalism of the Taisho period, the very idea that a
nation need not be invested in a political state, or at least the idea that
the twonation and stateare distinct, began to have a tremendous
influence on the Japanese discourse on nationalism. In 1917,
Sakaguchi Takakimi of Kyoto Imperial University built on
Takayamas early awareness of the significance of culture in national
identity, arguing that particular national cultural traditions were more
important that regional racial categories. Without mentioning
Meinecke or Takayama by name, he foregrounded Meineckes
distinction between a Kulturnation and a Staatsnation, but in contrast
to Takayama, he did not render either sense of nation in terms of a

Takayama Chogy, Sekai bummei shi (1898), reprinted in Chogy zensh
(Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1930) volume 5: 1-282, at 20, 32-3.
minzoku or Volk. For Sakaguchi, the corresponding terms were bunka
kokumin and kokka kokumin. One cannot conclude that this
terminology was a result of Sakaguchi being unaware of the
distinction between minzoku and kokumin, or that he intentionally
collapsed the two concepts. His article bore the title, Minzoku,
kokumin and global culture, and was in fact one of the earliest
contributions to the Japanese discourse on ethnic nationality as a
distinct mode of national identity.
His decision to render nation here
in both instances in terms of kokumin is a central feature of this
understanding of nation, nationalism, and its relationship to the state,
ethnicity and global influences.
The distinction between a cultural nation and a statist nation
remained a cardinal feature of Japanese discourse on nationalism,
especially among sociologists. Usui Jishs 1934 essay, discussed
below in chapter four, had a tremendous influence in this regard.
Usuis understanding of the various possibilities of what a nation
could mean had changed since Sakaguchis day, but he retained
Sakaguchis translation terms for cultural and statist nation: bunka
kokumin and kokka kokumin. He did not credit Meinecke directly for
this distinction, but cited A. Kirchhoffs zur Verstndigung ber die
Begriffe Nation und Nationalitt (Vorwort, 1905) as his source, along
with Kirchhoffs original terms, Staatsnation and kulturelle Nation.
Usui was largely alone, however, in privileging the kokumin, or civic,
sense of nation. Most of his fellow sociologists were shifting to an
ethnic bias, one that sometimes even clouded their ability to recognize
basic facts. Nakano Seiichi was one such ethnically driven sociologist.
In his own essay a few years later, Staatsnation and Kulturnation,
Nakano declared he would retain the original European terms because,
while he conceded that Usuis translations were technically accurate,
he was concerned about the polysemy in the Japanese translations for
nation. The problem is that he misrepresented Usuis translations as
kokka minzoku and bunka minzoku, whereas Usui had not used the
term minzoku but kokumin in translating both Staatsnation and
This slip was undoubtedly a reflection of Nakanos

Cf. my discussion of Sakaguchis article in the context of a renaissance of
ethnic national theories in the Taisho period in Culture, Ethnicity and the State in
Early Twentieth-Century Japan, chapter in Sharon Minichiello, ed., Japans
Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930 (Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press, 1998): 181-205.
Usui Jish, Kokumin no gainen, Nihon shakaigakka nenp, Shakaigaku, daini
sh (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1934), 1-97, at 49.
Nakano Seiichi, Staatsnation to Kulturnation, Shgaku Tky volume 13
(December 1938), 1-30, at 1, n.1
own infatuation with ethnicity as the basic underlying principle of
national identity. He did, however, explicitly acknowledge the
influence of Meinecke, along with J. Neuman and Kirchhoff, in this
distinction between a cultural nation and a state-nation.
By the early twentieth century, there was already among Japanese
scholars of nationalism a recognized field of literature with which
some familiarity was expected of any serious contributor to theories
on nation and national identity. An invaluable source of insight into
this field is Kada Tetsujis 1939 survey of the literature on the nation,
nationalism, sociology and economics. Among European texts most
influential on Japanese ideas of the nation were J. A. Hobson,
Imperialism: A Study (1902), Ramsay Muir, Nationalism and
Internationalism (1916), G.P. Gooch, Nationalism (1921), Carlton
J.H. Hayes, Essays on Nationalism (1926), Heinrich Schnee,
Nationalismus und Imperialismus (1928), Bernard Joseph, Natonality,
its Nature and Problems (1929), Herbert Adams Gibbons,
Nationalism and Internationalism (1930), and Harry Elmer Barnes,
World Politics in Modern Civilization (1930); and on the left, Otto
Bauers Nationalittsproblem und die Sozialdemokratie (no date
given), and Lenin and Stalins writings on the nationality question
available by then in Japanese translation. Equally interesting are the
Japanese theorists recognized by Kada as the leading voices on the
problem of nation theory: Takata Yasuma, Yanaihara Tadao, Koya
Yoshio, Komatsu Kentar, and Kada himself.
To the Western books
Kada listed, one might add W.B. Pillsburys The Psychology of
Nationality and Internationalism (1919) and William McDougalls
The Group Mind (1920), both of which were often cited texts by the
important Japanese writers on nationalism discussed below,
especially in chapter six. A brief survey of some of these theorists,
with particular emphasis on how they understood what nation and
nationalism meant, will go far in elucidating the contours of Japanese
discourse on national identity and how it developed.
Hobsons study positioned nationalism in the context of
imperialism, and thus immediately raised the question of how one
might determine the limits of one nation and the beginnings of
another. For Hobson, nationalism was merely the establishment of a
political union on the basis of nationality, and thus what constituted a
nationality needed to be defined. He turned to J.S. Mill for his answer.

Kada Tetsuji, Bunken: minzoku, minzokushugi, sens shakaigaku,
keizaigaku, chapter in Shimmei Masamichi, et al., Minzoku to sens (Tokyo: Nihon
Seinen Gaik Kykai, 1939), 205-244.
Mill held that a portion of mankind may be said to constitute a
nation if they are united among themselves by common sympathies
which do not exist between them and others.
Hobson accepted
Mills pluralistic approach to defining the elements of this common
sympathy (race, descent, language, religion, geographical limits, but
especially a common history of shared pride and humiliation, pleasure
and regret), but his interest was not really in defining the constitutive
elements of nation. Rather, his focus was on imperialism, the
debasement of nationalism that occurs when a nation attempts to
overflow its natural banks and absorb the near or distant territory of
reluctant and unassimilable peoples.
Imperialism was a recent
phenomenon, not something that might have characterized British
power in the New World, as the colonial people were not seen as
unassimilable, regardless of how reluctant they may have been.
Rather, it was the destablizing proliferation of empires during the late
nineteenth century that rendered unavoidable the question of what are
the limits of a nation (what is a nation). Hobsons was very much a
British theory of imperialism, but it also was informed by a functional
pragmatism that simply left the fundamental question of what a nation
is unanswered. For all its apparent similarity to Renans famous point
that a nation is merely a daily plebiscite, Hobsons theory was quite
different. He was less concerned than Renan was with the internal
processes that constituted a nation. His definition of a nation was far
from satisfactory, but he had foregrounded a subjective element in the
determination of national identity. And that subjective element,
moving the discussion from biological race, was deemed progress and
reason enough to read Hobson.
It did not take long for political theorists to focus on the weakness
of Hobsons definition of a nation. Ramsay Muir was one of the
earliest and most important theorists to do so. Like Hobson, Muir was
a British academic who was opposed to imperialism, having traveled
in India in 1913-4. He began with Hobsons idea (from Mill) that a
nation is merely a group of people who feel naturally linked together,
but then he evaluated what possible grounds there could be for this
linkage. Geographical boundaries? These were most important to
Hobson in determining when a nation overflows its proper place.
But Muir noted that not all nations could be spatially determined: the
Greeks were scattered around the world, the Poles were not clearly

J.S. Mill, Representative Government, chap. xvi., cited in J.A. Hobson,
Imperialism: A Study (New York: James Pott & Company, 1902), 3.
Hobson, 4.
delineated by bounded territory, and even France and Germany had
difficulty establishing their national boundaries. Unity of race? No,
Muir pointed out that there is no nation that is not of mixed racial
origins. But, of equal significance, he insisted that the ideas of race
and nation be kept distinct. Race, he noted, has led to German claims
over Holland, Denmark, and Belgiumeven though these nations
have their own distinctive national cultures. Unity of language? Again,
Muir had no difficulty pointing out weaknesses to this theory. The
Irish and Welsh have adopted the Celtic language, German speakers
east of the Elbe are largely Slavonic in ethnicity, Indians have only
the English language in common and yet do not feel they are of the
English nation, and unity of language does not necessarily lead to
national unity (Latin American), nor does disunity of language
necessarily prevent a nation from coming into being (USA,
Switzerland, Belgium). Unity of religion has never defined a nation.
Muir recognized that nations have divided over religion (Dutch and
Belgium, North and South Ireland), but in other places religion
simply has not posed an obstacle to national unity (Germany,
Muir evaluated other claims, too: unified government, community
of economic interest and a common tradition, only to find that while
there is some merit to all these factors, none ultimately could account
for the formation of nations, as there were exceptions to them all.
Ultimately, Muir concluded that no single theory could account for
the formation and continued existence of nations:
Nationality, then, is an elusive idea, difficult to define. It cannot be
tested or analyzed by formulae, such as German professors love. Least
of all must it be interpreted by the brutal and childish doctrine of
racialism. Its essence is a sentiment; and in the last resort we can only
say that a nation is a nation because its members passionately and
unanimously believe it to be so. . . . and even this may be mistaken or
based upon inadequate grounds.
Like Hobson, Muir ultimately arrived at a pragmatic conclusion about
the inability to define a nation. This reply was of course a rejection of
Stalin and Bauers efforts to lay out a final theoretical formula for
national identity. But in contrast to Hobson (and Stalin and Bauer),
Muir added the heady idea that nationality can be nursed into
existence even in places where it had never existed before or when

Ramsay Muir, Nationalism and Internationalism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1917): 51, 54.
most of the above elements are lacking.
His point was not so much
to force nations upon the word, but to recognize that nations are
contingent and not necessary or essential features of human life
throughout history.
This understanding of a nation, its origin, nature, substance, limits
and possibility for change, was associated with a political liberalism
that placed primacy on the freedom of individual feelings (at least to
the extent they did not conflict with existing power structures). If a
nation were simply a matter of sentiment, an idea that exists in a
persons mind, then it was only a matter of time before psychologists
weighed in on the matter. Two of the most important were W.B.
Pillsbury, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, and
William McDougall, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.
The two men were aware of each others writings, and even referred
to one another in their texts. Pillsbury set the tone with his The
Psychology of Nationality and Internationalism (1919) in which he
tried to explain the nation as a psychological unit that as a whole
resembles the activities of individual animal or man.
His point was
that the nation could neither be understood analogously as a crowd
(Marxism) or as its own particular self (conservatives) but only as a
social embodiment of the instincts of an individual. Pillsbury tried,
not too successfully, to avoid racial nationalism while rooting his
theory of the nation in the biological instincts of an individual. He
insisted that instincts are unique to the individual and can change. His
purpose was to underscore the idea that nations are ideational, but to
locate this ideational function as an emotional, rather than rational,
expression of life and to open the door to historical change within
nations, as within individuals.
McDougall went even further. Citing Muirs effort to define a
nation as a mental condition, McDougall believed that
psychological science could avoid Muirs failure to adequately
explain what a nation is. Without a serviceable definition of a nation,
McDougall pointed out that
the Statesmen of the Paris Conference are to replyWe do not know
whether your claim is well-founded; for the historians and political
philosophers cannot tell us the meaning of the word nation. Go to and

Muir, 51.
W.B. Pillsbury, The Psychology of Nationality and Internationalism (New York:
D. Appleton and Company, 1919), 22.
fight, and, if you survive, we shall recognize the fait accompli and hail
you a Nation.
Conservatives and Marxists might accept this situation as reality, but
not liberals like McDougall. He sought the answer to the slippery task
of defining the nation in the field of psychology, and he found it: a
nation, we must say, is a people or population enjoying some degree
of political independence and possessed of a national mind and
character, and therefore capable of national deliberation and national
McDougall understood that this definition of a nation
required that he then offer some analysis of what a national mind is
and how it functions. Not surprisingly, he did not make much success
in that effort, and instead got mired down in all sorts of racial
stereotypes of groups of people. Such racial and ethnic stereotyping
was not his objective, but in fact ran counter to the main thrust of his
argument, which was a caution against excess in the direction of the
unalterability of race and an effort to explain not merely the history
of the rise of nations, but rather of the perpetual rise and fall of
But it was an inevitable effect of assigning a group mind
to ethnic groups and then trying to account for their achievements on
the basis of that collective mentality.
In that sense, McDougalls psychological approach was far more
collective than Pillsburys equally ill-fated effort to provide an
individualist, instinct-driven model of the nation. But what attracted
Japanese national theorists to McDougall and Pillsbury was not this
slip into racism. Rather, it was the promise they held out that a nation,
as a mental artifact, could be understood on the basis of scientific
knowledge, not merely determined through violence.
A breakthrough in nationalism theory occurred with Carlton J.H.
Hayess very influential 1926 essay, What is Nationalism? Hayess
article was many things, not the least of which was a repudiation of
biologically-determined, psychological efforts to define a group
mind or nation-soul. He accepted the general conclusion of
nationalism studies that the underlying force of nationalism is an

William McDougall, The Group Mind: A Sketch of the Principles of Collective
Psychology with Some Attempt to Apply Them to the Interpretation of National Life
and Character (New York & London: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1920), 139. This passage
was well-known to Japanese theorists of nationalism, as it was cited in Japanese
translation in Masaki Masato, Minzoku to wa nani zo? Shigaku vol. 1, no. 1 (1921):
148-155, at 153.
McDougall, The Group Mind, 141.
McDougall, The Group Mind, 168, 144. Emphasis in original.
emotional factor, or the sentiment of being a nation. But he also was
one of the first to recognize how terminological confusion (he
actually alleged intentional efforts to corrupt the language) was
complicating the task of understanding what nationalism is. Hayes
noted that the word nation had its roots in the Latin word natio (birth
or race, a social group based on a community of blood and language),
and he also knew that the word nation had been used since the
seventeenth century to describe certain populations that had nothing
to do with racial or linguistic unity:
It was in part to atone for the abuse of the word nation that the word
nationality was coined in the early part of the nineteenth century and
speedily incorporated into most European languages. Thenceforth,
while nation continued chiefly to denote the citizens of a sovereign
political state, nationality was more exactly used in reference to a group
of persons speaking the same language and observing the same customs.
The jurists have done their best to corrupt the new word nationality,
just as they had corrupted the old word nation; they have utilized
nationality to indicate citizenship.
A nationality, by acquiring political unity and sovereign
independence, becomes a nation, or, to avoid the use of the
troublesome word nation, establishes a national state. A national
state is always based on nationality, but a nationality may exist without
a national state. A state is essentially political; a nationality is primarily
cultural and only incidentally political.
As Hayes explained with powerful clarity, nationality (what we might
today call ethnicity) has been around as far as history or
anthropology can reach, but nationalism is a modern phenomenon
that seeks to fuse nationality and patriotism, a sense of loyalty to the
idea of the state. Yet, it was perhaps Hayess contribution to identify
nationality and patriotism as separate phenomenon more that it was to
find the Holy Grail of a final definition of nation, nationality or even
patriotism. More important was his cultural approach that rejected
biological, racial arguments for national identity and his assertion that
political independence is not an indispensable condition of
In this sense, Hayes was the source both of justification
for imperialism and for contemporary theories of the multi-ethnic
civic nation (state).
Hayess effort to get at the heart of nationalism was influential
among Japanese political theorists, but they did not simply swallow

Carlton J.H. Hayes, What is Nationalism? in Essays on Nationalism (New
York: The MacMillan Company, 1926), 1-29, at 4-5.
Hayes, What is Nationalism? 20.
everything he said on the topic. Kamikawa Hikomatsu reviewed
Hayes, along with McDougall, Muir, Pillsbury and others, and
correctly identified the key problem all these theorists sought to
resolve: how much of a nation is racial and how much is not.
Kamikawa found the psychological approach too subjective, but he
also rejected the conservative racial theories of Joseph-Arthur
Gobineau as insufficiently historical. He proposed a middle way
between these two extremes, but his middle way was essentially the
position staked out by Hayes, i.e., that nationality was a cultural
phenomenon, the product of social environment, which included
elements of consciousness.
Nakatani Takeyos two-part essay
covered many of the same theorists (Pillsbury, McDougall, Muir,
Hayes) but he was a bit more critical than Kamikawa of Hayess
assertion that most of the tribes described by anthropologists and
most of the peoples whom we encounter in history are nationalities.
Nakatani objected that since it had been established that a nation
(minzoku) was merely a form of consciousness, a psychological unit,
it was necessary to recognize that the mode of consciousness itself
was a product of modernity.
He rejected Hayess theory that
separated the nation from nationalism, arguing that the two were
deeply intertwined. Rather than seeing national consciousness flow
from the prior existence of the nation, or assert than national
consciousness produced the nation, he countered that the nation,
national consciousness and nationalism are all three locked into a
simultaneous, mutually dependent relationship.
Of course, Hayes
had distinguished nationality (ethnicity) from nationalism as part of a
broader argument that all forms of nationalism need not be ethnic, but
in fact should emphasize patriotism or citizenship. Nakatanis essay
was a harbinger of a new emphasis during the 1930s on ethnicity as
the expression of a self identity that allowed no distinction between
nationality (ethnicity) and citizenship (see Chapter Six below).
The theorists discussed above may be criticized as apologists for
imperialism. By that, I do not mean that they were jingoistic or
necessarily advocated the exploitation of other peoples by a foreign

Kamikawa Hikomatsu, Minzoku no honshitsu ni tsuite no ksatsu, Kokka
gakkai zasshi, volume 12, no. 1(December 1926): 1825-51 at 1835-6.
Hayes, What is Nationalism?, 21; cited in Nakatani Takeyo, Minzoku ishiki
oyobi minzokushugi, Gaik Jih, no. 541 (June 1927): 116-128. The first part of
this two-part essay was Minzoku, minzoku ishiki oyobi minzokushugi, Gaik Jih, ,
no. 537 (April 1927): 110-120.
Nakatani, Minzoku ishiki oyobi minzokushugi, 121.
Nakanati, Minzoku ishiki oyobi minzokushugi, 126.
state. Rather, they tended to see in the distinction between a cultural
nation and a statist nation (which was not equivalent to a nation-
state) a recognition of how history impacted different societies
differently, creating unevenness in the modern political order.
Various prescriptions flowed from Japanese theorists who shared this
perspective. For some, this unevenness in development meant that
Japan had a moral obligation to lead other nations in achieving their
own independent statist nation; for others, it simply meant Japan had
to provide political protection through its state for other cultural
nations who had yet to establish their own statist nations; and for
others yet, it meant Japan had to assist other peoples in making the
transition from the state of a natural nation to becoming a true cultural
nation. Imperialism then could be the mark of regional dominance,
regional development, or even of a multi-ethnic civic national identity
within the homeland itself as well as within the periphery. The
distinction between bunka kokumin and kokka kokumin, much like the
contemporary theoretical distinction between an ethnic nation and a
civic nation, had a range of practical applications and implication
for the form and function of the political state, but it was never simply
reducible to the state. For these liberal theorists, the problem of
nationality, an ethnic form of social identity, was far more
attractive than the issue of the state and its governance.
Today, after Auschwitz, Serbia and Rwanda, it may seem strange
that liberals in early twentieth century Japan would extol the ethnic
nation. But praise it they did, albeit under different terms and from
different theoretical sources from those used by Marxists and
conservatives. Both Marxists and liberals were drawn to the notion of
ethnic nationalism at roughly the same time, the years during and
immediately after the First World War. But whereas Marxist interest
in nationalism was instrumental, liberals sought in a new substantive
understanding of ethnic national identity as means of overcoming
racism. For them, a theory of the ethnic nation as a form of
consciousness was a way to break free of the determinism of the older,
racial theory of the nation as a primordial, organic identity that could
not easily be reconciled with the state. What was distinctive about this
liberal approach to ethnic nationalism was that it was less territorial
and more conceptual in orientation than conservative and Marxist
theories of the nation. Yet, in the hands of Yanaihara Tadao, both
conceptual and territorial, ethnic and civic aspects of the nation were
mobilized to assert an anti-imperialist theory of nationalism that was
independent of Stalinist agendas. Liberal nationalists, including
Yanaihara, were drawn to a constructivist notion of national con-
sciousness both as a way to limit the claims of the state over the self-
expression of the individual and to condemn biological racism that
was founded in the claims of nature. If this new liberal approach to
national consciousness emphasized the difference between nation and
state, it also encouraged diverse ways to think about the nation itself,
although oftentimes these new and diverse ways of thinking about the
nation ultimately settled on an ethnic concept of national identity.
Ethnic nationalism held particular fascination for Marxists and
socialists who found in that particular theory of nationalism a
valuable tool for their global, political agendas. Worldwide Marxist
interest in ethnic nationalism stemmed from disagreements over
nationalism that came to the fore at the Congress of the Second
International at Basel in 1912. What sparked this debate was Otto
Bauers 1907 Die Nationalitatenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie [the
nationality problem and social demoncracy]. Bauers argument,
which subsequently became known as the Austro-Marxian position
on nationalism, was that national identity had to be accepted as basic
form of identity and thus multiple nationalities must be recognized
within a single, multiethnic (socialist) state. Bauer went so far as to
suggest that national identity was more fundamental than class, at
least to the extent that class was projected in some international
system. To effectively counter Bauers argument that national identity
was more important than class consciousness, while at the same time
holding together the coalition of nationalities within the Eastern
European Marxist movement, Stalin needed to concede something to
national identity while subordinating it to the international Marxist
agenda. It was not an easy thing to do. Stalins conclusion, articulated
in his influential Marxism and the National-Colonial Question (1913),
was that national identity should be recognized to the degree that it
was a useful tool against capitalist imperialism. But it should not be
allowed to undermine Marxist solidarity in the struggle against
The debate over nationalism and Marxism crystalized in the way
the two men defined a nation. Bauer maintained that the nation is a
totality of men bound together through a common destiny into a
community of character.
Stalin insisted on a definition of the nation
that employed more criteria, and his definition subsequently shaped

See my Colonialism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Political Thought of
Yanaihara Tadao (1893-1961), East Asian History, no. 10 (December 1995): 79-98.
Otto Bauer, The Nationalities Question and Social Democracy, (1907);
reprinted in Omar Dahbour and Micheline R. Ishay, eds, The Nationalism Reader
(Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press, 1995), 183-91 at 183.
many others. A nation, he argued, is a historically evolved, stable
community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological
make-up manifested in a community of culture.
Stalins definition
was more determinant of a nation (rather than descriptive, as was
Bauers), in the sense that he did not accept that national character
could override these other elements, especially the demands of
territory. In short, he made it explicit that Bauers definition of a
nation could not, indeed would not, exclude the imperialism implicit
in Austria establishing jurisdiction over other nationalities (eg.,
Czechs, Poles, Germans) within its territorial boundaries. Stalin
introduced the most powerful definition and theory of a territorialized
concept of the nation so as to provide both a justification of the
emerging Soviet solution (autonomous national-territories within the
boundaries of the Soviet Union) and especially to harness the nation
to a theory of anti-imperialism. Here, it is worth noting that
imperialism, as a theory and practice, is inconceivable without first an
embrace of the territorial claims of ethnic nationality along the lines
Stalin drew. Today, such de-territorialized ethnic identity is simply
positioned within the concept of a liberal democratic multi-ethnic
Stalins instrumental ethnic nationalism was, and remains,
inordinately influential among Japanese nationalist theorists from the
1920s to the present. As discussed below in Chapter Six, his theories
(and Bauers) were widely debated among theorists of nationalism
(chiefly among Marxist political theorists) such as Nagashima Matao,
Sano Manabu, Nishi Masao, yama Ikuo, Matsubara Hiroshi and
others. During the wartime, Stalins theory of nationalism was
referenced and rejected by Nakano Seiichi, Takata Yasuma and others
who proposed a Japanese third option to Wilsonian or Soviet
(Stalinist) theories of nationality. Perhaps the best way to understand
the theoretical context for Japanese wartime national theory is to see
how it sought to revise Stalinist theory into a national socialist
approach that was premised on the construction of a new ethnic
identity that would be consistent with the boundaries of the state.
While this constructivist conceit was short-lived, the postwar saw a
return to Stalins territorialized ethnic nationalism among the
Japanese left as early as 1949.
But perhaps the most compelling

Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National-Colonial Question, (1913) reprinted
192-7 in Omar Dahbour and Micheline R. Ishay, eds, The Nationalism Reader, 192-7,
at 192.
Cf. Yokota Kizabur, et al. eds., Kokusai seiji to minzoku mondai, shakaishugi
kza volume 9: kokusai seiji (Tokyo: Sangensha, 1949).
example of Stalins postwar influence is the lead position of
Matsubaras 1935 article in the postwar collection of seminal work on
minzoku theory edited by Band Hiroshi and published in 1976 and
again in 1998.
After the discrediting first of Stalinism and then the
general rejection of Marxism in the 1990s, Stalinist theories of the
nation have generally been abandoned, except in some circles of
literary theory, where they are embraced as a necessary tool in the
struggle against imperialism.
Contemporary Japanese Theories on Nationalism
Without a doubt, the most important political theorist of postwar
Japan was Maruyama Masao. The influence and scope of
Maruyamas thinking on political issues was so vast that it is nearly
impossible to overestimate and certainly impossible to do justice to it
in this short a space. Even a synoptic treatment is beyond the
limitations of this handbook.
Here, I will only focus on the core
contribution of Maruyama to nationalism theory: his approach to the
perennial question of what a nation truly is, and how he saw the
overall dynamics of nationalism in Japanese history. Much attention
in the West has been given to Maruyamas theory of ultra-
nationalism, as his concept of ch-kokkashugi was translated by Ivan
But ultra-nationalism can be misleading, especially if it is
understood as a hyper-intense nationalism, rather than a nationalism
that goes beyond or supercedes the state, which is closer to what
Maruyamas concept of ch-kokkashugi truly signifies. Those
(primarily, but as we shall see not exclusively, scholars in the West)
who have failed to grasp this vital point have often compounded their
misunderstanding of Maruyama by concluding that he saw
nationalism as a terrible thing and devoted his entire oeuvre to
preventing a recurrence of it in postwar Japan. Such an impression is

Cf. Band Hiroshi, ed., Rekishi kagaku taikei 15: minzoku no mondai (Tokyo:
Ks Shob, 1976)
Fortunately, there are good works on Maruyama that provide such an overview
of his thought and his contribution to nationalism theory. See especially Rikki
Kersten, Democracy in Japan: Maruyama Masao and the Search for Autonomy
(London and New York: Routledge, 1996) and Curtis Anderson Gayle, Progressive
Representations of the Nation: Early Postwar Japan and Beyond, Social Science
Japan Journal 4 (1), 1-19. In addition, most of Maruyamas writings on nationalism
are available in English translation.
Maruyama Masao, Theory and Psychology of Ultra-Nationalism, originally
published in Sekai (May 1946), trans. Ivan Morris and published in Ivan Morris, ed.,
Thought and Behaviour in Modern Japanese Politics (London: Oxford University
Press, 1963): 1-24.
a reasonable one after reading Maruyamas essay on ultra-
nationalism, since in that 1946 essay his focus was on explaining the
political situation during the war. He was not primarily concerned
with explaining modern Japanese nationalism, and he certainly did
not condemn nationalism per se. In fact, Maruyama strove throughout
his life to complete what he considered as Fukuzawa Yukichis
unfinished project: the construction of a democratic, or healthy,
nationalism in modern Japan.
But to understand that key feature of
Maruyamas thought, one needs first to see what he understood
nationalism and the nation to mean.
One must begin by recognizing that Maruyamas theories on
nationalism began not in the postwar period, but at the end of the
wartime. His understanding of nationalism thus bridged the two
periods and thus brought into the postwar period what he considered
to be the lessons of the wartime state. Writing in 1944 on the eve of
his induction into the Imperial Army, Maruyama outlined a theory of
nationalism in which he sought to trace the development of
nationalism since the Restoration in terms of a transition from
moderndemocraticnationalism to bureaucratic statism.
yama took up Meineckes introduction of the concept of a cultural
nation as distinct from the political nation yet he rejected the term
minzoku in favor of kokumin to convey this sense of a cultural
nation. His reasons for this conscious choice of terminology,
occurring as it did during the height of the war, deserves our
Nationalism has been translated into Japanese as minzokushugi (sense
of racial [sic] identity), but this term is appropriate to a people with the
status of a minority race [sic] in another nation-state, or a colonized
people, that gains its independence, or when a race that has been split
into several groups under different nation-states unites to constitute an
independent nation. But its use is questionable in the case of Japan,
where racial [sic] homogeneity has been preserved from the past and
where there have never been any serious racial [sic] problems. When
the term minzokushugi is used in Japan, it sounds as if it involves only

Gayle, Progressive Representations of the Nation, 1; Kersten, Democracy in
Japan, 149.
Maruyama Masao, Authors Introduction, Studies in the Intellectual History
of Tokugawa Japan, Mikiso Hane, trans., (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
1947), xxxiii. This essay, The Premodern Formation of Nationalism appeared in
the Kokka Gakkai Zasshi (1944), the very journal that had carried Kamikawa
Hikomatsus earlier article on the nature of a minzoku. Maruyama had originally
intended to title it The Emergence of the Theory of Nationalism, but, running out
of time before his deployment, limited himself to the premodern period.
external problems, but nationalism, as will be shown below, is indeed a
matter of external problems, but also one of internal problems. The
term kokkashugi (tatisme) is frequently used as a concept in
opposition to individualism, so it too is not an appropriate term. At a
certain stage in its development, nationalism is inextricably linked to
the tenets of individual autonomy. To cover all these nuances, the term
kokuminshugi is used here.
Maruyamas history of nationalisms emergence in Japan began with
cultural and intellectual theories in the Tokugawa period, but
culminated in the suppression of democratic (populist) nationalism by
the Meiji state. Subsequent nationalism was an effort to recover those
initial democratic aspirations for nationalism and to reassert the
people as the truly sovereign subject of cultural and political life in
modern Japan. But he parted company with those who sought to use
the concept of minzoku to achieve this goal, recognizing that however
attractive minzoku might seem in articulating presumptions of
oppression by Western powers, it wreaked more havoc in
destabilizing the delicate balance of democratic possibilities and
autocratic structures that had taken shape in modern Japan. For the
most part, Maruyama simply ignored the minzoku form of nationalism,
preferring the term kokumin and kokuminshugi in his writings. But in
one important essay, published in 1961 just after Marxist historians
had revived the wartime glorification of minzoku nationalism, he
reminded his readers that wartime fascism was not merely the
dominance of the state: he decried the irrational contributions to the
culture of fascism by literary types who extolled minzoku during the
What had brought Maruyama to this shift in emphasis from his
immediate postwar concern with statist oppression of kokumin
nationalism was the turn among Marxist historians in the late 1940s
and early 1950s to a renewed embrace of minzoku nationalism.

Maruyama, Introduction: the Nation and Nationalism, in Studies in the
Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan, 324, n.2. The term racial for minzoku is
the translator Mikiso Hanes. But in light of the theoretical discussion in the Japanese
discourse on nationalism, outlined above, it should be clear that Maruyama would not
have equated minzoku with race, but with ethnicity or nationality.
Yet another group discovered in the myth of ethnic nationality [minzoku] and
the emperor the ir-rationality which had been rejected in the previous clamor over
the supremacy of politics. They tried very hard to burn up their literary selves in the
totality of irrationality which was the flip-side of the totality of rationality.
Maruyama Masao, Kindai nihon shis to bungaku, reprinted in Nihon no shis
(Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2000, reprint of 1961), 105-6.
Tyama Shigeki was the intellectual leader of these Marxist ethnic
He articulated most powerfully the reasons for the
attraction of ethnic nationalism among early postwar Marxists, in
spite of the role ethnic nationalism had played in justifying the war
only a few years earlier. In a seminal essay published in the highly
influential journal Ch Kron in 1951 (the final year of Japans
military occupation by Allied Forces) Tyama argued that there was
not one Japanese nationalism but two, a progressive nationalism
and a reactionary nationalism, and they were in contention with
each other. Undeniably, he was drawing on Stalins instrumental
approach to nationalism, extolling ethnic nationalism as a nationalism
of the people (specifically, of the working class) that was in
opposition to, and oppressed by, a nationalism cynically deployed by
the ruling class. But Tyama did more than simply apply Stalins
theory of nationalism to Japan. He explicitly labeled reactionary
nationalism in Japan as ultra nationalism (he uses the English word),
thereby appearing to align himself with Maruyamas critique of the
wartime state. Yet, unlike Maruyama, Tyama did not restrict this
ultra-nationalism to the wartime period, but placed it in a broader
historical perspective that posited this reactionary nationalism against
indigenous, populist nationalism as early as the Peoples Rights
Movement of the late nineteenth century, and it was only in this
populist nationalism that he found the sole hope for a future,
progressive victory.
Most important, however, was the way this article sought to
legitimate ethnic nationalism by blurring the actual distinct forms
through which Japans indigenous nationalism(s) arose. Whereas
Maruyama was scrupulous in recognizing the different conceptual
forms of nationalism in Japan, Tyama dismissed the importance of
conceptual and linguistic form, finding in all forms of nationalism a
deeper significance in how it was used. Thus, from the outset, he
lumped minzoku nationalism together with patriotism and other
expressions of nationalism, and referred to the topic not as
minzokushugi, kokkashugi or kokuminshugi, but through the English

On these early postwar Marxist ethnic nationalists, see Curtis Andeson Gayle,
Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism (London: RoutledgeCurzon,
2003) and my own article, What is a Nation and Who Belongs: National Narratives
and the Ethnic Imagination in Twentieth-Century Japan, The American Historical
Review, vol. 102, no. 2 (April 1997): 283-309. In Japanese, see Amino Yoshihiko,
Rekishi to shite no sengo shigaku (Tokyo: Nihon Edit Sukru Shuppanbu, 2000).
Tyama Shigeki, Futatsu no nashonarizumu no taik: sono rekishi-teki
ksatsu, Ch Kron (June, 1951); reprinted in Band, ed., Minzoku no mondai,
119-35, at 123, 135.
loan word nashonarizumu. It was a brilliant move, as it allowed
Tyama to co-opt the appeal of ethnic nationalism without being
tarnished with the notoriety it had gained during the war. But he did
not admit that this dismissal of any significant distinction between
minzokushugi and kokuminshugi was a rejection of Maruyamas
thesis that a cultural nationalism supportive of liberal democracy
could be found in non-ethnic expressions of Japanese cultural identity.
Instead, Maruyamas three-dimensional model of Japanese
nationalism was flattened out to a two-dimensional one that was
wrapped in the unfamiliar cover of nashonarizumu. But in Tyamas
subsequent writings, this progressive nationalism was explicitly
identified as ethnic nationalism (minzokushugi), although he himself
never identified is as ethnic per se.
Nonetheless, he placed it
alongside the ethnic nationalism that Marxists were supporting
around the world as liberation movements and invested similar
hopes in the completion of Japans ruptured nationalism through the
victory of this ethnic, populist nationalism. One of Tyamas
strongest legacies on contemporary Japanese nationalism was his
earlier effort to legitimate ethnic nationalism by obscuring its real
historical nature under the cover of the ambiguous English loan word
nashonarizumu along with a denial that there was a meaningful
distinction between minzokushugi and kokuminshugi. Those today
who follow this line of argument almost always end up implicitly
supporting ethnic nationalism in substance even while disavowing the
After the 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty Revision riots (Anpo),
which had brought together rightist and leftist nationalists in a joint
effort to protest what was seen as a violation of Japanese national
sovereignty (both by the Treaty itself and by the Kishi governments
handling of the revision process), a new voice emerged in Japanese
nationalism theory. Yoshimoto Takaaki combined elements of the
rightist and leftist populist nationalism with a deeper intoxication with
the indigenousness than even Tyamas anti-imperialist ethnic
nationalism had imbibed. Yoshimoto went further than Tyama,
whose appeal to indigenous identity was encapsulated within a
Stalinist theory of global capitalism that gave indigenous identity a
universal theoretical context. Yoshimoto argued that nationalism lay
outside of intellectuals and their representations and rested with the
amorphous and undefinable people themselves. Yoshimoto argued

Cf. Tyama Shigeki, Kindaishi: kaiky to minzoku no kaimei o shu to shite,
kza rekishi, vol. 2 (Tokyo: tsuki Shoten, 1955).
that once the people were represented by intellectuals in one fashion
or another (minzoku, kokumin), they lost their claim on
indigenousness and thus their role in defining a Japanese national
identity. Although Yoshimoto favored the term taish for the
people and nashonarizumu for nationalism, he was highly aware of
the irony in this effort to represent the unrepresentable that is the
populist nation itself. His brilliant 1964 summary of Japanese
nationalism presented a sweeping historical survey that argued that
this populist nationalism was constantly being co-opted by the
intellectuals and the state for various purposes, thus never allowing
the full flowering of nationalism as a populist mode of self-
He vigorously condemned the Stalinists for betraying
the common people during the Anpo protests, was no less excoriating
of liberals whose nationalism was equally derived from foreign
(Western) political theories, and only vaguely gestured toward a
principle of autonomy (jiritsu) and the people as locked in a
structure of animosity with elites and political institutions like the
Yoshimotos vision of a populist, yet conceptually undefinable,
nationalism had appeal for many Japanese intellectuals (ironically)
who were growing tired of the highly theoretical discussion of
nationalism and yet were aware of the long history of nationalism in
Japan as an effort to place the people at the center of political and
cultural affairs. That legacy continues on among many contemporary
Japanese writers who sidestep the conceptual definition of a nation or
nationalism (kokuminshugi? minzokushugi?) and follow Yoshimoto in
referring to the phenomenon through the English loan word
nashonarizumu. It also continues on among many who embraced
Yoshimitsus populist argument that the nation, as the Japanese
people, only has been exploited by the state and the social and
intellectual elites.
A third position, neither Yoshimitsus unrepresentable populism
nor Tyamas Stalinist minzokushugi was set out with exceptional
theoretical and historical vigor by Hashikawa Bunz in his 1968 book
Nashonarizumu (reprinted in 1994). Unlike Tyama, who set ethnic
nationalism within Stalins global framework for proletarian
nationalism, Hashikawa drew from a host of Western specialists on

Yoshimoto Takaaki, Nihon no nashonarizumu, 7-54 in Yoshimoto, ed.,
Nashonarizumu, gendai nihon shis taikei volume 4 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shob, 1964),
Lawrence Olson, Ambivalent Moderns: Portraits of Japanese Cultural Identity
(Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1992), 105-7.
nationalism theory (eg., E.H. Carr, F. Hertz, E. Kedourie) to argue
that nationalism is one side of a general cultural fulcrum that shifts
between universalism and particularism, and the particularism of
nationalism stemmed from a specific historical moment that sought to
replace God as a signifier of universal morals. In this sense, he
contrasted nationalism to patriotism, which is a universal sentiment
common to all races and ethnicities and not a new idea that arose at a
specific historical period, as did nationalism.
In essence,
Hashikawa made a distinction between a universal love of homeland
and modern nationalism which seeks to effect a nation-state
(kokumin-kokka). This historicist approach impelled him to seek the
foundations of modern Japanese nationalism in Edo period Shintoist
and neo-Confucian philosophy, even as he recognized its fruition only
after the arrival of Perry and the construction of a state that went
seeking a nation. The key was how nationalism and the state were
linkedor better, disconnectedin the early Meiji period. To make his
point that nationalism in modern Japan was corrupted by the state, he
drew from Shimazaki Tsons historical novel, Before the Dawn, to
illustrate how populist Shintoists were expelled from the modern,
secularizing state. Like Tyama and Yoshimoto, he saw the basic
feature of modern Japanese nationalism as a bifurcated rift between
the people and the state. Yet, unlike Tyama he did not place this
rupture within a universal theory of class conflict, nor did he
explicitly identify populist nationalism as minzokushugi. And unlike
Yoshimoto, Hashikawa did not argue that the people were entirely
unrepresentable, nor did he include all intellectuals as functional
equivalents to the state in repressing the amorphous masses.
Yet, like Yoshimoto, Hashikawa played his own conceptual sleight
of hand. While he was quite insistent on the conceptual difference
between nation (kokumin) and state (kokka), and on the difference
between nationalism (nashonarizumu) and patriotism (aikokushin,
sokokuai), he never really addressed minzokushugi as a form of
nationalism in Japanese history. He did explicitly identify something
he called ethnic nationalism, (jinshu chshin-teki nashonarizumu;
i.e., race-centered nationalism) but his idiosyncratic gloss of the thing
distanced this ethnic nationalism from any existing form of, or
discourse on, Japanese nationalism. He did ultimately associate the
ethnic nationalism of the nineteenth century Hirata School nativists
with minzoku and a Missionsidee (minzoku no shimei kan), avant la

Hashikawa Bunz, Nashonarizumu, Kinokuniya Shinsho B-32 (Tokyo:
Kinokuniya, 1968; reprinted 1994), 16.
lettre, but only to argue for its universality through comparison with
similar forms of ethnic nationalism in Europe.
Thus, it may be said
that, cum Yoshimoto, his point was to legitimate Japanese
minzokushugi without calling it as such, but in sharp contrast to
Yoshimoto, he concluded it was the universality of this ethnic
nationalism that constituted its grounds for legitimacy: every people
loves its homeland. This argument left Hashikawas theory of
nationalism a bit contradictory, both internally and in relation to how
most theorists of nationalism and patriotism understand these distinct,
political movements: it would seem that, for Hashikawa, ethnic
nationalism was really patriotism, and state-driven nationalism (the
quest for a kokumin kokka) was not patriotism but a form of state
oppression of the people. To explain these contradictions, one must
not forget Hashikawas own personal experience during the war.
Because of these wartime experiences, his main concern was to argue
against the heavy-handed exploitation of the people by the state.
Within this framework, even efforts to assert a populist nationalism
(which for Hashikawa cannot be the project of building a nation-state,
or kokumin-kokka, since that project is inevitably the exploitation of
the people by the modern, secular state for its own purposes) can only
be articulated as the unfinished business of grounding the Japanese
peoples General Will within their political and social institutions, a
business that Hashikawa correctly identified as awaiting the next
In reviewing the intersecting trajectories of how nationalism is
understood today, how it has been understood by influential theorists
in the past, and especially how these ideas have shaped the modern
Japanese discourse on nationalism, two characteristics loom large.
First, the main emphasis on nationalism has been an effort to come to
terms with a new subjectivity in modern history that rests in some
fashion on the people, collectively conceived. Yet, how the people
are conceived (kokumin? minzoku? taish?) held implications for how
nationalism was understood and enacted. This struggle to identify and
then place the people as the key agent of cultural and political life was
forced to confront terminology and concept, as the complex and
conflict-laden history of nationalism in modern Japan spun off
various interpretations of who the people as nation are and what their
political prospects should be. Broad historical events such as the

Hashikawa, Nashonarizumu, 123-6.
Hashikawa, Nashonarizumu, 186.
emergence of a multi-ethnic empire, the demands of national
solidarity during wartime, the destruction of the Japanese state during
the Occupation, and the reconstruction of the nation formally as a
kokumin under the postwar constitution played significant roles in
directing and diverting nationalism. It was not the case that such
historical events determined Japanese nationalism. Rather, they
became key interventions in how nationalism was understood and
articulated, but this intervention often raised counter-articulations to
the expectations of the dominant structures. At the heart of Japanese
discourse on nationalism was a belief that the nation was both
imminent and transcendent, that it actually existed in the present but
also had potential that was yet unrealized. This belief shaped the
development of nationalism in Japan in ways that emphasized
articulation, discourse, and representation as the very stuff of
nationalism. It also signified a strong sense that national aspirations
were never fulfilled in any given moment. The nation always needed
to be articulated and rearticulated.
This leads us to the second major emphasis one finds in modern
Japanese nationalism. Throughout the theoretical literature, and
especially the theoretical literature that shaped the Japanese discourse
on nationalism, there was a consistent emphasis on the difference
between the state (kokka) and the nation (kokumin, minzoku). This
awareness that the state is not the nation was shared broadly by
liberals, Marxists and ultra-conservatives. When counter-arguments
were raised, such as during World War II, it was to displace this
discourse of conflict between nation and state and to suggest the
successful completion of Japans quest for a modern nation-state
(kokumin kokka). Few were convinced by such assertions. And since
the Meiji state was not designed constitutionally or institutionally as a
nation-state (it shifted from being a monarchical state to a multi-
ethnic imperial state and finally, during 1945-52, to no state at all),
such assertions of being a nation-state only gave rise to counter-state
populist nationalism, often in the form of minzokushugi (ethnic
nationalism). Japanese nationalism was, and still is, in this sense a
conflictual nationalism. By calling it conflictual, I do not mean
the usual sense that it was a nationalism in conflict with other peoples
or only with its state. This dynamic inter-relation and contestation
between state and nation was mirrored in the contestations that took
place within nationalist discourse over whether the Japanese nation is
a minzoku (ethnic nation) or a kokumin (civic, and thus potentially
multi-ethnic, nation). That debate continues even today, providing
evidence that Japanese nationalism remains, internally, a highly
conflictual nationalism.
Nationalism, always and everywhere, is an effort to place the
people in a conceptual, political and social order that makes sense for
those who espouse that nationalism. Nationalism, then, is both cause
and effect of this conception of a collective group of people as a
nation. It both shapes them into a nation, and represents the effects of
thoughts and actions taken on behalf of that nation. At the same time,
nationalism is an ideological effort to erase the gap between the
historical emergence of the nation (which may precede or postdate the
state) and the political structures that claim to speak and act in the
name of the nation. Consequently, any effort to assert when
nationalism arises in relation to the emergence of a state is not only a
matter for historical debate but also represents evaluative differences
over what a nation or state truly is. Separate historical developments
may provide for separate ideological claims made in the name of each.
To differentiate nation and state (and sometimes different
articulations of the nation) is a key step to a critical, scholarly
evaluation of nationalism. It is characteristic of nationalism itself to
conflate state and nation (and in some forms, to conflate all
articulations of national and ethnic identity), and to suggest that the
nation must be the primary identity in all aspects of ones life. The
precise significance of that claimand thus the objective of a specific
nationalist movementrests in what meaning is attributed to the
nation in particular cases.
To answer that question with respect to Japan, we must now turn
to how the nation emerged and was articulated in modern Japanese
history. In the chapters that follow, I try to do precisely that. The next
chapter surveys the preconditions for nationalism in Japan: the social
hierarchy and decentralized political structure of early nineteenth
century and how its transformation gave rise to various efforts to
construct a modern nation in Japan. Out of the intricacies of
revolutionary fervor came a notion of the public that grew
increasingly inclusive and ultimately was utilized as the foundation
for a new concept of the people as a nation. The third chapter looks at
the role the monarchy played in raising and suppressing nationalist
aspirations, even as it argues that in Japan, as elsewhere, monarchy
did not accommodate itself to nationalism without serious conflict.
But the main point of that chapter is to demonstrate that, as important
as the monarchy was and remains in Japanese cultural and political
life, it is not synonymous with Japanese nationalism. Chapter Four
looks at nationalism from what some Japanese theorists might call
the bottom up. If top down nationalism has often been erroneously
attributed to the monarchy (tenno-sei), other theorists have equally
erroneously imagined society as the antidote to nationalism precisely
because of its affinity with the masses. In this chapter, I move from
leading social theories on the relationship between concepts of society
and the nation (as both approximations of the people) to an analysis
of the development of the concept of society (shakai) in modern
Japan to argue that social imaginaries are even closer to Japanese
nationalism than monarchial institutions are. Chapters Five and Six,
on the concepts of kokumin and minzoku, respectively, represent the
heart of Japanese nationalism, as these concepts are the core of the
alternative ways in which Japanese articulate nationalism
(kokuminshugi, minzokushugi). These chapters analyze the history of
these discourses independently, arguing that inherent in these
discourses, even as they change over time, are independent concepts
of what the Japanese nation was, is, or should be. Finally, in the
afterword, I offer some reflections on how these key elements of
Japanese nationalism come together and how they are shaping the
present and future of nationalism in Japan.
Prior to 1853, there was no Japan. This may seem at first a
preposterous claim, but it can only be fully understood once we have
unpacked what a national concept like Japan really means.
Certainly the claim is not that the islands which today make up the
archipelago of Japan did not exist. And foreigners and even some
natives did make occasional reference to a place called Japan even
if such vague references to Japan rarely were consistent either with
each other or with the territory that would later become Japan. Most
importantly, Japan, as the national signifier we understand it to be
today, was for all practical purposes irrelevant to the dominant forms
of politics and to everyday life in the archipelago. Throughout the
Edo period, and even into the early Meiji period, Japan neither
referred to a single, clearly demarcated, centralized political authority,
nor to a meaningful identity for those whom Japan would claim to
represent. Without first appreciating what the absence of Japan as a
national existence meant prior to the Meiji Restoration, one cannot
fully comprehend the historical upheaval, contestation and sense of
crisis that accompanied the Restoration and subsequent attempts to
construct a modern nation-state in the early Meiji years. Nor is it easy
to recognize the diverse forms of nationalism that have continued to
inform political and cultural practice in Japan without first realizing
that this sense of Japaneseness was, and is, a contingent and
contested mode of identity.
In order to appreciate what this absence of national identity meant,
we must first guard against the temptations of anachronism. It is
tempting to extract a concept from premodern texts that resembles a
modern sense of nationality and then carry that concept forth into
subsequent years, regardless of how well the actual existence of such
national forms of identity is supported by other kinds of historical
evidence. Some scholars have argued that this anachronistic
projection backward of national identity is ingrained in the very
nature of the modern discipline of history. There is no question that
historians of Japan have frequently used their craft to provide
evidence for a continuous sense of Japanese nationhood, and they
often favor the early modern (Edo) period as the best site for this
native sense of Japanese national identity. Indeed, the gradual shift
among many historians from seeing the Edo period as a time of
feudalism to an early modern period often relies implicitly on a
theoretical and ideological effort to identify elements of an
indigenous Japanese identity prior to Perrys arrival and the cultural
compromises believed to have resulted from Westernization.
Metanarratives of historical progress, whether Marxist or
nationalist, have often argued that nationalism develops only after the
collapse of agrarian feudalism and the onset of bourgeois capitalism,
the true harbinger of modernity. Consequently, by rejecting the
appropriateness of feudalism in describing the Edo period, or by
emphasizing capitalist economies prior to the Meiji Restoration,
historians have constructed narratives that can easily be appropriated
by others who wish to stress the nativist origins of Japanese
nationalism. The full range of these dynamics is vast and complicated,
involving Marxist agendas that both support nationalism as anti-
imperialism and denounce nationalism as capitalist emperor-
system ideology, as well as non-Marxist agendas that also lionize
ethnicity or native cultures as anti-imperialist forces or, from a more
post-Marxist perspective, envision an open-ended plurality of
identities as a means of countering the supposed baneful effects of
citizenship in a constitutional state. This is not the place to unravel
the intricacies of these interrelated narrative strategies; to do so
would, in any event, require an entirely different book. Instead, it
must suffice to survey briefly some of the conceptual sources for
national identity prior to the Meiji Restoration, and to simply appeal
to the need to always historicize assertions of national identity.
The Bakumatsu Years and the Preconditions of National Identity
Although the nation of Japan is a recent construct, the term by which
we signify the Japanese nation today is of ancient origin. The earliest
written record of reference to Japan appears in a diplomatic
exchange between Prince Shtoku and the Tang Emperor in 645 A.D.
Writing on behalf of the emperor, Prince Shtoku refered to the
Japanese court as the place were the sun rises in juxtaposition to
the Tang court, where the sun sets. More than geography
influenced Shtokus choice of words, and the diplomatic affront
encoded in his language was registered in China and back home,
where one can imagine the popularity of this reference to the place
where the sun rises was directly related to prestige the Yamato court
felt it had gained at the expense of the powerful Tang court. In any
event, this territorial reference to Japan was inextricably linked to
the court itself, and is best understood as a reference to the monarch
(tenn) on whose behalf Shtoku was writing.
As Kano Masanao
has pointed out, this seventh century reference to Japan in court
papers did not signify the widespread establishment among the
people [at that time] of the same kind of consciousness of Japan or
of the Japanese that we have today.
It was not a national or ethnic
signifier. Kanos caution is a good reminder that the seductive force
of nationalism can make it very difficult to look backwards through
time and not project modern assumptions about ethnic homogeneity,
political centrality or national identity on a time when they would
have held little meaning for people then living.
Prior to the Meiji Restoration, the political world of Japan was
structured around a Confucian concept of universe (tenka), not the
nation-state. The concept of universe was a rather loose concept of
public space and, while it was not completely open-ended, nor did it
signify the clear demarcation of countries the way the modern
concept of nation does. In fact, the terms country (kuni) or state
(kokka), which after the Restoration would signify national units of
governance (i.e.,Japan), referred to the local domains that
constituted the primary political units of the baku-han system.
Equally important for assessing the degree to which Japan was a
nation in the early nineteenth century is the fact that the people, in
the broadest sense, were constituted either as domainal people
(rymin) or village people (sonmin), whereas when the term
kokumin was used, it was either as a synonym for the domainal
people or more narrowly, referred only to the samurai of a specific
To pay attention to the concepts through which national identity is
expressed is not merely to parse historical discourse or to play the
pedant. Historians have wasted far too much time debating, from
modernist and anti-modernist biases, how much of modern Japanese
nationalism can be traced back to the Edo period. Sakamoto Takao
has provocatively suggested that we cease thinking of the Meiji state

Yoshida Takashi , Nihon no tanj (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten,1997).
Kano Masanao, Kindai nihon shis annai (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1999), 30.
Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship and Kano, Kindai nihon shis annai , 31. See
the more extensive discussion of the transformation of the meaning of the idea of
kokumin below in Chapter Five.
building process in terms of revolution and discontinuity and
recognize instead that the key issue was really one of competition
and unification.
His suggestion opens up a field in which nation-
building in modern Japan was a far more complicated process than
one of retaining tradition while adding (superficial) Western forms
to social and political life. Appreciating the breadth of the national
appeal in bakumatsu and early Meiji Japan does not necessarily lead
to a discounting of tradition, but it does help restore an awareness of
the political uses of tradition in a shared agenda of nation building.
Contestation over nation-building then can be seen, not only in policy
struggles among political elites, but also at a social level: in how
people at that time sensed and saw their world... how people placed
in given political context understood their social environment.
Identifying the concepts that governed social and political identity
during the Edo period, and recognizing their historical differences
from later periods helps establish the social particularities of a world
that was organized around a Confucian political ideology rather than
around the modern nation-state. When challenges to that universe
(tenka) begin to appear on the horizon, it is meaningful to speak of
the decline of the baku-han order, or the period of bakumatsu. But we
need not approach this historical process from a general assumption
about discontinuity and loss, or from its functional equivalent--
assumptions of the perfect durability of tradition as a supposed
anchor in a revolutionary period.
Positing too sharp a break between the Edo and Meiji periods has
often led to a kind of magical modernist narrative which sees all
historical change, especially the move towards a national identity, as
coming from outside and top down. In reality, a new social
imagination began to take hold among samurai and merchant
scholars nearly a hundred years before the Meiji Restoration, and it
laid the foundations for subsequent broader notions of the people as
the legitimate agents in a national body politic. Scholars of nativism
(kokugaku) played an important role in undermining the dominant
Confucian symbolic order, following Motoori Norinagas distinction
in his Commentaries on the Kojiki (1764) between the august land
of the emperor(mikuni) and the (foreign) land of China (karakuni).
Motooris innovation was to challenge the legitimacy of theories
derived from foreign countries to represent Japanese ways of life, but

Sakamoto Takao, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 23.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Kindai nihon no chi to seiji: Inoue Kowashi kara taish
engei made (Tokyo: Bokutakusha, 1985), 148-9.
he stopped short of articulating a political concept of national
governance or an explicit model of the Japanese people as
constituting a nation. His theory of identity was a historicist one that
looked to the past for the sources of a more authentic identity. But
within a few decades, his historicist nativism would soon gain
support from another approach that drew on boundary consciousness
in reflecting a more explict sense of political nationalism.
What transformed an emerging theory of cultural distinctiveness
into the beginnings of nationalist ideology was the discovery of the
West. In Kano Masanaos elegant formula, the discovery of the
West also produced the discovery of Japan.
The arrival of Western
ships off the coasts of the Japanese archipelago in the late eighteenth
century both directly challenged the legitimacy of the barbarian
subduing shogunate and gave rise to a sense of common fate and a
need for common defense among growing numbers of the samurai
across the land. One of the earliest articulations of this new sense of
boundary difference came from Hayashi Shihei whose Kaikoku
Heidan (1786) expressed a new sense of Japan as a single entity
defined by its structural opposition to foreign countries. Moreover,
Hayashi appealed to a need to bar the door to possible invasions by
these foreign countries. Drawing on this discovery of the West and
the urgency of protecting Japan as a single unit, Shizuki Tadao
translated sections from Engelbert Kaempfers An Account of Japan
as Sakokuron in 1801, providing the first instance in Japanese
discourse of this term sakoku, which both signified the need to close
Japan to Western ships as well as a recognition that something called
Japan was defined by sharing a common external threat. Mito
scholars promoted this sense of Japan as a common land under a
single ruler, especially after Aizawa Seishisais Shinron (New Thesis,
1825) drew on this call to close the country, protect Japan from
foreigners, and support the emperor. Aizawas discovery of the
West was more than metaphoric: he had interviewed the crew of an
English fishing vessel that had come ashore in his domain. His
experience had drawn his attention, not only to the need to drive off
the foreigners, but to clarify how the various countries of the baku-
han system should constitute a single body, and he sought to explain
this through the concept of kokutai.
For Aizawa, kokutai was

Kano, Kindai nihon shis annai, 30.
Kano, Kindai nihon shis annai, 30-32. Although kokutai is often referred to
simply as the body politic, a rendering that exposes a certain bias towards political
representations of national identity like the state, the very debate over the kokutai
that began with Aizawa and, as we shall see, escalates throughout subsequent
conceived within a neo-Confucian traditional debate over how to
decide who the rightful ruler was. He used kokutai to highlight the
emperor as the rightful ruler, and his definition of the divine land
as the place where the sun rises meant his concept of a unified
realm was limited to asserting the national scope of the emperors
legitimacy; the people remained the people of the imperial land
(kkoku no tami) rather than the foundation of a truly national body.
In short, Aizawa drew from the ancient meaning of Japan as
signifying the imperial court in contrast to foreign countries, but his
views did not yet constitute a truly national vision of Japan. And
most importantly, the people whom he sought to signify as the nation
had yet to embrace in large numbers this national vision of his.
As H.D. Harootunian has demonstrated, other nativists developed
an agrarian sense of the collective people juxtaposed in a vertical
relationship to the political authority in the castle towns.
The legacy
of such agrarianism would remain to influence Japanese conceptions
of society, particularly after the Meiji Restoration when society
emerged as a political counterweight to the authoritarian state that
had resulted and the agrarian village seemed a repository of the
utopian hopes that had been crushed by the harsh realities of the new
industrial economy. In order to fully appreciate how these influential
modes of imagining society and state in modern Japan took shape, it
is important first to recognize that the political visions of nativist
activists who had grounded their visions of society in agrarian
communitarianism contributed to the diminished possibility of civil
society in Meiji Japan, in spite of (because of?) their harsh criticism
of those working for a modern Japanese state. By the mid-nineteenth
century, cultural and political articulations of native identity were
growing among certain segments of the populations, but these
discourses neither found a means of synthesis nor had they grown
strong enough to transform the de-centralized structure of the baku-
han political system into a centralized modern national state.
The arrival of Commodore Perrys fleet in 1853 brought domestic
nativism and the foreign political crisis together in a complex series

Japanese history, suggests that the concept went deeper to the very essence of what
made Japan a nation, a problem that has not been easy to resolve. Yet the political
bias in interpreting kokutai itself is derived from Aizawas own orientation toward
political solutions to unification through the emperor.
See Sakamoto Takaos reading of Shinron in Meiji kokka no kensetsu, nihon no
kindai 2, (Tokyo: Ch Kron, 1999), 36-39.
H.D. Harootunian, Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in
Tokugawa Nativism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 242-72.
of events that would eventually establish the contours of a truly
national state and bring forth calls for a national people. Earlier
attempts, largely by the samurai, to articulate Japaneseness soon
became caught up in specifically modern responses to the problem of
how to mediate the claims of individual and collective wills, and
these responses in turn shaped and were shaped by the fall of the
bakufu and the rise of the centralized Meiji state. In a sense, then, the
initial solution to these problems in the form of the Meiji Restoration
can be seen as a political solution that was both less than and far
more than the initial problem created by the arrival of Perrys ships.
Less, because it could not solve the problem of expelling
foreignersparticularly foreign influences that would permeate
Japanese culturebut also more, because the Meiji Restoration and
the modern state that resulted would radically transform the social
landscape, giving legitimacy to the ideal of a united Japanese
national people, while in the process establishing new, modern forms
of political resistance to the state. In this sense, It Yahikos
description of Perrys Black Ships as a liquifying phenomenon
that dissolved the pre-existing political world and provided an
opening to the populist activists (sm no shishi) is an apt one.

no means did Perrys arrival inject a principle of historical change to
a stagnant world, as some historians have claimed. But it did
contribute to the dissolution of the old baku-han system and its
ascriptive social order which had prevented the development of the
national society envisioned by nativists and others.
For nativist scholars, Perrys arrival and the problems it caused for
the bakufu were both cause for concern and hope. They did not
welcome the incursion of foreigners into the divine land, but they
could also hope that this would be the latest divine wind to rescue
the emperor from obscurity and return him to the political center. The
arrival of the Black Ships galvanized the nativist movement and
directed it towards a greater emphasis on the emperor and political
conceptions of Japan. Nativism was not inevitably or originally an
ideology of nationalism or emperor worship. For centuries, nativism
had encompassed both a particularistic theology that emphasized the
ancestral gods of the emperor (kso kami: Amaterasu mikami;
Jinmu tenn) as well as a universalistic cosmogony focussed on
creator gods (zka kami), and the two traditions were frequently
intertwined. Throughout most of the Edo period, the emphasis on
Amaterasu as a metaphysical diety that transcended both politics and

It Yahiko, Ishin to jinshin (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1999), 2.
Japan was dominant.
But Hirata Atsutanes emphasis on
Amenominakanushi-no-kami (Creator-god), Musubi-no-kami, and the
kuninushi-no-kami nativism that would emerge after Perrys arrival
acquired a new force and newly acquired sense of purpose.
In contrast to the threats posed by earlier foreign ships arriving off
Japanese coasts, Perrys arrival had a more profound impact on
Japanese national formation. The timing of his arrival in the midst of
a difficult domestic political situation was a factor, but so was his
unprecedented insistance on signing a binding, formal agreement
with Japanese authorities. Unlike other foreign visitors, Perry
announced he was not going to go away without major concessions
from the bakufu. This intransigent imposition of foreignness on the
Japanese body politic planted the seeds of a truly modern form of
nationalism in Japan by heightening a sense of boundary
consciousness first imposed by the arrival of Perry along the coast
and then by the incessant pressure brought to bear by foreign
diplomats on the governing bakufu in the decade and a half
subsequent to Perrys arrival. As Tanaka Akira has argued,
The foreign pressure of the bakumatsu years forced a consciousness
first of nation [kokumin] on the people [hitobito] and then of the
state [kokka]. But, at that time, this consciousness of nation was
still in incipient form and thus it is usually called the early stage of
nationalism. Thus for this reason, I will call it nationalism in
Tanakas argument that the arrival of Perry encouraged Japanese
people to begin to think of themselves as a united nation rather than
as members of diverse regions and occupational strata helps explain
the broad range of pressures that brought down the bakufu. But it is
important not to read too much into this early stage of nationalism.
The nation was, as Tanaka admits, still in incipient form, and few
ordinary Japanese people thought of themselves as a nation in the
modern sense of the concept.

Katsurajima Nobuhiro, Bakumatsu minsh shis no kenky: bakumatsu
kokugaku tominsh shky (Kyoto: Bunrikaku, 1992), 20-24.
Tanaka Akira, Bakumatsu no shakai to shis, 236-258 in Bakumatsu ishinshi
no kenky (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan, 1996): 237. To support this view, Tanaka
cites from Takekoshi Yosaburs 1891-92 Shin nihonshi. In Takekoshis words, the
arrival of the American warships in Uraga Bay meant that the sense of mutual
suspicion and enmity among the various domains quickly and easily disappeared and
the three hundred domains became brothers, the numberless people all discovered
that they were one nation (ichi kokumin naru o hakkenshi) and from here the idea of
the Japanese state (nihon kokka naru shis) gushed forth. Takekoshi, Shin
nihonshi; cited in Tanaka, 237.
Yet, the effects of Perrys arrival in transforming peasants into
Japanese were profound. Even in the remote countryside, far from the
treaty ports, Japanese peasants were affected by this sense of
boundary consciousness and some were beginning to give expression
to this sense of collective Japanese identity.
For example, Sugano
Hachir, a farmer in the distant northeast region who led an 1866
uprising in the country of Iwashiro found a way in his spare time to
write a journal called Dreams from a Rainy Night. In it, he
outlined a map of the world (with Japan in the center) and noted that
rumors fly all around Japan, and everyone is so nervous they can
hardly keep body and soul together. Takekoshi Yosabur credits this
line as a frank expression of an early consciousness of Japanese

Such sentiments were shaped by economic changes
that were affecting the entire nation, transforming Japan in sudden
and shocking ways into a single national market. The treaties that
opened Japan to foreign trade in the late 1850s wreaked considerable
havoc on the Japanese markets and the delicate system of allocated
trade that the bakufu had established. The gap between those few
who were able to benefit from trade in the ports and the rest of the
country that generally suffered from the inflationary effects of this
trade, particularly on the price of agricultural products, only made
this early sense of nationalism more attractive, not only to those
within the circle of political elites, but also and for different reasons
commoners who had never participated before in political affairs.
These developments were slow and largely imperceptible changes,
however, that often are best appreciated as nationalism only from the
hindsight of a historian. It would be a mistake to argue that popular
nationalism among the peasants and commoners was the driving
force behind the political changes that led to either the Meiji
Restoration or the construction of a modern Japanese state.
Historians have often appealed to such populist narratives to suggest
that the modern Japanese state was, or should have been, a national
state. In actuality, the historical record is a far more complicated one.
Burgeoning nationalist sentiment, coupled with traditional anti-
bakufu and anti-Confucian ideologies, mingled with internal political

Tanaka Akira, Bakumatsu ishinshi no kenky, 238.
Takegoshi Yosabur, Shin Nihonshi; cited in Tanaka, Bakumatsu ishinshi no
kenky, 237-38.
Tanaka, Bakumatsu ishinshi no kenky, 238. See also Shimazaki Tson,
Before the Dawn , trans. William Naff, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press,
struggles within various domains and in the bakufu along with
growing tensions between the bakufu and the court, all of which was
capped off by the unprecedented problem of Perry and the West.
The upshot of all this was not a cystallization of nationalism
around a state that would defend Japan against the West but a
complicated series of events that built the foundation of modern
Japanese nationalism into what it still remains today: a contested
field of competing nationalist claims that include assertions of
ethnicity, loyalty to the emperor, allegiance to the political state,
Asian traditionalism, pro-Western individualism, and so forth. In
emphasizing the complexity of modern Japanese nationalism, I do
not mean to suggest that it cannot be comprehended. Just the opposite.
Japanese nationalism can only be understood properly once we
recognize that theoretical attempts to grasp Japanese nationalism as a
singular thing often fail to grasp the true range of its historical forms,
particularly when they are too heavily invested in one or another of
these elements of Japanese nationalism. Japanese nationalism was
not constructed solely by the state, by capitalism, by the West, by the
emperor, or even by the people. Japanese nationalism was the result
of a specific series of historical and political events that created a
plurality of agents in a contested arena, where each sought to expel,
expunge or appropriate the others in the name of the true Japanese
nation. As nationalism, however, this discourse has its defining limits
around the question of the people: who are they, where are they,
and over whom/under whom do they have sovereignty, identity and
Creating a Public and Building a State in Early Meiji
The foundation for this new context in which nationalism would rise
as a debate over political, social and cultural identity may be found in
the emergence of a new concept of the public during the
bakumatsu and early Meiji years. As with any historically significant
concept, one can find antecedents for public consultation from
earlier Japanese history. Historians have located elements of public
consultation in the deliberations of kugy in the Dajkan government
of the Heian period, in the tradition of shinzen no ggi in medieval
uprisings, and in the Edo period, in the village yoriai and even the
ggi of senior councillors in the bakufu.
But these arguments for

Mitani Hiroshi, Meiji ishin to nashonarizumu (Tokyo: Yamakawa shuppansha,
ancient Japanese forms of proto-democratic practices, while aimed at
Eurocentric views that would discount Japanese experience, do not
by themselves explain the revolutionary impact that even
traditionalist inspired appeals to public consultation had in the highly
charged atmosphere of the bakumatsu years. It may seem rather trite
to point out once again that tradition was recontextualized for new
purposes in bakumatsu and early Meiji Japan, as we are all
increasingly made aware of how modern societies are constructed not
on the erasure of tradition but through the recontextualizing, and thus
reinvention, of traditional practices. That is precisely what happened
to this earlier tradition of public consultation during the social and
political maelstrom of Japan during the 1860s.
A close reading of the history of public consultation in the years
surrounding the Meiji Restoration reveals some surprising results. In
contrast to earlier forms of public consultation, consulting public
opinion (kgi yoron) during and after the 1860s became enmeshed
with another discourse on rewarding talent (jinsai ty) and
incorporated new models of constitutional politics from Western
countries. Public consultation was not simply the expression of an
indigenous form of democracy, but was equally useful at repressing
democratic aspirations. Along with rewarding talent, the concept of
consulting public opinion became one of the key sites where the
new political elite sought to control the peoples minds.
Thus, this
emerging rhetoric about consulting the public was not merely a
continuation of traditional forces of consultation, but one of the
major factors in the disruption of prevailing political institutions.
Such rhetoric served as a catalyst towards a revolutionary view of
social and individual worth. But of course, it is important to
recognize that it was not the language of these concepts itself that
determined the historical use of public consultation, but the
historical mobilization of this rhetoric that determined what the
language of the public would mean in modern Japan.
The loosening of this discourse on consulting the public from its
traditional moorings began soon after the arrival of Perrys ships.
When the bakufu took the unprecedented step of consulting with the
daimyo over the question of opening the country, it inaugurated a
subtle but fateful change in political ideology. Until that point,
governance was the private right of the bakufu, but in consulting
with the daimy (who previously had no right to speak on matters of
governance outside their domains), the bakufu had implicitly

It Yahiko, Ishin to jinshin, 43.
recognized the legitimacy of the daimyo to speak on politics as a
public matter. From that moment on, consulting the public
became a useful tool for those forces that sought to be included in the
political center.
In this way, the first modern incarnation of the
discourse on consulting the public became intertwined with a
broader debate that might be rendered as opening up discourse
(genro dkai). This broader claim for opening up discourse
captured a sense that prevailing social and political institutions were
preventing new ideas from being heard and thus, from discovering
new solutions to the new challenges that faced the bakufu and
Japan. Of course, these arguments had broad appeal, but it was
mainly the lower samuraimen like kubo Toshimichi, Saig
Takamori, and Kido Takayoshiwho promoted opening up
discourse as a means of identifying and rewarding new talent.
Eventually, their use of the discourse on consulting the public
would challenge the entire social status system of the Edo period, as
well as the bakufus politics, and bring them into conflict with the
daimyo, for whom consulting the public was not meant to signify a
radical new social order.
The origins of this modern form of public consultation lay in a
plan by members within the restoration coalition, especially samurai
from Tosa, to promote the influence of their domains against the
bakufu. Tosa was a weak partner in the restoration, lacking the
numbers of retainers that Satsuma could deliver and the courage in
battle evidenced by Chsh. In light of these disadvantages,
restorationists in Tosa were particularly quick to recognize the power
of ideas, and men from Tosa played on this strength in political ideas
throughout and after the Restoration. They began to advocate public
consultation in the aftermath of the bakufus move towards a
unification of court and camp (kbu gattai) that reached a
highpoint in 1862 with the marriage of Princess Kazunomiya to the
shogun, Iemochi. For Tosa, the domains fortunes were wedded to
the success or failure of this policy on public consultation.
After driving the restorationist forces out of Kyoto in 1863, the
court and camp alliance held a conference that explored a method
of expanding the participation in government of daimyo like
Yamanouchi Toyoshige of Tosa and even Shimazu Hisamitsu of
Satsuma who had not yet thrown his weight behind the anti-bakufu
movement. In short, the bakufu saw this proposal for public

Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 29-30.
Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 30-31.
consultation as an opportunity to divide the forces that were hostile
to it. At the conference, a plan emerged for a new political system
based on government through a conference of domainal lords (kgi
seitairon) modeled on the American bicameral legislature. The
concept had been sketched out earlier in Sakamoto Rymas Sench
Hassaku, but it was Got Shjir of Tosa who best understood the
potential of this system of public consultation for realizing a new
national political system. Got convinced his daimyo, Yamanouchi,
of the merits of this new scheme, which Yamanouchi then took to the
shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Yamanouchi pointed out the
advantages of a new political system based on public consultation
including the chance for avoiding a bloody war between the anti-
bakufu and bakufu armies. He also stressed that such a system held
out the probability that the Tokugawa house would still be required
to play an important role in the new political system. Indeed, there
was every reason at the time to believe not only that this strategy
would work but that it was the only remaining hope for the survival
of the Tokugawa house. Yoshinobu finally concurred and announced
the end of the bakufu by returning government to the court on 13
October 1867.
Yoshinobu may have had another reason for quickly returning
government to the Court. At that very moment, the anti-bakufu forces
were working with the Court to declare the Tokugawa enemies of the
Court. Yoshinobus voluntary return of government to the Court
greatly frustrated that plan by demonstrating Tokugawa loyalty to the
emperor. In any event, the shogun was willing to gamble on this new
scheme, as he announced to his retainers in Kyoto on 12 October, I
will return government to the Court, and devote myself to public
consultation [kgi] throughout the realm.
Although it might appear that promoting public consultation
was merely a cynical ploy to undermine the bakufu, the demand for
public consultation only grew stronger after the Restoration and it
challenged courtiers like Prince Arisugawa Taruhito and Sanj
Sanetomi who tried to establish a new government based solely on an
appeal to tradition and the prestige of the emperor. But the Court had
no military and little political power of its own (in spite of Prince
Arisugawas own success on the battlefield), and it needed the
support of a wide array of domains if the new government were to

Cited in Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 29.
succeed. Hence, even the Court found some utility in the new scheme
of consulting the public.
This discourse on public discussion eventually gave rise to a new
concept of the public, and along with this new concept of the
public came trenchant criticisms of any political arrangement that did
not reflect this new sense of a public. Consequently, in early 1868,
with the Boshin War just underway, the new political leaders
undertook a major reorganization of the fledgling government that
reflected a greater need to incorporate these growing demands for
consulting the public. As commanding officer of the forces that
attacked the Tokugawa and their supporters in the east, Prince
Arisugawa had seized the moment to establish himself at the top of
an awkward governmental system designed to shore up the influence
of his fellow courtiers. This governmental structure was first
organized into the Three Offices (sanshoku) of ssai, gij and
sanyo; a month later the latter two Offices were organized into first
the Seven Departments (17 January-3 February 1868) and then into
the Eight Bureaus (3 February-21 April 1868). The key
characteristic, however, of this first attempt at forming a government
in modern Japan was that it placed nobles at the head of all the major
Departments or Bureaus. Prince Arisugawa also co-headed (along
with fellow nobles Nakayama Tadayasu and Shirakawa Sukenori) the
Department of Rites, the immediate predecessor of the Office of
Rites which under the Dajkan became the Ministry of Rites, before
ceding that position under the Eight Offices to Shirakawa.
immediately, criticism of this archaic, court-led government arose
among the younger samurai activists who had initiated the anti-
bakufu movement. To them, Prince Arisugawas government
appeared just as elitist and restrictiveif not more sothan the old
bakufu had been. It too failed to reflect their convictions that a new

Such considerations have led Eiko Ikegami to see the Meiji debate on kgi
yoron as merely an insincere strategy by the new government to hold together the
anti-bakufu forces. See her chapter, Citizenship and National Identity in Early Meiji
Japan, 1868-1889, in Charles Tilly, ed., Citizenship, Identity and Social History,
International Review of Social History Supplement 3, (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1995): 185-221.
On the history of the Division/Office/Ministry of Rites, see James E. Ketellar,
Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), esp., 8, 66-7. There is scant consistency in
English translations of early Meiji political institutions such as the Seven
Departments and the Eight Offices (Shichika, Hakkyoku). Ketelaaar, for example,
prefers the Seven Divisions and Eight Offices. I have followed the terms used in
the Kdansha Encyclopedia of Japan (Tokyo & New York: Kdansha, 1983).
system was needed, not merely to enshrine the emperor, but to enable
new talent to rise to the fore from within a broader concept of the
With the proclamation of the Charter Oath on 06 April, the
principle of public consultation received the full authority of the
emperor himself. The first of the five articles in the Oath stated that
deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters
decided by public discussion.
The Charter Oath was of course
designed in part to allay concerns of the Western Powers that the new
government might not be enlightened and might condone the spate
of attacks on foreigners in Japan that had escalated through the 1860s
under the cry of sonn ji. But domestic affairs were even more
pressing on the restoration leaders minds, and the Charter Oath was
also meant to curry favor with the daimyo, by suggesting that, on the
eve of a full-scale military attack on Edo castle, the new government
would be open to them. In this fluid period of crisis, the leaders of the
new government could scarcely afford to alienate powerful military
centers like the daimyo.
The phrase public discussion (kron) was
added to the Charter Oath by Fukuoka Takachika (Ktei) of Tosa,
who incorporating the Tosa plan for public consultation into his
draft. The Oath had a difficult balancing act to perform: satisfying
not only the Western Powers and potentially dangerous daimyo, but
also reassuring the court nobles who had grown concernednot
unreasonablythat this emphasis on public consultation was
directed against them as a check on their newly acquired power. The
difficult task of reconciling these differences was left to Kido, who
simply added the diplomatically ambiguous phrase conferences
would be held widely (hiroku kaigi o okoshi) without specifying
which groups would be included or excluded when these conferences
were held.
Backed by the authority of the Charter Oath, influential samurai
and their court allies sought a solution to these emerging political
tensions in a broader concept of government that would reflect this
new understanding of the public. The idea for a different political

The Charter Oath, in Rysaku Tsunoda, Wm. Theodore De Bary, and Donald
Keene, eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition volume II, (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1964), 136-7.
Yamazaki Yk, Kgi yshutsu kik no keisei to hkai: kgisho to shgiin,
in It Takashi, ed., Nihon kindaishi no sai-kchiku (Tokyo: Yamakawa Shuppansha,
1993): 49-76, at 55.
Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 55-60.
system, the Dajkan (Grand Council of State), originated with
Fukuoka and Soejima Taneomi (Hizen) who sought to expand the
influence of non-nobles in the government. Soejima and Fukuoka
envisioned a Western inspired three branches of government
divided between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches,
and this vision was incorporated into the Seitaisho (the Constitution
of 1868) which was made public by the government on 21 April as
the outline for their re-organization under the Dajkan that went into
effect on 27 April. The Seitaisho opened by restating the Charter
Oath, re-emphasizing what appeared to be the emperors own
commitment to this new notion of public consultation. In keeping
with this principle of broader political inclusion, power was much
more diffused under the Dajkan than it had been under the initial
post-Restoration settlement.
Although often called a constitution in English, the Seitaisho is
best considered a working memorandum for several competing
groups with de facto power over how their authority would be
allocated in the immediate future. Japan was still far from having a
state, and the Seitaisho did not carry anything like the legal or public
authority of a modern national constitution. But even in name, the
document itself echoed the debates over a government based on
public consultation (kgi seitai ron), and indeed it tried to
incorporate these arguments for a broader public form of
government than what had been accomplished under Prince
Arisugawas first political structure. The Seitaisho moved govern-
ment closer towards a pluralistic political system than the earlier
system of Departments and Offices. It invested this pluralism in the
Dajkan, the political structure that would survive as the governing
apparatus of Japan until 1885, when It Hirobumis cabinet system
prepared the way for the constitutional Meiji state. The Seitaisho
reflected a growing consensus among those who held power that
modern Japan could not survive as a government of courtiers who
served only the Court, and it even secured imperial legitimacy for the
demands to open the corridors of power to new talent outside
traditional channels of authority and hierarchy.
In this limited sense, the Seitaisho worked as a solution to the
national tensions opened up by the Restoration. The most salient
characteristic in the Dajkan was the rise in political influence of the
young samurai and the relative marginalization of the conservatives,
courtiers and their daimyo supporters who had tried to control the
first incarnation of the new government. The executive branch was
represented by the Gyseikan, which was headed by two co-equal
imperial advisors, Sanj and Iwakura Tomomi. This division of
executive authority between two offices was a direct repudiation of
Prince Arisugawa and his attempt to act as the sole executive of the
government. Prince Arisugawa, in fact, was denied a major position
of responsibility in the first Dajkan. Ironically, the principle of
public consultation, which had emerged as a criticism of the bakufu,
had outlived the bakufu only to challenge the influence of anti-bakufu
conservatives like Prince Arisugawa in the new government. The
official rationale for the reform of the executive branch was that only
the emperor himself could claim the position of sole head of the
government, but the real purpose was to open government to more
participants, especially from outside the court. Although courtiers
themselves, Sanj and Iwakura had worked closely with the leaders
of the Satsuma and Chsh activists and enjoyed their trust. But they
were also respected by conservative forces in the court, who were
confident that Sanj could control the more radical calls for opening
the country to the influence of the West and introducing a more
public centered form of government. Thus, they played a valuable
role in keeping the anti-bakufu coalition of court and daimyo together
during the crucial early days of the new government, even while they
used their influence to bring more of the restorationist samurai to
positions of influence in the Dajkan.
It was mainly through the legislative branch (Giseikan) that
samurai influence found access to power in the new government.
The legislative branch was bicameral. The Upper House (Jkyoku)
was composed of members (gij) appointed from the nobility and the
daimyo as well as counselors (sanyo) appointed from nobles, daimyo,
elites, samurai and commoners. The Lower House (Gekyoku) was
composed of members (kshi) sent from the various domains as their
representatives. The design was a marked improvement in the
direction of expanding public consultation in the new government.
This tenuous balance of power envisioned in Soejima and Fukuokas
plan did not last long, however, as the legislative branch was
abolished by 1 August (a brief attempt to resurrect it in the following
April quickly failed) and some gij and sanyo began to infiltrate the
executive branch. By then, the legislative branch had served its
purpose. While it fell short of a true, elected legislature, it had
provided a means of distancing conservative daimyo from the policy
centers of the Dajkan. Real power lay with Sanj and Iwakura in the
Gyseikan, and with their assistance, Soejima, Got, Maebara Issei
and later kubo, Kido, It Hirobumi and kuma Shigenobu were
able to rise to positions of influence. In its short life, the Giseikan
provided a useful mechanism through which to identify talented men
with a new vision for Japan who were then placed in positions of
responsibility for the ministries and many of the main functions of
the new government.
Historians often describe the Giseikan as feudal and attribute its
failure to this allegedly feudal nature. What such allegations reflect
is the predominance of conservatives in the Giseikan, especially in
the upper house where the interests of the daimyo and conservative
courtiers were concentrated. But the Giseikan was no feudal
institution: it was inspired by American political institutions and
functioned ironically to support the more progressive leaders of the
Restoration by providing a relatively inconsequential place to house
defenders of the old decentralized order while the Dajkans
executive branch moved forward in a new direction. Yet, while this
ploy kept hopes for a truly national Japanese state safe from the
forces of decentralization, it did so at a considerable cost. This
cynical manipulation of Japans first deliberative assembly left a
negative legacy which compromised the effective function of
legislatures later in Japanese history, as the function of a legislature
was seen from its very inception to be to house radicals and critics,
but not to serve as the repository of a responsible government. From
this discourse on consulting the public, government leaders came
to expect the legislature to serve merely as the representatives of
public opinion and not to play a key role in drafting laws or forming
governments. This diminished expectation was internalized by many
legislators themselves, beginning with the disillusioned daimyo and
conservative courtiers in the Giseikan, who saw their mission as
chastising the government in the name of public opinion rather
than working with the government to resolve public issues. Their
grounds for dissatisfaction with the new government were many, but
it soon became clear that the Giseikan was providing a centralized
place where their opposition to the government was becoming
unified. The government responded by ordering the first legislative
body in Japanese history to be closed down.
With the closing of the Giseikan, supporters of kgi seitai
petitioned the government for the re-opening of an assembly,
emphasizing that the government needed a broader base of support to
survive at this critical transitional time. Akizuki Tanetatsu, who had
been the President of the Lower House before it was closed,
submitted a petition on 10 September 1868 beseeching the
government to recognize the value of the Lower House. His petition
was supported by sanyo ki Takat, who added that the government
should restore the assembly since public deliberation was
indispensableand we should establish a true assembly which would
serve as the foundation for the state.
Influenced by these
arguments, the government decided to reopen the assembly on 21
September. Support for the idea of a government responsive to the
public, or at least support for an assembly where public opinion
would be debated and expressed, was widespread among members of
the government, although various factions had their own reasons, and
degree of support, for such an assembly.
Consequently, the
government also established the Giji Taisai Torishirabesho on 19
November to ensure that the new assembly would function in a
manner supportive of the governments course of action.
What they got instead was the most powerful concentration of the
kgi seitai ron faction yet seen, along with a growing consensus
against the Westernization policies of the new government, which
were seen as elitist and contrary to the interests of the public. The
President of the Giji Taisai Torishirabesho was gij Yamanouchi
Toyoshige, the head of the kgi taisei movement, and his Vice-
President was his close friend Akizuki Tanetatsu. They were joined
by sanyo Fukuoka, who had inserted the public deliberation clause
in the Charter Oath, and ki Takato, Mori Arinori, Kat Hiroyuki,
Tsuda Mamichi, and Kanda Khei. Together, they were able to pass
the Kgisho hsokuan, Japans first law establishing a national
legislature. Under the authority of this law, the Kgisho building was
completed on 6 December 1868 and the assembly opened session on
01 April of the following year, with 227 representatives (kginin)
selected from the various domains.

ki Takat monjo, Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan kensei shiryshitsu z, cited
in Yamazaki, 60.
Yamazaki Yk offers a nuanced analysis of the different groups in early Meiji
politics and their reasons for supporting some form of public consultation. He
divides the political support for kgi into seven groups: (1) those for whom it
meant an assembly of daimyo to push through rapid Westernization (Yamanouchi,
Akizuki, Kat_ Hiroyuki); (2) those committed to an assembly of daimyo, but who
favored gradual Westernization (Fukuoka); (3) those seriously committed to a
broader concept of the public who favored rapid Westernization (It Hirobumi,
kuma Shigenobu, Inoue Kaoru); (4) those committed to this broader concept of the
public, but who favored gradual Westernization (Kido Takayoshi, ki Takat); (5)
those whose support for public consultation was superficial and who were anti-
Westernization (Iwakura, Sanj, Fukushima); (6) those whose support for public
consultation was also superficial, but who favored gradual Westernization (kubo);
(7) those for whom it meant an assembly of daimyo and who were anti-Western
(staff of the Kgisho). See Yamazaki, Kgi yshutsu kik no keisei to hkai, 66.
Drawing on a mixture of Dutch, English and American models,
the Kgisho was an eclectic assembly to which representatives were
selected from each domain for four year terms, with half the
membership up for election every two years. Yamanouchi and
Akizuki may have been favorably disposed towards opening the
country to the West and towards the general direction of
Westernization, but the majority of the representatives in the Kgisho
were of an altogether different frame of mind. Among the bills
rejected by the representatives was a law on establishing trading
relations with foreign countries; strong opinions were voiced against
allowing foreigners to serve in the new government; and a resolution
in favor of persecuting Christianity was passed with overwhelming
These sentiments suggest the depth of nativist sentiment in
early Meiji society, but also that this nativism was something the
government could neither easily control nor overlook. Since
members of the Kgisho were elected as representatives of their
domains, the Kgisho tended to function as an institutionalized
expression of domainal interests within the new government. Rather
than expressing the will of the people conceived as a national body,
samurai sent from their domain to serve in the Kgisho adopted a
variety of strategies that frustrated the new governments efforts at
establishing a centralized approach to political or social reform.
These domainal representatives were not simply functioning as
local representatives in a healthy democratic national legislature.
They were in fact trying to assert their traditional domainal interests
over and above national, and certainly popular, interests. One of the
most important of their strategies in the Kgisho involved a debate
over the very existence of domains in the nations emerging new
political system. This debate was sparked in the early days of the
Kgisho, when on 06 April Mori Arinori presented a memorandum to
Akizuki on Four Problems in Understanding the National Polity.
Essentially, Moris memorandum raised the question of whether
Japan should adopt a federalist (hken) or centralized (gunken)
system of government, with the implication that the Kgisho
representatives had to cooperate by convincing their domainal leaders
that political centralization was the only realistic option for Japan.
Akizuki presented the issue in the form of a draft bill, and discussion
on the bill proceeded for the next month. Opinions ranged widely,
and surprisingly there appeared to be a large measure of support for

Yamazaki, Kgi yshutsu kik no keisei to hkai, 68.
the centralized system of government: of the 212 domains
represented in the Kgisho, 102 domains supported, in one fashion or
another, this proposal for a centralized government that would at the
very least compromise the wide-ranging local authority that domainal
leaders had become accustomed to enjoy.
Closer analysis, however, reveals that the domains were merely
searching for a means of survival within what were clearly prevailing
winds blowing against local autonomy or even federalism. As
Katsuta Masaharus careful analysis reveals, those 102 domains that
spoke in favor of gunken can be divided into two groups. Only forty
domains strongly supported the proposal, including its provisions for
public confiscation of their private lands, to have governors (chifuji,
chikenji) appointed and to move the former daimyo to Tokyo. But
even these most supportive domains insisted on a compromise clause
that, for the time being, the governors would remain the former
daimyo or their representatives. Although this group comprised only
forty of the 102 domains in support of centralization, three large
domains (Kanazawa, Wakayama and Hiroshima) were included,
suggesting that their support was a compromise measure designed to
seek access to political influence in the emerging new government.
The remaining sixty domains adopted a position Katsuta calls
formalistic support of centralization, since they tried to limit the
impact of gunken to a name change: large domains would be called fu
and smaller domains would be called ken, but the land and position
of governor would remain the hereditary property of the daimyo-
In short, there wereas one would expectactually few
domainal representatives in the Kgisho who were in favor of the
Dajkans proposal to move towards a centralized national state.
Nonetheless, Moris proposal and the subsequent debate over gunken
in the Kgisho were instrumental in preparing the ground for the
eventual abolishment of the domains and a re-configuring of what
public would mean in modern Japan.
The final defeat of supporters of public consultation began to
unfold in mid-1869 and reached a crescendo in late 1870. Given the
kind of bills that were and were not being passed in the Kgisho,
leaders in the Dajkan resolved to take effective measures to ensure
that their nation-state building project would not be undermined.
Sanj was the first to raise the issue. In a letter to Iwakura Tomomi
he pressed for a reform of the legislature, noting that what has men

Katsuta Masaharu, Haikan chiken: Meiji kokka ga umareta hi (Tokyo:
Kdansha, 2000), 68-70.
with a sense of purpose today in an uproar is when those of position
become enamored with Western things and, falling victim to Western
vices, lose themselves in wine, women and luxury.
Sanjs attempt
to paint his political opponents as cosmopolitan fops and therefore
less nationalistic than those who supported centralization would seem,
at first glance, to support the conclusions of those historians who
portray the government reforms that followed as conservative
counterattacks on the liberal, Westernized members of the
But this interpretation, shaped by later conservative
attacks on the Imperial Diet in the early twentieth century, does not
do justice to the complicated situation facing the Dajkan during the
first years of the Meiji period.
As we have seen, members of the Kgisho were, if anything, even
more anti-Western than Sanj and Iwakura were. The reorganization
of government that followed on July 8 did indeed remove the current
President of the Kgisho Kanda Khei and Vice-President Mori
Arinori and replace them with courtiers hara Shigetoku and Anno
Kinzane. But it also changed the name of legislature from the
Kgisho (Place of Public Debate) to the Shgiin (Institute for
Collective Debate), thus rendering null any explicit connection
between the legislature and the Charter Oaths promise to consult
the public. This change in name was not trivial: it was clearly an
attack on members of the kgi seitairon faction who, led by
Yamanouchi, had tried to turn the legislature into their own political
base for challenging the Dajkan and its efforts at building a
centralized state. Even this reform was not sufficient, however, to
convert their opposition to one loyal to the new centralizing
government, and the Shgiin was forced to close on 10 September
At stake was both principle and political interest. The differences
between Yamanouchis consult the public faction and Iwakuras
faction were less over the principle that the new government should
be responsive to the public than they were over what this sense of
public (k) signified. Iwakura was more inclined toward this new
concept of the public being served best by a central government
responsive to national public opinion while Yamanouchis was a
faction of assorted domainal interests who merely used this concept

Iwakura Tomomi monjo, Kokuritsu kokkai toshokan kensei shiryshitsu z;
cited in Yamazaki, 70.
Cf. Kasahara Hidehiko, Meiji kokka to kanrysei (Tokyo: Asahi Shob, 1991).
of public both to keep the Dajkan off balance and to reassert the
traditional role of daimyo as the only public that mattered.
Yamanouchis faction, kron really signified the will of the
domains, and the Kgisho was the institutionalization of that will [not
the peoples will].
At the very least, Iwakura and kubo sought to
implement a new national form of politics, while Yamanouchis
faction represented more conservative forces that still held out hope
for some sort of daimyo federation, if not for a direct restoration of
ancient monarchy. But kubo and Iwakura were also aware that
Yamanouchis faction had a powerful weapon in this political
struggle against them: they had a strong claim, through their tradition
of supporting the principle of kgi seitai, to having removed the
bakufu and to being the true representatives of the people.
Moreover, kubo and Iwakura knew that Yamanouchi was not
averse to using this ideological weapon against the Dajkans move
toward creating a centralized state. In spite of promises that opening
up public debate was linked to selecting talent, Yamanouchis
faction represented a kind of talent that had little value to the
Dajkan, as it sought to build a modern nation-state that would
necessarily, in some fashion, incorporate the nationalist principle that
all politics ultimately was about the people.
Simply abolishing the Shgiin certainly could not settle the issue.
Participation in these earlier assemblies had exposed representatives
of the domains to a wider range of political concepts and strategies,
and they had begun to forge new alliances that would be useful in
their continued attacks on the Dajkan. Even as the domains, through
their representatives in the Kgisho, sought to monopolize the
discourse on consulting the public as a critique of the Dajkan,
they found themselves wrapped up in the complications of actual
public deliberations that brought to the fore differing interests among
the domains. Larger domains sought strategies of self-preservation
that were designed to maintain their relative advantages over smaller
domains, while trying to check the power of Satsuma and Chsh in
the Dajkan; smaller domains in turn looked to Dajkan policies in

Yamazaki Yk, Kgi yshutsu kik no keisei to hkai: kgisho to shgiin,
54. Indeed, kubo and Iwakura had been committed to a more revolutionary
approach to Japanese politics from the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, when
Yamanouchi and Got Shjir were still trying to mute the revolutionary impact of
the Restoration by keeping the Tokugawa Shogunate centrally involved in the
political reform. See Katsuta Masaharu, Haihan chiken, esp., 20-22.
Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 66.
their efforts to find leverage against the larger domains. The politics
behind the abolishment of the domains was a far more complicated
affair than binary oppositions between pro- and anti-government
struggles or simplistic assertions that the movement to abolish the
domains was the result of a spontaneous social movement.
ideologies of nationalism and social equality played influential roles,
as did the new context of a national public space where these ideas
now circulated. Yet, ideas in early Meiji, as always, proved difficult
to control, and often resulted in unforeseen consequences.
One example of these unforeseen consequences is the way that
ideas of social equality, public deliberation, and national government
(which were mobilized by the larger domains that sought to contest
the hegemony of Satsuma and Chsh) were eventually employed by
the Dajkan in order to abolish all the domains. But first these ideas
had to travel a rather circuitous path. One might pick up the trail in
April 1871, when a group of six large domains (Kumamoto,
Tokushima, Hikone, Fukui, Yonezawa and Tosa) came together
under Itagaki Taisukes leadership to promote domainal reform. This
Tosa Federation was the result of discussions between Miyajima
Seiichir of Yonezawa and Itagaki and was an attempt to replace the
forum daimyo recently had enjoyed in the Kgisho and Shgiin.
Miyajima had been impressed by Tosas own internal reforms, and
he filed a request in the fifth month of 1871 with the Dajkan for
advice on adopting a law on commuting samurai stipends to bonds,
as Tosa had already done. In his request, he made an explicit
connection to the principle of the equality of the four peoples
(shimin heikin). Similarly, Itagaki led the Tosa Federation in calling
for a return to formal deliberations among domainal representatives
as a means of public debate throughout the land (tenka kron). He
added that such public deliberations would undermine attempts by
domains like Satsuma to assert that governance was their own private
right. Finally, Tokugawa Yoshikatsu, governor of Nagoya domain,
submitted a memorandum to the Dajkan that outlined five policies
needed for national unification of the political system: unification of
the school system, selection of talented personnel (jinsai ty),
consolidation of military authority, a system of one governor for each
state, and equalization of the nobilitys stipends. The proposal even

For two examples of recent historical studies that have, in different ways,
located the haihan movement as an internal struggle within the government, see
Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 74-109 and Katsuta, Haihan chiken, esp. 5-14.
went so far as to suggest that the very existence of the domains
fractured both the people and political systems, and it therefore
encouraged the adoption of a state system (shsei) as a means of
implementing a truly national (popular) government.
Political opponents of centralization were, in effect, cynically
employing the ideas of the new nationalizing government against
itself. Kido had been advocating abolishing the domains as early as
1868, and he was able to convince his own daimyo, Mri Takachika
of Chsh, to take the first step in returning his domainal register by
pointing out the advantages of abolishing the domains as political
units. Kidos main argument was that so long as the domains existed
the Court would be able to control national politics by playing off
Satsuma and Chsh against each other.
In contrast, Itagaki, as
leader of a federation of anti-government domains that was now
advocating abolishing domains, had spearheaded reforms in his own
domain of Tosa, including a reluctant agreement to disband the
samurai as a class, only in order to preserve the existence of the
It was by no means certain that Itagakis Tosa Federation
actually intended to abolish all domains (including themselves), and
there were good reasons for Dajkan officials to regard these calls to
abolish the domains as an invitation to political disaster. But the
invitation was a double-edged sword. Once these domains had
committed themselves publicly to a policy of abolishing the domains,
they would find it nearly impossible to withdraw that commitment
The Dajkans immediate response was tempered. Iwakura had
kuma draft an official reply that signaled the Dajkans agreement
with the proposal for domainal abolishment put forth by the large
domains, while reinforcing the point that it was the central
governments responsibility to formulate national political reforms
and the domains duty to carryout governmental plans. But beyond
that statement, the Dajkan showed little inclination to rashly accept
this invitation to court immediate disaster by quickly attempting to
abolish the domains.
Such a move would have been risky indeed,
since the Dajkan had no direct command over any armed force to
backup its policies. The first order of business then was to put
substance behind the government, and this was done in February
1871 through the formation of an Imperial Guard formed by

Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 122-4.
Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 81-83.
Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 110.
Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 125-6.
volunteers from the troops in Kagoshima, Yamaguchi and Kchi.
With these 8,000 samurai, under the direct control of the Dajkan
and stationed in Tokyo, proponents for centralization now had some
muscle behind their policies.
The Dajkan began to act more assertively against the domains
after a July meeting between Yamagata, Torio Koyata and Nomura
Yasushi of Chsh. Torio and Nomura successfully pressed
Yamagata to agree to move towards gunken, or centralized
government. Subsequently, Yamagata persuaded Saig Takamori to
support the plan, while Nomura and Torio worked on Kido
Takayoshi through the intervention of Inoue Kaoru, who had been
persuaded through a threat against his life.
With Kido, Saig and
Okubs support, Sanj went to the Court and received an imperial
rescript which he read on 14 July to fifty six daimyo, informing them
that they were to surrender their registers of land and people to the
Court. With this act, the vestiges of the old decentralized political
system were swept away, and the foundations for the new system of
weak prefectures and a strong central government were quickly laid.
But, as Katsuta Masaharu has described it, this was a governmental
re-structuring that was carried out through force, and one which no
longer needed to pay any heed to the domains under the pretext of
public discussion.
As we have seen, the dissolution of the baku-han system was
possible only because both the pro-baku-han system and the anti-
bakufu restorationists shared a commitment to the principle of a more
expansive concept of the public as the source of political
legitimacy. But even as the new government sought to restructure a
government that would reflect that broad commitment to public
deliberations, differences among the anti-bakufu forces emerged and
were not easily reconciled. Ultimately, the new government began to
take shape through measures designed to move forward towards a
centralized state. Yet, it was the heavy-handed way in which this

Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 127-40; Kat Yk, Chhei-sei to kindai Nihon.
(Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan, 1996). Kat, however, argues that the rise of the
Imperial Guards should be seen as a substitution of mura Masajirs plan that
sought to establish, with the support of the Shgiin and the Hybush, a conscript
army as part of a true, nationalizing reform of the social estates into a single kokumin.
_muras assassination by conservative samurai in 1869 abrogated that plan, however,
conservative samurai influence dominated in the Imperial Guard that Yamagata
implemented instead of muras conscript army (40-41).
Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 152.
Katsuta, Haihan chiken, 156.
course was followed that alienated many of the former restorationists
and drove many of those committed to public deliberations from
the new government order. The most immediate consequences were
spectacular. Within a few years, senior members of the government,
often those who had advocated consulting the public, began to
leave the government and in some cases took up arms in rebellion.
Et Shimpei, who in 1874 had joined with Itagaki in presenting a
petition to the Sa-in calling for a legislature elected by the people, led
samurai back in Saga in armed revolt. Two years later, Maebara Issei
led a similar group of disguntled samurai in revolt in Hagi. And in
the most serious of these revolts, Saig himself was persuaded to lead
an army of 25,000 samurai in a vain effort to resist the new
government. Various causes have been ascribed to these revolts:
erosions of the samurai class, the emergence of a new conscript army,
and especially the rejection of plans to invade Korea. All these
factors played a role. But we must not lose sight of the fact that many
of these rebels were embroiled in the movement that intoned the
mantra, consult the public, by which of course they meant
themselves. They lost that debate with the new government, but the
effects of that debate continued to shape the contours of what the
modern Japanese nation would look like, long before the state was
codified by a constitution at the end of the 1880s.
Intellectuals and political activists of this period, men as diverse
as Et Shimpei, Mitsukuri Rinsh, Nakae Chmin, i Kentar, and
Miyazaki Mury, were often motivated by a sense that the Meiji
government was betraying their own nationalist aspirations. Many of
them were associated with the Tosa domain, the source of much of
the public theory during bakumatsu and early Meiji and, especially
after 1874, a hotbed of peoples rights activities against the Meiji
government. Some turned to French political theory, because they
saw it as espousing a particular form of Republican nationalism that
seemed to provide the necessary framework for strengthening the
consult the public discourse which had been rejected by the
government. The impact of French political theory in early Meiji
Japan was not univocal, however, but applied in a variety of ways to
suit different national objectives.
Building a Japanese Nation through French Political Theory
The years from 1874 to the Meiji Constitution of 1889 provide a
wonderfully rich milieu for exploring the range of possibilities for
how the modern Japanese nation might take shape. Tetsuo Najita has
emphazed the political rather than ideological conflict during the
1870s, arguing that it was the decade of the 1880s when political
conflict turned ideological, especially in disputes over the shape of
the impending constitution.
As a general outline, and especially as
an explanation of how revolutionary sentiment was quelled in the
early Meiji years, his analysis is quite compelling. Yet, beginning in
the 1870s, a variety of new political theories were presented and
contested, and by the middle of the 1880s some already had emerged
dominant while others had been pushed to the margins. This period
of experimentation reached a watershed with the Meiji Constitution
of 1889, which found an initial and powerful resolution of the
question of the public in Prussian theories of constitutional
monarchy which codified citizens as subjects and which reduced the
challenges of the public to a matter of public law taking priority over
civil law. As the result of two decades of sometimes violent clashes
over the form the new society should take, the Meiji Constitution
should be kept in mind when exploring the various aspects of civil
society in the early Meiji periodthe Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement, journalists critiques of the government, political party
formations, etc. Rather than seeing the first two decades of Meiji as
two distinct stagesthe political and military struggles of the 1870s
giving way to the constitutional struggles of the 1880s--we might
also see the entire period prior to the promulgation of the Meiji
Constitution as a continuous struggle over which theoretical models
would be used to resolve the challenges of public consultation and
thus the question whether, in the new political order, the nation
would take precedence over the state.
The 1870s was a time when the goal of Japan emerging as a true
nation seemed most attainable and when the hopes for building a
democratic national society were most palpable. Hanging in the
balance was the question of how much autonomy society would have
from the state, and how strongly democratic values would be
supported by the new social order. The question of society raised
during these first two decades of Meiji Japan was an extremely
serious one, since until the constitutional question was settled and the
modern state took form with the Imperial Diet and other institutional
appendages, concepts of society could and at times did function as

Tetsuo Najita, Japan: The Intellectual Foundations of Modern Japanese
Politics, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), 78.
replacements and supplements for concepts of the nation.
definitions were often inextricable from national definitions in this
period when nation and state in Japan were still open questions.
Further, how these concepts eventually were resolved must be
understood in the context of the social, intellectual and political
developments of the entire pre-constitutional period. Following
Fukuzawa Yukichi, one might even suggest that until 1889, Meiji
Japan was at best a society with an fledgling government, but not yet
a state or even a nation.
Two translators of French theory in the 1870s reveal how the
effects of this effort to understand the meaning of society led to
different kinds of nationalist visions, even among those who shared
an oppositional stance to the new government. The first, Mitsukuri
Rinsh (1846-97), was a member of what Yamamuro Shinichi has
called the legal bureaucrats and has even been called the
Montesquieu of Japan.
He worked on translating French legal codes,
particularly in the area of civil law. The second, Miyazaki Mury
(1855-1889), was a translator, journalist, and writer of political
novels, and was connected with the Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement. In short, each represents one of the major groups of Meiji
public intellectuals, legal bureaucrats and journalists, whom we are
often told played active roles in fostering the values of civil society in
Meiji Japan.
A comparison of their use of French social and
political theories not only will demonstrate certain common
tendencies within the French faction, but also should allow us to test
the impact of Montesquieus approach to civil society in Meiji
Japanese nation building.

John Breuillys clarification of how the state-society relationship is addressed
by nationalist theories is especially relevant here. See his Nationalism and the State
Edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994): 54-71.
Yokose Fumihiko, Hyron shimbun, no. 40; cited by Yamamuro Shinichi,
Mitsukuri Rinsh to Kawazu Sukeyuki, 297-314 in Hsei daigaku daigaku shiry
iindai,ed., Hritsugaku no yoake to hsei daigaku (Tokyo: Hsei Daigaku, 1992):
On legal bureaucrats in the formation of civil society, see Yamamuro
Shinichi, Hsei kanry no jidai: kokka no sekkei to chi no rekitei (Tokyo:
Bokutakusha, 1984). On journalists as the main advocates of civil society, Igarashi
Akio, Meiji ishin no shis (Tokyo: Seori Shob, 1996): 226-242. Kyu-hyun Kim, in
The State, Civil Society and Public Discourse in Early Meiji Japan:
Parliamentarianism in Ascendancy, 1868-1884 (Harvard Ph.D. diss., 1996), argues
that journalists and legal bureaucrats were joined by defense lawyers as the main
forces for civil society in Meiji Japan (100-106).
It is important to bear in mind that the categorization of Japanese
social thought into such distinct national factions (eg., German
French) can merely obscure common patterns that these various
factions shared, and which can be attributed not to national
distinctiveness in Western approaches to social theory, but to the
specific nationalist needs of post-Restoration Japanese society. Here,
the central issue is not the theoretical question of the possibility of
translation itself-establishing the equivalance or nonequivalence of
different national languages or culturesor in the nuances between
translationand translingual practices. Unquestionably, we must
remember that these translations of society were always shaped by
domestic considerations within Japan, and not merely questions of
the technical ability of early Meiji Japanese to get it right when it
came to understanding Western social theories, or the problem of
nations and democracy. The results of this bold engagement with
Western theories of society and social structure tell us less about a
general theory of cultural translation than they do about the social
and political divisions that surrounded the construction of nation and
society in early Meiji Japan. And, as I will argue, the value of a
theory of civil society in thinking about Meiji Japan is intricately
interwoven with our understanding of the social and political context
of that time period. To focus on civil society as a method of inquiry
into the conditions of democratic life opens up ways of thinking
beyond essential singularities and towards the specific practices
that determine the ethical and democratic nature of societies, and
hence nations.
I. Mitsukuri Rinsh and the Legal Theory of Minken
Mitsukuri Rinsh represents an important example of how social and
legal theory combined in the early Meiji years to present a strong
case for a republican nationalism along the lines suggested by
Montesquieu. His attempt to define Meiji society through translations
of French civil codes, and his belief that a civil code was at least as
important as the public law of the constitution, can be seen as
powerful attempts to shape the newly emerging nation in the
direction of citizenship and popular democracy. That his views
eventually did not prevail is less important than how his voice
mingled with others in laying the foundation for a sharp division in
modern Japanese political discourse between the people and the
state. His contribution went well beyond his translation of legal
codes to influence many populist critics of the Meiji state, even after
Mitsukuri himself had thrown his lot in with the new state. To
uncover his significance in the emergence of modern Japanese
nationalism, and the unintended consequences of his contribution to
legal theory, we need to pay close attention to his social world, as
well as to his intellectual work.
Unlike many others involved in French social theory in early
Meiji Japan, Mitsukuri was not from Saga domain. Born in Edo in
the Tsuyama yashiki in 1846, he followed his grandfather Genbo, a
cartographer and scholar of Dutch Studies in the bakufus Institute on
Barbarian Studies. Interest in civil law grew out of these Dutch
Studies specialists, and the first serious attempt to translate European
civil codes was begun by Tsuda Mamichi (1829-1903), a student of
Genbo, who went to the University of Leiden in 1862 where he
discovered the existence of private or civil law-law concerned with
citizens rights over and against each other and the state.
It was
Tsuda who coined the term minp, which became the standard
translation for civil code in Japanese.
The turn from Dutch to French civil codes began in March 1867,
when Mitsukuri was ordered to join Tokugawa Akitake (1853-1910)
on a Friendship Mission to the West, including to the Paris World
Exhibition. Akitake (1853-1910) was not only the younger brother
of the Shogun Keiki; he was also vice-minister of the Minbu, or the
Department of the People.
Akitakes mission resulted in an
increased interest in French Civil Code, largely through the influence
of Kurimoto Joun (1822-97), the Japanese ambassador to France and
a strong advocate of the Code Napolon.
When the mission returned
to Japan in February 1868, Mitsukuri (not to mention Tokugawa
Akitake) found a new government awaiting him in Tokyo. The Meiji
government, perhaps not trusting this former bakufu retainer with a
close tie to the Tokugawa elite, sent him off to Osaka as an official
translator. While in Osaka, Mitsukuri found time on the side to teach
at a Western studies school (the Ygaku denshj), while taking in
several private students as well. Among his students were many
important luminaries in the Peoples Rights Movement, including i
Kentar and Nakae Chmin. Their enthusiasm for the French

Robert Epp, The Challenge from Tradition: Attempts to Compile a Civil Code
in Japan, 1866-78, Monumenta Nipponica, 22:1 (1967): 15-48, at 17.
Epp, 18. Also, Richard H. Mitchell, Janus-Faced Justice: Political Criminals
in Imperial Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992), 7.
Yoshii Tamio, Kindai hgaku no Mitsukuri Rinsh in Kindai nihon no kokka
keisei to h (Nihon Hyronsha, 1996): 379-381.
Epp, 18-19.
language surely was part of a general expectation that the French
concept of a post-revolutionary, republican government, with an
equal citizenry defined and protected by law, might be adopted by the
new Meiji government. Such hopes may appear today as utopian, but
during the early years of the Meiji government, they were a distinct
possibility. As Yamamuro Shinichi has noted, during the first years
of the new government, when power was centralized in the Dajkan
in accordance with the April 1868 Seitaisho, the concept of the nation
and of separation of powers employed by the new government
resembled that of Abbe Sieys who held that the nation is a body of
associates living under common laws and represented by the same
legislative assembly.
At this early state, before even the
constitutional sense of national identity (kokumin) was defined, let
alone a sense of the Japanese people as an ethnic nation (minzoku),
such a legally defined sense of the Japanese as a constitutional,
democratic nation was still possible, and French civil codes seemed a
promising avenue for exploring that enfranchisement of the ordinary
people into the new, egalitarian nation.
Such hopes were soon dashed. On 26 May 1869 Soejima Taneomi
(1828-1905), member of the Dajkan, ordered Mitsukuri to begin
rendering the French Penal Code into Japanese and the following
year, the Code Napolon.
Mitsukuri was employed in the Bureau of
Institutions, along with Soejima, Tsuda, Kat Hiroyuki, and Mori
Arinori, and from then on he played a leading role in the translation
of the Napoleonic Code and in advocating a civil code for the new
Japanese nation. Apparently his work was not progressing quickly
enough for the Dajkan. The following year, Et Shimpei was put in
charge of the Civil Code compilation committee, and he brought with
him his reputation for getting things done. Et was most concerned
with the need for a civil code as part of Japans attempt, through
fukoku kyhei, to achieve equality with the Western powers. Pushing
along the project, Et reportedly ordered Mitsukuri, Dont bother
about mistranslations, just translate it quickly!
Et needed
something to show at the Dajkans 1870 Civil Code Conference

Yamamuro Shinichi, Meiji kokka no seido to rinen, 115-148 in Iwanami
kza nihon tsshi vol. 17: kindai 2 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1994): 127-8. I have
taken Sieyss quote from his What is the Third Estate? in Omar Dahbour and
Micheline R. Ishay, eds., The Nationalism Reader (New Jersey: Humanities Press,
1995): 35-37, at 37.
Mitchell, Janus-Faced Justice, 7-8.
Et Shimpei, quoted in Matano Hansuke, Et Nampaku (Tokyo, 1914), II: 107;
cited in Epp, p.25, n.36.
which he was to chair. At the conference, members of the Dajkan
took issue with Mitsukuris translation of the French droit civil as
minken (the peoples rights). What rights do the people have?
retorted an incensed Dajkan member to Et. Et tried to convince
the members of the Dajkan that the translation was not final, and
that Mitsukuri meant no threat to the public order.
Here it is
apparent that the issue at hand was not Mitsukuris accuracy in
translating French into Japanese, or even his grasp of the intricacies
of French civil law. Rather, Mitsukuri had, perhaps unintentionally,
articulated a key issuethat of minken or peoples rightsthat would
emerge in subsequent years in struggles over the shape of the new
He had also tested the outer limits of permissible definitions
of society and nation in post-revolutionary Japan. Even as Mitsukuri
himself returned to the technical problems of translating civil codes,
he had articulated a concept of social inclusion and legal rights that
would inform activists throughout the pre-constitutional Meiji period,
from samurai rebels, to parliamentary movements, to advocates of
Freedom and Peoples Rights.
Reaction from the Dajkan was swift. Mitsukuri was sent abroad
for further study in civil law codes. In 1871, the Bureau of
Institutions (seido kyoku) that had overseen the project of compiling a
civil code was dismantled and incorporated into the Left Chamber
(Sain). In April 1872, the civil code complitation project was placed
under the immediate supervison of the Ministry of Justice (Law),
headed by Et Shinpei. Under Ets initiative, the codification of
civil code progressed rapidly, yielding a nine volume, 1,185 article
Provisional Civil Code of the Imperial Government by July 1872.
In November 1873, however, advocates for a civil code were dealt a
setback when Kido Takayoshi supported their adversaries who
insisted that a constitution must precede the civil code, since civil
codes are the offspring of the constitution, for the constitution is the
root of every part of the system of government and there is none
which does not take its rise from this.
Mitsukuri joined the Meiji
Six Society, whose members generally agreed that society was at

tsuki, Mitsukuri Rinsh kunden (Tokyo: Maruzen Kabushiki Kaisha, 1907), p.
89; Yoshii Tamio, Kindai hgaku no Mitsukuri Rinsh, 384.
Mitchell, 8. Mitchell also points out that Mitsukuri coined the term kenri
(rights), and he shows the impact this had on subsequent protest movements and on
legal thought.
Kido Takayoshi, quoted in McLaren, Japanese Government Documents; cited
in Epp, p. 27.
least as important to the health of the nation as the state was. Et
reacted more strongly: he left the government and joined the Saga
uprising, after which he was tried and executed. While many
historians have emphasized the debate over invading Korea
(seikanron) in the 1873 crisis and in the Saga uprising, we should not
forget that Et was deeply involved in the civil code project, and that
his participation in the Saga uprising also stemmed from his despair
over establishing a legal foundation for the people in the emerging
new state.
After the Saga Uprising, the civil code project was placed under
the supervision of ki Takat, chief of the Justice Department.
Gustave Emile Boissonade (1825-1910) was brought in as a technical
advisor, and Mitsukuri continued on as compiler. But with the
decision already made in favor of public law over civil law, the
project of compiling a civil code had lost much of its promise for
social change, as it was now clear that the compilation of a civil code
would not carry the potential for inscribing strong legal rights for the
people over against the state. Mitsukuri remained with the
government (in spite of Fukuzawa Yukichis advice), and continued
his work on the civil codes, completing his Draft of Civil Code (the
Mitsukuri Civil Code Draft) in 1878. His timing could not have
been worse. The government, having just survived the Satsuma
Rebellion, had little money or inclination to support the codification
of a civil code before public law (the constitution) was established, so
Mitsukuris Draft was never acted upon. With the establishment in
1880 of the Civil Code Compilation bureau in the Senate, the job of
compiling a civil code passed from the Ministry of Justice to the
Senate, and Mitsukuri became an official (gikan) of the Senate.
Mitsukuris official position within the Senate further undermined
any residual hope for a civil code that would enshrine private rights
against the state. In 1886 the Civil Code Compilation Bureau was
abolished and, following Foreign Minister Inoue Kaorus failure to
revise the unequal treaties, the Civil Code Compilation task was
transfered to the Foreign Ministry. Mitsukuri was still on the
committee in charge of the civil code. But his Civil Code was
approved and implemented only on 1 January 1893, well after the
constitution was securely in place, and after Mitsukuri himself had
been made a member of the House of Peers. Any hopes that the
Napoleonic Code or Montesquieus spirit of law might underwrite

Yoshii, 385.
a republican form of nationalism in Meiji Japan had been betrayed by
the primacy placed on a Prussian approach to constitutional
monarchy that had absorbed civil codes within the state and had
substituted for citizenship the emperor as transcendent of the social
and legal restrictions that Montesquieu had argued were necessary to
make monarchy compatible with democracy.
Mitsukuris efforts in articulating droit civil as minken had not
ended all efforts at republican nationalism in Meiji Japan, but he had
revealed the limitations of Montesquieus legal approach to defining
the nation within the new order. Following the 1873 repudiation of
the civil code by Kido Takayoshi, proponents of peoples rights
began to turn from legal theories to political activism. In 1874 a
Memorial on Establishing a Popularly Elected Assembly was
submitted by members of the Tosa-based Patriots Society
(Aikokusha) to the Left Chamber and, perhaps more importantly, was
published in Nisshin Shinjishi newspaper, a newspaper whose critical
views of the Meiji government were tolerated only because its editor,
the Australian J.R. Black, was protected by extraterritoriality. Torio
Koyata spoke for many conservatives who were outraged by this new
concept of popular rights:
Using the two characters min and ken [people and rights], these
people want to destroy the countrys order, violate political laws, and
form parties and classes. Torio was certain that this idea of minken
will be used to justify the mob violence of later ages.
Along with this movement for popular empowerment through an
elected assembly of the people came an increasing tendency to
conceive of society in more populist, and totalizing, ways.
While the Tosa activists, many of whom were inspired by
Mitsukuris translations from French, argued for the inclusion of
society through a popularly elected (minsen) assembly, others drew
similar lines of opposition between society and the government in
their efforts to cast the society in national terms. One important
instance was Murota Mitsuyoshis 1875 translation of M. Franois
Guizots A History of Civilization in Europe, where Murota
translated Guizots concept of society as minzoku, (, often
rendered today as folk, or ethnos). This was the earliest

Torio, Tokuan zensho I:585, cited in Yukihiko Motoyama, Meirokusha
Thinkers and Early Meiji Enlightenment Thought, trans. George M. Wilson, in
Motoyama, (Elisonas and Rubinger, eds.,) Proliferating Talent: Essays on Politics,
Thought and Education in the Meiji Era (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press,
1997) p. 249.
appearance of this word to appear in modern Japanese.
translation of society as minzoku (with overtones of ethnicity or
nationality) was an influential one, and can be detected a few years
later in Taguchi Ukichis A Brief History of the Japanese
Enlightenment (1877). During the 1870s, as Haga Noboru has noted,
there was a strong interest in the folk [minzoku; ] in the sense
of a group of people that mingled together, and this provided the
foundation for nurturing a disposition that respected the common
world and vulgarity.
Like other translated political concepts in
early Meiji Japan, that of minzoku was in considerable flux. But it
belonged to a specific political discourse that sought to articulate a
sense of the nation as a people increasingly defined by its opposition
to (and by) the government in Tokyo. This emerging structure of
opposition between the people (nation) and the government (later,
the state) is evident in Nishi Amanes concern that those involved
in French political theory drew from Rousseau to embrace radical
forms of utopian politics.
The government took seriously these
concerns about advocates for peoples rights, and on 28 June 1875
passed a new Libel Law and Press Ordinance for regulating radical
populist ideas.
The foundations for modern Japanese nationalisms
bifurcated structure of opposition, its uneasy relationship between
nation and state, were beginning to take shape.
II. Miyazaki Mury and the Concept of Minzoku
The first decade after the Restoration was a period of considerable
open experimentation in translating and reformulating the problem of
society in Japan. But after the Political Crisis of 1881, French legal
theories were largely pushed aside in favor of the Germanic state-
centered theories of Stein, Bluntschli, and Bismark, as public
discourse moved toward settling the form of the new constitution.
The heavy statist tendency in this Germanic social-political theory,

Haga, Meiji kokka no keisei, 236.
Haga, Meiji kokka no keisei, 236.
Nishi Amane, Refuting the Joint Statement by the Former Ministers, 40-43 in
Meiroku Zasshi: Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment, trans. William R. Braisted
(Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1976). See also Mori Arinori, Criticism of the
Memorial on Establishing a Popularly Elected Assembly, 32-34.
Motoyama, 250.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Mitsukuri Rinsh to Kawazu Sukeyuki: futari no shodai
kch, 297.
supported by It Hirobumi, Kat Hiroyuki and others close to the
reins of power, exacerbated the growing tensions between state and
society in Japanese political discourse. Increasingly, social theorists
saw the state as the enemy of society, and those in power often
returned the favor, seeing society only as a threat that had to be
contained by the state. This chronology of increasing antagonism
between state and society in Japan during the 1880s was only further
exacerbated by those in social movements who drew from France in
their critiques of the increasingly Prussian-styled Meiji state. Events
in France converge with events in Japan to suggest the limited value
of French social theories for the Meiji state-builders. During the
1870s, the French monarchists had appeared firmly in control of the
new Third Republic, and hence Japanese authorities at the time saw
little reason to fear that French social theory posed an inherent threat
to the imperial principle of the Meiji state. On the contrary, the Third
Republic offered evidence that populism and monarchy were, if not
completely compatible, then certainly capable of working out a
modus vivendi, and French oriented Japanese social theorists were
not necessary guilty of lese majeste for their views. But when the
French republicans gained a majority in the Parliament and the
monarchist president Mac-Mahon had to step down in 1879, the
threat from French social theory to the Japanese monarchy seemed
more real, both from the perspective of the state and from those who
protested the new Meiji state in the name of society. As It and the
statists moved clearly toward Prussian transcendental statism
centered on the emperor, peoples rights advocates began to refine
their use of French social theory away from Montesquieus spirit of
laws and more towards a populist nationalism centered on the
opposition between the people and the newly emerging, elitist state.
This general shift was supported by developments in France, where
the victory of the republicans meant that the political right turned
toward nationalism, which in the hands of men like Maurice Barrs
and Charles Maurras stressed the distinction between the legal
country (which they had lost) and the real nation (which they
claimed). For Japanese minken advocates working closely in French,
the choice seemed a similar one between the legalistic, bureaucratic
state and a revolutionary concept of the nation as founded in the
To appreciate this discursive shift and its implications for civil
society in Japan, we must recall that the early 1880s was the period
when the Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement was at its height,
and this movement reinvigorated the claims of natural rights of the
people against the state. Even Fukuzawa Yukichi, a well-known
critic of the state, protested the increasingly strident tone adopted at
the time by those pursing peoples rights. In an 1881 letter to
kuma Shigenobu, Fukuzawa wrote, The Minken Ron (Advocacy of
Peoples Rights) seems to be more and more favoring direct action. If
it goes in that direction, the antagonism between the government and
the people will become increasingly embittered, and in the end I fear
it will mean unfortunate bloodshed.
In the same year, Chiba
Takusabur drafted his own Constitution of the Empire of Japan in
which he wrote that the Japanese nation (kokumin) had inalienable
rights and freedoms that public law (kokuh) must protect. Shortly
afterwards, however, Ueki Emori wrote in his draft constitution,
Outline of the Constitution of the Japan that the Japanese nation
had a right to armed revolution when state bureaucrats violated their
These protest constitutions may have been conceived as
attempts to influence It Hirobumi to accept Itagakis more
parliamentarian model in their discussions over the Greater Japan
Imperial Constitution. But with Itagakis ouster in 1882 and the
decision in favor of a Prussian transcendental state constitution
already made, such attempts to secure a civic form of the nation
became increasingly marginalized and radical.
As lines between state and society hardened, the French
Revolution emerged as a powerful symbolic battlefield in deter-
mining the fate of the people in post-revolutionary Japan. Transla-
tions and studies on the French Revolution proliferated in Japan
during the 1870s and early 1880s, both by those who saw the
Revolution as an essential expression of modern democracy and from
those who feared its totalitarian, populist aspects. Kawazu
Sukeyukis translation of F.M. Mignets 1824 Histoire de la
Rvolution Franaise played an important role in introducing the
French Revolution into Japanese political debate during those years.
But Kawazu also reminds us of the variety of reading strategies that
were employed in determining the signficance of the French
Revolution for Meiji Japan. Kawazu worked as a prosecutor for the
Senate and, although he was transferred to Osaka during the 1881
political crisis (he was affiliated with kuma Shigenobus Rikken
Kaishint), he was a critic of the French Revolution and not, as is
often thought, an advocate of social revolution in Japan following the

Letter of Fukuzawa to kuma Shigenobu, dated October 1, 1881; cited by E.H.
Norman, in Japans Emergence as a Modern State; reprinted in John W. Dower,ed.,
Origins of the Modern Japanese State, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1975): 288.
Yamamuro, Meiji kokka no seido to rinen, 128-9.
model of the French Revolution. In fact, Kawazu had supported
Prussian gradualism before Inoue Kowashi and others in the
government came out in favor of it. His pro-statist inclinations are
evident in that fact that by 1886 Kawazu had returned to office in the
Ministry of Justice and held a variety of governmental posts before
his death from illness in 1894.
Kawazus negative assessment of the French Revolution was
contested by Miyazaki Mury. At issue were not merely textual or
historical debates, but shifting lines within the opposition to the Meiji
government and the role of the people in that opposition. Whereas
Kawazu wrote for kumas Rikken Seit newspaper, Miyazaki
presented his work on the French Revolution in the rival Jiy
Shimbun, which was associated with Itagaki Taisuke. This
institutionized rivalry helps to understand the rift between those in
the increasingly populist and radicalized Peoples Rights
Movement who associated with the Jiy Shimbun, and Kawazu and
his more moderate colleagues in the constitutional party movement.
Miyazaki was a journalist, political novelist, and activist in the
Peoples Rights Movement who had come from Tosa (the Gironde
of Japan) to Tokyo in 1882 and immediately began publishing his
serialized translation of Alexandre Dumass Ange Pitou in the Jiy
Like many other political novels of the day, Miyazakis was as
much a rewriting as a translation: he took considerable liberties with
Dumas text, abridging, summarizing and offering commentaries
along with his translations. Here, the key point is not how accurately
he rendered Dumass novel into Japanese (or how accurately Dumas
reflected the history of the French Revolution!), but the ways in
which Miyazakis literary work engaged the broader social and
intellectual context of Japan during the early 1880s, especially with
regard to the peoples rights movement. Some of this reworking of
Dumas novel can be seen even from Miyazakis title. Whereas
Dumas called the work Ange Pitou, after the country bumpkin hero
of the novel, Miyazaki called his translation, Notes on the French
Revolution: The Battle Cry of Liberty. In so doing, Miyazaki
foregrounded one of the key concepts in the Peoples Rights
Movement, liberty (jiy). But his understanding of liberty is best
grasped through Miyazakis own explanation of why he undertook
the translation of Dumass Ange Pitou. Miyazaki wrote that Dumas
was most interested in the taking of the Bastille, a theme

Yamamuro, Mitsukuri Rinsh to Kawazu Sukeyuki, 307-312.
introduced earlier by his colleague at the Jiy Shimbun, Sakurada
Momoe (1859-1883) in his partial translation of Dumas The
Memoirs of a Physician.
Illness had forced Sakurada to withdraw,
and Miyazaki took up the task, emphasizing again their common
understanding of the storming of the Bastille as a key metaphor for
liberty from the state and its repressive acts against its political critics.
Miyazaki and Sakurada shared a common concern with liberty,
and they both expressed that liberty through the historical agency of
the people. But how they represented the people differed, and it is
on this point that Miyazaki made his most original contribution. The
problem of how the people were conceived was a central one, not
only for those in the Peoples Rights Movement, but also for those
in the Meiji government who were trying to resolve difficult
questions of sovereignty, national identity and popular enfran-
chisement. The considerable fluidity in conceptions of the Japanese
people that flowed from the abolishment of the shi-n-k-sh
structure and its replacement by a new system of commoners
(heimin) during the early 1870s was giving way by the early 1880s to
a more rigid imposition of social and political hierarchy.
the concept of the Japanese people as subjects (shimmin) along
with that of nation (kokumin) had been used as early as 1871 in the
House Registration Law (Kosekih), the first formal use of the
concept of the people as subjects was in the October 1881 Imperial
Instructions (chokuyu) on establishing the National Diet.
attempt by the Meiji state to displace earlier terms used to refer to the
people (okuch, shsh, ssei, banmin, jimmin) and to establish a
concept of the people as imperial subjects provides that backdrop to
Miyazakis interest in Dumass work on the French Revolution as
offering a more people-centered vision of nation. Miyazakis
translation of Dumass Ange Pitou was so closely related to the
Freedom [jiy; liberty] and Peoples Rights Movement that the
sentence of the defendents handed down in the Fukushima Incident
referred to a Pitou, the hero of Dumas story.

Miyazaki Mury, Furansu kakumeiki: Jiy no kachidoki, in Meiji bungaku
zensh 5: meiji seiji shsetsu sh (Chikuma Shob, 1966): 29-67. Sakuradas
translation is available in the same collection as Fukoku kakumei kigen: nishi no
umi chishio no saarashi, 11-28.
See the chart on Shimin gainen no hensan to haikei in Kobayashi Masaaki,
Nihon in Furusawa Tomokichi and Sanada Naoshi, eds., Gendai shimin shakai
zensh 1: shimin shakai no kiso genri, 93-132, at 99.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Meiji kokka no seido to rinen, 129-130.
Yanagita Izumi, Kaidai, 435-441 in Meiji bungaku zensh 5: Meiji seiji
shsetsu sh (1) (Tokyo Chikuma Shob, 1966): 437. Yanagita notes that the name
translation appeared in the Jiy Shimbun from 12 August 1882 to 8
February 1883, and therefore his interest in the post-revolutionary
national assembly in France likely took place at the same time or
shortly after this shift in Imperial discourse away from the nation
toward redefining the Japanese people as merely the subjects of the
Miyazakis innovation was genuine and powerful. While
Miyazaki, like Sakurada, often employed the more neutral jimmin
(read as tami) for people,
he went beyond this general concept of
the people to make an original and important contribution to
nationalist discourse in translating Dumas assemble nationale as
minzoku kaigi (). This is the earliest known instance of this
sense of minzoku as nation, and it deserves further analysis.
this concept of the Japanese people as a minzoku () was to play an
important role in early twentieth century political discourse,
especially by advocates of fascism, we need to know what Miyazaki
meant when he introduced this term into the post-revolutionary
movement as a translation of the elected national assembly.
Miyazakis choice of the word minzoku to translate national may
seem odd given the usual connection in Japanese discourse between
minzoku and Germanic concepts of the Volk, both of which are
usually contrasted with a French emphasis on the civic nation that is
better translated as kokumin. It is unlikely that he meant the kind of
Volkisch definition of the nation that stems from Herder and German
Romanticism and which would later be expressed through this
concept of minzoku. To understand what he meant we must be
sensitive both to the thematic issues at play in his translation of
Dumas and to the social and political climate in Japan during which
he translated Dumass work on the French Revolution.
For an understanding of the possibilities of civil society in Meiji
Japan, Miyazakis interpretation and employment of the themes he
found in Dumas are more important than how French scholars have

was mis-printed as Hit and the mystery remained unsolved until Sugiyama Kenji,
son of defendent Sugiyama Shigeyoshi, approached him and Yanagita was able to
make the connection to Pitou.
Cf. Sakurada Fukoku kakumei kigen: nishi no umi chishio no saarashi, 13, 15,
25. See especially the passage where Sakurada described the relations between the
government and the people in revolutionary France in the following terms, seifu no
yatsura ga jimmin (tami) o gyaku suru ysu o yosonagara (25).
Miyazaki Mury, Furansu kakumeiki: jiy no kachidoki, 29-67 in Meiji
bungaku zensh 5: Meiji seiji shsetsu sh 1 (Chikuma Shob, 1966): 43. Cf.
Alexandre Dumas, Ange Pitou (Paris: Calmann-Lvy, diteurs, 1860): p. 149.
subsequently read Dumass own purpose and politics in this text.
Dumass Ange Pitou is a remarkable, entertaining, and ambiguous
textit can be read as pro-monarchical, anti-monarchical, republican
or pro-revolutionary, or even as a testimony to the chaos that ensues
when a mob take politics into their own hands. What is clear from
Miyazakis own selective abridgement and summary of Dumas is
that Miyazaki chose to read this text as a powerful statement on how
the Revolution liberated the French people, a kind of heroic history
that was useful in pursing claims by the Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement for an elected assemby (minsen) against the defenders of
the Meiji emperor and the Prussian monarchical constitution. Let us
now see how these themes emerge in Miyazakis translation.
As mentioned above, Miyazakis Battle Cry of Liberty was not
only a summary that was highly selective, but it was a considerable
abridgement of Dumass Ange Pitou. Battle Cry of Liberty only
covered the first twenty one chapters of Dumass first of two
volumes, and left the second volume (a total of forty nine more
chapters) untouched. Miyazakis approach to the text reveals his
overriding interest in the political issues of national formation, and he
shows much less interest in the pathetic figure of Pitou and his
awkward atttempts at heroics and romance. Miyazaki leaves the story
off with a debate between Necker and Dr. Gilbert over the
differences between France and the United States, with Necker
insisting the peace in post-Revolutionary France would be restored
by the monarch and the aristocracy and Dr. Gilbert warning Necker
of a rising new nationalism that will overthrow the aristocracy and
their privileges.
With this general concern in mind, let us now take a close look at
the passage where Miyazaki introduces this new concept of the
nation as a minzoku:
War and peace immediate change the lay of the land, and prosperity
and decline choose their own places. Those voices that yesterday had
hailed the kings procession to Notre Dame, crying long live the king,
long live the queen, the very next day turned to advocating liberty and
rights. Seeing how the situation in the Parliament had suddenly taken
an extreme turn, the representatives of the people (jimmin) took the
majority of seats and overwhelmed those selected from the clergy and
nobility and were crushing their power. Finally, when the king heard
that they had even changed the name of the Parliament to the National
Assembly (minzoku kaigi; ), he was angry but, while regretting
this detestable natural course of events in the world, had no proper

Miyazaki Mury, Furansu kakumeiki: jiy no kachidoki, 66-67.
means of addressing it. Even so, it was not hard to see that, if left alone,
these events would soon become a matter of grave importance. At any
rate, the king decided to suspend and dissolve the assembly.
A comparison with the original French text reveals significant
changes that Miyazaki made. Most noticeable is the lack of mention
of Sieys, whose concept of the nation as a legally defined
community had framed the early Meiji approach to national identity.
In Dumas original, it is Sieys who enters the parliament, finds the
clergy and nobility absent and is told that the Third Estate alone
cannot form the States General. To which Sieys responds, all the
better, it [the Third Estate] will form the National Assembly.
the French readers of Dumas, Sieys role here is hardly incidental.
Abbe Emmanuel Joseph Sieys had in fact become known as an
important theoretician of national identity through his 1789 pamphlet
What is the Third Estate? that offered a legal definition of the
nation consistent with democratic theories of civil society and in
sharp contrast to the German romantic notion of the nation as a
cultural, organic Volk. Why did Miyazaki leave Sieys out of his
story? Perhaps he was simply unfamiliar with Sieys. But it is
equally likely that he was not interested in a legal definition of the
nation, since the failure of Mitsukuris attempts to institute a civil
code that would ensure a French legal codification of the nation that
would protect the Japanese people from the arbitrary authority of the
state. Certainly, his text underplays the role of the Third Estate in
Dumas as contesting over parliamentary power and he emphasizes
instead the clear lines of opposition between the people and the
monarch (and his representatives in the clergy and aristocracy). In
recognizing these differences, we begin to see, not how Miyazaki
mistranslated Dumas, but how he used Dumass text for local
purposes in the Japanese Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement.
Miyazakis interest in the national assembly, and his reasons for
coining this new term minzoku for the nation, must also be
understood in the context of social reforms taking place in Japan
during that time. Whereas Dumas was describing the call for an
assembly of the national people who would replace the social
hierarchy built around the First, Second and Third Estates,
Miyazakis concept of the nation as minzoku might best be seen in
opposition to the new class of Peers, or kazoku, that were being

Miyazaki Mury, Furansu kakumeiki, 42-43. Cf. Alexandre Dumas, Ange
Pitou, 148-149.
Alexandre Dumas, Ange Pitou, 149.
institutionalized in the early 1880s when he wrote Battle Cry of
Although the term kazoku had an ancient lineage itself,
after 1869 it found new service as an umbella term that encompassed
all court nobles (kuge) and former daimyo, both of whom
increasingly were concentrated in Tokyo after the Restoration.
Noticeably excluded were the samurai, who as shizoku were left
somewhere in between the new Peers (kazoku) and the new class of
commoners (heimin). Between 1873 and 1883, the very period when
Miyazaki was working on his translation of Dumas, Kido Takayoshi
and other former samurai in the higher levels of government led a
movement to include all samurai in the Peerage (kazoku), which they
largely accomplished with the 1884 Peerage Law. However, the vast
majority of samurai who made it into the Peerage were from Satsuma
and Chsh not from Hizen or Tosa, which remained a hotbed of
populist sentiment.
Miyazaki was one of those populists from Tosa
who stood little chance of becoming Peers. Given the general social
debates of the day on this newly expanded Peerage, I believe that
Miyazaki sought to frame a concept of the national people as min-
zoku () in opposition to the Peerage (ka-zoku ), and he
found this concept in Dumas Third Estate. That is, while it is safe to
say that Miyazaki did not have the German concept of Volk in mind
when he coined the term minzoku for the nation, this does not mean
that he completely avoided the same kind of romantic, totalization of
the people in his conception of the popular nation. As Hannah Arendt
has shown, the French Revolution also gave rise to a totalitarian
concept of le peuple, a new foundation for the nation that had
carried, from its beginning, the connotation of a multiheaded monster,
a mass that moves as one body and acts as though possessed by one
will. [but whose] manyness can in fact assume the guise of oneness,
that suffering indeed breeds moods and emotions and attitudes that
resemble solidarity to the point of confusion.
And just as Arendt
points out the connection between this post-Revolutionary concept of
le peuple and the social question that ensued in France, Miyazakis
concept of the Japanese people as a unitary minzoku laid the grounds

Similarly, Peter Duus argued that Tokutomo Sohs 1886 definition of Japan as
a popular society (heiminteki na shakai) was conceived in opposition to
aristocratic society (kizokuteki na shakai). See Duus, Whig History, Japanese
Style: The Minysha Historians and the Meiji Restoration, Journal of Asian
Studies vol. XXXIII, no. 3 (May 1974):420-1.
Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern
Japanese Nobility (University of California Press, 1993): 46-53.
Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (New York: The Viking Press, 1963): 89-90
for the social question (shakai mondai) of the 1890s.
But it also had
helped foreclose the possibility of modern Japanese national identity
framed around principles that might have encouraged civil society
and democracy. As Jean Bethke Elshtain has pointed out, this post-
Revolutionary French concept of the will of the people was not the
condition for democratic politics or civil society, but for the kind of
totalitarian take no prisoners politics that would characterize much
of the twentieth century.
Miyazakis concept of the nation as a
unitary minzoku performed a similar function, and it thus laid
troubling foundations for a populist democratic tradition of
oppositional politics in modern Japan.
III. Mitsukuri, Miyazaki and Japanese Nationalist Discourse
What do Mitsukuri Rinsh and Miyazaki Mury tell us about the
social and intellectual conditions of nationalism in early Meiji Japan?
First, we should not succumb to facile conclusions that either
nationalism already existed or was completely lacking at this
early period. Nor should evidence of tensions with the emerging
government be taken as signs of a healthy, civil society that would
underwrite democracy in modern Japan. Shades of democratic
politics, elements of civic nationalism, were certainly present in
Meiji Japan, as they are in relative degrees in all modern societies.
Rather, the question of civic nationalism in early Meiji Japan asks
whether there was a preponderance of the characteristics of civil
society in Japan, and whether those characteristics were strong
enough to provide the conditions for democratic politics. When
framed carefully, the question of civil society is a useful means of
assessing the possibilities of democratic values in Japan, without
reducing the question of democracy to formal political structures.
Certainly, one can find something like a public sphere in Meiji
Japan, in which public discourse over political issues took place
with some degree of freedom from state interference. Yet, while
Meiji Japanese society witnessed a good deal of public debate (kgi
yron), much of that debate was restricted to elites (mainly former

On the social question in Japan during the 1890s, see Sheldon Garon, The
State and Labor in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987):
23-29; in Japanese, Ishida Takeshi, Shakai no ishikika to shakai seisaku gakkai
in Nihon no shakai kagaku (Tokuo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1984): 45-71. I discuss the
topic in the context of nation-building below in chapter four.
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial (New York: Basic Books, 1995),
samurai) and was always under the threat of interference from the
government. The divisions that began to emerge during this initial
stage of national formation may have informed subsequent
democratic aspirations; but they may also have informed anti-
democratic forms of populism and fascism.
Mitsukuris efforts in translating and compiling a civil code to
protect the rights of individuals or even of society from the state
provide us with reasons to hesitate before applying a formalistic
approach to the problem of civil society in Meiji Japan. Moreover, as
Carol Gluck has demonstrated, Meiji public discourse interwove
positions of the officials (kan) with those of the people (min) to effect
a powerful nationalist myth in which the people and the state found
themselves distinct, yet intertangled.
And, as Yamamuro Shinichi
has noted, those with expertise in Western political and legal
knowledge were few, so even those in the political opposition were
closely tied to those in government through a fluid network of
personal ties, and they tended to move from opposition to
government position with surprising ease.
This was certainly true of
Mitsukuri, who nonetheless provided one of the strongest cases for a
legal foundation for civil society in modern Japan through his
attempts to ensure that the rights of the people (minken) would be
protected in a civil code. His failure to win approval of those rights in
a civil code equal to or independent of the Meiji Constitution
suggests the limitations of civil society as a theory for
conceptualizing the nationalism of Meiji Japan.
The question of civil society requires more than institutional or
formulistic considerations, such as whether there existed political
opposition or public debate in Meiji Japan: beyond ensuring
procedures of free speech, civil society invokes certain values and
attitudes that support democratic concepts of the national community.
Consequently, any analysis of civil society in Meiji Japan must also
be able to account for the subsequent development of the radical
nationalism or fascism of the 1930s and 40s, and for the political
values of postwar Japan as well. While it would seem inaccurate,
under these considerations, to describe the values of civil society as
dominant in Meiji Japan, it would be equally inaccurate to suggest
that Meiji Japan lacked any tradition of civil society, either due to the
power of traditional culture or to the influence of authoritarian or

Carol Gluck, Japans Modern Myths,: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), 60-67.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Mitsukuri Rinsh to Kawazu Sukeyuki, 313.
totalitarian ideologies. Mitsukuri Rinsh and Miyazaki Murys
translations from French legal and social theories testify both to their
efforts to establish civil society and democratic values in Meiji Japan,
and to the specific historical conditions that prevented the widespread
adoption of those values. As Mitsukuris efforts to codify civil rights
that might contest the state were absorbed into and made dependent
on the state, losing their potential for legally protecting the functions
of civil society, Miyazaki and others in the Freedom and Peoples
Rights Movement turned to Mitsukuris concept of peoples rights
(minken) while increasingly seeing the interests of society and those
of the state as irreconcilable.
During the 1880s, as the emerging state employed force and law
to suppress the Peoples Rights Movement, this concept of a totalized,
populist society positioned in radical opposition to the state
continued on in a variety of forms. This radicalization of the people
was encouraged when the Meiji rulers rejected the concept of a
sovereign civic nation by replacing Inoue Kowashis proposal of a
political nation (kokumin) in the August 1887 draft of the constitution
with the concept of the Japanese people as subjects (shimmin)
instead. As Yamamuro Shinichi has pointed out, this move
completed a reversal of Abbe

Sieyss argument that national
development moves from subject to a civic nation.
With the Meiji
constitution thus foreclosing any place for a sovereign nation or even
an autonomous role for society, this radicalized sense of the people
re-emerged in the debate over the social problem of the 1890s that
focussed on poverty and ultimately gave rise to class consciousness
and the birth of modern Japans socialist movement, merging later in
the twentieth century with populist nationalism in the form of a
minzokushugi that would once again contest the Meiji state for the
peoples allegiance. The legacy for Japanese nationalism of this
initial post-Restoration settlement was not, however, a stronger,
consolidation of Japanese nationalism. Rather, the lines of opposition
between various conceptions of the people and the state etched
the outlines of a nationalism that would constantly seek to reconcile
the people with a state, even while often adopting a hostile attitude
toward the existing institutions of political authority.

Yamamuro Shinichi, Meiji kokka no seido to rinen, 129.
It might seem paradoxical to include a discussion on monarchy in a
history of nationalism. Monarchy is frequently depicted as a form of
governance systematically and historically opposed to nationalism.
The French Revolution, often heralded as the origin of nationalism,
provides the prototype for this argument that nationalism, the
principle of the people as the true bearer of political sovereignty, is a
republican movement to repossess, often from a monarch, the
institutions of government of, by and for the people. The anti-
monarchical nature of nationalism is one of the very few points that
most theorists of nationalism agree on, even those who, like Anthony
Smith, assert that nationalism has pre-modern, even primordial
origins. Yet, Japanese nationalism is often characterized as intimately
connected with the tenn (the monarch, the emperor) and with
claims to the unbroken 2,600 year lineage of the emperor as
constituting the core of what supposedly makes the Japanese nation
culturally unique. Paradoxical or not, arguments about the tenn do
figure prominently in debates over Japanese nationalism.
One can point to at least two reasons for this tendency to
foreground the problem of the monarchy in Japanese nationalism. The
most influential factor is the politics surrounding the memory and
representations of Japans actions during the Second World War. In
this vein, theories of nationalism that emphasize the centrality of war
in the making of nations have lent themselves, more often implicitly
than explicitly, to shaping approaches to Japanese nationalism that
rely heavily on wartime political forms and practices, including the
prominent role of the monarch during the war. The second factor for
this emphasis on monarchical nationalism stems, ironically, from the
very weakness of true nationalism in modern Japan (cf. Chapter Two).
The post-revolutionary resolution of social and political disorder in
the late nineteenth century yielded a state that rejected republican
nationalism in favor of the monarchy as the only legitimate principle
for unifying the Japanese people. The result of this elevation of the
monarch to legal, political and cultural authority did not mean,
however, that truly nationalist aspirations were extinguished, or that
they ceased to be important factors in subsequent Japanese political
history. Rather, what resulted from the triumph of constitutional
monarchy was a continuation of a contestation over nationalist forms
and methods, a contestation that also included debates over the role
and significance of the monarchy. A complete understanding of the
role of the monarchy in modern Japanese nationalism cannot suffice
with simplistic reductions of nationalism to the emperor or to the
emperor-system, but requires a familiarity with the wide-ranging
debates over the relationship of the emperor to nationalism that still
inform nationalist ideals and practices today.
The Monarch as Liberator of the Japanese People
The monarchy became an important political factor in modern Japan
due to a growing sense throughout the nineteenth century that only
the monarch could save Japan from its host of social, economic and
political troubles. In contrast to the monarchy during the
revolutionary period in France, the monarch was not a major figure in
the political landscape, but a remote, symbolic presence that was open
to varied interpretations by men with a range of interests.
Consequently, he could be, and was, represented as the savior of the
nation, the one person who could overthrow the existing military
government and usher in a true era of harmony, peace and prosperity
throughout the land. These moral activists had as their Bibles Aizawa
Seishisais Shinron (1825) and Tekiihen (1833). Both books argued
that Japan could no longer survive by merely tinkering with
strategic reforms (although reforms were called for). Fundamentally,
a lasting solution to Japans plight would require Japan to protect its
kokutai. What was this kokutai? Various arguments were made: the
fundamental spirit which has not been corrupted by Confucianism;
that which defines the country from the beginning; the form (tai) that
pulls the country (koku) together; that which synthesizes the various
elements within the realm into a single unity. This last point is
interesting because the synthesizing function of the kokutai meant
what was most Japanese always presumed influences from outside
cultures that the kokutai would synthesize into a particularly Japanese
culture. For these monarchical (sonn) activists, only the tenn
enjoyed these synthesizing powers. Continuity in Japan was secured,
unlike in China, through the monarch. Japan, they insisted, never had
a revolutionary overthrow of the tenn. But theirs was no mere
political monarchical movement: it was deeply moral in vision, and
they imagined Japan as a place where seizen no rinri (a moral sense
of the importance of this world) required taking politics seriously.
These monarchical activists were not only promoting a particular
moral vision of politics; they were also revising history to yield the
political theory they desired. The concept of kokutai had a long
history, but it was a history that was not immediately usable for this
moral vision. As Joseph Pittau pointed out, kokutai was originally a
Chinese concept that had little to do with monarchy but merely
referred to
the organ of the state or organization of the state. In Japan this term
was used first by Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293-1354), the author of
Jinn Shtki (Record of the Legitimate Succession of Divine
Emperors). Kitabatake had as his aim giving as much support as
possible to the claims of the Southern Court. He wanted not only to
show that the Southern Courts claims on the throne were legitimate.
he [also] placed special emphasis on the idea that a very close relation
existed between the emperor and the people; this relation he called
It was this sense of kokutai that the monarchical activists emphasized
in their writings, as they turned to the past for a vision of the monarch
as united with his people, the monarch as savior of the nation.
This view of the monarchy was deeply infused with moral
dimensions. While emphasizing the monarchy as the source of
continuity in Japanese cultural and political life, and juxtaposing this
system to the foreign Chinese culture in which dynastic revolutions
were a constant feature throughout history, the Mito writers presented
a theological-political system in which loyalty to the emperor was not
merely an obligation of rulers, but also an emblem of Japanese
identity. This system of monarchical culture was also conceived in
opposition to an understanding of the legacy of fifteenth century
Kirishitan (Catholics) as merely a front (kakure mino) for European
political conquest of Japan.
With the advent of Russian and then
other Western ships on Japans coasts in the early nineteenth century,
these fears of Western cultural invasion were resurrected in the form
of anxieties about the potential collapse of the theory of saisei itchi,

Ishikawa Itsuo, Bakumatsu ishin ni okeru kokka no arikata o meguru rons,
296-312 in Imai Jun and Ozawa Tomio, eds., Nihon shis ronsshi (Tokyo:
Perikansha, 1979), 298-300.
Joseph Pittau, Political Thought in early Meiji Japan, 1868-1889 (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press,1967) 215.
Ishikawa, 301.
or the unity of the moral and the political realms in the person of the
Maruyama Masao has analyzed the historical transformation that
led to a new relationship of the tenn to nationalism in the following
During the first half of the nineteenth centurythe country was under
the dual rule of the Mikado (tenn), who was the spiritual sovereign,
and the Tycoon (Shogun), who held actual power. After the Restoration,
unity was achieved by removing all authority from the latter, and from
other representatives of feudal control, and by concentrating it in the
person of the former. In this processprestige and power were
brought together in the institution of the Emperor. And in Japan there
was no ecclesiastical force to assert the supremacy of any internal
world over this new combined, unitary power.
Maruyama provides an important synopsis of this complicated
process of positioning tenn and nation in Meiji Japan. But it is
important to recognize that the process was not as smooth or
predictable as his retrospective view might make it seem. Before the
tenn could be reconfigured as both spiritual and political sovereign,
a complicated process of negotiating political, legal, moral and
cultural implications of the new world of Meiji Japan had to take
place. In this process, a new relationship of kokutai, tenn and the
political state had to be forged.
It is important to recognize that It Hirobumi and other architects
of the Meiji state did not set out with any preconception that the
monarch would be the supreme commander and sole locus of
sovereignty in the new state. Of course, there could be no question
that, as the principle (if not principal) of the successful anti-bakufu
movement, the fifteen year old tenn would have to play an important
role in the post-Tokugawa Japanese political order. But there were
many possible roles, including a continuation of the divided system of
Mikado and Tycoon, a return to the role of the tenn under the
ancient Heian system of government, a new role as the pre-eminent
spiritual head of the Japanese, or the eventual result: a transcendent
and sovereign monarch within a constitutional order The ultimate
decision to rest sovereignty in the emperor was the result of a series
of negotiations, both internally among competing centers of power in
the emerging state and externally with forces like the Freedom and

Maruyama Masao, Theory and Psychology of Ultra- Nationalism, (1946),
translated and reprinted in Ivan Morris, ed., Maruyama Masao, Thought and
Behaviour in Modern Japanese Politics (Oxford University Press, 1963), 4.
Peoples Rights Movement that sought to wrestle legitimacy and even
authority away from the newly established political elite.
This ultimate solution to the role of the Meiji tenn was not pre-
ordained by the anti-bakufu movement or the events that surrounded
the Meiji Ishin. It was, rather, a contingent result of post Ishin
political struggles and negotiations that reflected both domestic and
global political realities. Kimura Junji has captured this dynamic well:
Certainly, the idea of respect for the monarch (sonn shis), stemming
from Hiratas school of Nativism and the Mito school, held broad
influence over the late bakufu ideological circles, but once the Ishin had
established a monarchical government, the restorationist theories
gradually ebbed in influence. The major political debates of the early
Meiji years did not focus much on the tenn. Rather, they were
primarily concerned with what the relationship of state authority
(kokken) and popular sovereignty (minken) should be under the Meiji
administration which had already placed the monarch at its head.
Thus, when they used the term kokutai they were trying to express the
form of the country, the national character.Since the Mito Studies of
the late bakufu years, the term was often used, especially by the
advocates of cultural particularism (kokusuishugi) to summon up
concretely the superiority of the Japanese as an ethnic group that had
preserved a long imperial lineage that had never suffered a dynastic
As Kimura suggests, the resolution of the monarchical question by the
Meiji elites had implications for the meaning of kokutai. After the
restoration of the monarchy, the pre-Meiji understanding of this term
needed to be revised in keeping with the needs of the new society, a
society that required a theory of national identity and unity.
Fukuzawa Yukichi was one of the earliest, and most important, of
these modernizers of the theory of kokutai. In his Outline of a Theory
of Civilization (1875), he made his new understanding of kokutai
explicit, glossing the ancient term with the English pronunciation
nationality. While Fukuzawas approach to the concept of kokutai
was not completely different from Aizawas, he emphasized its
independence from the monarch and he offered an interpretation of
the traditional concept in light of contemporary Western political
theory. For this, he was criticized by nativists who had hoped the
Ishin would bring about a spiritual and political reunification of the
nation in the person of the tenn. Yoshioka Tokumei was one such

[Kimura Junji], Kindai nihon shis kenkykai, eds., Tenn ron no keifu, in
Tenn ron o yomu, 207.
nativist critic who, in his Kaika honron (1879), ridiculed those like
Fukuzawa who would translate kokutai into Western terms instead of
recognizing kokutai as an essentially Japanese concept that referred to
Japans unique tradition of an unbroken lineage of tenn throughout
time. It was not to be translated, either linguistically or conceptually.
The nativists were not, however, in positions of power in Meiji
Japan. Those who were shaping the new state held a view of the
nation closer to Fukuzawas modernist one than to the archaicism
of the nativists.
It Hirobumi, the first Prime Minister and architect
of the Meiji Constitution, did not give the problem of kokutai a great
deal of attention. At best, he considered the kokutai to be Japans
national organization and as such something amenable to the forces
of time and change (kahen teki na mono). Like many of these
theorists of the nation, his conclusions reflected broader concerns, in
this case, with shaping a new government and new constitution for
post Ishin Japan. Kaneko Kentar rejected that sweeping
characterization of kokutai in order to make a more nuanced argument
that recognized the need for change and continuity in national
formation. He drew from Fujita Tkos Kdkan kijutsugi to argue
that only the government (seitai) was mutable, not the kokutai, which
he accepted as referring to the unbroken lineage of monarchs.
Kaneko had made an astute political compromise between the
modernizers emphasis on the need to change political forms and the
traditionalists insistence on cultural continuity. In the face of
Kanekos argument, It abandoned his earlier view, thereafter
adopting Kanekos belief that the kokutai and the form of government
(seitai) were separate and distinct. Fukuzawas effort at outlining a
republican nation through kokutai was rejected, and Kanekos binary
theory quickly became the orthodox interpretation of kokutai.
A further refinement of Kanekos theory, one that sought to
incorporate Fukuzawas ideas, was offered by It Miyoji, a member
of Hirobumis brain trust. Miyoji defined the kokutai as that which
the unbroken lineage of monarchs has governed over, and noted that
the new government called for by the monarchs sanctioned
constitution would have to fit with Japans kokutai and its popular
sentiments (minj). Here, it is clear that Miyoji did not consider the
kokutai to be identical to the emperor or even to the imperial
household or lineage. Rather, he understood it within the same

See H.D. Harootunian, The Consciousness of Archaic Form in the New Realism
of Kokugaku, chapter in Tetsuo Najita and Irwin Scheiner, eds., Japanese Thought
in the Tokugawa Period: Methods and Metaphors (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1978), 63-104.
republican framework as Fukuzawa, to refer to the immutable
characteristics of the Japanese people, the nation itself, which was not
the same as the monarchy or other forms of governmentalthough it
could co-exist with a monarchical government. Nor did Miyoji
consider the kokutai to be the same as the political sense of nation
(kokumin) that could be constructed through laws and constitutions.
As Haga Noboru has noted, for Miyoji, the kokutai was not merely a
legal concept. Miyoji went so far as to encourage Hirobumi to imitate
foreign countries for the security of the state and to adopt a
republican form of government based on contemporary German
theories. In contrast to the nativists, he did not believe that such
modern, Western governmental forms in any way compromised this
cultural foundation of the nation, the kokutai.
This view was offered
as a challenge to Iwakura Tomomi who tried to promote a policy of
uniting people and monarch (kunmin dchi) as a means of preventing
change in the kokutai. He made it clear to Miyoji that the Japanese
constitution should not be considered a national contract like the
French constitution.
As Bernard Silberman has demonstrated, the most important task
facing the revolutionary Meiji government was to stem the forces of
revolution, to consolidate authority and legitimacy in itself and to
undermine the theoretical appeals of others (especially the nativists)
who might take recourse to the same monarchist strategies that the
Restorationists had used earlier to gain power, this time to overthrow
the new government.
Given the special role of the monarchy as a
revolutionary principle in restorationist ideologies ranging from Mito
Confucianism to Shinto nativism, and expressed in calls such as
sonn ji and ikkun banmin, the monarch quickly became a testing
ground for whether the new government could construct a sense of
public that would serve the interests of political stability and the
privileged positions of those already in power. By 1881, the
governing elite recognized this task required the construction of a
formal legal structure of the state in which

Haga Noboru. Meiji kokka no keisei, 166-7.
Haga Noboru. Meiji kokka no keisei, 168.
See Bernard Silberman, The Bureaucratic State in Japan: The problem of
authority and legitimacy, chapter in Tetsuo Najita and J. Victor Koschmann, eds.,
Conflict in Modern Japan: The Neglected Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1982): pp. 226-57; also Cages of Reason : The rise of the rational state in
France, Japan, the United States and Great Britain (Chicago: The University of
Chicago Press, 1993), esp., 193-8.
the integrated nature of state and society rested on the public character
of the emperorthe axis of the nation. Beyond this, it was necessary
that the leadership establish that the public character of the bureaucracy
was not derived solely from the appeal to higher authoritythe
emperor. Rather it had to show that the bureaucracy and, therefore, its
leadership partially derived its public character from its autonomous
capacity to determine and represent the public interest.
As Silberman points out, the monarchs processions around the
country were scaled back in 1881 in order to elevate the monarch
above political partisanship, as the nation became engulfed in debates
over which constitutional model would be best for the new nation.
This scaling back of monarchical processions coincided with an
important watershed in political debates over the monarchy and the
future of the nation. Known as the 1881 Political Crisis, this struggle
pitted It Hirobumi and advocates for a sovereign monarch against
kuma Shigenobu and those who clamored for a sovereign nation
represented by political parties. kuma did not rule out a role for the
constitutional monarch, but he envisioned the Meiji monarchs role to
be similar to that of the British monarchy. The main point of his
proposal was that the essence of constitutional government is
government by political parties and that careful consideration
should be given to state clearly where power is vested and what are
the rights of the people.
This language about the rights of the
people (minken), along with Okumas priority on constitutional
parties, was regarded nonetheless as a threat by It Hirobumi and
Iwakura Tomomi to their efforts to secure a transcendental, sovereign
monarch. Okumas proposal was rejected and he left the government,
taking with him fifteen senior officials.
The immediate result of the 1881 Political Crisis was that the
government was now firmly in the hands of members of the former
domains of Satsuma and Chsh (the Sat-Ch clique), and planning
for a constitution could proceed within certain limits. The

Silberman, Cages of Reason, 193.
Silberman, Cages of Reason, 194. Michio Umegaki makes a similar point on the
basis of evidence of the constitutional composition: the writing of the Constitution
of 1889, which was to define explicitly the role of the emperor and his prerogatives,
also indicated implicitly the ways in which the emperors exposure could be
minimized. In other words, the Constitution was designed so as not to impede the
insulation of the emperor from political responsibility. After the Restoration: The
Beginning of Japans Modern State (New York and London: New York University
Press, 1988), 216-7.
Okuma Shigenobu, cited in Joseph Pittau, S.J., Political Thought in Early Meiji
Japan, 1868-1889, 85.
promulgation of the Constitution of the Great Japanese Empire on 11
February 1889 (put into effect on 29 November 1890) settled the
relationship of sovereignty, monarchy and the nation, at least in legal
terms, for the next 55 years. Deftly sidestepping the raging
controversy about whether national sovereignty lay in the people
(minken) or the state (kokken), the constitution noted that sovereignty
rested with the monarch, and expressed this concept of sovereignty in
a term that might better be rendered as the right to rule (tchiken).
The sovereignty of the monarch was legally recognized, but the
constitution excluded any consideration of a sovereign nation, either
defined as the people themselves or as a political state. The Japanese
people were rendered subjects (shimmin) of the sovereign, and the
state was merely a collection of imperially appointed ministers,
supported by a bureaucracy, whose tasks were to advise the monarch.
From the early days of the Meiji Constitution there were critics
like Minister of Education Mori Arinori who argued that since the
constitution defined the people as subjects, a term that referred
simply to their relationship to the emperor, it was not appropriate for
the constitution to also discuss their rights and duties. It would have
been enough for the constitution to simply stipulate the peoples
social standing as subjects of the emperor. Mori, in turn, was
criticized by Miyoji as suffering from anti-constitutional thinking.
A sense of who actually held power can be gleaned from the list of
those who signed the Imperial Rescript that accompanied the
promulgation of the constitution. Also issued on 11 February 1889
and formally under the emperors name, the Rescript was signed by
Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka and his cabinet. In addition to Count
Kuroda (Satsuma), these men included counts It Hirobumi (Chsh),
kuma Shigenobu (Saga), Saig Tsugumichi (Satsuma), Inoue Kaoru
(Chsh), Yamada Akiyoshi (Chsh), Matsukata Masayoshi
(Satsuma), and yama Iwao (Satsuma), along with viscounts Mori
Arinori (Satsuma) and Enomoto Takeaki (former bakufu retainer).
Two points emerge from a cursory glance at this list. First, all the
signatories were high ranking members of the new aristocracy. As
such, their social positions and political interests were wedded to the
monarchical system that the constitution enshrined. Second, all except
for kuma and Enomoto were from the two domains of Satsuma and

Dai nihon teikoku kenp, reprinted in Nihonkoku kenp (Tokyo: Kdansha,
1985), 66-77, at 66.
Haga Noboru, Meiji kokka no keisei, 170.
Chsh. The first exception, kuma, requires explanation. He was
given the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs because he had
distinguished himself earlier in handling complaints from Western
nations over the persecution of Japanese Christians. But he was also
brought into the cabinet in the hopes of silencing criticism of the
government from the peoples rights activists who looked to kuma
for leadership. It was not a completely successful scheme, as kuma
himself was the victim of a terrorist attack later that year that cost him
his leg. Enomoto held the relatively insignificant post of Minister of
Communications. The more important positions (Ministers of Army,
Navy, Finance) were all occupied by Sat-Ch men, especially the
position of President of the Privy Council, which was occupied by It
Monarchy and the Moral Nation
Given the prominence of Sat-Ch men in the government, and
especially their adoption of aristocratic titles, hopes for reconciliation
between democratic nationalism and the monarchy became even more
remote after the promulgation of the constitution. In spite of this new
political reality, or perhaps precisely because of it, a new debate over
the role and significance of the monarch broke out in Japanese
discourse. While the question of constitutional monarchy had been
debated throughout the 1880s in elite political circles (and among
some populist groups, too),
the tenor and breadth of the debate
changed in the wake of the constitution and its accompanying
imperial rescripts. Matsumoto Sannosuke recognized this significant
discursive shift when he noted that the first moment in modernity
when theories about the monarch were directly debated was after the
Support for the monarchy was increasingly framed as
supporting despotism. This angry denunciation of the monarchy
stemmed in part from the perception that the monarchy had become a
a puppet firmly in the hands of the Sat-Ch elites. Those who
denounced the constitutional monarchy as despotic were generally
responding to this perception, as is apparent in the term they used for

Irokawa Daikichi uncovered a vigorous debate over constitutional forms and the
monarchy among rural people in the Tama region during the early 1880s. See his The
Culture of the Meiji Period, (Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1985),
especially pp. 76-122.
Matsumoto Sannosuke, Meiji kokka no keisei to tennsei ks, 12-54 in
Tomisaka Kirisutoky sent, ed., Kindai tennsei no keisei to kirisutoky (Shinky
Shuppansha, 1996).
despotic government (sensei seifu), which literally meant
monopoly government. Their complaint was that this system of
monarchy deprived the monarch from his people, and left the
people outside of the government.
Yet, another criticism of the monarchy came from those who felt
that certain political elites were not merely trying to represent the
monarch as the principle of political unity but were in fact imbuing
the monarch with a new moral claim on the Japanese people. Article
28 of the constitution guaranteed Japanese subjects freedom of
religion so long as it did not betray their obligations as subjects or
disturb the peace and order. This limited right to religious freedom
under the Meiji Constitution co-existed with increasing claims that
the monarch was not merely a political sovereign but was invested
with unique moral status that no Japanese could ignore.
Two sources of this claim were the 1889 Imperial Rescript on the
Promulgation of the Constitution and the 1890 Imperial Rescript on
Education. The former stressed that the tenn was more than a mere
constitutional monarch established through modern laws and
procedures designed to address contingent political issues. Rather, the
language of the Rescript emphasized that (1) the Meiji tenns
authority was derived from his ancestral lineage (chin ga sosh ni
ukuru no taiken ni yori), (2) this ancestral lineage was sacred
(shinsei naru), and (3) the Japanese subjects were descendents of
good and loyal subjects of this lineage.
The moral tone of this
Rescript implied that disloyalty to the emperor was a betrayal of all
ones ancestors and an immoral act as well.
Even more influential on debates over nationalism and the
monarchy than the Rescript that accompanied the constitution was the
Imperial Rescript on Education, which became the source of efforts to
establish the tenn as the moral head of the Japanese nation. The
Rescript itself was not explicitly religious in nature, although it
expressed a heavily Confucian sense of social relations and tried to
apply those ethical principles to the relationship between the monarch
and his subjects. Maruyama Masao, reflecting on the significance of
the Rescript after the calamity of World War II, offered what has

Kenp happu chokugo, reprinted in Nihonkoku kenp, 62-3. It should be noted
that the Buddhist religious flavor of this passage (eg., the tenn as a merciful,
benevolent savior of his people) is also intimated through the use of specific language.
For example, the characters for taiken (authority, sovereigntythe Meiji alternative
to kokken or minken, the sovereignty of the state or people, respectively), can also be
read daigon, a term of respect for the Buddha who takes on various forms to save
become a classic statement on the significance of the Rescript in
Japanese nationalist ideology:
The Japanese State never came to the point of drawing a distinction
between the external and internal spheres and of recognizing that its
authority was valid only for the former. In this respect it is noteworthy
that the Imperial Rescript on Education should have been proclaimed
just before the summoning of the First Imperial Diet. This was an open
declaration of the fact that the Japanese State, being a moral entity,
monopolized the right to determine values. . . .
It is hardly surprising that the clash between Christianity and the
policy of national education . . . should have taken the form of a heated
controversy about this Imperial Rescript. Significantly it was at about
this period that the word tatisme came into frequent use.
Maruyamas revelation that the debate over education and religion
gave rise to the beginnings of a discourse on statism (kokkashugi) is
an important one. It suggests that statism as an element in modern
Japanese nationalism was not part of the early Meiji political agenda,
but rather developed in light of the cultural changes (eg.,the
Enlightenment, religious and academic pluralism, etc.) ushered in
after the Restoration. In light of the protests raised particularly by
Japanese Christian intellectuals (who were a more serious challenge
to this moral nationalism than the foreign Christian missionaries),
statism appeared as a useful ideology for containing morals and
politics within one and the same framework. And to these statists, the
Imperial Rescript on Education was the fundamental text used to
support their view that modern Japanese political loyalties and
religious faith had to be conjoined around the monarch.
The Imperial Rescript on Education is short enough, and the
debates over what it said about the relationship of the monarch and
the nation are important enough, to justify reproducing it here in its
Know ye, Our subjects:
Our Royal Ancestors have founded Our country 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 Our
nationality [waga kokutai no seika], and herein also is to be found the
source of Our education. Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents,
affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be
harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and
moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and

Maruyama Masao, Theory and Psychology of Ultra- Nationalism, (1946), 5.
cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect
moral powers; furthermore, advance public good and promote common
interests; always respect the Constitution and follow the laws of the
country; should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously in
service to the public; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of the
Throne coeval with heaven and earth. So shall ye not only be Our good
and faithful servants, but render illustrious the best traditions of your
The Way here set forth is indeed the teaching bequeathed by Our
Royal Ancestors, to be observed alike by Their Descendants and the
subjects, infallible for all ages and true in all places. It is Our wish to
lay it to heart in all reverence, in common with you, Our subjects, that
we may all attain to the same virtue. (30 October 1890)
The Rescript did not define the Emperor as the kokutai, but only
noted that the glory of our kokutai was to be found in the unity in
filial piety and loyalty of the Japanese people, or subjects. The
Rescript thus appealed to a sense of nationalism, a unity of the
Japanese people, but it defined this nationalism in heavily Confucian
terms, and it distinguished the tenn from the claims of nationalism,
placing him squarely at the head of these familial relations of
Confucian filial piety. There was no mention of the state (kokka) or
statism (kokkashugi), although the Rescript did refer to the
country (kuni), its laws and constitution.
In light of later allegations about the function of the Rescript in
propping up State Shintoism and in marginalizing any moral system
independent of the state, it is ironic that the first draft of the Rescript
was composed by a Christian, Nakamura Masanao. This is the same
Nakamura who, shortly after his conversion, had argued that
Christianity should be the national religion of Japan and that, to
accomplish this goal, the emperor himself should convert to
What makes the historical fact of Nakamuras
authorship of the Rescript important is that the Rescript soon became
the center of a vigorous debate between traditional moralists, who
supported the Rescript, and Christians who criticized it as radical
revision of the role of the emperor that threatened the freedom of
religion guaranteed under the Meiji Constitution. The story of how
this Rescript went from Christian authorship to an object of Christian

My translation is based on The Imperial Rescript on Education, in Sources of
Japanese Tradition, volume II: 139-40, in consultation with the original, as reprinted
in Sakamoto Takao, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 372.
Irwin Scheiner, Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan, reprint
Michigan Classics in Japanese Studies, (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies,
University of Michigan, 2002), 61.
critique is an intriguing and important one for understanding the
subsequent efforts to present the monarch as a religious figurehead
for the nation, even a god incarnate (arahitogami).
To understand the debate over the monarchy that revolved around
the Rescript on Education, one must begin with earlier efforts by
Motoda Nagazane (Eifu) in the late 1870s to propagate a concept of
the tenn as a Confucian patriarch. During the framing of the Meiji
Constitution, Motodas concept of the monarch as moral figurehead
was rejected by It and Inoue Kowashi whose modernist sense
discounted the importance of religion, seeking instead to convert the
tenn into a constitutional monarch who would serve as the political
lynchpin of the new centralized state. After the constitution was
promulgated, Motoda and his followers found a new opportunity to
realize their goals: this time through the back door, by calling for a
national religion (kokky) as a means of exhorting the nations loyalty
to the monarch. This Confucianist strategy was distinct from, and in
competition with, efforts of bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education
who were trying to construct a policy of moral suasion of the nation
(kokumin kyka) by systematizing native Shinto beliefs into a religion.
As Sakamoto Takaos nuanced commentary reveals, Motoda himself
was relatively cool to these Shintoist efforts, as his Confucianist
national religion was founded on the tenn as a virtuous monarch
who manifested standards of moral behavior, not on the claims of
ethnic tribalism.
But what re-animated their mission of establishing a moral
monarch was the revision of Nakamuras draft by Inoue. Nakamura
believed that Christianity was a logical extension of Confucian ethics,
and he had mixed the two systems in his draft. Inoue deleted
Nakamuras argument that loyalty and filial piety derived from a
religious attitude of respect for the teachings of the Lord of Heaven
[tenshu, i.e, the Judeo-Christian God].
When Inoue removed this
Christian reference from Nakamuras draft, he opened the door to
Motoda and the Confucian interpretation of the tenn as a source of
(Confucian) virtue and ethics for the nation. Motoda and Inoue in fact
exchanged drafts of the Rescript several times before settling on the
final version, a compromise between Inoues preference for a secular
sense of national ethics open to all religious traditions, and Motodas

Sakamoto Takao, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 368.
Nakamura, quoted in Joseph Pittau, S.J., Inoue Kowashi, 1843-1895, and the
Formation of Modern Japan, Monumenta Nipponica, vol. XX, nos. 3-4, p. 274; cited
in Scheiner, p. 186.
Confucianist sense of a deep connection between national ethics and
imperial virtue.
Only a few months after its promulgation, the Imperial Rescript on
Education became the center of a prominent debate known as the
clash between education and religion. The controversy began in
January 1891, when Uchimura Kanz, a teacher at the Imperial First
Higher School and a Christian, refused to show reverence to an
Imperial portrait that was sent to the school with the Rescript.
Uchimura, it is important to note, did not object to any of the
substance of the Rescript or to the emperor, but simply refused to
engage in what he considered idolatry by worshipping images.
refusal to show respect for the imperial portrait caused a ruckus
within the school. Yet, as it became more widely known that
Uchimura was a Christian, the debate became public and the
newspapers reported on the incident of fukei (lse majest; treason;
blasphemy). Writers referred to Uchimura as blasphemous, an
outrageous teacher, a rude lout, a disloyal subject, a disloyal
lout enslaved to foreign teachings and more. Incidents of persecution
of Christians as disloyal Japanese spread around the country, as
discussion of Christianity in public schools was prohibited.
Protestants, led by Oshikawa Masayoshi (1849-1928), Uemura
Masahisa (1858-1925), and Iwamoto Yoshiharu (1863-1942), came to
Uchimuras defense and published a joint declaration of support in
the Yomiuri and other newspapers. They argued that to call the
emperor a god (kami) and to force Japanese to worship him would
violate Article 28 of the Meiji Constitution, which guaranteed
freedom of religion, and they declared their willingness to fight to
the death, if necessary, to contest such interpretations.
Motoda died in 1891, so the Confucianist case was taken up by the
philosopher Inoue Tetsujir, who already had earned a reputation as a
powerful opponent of Christianity. Against those who celebrated the
freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 28 of the Constitution,
Inoue emphasized that the constitution allowed such freedom only to
the extent that [it] did not disturb the peace and order of the realm or

For the details concerning the negotiations between Inoue, Motoda and
Nakamura over the drafts of the Imperial Rescript on Education, see Sakamoto, 370-4.
Sakamoto, 374.
Gonoi Takashi, Nihon kirisutoky-shi (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan, 1990),
Aete yo no shikisha ni kokuhaku su, cited in Unuma Hiroko, Dai yonsetsu:
kokumin dtokuron o meguru rons, 356-79 in Imai Jun and Ozawa Tomio, eds.,
Nihon shis rons shi (Tokyo: Perikansha, 1979), at 358-9.
undermine [ones] duties as an imperial subject.
In November 1892,
he published Mr. Inoue Tetsujirs Remarks on the Relationship
Between Religion and Education (later re-titled, The Clash
Between Education and Religion). As Oguma Eiji has noted, Inoue
contrasted the Imperial Rescript on Education that put into writing
Japans unique morals with Christians who make no distinctions of
race or state, taking all people to be children of God. Inoue then
asserted that Christianity was harmful to the state, because it was
incompatible with the spirit of the Imperial Rescript.
He tried to
leverage the Uchimura lse majest incident through his own narrow
interpretation of the Imperial Rescript on Education in order to
eradicate, or at least de-legitimate, Christianity as a religious option
for modern Japanese. Christianity itself, Inoue concluded, was
incompatible with the duties of a loyal subject of the Emperor.
Christians did not remain silent in the face of this attack on their
patriotism. Christian dissent from Inoues position was prominent
over the next decade, and some, especially Protestants, simply
rejected the Imperial Rescript, and on occasion even the monarchy
itself, as incompatible with their faith.
But a more moderate position
was expressed by two Catholic priests who did not accept the
argument (shared, ironically, by Inoue and some of his later
Protestant critics) that Christianity was incompatible with the
Imperial Rescript or with the monarchy itself. This Catholic position
must not be overlooked in assessing the significance of the clash
between religion and education or the more general question of
whether one could be a loyal subject of the monarch and a Christian.
Shortly after Inoues article appeared, Franois A.D. Linguel (a
French Catholic priest) and Maeda Chta (the first Japanese ordained
a priest in the Tokyo diocese) co-wrote Religion and the State (1893),
which presented a refutation of Inoues thesis from a Catholic
Maeda and Linguel challenged Inoues argument that
there was a clash between religion and education through a close

Nihonkoku kenp, 69.
Oguma Eiji, Tanitsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, (Tokyo: Shiny, 1995), 56. I
have translated this section myself, since David Askews translation (A Genealogy
of Japanese Self-Images, Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2002), is not accurate
here. For instance, he renders the reference to distinctions of jinshu (race) and kokka
(state) in this passage as a distinction between nations and states, (Genealogy, 38).
Kashiwagi Gien (1860-1938), a follower of Niijima Js brand of Protestant
Christianity, was an implacable foe of the emperor system and all wars who was
attracted to socialism. See Katano Masako, Kofun no hito Kashiwagi Gien: tenn-sei
to kirisuto-ky (Tokyo: Shinky Shuppansha, 1993).
Gonoi Takashi, Nihon kirisutoky shi, 282.
reading of Inoues text that parsed it into fifty-one specific points,
addressing each in detail. Throughout, they insisted that support for
the state, the monarch and the Imperial Rescript was in no way
incompatible with Catholicism. In response to Inoues argument that
Uchimuras actions revealed how Christians could never be loyal
subjects of the emperor since they were subjects only of Jesus, Maeda
and Linguel cited in Latin Jesuss own command: Reddite qu sunt
Csaris, Csari; et qu sunt Dei, Deo (render to Caesar that which is
Caesars, but render to God that which is Gods.)
Against Inoues
allegation that Christians like Uchimura showed disrespect for the
Emperor, Maeda and Linguel countered that disrespect (fukei) was
contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. As evidence, they
offered Matthew 18:10 (See that you despise not one of these little
ones) and noted that even the Protestant Guizot had recognized
that the Catholic Church was the greatest school of respect in the
world (LEglise Catholique est la plus grande cole de respect quil
y ait au monde). For a Church that taught respect for even little
children, Maeda and Linguel concluded, respect and honor for His
Majesty, the head of state, was beyond question.
Maeda and Linguels critique exposed the fact that Inoue was
seeking to change the significance of the monarch from what the
framers of the constitution had intended, and that his interpretation of
the Rescript was, at best, a novel or idiosyncratic one. Although
presented as a Catholic position, theirs was neither a parochial nor a
foreign one (Linguels co-authorship clearly served to add the
authority of the West to the argument; Maedas revealed that these
views were shared by loyal Japanese: hence, both Linguel and
Maedas authorship had important and complementary roles in
establishing the legitimacy of this challenge to Inoues religious
bigotry). Their Catholic defense against Inoues attack on Christians
as disloyal subjects of the monarch was completely consistent with
the original interpretation of the monarch put forth by It Hirobumi

Maeda Chta and Franois A.D. Lignuel, Shky to kokka (Tokyo: Maeda
Chta, 1893), reprinted in Suzuki Norihisa, ed., Kindai nihon kirisutoky meicho
sensh, dai IV-ki kirisutoky to shakai, kokka hen (Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Sent, 2004),
1-217, at 43, 74-75. While the work was self-published by Maeda, it was distributed
by prominent Tokyo bookstores (Maruzen, Meihd, Hakubunsha and Fukysha)
until it was censored by the government. Thus, the text should not be seen as highly
influential in Meiji public debates over morality and the monarch. But it is very
valuable for demonstrating the range of views among Christians on the monarchy and
morality in the early 1890s.
Maeda and Lignuel, 43-44.
that the tenn was merely a constitutional monarch and that civic
loyalty to him did not conflict with the constitutional right enjoyed by
his subjects to practice the faith of their choosing. Their carefully
constructed counter-arguments revealed that it was not Christians
who were in violation of Japans modern political tradition, but Inoue
himself. Inoue, they revealed, was trying to change the significance
of the tenn from being simply the constitutional head of state to
being the head of a national religion, an incarnate god (arahitogami)
for the Japanese people.
Although Maeda and Linguel argued strenuously against Inoue,
and with reason, ironically, they had more in common with Inoue
than they did with It Hirobumi and his vision of a secular,
monarchical state. Inoue and the Catholic priests shared a belief that
no state could survive without a foundation in morality. Maeda and
Linguel did not object to Inoues concept of a religiously founded
state (recall that it was a Christian, Nakamura Masanao, who had
initially drafted the Imperial Rescript on Education). Their objection
was that Inoue sought to establish his religious state on a false god,
the human emperor, rather than on the one true God. Maeda and
Linguel asserted that no educated person of the day really believed
that Amateratsu kami was truly a supreme god, and they even
questioned whether Inoue himself believed that the monarch was such
a supreme god.
As had Nakamura, they welcomed the idea of a
modern Japan founded on Christianity, but of course they did not
seriously attempt to establish Japan as a Christian state. Rather, their
point was that morality was intrinsically connected to the political and
social well-being of a nation, and they did not reject monarchy as a
system of governance that could, potentially, lead to such an ethically
formed national people. But in their arguments, the monarch and the
nation were distinctive elements, and ultimately morality was
revealed through the actions of the people who constituted the nation
rather than being something that was vested solely in the person of
the monarch.
The Catholic political theory sketched by Maeda and Linguel had
considerable potential for establishing a working compromise
between the constitutional monarchy and rising concerns about the
moral characteristics of the new nation. That potential, however, was
compromised when the government prohibited the publication of
Religion and the State almost immediately after its release. The

Maeda and Lignuel, 39-40.
precise reasons for this measure are not clear, but timing suggests it
was a victim of a reaction against increasing challenges from
intellectuals to Shintos religious stature.
Just a year earlier, in 1892, Professor Kume Kunitake had been
removed from his chair in history at the Imperial University of Tokyo
for writing in the Shigakkai zasshi, the historical journal of record,
that Shinto is merely old customs for worshipping the sky. Kumes
denial that Shinto was a religion rankled the emerging religious
nationalists, but his rational positivism was actually quite close to the
pragmatic utilitarianism of the framers of the Meiji Constitution. The
fact that Kume was now in trouble for expressing this secularist
sentiment reveals how much things had changed for Japanese
nationalism from the time of the Restoration to the post-
Constitutional years. Yet, in spite of these efforts to question the
patriotism of Christian Japanese, most Christians, Protestant and
Catholic, supported the Sino-Japanese war in 1894 as a good
opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty to the emperor.
That support began to wither immediately after the war. The
decade of the 1890s was an important watershed for Japanese
nationalism, as it marked the rise of a new, populist nationalism that
brandished concepts of the people (kokumin, minzoku) against the
government and even against the monarch. I treat this populist
nationalism in more depth elsewhere in this volume. Here it will
suffice to note its connection with Christianity and its emergence
from the debates over morality, the monarch and the nation.
Tokutomi Soh is one important link. In 1876, he had joined the
Kumamoto Band of Christians, associated with Niijima J, and
evidenced both socialist and nationalist tendencies in his thinking. His
journal Friend of the Nation, founded in 1887, was one of the main
mouthpieces for this populist nationalism. Tokutomi, however, did
not move against the state or the monarch, and his nationalism
became prominent particularly after the Russo-Japanese war (which
he, unlike most Christians, did support). Others of this Kumamoto
Band moved more decisively toward populist nationalism as a force
against the monarchy. For example, Kashiwagi Gien (1860-1930)
rejected Inoues argument that Christians could not be loyal subjects,
but he mixed socialism, pacifism, and anti-monarchial sentiments,
ultimately offering in the early Taisho period a contrast between the

Gonoi, 286.
Christian vision of man as the end with the ideology of man as the
means which he associated with the emperor system (tenn-sei).
The introduction of Liberal Theology, especially by Unitarian
and Universalists shifted Christian thought even further from
institutions, authority and in some cases, even away from support for
the monarch. The influence of Liberal Theology over Japanese
Christians was not long lasting, but its political and social impact was
considerable. Its anti-institutional influence can be seen in the Society
for the Study of Socialism, founded in 1898 almost entirely by
Christians (the lone exception was Ktoku Shsui). Ktoku is an
important link between the late nineteenth century clash between
education and religion, led by Christians, and more radical forms of
anti-monarchical nationalism that began to emerge in the early
twentieth century. Although many Christians continued to assert the
compatibility of their faith with patriotism, some Protestants had
began to withdraw their support for the imperial government around
the time of the Russo-Japanese War. Most would not go as far as
anarchists like Ktoku did, advocating an overthrow of the monarchy
itself. However, the tensions that had emerged by the end of the
century between a constitutional monarchy (which most Christians
had initially welcomed) and a new moral, even religious,
interpretation of the tenn revealed that the modern Japanese
monarchy had not resolved the problem of national legitimacy so
much as it had drawn important lines around the debate over national
The Monarch as Emperor (Ktei)
After the Russo-Japanese war, and particularly after the 1905 Hibiya
Riots that followed the announcement of the disappointing terms of
the Treaty of Portsmouth, the fissures in Japanese nationalism that
had been growing wider during the 1890s became deep and
sometimes violent. Emerging populist critiques of the state as
oppressing the Japanese people spilled over into critiques of
imperialism and consequently of the emperor himself. As a world
power, Japan was now very much a player in the region, and its
actions were increasingly criticized as imperialist both at home and
abroad. Anti-imperialist movements were strongest, of course, in
China and Korea (which had fallen under Japanese dominance after

Katano, Kofun no hito Kashiwagi, 2.
the war and would be annexed into the empire in 1910). But domestic
critiques of imperialism were also gaining strength, and they raised
arguments not only about territorial expansion in Asia, but also about
the suppression of democracy at home. In this context, an empire
(teikoku) required an emperor (ktei), so the monarch was
represented as an emperor both by imperialists and later by those who
advocated an imperial nationalism led by His Majesty. Throughout
these debates and the turbulent years of war that followed, the Meiji
Constitution, which was designed originally not for expansive
imperialism but for centralized monarchical government, remained in
force. Yet, as with the Imperial Rescript, what mattered more than the
constitution itself was the political debate over the meaning of the text.
And the battle over the meaning of the monarchy was assuredly the
most important of legal and constitutional debates.
The century opened with grave concerns about the violent forms
political criticism was taking. In 1906, Ktoku announced his turn
toward radicalism, outlining a new emphasis on direct action
against the state. Many within the Socialist Party left the
parliamentary wing of the Party headed by the moderate Christian
socialist Katayama Sen, seduced by Ktokus call for direct action
through strikes, marches, and violent confrontation with the
authorities. Having radicalized the socialist movement, Ktoku led
many of his colleagues through the streets of Tokyo in 1908, calling
for an overthrow of the capitalist government and engaging the police
in street brawls. He was arrested in 1910 as the ringleader of a group
of anarchists who had plotted to assassinate the emperor (the High
Treason Incident) and was executed, along with eleven others, in
By then, socialism already had emerged as a powerful ideological
and political force that adopted the most extreme position against the
emperor and imperialism. Yet, not all socialists accepted Ktokus
radicalism, nor did all socialist ideas lead to leftist politics. In 1906,
the same year that Ktoku was announcing his radical approach, Kita
Ikki published his influential book, A Theory of Nationality and Pure
Socialism. In it, he outlined an argument that would shake up the
socialist world. Rather than seeing the state as the tool of the capitalist
class, as Ktoku did, Kita argued that the state was really society
itself, and thus the Diet is merely the representation of the people.
Consequently, he proposed that the monarch was actually subordinate
to the people who are represented in the citizen state (kmin kokka):
The emperor of Japan is an organ who began and continues to exist for
purposes of the survival and evolution of the state.It is clear that
when the emperor acts as chief administrative official or commands the
army and navy, he does so as an organ.
As George Wilson notes, this argument seems to resemble the organ
theory developed later by Minobe Tatsukichi, except that Kita does
not accept the idea that the emperor is the highest organ of the state;
rather, in Kitas mind, the emperor is merely one part of the state
along with the more important part, the people.
In essence, Kita
was trying to do for socialism what the Christian intellectuals earlier
had tried to do for their faith: show that it was not incompatible with
either the kokutai or monarchical government.
If the issues that had informed the Meiji debates over the monarch
were those of legitimation, centralization, implementation and loyalty,
the issues that shaped debates over the monarchy in the Taisho period
added to this mixture concerns with succession and institutional
stability. By succession I do not mean the more limited question of
who the next monarch would be, after the passing of Emperor Meiji.
There was no question that his son, Yoshimutsu, would succeed to the
throne. A deeper concern was over systematic change and continuity:
whether the institutional solutions to the political problems of the
mid-nineteenth century would be able to withstand the challenges of a
mature powerful state, and if not, to what degree revisions would be
needed or permitted. This new debate over the emperor did not take
place in a vacuum. As the new century unfolded, few of the original
men who guided the formation of the Meiji imperial state were still
alive. A broader sense of ending and a more focused political crisis
followed in the wake of the Emperor Meijis death in 1912. The
sense of ending encapsulated broadly felt misgivings about whether
the new generation of Japanese was prepared to make the sacrifices
necessary to ensure Japans security and prosperity into the future.
These anxieties seemed justified by the political crisis that took
shape in the form of the protect the constitution movement (goken
und) of late 1912-early 1913. The movement began when, after the
fall of the second Saionji cabinet, a conference on protecting the
constitution was held by journalists and party politicians such as
Ozaki Yukio of the Seiykai and Inukai Tsuyoshi of the National
Party (Kokumint). Ignoring the conference, the genr simply
appointed Home Minister Katsura Tar the next prime minister, as

Kita Ikki (Terujir), Kokutairon oyobi junsui shakaishugi, Kita Ikki chosakush,
I: 425, 231; translated and cited by George M. Wilson, Radical Nationalist in Japan,
Kita Ikki, 1883-1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), 28.
Wilson, 28-31.
recommended by the leaders of the Sat-Ch coalition. In response,
tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the Imperial Diet on 10
February 1913, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Katsura.
He and his cabinet resigned the following day. To historians who see
the Taisho period as one of Taisho democracy, this movement to
protect the constitution is a key moment in Japans experiment with
indigenous democracy.
Yet, there was both more and less than democracy on display in
this moment. At one level, this pro-constitution movement was
merely a return to the political struggle between the government and
those anti-government groups that had earlier identified with the
Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement. It was, in a sense, power
politics between opposing factions of modern Japans elite. At the
same time, it expressed a new force in this political struggle: the role
of the people that saw itself as the legitimate source of sovereignty
in Japan, as in any modern nation. This appeal to the people was
most striking in the mob that surrounded the Imperial Diet, but it also
was captured in the convening of a conference to protect the
constitution, and in the very name of Inukais political party, the
National (i.e, the people) Party. At the same time, the claims made
on behalf of the people inevitably brought the question of the
monarchy to the fore, since after all it was the monarch who had
bestowed upon the people this very constitution that they were now
claiming only to protect.
Advocates of protecting the constitution found a surprising
opponent in the ghost of Fukuzawa Yukichi. Fukuzawa had died in
1901, but his ideas were resurrected against the populists in the
constitutional movement by the government, through the re-printing
of his On the Imperial Household (1882-1911, 1931). Ironically,
Fukuzawa has long been viewed sympathetically by those critical of
the government (in spite of his siding with the government after 1881),
for he had taught, famously, that a good scholar should remain
outside of government service. Fukuzawas independent spirit has
appealed greatly to journalists, intellectuals, and others critical of the
state. But in fact, he shared much with Inoue Tetsujir, including his
hatred of Christianity and his support for the government, especially
after 1881.
As early as 1875, when Christianity was still quite weak in Japan,
Fukuzawa wrote the following:
In essence the Christian religion takes eternity as its end, an eternity of
everlasting bliss and comfort or of everlasting suffering and affliction.
It fears punishment in the next world more than in this, considers future
Judgment more important than judgement [sic] in the presentif the
world is one family and all men on the face of the earth are like
brothers, then love should be meted out equally to all mento divide
the globe into sectionsand worst of all, to take up weapons and
murder ones brothers within other boundaries, to take their land from
them, and to contend with them for business profitthis cannot by any
means be the aim of religion. In view of these abuses it seems that we
should set aside for a while consideration of eternal punishment in the
afterlife and say that punishment in the present life is still inadequate.
And the offenders [deserving of punishment] are the Christians.
Fukuzawas antipathy to Christianity was not merely abstract. He
became involved in the Catholic Funeral Affair, in which a
Japanese Catholic had his deceased wife buried in the local Buddhist
cemetery after holding a Mass of Christian burial for her. When the
Buddhist priests protested and sued in court to have her remains
removed from the cemetery, Fukuzawa filed a brief in support of the
Buddhists, sought to pressure the judges through his influential
political friends, and mobilized his students in the anti-Christian
As Yonehara Ken has demonstrated, Fukuzawas
antipathy to Christianity influenced his theory of the monarch
beginning around the early 1880s, as he was moving toward a theory
of Japanese nationality that emphasized the centrality of the Imperial
House. In this sense, Yonehara may be quite justified in noting that
Fukuzawa had begun to reconsider his earlier arguments against
ethnicity as an empty fiction intoxicated with vainglory.
later Fukuzawa appears to have been a rare example of an implicit
ethnic nationalist who, while refraining from explicitly invoking the
concept of minzoku (ethnic nationality) in favor of the concept of a
politically constituted nation (kokumin), nonetheless believed that a
good Japanese could not embrace the Christian faith.
As we have seen, in his earlier days, Fukuzawa had experimented
with a liberal or republican theory of nationalism, in which the
difference between kokutai (nationality) and the monarchy was
emphasized in order to stress the role of the people in forming a
strong national unity. He had stressed the distinction between
nationality (kokutai), legitimation (seit), and the blood lineage of the
monarchy. Why, he asked, was Japan able to change its political

Fukuzawa Yukichi, An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, trans. by David A.
Dilworth and G. Cameron Hurst, (Tokyo: Sophia University Press, 1973), 177.
Yonehara Ken, Kindai nihon no aidenteitei to seiji (Tokyo: Mineruva Shob,
2002), 53-4, n. 13.
Yonehara, 18.
forms over the centuries without loss of its nationality and hence
sovereignty? Because, he answered, Japan was governed by
Japanese sharing a common heritage of language and customs.
this point in his thinking, Fukuzawa believed that a shared sense of
history was more important than ethnicity or blood in the
determination of a peoples nationality.
Most importantly, Fukuzawa did not appeal to some putative
transcendental value of the imperial household itself. He argued that
the kokutai and the monarchical lineage were not synonymous, and he
emphasized the theoretical possibility that kokutai could change, as it
had in many European countries. Nor was a single kokutai a condition
for a necessarily united nation-state, and as an example he pointed out
that the various German states are virtually independent, but because
their language and literature are the same and they share a common
legacy of the past the Germans have till this day preserved a German
nationality which distinguishes them from other people.
Rather, he
argued that what value the imperial household had was due to its
value as a source of national unity. He was most impressed with how
this unity was displayed after the Satsuma Rebellion when samurai
who had served in the war returned home with no material reward for
their service but a word of thanks from His Majesty.
The key argument Fukuzawa presents about the institution of the
monarchy (the imperial household) is that it must always remain
outside of politics (teishitsu wa seijisha-gai no mono nari).
Here, we
can glimpse the significance of this argument for party politicians and
others in the protect the constitution movement, as well as for those
who would follow Kita Ikkis radical call for a closer embrace
between the nation and the monarch (kokumin no tenn). Yet, we
must also keep in mind the historical context that surrounded the
composition of Fukuzawas theory on the imperial household. It was

Fukuzawa, An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, 26.
Fukuzawa, An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, 23-24. The citation is from
Dilworth and Hursts translation, except I have substituted Fukuzawas own
rendering of kokutai as nationality for Dilworth and Hursts national polity. See
Fukuzawa Yukichi, Bummeiron no gairyaku (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1931), 37.
Kimura Junji, Teishitsuron: Fukuzawa Yukichi, in Tennron o yomu, 15.
Fukuzawa Yukichi, Teishitsuron (1882-1911, 1931), reprinted in Sakamoto
Takao, ed., Fukuzawa Yukichi chosakush (Tokyo: Kei Gijiku Daigaku Shuppankai,
2002), 9:163-217, at 171. In 1937 the Ministry of Education declared Fukuzawas
Teishitsuron as inappropriate for use in university, so the university he founded,
Keio University, excised it from the reprinted edition of Fukuzawas Selected
Writings. It was returned to the collection published by Kei University only in the
2002 edition cited above.
written the year following, and in relation to, the 1881 political crisis
that pitted the peoples rights parties against the parties that stood for
the power of the officials. Fukuzawa was deeply concerned that the
nation might devolve into civil war and, failing to maintain unity, fall
victim to the colonizing ambitions of the Western Powers. Thus, his
solution, which Sakamoto Takao notes foreshadowed the postwar
symbolic emperor, was to elevate the emperor above politics, to
present the emperor in English monarchical theory as one who
reigns but does not rule.
Fukuzawas view of the emperor went a bit beyond this passive
formulation, however, as he saw the role of the emperor as not merely
a passive symbol of national unity, but as the active unifying force of
the nation in spiritual terms. This was, in a sense, a reversal of Kita
Ikkis concept of the monarch as belonging to the nation. The
emperor was to remain above politics, but should devote himself
centrally to the task of winning over the Japanese peoples spirit.
In so doing, Fukuzawa made the monarch the lynchpin of ethnic
nationalism by transforming the monarch from a constitutional
monarchy designed for political unity to a cultural figurehead who
embodied Shintoist beliefs as the core of a native Japanese spiritual
This spiritual task was left rather ambiguous: it might
entail cultural activities such as the collection of traditional arts and
crafts as much as conferring honors on individuals and establishing
schools and encouraging the people to study. But the role of the
emperor was to unify the nation and the state, to heal the rift between
those who extolled the rights of the people (or civil rights) and those
who placed a primacy on the authority of the government. The
ambiguity in Fukuzawas approach to the Imperial Household was
key to its broad appeal. His argument encapsulated the two main
directions in which emperor-theory would subsequently develop:
toward a political approach that elevated the emperor beyond civilian
control, and toward a spiritual approach that, while also elevating the
emperor beyond the state, did so only to emphasize the emperors
centrality to cultural nationalism.

Cf. Teishitsu wa banki o suburu mono de ari, ataru mono dewa nai.
Fukuzawa, Teishitsuron, 171 also cited in Kimura, Tennron o yomu, 12. Sakamoto
Takao calls this view of the Emperor a precursor to the postwar constitutional
emperor as a symbol of the nation. See Sakamoto, Kaisetsu, Fukuzawa Yukichi
chosakush, 9: 309.
Fukuzawa, Teishitsuron, cited in Kimura Junji, Teishitsuron: Fukuzawa
Yukichi, in Tennron o yomu, 13.
Yonehara Ken, Kindai nihon no aidenteitei to seiji, 17-24.
Fukuzawas theory of the imperial household gained support from
Kat Hiroyuki who, like Fukuzawa, had come to detest both
Christianity and the power of the people during the Freedom and
Peoples Rights Movement of the early 1880s. He outlined the two
major positions held by scholars of constitutional law on the
monarchy and provided his own, separate view. The first was the
Monarchical Organ Theory (kunshu kikan setsu) that held that the
monarch was an organ of the state and that sovereignty rested in the
state, not the monarchy. This theory was advocated by Minobe
Tatsukichi and Ichimura Mitsue. The second was the Monarchical
Subject Theory (kunshu shutai setsu) that held that state sovereignty
does not inhere in the state itself, but rather is a particular property of
the monarch. This theory was advocated by Hozumi Yatsuka,
Shimizu Tru, Uesugi Shinkichi, and Inoue Mitsu. Kat found fault
with both theories: the organ theory presumed the state was artificial
and the people were natural, which Kat argued precisely turned
reality upside down; and the subject theory unduly emphasized the
uniqueness of Japans monarchy when, as Kat noted, sovereignty
vested in a monarch rather than in the state was a principle and
practice derived from European monarchical theories.
Kats objective was to identify the right theory of monarchical
rule that would be compatible with Japans expanding empire. He
explicitly noted how Japans acquisition of Taiwan and Korea forced
the issue of multi-ethnic nationality to the foreground, and he realized
this required a theory of the sovereign that was neither too narrowly
ethnic (thus, incompatible with imperial expansion) nor too multi-
ethnic (to the point of the Japanese people losing their privileged
position). He also sought to legitimate the monarch on universal,
secular terms, avoiding the kind of mystical religious theories that
tried to claim the monarch as a Shinto god. His solutionimperial
sovereignty instead of national sovereignty or a tenn conceived as an
ethnic tribal chieftaincertainly never won universal acceptance. But
it was a powerful statement of where the tensions were in debates
over the monarchy, as Japan increasingly took on the realities of a
multi-ethnic, imperial state.
It is well-known that Minobe Tatsukichi was persecuted during the
early 1930s for his organ theory and ultimately was forced to give up
his seat in the parliament in 1935. However, the fact that the organ
theorists were persecuted does not mean that the theory of ethnic

Kat Hiroyuki, Kokka no tchiken, (Tokyo: Jitsugy no Nihonsha, 1913),
reprinted in Kat Hiroyuki no bunsho (Kyoto: Dhosha Shuppan), 3:629-661, at 630.
monarchical sovereignty was accepted as orthodox. Rather,
throughout the 1920s and especially in the 1930s, advocates for the
theory of the monarch as ethnic chieftain grew vociferous even as
their cries went largely unheeded. One of their sacred texts was
Orikuchi Shinobus The True Meaning of the Great Enthronement
Ritual (Dajsai no hongi), which was composed just before the
Showa Emperors enthronement in 1928. In contrast to Fukuzawa and
Kat, Orikuchi saw the emperor very much as a religious figure. It
was not so much the actual monarch himself who embodied this
spiritual power, but the entire lineage of monarchs who had gone
before. Orikuchi and his supporters embraced a theology of continuity
of this lineage that placed importance on the incarnation of this spirit
in the enthronement ceremony. His theory of the origins of the
expression mikotomochi held that mikoto referred to the words of the
gods, and that he who transmitted this word of the gods was the one
who had the mikoto, the mikotomochi. The emperor, known as the
sumera no mikoto, was the most supreme (sumera) holder of this
word of the gods.
In this sense his theory relativized the absolute
nature of the monarch, while at the same time it emphasized the
absolute authority of the gods.
The power and dignity of the
monarch was not derived from his constitutional position as supreme
sovereign, nor from his symbolic power as the cultural unifying
principle of the Japanese nation. Rather, the source of his majesty and
authority came from the physical incarnation of this spirit of the gods
that takes place in the divine enthronement ceremony of the Dajsai.
Orikuchis theology of the monarch as the tribal chieftain of the
Japanese ethnic people joined a growing chorus of dissident voices
that rejected the official ideology of the emperor as the sovereign
head of a multi-ethnic state. By the middle of the 1930s, a diverse
group of nationalist scholars, including Takamura Itsue and Yasuda
Yojr, were challenging this idea of the tenn as a modern emperor
and offering instead a passionate neo-nativist vision of the tenn as
the religious leader of an ancient Yamato people. This ethnic
nationalism was of course a serious challenge to the legitimacy of the
empire, and it was not merely a theoretical threat. Acts of terrorism
and political assassination had been on the rise during the 1930s, and
much of it was fired by nationalist resentments against the multi-
ethnic constitutional system.

Cf.Shinto ni arawareta minzoku ronri, in Zensh 3Ch Kron.
Kimura Junji, Dajsai no hongi: Orikuchi Shinobu, Tennron o yomu, 20-21.
To extreme nationalists like Minoda Muneki (Kyki), traditional
constitutional theories that accepted the emperor as head of a multi-
ethnic empire were simply intolerable. He found an easy target in
Minobe Tatsukichis organ theory and, along with Diet member
Kikuchi Takeo, hounded him from his legislative seat in 1935.
Minobes organ theory had become a cause clbre for those
convinced that the emperor was being taken away from the Japanese
people in the service of a multi-ethnic empire. Their response was a
clamor to clarify the kokutai, and the government responded in
1937 with the publication and wide-scale distribution of a new tract,
The True Meaning of the Kokutai. Yet, this document never achieved
that status of being the definitive statement on Japanese nationalism
that many have claimed for it. Rather than speaking clearly on the
issue, it reflected the diverse views of its multiple authors. It certainly
pushed the concept of kokutai to the forefront of debates on Japanese
national identity, but it left open what exactly kokutai meant in terms
of nationality.
The True Meaning of the Kokutai argued forcefully against
individualism and other liberal Western ideologies. And it certainly
repudiated the organ theory of the emperor, emphasizing that the
kokutai was synonymous with Japans unique, unbroken line of
emperors. Yet, the tract was unable to establish a consistent argument
on the status of the people in relationship to the emperor, at times
opting for the constitutional (multi-ethnic) structure, where the people
were defined as subjects, at other times, referring to the nation
(kokumin) and rarely to an ethnic definition of the nation (minzoku).
A careful reading of the document suggests that the purpose of
issuing this official statement on the kokutai was to co-opt the mono-
ethnic nationalist threat to the empire as far as possible without

The predominant reference in Kokutai no hongi is to the people as the (multi-
ethnic) nation (kokumin), but there are scattered references to the ethnic nation.
Unfortunately, in Gauntletts translation, the minzoku references are either rendered
as race or inexplicably omitted. Cf. in rendering a citation in the text from the
Imperial Rescript on the Promotion of National Spirit, Gauntlett drops the reference
to the ethnic nation in the passage that describes the duties of the subject as kokka no
kry to minzoku no anei, shakai no fukushi to wo hakaru beshi [give heed to the
flourishing of the State, the peace and prosperity of the ethnic nation, and the welfare
of the society] as give heed to the welfare, peace, and prosperity of the State, and to
social well-being. John Owen Gauntlett, trans., Robert King Hall, ed., Kokutai no
Hongi: Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan (Newton, MA: Crofton
Publishing Corporation, 1974), 87. I have relied on the on-line version of Kokutai no
compromising the multi-ethnic nature of Meiji political order.
Consequently, it was not very successful in resolving this tension over
the meaning of the nation. It was considerably more successful,
however, as a re-statement of the sacredness of the emperor as the
spiritual center of the empire and of the duty of loyalty owed the
emperor (tenn) by all His subjects. In the end, the document was
concerned with maintaining order under the imperial constitutional
system, and for that very reason it was limited in its ability to
incorporate the rising challenge to the imperial structure from populist
But the forces behind the composition of The True Meaning of the
Kokutai were able to directly impact the legal representation of the
monarchy in international affairs. When Emperor Hirohito signed the
declaration of war against the United States and England in 1941, he
broke with the modern tradition of officially referring to the monarch
of Japan as a ktei and referred to himself instead in the language of
the 1937 tract as the tenn. The contrast with precedent is striking.
His grandfather, Mutsuhito (the Emperor Meiji) had referred to
himself as ktei when he signed the declarations of war against China
(1894) and Russia (1904). And his father Yoshihito (the Emperor
Taisho) had used to term ktei in 1914, when he signed the
declaration of war against Germany and its allies. As Miwa Kimitaka
has noted,
the difference is truly significant, because Ktei was common noun
used in East Asia to designate the emperors of China and even at times
Korean kings. Even monarchs of European empires from ancient times
down to the contemporary periodwere all referred to as Ktei. But
Tenn was totally different. It had been used once by the Chinese in
ancient times and then was discarded. But as far as the Japanese were
concerned, this word simply signified the Japanese emperor and
nobody else. In 1894, 1904 and 1914, wars were declared in the name
of Ktei and the Japanese fought them as a modern Western-type nation,
meticulously abiding by international law. Japan then was just one of
many similar nation-states [sic]. But in 1941 Japan declared war on two
major Western nations in the name of a monarch who was not only
distinct in designation but represented a whole set of distinctly different

Miwa Kimitada, Neither East nor West but All Alone, in Harry Wray and
Hilary Conroy, eds., Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983): 384-9, at 389.
Miwa concludes that these distinctively different values meant that
by 1941 Japan had become ethnocentric in idea.
It may be going
too far to suggest that all Japanese had become ethnocentric. Japan
remained a multi-ethnic empire, with Koreans and other non-ethnic
Japanese living alongside ethnic Japanese and fighting alongside
them in the imperial armed forces. But certainly this shift in
terminology represented a last ditch effort to reconcile imperial
monarchy with nationalism in the interests of national unity in a time
of war. The effort was too little, too late to have much impact
during the remainder of the war, but the forces it unleashed were to
substantially affect the development of the monarchy in the years to
The Tenn as Symbol of the Nation
Kokutai no hongi and other official efforts to define nationalism
through the emperor could not successfully arrest the inherent
tensions between nationalism and empire, between the claims of
national self-determination and popular sovereignty on the one hand,
and the peoples status as multi-ethnic imperial subjects and their
sovereign emperor on the other. But defeat and foreign occupation
provided a new opportunity to reconsider the relationship between
nationalism and the emperor in a post-imperial Japan. The postwar
effort to reconstitute the relationship of the emperor and nationalism
was shaped by the immediate concern over how to assess
responsibility for defeat in the war. This effort began on 5 September
1945, when Ashida Hitoshi submitted a memorandum in the first
postwar Diet on The Cause and Responsibility for the Unfavorable
Result of the Greater East Asian War. Over the next several months,
many claims and counter-claims of war responsibility were made, but
the focus was mainly on whether the bureaucrats or the military
were responsible for the war. Significantly, exempted from
responsibility for the war were the nation (kokumin) and the
One group was not shy about blaming the emperor for the war. On
10 October 1945, Tokuda Kyichi, Miyamoto Kenji, Shiga Yoshio
and other leaders of Japans Communist Party were released from
Fuch Prison. They too exempted the nation from war responsibility,
and in their Appeal to the People (jimmin ni utau) outlined their

Miwa, 389.
Oguma Eiji, <Minshu> to <aikoku>: sengo nihon no nashonarizumu to
kkysei (Tokyo: Shinysha, 2002), 104-5.
agenda of abolishing the monarchy and establishing a peoples
republic. The debate over war responsibility then became a tool for
the accomplishment of their long-sought objective: abolishing the
monarchy. In November Shiga Yoshio made the harshest indictment
of the emperor to date in the Communist Party newspaper Akahata,
arguing that the Emperor is the worst war criminal. It is important
to recognize, as Oguma Eiji has pointed out, that even the
communists who were against the emperor were not against
nationalism per se but were appealing to a different kind of
Their choice of Marxist terms like a peoples
republic may be misleading, however, if one infers from this
language that they were seeking to build a republican nationalism in
postwar Japan.
Marxist Japanese nationalism, particularly in its critique of the
Meiji imperial system, rested on a concept of the nation as a single
ethnic group. This vision is revealed in Miyamotos argument that the
imperial system was the corruption of the ethnic nation (minzoku no
oshoku) and that history should be studied to find the true pride of
the ethnic nation (minzoku no hokori).
Of course, in one sense, the
Communists were simply continuing a prewar rejection of the
emperor that stemmed from their 1922 Draft Program and reached
strongest formulation in support of the May 1932 Theses calling for
the overthrow of the emperor system.
What was new was the
historical and political context, one in which the Communist Party
enjoyed full political freedom and where the debates over war
responsibility and the urgent need to rebuild the nation converged to
renew their hopes for a nationalism that would dispense with the
monarchy. This local effort must be placed in its regional and global
context of the early postwar years, when Marxists around the world
were supporting ethnic nationalism as a legitimate tool against
capitalist imperialism. Japanese communists saw this global agenda
as an opportunity to construct a new, postwar nationalism in Japan
that was not centered on the monarch but on ethnicity. This agenda, if
realized, would be a true overthrow of the Meiji constitutional order,

Oguma, 122.
Miyamoto Kenji, Tenn sei hihan ni tsuite, Zenei (February 1946), cited in
Oguma, 123.
On prewar Marxist critiques of the emperor, see Germaine A. Hoston, Marxism
and the Crisis of Development in Prewar Japan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1986), especially, 60-75.
a political system in which the multi-ethnic social base of the empire
was held together by the monarch as the sole source of sovereignty.
The revolutionary potential of this Marxist assault on the emperor
was recognized and challenged. After Hirohito was compelled by
General Douglas MacArthur to renounce his divinity in his famous
Declaration of Humanity (ningen sengen) in January 1946, a
surprising group of liberals came to the defense of this downsized
monarchy. Led by Tsuda Skichi and Watsuji Tetsur
they were considered during the war to be dangerous thinkers opposed
to the kokutai, so it might seem strange to find them defending the
monarchical system [in the postwar]. But they shared a basic
understanding of the emperors position as outlined in Minobes
emperor organ theory and thus did not consider monarchy to be
incompatible with parliamentary politics or democracy.
What made possible their support for the postwar monarchy was the
institutional and cultural transformation of both the monarch (tenn)
and of the nation (kokumin). The emperor now lacked not only an
empire but even a clear, political role in the postwar nation, as the
Imperial Constitution was no longer valid and a new one had yet to be
drafted. In the interregnum, Hirohito, who during the war had
renounced the title ktei in favor of tenn, was less an emperor than
ever before. But even as a monarch, his fate and function was
uncertain. He was, in a sense, monarch without portfolio.
What was the Japanese monarchy? Who was the monarch in
relation to the newly sovereign nation (kokumin)? If Hirohito himself
had moved the conception of the monarchy towards an ethnic
chieftain (tenn) and away from the universal, legal sense of ktei,
would the new, post-imperial conditions of a defeated Japan require a
return to the concept of ktei that had served a more international
Japan in the past? An early answer to these questions came in March
1946, only two months after Hirohitos Declaration of Humanity,
when a draft of the new constitution was published in the major
Japanese newspapers, introducing the principle of the monarch as
both tenn and as the symbol of national [kokumin] unity.
was the first, and most important step in what Yonetani Masafumi has

Kimura Junji, Tennron no keif, Tennron o yomu, 215.
On the development of the symbol emperor system from prewar currents, both
foreign and domestic, see Masanori Nakamura, The Japanese Monarchy:
Ambassador Grew and the Making of the Symbol Emperor Sytem, 1931-1991, trans.
by Herbert Bix, Jonathan Baker-Bates and Derek Bowen, (Armonk,NY: M.E. Sharpe,
called the nationalization [kokuminka] of the emperor system.
was an innovative, if not quite revolutionary, shift in Japanese
monarchical theory, one that sought to reconcile claims of the
monarch as unique to Japan with a constitution premised on universal
rights and national sovereignty.
Only one month later, in April 1946, Tsuda published an article on
The Circumstances of the Founding of our Country and the Ideology
of Unbroken Imperial Lineage in the journal Sekai. Tsuda argued
that history showed that the modern emperor system was an
aberration in the long history of the Japanese monarchy. Throughout
history, the Japanese monarchy had largely been a symbolic
institution, and the monarch had rarely been the head of an actual
monarchical system of government. This defense of the monarchy
startled many who recalled that only three years earlier Tsuda had
been charged with lse majest for concluding that the Kojiki and
Nihon Shoki recorded, not historical facts, but fictions designed to
shore up monarchical claims to power. Yet, this postwar argument
should not have surprised anyone. Tsuda consistently adopted a
liberal position that saw myths as human fictions and he rejected
efforts to make the monarch into more than he actually was, whether
as sovereign head of state or as a living god.
Watsuji, Tsudas colleague in this effort to rehabilitate the postwar
monarch as symbol of the nation, had a different history and a
different argument about the symbolic monarchy. But he too
challenged an excessively theological understanding of the monarch.
Watsuji had argued at the height of the war that the monarchs
divinity did not imply any transcendental power as Creator of
nature or mankind; he drew a sharp distinction between the sense of
divinity attributed to the Japanese monarch and the sense of divinity
that Jews and Christians attribute to Yahweh and Deus.
While he
conceded that a kind of divinity inhered in the ancient imperial
ancestors, his main point converged with Tsudas thesis that the role
of the living monarch was not an active political one. Rather, the
monarchs traditional role had been the expression of the collective
will of the nation (kokumin no si), and since the formation of a
nations collective will is an essential step in establishing national

Yonetani Masafumi, Tsuda Skichi Watsuji Tetsur no tennron: shch
tennsei ron, 23-56 in Amino Yoshihiko et al., eds., Tenn to ken o kangaeru dai
ikkan: Jinrui shakai no naka no tenn to ken (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2002): 23.
Watsuji Tetsur, Sonn shis to sono dent (Iwanami Shoten, 1943); cited in
Kimura Junji, Sonn shis to sono dent: Watsuji Tetsur, in Tennron o yomu,
sovereignty (kokumin shuken), the monarchy, he concluded, could not
be excluded from the formation of a democratic nation.
Watsuji accepted, even emphasized, the ethicality associated with
the imperial lineage. But in making a distinction between the lineage
of imperial ancestors (kso) and the existing monarch (tenn), he
created an opening for others to support the monarch as a symbol of
national unity, without conceding the theological question of the
personal divinity of the monarch. Watsuji has been criticized for
interpreting the monarchy through the lens of Shintoism and thus
limiting his postwar concept of the nation to a theocratic one.
regardless of whether one finds that argument about Watsujis theory
of the monarch persuasive, it does not provide a comprehensive
explanation of the early postwar support for the monarchy from the
old liberal group.
Tanaka Ktar was one of the old liberals who supported the
postwar monarchy, and he was both a professor of law and a devout
Catholic. His defense of the postwar monarch has been discounted as
merely reflecting a fear of anarchy and despotism and a scorn for
the masses.
But it ran much deeper than that, and stemmed from his
understanding of the causes of wartime fascism. Tanaka understood
that the political forces that had threatened Japan during the 1930s
and early 1940s came from extremist movements on the right and the
left, populist movements that were guided by two distinct ideologies:
a cultural nationalism (kokusuishugi) that rejected any universal value
and a radical libertarianism (jiyshugi) that claimed freedom from any
moral restraint.
With defeat in the war, he knew that rightist
nationalism was no longer a serious danger to the new social order.
But the discrediting of rightwing nationalism left a void that was
being filled in the immediate postwar years by individualistic
hedonism. Tanaka was deeply concerned by this rejection of moral

Watsuji Tetsur, Kokumin zentaisei no hygensha, (July 1948) reprinted in
Watsuji, Kokumin tg no shch (Tokyo: Keis Shob, 1948); cited in Kimura,
Tennron no keif, in Tennron o yomu, 216-7.
See Yonetani Masafumi, Tsuda Skichi Watsuji Tetsur no tennron, 47-8.
However, Watsuji does not appear to have been so intolerant of other religions in
Japan. He helped the Catholic philosopher Yoshimitsu Yoshihiko get a position
teaching ethics at Tokyo Imperial University in 1935 and appears to have supported
his career in many other ways. On Watsujis relationship to Yoshimitsu, see Hanzawa
Takaro, Kindai nihon no katorishizumu (Tokyo: Misuzu Shob, 1993), 32.
Oguma, <Minshu> to <aikoku>, 133, 846, n. 58.
Tanaka Ktar, Katorishizumu to kokusuishugi to jiyshugi: Tosaka Jun-shi ni
kotau, Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 1935, reprinted in Tanaka, Kyy to bunka no kiso
(Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1937), 563-4.
values, for he had argued even during the war that moral values were
crucial to the health of a society. He saw no reason that the old
liberals argument that the monarchy, now constitutionally framed
around a sovereign nation (kokumin), could not effectively express
the social values of a postwar, pacifist nation. His voice in support of
the constitutional symbol-monarch was important, especially since he
offered this support openly as a Christian, not as a Shintoist. As a
Catholic and a liberal democrat, Tanaka combined Fukuzawa
Yukichis idea of the monarch as a symbol of national values with
Maeda and Lignuels defense of Catholicism as a legitimate faith for
patriotic Japanese who were loyal to their monarch. Tanakas support
for the monarchy, as a liberal Christian Japanese, was neither novel
nor exceptional: he drew from a tradition that was almost as old as the
constitutional monarchy itself.
These debates over whether the monarchy would survive and what
form and function it might have in the postwar era were brought to an
end, in one sense, on 3 May 1952, when the new Constitution of
Japan went into effect. Chapter One, Article One of the new
constitution spelled out the emperors role and his relationship to the
newly sovereign nation:
Article One. The position of the Emperor, the sovereign nation
(kokumin shuken). The Emperor is a symbol of the Japanese State
(nihon koku no shch) and a symbol of the unity of the Japanese
nation (nihon kokumin tg), and this position is founded in the general
will of the Japanese nation (nihon kokumin) which is sovereign.
The new constitution enshrined in the highest law of the land the
position of the old liberals that the emperor was a symbol of the
nation and that this function was derived from the general will of
the Japanese nation. Tanakas support for the postwar revision of the
emperor system as a liberal, democratic form of monarchy was public
and undeniable. As Minister of Education in Yoshida Shigerus
cabinet, his name appeared in the official preamble to the constitution
when it was announced on 3 November 1946. This support for the
postwar monarchy by a prominent, liberal, Catholic jurist is important
to recall when, in later years, critiques would be leveled that the
constitution merely gave a new lease on life for State Shintoism in

Nihon koku kemp, Kdansha gakujutsu bunko 678, (Tokyo: Kdansha, 1985),
12. I have retranslated the original to emphasize the nationalism explicit in the
Japanese. Here is the official translation, from the same source: Article 1. The
Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his
position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power (116).
postwar Japan. Certainly, as a Christian, Tanaka did not worship the
Japanese monarch as a living god.
The constitution settled the question of whether the monarchy
would survive and established its role as subordinate to the legal and
political oversight of the Diet. But the constitution and its legal
settlement of the monarchys role in the new nation did not end all
debates over the monarchy. Rather, in Kimura Junjis succinct
phrasing, it merely shifted [the debate] from the direct engagement
over abolishment or defense [of the monarchy] to an effort to get a
new, objective handle on the emperor system.
In short, after 1952,
the question of the monarchy became an academic one, where issues
of values, moral consciousness and cultural identity played larger
roles than sovereignty, law and political structure. The constitutional
settlement did not address the question of whether the monarch
should be considered the chieftain of the Japanese ethnic nation any
more effectively than the Meiji Constitution had. Nor did it clarify
whether the symbolic status of the monarch gave him symbolic
religious value as the chief priest of Shintoism. Consequently,
academics and others have continued to debate, and thus to establish,
the meaning of this symbol emperor through the postwar period.
The most influential of these postwar academics was Maruyama
Masao and those such as Matsumoto Sannosuke, Fujita Shz, and
Kamishima Jir who drew from his ideas to frame a particular
approach to understanding the monarchy. This group has often been
called the Maruyama School, or even the Modernization School,
because they shared Maruyamas belief that a premodern form of
communal identity was retained and subtly incorporated into the
modern monarchy and that the ideology of monarchy in modern
Japan functioned to perpetuate this sense of premodern communal
identity. Perhaps the most interesting member of the Maruyama
School was Hashikawa Bunz. Hashikawa suggested that it was not
easy to distinguish modern and premodern forms of thought from
within the modern episteme and he raised questions about how well
Maruyama could analyze in objective, social scientific terms the
ideological structure that he himself inhabited. Hashikawa turned his
attention to Yasuda Yojr and the Japan Romantic School to
understand how aesthetic nationalism functioned during the war at a
non-intellectual level.

Kimura Junji, Tennron no keif, 219.
Kimura, 219-20.
Historians also have raised persistent questions about the
continuity of the monarchical house based on research into its earliest
history. Mizuno Hiroshi, influenced by the historical positivism of
Tsuda Skichi, rejected the notion of an unbroken monarchical line
going back to the age of the gods. He argued in his 1952 Introduction
to a Historical Theory of the Ancient Japanese Monarchy that there
were three distinct dynasties in the ancient period, each with their
own blood lines. In more recent years, Amino Yoshihiko has built on
Mizunos approach, extending his argument into medieval Japanese
history with creative results.
Amino attacked the notion of the Japanese as an agrarian nation
and the monarch as the chief planter in this rice culture. His key
argument was that a transformation of the monarchy had occurred in
the late medieval period. According to Amino, Emperor Godaigo
(1288-1339) spearheaded this transformation when he sought support
for a restoration of the monarchy from anyone who would be useful
in challenging the power of local authorities. This included especially
mobilizing artisans, craftsmen, fishers and even social outcastes and
criminalsprecisely those who were alienated from the agrarian
social order.
In the medieval period, it was largely the non-agrarian
people who turned to the emperor for their hopes of liberation.
Godaigos effort at imperial restoration failed, at least in terms of his
own short-term objective of gaining power. But Amino suggests that
Godaigos failed restorationist bid had a deeper, long-lasting
influence on the meaning of the monarchy for subsequent Japanese
history: it created the tradition of the monarchy as a idealized space of
freedom for those oppressed by local authorities, a tradition that
would not only shape the Meiji Restoration, but subsequent efforts at
restoration ever since.
If historians have explored the meaning of the symbol emperor
through temporal analysis, social scientists, inspired by the
anthropological methods of Yamaguchi Masao, have applied spatial
and cultural analyses with rich results. Yamaguchi introduced a
structuralist method based on the juxtaposition of concepts of center
and periphery, everyday and non-everyday, order and disorder to
situate Japans monarch in a general anthropological theory of
kingship. In such works as Portraits of the Mikado (1986) and The
Mikado and Fin du sicle: The Logic of Kingship (1987) Yamaguchi

Amino Yoshihiko, Ikei no ken, Nihon chsei no hi-ngymin to tenn, cited in
Kimura, 220-22.
located the Japanese monarchy in a general theory of kinship, which
explored the meaning of the Japanese monarch in a context far
removed from the kind of cultural particularism that had informed the
wartime theory of kokutai.
Yamaguchis structuralist approach has
been quite influential on academic discourse on the monarchy and it
deserves credit for trying to locate the Japanese monarchy in a
universal structure of analysis. In this sense, it can be placed
alongside efforts by the old liberals like Tanaka Ktar who sought
to locate the Japanese monarchy in a universal scope of natural law. A
key difference, however, lies in Yamaguchis academic language and
audience that rendered his analysis of the monarchy in such abstract
theoretical terms that it often seemed remote from the problem of
Yamaguchis abstracting of the monarchy from its concrete
historical setting may well have been strategic. During the 1970s and
1980s, as Marxist theories increasingly began to lose their appeal
among the Japanese public, the main concern of the liberals who
supported the symbolic monarchy was the rise of rightist nationalism
and renewed arguments for a restoration of imperial rule. While they
certainly did not ignore cultural aspects of the monarchy, these right-
wing nationalists emphasized its political significance, especially its
importance to nationalism. For them, Japanese nationalism simply
could not permit a continuation of the postwar symbolic monarchy
which they saw as imposed on Japan by a foreign conquering army.
Mishima Yukios dramatic suicide (after his failed call for a
revolution of the postwar order) may be taken as a watershed in this
neo-rightist discourse on the emperor. It was followed by Hayashi
Fusaos publication of A Thesis on Jimmu Tenn as Really Existing
(Jimmu tenn jitsuzai ron, 1971; republished as Tenn no kigen,
1988; reprinted together as Tenn no kigen, 2002). Hayashi was one
of the key members of the wartime Japan Romantic School that
Mishima had idolized, and he certainly was an advocate of the ethnic
nationalism that Miwa argues attended the conceptualization of the
monarchy as a tenn. Hayashis argument was, at least, an interesting
one. Rather than accept the premise that Tsudas views were identical
with those of the self-styled Tsuda School (i.e., Hani Gor, Inoue
Kiyoshi, Wakamori Tar, Ienaga Sabur), he cited Tsudas own
writings to show that Tsuda himself never went as far as his postwar
epigones did in denying the historical reality of the early emperors.

Kimura, 222-3.
He pointed out that while Tsuda did say that the narratives about the
earlier emperors were unreliable, he did not say that, therefore, the
early emperors were not historical persons. This nuance was lost on
the postwar Tsuda School that read more into Tsuda than Tsudas
own texts allowed, as Hayashi enjoyed pointing out. Second, while
Tsuda recognized that the early myths depicted the origins of ethnic
groups with close connections to the monarchy, he never asserted that
they were narratives on ethnic national identity, nor did he indicate a
positive or negative assessment of that fact. Yet, the Tsuda School,
animated by the post-imperial embrace of ethnicity, drew the
conclusion that since the Myths ignored the ethnic nation [minzoku],
they were works of political deception and oppression that were
against the people [han-jimmin-teki].
Hayashi himself was deeply
sympathetic to ethnic nationalism, but what concerned him most were
these leftist ethnic nationalists that conceived their ethnic nationalism
in opposition to the monarchy.
Hayashis ideas had resonance long after his death in 1975. From
the 1970s through the 1980s, a host of right wing nationalist groups
had begun to form alliances over a variety of strategic issues (eg., the
non-proliferation treaty, anti-communism, opposition to the Yalta-
Potsdam, or YP, system). When Emperor Hirohito fell gravely ill in
September 1988 and the mainstream media began prematurely
predicting his death, reaching a feverish pitch between 20 September
and 15 October, both old conservative and neo-conservative groups
rallied to protest what they felt was disrespectful reporting on the
monarch. They hoped that the new monarch would take the
opportunity to sweep away the postwar order (the YP system), call
for a revision of the constitution and establish a direct, monarchical
They were dealt a blow on 9 January 1989, when the new emperor
spoke at his first press conference in the Matsu-no-Ma room of the
Imperial Palace. His views, addressed to the Japanese nation, were
expressed clearly and directly:
I will not cease working with you to protect the Constitution of Japan
and I pledge to fulfill my constitutional duties, never ceasing in my

Hayashi Fusao, Jimmu tenn jitsuzai ron (Tokyo: Mitsubunsha, 1971) reprinted
as Tenn no kigen (Tokyo: Natsume Shob, 2002), 375-6.
hopes for the nations prosperity and an increase in world peace and the
welfare of humanity.
Since the ultimate goal of the right-wing ethnic nationalists was the
return of direct monarchy, the support of the new monarch for the
postwar constitution came as profound shock.
Emperor Akihitos
statement posed a crisis for the conservative nationalists, since now
they could not support direct monarchy without contradicting the
monarchs own expressed wishes. Their only solution was to argue
that the monarchs words were supplied by the government and that
the Japanese monarch, unlike Western royalty, is not accustomed to
divulging his true opinions in public. One rightwing leader called for
the overthrow of the Takeshita cabinet for its role in orchestrating the
Matsu-no-Ma declaration, and on 5 March two extremists were
arrested after crashing a truck filled with gasoline into the Prime
Ministers residence. The date was significant: it was also on 5 March
(1932) when the Ketsumeidan activist Hishinuma Gor took the life
of Baron Dan Takuma.
The message was clear: these rightwing
extremists felt that, once again, the emperor was being held hostage
by elite political and financial groups and was unable to serve the
The monarchical succession of Akihito brought to the fore the
question of how the monarchy and the people should be understood in
the context of newly energized debates over Japanese nationalism.
Most broadly, there was a sense among supporters and detractors of
the monarchy that with the passing of Hirohito there was an
opportunity to gain a new start in the way the people and the monarch
were related. Hopes were high on the left that, with a new monarchy,
there might be a chance to return to the debate over war responsibility
of the immediate postwar period, this time with a more satisfactory
conclusion. Hopes were high on the right that Akihito still might
respond in some way to their long-cherished goal of direct rule of the
monarch. In the meantime, moderates caught in the middle continued
to watch these developments with caution, hoping that postwar
Japans experiment with democratic, constitutional monarchy would
not be undermined from either extreme. Nobody seemed interested in

Emperor Akihito, Matsu-no-ma address, 9 January 1989, Imperial Palace;
cited in Ino Kenji, Heisei shin-jidai to uyoku sho-chry no dk, in Ino et al., eds.,
Uyoku minokuha sran (Tokyo: Nijseiki Shoin, 1991) 42.
Ino, 42-43.
Ino, 44-45.
replacing the term tenn with the more universal, if now somewhat
antiquated, concept of the monarch as a ktei.
Some significant changes had developed over the final decades of
Hirohitos reign. On 17 October 1978, Yasukuni Shinto Shrine
officially enshrined the souls of fourteen Class A war criminals
from World War II, along with thousands of other who died in service
of their country. Around that time, Emperor Hirohito suspended his
annual visits to the Shrine. But in 1984, Prime Minister Nakasone
Yasuhiro, as part of his pronounced effort to encourage a sense of
nationalism among the Japanese people, made the first official visit
by a Japanese prime minister to the Shrine since the inclusion of the
fourteen war criminals. But he too suspended official visits to the
Shrine due to protests, mainly coming from China. Consequently, it
was Prime Minister Hashimoto Rytars official visit to Yasukuni in
1996 that raised concern over whether the practice was here to stay.
But, like Nakasone, Hashimoto also discontinued his visit in the face
of protests. When in 2001 Prime Minister Koizumi Junichir
announced his decision to visit Yasukuni Shrine in an official
capacity, the protests from many of Japanese Asian neighbors and
even from some Japanese people grew vociferous.
Much had changed since 1978 and even since Nakasones visit to
Yasukuni in 1984. Japanese military participation in the War on
Terror in Iraq mobilized Japanese troops outside of Asia for the first
time in the postwar era, a growing number of Japanese, especially
younger Japanese, called for a revision of the postwar constitution
that formally seemed to prevent such non-defensive mobilization of
troops, and a group of historical revisionists called The Liberal
School of History submitted a new middle school textbook for
government approval that emphasized the function of historical
education in creating civic consciousness.
For neo-nationalists, these
trends gave reason for optimism that the postwar, indeed modern,
alienation of the people from the state was being overcome through a
renewed national pride. For the left, there was considerable anxiety,
even panic, that the monarchy was becoming the lynchpin of this new,
unapologetic nationalism.
One of the most influential critics of the monarchy from the left is
Takahashi Tetsuya, who has done more than perhaps any other person
in Japan to bring back the war responsibility debate of the early

On this change of atmosphere in nationalist debate at the close of the last
millennium, see Rikki Kerstens important article, Neo-nationalism and the Liberal
School of History, Japan Forum, 11 (2) 1999: 191-203.
postwar years. In a series of influential books and articles and on
television programs, Takahashi has contested the Liberal School of
History, maintaining that far from being a victim of his advisors,
Emperor Hirohito had considerable personal responsibility for the war,
a responsibility which was never satisfactorily acknowledged. As
Rikki Kersten has pointed out in her superb assessment of
Takahashis views, Takahashi argues that the severance of
democracy and accountability has been preserved and
institutionalized in the post-war symbol emperor system.
In essence, Takahashi has taken the liberal argument on the
symbolic monarchy and turned it upside down. As we have seen,
liberals from Fukuzawa to Minobe to Tanaka have argued that,
precisely because the emperor was removed from a direct role in
politics, there was an opening for constitutional democratic forces
(the people) to engage in the public realm. By elevating the
emperor to a symbolic or organic role, the prewar and postwar
constitutional monarchy provided for various degrees of democratic
input. Conversely, Takahashi maintains that the abstraction of the
monarch as a symbol of the peoples unity has served as a barrier to
democracy because the monarchy (and Hirohito in particular) was
allowed to continue to function in the postwar period, without ever
fully accounting for its role in leading the nation to war. The effect of
this symbolic monarchy, according to Takahashi, has been to co-join
the emperor and the people in a system of irresponsibility that is the
hallmark of postwar Japanese nationalism. While Takahashis intent
is to conjure up a trans-national (especially pan-Asian) subjectivity,
the terms of his analysis ironically suggest a rather cohesive
nationalism through this bond between the emperor and the people as
collaborators in this postwar system of irresponsibility; more so
than in fact may be warranted.
From the beginnings of modern Japanese political history, the
monarchy has played an important role. But it is not accurate to say,
as some cultural exceptionalists have, that monarchy (either as tenno,
emperor-system or however else expressed) is the essence of
Japanese nationalism, or that Japanese nationalism cannot be
understood apart from the monarchy. It would be more accurate to
say the monarchy cannot be understood unless it is first conceived
apart from nationalism. Nationalism, in Japan as elsewhere, is always
a question of how the people are conceived as a unit and then

Rikki Kersten, Revisionism, reaction and the symbol emperor in post-war
Japan, Japan Forum 15 (1) 2003: 15-31, at 20.
represented as possessing a common sentiment of solidarity. The
monarchy has had a long history of appealing to many in Japan who
have sought to overturn existing political arrangements, and with the
construction of the Meiji state around the rhetoric of monarchical
restoration, the monarch has loomed large in all efforts, whether top
down or bottom up, to approximate a more perfect national unity.
Thus, even before 1946, the Japanese monarchy had served as a
symbol for many groups and for many political agendas. Whether the
monarchy does or will serve as a nationalist symbol, and whether that
nationalist symbol can augment democratic values within the nation,
are not questions that can be answered through conceptual or
historical analysis of the monarchy itself but will always need to be
assessed on the basis of values and contexts that exist outside of the
monarchy itself.
This chapter explores the permeations on Japanese collective
consciousness of a concept and reality that we now recognize as
society (shakai). Even more so than with the previous chapter,
some explanation may be warranted as to why the concept of society
figures so prominently in an intellectual history of nationalism. This
is especially the case when many historians of Japan, particularly
since the end of World War II, write as though society were not
merely an entirely different matter than nationalism but even a
prophylactic against the infectious spread of nationalism. Societyand
building on that concept, socialismis supposed to provide an
alternative to the hierarchical, oppressive ideology which they
associate with nationalism: the more of one, the less of the other, or
so we are told. In most cases, this argument is not so much wrong as
it is ambiguous, or at least under-articulated. To conclude that
society and the nation are at loggerheads depends greatly on how
both concepts of society and nation are conceived and understood.
Usually, the claim that society and nation are at odds rests on an
implicit understanding of nation as interchangeable with the state
(kokka) and society as a rather undifferentiated mass of the people
conceived in opposition to the state. When understood in these terms,
the argument about state versus society has more than a certain ring
of veracity to it. But at the same time, to the extent that society
refers to the Japanese people as a whole, it is deeply entrenched in the
appeal of nationalism as an ideology that upholds the people as the
sole legitimate subject of politics. Consequently, while society may
be mobilized at times against the state, it may also act in parallel with
the nation (e.g., the nation against the state) to the point that society
and nation can become all but indistinguishable. For that reason, at
the very least, a sustained look at the manner in which society was
represented and mobilized in modern Japanese history is necessary
when delineating the contours of nationalism and its effort to place
the people in modern political arrangements.
Before turning to the historical details of how society (shakai)
came to be conceived in modern Japan, it is useful to get a broader
view of the relationship of society and the nation as a generic problem
of modernity. Most social theorists agree that society is a distinctively
modern phenomenon and one that is reproduced in the modernity of
sociology, the discipline that takes society as its object of study.
Anthony Giddens is no exception, and his analysis of the relationship
of society and nation is good place to start:
Authors who regard sociology as the study of societies have in mind
the societies associated with modernity. Now, understood in this way,
societies are plainly nation-states. Yet, although a sociologist
speaking of a particular society might casually employ instead the
terms nation, or country, the character of the nation-state is rarely
directly theorized. In explicating the nature of modern societies, we
have to capture the specific characteristics of the nation-statea type of
social community which contrasts in a radical way with pre-modern
Because Giddenss primary concern is not with the nation per se, but
with what he calls a post-modernity that evokes new, more
globalized arrangements of power, his failure to distinguish the
particular features of nation-states from nations and states need not
detain us here. Rather, what is important is his indication of how
sociologists often refer to the nation as a functional equivalent of
society, and how this national society is distinct from earlier kinds of
societies. Giddens accepts the interchangeability of society and nation
(even if he generalizes all nations as nation-states), arguing that
modern societies (nation-states), in some respects at any rate, have a
clearly defined boundedness.
This emphasis on boundedness
gives Giddens the opening to correlate nation with state, and thus to
equate modern societies with this bounded nation-state.
But even for specialists in political theory who generally recognize
a distinction between nation and state, society is often both new to the
modern era and deeply enmeshed in the logic of the nation. Ernest
Gellner is perhaps the most influential theorist in this regard, having
proposed his famous theorem that nations are the products of a shift
from agrarian to industrial society. In contrast to Giddens, Gellners
theory is not so much a spatially determined one as an internal,
procedural one: nations result from internal changes (educational,

Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford
University Press, 1990), 13.
Giddens, 14.
cultural, economic, etc.) within societies that increase homogeneity
and yield a new concept of the people as a nation. Bounded states are
both a prior reality and an effect of this social transformation towards
Gellner takes us further in recognizing that modern societies
are nations rather than nation-states, but it is Liah Greenfeld who
provides the most definitive statement on the relationship of society
to nation. Greenfeld emphasizes that nations are not so much the fruit
of geographical or economic expansion as they are the result of
conceptual transformations:
National identity is one among many possible, and often coexisting and
overlapping, identitiessuch as religious, estate, occupational, tribal,
linguistic, territorial, class, gender, and more. In the modern world,
national identity represents what may be called the fundamental
identity, the one that is believed to define the very essence of the
individual, which the other identities may modify but slightly, and to
which they are considered secondary. Modern societies are nations by
In short, Greenfeld takes us even further to the heart of the matter
than Giddens or Gellner by pointing out that nationalism, not
industrialization [or the bounded state] lies at the basis of modern
society and represents its constitutive element.
If Greenfeld is right
that nationalism is the constitutive element of modern society (and I
think she is), then the conceptualization of society is at once a
conceptualization of the nation. And an intellectual history of the idea
of shakai, its contestations, alternatives, and assertions, are all central
to any history of Japanese nationalism.
Coming to Terms with Society in Meiji Japan
The term shakai, which is used today in Japanese to refer to the
concept of society, can be traced back to the Song period, where it
appears in volume nine of the twelfth century Chinese text, Jinsi lu, in
a comment that when people of the communities formed an
organization (shakai), he drew up regulations for them that made
clear and distinguished between good and evil so the people might be
encouraged to do good and be ashamed to do evil.
The earliest

Cf. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
Press, 1983), 39-52.
Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism and Modernity, Social Research vol. 63, issue 1,
3-40 (Spring 1996): 10.
Greenfeld, 8.
Morohashi Tetsuji, Dai kanwa jiten (Tokyo: Daishkan Shoten, 1959), 8: 416-
417. Although this reference to a twelfth century text is often cited by Japanese
instance in Japanese, according to the renowned scholar of
lexographical development, Sait Tsuyoshi, dates from the Edo
period, but the term was a translation of the Dutch word for
cloistered monasteries (Kloofters).
For the roots of the modern
Japanese concept of society, lexographical form is of less help than
conceptual history. We must consider a wide variety of terms that
were used in the late Edo and early Meiji dictionaries as equivalents
of European terms for society: majiwaru (to associate), atsumaru (to
assemble), ryohan, nakama, kumi, rench (companions), kai
(association), kaisha (company), ksai (intercourse), yoriai, shkai
(meeting), and shach (troupe).
Early on, three terms emerged as
favored translations for society: kaisha, ksai and setai (the way of
the world). Of course, the English glosses provided above (and also
below) are problematic: these Japanese terms have their own histories
of lexical development that need to be followed independently to
understand how they came to acquire the contemporary meanings
with which I have glossed them here. These English definitions at
best can only provide a sense of the range of possible nuance in the
terms employed to capture this illusive sense of society. While all
the glosses alert us to certain aspects of the modern concept of
society, it is also evident that these early translation terms fell short
of capturing the full meaning of the concept of society. Indeed, the
very plurality of the terms employed suggests that a vigorous debate
was still raging in the early Meiji years over how best to come to
terms with this new concept of society.
The conceptual ambiguity, even chaos, that underlay this
terminological variation, can be seen in the struggles of early Meiji
scholars to arrive at a definition of society. In his 1868 Conditions
in the West, Fukuzawa Yukichi had yet to settle on a single translation
for society, employing various terms such as ningen ksai (human
intercourse), ksai (intercourse), majiu (mingle), kuni (the

scholars as the earliest instance of this compound shakai in China, it may have been
preceded by earlier instamces, including a reference to an agrarian temple festival
that is dated to the Jin Dynasty (265-420 A.D.). My thanks to my colleague Philip
Kafalas for finding these references and translating them for me.
Sait Tsuyoshi, Meiji no kotoba: higashi kara nishi e no kakebashi (Tokyo:
Kdansha, 1977), 192-4.
Sat Masayuki, Kojin no shgtai to shite no shakai to iu kangaekata no
teichaku ni hatashita shoki shakaika no yakuwari [Society as Collective
Individuality: The Introduction of Social Sciences in the Post War Japanese
Curriculum] Nihon Shakaika Kyiku Gakkai, ed., Shakaika kyiku kenky, no. 68
(June 20, 1993): 18-29, at 23.
country), and sejin (the people). Seven years later, in An Outline of
Theory of Civilization, he added as translations for society kazoku no
ksai (intercourse between families) and kunshin no ksai
(intercourse between lords and servants). But most telling is his
association of civilization with both country and society:
Bummei is what is called in English civilization. That is, the word
derives from the Latin civitas and means the country [kuni]. Thus,
Civilization [bummei] is a word that describes the state of human
society [ningen ksai] as it has reached a stage of improvement. It
describes a unified state [ikkoku] that stands in opposition to the
isolation of lawless barbarism.
Here, we have evidence of a remarkable convergence of concepts and
terms in an effort to approximate a social unity that simultaneously
signaled the historical novelty of the sought-after unity. For
Fukuzawa, civilization was connected to the country (kuni), which in
turn could represent society and reach its final stage in national
unification (ikkoku). As he understood it, this was an unprecedented
effort to conceive and structure something that the Japanese people
had yet to experience: not only a unified independent state, but an
egalitarian society that would provide the foundation of that national
Similarly, when Nakamura Masanao (Keiu) translated John Stuart
Mills On Liberty as Jiy no ri (1872), he also used a wide variety of
terms to render Mills concept of society. As Douglas Howland has
noted, the most striking idiosyncrasy in Jiy no ri is that Nakamura
does not consistently differentiate between society and
government. Nakamuras reproduction of Mills text in Japanese is
persistently simplified by the interchangeability of seifu (govern-
ment or administration) and a host of translation terms for so-
These terms included seifu (government), nakama rench
(social group), sezoku (the ways of the world), nakama (by which
I mean seifu), jimmin no kaisha (which means seifu), kaisha, and
smotojin (the whole people). As does Fukuzawa, Nakamura reveals
in his translations an effort to locate a national totality through an
engagement with this new concept of a society. And like
Fukuzawas translations, Nakamuras terms for society locate that

Fukuzawa Yukichi, Bummeiron no gairyaku, (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1931),
51; the translation is Dilworth and Hursts , 35.
Douglas Howland, Personal Liberty and Public Good: The Introduction of John
Stuart Mill to Japan and China (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 64.
totality in an uneasy relationship with the government, even though
not completely absorbed by it. Although it is shocking to some
scholars that Nakamura (and Fukuzawa) did not draw as sharp a
distinction between state and society as we might expect today, we
should not leap too quickly to a conclusion about the significance of
their failure to distinguish state and society. The sharp line in
Japanese political discourse between state and society was drawn as a
result of later historical events, and we must be careful not to fall into
anachronistic projections onto this time period.
A better understanding of the development of the concept of
society comes from a sensitivity to the historical developments that
eventually made state and society seem as if they were essentially
(rather than only contingently) in opposition. This opposition of state
to society was not a salient feature of the early Meiji engagement with
shakai, for the overriding concern of that time was to built a social
whole, a nation or a stateor boththat could unite the Japanese
people in the face of the challenges coming from the outside.
Of course, this overriding concern with social integration does not
mean that social conflict was unknown to the early Meiji social
thinkers. But as Nishi Amane made clear, social tensions were not
seen as ingredients of positive or progressive movements that ought
to be encouraged, but as potentially anarchic forces that could
threaten the peace and security of the peoples livelihood. In the
process of articulating these concerns, Nishi introduced a term that
seems to invoke a contemporary understanding of shakai as society (a
misleading interpretation encouraged by William Reynolds Braisteds
anachronistic translation of Nishis shakai as society). In a
February 1874 criticism of Fukuzawa, Nishi wrote
[As for] Fukuzawas comparison of government to the life force within
the human body and the people to an external stimulus. I am obliged
to take issue with his point
It is, then, very fine when the public spirit is strong and when society
[sic., shakai] is upright. But it is most unfortunate when disturbances
ultimately erupt after the emergence of factionalism. What will be
the end if factions successively proliferate one after another? There will
be no limit to dissent and disruption in society [sic., shakai] brought on
by these boastful braggarts who need not look far to learn the
consequences of their behavior.

Nishi Amane, Higakusha shokubun ron, in Meiroku Zasshi (issue, no. 2,
1874); English translation as Criticism of the Essay on the Role of Scholars in
William Reynolds Braisted, trans., Meiroku Zasshi: Journal of the Japanese
Enlightenment (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), 25-29 at 27-28.
Braisteds translation of Nishis concept of shakai as society is
understandable, as Nishi appears to conceive of shakai as an
autonomous force that cannot be entirely controlled by the
government (or the state), something quite close to the
contemporary understanding of society held by most social theorists.
Moreover, Nishi seems to intuit that political order is a function of the
stability of this shakai, not the other way around. Nonetheless, Sait
Tsuyoshis study has demonstrated that Nishi did not intend shakai as
a translation for society; at the time, he still used other terms like sha
or aiseiy no michi for direct translations of society.
Nishi meant by shakai (social mores? morals?) it clearly had causal
priority over, and autonomy from, the government.
Nishis use of shakai makes Fukuchi Genichirs use of the same
term (with phonetic script alongside the compound to read society)
in his editorial in the 14 January 1875 issue of the Tokyo Nichi-Nichi
newspaper all the more fascinating.
Although Fukuchi had worked
with Nakae Chmin, by 1874 he upheld the theory of monarchical
sovereignty against the Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement.
Thus, one might have expected him also to disagree with Nishi that
the construction of shakai had priority over the reform of political
institutions. But in fact, Fukuchi was very much a proponent of
constructing a new society around the concept of heimin (commoners)
and in abolishing the social privileges of the samurai. In fact, he hung
a large sign in front of his home that read Commoner Fukuchi
Genichir of Tokyo.
His firm understanding of the importance of
building a new society is clear from the fact that, unlike Nishis use of
the term shakai, Fukuchis was a direct translation of the concept of
society. Moreover, because it appeared in a major newspaper editorial,
it spread the term as a translation of society to a broader reading
public. Thereafter the term grew in popularity: Mitsukuri Rinsh used
shakai, again with phonetic marks for society, in his translation of
Caspar Hopkinss 1875 A Manual of American Ideas; Mori Arinori
employed shakai for society in his speech published in the Meiroku

Sait, Meiji no kotoba, 184.
While Fukuchis published editorial precedes Nishis article in the journal
Meiroku Zasshi by a few weeks, that does not necessarily mean that his usages of
shakai was prior or influential on Nishi. It was, however, the most influential on the
Japanese public, due to its medium. For the unresolved debate over whose usage of
shakai was truly the first, see Sait, Meiji no kotoba, 183-8.
Sakamoto Takao, Kindai nihon seishin shiron, Kdansha gakujutsu bunko 1246
(Tokyo: Kdansha, 1996), 251.
Zasshi that year, and Fukuzawa himself used shakai in his journal
Katei sdan, which he began publishing in September 1875.
From this brief summary, we may conclude that from about 1875,
the Japanese term shakai was clearly being accepted as the translation
of the Western concept of society. But how did these translators
understand shakai (or society)? The convergence in usage of the
term shakai as a translation for society does not necessarily mean
there was clear or uniform understanding of what society meant. Sat
Masayuki has explored this question by analyzing the English
dictionary that Fukuzawa, Nishi, and Nakamura used. That dictionary,
Websters 2nd Edition (1864), provided two definitions for society:
(1) A number of persons associated for any temporary or permanent
objects; an association for mutual profit, pleasure, or usefulness; a
social union; a partnership. (2) The persons, collectively considered,
who live in any region or at any period; any community of individuals
who are united together by any common bond of nearness or
Japanese of that time thought of the country, the old domain, or
perhaps the extended house (ie) as fulfilling the second definition.
This concept of society then was seen as a thoroughly privatized
realm, rather than as a realm where public and private interests
intersected in the construction of a social or national whole. The
reason for the uncertainty and experimentation in translating the
concept of society in early Meiji Japan is that there was no prior
experience with society in this sense before Meiji Japanese began
trying to translate it into Japanese. As Sat notes, the society
expressed through the application of the word shakai that was not in
common parlance at the time did not sufficiently convey during the
Meiji period the sense of society as a collective body of
Translation and social theory were as much acts of
intervention oriented toward the construction of a social whole as
they were mere objective renderings of that concept into the Japanese
Indeed, the effort to establish a concept of society as a collective
body of individuals did not prevent the unleashing of certain demons
into the political discourse. We saw above in Chapter Two that

Sait Tsuyoshi, Meiji no kotoba,206-9.
Websters 2nd Edition (1864); cited in Sat Masayuki, Kojin no shgtai to
shite no shakai to iu kangaekata no teichaku ni hatashita shoki shakaika no
yakuwari, Shakai kagaku kyiku kenky, no. 68 (June 1993), 24.
Sat Masayuki, 25.
Murota Mitsuyoshi translated Guizots concept of society as
minzoku, (), the earliest known instance of that Japanese word,
and it is striking that it appeared first as a translation of society.
Although Murotas translation of society as minzoku did not last long
in translations of Guizot (Nagamine Hideki replaced it with shakai
the following year)
it was an influential intervention in broader
intellectual discourse, and its effects on understandings of society can
be discerned in Taguchi Ukichis 1877 A Brief History of the
Japanese Enlightenment. But most importantly, it revealed the
underlying links between efforts to conceive of society and rising
nationalist aspirations. In the middle of the 1870s, when the concept
and reality of society were still largely undetermined, this translation
of society as minzoku added to the confusion about what society
meant, even as it pushed that discourse closer to the growing populist
nationalist discourse of the day (which I take up in detail in Chapter
Six). In any event, it provides clear linguistic evidence of the general
point Greenfeld makes in social theory about the close relationship
between society and nation and particularly the intimations of
ethnic nationalism that often lie behind certain incantations of
society in modern Japan.
Constructing Society, Conceiving of Shakai
These efforts to translate Western ideas about society did not occur in
a vacuum. To understand their significance, it is important to place
them alongside efforts at social reform, or more accurately, the
project of building a society in the early Meiji period. In the heady
days following the Meiji Restoration, there were serious efforts by
leading activists, intellectuals and bureaucrats to construct a new,
more egalitarian social order. Almost immediately, social categories
were re-organized in a gradual process that eventually led to the
disestablishment of the privileged samurai class. This social reform
was known as shimin bydo (equalizing the four categories of the
people), and while of course inequalities inevitably re-emerged, it is
most important for understanding the connection between society and
nationalism to recognize the appeal of this broad effort by
government and non-government leaders to encourage a more
egalitarian society in law and in attitude.

Haga, Meiji kokka no keisei, 236.
Sait Tsuyoshi, Meiji no kotoba, 209.
The most striking example of this radical effort to build an
egalitarian society was the effort by Kat Hiroyuki and e Taku
the enlightened bureaucrats (kaimeiha kanry) to outlaw dis-
crimination against the historically persecuted outcaste people.
Significantly, these people were referred to as the filthy (eta) or
even non-people (hinin). Efforts to end this discrimination were
nothing less than efforts to include these people within the category of
the people that would constitute the foundation of a new national
body. This anti-discrimination effort should not be misconstrued as an
attempt to outlaw all social distinctions; after all, the categories of
aristocrat (kazoku) and former samurai (shizoku) were left
unchallenged, as was the position of the monarchy and the circle of
monarchical family members (kzoku) that enjoyed the highest social
position. Rather, the objective was to include all commoners in some
fashion within the conceptual and legal contours of society or the
In August 1871 these efforts were rewarded with the issuance of
the Ordinance Liberating the Outcastes (Senmin Kaih Rei) which
officially abolished the use of discriminatory language in reference to
members of the outcaste and established their formal legal equality
with commoners. Henceforth, they were to be known officially as
New Commoners. The goal of this law was to remove one of the
greatest barriers to constructing a social whole. The connection
between the rising nationalism and this effort to outlaw social
discrimination is noted by e Shinobu (even as his language betrays
the statist bias mentioned above):
The abolition of the status of despised people (eta, hinin) was
considered a necessity by the new unified state. As Kat Hiroyuki
insisted, for the new government that was seeking equality with the

e Taku (1847-1921) was a politician and entrepreneur from Kchi who had
joined the anti-bakufu side in the Restoration. In addition to submitting the petition to
abolish the Eta class in 1871, he was later jailed for thinking about raising an army to
help Saig; in 1887 he founded the Daid Danketsu to heal divisions in the Freedom
and Peoples Rights Movement. He was elected to Diet in 1890, and as chair of the
Budget Committee tried to work out a compromise between advocates for the
government and of the people. Failing to win re-election in 1892, he then worked in
railroad and anti-buraku discrimination movements. Later, he founded Teikoku
Kdkai and became a Buddhist priest.
Western Powers, the caste system not only contravened the laws of
Heaven, but was a national shame (gokokujoku).
There were limits to what a fiat from above could do to eradicate
discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that had settled deeply into
Japanese life. Even the use of the moniker New Commoners (shin
heimin), whether in everyday life and parlance or in official
documents like the family registers, undermined the intent of the law
against social discrimination. Everyone knew that the New
Commoners until recently had been the outcastes, and the issuance
of an ukase did not easily overturn historically ingrained attitudes
toward those people. In the late 1890s, the name New Commoners
was replaced by an even more odious term, Special Hamlet People
(tokushu burakumin) with equally limited success. This flawed effort
to redress social inequalitiesessentially, to construct a true nationis
a valuable reminder that nation building and social reform were
advocated not only by populists who may have been antagonistic
toward the new government but also by members of the government,
along lines that cut across the government/people divide.
The lesson of these efforts to outlaw social discrimination, the
imposition of a conscription law in 1873 and many other laws that
sought to reform society is not simply that they failed in certain
respects. To expect laws to immediately transform a society and its
traditional customs is to expect too much. Rather, the legal, political,
social, economic and other areas of social reform that flooded Japan
during the 1870s are important reminders that society itself was in
flux even as journalists, intellectuals, and officials tried to understand
and codify what society meant. It is important to try to glimpse this
transformation as more than technical linguistic or legal reform, but
as the inter-dynamic process it was. Concepts of society were put
forth that both shaped and reflected certain understandings of society,
and social reforms were implemented that both were influenced by
and influenced social theories and translations. Two salient
characteristics may be noted in of all these efforts to reshape society:
a highly self-conscious sense that society needed to be, and could be,
reshaped and improved; and a belief that models from other traditions,
especially from the West, were appropriate sources for guidance.
These convictions were emboldened by the realization that Japan still

e Shinobu, Ka-shi-zokusei to shin heimin, 48-49 in Fujiwara Akira, Imai
Seiichi and e Shinobu, eds., Kindai nihonshi no kiso chishiki (Tokyo: Yhikaku
Bukkusu, 1979): 48-49.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Kindai nihon no chi to seiji, 157.
lacked a political constitution that would define the nation in legal
terms. Prior to, and in anticipation of, the establishment of such a
constitution, social theories became a key place for the articulation of
national imaginaries.
Without doubt, the most important model for such national
imaginaries was the French Revolution. It is well known that Nakae
Chmin and his French School of translators were deeply affected
by the French Revolution as a model for understanding the
revolutionary impact of the Meiji Restoration on the new Japanese
society. But it is too simplistic to think that there was a French
school promoting the model of the French Revolution and an English
and German school of translators opposed to it. In fact, during the
1870s, French and English social theories were the most dominant
among Japanese translators of Western social theory; German
theories came later. And in practice, there often was little distinction
between French and English schools, with some French
translators actually working through English translations of French
texts. Nor was France exclusively a symbol of a republican
ideology opposed to either a British or Prussian model of monarchical
government, as is often thought. The Meiji (monarchical) government
authorized its own translations from French political theory, and
many government and anti-government scholars working in the
French tradition (including Nakae) were critical of the extremism of
the French Revolution.
To grasp the role of France as a factor in Japanese social theory
during the pre-constitutional years, it is helpful to begin with a
general note on the differences between the French Revolution, the
counter-Revolution in Germany, and the Meiji Restoration. The
French Revolution unleashed populist forces that saw in the
revolution hopes for liberation by overthrowing the Frankish ancien
regime in the name of liberty and by scorning, under the banner of
universal reason, religious institutions and practices as mere
superstitions. But the French Revolution was not universally
acclaimed even in France: it was bitterly opposed by powerful
elements who retained considerable influence even after the
Revolution. They welcomed the counter-revolution that German poets
and writers inaugurated in the early nineteenth century by extolling
ancient myths and local superstitions against the invasion of new
universal ideals, and these conservative counter-revolutionists

Yamamuro Shinichi, Mitsukuri Rinsh to Kawazu Sukeyuki: futari no shodai
kch, 312.
sometimes turned toward a romantic, cultural view of the people as an
ethnically defined Volk who would be led by elites such as themselves
against the foreign enemy. Whether conceived as society or Volk,
this idea of the nation as the people themselves rose to the fore as a
result of the French Revolution and its attack on monarchy as the
sovereign subject of national politics.
The translation and uses of French and German social theory in
Japan reflected the ambiguous nature of the Meiji Restoration, which
captured aspects of both the progressive French Revolution and the
German romantic movements cultural conservatism, along with its
goal of constructing the national people as an organic social totality.
Beyond these differences and prior to them lay an earlier political
tradition in Japan that distinguished between the officials of
government (kan) and the people (min) over whom they ruled. This
traditional distinction between the people and the government
allowed for a considerable range of options in incorporating modern
social and national theories from Europe, even while sometimes
reinforcing those social theories that drew a sharp distinction between
state and society. Yet, throughout these debates, there was one strong
difference between how the Meiji Restoration was received in Japan
and how the French Revolution was received in France:
The narratives that informed the various movements and people who
played active roles in the Meiji period had some slight differences from
each other, but one cannot overlook the fact that there was a kind of
common core to them all. Almost everyone involved in the events had
some kind of positive appraisal of the significance of the Meiji
Restoration as reform (henkaku).
For the most part, contestation over the significance of the Meiji
Restoration was guided by a shared sense that it was an opportunity to
make things better, and where it had failed to do so, the failure was a
result of an incomplete Restoration, a corruption of the original
goals of the Restoration, or a lack of resolve in implementing the full
agenda of the Restoration. This belief remained strong throughout
subsequent Japanese history, as witnessed in later calls for a Taisho
Restoration, a Showa Restoration, and even most recently, a
Heisei Restoration.
Within this shared narrative of social progress through the
Restoration, two important differences in strategy emerged that
influenced the basic political structure of Meiji Japan and shaped the

Sakamoto, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 16.
development of debates over the role of the people and government
thereafter. One arose in the continuing debate over whether the role of
the government could be contained within the Edo ideal of
benevolent government (jinsei) or whether a more revolutionary
form of enlightened (bummei kaika) policy, with an active national
citizenry, was required. These were not clearly divided schools of
thought in the sense that partisans of each were consistently and
clearly identifiable across the tumultuous changes of early Meiji
politics. Rather, they were intellectual signposts around which
shifting political allegiances and re-alignments often took place.
Consequently, they are difficult to discern within traditional political
or social histories of the era. But when seen within the intellectual
history of the Meiji period, some underlying trajectories of this debate
are discernable, and they impacted the conception of society and its
political significance in different, but important, ways.
Advocates of benevolent rule included elements within the
fledging new government, such as kubo Toshimichi and Et
Shimpei, as well as former daimyo like Shimizu Hisamitsu, Hirata
school nativists, and local officials who sought to protect their
traditional privileges from kubos centralizing policies. Although
they employed different strategies, all shared an elitist view that the
people were incapable of participating in government and would
require benevolent leadership from an elite corps of rulers. Thus,
while they could at times seem nationalist in their culturally
exclusivist ideologies, they were not nationalist in the social sense, as
they retained a traditionalist belief in political and social hierarchy
and a dim view of the potentiality of the people as sovereign agents.
A more radical view was put forward within the government by
Kido Kin (Takayoshi) and Inoue Kaoru, by intermediaries like
Shibusawa Eiichi, and outside the government by publicists like
Fukuzawa Yukichi. Fukuzawa argued that benevolent government
was simply a re-incarnation of the traditional feudal attitude of
condescension toward the people. These modernizers called for a
thorough transformation, not only of political institutions, but also of
social mores and values as a condition for a responsible citizenry
capable of self-government. Within the government, this position was
most closely associated with the Ministry of Finance, especially in the
early years when it was under the control of Inoue Kaoru. After Et
Shimpeis reorganization of the Dajkan during the Iwakura Mission,
Inoue and Shibusawa resigned. But they submitted a petition that
drew a sharp distinction between political enlightenment (seiri j
no kaimei) and popular [social] enlightenment (minryoku j no
kaimei) and argued that Ets new cabinet had failed to take into
account Japans current social strength (minryoku). Throughout his
long career, Inoue never stopped criticizing Prussian constitutional
law for its over-emphasis on the priority of the government and its
lack of appreciation of the peoples will (mini).
Of course, Inoues
point was in part a justification of his own policies of financial
retrenchment (and thus tax relief) that had caused great friction with
other ministries, particularly with Ets Ministry of Justice. When
Sasaki Takayuki returned from the Iwakura Mission, he responded to
Inoues petition with great finesse, showing sympathy for Inoues
difficult plight, but also insisting that benevolent government was
completely compatible with Inoues emphasis on thrift.
In short,
Sasaki tried to retain political control by incorporating into the new
government the appeal that benevolent government had for
traditionalists, many of whom were not entirely reconciled to the
revolutionary, new government. It was an entirely successful solution.
These arguments for benevolent government, and the division it
presumed between the people (society) and the government, may
create the impression that there was continuity of tradition in the
Meiji political and social order. It would be a mistake, however, to
overemphasize continuity in the Meiji social order. Some historians
of modern Japan have criticized modernization theory rightly for its
overemphasis on the revolutionary nature of the Meiji Restoration,
preferring to see instead a transitional period in which traditional
cultural practices heroically resisted a cultural invasion from the West,
as Japanese creatively adapted and indigenized Western culture
beneath slogans that extolled the universal ways of modern,
enlightened societies. Such revisionist arguments are of course as
much indebted to the German counter-revolutionary theories of
society as primoridal Volk as they are objective assessments of the
ability of Western social theories to reshape Japanese society in the
early Meiji period.
It is important not to forget that the Meiji Restoration was, like the
French Revolution, experienced in its own day as a revolutionary
overthrow of existing social relations. As Kaji Ryichi reminds us,
the problem of society in Meiji Japan cannot be understood without
first recognizing these early revolutionary changes, including the
abolishment of the shi-n-k-sh social castes in favor of equality of
commoners; the abolishment of the samurai right to carry a sword;

Haga, 226-7.
Sakamoto Takao, Meiji kokka no kensetsu, 99-102, 148-164.
the abolishment of the tonsure and official concubines; and the
abolishment of institutionalized discrimination against outcastes.
While Kaji concedes that conservative ideas remained in some sectors
of society, he emphasizes that overall, [society] was permeated by
foreign thought to the degree that it was almost a complete translation
[of culture and society].
Perhaps one way beyond the morass of
traditional culture versus modern politics is to shift our emphasis
from cultural determinism to a greater appreciation of social change
and the individual transformations that took place within it.
Recognizing the influence of Western social theory is one way to
understand the revolutionary impact of the Meiji Restoration on
Japanese society. It also alerts us to the fact that social transformation
was a distinct problem separate from, but interrelated with, the
transformation of the political order and the rise of a modern state. By
paying careful attention to the process of selective translations and
adaptation of those Western theories into Japanese language to meet
the needs of Japanese society, we can better appreciate the relevance
and limitations of this social revolution that accompanied the process
of building a modern nation during the Meiji period.
One cannot overemphasize the seriousness of the question of
society that was raised during the first two decades of the Meiji
period. Until the constitutional form of the new government was
settled and the modern state took form with the Imperial Diet and
other political structures after 1890, concepts of society could and at
times did function as equivalents for ideas of the nation. And the
distinction between the nation and the state (or the government)
was being developed at the very same time. Social definitions were
often inextricable from national definitions in this period when nation
and state in Japan were still open questions. Further, how these
concepts eventually were resolved must be understood in the context
of the social, intellectual and political requirements of the entire pre-
constitutional period. In the absence of a constitution that formally
defined the state (and by defining the monarch as sovereign, defined
away the possibility of national sovereignty), much was still up for
grabs. Thus, one could say, to paraphrase Fukuzawa Yukichi, that
until 1889, Meiji Japan had, at best, a fledgling government with an
incipient society, but not yet a state or even a nation. At least, efforts
to form the Japanese people into a nation were as much focused on
social theory as they were on political and legal notions of what
constituted a nation. And after the constitutional foreclosure of

Kaji Ryichi, Meiji no shakai mondai, 20.
national sovereignty, theories of society functioned as surrogates for
aspirations to nationhood.
Society as a Problem
During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, society was
increasing articulated as a problem in Japanese political action and
debate. Indeed, the sociologist Ishida Takeshi has suggested that we
might well consider shakai itself to have been established from the
very start [in Japan] as a problematic (mondai-teki) thing.
problematizing of society can be traced to deepening tensions
between self-appointed spokesmen for society (often activists with
the Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement) and government
officials and police in the major cities, particularly in Tokyo. But it
also resulted from the introduction of concepts of society that raised
expectations for political empowerment that often seemed undercut
by the political and economic developments of the 1880s. The decade
of the 1880s was a fervent period of political debate which mainly
focused on influencing the outcome of constitutional deliberations.
But as the decade unfolded, high level government officials grew
wary of the challenges raised in the name of the people and turned
toward a renewed defense of monarchical prerogatives in its political
structures and benevolent rule in its fiscal policies. As a result,
nationalist expectations and resentments often exploded in various
social forms.
The social historian Makihara Norio has pointed out that the major
issue in the newspapers of the early 1880s was the price of rice and
the outbreak of suspicious fire in the cities, and he believes the two
issues were related. The most destructive fire began on 26 December
1879, in and around the Nihombashi-Kyobashi neighborhood of
Tokyo. It raged from noon until after seven at night, burning down
10,613 houses and killing 24 people. That fire was apparently
apolitical in origin, caused by carelessness in extinguishing a charcoal
cooking fire. But the ones that followed in 1880 were of a different
nature. According to Home Ministry statistics, in 1880 44 percent of
the 514 cases of fires in Tokyo were arson; in 1881, 58 percent of 495
cases were arson. When suspected arsons are included, the figures are
51 percent for 1880 and 62 percent for 1882. These patterns were true
for other urban centers besides Tokyo, but what is striking is that
none of the newspapers at the time seemed inclined to criticize those

Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 47.
who were setting the fires.
The newspapers drew a clear connection
between the sudden rise in the price of rice and acts of theft and arson.
The reasons for theft are easy enough to surmise, but why arson?
Makiharas explanation is simple: if you were burned out, you would
receive aid money and rice from the government.
This was a case of
benevolent rule meeting society. At a time when, in Makiharas
terms, Japan was in a transitional period between treating the people
as objects of domainal authority (kyakubun) and nationals (kokumin),
the very idea of society was mobilized to assert certain rights of the
people against the government. No longer satisfied with passive status
and not yet recognized as a sovereign nation, some people were
acting on the notion that their status as society gave them certain
rights vis vis the government.
This emerging antagonism between society and the government
can be seen in efforts to reshape social consciousness by revising the
very concept of society. Kat Hiroyuki, who for the last ten years had
been an advocate of the Peoples Rights Movement andas we just
sawa leading figure in the effort to eradicate social discrimination,
was starting to grow cautious in his attitude toward these social
movements. In his 1880 translation of Bluntschlis The Theory of the
State, he used kaisha, the word that today means a company or large
business, to render the concept of society. His rather eccentric choice
of kaisha for society requires explanation, as it appears five years
after shakai had been broadly accepted as the standard translation
term for society. He was not implying that society is equivalent to a
business or corporation. Rather, it seems his goal was to encourage a
sense of society as a coming together, an integration of political and
cultural forces with the state. Throughout the 1880s, as Kat moved
away from the Peoples Rights Movement toward a closer embrace of
the state, he strategically coined neologisms by inverting the order of
compounds to counter the more revolutionary concepts bandied about
by anti-statist forces (see the discussion below in Chapter Six on
Kats 1887 neologism of zokumin for nationality, instead of the more
commonly accepted term, minzoku). This practice of yomigae
(restatement) was popular among both peoples rights advocates and
rightists and cultural nationalists
and Kat was one of those
unique Meiji intellectuals who could claim membership in both
groups. If his kaisha was a restatement of shakai in this sensean

Makihara, 22-25.
Makihara, 23.
Irokawa, Culture of the Meiji Period, 106-7.
effort to redefine society in terms that would encourage social
consensus and cooperation with the governmentit helps to explain
why he proposed this unusual translation term so long after others had
accepted shakai as the standard term for society.
But Kats intervention was, in any event, too late. In 1881, Tokyo
Imperial University began using shakai instead of setai in translating
society. By 1885, its Department of Sociology was now referred to as
the department of shakaigaku, rather than the department of setaigaku,
the neologism coined by Inoue Tetsujir to render the concept of
It was Inoue who, as we saw above in Chapter Three,
precipitated a clash with Japanese Christians in the early 1890s. The
two facts are not unrelated. There is no question that by the 1880s,
Christians were playing a key role in highlighting problems in society,
and their preferred term was shakai. Moreover, their understanding of
society was often premised on the belief that society rested on certain
universal norms and a moral autonomy that could not be reduced to
politics or the governments decrees. Inoue believed that the
Christians, armed with their concept of shakai (which, recall, had its
historical origins in religious groups in ancient China) were a
potential threat to the state. Consider that the first organization with
the name shakai in it was Tarui Tkichis Ty Shakait (Oriental
Society Party)
founded in 1882 in Shimabara, Nagasaki, the very
site of a famous Christian uprising in 1637 that led to the outlawing of
Christianity in Japan for the next 234 years. Tarui advocated social
equality and was imprisoned in 1883 for his political activities.
Historians generally hold that, while the term shakai as an
equivalent for the modern concept of society emerged among
intellectuals in the 1870s, the concept of shakai as society did not
come into common use until the 1890s.
Moreover, the broad
familiarity with the concept of society is generally explained as a post
Sino-Japanese war phenomenon, when the media regularly reported
on something called the social problem (shakai mondai).
example, Kano Masanao argues that the social problem came to the

On Inoue Tetsujir as the originator of the term seitaigaku, see setaigaku, in
Shimmura Izuru, ed., Kjien (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1955), 1244
Kano Masanao, Kindai nihon shis annai, 232.
Carol Gluck, Japans Modern Myths, p. 320, n. 37; attributed to Sait Tsuyoshi,
Meiji no kotoba, 175-228.
The phrase shakai mondai is often rendered into English in the plural (social
problems), a rendering which the Japanese languages lack of specific
singular/plural inflections permits, but one that erases the broader sense that it was
society itself that was a problem, or in Ishidas words, that society was a
problematic thing.
publics attention after the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, when the term
kas shakai appeared in the media as a means of describing the social
effects of the Matsukata deflationary policies.
The problem with
this analysis is that it is not easy to separate these historical assertions
about the late nineteenth century from subsequent twentieth century
events that influenced Kanos analysis. In short, the rise of a socialist
party in the early 1900s that saw society primarily through economic
terms was a precondition for this historical analysis that,
retrospectively, attributes the emergence of society in popular
consciousness to economic causes. Undoubtedly, there is some truth
to the economic-social nexus, and I will turn to that problem below.
But this economic explanation remains partial. Just as the nation
cannot be reduced to economic causes, so too was there more
involved in the emergence of social consciousnesseven society as a
problem (shakai mondai)than economics. For example, more
attention needs to be given to Tarui and the Oriental Society Partys
role in events leading up to the Sino-Japanese War. When Tarui
assisted the Korean enlightenment activist Kim Gyokukin (1851-
1894) in the failed Kshin coup in 1884, the political turmoil brought
the Japanese army into Korean domestic politics and set the stage for
the Sino-Japanese War ten years later. Tarui was but one example of
the continental adventurers (tairiku rnin) who turned to Asia in the
late nineteenth century to enact social and national agendas that they
felt could no longer succeed at home. It is also apparent that the
Oriental Society Party was expressing and acting on a concept of
society that functioned for some Japanese and Koreans as the
equivalent of an unbounded concept of the nation, and like
nationalism, motivated them to great personal sacrifice in their efforts
to redress political (=social) grievances.
Domestic economic issues of course also played a role in
motivating people to take action in the name of society. The most
notorious of these domestic issues was the Ashio Copper Mine
Incident. During the late 1880s, the Watarase River in Ibaraki became
polluted from runoff of the Ashio Copper Mine and this affected
agricultural land along the riverbanks. Residents of the area
repeatedly petitioned the government to stop the pollution and
provide redress for the damage, but to no avail. In 1891 Tanaka
Shz, a former activist in the Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement, brought the issue national public attention when he raised

Kano Masanao, Kindai nihon shis annai, 232.
the matter in the Diet, but the only concrete result was renewed
government suppression of local protests against the pollution. Even
the eruption of the Sino-Japanese war did not end the matter, and in
1897 a large group of farmers from the area descended on Tokyo and
clashed with police. In 1901, they made a direct petition to the
emperor for relief, which went unheeded. Around this time public
opinion was inflamed by their sufferings, and socialists and
intellectuals pressed the case. In 1902, the government established a
Copper Pollution Investigative Committee, but the committees
charge was limited to flood control matters. As the publics attention
shifted to the Russo-Japanese war, various construction projects
began to improve conditions around the Watarase River, and finally
with the death of Tanaka in 1913, the issue of the Ashio Copper Mine
pollution no longer captured headlines. But the social problem,
which the Ashio Copper Mine pollution incident had brought to the
forefront of national attention, was now a major political issue that
reshaped relations between the people and the government.
Ishida argues that uneven modernization left a time lag between
urban and rural areas in late nineteenth century Japan, so that the
government was able to control the unrest in Watarase River region,
where a consciousness of society was weak. But, he adds, the incident
contributed to the political socialization of intellectuals like
Uchimura Kanz, Kinoshita Naoe, and Sakai Toshihiko.
these intellectuals were overwhelmingly Christian, as were the
majority of those men who founded the Association for Research into
the Social Problem in 1897, which the following year became the
Society for the Study of Socialism. This Society laid the foundation
of Japans socialist movement, which crystalized with the
establishment of the Social Democratic Party by Abe Is,
Katayama Sen, Kinoshita, Nishikawa Kjir, Kawakami Kiyoshi, and
Ktoku Shusuiall Christians except Ktoku. The Party declared its
commitment to true socialism, to the abolishment of the House of
Lords, and its support of direct popular elections (it was immediately
declared illegal and shut down). One result of all this was a general
confusion in the publics mind between socialism and society.
Contributing to that confusion was the common association of the
new concept of shakai, the shakai mondai of the Ashio Copper
Mine pollution, and the socialists championing of the victims of the
latter. Moreover, even the name of the new Party was not, strictly
speaking, the socialist party, but the Society-People-Sovereign [ie.,

Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 47, 50-51.
Social Democratic] Party (Shakai Minshu T). Consequently, as
Ishida points out, the very concept of society began to be associated
with idea of social misfits or miscellany (zatsu).
Significantly, it was in 1899, at the height of the social problem
that what it meant to be Japanese was first legally defined by the
Nationality Act. At its core was a concept of the Japanese people, not
as constitutionally defined subjects, but as a quasi-ethnic people.
Specifically, the Act stipulated that those born to a Japanese father
would be Japanese people (Nihonjin)-not the term Japanese
subjects (Nihon shimmin) employed in the 1889 Constitution. As
Yoon Keun-cha suggests, the ethnic concept here of the Japanese
was used as an unprecedented synonym for the legal concept of the
Japanese subjects (Nihon shimmin).
Nonetheless, the Act did little
to clarify who was a Japanese. At best, it expressed a tacit
understanding that everyone who lived on the Japanese archipelago
prior to the establishment of the Nationality Act was Japanese,
completely sidestepping the question of Ainu or Okinawan identity. If
this was an ethnic conception of national identity, it also was
indifferent to Ainu and Ryukyuan ethnic claims of distinctiveness;
alternatively, one could argue that it was a trans or quasi- ethnic
identity; a claim to national identity that drew from ius sanguinus
without restricting that blood to a clearly demarcated ethnic
tradition. It left many questions unanswered. As Yoon has asked, how
could one prove ones father was Japanese, when the definition of
Japanese identity merely rested on the tautological assertion that
being Japanese meant having a Japanese father? At its most ridiculous,
the Nationality Act was based on patrimonial lineage, but it was
insufficient for proving even that Amaterasu mikami, the supposed
ancestor of the emperor, was a Japanese!
What is clear, however, is that this was not an explicit legal
definition of the Japanese people as an ethnic nation, but a quasi-
ethnic approach to national identity that is comparable to the mixed
ethnic-civic nationality of Wilhelminian Germany. The Nationality
Act was roughly simultaneously with the surge in ethnic national
discourse in Japan (see Chapter Six below). But it was more an
attempt to co-opt the appeal of ethnic nationalism within a legal
framework than it was an effort by the imperial state to promote
ethnic nationalism. Close attention to the language of the Act is

Ishida, 47.
Yoon Keun-cha, Nihon kokumin ron, 99.
Yoon, 99.
revealing: this official definition of the Japanese people by the
government avoided the use of the term minzoku which was quickly
becoming the favored term for representing Japanese nationality by
critics of the government, whether on the far right or the left of the
political spectrum. At any rate, it is generally accepted that while the
concept of minzoku was at best only sporadically employed during the
early years of the Meiji period, there was a dramatic shift towards
acceptance and propagation of this concept of the ethnic nation by
anti-state political activists during the last decade of the Meiji period,
or around the beginning of the twentieth century.
In this context,
what the beginning of the twentieth century represented in terms of
efforts to place the people in modern Japanese politics was a
deepening divide between the elitist state and broad social and
political critiques that increasingly turned to various incantations of
the people.
Taisho Sociology and the Problem of the People
The Taisho period began, as the Meiji period had, with a crisis.
Unfortunately, the Taisho Political Crisis is often neglected in
histories of modern Japan or passed over as yet another intrigue that
remained narrowly confined to internecine battles within elite
political circles and thus at best of marginal significance to social
history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ishida Takeshi has
argued that it was Katsura Tars inability to recognize the challenge
posed by the new concept of society that ultimately caused the
downfall of his cabinet.
Similarly, Ikimatsu Keiz sees in these
events clear evidence that the concept of the people (minsh) had
gained enough strength to bring down a government.
Katsura was
prime minister first between 1901-06, from the beginnings of the
socialist movement to the 1906 strikes against Tokyo streetcar price
increases. Katsuras second cabinet was from 1908 to 1911,
culminating in Ktokus High Treason Case, his execution, and the
beginning of the winter of the socialist movement. Katsuras third
and final cabinet fell in 1913, as a result of the Taisho Crisis.
According to Ishida, Katsuras tendency to draw a sharp distinction
between matters that were political (seiji) and those merely social
(shakai) was his political Achilles heel. Katsura, like other

Nishikawa Nagao, Kokumin kokka ron no shatei, 86.
Ishida, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 47.
Ikimatsu Keiz, Gendai nihon shisshi 4 Taishki no shis to bunka (Tokyo:
Aoki Shoten, 1971), 30-45.
politicians who saw themselves as servants of the state, had failed to
comprehend this new concept of society that had come into general
use between 1899 and 1910 and especially its significance for
redefining nationalism. Rather than grasping the potential of this
concept of society as a new concrete political subjectivity, these
statists could only see society as a force for disorder and anarchy.
This proved a fatal blow to Katsuras career, as Ishida notes, for this
new nationalist principle was first expressed in the term minsh

emerged in the protect the constitution movement of the Taisho
Political Crisis.
Socialism emerged from its winter period in 1918, and, with its
return, brought the politics of shakai back into play. The Japan
Communist Party was established in 1922, but the communist
insistence on atheism left the Christians who had been among the
earliest and most ardent promoters of the new concept of society out
in the cold. Abe Is and Katayama Tetsu thus founded the Social
Masses Party (Shakai Minsh T) in 1926 to continue their work on
behalf of society while adhering to their religious beliefs. In the
context of this return of shakai, the incipient discipline of sociology
was reformed in an effort to bridge the gap between politics and
society that Katsura Tar had left in his wake. The most important
theorist of this new sociology was Takata Yasuma. Takata coined a
new phrase, total society (zentai shakai), in his 1919 Principles of
Sociology as a means of establishing a new relationship between
society, the state and other organizations of socio-political life.
Reasserting the power of society against those who saw it merely as
marginal or miscellany, Takata argued that society was in fact the
primary force in modern life, the foundational unity on which
political institutions like the state were premised. By the end of the
1920s, Takada had begun to emphasize harmony between competing
elements of the social order, a shift H.D. Harootunian has nicely
captured as a move from a gesellschaft understanding of society to a
gemeinschaft one.
In seeking a conceptual framework for this sense
of society as a harmonic whole, Takata eventually arrived at the

Ishida, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 47, 73.
Daid Yasujir, Takada shakaigaku, 143; see also H.D. Harootunian,
Disciplining Native Knowledge and Producing Place: Yanagita Kunio, Origuchi
Shinobu, Takata Yasuma and Nozomu Kawamura, Sociology and Socialism in the
Interwar Period in J. Thomas Rimer, ed., Culture and Identity: Japanese Intellectuals
During the Interwar Years, esp., 71-73 and 122-124.
H.D. Harootunian, Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in
Tokugawa Nativism, 430.
concept of the people as an ethnic group (minzoku), thus returning to
one of the historical origins of the concept of shakai: a sense of the
people as a national unity that was prior to, and independent of, the
political definition of Japanese as subjects (shimmin) or even as
defined through legal nationhood (kokuseki).
Takatas sociology was not the only social theory during the 1920s
that foreground ethnicity as the foundation of the social unity. In 1923,
the socialist yama Ikuo published his Social Foundations of Politics
in which he agreed that the foundation of society was ethnic national
identity (minzoku).
But yamas point was to present ethnic national
identity as a replacement both for society (which he saw as a
bourgeois structure of individualism) and the state (which he reduced
to an instrument of capitalist exploitation of the people). Takatas
sociology, in contrast, emphasized the complexity and growth of
modern society, and the need to contextualize minzoku in relationship
to a state. In essence, if yama found minzoku to be an appealing
substitute for shakai, it was to recapture the opposition to the state
found in the early history of the concept of shakai but to update this
social theory on the basis of the new concept of ethnic nationality that
after World War I offered the most promise of a powerful weapon
against the capitalist, imperialist state. For Takata, the whole point of
sociology was to show how historical development in modern
societies made possible a reconciliation between society and the state
through the mediation of the national identity of minzoku. The real
issue that animated much of subsequent sociology until the end of the
war was how to discern what the precise conditions were for this
social development and whether those conditions couldor shouldbe
replicated in various societies under Japanese colonial rule.
At this critical juncture in Japanese history, this new sociology
was foregrounding the relationship of society and nation by turning to
new concepts of ethnic national identity that the First World War had
The annals of the 1934 meeting of the Japanese
Sociology Association provide a remarkable record of how society
and nation had become intertwined. Usui Jishs contribution was a
long essay on The Concept of Nation (kokumin) in which he posited

See my discussion of yamas social theory in What is a Nation and Who
Belongs?: National Narratives and the Ethnic Imagination in Twentieth-Century
Japan, The American Historical Review, vol. 102, no. 2 (April 1997): pp. 282-309.
See my discussion of the sociology of ethnicity in Nakano Seiichi and
Colonial Ethnicity Studies, in Akitoshi Shimizu and Jan van Bremen, eds., Wartime
Japanese Anthropology in Asia and the Pacific, Senri Ethnological Studies no. 65
(2003): pp. 109-129, esp., 111-116.
the idea of nation in analogous terms to what society (shakai) had
meant earlier: a community of people as distinct from, but not
necessarily incompatible with, a political state. For Usui, the concept
of nation (kokumin) was distinct from both state (kokka) and Volk
(minzoku) in the sense of it being a community of culture (not blood).
While Usui was more interested in the modern cultural possibilities of
kokumin than the blood claims of minzoku, his overall argument was
quite in keeping with Takatas new sociology: the consciousness of
being a community of national culture was a sociological
phenomenon, not something dependent on the indoctrination efforts
of a state.
But Usuis belief that minzoku was determined by blood
and his turn instead to kokumin was not shared by most of the new
sociologists. Instead, they were drawn to new liberal interpretations
of ethnic identity as consciousness, and this opened up the possibility
of exploring parallels between the concept of society and that of
minzoku. Watanuki Tetsuo in a good example. His contribution was
an essay nearly as long as Usuis on Ethnicity (minzokusei) that
drew from William McDougalls The Group Mind to emphasize that
even the nation as minzoku is a subjective matter of consciousness.
Watanuki did not rest his case on theory, but illustrated the theory
with historical examples of how Nagasaki and Tosa domains had their
own historical forms of social consciousness throughout Japanese
history. Watanukis point was that Japan was already a multi-cultural
society, even prior to imperial expansion, and the historical
development of this multi-cultural social consciousness was an open-
ended, dynamic one. There was no theoretical reason to limit
membership in Japanese society (or the Japanese nation) to those
historical domains that constituted the core society.
A better
historical application of Takatas sociological theories would be hard
to find.
Other sociologists in the 1934 annals also focused on the concept
of nation, but it was Seki Eikichis article on Ethnic Nationality as
Basic Society that best exemplified the direction of interwar
sociology. Seki argued that previously certain sociologists (Takata?)
had identified something called total society (zentai shakai) which
they generally treated as an synonym for community. But Seki
wanted to get closer to the true meaning of total society, which he
found not in quantitative totality (merely adding up the various

Usui Jish, Kokumin no gainen, 46.
Watanuki Tetsuo, Minzokusei, Nihon shakaigakka nenp, Shakaigaku, daini
sh, 99-150 at 138-150.
subunits of a society), but in the qualitative essence of Japanese
society that made it distinctive from all other societies. Seki reported
that most ordinary Japanese and even some scholars held the
mistaken belief that this basic society or community in Japan was
provided by the state (kokka). His job was to prove them (and any
Marxist who held that class was the basic social form) wrong. The
basic society of Japan, he maintained, was ethnic nationality
Like most ethnic nationalists of his day, Seki quickly
added that he recognized the historic presence of other ethnic groups
in Japan (mainly Chinese), but that over the centuries, they had fully
assimilated. Thus, Japan had no need to treat its assimilated
Chinese the way Germany dealt with its Jews (who were like a large
cancer eating at the nest of European ethnicities).
Capitalism in
Japan was ethnic capitalism, class was subordinated to ethnic
nationality, and the world was nothing more than a space where
ethnic nations vied with one another. Japans basic society, its ethnic
identity, lay in its spirit, its Yamato kokoro.
This ethnic spirit had
been obscured by so much emphasis on the international forms which
Japan had adopted from the West, but right now this ethnic
consciousness has moved out in the open from the subconsciousness
to overt consciousness.
Seki was correct about one thing. Ethnic national consciousness
(minzoku ishiki) was on the rise in the mid 1930s. Sociologists,
including Koyama Eiz who had contributed to the 1934 annals of the
association, played a key role in creating the modern discipline of
ethnology. Official ethnology in Japan began in 1934, when Uno
Enk and Ishida Kannosuke joined Koyama on the planning
committee to oversee the establishment of the Japanese Society of
Ethnology. The Society of Ethnology was founded on 10 November
1934 and began publishing The Japanese Journal of Ethnology in
1935. The Journal provided clear evidence in its pages of this
conceptual emphasis on ethnicity as the basic component of social
identity, as it drew its readers attentions to various Asian ethnicities
outside of Japan. These developments reached a benchmark on 18
January 1943 when the Ethnic Research Institute was established
under the direct control of the Ministry of Education. Its director was

Seki Eikichi, Kiso shakai to shite no minzoku,

Nihon shakaigakka nenp,
Shakaigaku, daini sh, 217-241, at 217-8.
Seki Eikichi, Kiso shakai to shite no minzoku, 233.
Seki Eikichi, Kiso shakai to shite no minzoku,236-7.
Seki Eikichi, Kiso shakai to shite no minzoku,237.
Takada Yasuma.
These institutional and disciplinary changes are
stark evidence of how far this ethnic national consciousness had gone
in substituting for social consciousness; or another way of putting it is
that during the 1930s and 1940s, sociologists had sought in the idea of
minzoku a means of reconnecting to the national imaginary that
shakai had been founded in from its inception.
Postwar Japan and Shakai
If wartime sociologists had tried to place the people in the category of
ethnic nationality as a final resolution to modern Japans long
struggle with nation building, postwar sociologists turned to the
concept of society (shakai) to achieve similar results. This elevation
of shakai as the preferred surrogate for national identity was
promoted by the Occupation as a safe, international, de-militarized
and de-politicized mode of conceiving of the Japanese people. It was
also explicitly a reversal of Takadas shift from gesellschaft to
gemeinschaft. Sat Masayuki writes that the indoctrination of
Japanese children with this idea that society is an assembly of
individuals was the primary objective of the Occupation.
Immediately after the Occupation ended, one of the most influential
of the wartime ethno-sociologists, Yanagita Kunio, reflected that this
concept of shakai was a completely new idea for Japanese:
As far as we could tell, this word shakai was a new word. When we
were young, there was something called the shakai policy research
association, and there was a time when it was mistaken for a bunch of
socialists, so we felt that once again wouldnt people start getting the
wrong idea about this thing called shakai?Among foreigners
[Americans] there probably wasnt anyone unfamiliar with the word
social. But in Japan, I think there are quite a few grandmas who may
have heard the word shakai but dont grasp the concept.
What could Yanagita have been thinking? We have already seen that
historical research has established that the concept of shakai was
already familiar to most Japanese by the 1890s (those grandmas of
1953 would have been young modern girls right when the concept

See my, Building National Identity through Ethnicity: Ethnology in Wartime
Japan and After. The Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 27, no.1 (2001): pp. 1-39.
Sat Masayuki, Kojin no shgtai to shite no shakai to iu kangaekata no
teichaku ni hatashita shoki shakaika no yakuwari, 26.
Yanagita Kunio, in Seij kyiku kenkyjo, ed., Shakaika no shin-kz (Tokyo:
Jitsugy no Nihonsha, 1953); cited in Sat Masayuki, Kojin no shgtai to shite no
shakai, 25-6.
was most prevalent in the media). To grasp the significance of
Yanagitas disavowal of shakai, it is essential to recognize that he
was an advocate even in the postwar years of an ethnic theory of
Japanese identity (see the discussion in Chapter Six of Yanagitas
rejection of a distinction between folk and ethnic nation.). In
short, his comment reveals the contested nature of this postwar effort
to redefine the Japanese people, not as an ethnic nation, but as a
society of individuals.
As laudatory as this effort to enhance individualism in Occupation
Japan might seem, postwar educational and social reforms had the
unintended consequence of furthering the divide between society and
state, while inflaming a radical populist nationalism associated with
shakai, but more frequently with minzoku. It did so by weaken-
ingeven extinguishingpolitical citizenship during the Occupation
period when, in the absence of a Japanese state, society or ethnic
identity were the most likely remaining forms through which the
Japanese people could be conceived and expressed as a national
whole. Until the new constitution came into effect in 1947, the
Japanese were still not kokumin (and even after the constitution went
into effect, until 1952 there was no koku, no Japanese independent
state to which these min could be effectively incorporated). Yet, with
the surrender on 2 September 1945 and the end of Imperial Japan, the
Japanese people were no longer imperial subjects (shimmin). What
were they? One suggestion came from 3,000 communists who were
released from prison on 10 October 1945: their leaders, Tokuda
Kyichi and Shiga Yoshio, appealed to the people (jimmin). This
concept of the Japanese as jimmin was not only a functional
replacement for society, but it was also a politically loaded one. Of
course, it referred to the Japanese as the starving mass of physical
humanity that they had been reduced to by war and poverty. But it
also referred back to wartime Communist Party propaganda,
specifically placing the Japanese people in a hostile relationship to the
state. It was an ironic kind of anti-statist ideology since, as Ishida
Takeshi has noted, what remained of the state was hardly something
strong enough to be worthy of this kind of sustained anti-statism
As detailed below in Chapter Six, during this vacuum when there
simply did not exist an independent Japanese state, there was a
continuation and indeed enhancement of the wartime ethnic national
(minzoku) theory of the people not only among the political right, but

Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 161-7.
especially among Marxists and the left. A turning point came in early
1948. Building on antipathy toward the American Occupation
following General MacArthurs suspension of the planned 1 February
1947 General Strike, the Communist Party had begun to consider the
Americans their enemy rather than their friend. This attitude hardened
as Maos communist forces began to emerge victorious, and the US
began to mobilize for war against communism in Korea. In February
1948, in the midst of these developments, the Japanese Communist
Party announced its support for ethnic national fronts and began to
emphasize the idea of minzoku (ethnic nation) as its preferred way of
referring to the people or society. This minzoku discourse was not
censored, largely because SCAP did not recognize the role played by
ethnic nationalism in wartime propaganda, and the turn to minzoku
social theory by communists seemed to support the conclusion that it
was not a reactionary ideology. In any event, the Occupations
attention was concentrated on the more apparent dangers of
institutional and militarist expressions of nationalism, which
generally were located in relation to statism, not ethnic nationalism or
social theory. While the Occupation did try to promote a new
consciousness of society premised on individualism, it was much less
concerned with backlash from ethnic pride or cultural nationalism.
Like the Japanese police during the Imperial period, they simply did
not believe that such ideas could pose a threat to the order and
stability of the public realm. It was a momentous oversight, for it
allowed a virulent nationalism to fester beneath the radar screen as a
mere form of social theory.
The Occupations new individualist concept of society was
supported by progressive intellectuals who believed that a new
society could be built without too much concern over the dregs of
wartime ethno-sociology. These intellectuals were called the Civil
Society School (shimin shakaiha) and included such luminaries as
Maruyama Masao in political science and tsuka Hisao in economic
history. While most had been influenced by, and were sympathetic in
some ways, to Marxism, they were willing to pursue their social
agendas within the framework of the American Occupation. This
required finesse. Generally favorably predisposed toward
modernization, they viewed the Occupation as an unprecedented
opportunity to complete the unfinished project of modernity in Japan
by shaping a true nation (kokumin) through reform of consciousness
and social structures. These intellectuals upheld the principle of
universality against the increasing particularism and ethnic
nationalism of the Marxists. Maruyama found universalism in a
modern way of thinking that could not be simply equated with the
West; similarly, tsuka located the grounding of universal values in
Christianity which he understood was more than a mode of Western
Yet, even as the progressive intellectuals tried to reshape
society through reforming social consciousness, society itself was
shifting toward a materialistic, consumerist society that Ishida
identifies as taish shakai.
He traces this social change to the
1955 economic recovery spurred by the supply of munitions for the
Korean War and through the high growth economics of the 1960s.
It was a complete reversal of the jimmin society of the 1950s: then,
Japan was a nation of hungry, needy people; now, it was a nation of
affluent consumers.
This economic animal theory of Japanese society has lasted at
least 40 years. But even during its incipient period, sensitive minds
recognized its dangers and struggled to provide an alternative. One of
the most important of these alternative voices was that of Shimizu
Ikutar. Trained in social science in the prewar at Tokyo Imperial
University, Shimizu was one of the most influential, and most
interesting, social theorists in modern Japan. In 1946 he was
appointed President of the Twentieth Century Research Institute, a
group that included most of the postwar progressive intellectuals such
as Maruyama, Tsuru Shigeto, Minami Hiroshi, Mashita Shinichi,
Takashima Zenya and Hayashi Kentar. If there was one
characteristic this disparate group of contentious intellectuals had in
common, it was a general aversion to ideology and a pragmatic bent
of mind.
This was certainly true of Shimizu, who worked in, but
never was completely possessed by, any of the major intellectual
currents of modern Japan. Shimizu recognized that during this
unprecedented period of change in Japan, the most important element
in a reform of society was the reformation of values that might bring
the Japanese people together in a common cause and give meaning
back to their lives.
Rikki Kersten has articulated Shimizus contribution to postwar
social theory so well it is best to yield to her:
While many intellectuals saw the lesson of war as the need to distance
society from the State, Shimizu turned his critical gaze towards his
fellow thinkers, and more importantly, towards society-at-large.
Shimizu argued at the time that for him, defeat was not so much a

Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 189.
Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 172-3.
Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 176.
change in value orientation on the part of society, as it was a wholesale
collapse of values: this is not a turning point, rather it is a time of
destruction or collapse, or at least it contains the danger of becoming
so. Moreover, it was an act of self-deception to believe that defeat per
se could be invested with meaning. Shimizu stands apart from his peers
immediately following the war in that he showed more concern for the
development of society than he did hostility towards the State.
Whereas colleagues such as Maruyama saw defeat as a great
liberation, Shimizu saw mainly disconcerting continuity: We know that
from the outbreak of war through to its prosecution and then onto the
contemporary trend in democracy, people who have no sense of
independence at all are casting a long shadow. For the most part, this
kind of undesirable continuity could be seen in society at large.
Shimizus formula for postwar society was very similar to his formula
for the imperfect wartime society. The implementation of a
completely new system of social organization could only be achieved
by changing peoples attitudes, and having them act in concert. Merely
imposing a system externally would achieve nothing. In postwar the
greatest impediment to this kind of actualisation of democracy was not
the State, it was society itself.
The remaining question was what kind of values should be promoted
in order that people might change their attitudes in a democratic
direction. It was not merely a matter of coming up with the correct
definition of the peoplealthough that was very important. Shimizu
himself preferred a conception of the Japanese people as the shomin,
the common man. This concept had the advantage of connecting to
Japanese tradition without relying on any explicitly racial or ethnic
assumption. It conceived of the people in a manner that created an
opening between the people and the government. It carried none of
the essential anti-statism of minzoku, nor was it necessarily invested
in the state as was kokumin. Consequently, Shimizu found in this idea
of the people as shomin the foundations on which to build the values
of civil society.
Again, let us turn to Kerstens words to guide us in understanding
Shimizus theory of civil society:
In 1940, Shimizu had defined the modern manifestation of society, civil
society, as something that emerged in a process of opposition and
resistance to the State: [civil society] should represent a modern
society that is established in opposition to an absolutist State and
through liberating itself from that State. Because of the war
experience, the State appeared in postwar as at once more powerful

Rikki Kersten, Shimizu Ikutar: Prophet of the Common Man 19311951, 32-
33, in Shimizu Ikutar: The Heart of a Chameleon (forthcoming).
and more fundamental than society. If creative self-conceptualisation
on the part of society was to be achieved after 1945, Shimizu believed
that the ghosts of the wartime State needed to be exorcised from the
collective mentality. Thanks to the situation of crisis and enmity
between the Japanese State and the rest of the world between 1931-
1945, Japanese had been unable to develop the notion of civil society in
a universal context. Civil society had by necessity been particularistic
in its formulation. As a result, society became something that belonged
to Japan alone.
Shimizus point was that changing historical conditions required a
changed assessment of the possibilities of the State and the right
attitude of the people toward it. With the eventual end of the
Occupation in sight, Shimizu turned toward raising a consciousness
of patriotism among the Japanese people, as he understood patriotism
as a valuation by the Japanese people of their own political agency, an
essential first step toward the realization of Japan as an independent
democratic state. His book Patriotism, published in 1950 and again in
1973, sought to provide the theoretical underpinning of this patriotic
spirit required by civil society. It did so by explicitly relegating
ethnocentrism (his translation of minzoku chshinshugi) to the past,
and offering instead a broader sense of society that was framed by the
institutions of modern life in a political, territorial state.
For many among the Civil Society School theorists, the 1960
protests over the renewal of the US-Japan Security Treaty (Anpo)
represented the greatest hope for civil society in postwar Japan. They
saw in the broad movement that, in the aftermath of the Kishi
governments forceful passage of the revised Security Treaty,
extended from left-wing and right-wing activists to include students,
housewives and ordinary citizens, real evidence of the engaged
citizenry that democratic society required. Ishida is only one of many
social historians who found in Anpo the rise of the shimin.
For some,
this meant the emergence of powerful peoples movements, for
others, a true citizens movement, and yet others wondered if these
protests in the streets did not herald the beginning of an authentic
civil society (shimin shakai).
Yet, in the end, what emerged during

Kersten, 46.
Shimizu Ikutar, Aikokushin (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1950), 23-34, 60-61.
Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no shakai kagaku, 195-207.
See, for example, Shirotsuka Noboru, Shimin shakai no imji to genjitsu,
Shis no.6 (June, 1966):1-15; Takabatake Michitoshi, Shimin und no soshiki
genri, trans. by James L. Huffman as Citizens Movements: Organizing the
Spontaneous, in J. Victor Koschmann, ed., Authority and the Individual in Japan:
Citizen Protest in Historical Perspective (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1978):
this decade of fractious protests was less civil society than a protest
culture that grew increasingly remote from democratic engagement
and more a matter of self-expression and anti-statism. Looking back
at the start of the next decade, Inoue Shun summarized the results of
the 1960s in terms of what he identified as the anti-statism of the
young people.
Indeed, the deepening antagonism with the state, not
only among the young, but on the part of Japanese society itself, did
not bode well for prospects of a democratic civil society since, as Jean
Bethke Elshtain has noted, the state, properly chastened, plays a vital
role in a democratic society.
Shimizu was trying to say much the same thing as Elshtain, but
this nuanced approach to the state was largely drowned out during the
1960s and 1970s. As the more openly political protests against the
state receded in the mid-1970s, cultural theory returned as a surrogate
nation, as it generally worked through sociology and other social
sciences. Known in Japanese as Nihonjinron (the discourse on being
Japanese), this body of psuedo-scientific writing claimed, in various
terms, that Japanese society was constructed as a differentia specifica,
a society uniquely unique in the world. Nihonjinron theories rarely
referred explicitly to the concept of shakai as framework for this
differentia specifica.
Much more common was a reliance on the
concept of minzoku, and thus social scientists Ksaku Yoshino and
Harumi Befu are quite right to see this Nihonjinron theory as an
alternative theory of Japanese identity that is rooted not in the postwar
state but in an enduring sense of ethnic identity.
Nihonjinron was,

189-99; Furusawa Tomokichi and Sanada Naoshi, eds., Gendai shimin shakai zensh
1: shimin shakai no kiso genri (Tokyo: Dbunkan, 1977.): 131-132. The latter work
has a fascinating, if a bit reductive, chart that lists dominant conceptions of the
Japanese people in chronological order: 1868-1889: jimmin (people); 1889-1905:
shimmin (subjects); 1905-1914: heimin (commoners); 1914-1923 shmin (common
people); 1923-1932 jmin

(abiding folk); 1932-1945 kokumin; 1945-1960 jimmin;
1960-1976 jmin (residents); 1976- shimin (citizens). Furusawa and Sanada, 99.
While it is not without reason, this list is a curious one, particularly in the restriction
of kokumin to a time when it had no legal recognition and excluding entirely the
concept of the people as minzoku.
Inoue Shun, Wakamonotachi no han-etatisumu, Tenb no. 145 (January
1971): 60-67.
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial , 18.
Two notable exceptions are Nakane Chie, Tate shakai to ningen shakai (1967)
and Murakami, Kumon Shumpei, Sat Seizabur, Bunmei to shite no ie shakai
Kosaku Yoshino, Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Japan (London:
Routledge, 1992); Harumi Befu, Hegemony of Homogeneity (Melbourne: Trans
Pacific Press, 2001).
then, a revival of the effort from the late nineteenth century to
establish a national identity among the people that would be
independent of, and prior to, the nationalism invested in the state. It is
not surprising that it became enmeshed in minzoku, given that
concepts history of trying to articulate a national identity that was
neither statist nor civic. But for those social theorists who were trying
to promote democratic citizenship in postwar Japan, minzoku and
Nihonjinron were the greatest conceptual challenges of the 1960s and
1970s, particularly since they were embraced by both extremes of the
political spectrum. Under those circumstances, it was quite difficult to
articulate and propagate a sense of civil society that would provide a
modern, democratic nationalism that neither worshipped the state nor
rejected it out of hand.
Nihonjinron survived into the 1980s, but it had come under heavy
criticism, especially as the Japanese economy became increasingly
global and cultural particularism seemed too quaint and parochial for
the needs of an international society. But criticism of the cultural
collectivism of Nihonjiron did not necessarily benefit the cause of
civil society. Instead, social fragmentation and radical individualism
followed the logic of consumer choice in the unprecedented affluence
of the age. On the one hand, all forms of social theory were tainted as
collectivism and nationalistic; on the other new social theories built
on the exceptionalism and anti-individualism of Nihonjinron while
rejecting its national framework. The most influential of these new
social theories was Fujioka Wakaos idea of a new Japanese society
structured on micromasses.
This idea may have seemed novel and
exciting to young affluent consumers who found in it a legitimation of
their behavior of spending their way to freedom. But it was merely
an expression of what Ishida Takeshi had worried about earlier: a
fragmentation and de-moralization of society. In Fujiokas micro-
mass society, the anti-statism of the earlier mass society (taish
shakai) combined with radical individualism to yield a sense of
collective identity that allowed for any moral choice, so long as you
could afford to participate with a few like-mind consumers of that
pleasure. Fujiokas micromass theory of society was the highpoint of
a social and national theory of the postwar Japanese as economic
animals, as a people that needed no political or moral expression, but

Fujioka Wakao, Futatabi sayonara taish, Voice (January 1986): 206-29;
abridged and translated as The Rise of the Micromasses, Japan Echo volume 13,
no. 1 (1986): 31-8.
merely affluence to be happy. It was of course still an exceptionalist,
Nihonjinron, social theory.
Even during the height of the consumer culture of the 1980s, some
social theorists offered an alternative to cultural exceptionalism and
group consumerism. In 1985 Koyanagi Kimihiro and Katsuragi Kenji
brought together half a dozen academics with connections to Kyushu
University in a volume that explored in depth the theory and practice
of civil society, at home and abroad. If Fujiokas micromass theory
was a promotion of capitalist consumerism, Koyanagis group was an
effort to promote socialism. As he wrote in the introduction to the
Our motivation in publishing this collection of essays in intellectual
history is rooted in the shared, and very reasonable, perception that the
image of society that Japan will need in the future is that of a socialist
civil society.
In retrospect, it is fair to say that this project failed. Several reasons
for its failure can be offered. First, in contrast to Fujiokas writings,
this civil society theory was written by and for a specialized
academic audience. (In that sense, it contributed, ironically, to the
fragmentation of society that Ishida warned against). Second, a theory
of civil society linked to socialism has limited appeal among Japanese,
and not only for ideological reasons. In the history of concepts of
society in modern Japan, shimin shakai had been too narrowly
conceived as an urban phenomenon: this was, indeed, one of the main
reasons that the rise of the shimin during the Anpo demonstrations
failed to lead to a new social order, as many had hoped. Shimin (city
people) too easily connoted the privileged urban residents, especially
of Tokyo, and left out many other Japanese in small towns and in the
countryside. Finally, with the decline in popularity of socialism in
Japan during the 1990s, any effort to rebuild democratic civil society
from a socialist agenda was bound to fail.
To some, the decline of socialism means the decline of society
itself and a reduced chance for a healthy sense of national
cohesiveness when addressing national problems. Certainly, one finds
fewer efforts to address national problems by trying to establish the
right concept of society than in the past. But this should not be taken
as a sign that the fundamental problem that social theory has
addressed for over a hundred years in Japan has been resolved. There

Koyanagi Kimihiro, Josh: Shimin shakai ron o megutte, 1-8 in Koyanagai
and Katsuragi Kenji, eds., Shimin shakai no shis to und (Kyoto: Mineruba Shob,
1985), 1.
are still significant tensions between the nation as the people and the
state as the governing power. Nor should we conclude that the
political decline of socialism means a decline of interest in society or
social issues (this equating of society and socialism was one of the
key misunderstandings that plagued sociology in Japan from its late
nineteenth century beginnings). On the contrary, recent years may
provide the best grounds for optimism that democratic practice is
stronger than ever in Japan, and that the underlying issues that
society served as a cover for may be, indeed are being, addressed
openly by a larger number of people. What once had been limited to a
narrow circle of intellectuals and political activists is now being taken
up by journalists, popular writers, media figures and even national
Throughout much of modern Japanese history, society served as
a codeword for the nation, and it did so for historical reasons. Until
1952, there was no legally recognized nation, and this legal fact left
the field of national debate open to select from a variety of terms and
understandings of what the nation was or should be. Shakai emerged
early on in this debate as an effort to grasp the national people as a
whole that was distinct from the imperial state. Debates over
society and the science of society (shakaigaku/shakai kagaku)
were in fact debates over the meaning, scope, and political
significance of the nation. But when nationalism was debated under
the cover of the concept of society, the result often was a
disassociation of the nation (society) from the state. What we find in
recent years is an open discussion of the relationship of the nation and
the state, in Japan and in other countries around the world, and the
return of the concept of society from a kind of covert nationalism to
its proper role in mediating the relationship of nation and state is a
healthy development for Japanese democracy. However, it also means
that to understand the continuation of this long debate over the
people and their relationship to the state, we need to pay attention to
the concepts used to represent the nation. It is to those concepts of
nation (kokumin, minzoku) that we turn next.
In this chapter, I trace the emergence of the concept of a civic or
political sense of nation (kokumin), first in context of efforts to
protect the rights of samurai against the Sat-Ch clique government;
then as a broadening movement that aspired to national sovereignty in
the constitution; then after 1890, as a final, desperate hope for a
cultural national sovereignty that would be exercised through the Diet,
before becoming overwhelmed by the Constitutional rejection of
national sovereignty and the rise of a rival minzoku discourse that
abandoned political nation-building for the compensations of cultural
identity (this minzoku discourse is outlined below in Chapter Six).
During World War II, kokumin discourse re-emerged, both as a
bulwark against Marxist ethnic nationalism and as a logic of
assimilation (or at least integration) of the various ethnic nationalities
that composed the Japanese Empire. After World War II, the new
constitution enshrined kokumin as the official Japanese sovereign
nation, although it was frequently overwhelmed and undermined by
the tradition of a cultural minzoku national identity that was
conceived in opposition to the state. In spite of the Occupation and
the Constitutions role in asserting this kokumin national identity,
minzoku national discourse continued to flourish, albeit contested by
and at times intertwined with kokumin nationalism. Since the 1990s,
kokumin nationalism has been enjoying its strongest rebirth in
Japanese history. The reasons for this renaissance of civic nationalism
are many: the global rise of civic nationalism in theory and practice
after the fall of Marxism; the increasingly multi-ethnic composition of
Japanese society; and the explicit use (and occasional abuse) of
kokumin nationalism by many Japanese intellectuals, journalists and
politicians who seek a resolution to the structural imbalance of
postwar Japans political institutions.
Such a broad conceptual history of the idea of kokumin is essential,
if we are to fully appreciate the nature of early Meiji nation building
in either comparative context or in its own particular historical setting.
It is important to comprehend the full significance of the famous
statement by Hans Kohn, one of the twentieth centurys most
authoritative voices on nationalism: nationalism is a state of mind.
Kohns insight captures much of the distinctiveness of a nation
conceived as a civic nation (kokumin). In this understanding of the
nation, a nation is not a natural expression of an ancient, organic
being, but a mode of consciousness that exists socially only as a
representation of a specific kind of contingent and created collectivity.
Thus the concept chosen to express the nation (eg., whether the nation
is represented as kokumin or minzoku) is more than a matter of
linguistic form; it bears significantly on the meaning of nationalism,
both for the one who makes a conceptual preference and for those
who hear and reproduce these concepts.
Given the significance of the conceptual expression of the nation,
it is striking that, during the first decades of the Meiji period, there
was no consensus on the conceptual or linguistic modes for
expressing the idea of nation. In fact there were few terms for
nation in general use in the political discourse of those years. Not
until the 1880s do we begin to see the emergence of the two
commonly used terms today for nation, kokumin and minzoku. And it
was not the concept of minzoku (ethnic nation) that emerged first in
political discourse, but the concept of the political or civic nation
(kokumin). This historical fact challenges the claims of many
advocates of ethnic nationalism that the ethnic national identity of the
Japanese people predates their consciousness of nationalism as a civic
force. Ethnic national consciousness did not precede political
nationalism, but stemmed from the frustrations of advocates for
popular nationalism who could not realize their hopes in the debates
leading up to the Meiji Constitution. Its own primordial claims were
simply projected backwards in time as fact in order to cover up its
recently constructed origins. Consequently, we must first understand
the history of the effort to establish a political or civic sense of the
nation in Meiji Japan before we can properly consider the reaction of
ethnic nationalism.

Hans Kohn, Nationalism: Its Meaning and History (Princeton, NJ, 1965;
reprinted by Robert E. Krieger Publishing, Co., Inc, Malabar, Florida, 1982): 9. The
understanding of nations as modes of consciousness can be traced to Ernest Renans
Quest-ce quune nation? (1882) which opposed the Germanic belief in objective
ethnic roots of national identity with the theory of the nation as a daily plebiscite.
This theory of the nation as a mode of consciousness became very influential around
the First World War, and is generally understood as a liberal theory of nationalism
versus the conservative theory of the ethnic determination of nations.
As we will see below, some scholars have traced this modern
concept of kokumin back to 1871, but it is not entirely clear that this
usage captured fully what is usually meant by a nation. The term
itself, kokumin, was not a neologism, but carried with it earlier
denotative and connotative meanings from the Edo period. For
centuries, it had been used to refer to the samurai of a given domain
and generally excluded all others, most notably the peasants who
formed the majority of the people.
Consequently, within the area we
today think of as Japan, there were hundreds of different kokumin
groups, just as there were hundreds of domains. Whether at this point
the Dajkan meant to imbue all the Japanese people with full national
rights, or whether it was merely attempting to replace the bakufu as a
single feudal domain under the sovereign monarch, is open to
question. In any event, Fukuzawa Yukichi did not believe a nation
existed in Japan by 1875, when he famously declared that while
there is a government in Japan, there is no nation (kokumin).
He was
familiar enough with the concept to recognize the absence of the thing.
Prior to the 1880s, the concept and reality of a Japanese nation as a
unification of the entire people in the realm, based on a consciousness
of shared membership in the nation, was nebulous at best. What is
most remarkable is the emergence of this concept, and how it
contested with entrenched forces that were unwilling to permit the
realization of civic nationalism in modern Japan.
Who promoted kokumin nationalism in early Meiji Japan? Who
were its opponents? Arano Yasunori has argued that the foundations
of modern Japanese national identity lie in the anti-Christian
prejudices of the Edo period, as well as in efforts to assimilate the
various ethnic groups into standard Japanese mores and customs

Tyama Shigeki, Meiji no shis to nashonarizumu, Tyama Shigeki chosakush
vol. 5 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1992): 297; Luke Roberts, Mercantilism in a
Japanese Domain (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998): 4-5; Mark
Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan (Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 1999): 30-31. Ravina and Tyama differ on whether the kokumin referred
mainly to the commoners or exclusively to the samurai, but they agree with Roberts
in that kokumin was limited in reference to the domain.
Fukuzawa Yukichi, Bummeiron no gairyaku, 192. See also the translation by
David A. Dilworth and G. Cameron Hurst, Fukuzawa Yukichis Outline of a Theory
of Civilization, 144. It should be noted that Fukuzawa supplied the phonetic notes to
read the term kokumin as nation, just as he glossed kokutai as nationality. These
glosses are important clues to the meaning of these key terms of political discourse
and should be consulted by all who study the meaning of nationalism, kokutai, or
kokumin in modern Japan.
under baku-han authority.
Aranos argument about the anti-Christian
roots of Japanese nationalism is offered in the context of a larger
purpose, which is to explain the rise of nativist sentiment, perhaps
even a proto-ethnic sense of Japaneseness, that emerged in
contestation with Sinitic culture and thought in the Edo period. But to
shoehorn this broad intellectual movement for cultural distinctiveness
into the modern theory of kokumin would require excessive force.
By the time kokumin nationalism was explicitly debated in the
1870s and 1880s, it was not anti-Christians, but Christians themselves
who played a leading role in advocating this particular kind of
nationalism. Aranos argument that anti-Christian sentiment shaped
the basis of modern Japanese nationalism notwithstanding, Notto
Thelle notes that early in the 1880s it was Japanese Christians like
Kozaki Hiromichi who promoted kokuminshugi in order to emphasize
a nationalism grounded in the people (kokumin) rather than the state.
Buddhist nationalists, on the other hand, primarily identified their
nationalism (kokkashugi) with the state, and modern Buddhism
eventually came to regard itself as state Buddhism (kokka-teki
Bukky, or kokka Bukky). As Thelle concludes, Christian nationalism
identified itself neither with the past nor with the state, as Buddhist
nationalism had tended to do, but rather with the future and with the
Here, it is worth recalling, as we saw above in Chapter
Three, that the first draft of the Imperial Rescript on Education was
composed by a Christian, Nakamura Masanao, who shared the
futuristic, individualistic, and populist orientation of Christian
nationalism. For Christian Japanese, consciousness was always a
significant element to social identity.
To reconcile Arano and Thelles apparently contradictory claims
on the relationship of Christianity to Japanese nationalism, one must
first pay careful attention to chronology: the differences between the
Edo and early Meiji period, when Christian Japanese were not
represented among the intellectuals but severely persecuted, and the
middle to late Meiji period, when Christian Japanese began to play a
disproportionate role in political and social thought. At the same time,
it is important to recognize that there was no consistent understanding
during the early and mid-Meiji period of what nationalism is, its

Arano Yasunori, Nihon-gata ka-i chitsujo no keisei, in Amino Yoshihiko, ed.,
Nihon no shakaishi vol. 1: Retto naigai no kotsu to kokka (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten,
Notto R. Thelle, Buddhism and Christianity in Japan: From Conflict to Dialogue,
1854-1899 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987): 164-5.
significance, and what its relationship to the government should be.
Certainly anti-Christians, notably Shinto activists, saw Christianity
(especially foreign missionaries) as incompatible with their vision of
Japanese national identity. But not all anti-Christian nationalists
favored kokumin as the theoretical place for the people in the new
order. Shintoists tended toward an ethnic or tribal concept of the
nation as a natural, organic category. But most government elites
followed Inoue Tetsujir in rejecting nationalism entirely in favor of a
concept of the people as subjects of the emperor. In this context, it is
quite true that during the mid-1880s, most Japanese Christians were
very much advocates of kokuminshugi, a nationalism that is best
understood in term of a civic, multi-ethnic community in which the
people as such were sovereign.
Of course, Christians were not the only advocates of kokumin
nationalism. But they certainly figured large even in the group of
intellectuals associated with Tokutomi Sohs journal Friends of the
Nation (Kokumin no tomo). That group included Taguchi Ukichi,
Nakae Chmin, Nitobe Inaz, Ueki Emori, Ozaki Yukio, Kanai En,
Shimada Sabur, Yokoyama Gennosuke, Katayama Sen, Uchimura
Kanz, Ukita Kazutami, Abe Is, Nijima J and others. Of course, the
appeal of a kokumin centered polity was not limited to Christians,
although undoubtedly Christian belief in the dignity of the individual
influenced the rise of this more individualistic nationalism. Igarashi
Akio has tried to identify who the bearers of the values of civil
society were during the Meiji period by focusing on three groups:
journalists, Christians, and technicians (bureaucrats, artists, etc).
What was common to these groups was that the majority of them had
been retainers of the bakufu before the Restoration. Thus, he argues,
they carried into the new society a different spirit, one forged in the
experience of defeat and alienation from the victorious government It
is an enticing theory, and one that helps to identify the alternative
value system in the early Meiji period that often appealed to universal
values like civil society. Igarashis argument is derived from Yamaji
Aizan, who in turn took his theory that Christians were largely drawn
from the losing side of the Restoration from Fukuzawa Yukichi
whose theory clearly reflected his low regard for Christianity.
the theory is not completely persuasive, since many influential

Cf. Yamaji Aizan, Essays on the Modern Japanese Church, translated by
Graham Squires, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies,
1999), 68.
Protestants, like Kozaki Hiromichi (who was from Kumamoto) were
not former bakufu retainers.
Civilization and Nationalism, 1868-1890
From the earliest years of the Meiji period, there was every reason to
believe that the new government would take the form of a nation-state
(kokumin kokka). Civilization and enlightenment (bunmei kaiki)
was the catch-phrase of the day and, as the historian Nishikawa
Nagao has noted, civilization and culture have specific valences when
combined with the concept of the nation. In contrast to Johann
Gottlieb Fichtes idea of the German nation as an Urvolk based on a
long, historical culture, Nishikawa presents Ernest Renans concept of
the French nation as founded on a notion of civilization that appeals
to contract and consciousness rather than blood, origins, language and
the like. As Nishikawa summarizes, while this polarization in
nationalism theory between the German Fichte and the French Renan
left the English discourse on nation rather ambiguous, in Japanese the
distinction was much clearer than in English:
As for the term minzoku, this is a Japanese neologism that combined
two terms min [people] and zoku [tribe; clan] (it is not originally a
Chinese term). It may be a bit difficult to align it with a European term
but it is closest to the German term Volk. And then, we would have to
say that what best approximates the term nation from a civilizational
perspective is the term kokumin, and when approached culturally,
To grasp the politics of early Meiji kokumin nationalism, it helps to
understand that the modern concept of civilization first emerged in
eighteenth century France as a critique of despotic monarchy by
advocates for a nation founded on civil society. Civilization was not
contained within the nation, but carried with it a sense of universal
development: that all nations would inevitably follow the French
model of a civilized national development. Thus at its inception, civic
nationalism was caught in the paradox that in order to be truly
civilized, one had to be French, and to be a truly French nation, the
French had to extend their influence and treasure beyond their
national boundaries. As Liah Greenfeld succinctly captured this

Nishikawa Nagao, Kokumin kokka ron no shatei (Tokyo Kashiwa Shob, 1998),
development, La Grande Nation was the reincarnation of le roi trs
chrtien ...she carried and spread the gospel of Nationalityliberty
and equalitywith fire and sword. The crusading nation succeeded the
crusading king.
One of the fundamental political challenges, if not
the essential challenge, facing the new Meiji government after the
Restoration was whether and how this civilizational nationalism
might be reconciled with monarchy, and France presented an
excellent source for exploring this possibility.
To be sure, considerations of culture or ethnicity were not entirely
absent from the Meiji efforts to construct the nation as a kokumin, as
Yoon Keun-Cha insists in his ethnologically determined reading of
Meiji Japanese nationalism.
Neither were they completely absent
from the French discourse on the nation.
But during the first two
decades of the Meiji period, ethnic and cultural issues were secondary
considerations: the overriding ones were civilization, universal
development, participation in the international system, and along with
it the development of legal codes to determine the conditions and
practices of citizenship and governance in the new Meiji state.
Discourse on culture was overwhelmed by the obsession with
civilization to the degree that even the use of the Japanese word that
today is recognized to mean culture (bunka), during the early Meiji
years connoted civilization: it was a contraction of the phrase
civilization and enlightenment (bunmei kaika--> bun-ka).
even Yoon concedes that the word for ethnicity (minzoku) is rare in
Meiji political discourse until the 1890s.
The significance of this relative absence of ethnic and cultural
forms of national representation (minzoku, bunka) in favor of
civilizational and political forms of the nation (bummei, kokumin) in
the early Meiji years lies in its potential for exposing a historical
rupture in Japanese nationalist discourse. This absence contrasts with
the marked turn toward these cultural and ethnic forms of national

Greenfeld, Nationalism, 188.
Yoon Keun-Cha, Minzoku gens no satetsu: nihon minzoku to iu jiko teiji no
gensetsu, Shis no. 834 (December 1993): 4-37.
Liah Greenfeld notes that the French took much of their republican nationalism
from England (Nationalism, 156-8); Rogers Brubaker stresses the undercurrents of
ethnic nationalism within the dominant republican discourse of France in Citizenship
and Nationhood in France and Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1992): 98-102.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Re-inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation (Armonk, NY,:
M.E. Sharpe, 1998), 64-5.
Yoon, Minzoku gens no satetsu, 9.
identity around 1890a shift in nationalist discourse that reveals as
much about the nature of nationalism in the middle of the Meiji
period as its does retrospectively of the early Meiji nation-state
formation. Early Meiji discourse on nation-state formation was
characterized by strong aspirations for the development of the
individual after the fall of the feudal ancient regime. This
connection between the interests of the individual and the nation is
most famous in Fukuzawa Yukichis concern with the political
maturation of the individual Japanese as key to building a strong
nation (which situates his position within the French enlightenment
discourse on the liberating effects of the nation). This connection is
also clear in the writings of Nishimura Shigeki, one of the luminaries
among early Meiji intellectuals. In one of the earliest explanations of
what civilization meant for Meiji Japan (Meiroku Zasshi, May
1875), Nishimura argued that bummei kaika is the equivalent of the
English concept of civilization, and that in translating the concept
into Japanese it is important to retain the sense that civilization means
to improve ones character (hitogara no yoku naru to iu koto nari).
Significantly, historical research shows that an understanding of
civilization in this individual and social context preceded the later
connection of civilization with the state and its slogan of wealthy
nation, strong army.
To appreciate how and why many intellectuals and political
activists invested their hopes for an individualist, civic nationalism in
the new government is not an easy thing to do, especially in light of
our present historical perspective, from which we can look back on
the Meiji period from the vantage point of subsequent historical
developments. But we can gain a more empathetic view by resisting
anachronistic transferences and giving close attention to the various
legal and governmental reforms as they unfolded during the early
Meiji period. From their future-oriented perspective, we can
understand why such hopes did not seem unrealistic or naive at the
time. Early Meiji was still a revolutionary time, one that offered great
promise to those who hoped that the new governmentin contrast to
the authoritarianism of the ancient regimewould be organized
around civic, democratic principles and that the people would have
an unprecedented access to political power.
One might start at the beginning, in January 1868 when Kanda
Takahira (1830-98)s Kaigi hsoku an introduced parliamentary

Nishikawa Nagao, Kokumin kokka ron no shatei, 82.
debate procedures, five years before Fukuzawa, Kohata Tokujir and
Koizumi Shinkichi (translators)s 1873 Kaigi ben sought to explain to
a broader public the virtues of democratic government. Kandas bill
was an early harbinger of institutional democracy, and one surely not
widely understood by the public. But the public was increasingly
being incorporated into democratic practice, especially through its
growing awareness of the importance of public speech for democratic
governance. Surely, the most significant moment in this growing
appreciation of political speech was the 1872 publication of
Fukuzawas Encouragement of Learning.
It is for this reason that
Norio Makihara called Fukuzawas Encouragement of Learning the
first real work of nationalism (kokuminshugi) in Japan.
is quite right to place this text within Fukuzawas broader effort to
build a nation (kokumin) by placing the people at the center of
democratic practice. Often overlooked in histories of Fukuzawa was
the importance of speeches as a method he encouraged to reach the
public. Yamamuro Shinichi has noted that 1874 was an important
year in the publics appreciation of speeches (enzetsu) in
encouraging civic national consciousness. Fukuzawas An
Encouragement of Learning prepared the way, but its goals were
enacted by the Mita Speech Association and the various Meiji Six
Society activities.
Fukuzawa advocated public speeches as a vital
part of the process of creating kokumin, as not all Japanese enjoyed
the level of literacy necessary for a nationalism based on print-
capitalism. Moreover, speech was a public act, and one that required
the physical presence of a community, a group of people who were
both part of and symbolic of the nation itself.
During these early post-Restoration years, measures taken by the
central government converged with popular aspirations for a true
nation-state. This convergence can be seen in the 1869 abolition of
regional autonomy and the replacement of the Edo period status

Yamamuro Shinichi, Kaidai,in Matsumoto Sannosuke and Yamamuro
Shinichi, eds, Genron to media, nihon kindai shis taikei 11 (Tokyo: Iwanami
Shoten, 1990), 271.
Makihara Norio, Kyakubun to kokumin no aida: kindai minsh no seiji ishiki
New History Modern Japan 1 (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan, 1998), 11.
Yamamuro, Kaidai, Genron to Media, 268.
Speech clubs were most active between late 1879 and 1883. Admission to
speeches usually cost 1-3 sen, not an inconsequential amount then, but many people
of limited means paid the fee. Sait Tsuyoshi argues that, to truly appreciate what
these enzetsu represented, the term should be understood as the equivalent of the
English word speech rather than lecture. Sait, Meiji no kotoba:higashi kara
nishi e no kakebashi (Tokyo: Kdansha,1977), 386-402.
system (shi-n-k-sh) with a new, radical declaration of the formal
equality of all people, regardless of former status. Thus, Yamamuro
finds in these two radical measures early steps in the direction of
nation formation (kokumin keisei).
This trend toward civic
nationalism under the new regime was further supported by the
February 1869 Newspaper Publication Regulations that removed the
prohibition on private publication of newspapers set by the June 1868
Regulations. This lifting of the earlier restrictions encouraged a
proliferation of newspapers and a diversity of political ideas in public
discourse. Newspapers and public speeches were two complementary
parts of the incipient structuring of democratic or civic nationalism in
Meiji Japan: ideas that were published in newspapers were often read
aloud in public speeches to those who did not, or could not, read the
Concomitant with these developments in public discourse, the
government moved to establish a spatial boundary of the kuni, the
geographical contours for the new concept of a kokumin. In July 1869,
it established a colonial office for Ezochi and, in August, it accepted a
petition by Matsuura Takeshir to change the name of Ezochi to
Similarly, in the home territories, the 1871 estab-
lishment of prefectures as replacements for the old domains (haihan
chiken) converted the 273 old domains into mere administrative
districts of the central government.
This centralization of gov-
ernment invited a transfer of the domainal peoples consciousness of
their domains as o-kuni (our country) to a new consciousness of the
unified political community of Japan itself as the new kuni to which
loyalty was owed. This was not always merely a subtle suggestion or

Yamamuro Shinichi, Kokumin kokka keisei-ki no genron to media, 477-540,
Genron to media, 483.
Laws were enacted in Kyoto and Hiroshima (1871.7), Niigata (1872.8), and
Chikuma (1873.12) to encourage buying and reading newspapers; associations
(shimbun setsuwa kai; shimbun kgi kai) were formed all over the country to read
and explain what was in the newspapers to those of more limited education;
moreover, newspapers were made available for the public to read without charge.
Further, in Tokyo and Yokohama popular rakugo storytellers helped disseminate the
content of the newpapers. For example, Sanytei Ench (1839-1900) read the Chya
Shinbun to his audience, while Shrin Hakuen (1832-1905) read the Ychi Hchi
Shinbun to his audience. See Yamamuro, Kokumin kokka keisei-ki no genron to
media, 487-8.
Matsuura (1818-1888) was a late Edo explorer and cartographer who specialized
in northern Japan. He worked as an official in the Colonial Office from 1869 until he
resigned in protest in 1870.
The best study on haihan chiken in the context of the politics of nationalism is
Michio Umegaki, After the Restoration: The Beginning of Japans Modern State.
invitation. The April 1871 Household Registration Law, which took
effect in February 1872, required all Japanese to register, whether
samurai or commoner. The logic worked both ways: all Japanese
were required to register, and those who registered were considered,
ipso facto, Japanese. Although it retained for a while the usage of the
names of new status groups (ka shizoku heimin), it marked a
significant step toward nationalism by establishing the formal
equality of all Japanese nationals, regardless of social status, and by
making registration by law an essential part of the process of
determining who was a Japanese national. It was also the first
instance of the word kokumin in an official government document.
Needless to say, the definition of nationality was no mere conceptual
game: it had real consequences, as can been seen in 1871 when the
Japanese government declared to be Japanese the fishermen on
Miyafuru island in the Ryukyus who were murdered by barbarians
(seiban) in Taiwan. It then sent troops to Taiwan to avenge the slight
to Japanese national honor and prevent future massacres of the
Japanese people.
Yet, in spite of these reforms of administration, social status,
registration, and efforts to define and promote equality among the
Japanese peoplecertainly conditions for national formationwe
cannot conclude that the Japanese nation was automatically formed at
that point. As Yamamuro notes, these developments merely marked
the departure on the long road toward nation formation. While the
opening of the country by Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1853
introduced an acute consciousness of other nations to Japanese
society, detailed knowledge of those nations was not yet widely
disseminated among the Japanese people.
Moreover, Yamamuro is
certainly correct to point out that the emergence of a new national
media did not engineer a new nation in top-down fashion, but only
provided the opportunity for people to begin to imagine their
identities and common fates within the context of this new media.
National formation is achieved only when people become a nation
through their own consciousness, and not through being led or forced
into forming a nation by political elites or institutions. This
consciousness, which must develop autonomously, nonetheless does

Yoon Keun-Cha, Nihon kokumin ron , 92; also, Nishikawa Nagao, Kokumin
kokka ron no shatei, 86.
Yamamuro, Kokumin kokka keisei-ki no genron to media, 483-5.
not develop solely by itself, but through a relationship with others,
including those who are not members of the nation.
Yamamuros perspective offers a fresh insight into national
formation in early Meiji Japan. He invites us to look beyond more
simplistic histories that focus on top-down efforts at nation-building,
particularly by the government, and then declareoften
prematurelyeither national formation as the foundation of success in
modernization, or an indictment of Japanese modernization by
pointing to the emergence of a strong state-centered patriotism which
excluded all hopes of true nationalism. Instead, he draws our attention
to the important debates and discursive formations that happened in
the years between 1868 and 1890, years of great significance for the
dissemination of civic values and national identity in modern Japan.
And, rather than giving us an ideological driven narrative of
oppression of the people by the elites, he uncovers in this formative
period a dynamic history of contestation, contradiction, and conflict
that suggests efforts at a populist formation of civic nationalism.
Yet, by the early 1880s, efforts at building an inclusive, civic
nationalism were dealt a number of significant setbacks. The
resolution of 1881 Political Crisis meant the defeat of those who had
invested their hopes with kuma Shigenobus British consti-
tutionalism and the victory of the monarchical statism of It
Hirobumi. While the formalization of this victory in the Meiji
Constitution was still nearly ten years away, the failure of this effort
to create a consciousness among the people of being a kokumin was
evident in the language of the Imperial Rescript on the Establishment
of a Diet. Up to that point, there had been no uniformity in how
government documents referred to the people. Terms such as jinmin
(the people), shsho (the multitudes) and even kokumin (the
nation/citizens) had been employed on occasion. But, after lengthy
and passionate debate over the need to create a consciousness of
kokumin among the Japanese people, the Rescript simply referred to
the Japanese people as shimmin (the monarchs subjects). This
reference to the people as mere subjects in a Rescript announcing the

Yamamuro, Kokumin kokka keisei-ki no genron to media, 489-90.
Yamamuros assessment that there was yet no nation (kokumin) in early 1870s Japan
is shared by most historians of Japanese nationalism. Cf. Ysoon , Nihon kokumin ron,
90; Makihara Norio, Kyakubun to kokumin no aida: kindai minsh no seiji ishiki, 9-
19; and of course, most famously, Fukuzawa Yukichi, Bummeiron no gairaku, 192.
To fully appreciate the point, one should add that there was no state (kokka) either,
at least not until 1890.
formation of a parliament sent a strong message that national
sovereignty and civic rights were not to be expected. As a result, the
efforts to create a consciousness of kokumin shifted from the realm of
discourse and media to political movements that sought to work
through the political parties to advocate for populist causes.
Consequently, partisan bickering and political self-interest soon
absorbed this effort at building nationalism, rendering it at best a
secondary concern of the parties that grew more focused on self-
preservation. Whatever vestiges of this kokumin movement were still
smoldering within the parties at the end of the decade were further
extinguished when the 1889 Constitution of the Great Empire of
Japan not only defined the country as an empire (teikoku) rather than
a nation-state (kokumin-kokka), but legally codified the previous
announcement that the Japanese people were not a nation but merely
subjects (shimmin) of their monarch. The concept of a nation (either
as kokumin or minzoku) appeared nowhere in this first modern
constitution of the Japanese nation.
The kokumin movement had failed on several levels. First, and
most decisive, was the rejection of the effort to codify the people as a
kokumin in the Meiji Constitution. Equally serious, and related to this
institutional failure, was the inability to establish a coherent sense of
what nationalism is within modern Japanese political discourse and in
the common parlance. Nationalism was an extremely important issue
of the day, but it remained inchoate and highly contested in meaning
and applicability to Japanese politics and society. As one measure of
nationalisms inchoateness, we might turn to Sait Tsuyoshis
discovery that an 1885 English-Japanese dictionary listed the word
nationalism in English, but provided no adequate equivalent in
Japanese. Critically important was the fact that no compound with the
suffix shugi (ism) was offered, neither kokuminshugi nor
minzokushugi, suggesting that the Japanese language of that day did
not register the essence of the concept of nationalism. Sait concluded
that while some journalists were starting to use compounds with shugi
around 1885-6, the usage was not widely shared or recognized.
Hamano Teishir and Watanabe Osamu offered the word
hkokushugi) in their 1885 translation of Herbert Spen-
sers political philosophy.
But this concept only exposes the official
governments interpretation of nationalism that excluded the people

Sait, Meiji no kotoba, 372.
Sait, Meiji no kotoba, 384.
as the agency of nationalism. In terminology and meaning,
nationalism was still a very contested concept in the 1880s.
I. Meiji Kokumin Aesthetics
During the mid-1880s, advocates of civic nationalism kept it alive by
developing deep theories that prepared the ground for subsequent
efforts to restore kokuminshugi to the forefront of Japanese political
theory. Culture and art were ideal fields in which to sow the seeds of
national consciousness. Nakae Chmin, a leader of kokumin thought
and the Peoples Rights Movement, played a key role in his
translation of Vrons Aesthetics (originally, LEsthtique Paris: C.
Reinwald, 1878). His translation appeared in print between 1883-4,
while he was in the employ of the Ministry of Education, thus making
it an official government project. The official nature of this work is
underscored by the fact that the translation was advertised in the
official gazette (Kanp). Yet, this fact does not at all mean that the
government unified in supporting these efforts to promote kokumin
nationalism. Far from it. There were divisions within the government
over the national question and, as we have just seen, the course had
just been set for drafting a constitution that would reject the principle
of a sovereign nation for that of a sovereign monarch. But in the early
1880s, there were still influential voices, some within the government,
who called for a different path. And, to the extent that these voices
were expressed in arcane cultural and aesthetic theories, they were
permitted expression.
Nakaes translation of Vrons Aesthetics provides a useful
reminder that ideas on art and culture are not peripheral in the project
of constructing a national consciousness. But it also provides valuable
historical evidence that in pre-constitutional Meiji Japan, kokumin
nationalism did not always reject the integration of the people with
the newly emerging state, even if the government was beginning to
reject the idea of the people as sovereign. In the early 1880s, Nakae
still thought that there was room within the emerging Meiji state for a
kokumin nationalism, and his optimism may have been encouraged by
the fact that the 1881 Political Crisis was between advocates of
British and Prussian political theories. Nakae represented a third
alternative: French republican nationalism. The fact that history
subsequently proved him wrong about the viability of the French
option, at least under the Meiji constitution, does nothing to diminish
the historical significance of his work, and the vision he and the
French School expressed, in shaping a culture of kokumin identity
in late nineteenth century Japan.
To appreciate the reasons for Nakaes optimistic sense that the
government work was not incompatible with forming kokumin
consciousness, it helps to start with some background on the Ministry
of Education in the early 1880s. The head of the Ministrys Office of
Translations was Nishimura Shigeki, and under his direction the
Office was focused on translating and disseminating William G. and
Robert Chamberss Information for the People (Kokumin Shuchi).
The Japanese title, which is more accurately rendered as Knowledge
the Nation [kokumin] Must Have, emphasizes the agenda Nishimura
and his Office had: to build a modern nation as a collectivity of the
people with a sense of civic responsibility forged, not only on
traditional or indigenous values, but on the values of modern liberal
nationalism. It can be seen as a direct response to Fukuzawas 1875
complaint that the Japanese people still lacked a true consciousness of
themselves as a single nation (kokumin). Kokumin Shuchi was
published in two volumes between 1884-5, so we may conclude that
those working in the Office of Translation at the time were thinking
of Vrons Aesthetics within a similar framework of constructing a
nation compatible with the culture of progress and enlightenment
(keim). At the same time, it appears that individual translators were
given considerable freedom in the selection of particular texts, and it
was most likely Nakaes own decision to include Vrons Aesthetics
in this series.
There is further evidence that it was in fact Nakaes purpose to
promote a kokumin nationalism in Japan through this translation.
Eugne Vron (1825-89) was a French journalist and writer who, as a
republican nationalist, resigned his position as a professor of literature
in protest of the establishment of the Second Empire (1852-70). As a
private educator and journalist, he contributed to many newspapers
and journals associated with the progressive, republican cause,
including a position as editor of the Progrs du Lyon in 1868. As Ida
Shinya has noted, Vron was an ardent supporter of republican
nationalism whose progressive spirit deeply informed his thinking
about art and aesthetics. His politicsand his cultural approach to
political issuescould hardly have escaped the attention of Nakae,
who spent a year in Lyon from early summer 1872, when the Third

Tsuchikata Teiichi, Kaidai, Meiji geijutsu bungaku ronsh Meiji bungaku
zensh vol. 79 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shob, 1975): 398-436, at 405.
Asukai Masamichi, Minken und to Uen-shi Bigaku, chapter in Kuwabara
Takeo, ed., Nakae Chmin no kenky (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1966): 116-128, at
Republic was still in its early triumphant days.
Lyon was the
epicenter of French republicanism. Then and there, republican
nationalismnot monarchyseemed the inevitable wave of the future
for the world, and France was thought to be riding the crest of that
wave. In 1881, only two years before Nakaes translation of Vron
began to appear in Japanese, It Hirobumi had effectively vanquished
the English School advocates of representative democracy by
driving kuma Shigenobu and his supporters out of the government.
To Nakae and those in the French School, it seemed the future of
democracy in Japan was left to them. But they had to proceed
carefully, as they were a minority in the government and the
Prussian School monarchists clearly had the upper hand.
The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 (led by a Christian convert, Saig
and the Crisis of 1881 had signaled the limits to open
criticism of the Prussian School and its chief advocate It Hirobumi
from within the government. The objective of this Prussian School
was not to foster republican or any other kind of nationalism, but
precisely to protect the monarchical state from the challenges of
populist nationalism. In such an atmosphere, one can appreciate the
decision to publish a work on aesthetics as an indirect form of
political critique. Yet it is also important to recognize, as Asukai
Masamichi has emphasized, that at this time, Nakae was not the anti-
government revolutionary that some historians have imagined him to
become later. Although he was on the editorial board of the Liberal
Partys Jiy Shimbun, he remained an advisor within the government,
where he sought to encourage policy shifts toward what he called a
greater degree of civil liberty.
Nakae joined others, especially in
the Office of Translations, who believed that what had been
foreclosed politically was not impossible to achieve culturally. For

Ida Shinya, Uin-shi bigaku, in Kat Shichi et al., eds., Honyaku shis
Nihon kindai shis taikei 15 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1991), 432-441, at 435-6.
Saig Takamori (1827-77) is an important and well-known figure in early
Meiji history; it is not widely known that he was also a Christian. The identification
of him as Christian was made by his near contemporary and fellow Christian, Yamaji
Aizan (1864-1917). See Yamaji, Essays on the Modern Japanese Church, 69.
Asukai, 118, 120. Nakaes emphasis, while working within the government, on
the peoples civil liberty almost certainly was indebted to Voltaires preference for
the concept of civil liberty to signal of importance of intellectuals and culture in
shaping democratic movements in England, in contrast to Montesquieus stress on
political liberty. It was also a shrewd political decision, given that political
liberty would be a difficult concept to promote within the Japanese government in
the 1880s. as it was too closely associated with the taboo topic of minken, or peoples
rights. On Voltaire, Montesquieu and the debate over civil liberty and political
liberty, see Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity , 156-8.
them, a true republican nation would not come into being simply
through legal fiat: it required first a change in consciousness, a greater
acceptance of the values of liberal nationalism, from among the
people themselves.
Vrons Aesthetics was one means to that end. In the early 1880s,
the question of aesthetics, its meaning and political significance, was
largely an open one, and thus Nakae found an opportunity to promote
a democratic national culture that was neither completely subordinate
to the state nor radically disassociated with the democratic
possibilities of a civic nationalism.
By making Vrons Aesthetics
available to the Japanese public, Nakae challenged the rising
dominance of Hegelian aesthetics that stemmed from the speeches
and writings of Ernest Francisco Fenollosa. Fenollosa came to Japan
in 1878 as a recent graduate of Harvard University to study Japanese
art. By the 1880s he was advocating a Hegelian view of art that
lionized Japanese tradition as distinct from modern Western culture.
Kitazawa Shji and Tsuchikata Teiichi have written that Fenollosas
emphasis on an eternal national Spirit, manifested through a
nations unique artistic forms, was intrinsically linked to ethnic
nationalism (minzokushugi).
In contrast, Stefan Tanaka has
emphasized that Fenollosas Hegelian aesthetics glorified the state
(kokka) as the site where modern Japanese national identity was
located and expressed.
These studies may seem to contradict each

Asukais point that the Hegelian academism that Vron confronted in 1870s
France was not the dominant aesthetic theory in Japan at the time is beside the point.
As he himself notes, Fenellosa was in fact asserting a traditionalist aesthetics in Japan
during the early 1880s (Asukai, 118, 122). More to the point is Iwasaki Chikatsugus
assessment that Nakaes translation of Vron was introduced into a Japan where the
very notion of aesthetics as a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of culture
was still an unfamiliar one, and thus the situation presented Nakae with an
opportunity to shape the emerging field of aesthetics. As Iwasaki notes, even the
prose form of written Japanese (genbun itchi) had yet to be established. Cf. Iwasaki
Chikatsuku, Nakae Chmin to E. Vron no bigaku in Nihon kindai shisshi josetsu:
meiji zenkihen-ge (Tokyo: Shin nihon shuppansha, 2002), 173-4.
Two Japanese scholars who explicitly say that Fenollosas aesthetic theories
contributed to ethnic nationalism (minzokushugi) are Kitazawa Shji (Uin-shi
bigaku to Nihon kindai bijutsu: huontanji, fuenorosa, veron, in Ida Shinya, ed.,
Chmin o hiraku: meiji kindai no <yume> o motomete, (Tokyo: Kbsha, 2001):
157-181, at 164) and Tsuchikata Teiichi (Kaidai, Meiji bungei bungaku ronsh,
Stefan Tanaka, Imaging History: Inscribing Belief in the Nation, The Journal
of Asian Studies 53, no. 1 (February 1994): 24-44. Although the title of this article
refers to the nation, it is apparent from Tanakas translation of the title of an 1880
series of photographs, the Kokka Yoh, as Glories of the nation (39) that his
concept of nation really refers to the kokka, or the state. The question of whether
other on the political implications of Fenollosas aesthetics. But on
closer analysis (and making allowances for Tanakas translation of
kokka as nation rather than as state) they converge in pointing to
Fenollosa as the spokesman for an aesthetics of cultural identity that
sought to associate the ideal of a collective, Japanese identity with the
emerging state. Kitazawa and Tsuchikatas use of the term
minzokushugi to describe this effort is a bit anachronistic, as that term
was not in general currency in the early 1880s, and certainly not by
the aristocrats and government officials who welcomed Fenollosas
Hegelian aesthetics.
But the key point is that this Hegelian aesthetics
totalized Japanese cultural identity around an ostensibly immutable
essence, and it was against this organic cultural theory, and its
conservative political implications, that Nakae offered his translation
of Vrons Aesthetics.
In contrast to Fenollosas Hegelian aesthetics, Vrons aesthetics
was built on the principle of personalism. Vron called the Hegelian
notion that beauty rested on a Beau idal merely an ontologie
chimrique (kyom no sonzairon) that sought to curb the passions of
the contemporary youth by regulating them according to a model
derived from cultural norms found in history from ancient Greece
through Renaissance Italy. To Vron, Hegelian, or academic,
aesthetics was less a philosophy of beauty than a transparent political
ideology designed to protect existing structures of power from the
threat of change. In contrast, he argued that the essence of artwas
that which emanated from the personnalit of the artist himself.

Fenollosas aesthetics supported the kokka (state) or the nation (and which concept of
nationkokumin or minzoku) is an important one, if one is to reconcile Tanakas
argument with Kitazawa and Tsuchikatas analyses, which otherwise agree with
Tanaka that Fenollosas Hegelian aesthetics was supportive of a conservative
nationalism, not the republican nationalism of Nakae and Vron. This is all the more
important since, by omitting consideration of Vrons aesthetics, Tanakas article can
give the impression that aesthetics was not an internally contested field, as Kitazawa
and Tsuchikatas separate analyses show so clearly.
Fenollasas most important speech on aesthetics, Bijutsu shinsetsu, (The
True Theory of Art) was given at an October 1882 meeting of the Rychikai, an
association Stefan Tanaka calls an aristocratic club (Tanaka, 30). Founded in 1879
by Sano Tsunetami, who also founded the Japanese Red Cross, and Baron Kuki
Ryichi (the father of Kuki Shz), the organization was not staffed with the kind of
people who would embrace minzokushugi, which at that time was begining to emerge
as a populist movement against the aristocratic government. The speech is
reproduced as Bijutsu shinsetsu in Meiji bungei bungaku ronsh, 36-48; there is a
useful analysis of the speech and the Rychikai in Ibid., 408-410.
Nakae Chmin, trans, Uin-shi bigaku, [Vrons Aesthetics], 1883 (original,
Eugne Vron, LEsthtique, Paris: C. Reinwald, 1878); reprinted in Honyaku shis,
first glance, it would seem that Nakae inserted his own interpretation
onto this passage, for he rendered Vrons term personnalit as jsei,
a term that can mean ones individual temperament or nature. More
so than the French term personnalit, jsei invested the concept of an
artists own uniqueness in an emotional dimension. But this
translation was not a simple misreading of Vron. Nakae understood
Vrons argument quite well: rather, Nakae had to findand more
often, createa new vocabulary in Japanese for these concepts due to
the evolving nature of the Japanese language at the time. His
translation was itself an instance of Vrons theory that a true artist
does more than simply translate in a functionally reductive sense.
In his aesthetics, Vron divided art into three types: academic art
(lart conventionnel) that conceived of the artist at best as a
transmitter or translator (traducteur) of what had been done before;
realist art (lart raliste) that saw the artist as a photographer, a
reproducer of external reality; and personal art (lart personnel) that
holds as the highest form of art the manifestation of individual
Only the last of these three could lead to true art, and
Vron emphasized that true art was beautiful because it allowed the
expression of the full humanity of the artist, emotions and all. Nakae
was aware of this conception of emotions as constitutive of the
individuality of the artist, as his translations of the French sa
personnalit in other sections of the text demonstrate.
But equally

Nihon kindai shis taikei 15 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1991), 209-229, at 209, 211.
See also, Ida Shinya, Uin-shi bigaku, 432-441.
Nakae, Uin-shi bigaku, 224-9; Ida, Uin-shi bigaku, 438-439.
Cf. Nakaes rendering of Vronss Mais ce qui constitue et dtermine
essentiellement lart, cest la personnalit de lartiste; ce qui revient dire que le
premier devoir de lartiste est de ne chercher rendre que ce qui le touche et lmeut
rellement as Hitori dai san no hh nomi sakusha no yoroshiku ijun subeki tokoro
naridai san no hh ni itarite wa, tett tetsubi kangai no ki o motte shishu to
nasazaru nashi. Kore masa ni kokin daika no seimei o naru yuen nari (Honyaku no
shis, 229); earlier in the text, Nakae had rendered Vrons emotion as aij (225).
Yet, to fully appreciate Nakaes grasp of Vrons nuanced argument is not an easy
task. It is essential to understand that the Japanese language was, in many ways,
under construction in the early 1880s. And it was translators like Nakae who were
instrumental in developing a modern Japanese vocabulary to express new concepts
from the West. At the same time, concepts they employed in this effort were not
necessarily equivalent to their modern meanings. The variance and nuance in Nakais
translation as a whole showed he was aware of Vrons meaning. But whether his
readers of his Japanese translation grasped Vrons original meaning, or whether they
filled in their own interpretation of this nuances is an open questionand certainly
one that Nakae must have welcomed, given his appreciation of Vrons argument that
important was that Nakae rendered Vrons concept of the artiste as
sakusha, a concept that implied a broader subject than merely one
who dallies in the fine arts or expresses his own emotions. Translating
the artiste as sakusha, or one who makes, emphasizes the role of
the individual as capable of establishing new norms, and Nakae even
employs the concept of sakui that, two centuries earlier, Ogy Sorai
had articulated as the human capacity to change social and political
Vrons valorization of the individuality (personnalit) of the artist
followed the emphasis placed on liberty and equality in French
republican nationalism. Personalist aesthetics liberated the artist to
express his own emotions and experiences, unencumbered by cultural
traditions or social status. All (true) artists were equals, with one
another and with any social or political elite. But neither the French
tradition of republican nationalism nor Vrons aesthetics should be
confused with individualism or libertarianism. At the core of this
aesthetics was a political ideology that sought to balance the claims of
individualism and collectivism, to shape individuals into Frenchmen
(Japanese) without making recourse to an ethnic theory that would
restrict national identity on the basis of natural ties of blood or clan.
In his personalist aesthetics, Vron did not omit the social context of
the individual artist, but in fact emphasized that all art is national art.
The key distinction was that un art national (Nakae: ikkoku no f)
is something produced by the artists work; it is not something that

a true artist does not merely mimic what he finds in another time or place, but creates
something original from within his own self.
Nakae, trans., Uin-shi bigaku, 216. It is not insignificant that Nakae uses the
concept of sakui to describe the artist (sakusha)s work in the context of its ability to
change a national culture rather than to being fully determined by a nationalized
aesthetics. The locus classicus for Sorais concept of sakui is Maruyama Masao,
Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan, Mikiso Hane, trans.,
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974): 94-95, 150. Nakaes translation
also employs other more conventional terms for artiste (eg., geijutsu no shi). But
the term sakusha is reserved for the artist who truly understands art, who follows the
method of lart personnel and expresses his own subjective understanding of the
world. Maruyama explicitly connects the Sorai Schools tradition of sakui to the
Movement for Freedom and Popular Rights, although not specifically to Nakae or
Vron (312-3).
Rogers Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany, 11. See
especially the section, Republicanism and the Making of Frenchmen, 104-110. For
more on the tensions between individual and community in French nationalism, see
Alain Finkielkraut, The Defeat of the Mind (New York: Columbia Press, 1995); Liah
Greenfeld, Nationalism, 133-88; and Frederic Cople Jaher, The Jews and the Nation:
Revolution, Emancipation, State Formation, and the Liberal Paradigm in America
and France (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002).
exists outside of art as an abstract limitation on the permissible range
of artistic creativity.
Here, Nakaes translation diverges in a significant way from
Vrons original. Whereas Vron briefly summarized his argument
that all art is national art, and that this national art is found in those
instinctive preferences common among the entire race ( la race tout
entire), Nakae makes no reference to race, but develops an extensive
commentary on how the artist, if left to pursue his own impressions
without any external, political constraints, will naturally [onozukara
ni] foster the development of the particular ways of a specific country
(ikkoku no koy no fsh o ysei suru koto o eru).
Nakae was
perfectly capable of expressing the French concept of race in
Japanese when he wanted to do so.
Thus, his decision not to in this
key passage must be taken seriously as his own position that the
Japanese nation would develop through free cultural expression, and
that such a nationalism had nothing to do with any racial or ethnic
claims on ones identity.
II. Meiji Kokumin Theology
As noted above, Meiji period Christians were key advocates of an
individualistic nationalism that privileged the people (kokumin)
against the coercive powers of despotic government. In their moral
critique, grounded in the conviction of a universal Truth and the
dignity of the individual person, we find one of the earliest and most
powerful expressions of the goals of civic nationalism, or
kokuminshugi. This civic nationalism sought a path for Japans
distinctive cultural development that remained in a tense relationship
with, but never completely subsumed into, the emerging state. It built
on the social criticism that Irwin Scheiner identified as a major
contribution of Meiji Christians to political discourse. This Christian
criticism was not unbridled or profligate: it was carefully tied to a
specific agenda and a particular target. One of the key kokumin
theologians, Uemura Masahisa of the Presbyterian Church, outlined
this agenda most clearly. The nation, he argued, is designed to help
perfect human nature and to help man march toward the divine.

Nakae, trans., Uin-shi bigaku, 216.
Cf. Nakaes rendering of Vrons race as shuzoku (118, 120) in Nakae
Chmin hen: Uin-shi bigaku shoron, in Meiji bungei bungaku ronsh, 112-25
Uemura Masahisa, quoted in Takeda Kiyoko, Ningen-kan no skoku (Tokyo,
1959), cited by Irwin Scheiner, Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan,
Scheiner summarized this agenda, National law must come into
accord with the moral law. Piety, inevitably, defined patriotism.
These Christian patriots were not setting Church against State, but
rather were outlining a political theology that approximates what Jean
Bethke Elshtain called for when she noted that the state, properly
chastened, plays a vital role in a democratic societyBut the citizen
of a democratic civil society understands that government cannot
substitute for concrete moral obligations; it can either deplete or
nourish them.
Rather than seeing these Christian political activists
as trying either to establish a theocracy or to build a wall of separation
between Church and State, we would do well to explore their nuanced
efforts to negotiate their faith with membership in an emerging state
whose contours were not well-defined prior to 1890.
The nature of this journey toward a Christian-inspired kokumin
nationalism is well-illustrated in the life of the country school teacher
Chiba Takusabur. Chiba even drafted his own constitution in 1881 in
an effort to demonstrate how the kokumin could be made compatible
with the emerging modern Japanese state. He was an eclectic thinker,
and his connection to Nakae and the French School is evident in the
subsequent discovery in his library storehouse of eight government
translations of lectures given by Gustave Emile Boissonade, the
French legal theorist who had come to Japan in 1873 as a government
Chibas connection to the French School apparently was
through the Catholic missionary Fr. Francis Vigroux. As Irokawa
writes, In April 1876 [Chiba] Takusabur went to study under the
well known French Catholic priest Father Vigroux; he stayed with
him until the beginning of the Satsuma Rebellion in February
1877and it is likely that Takuzabur accompanied him on the
proselytizing walking tours that he began in the Hachiji area in 1875
or 1876.
There is some evidence Chiba may have shifted to
Protestant Christianity sometime after 1877 through the influence of
the Methodist missionary Reverend R.S. Maclay, but his specific
denominational affiliation is less important in terms of his role in
kokumin nationalism than the fact that he remained a Christian at his
death in 1883. His attraction to Christianity no doubt stemmed from a
genuine religious conversion, but it was not irrelevant to Chibas
political activities and writings that Christianity was associated with
the rising kokumin nationalism of that day.

Scheiner, Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan, 183.
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial, 18-19.
Irokawa Daikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period, 109.
Irokawa, 89-90.
Influential Christian intellectuals of the 1870s and 1880s were
among the most ardent supporters of a nationalism centered on the
kokumin rather than on the state. Some Protestant Christians,
especially those who like Kozaki Hiromichi had been with the
Kumamoto Band of Captain Leroy Janes, came to the conclusion that
one could only serve the nation by being a Christian, raising the
question for some historians of whether religious faith or nationalism
was the higher priority.
Kozaki stands out among these Christian
progressive nationalists. But both he and Uemura were critical of the
inordinate role played by foreign missionaries in Japan, and both led
independent (anti-missionary) churches, while arguing for the need to
discard traditional ideas of loyalty and filial piety in order to
modernize Japan. For Christian converts like Uemura, Kozaki and the
members of their churches, their success in establishing an
independent, self-supporting church permitted them to argue
convincingly that they were Japanese Christian nationalists, with a
new vision, however, of what patriotism entailed.
Their new
vision of nationalism was a defense of the peoples rights against the
government that, beginning in the early 1880s, had been increasingly
interfering in the lives of Christians, through such measures as
enforcing Buddhist funeral rites and promoting Confucian values in
the schools.
This new vision of patriotic nationalism foregrounded
the role of the people and gave Christians an appreciation of the state,
not as the summit of nationalism, but merely as an instrument for
meeting the people (the nation)s needs.
The two major texts to which Christians turned for guidance on
such political and cultural questions in the social cauldron of the
1880s were Uemuras The Christian Church (Shinri Ippan, 1884) and
Kozakis New Thesis on Politics and Religion (Seiky Shinron,
Uemuras text was the less overtly political. Much of the

Scheiner, 93.
Scheiner, 39-40. Scheiners view of Kosaki and Uemura as Christian
nationalists requires a distinction between their nationalism, which respected
individualism and was progressive and socially engaged, and the nationalism that
traditionally has been ascribed to Christians only after 1890, which was more a
jingoistic kind of patriotism. For the traditional interpretation of post 1890s Christian
nationalists, see hata Kiyoshi and Ikado Fujio, Christianity, chapter in Hideo
Kishimoto and John F. Howes, eds., Japanese Religion in the Meiji Era (Tokyo:
bunsha, 1956): 173-309, at 264-77.
hata and Ikado, 228-231.
The title of this work, Shinri Ippan, is usually translated as Common Truth.
My translation builds on the fact that in the early 1880s for Christianity, the terms
used were things like Jesus-doctrine, Iesu-ky, or Yaso-ky; and apparently through
book focused on proofs for the existence of God and other theological
questions. But Christian theology could hardly be isolated from
politics in the early 1880s. In 1882, at the height of the Freedom and
Peoples Rights Movement, rumors flew through the Christian
community that the government was about to suppress the faith once
Uemura was concerned that the government was being
pressured again by Buddhist priests to crack down on the Christian
community, and he wrote that bigoted [Buddhist] priests naturally do
everything they can to prevent the progress of Christianity. But what
a disgrace it is for those claiming to be scholars and politicians to
paddle around after these priests doing the same thing.
In the
context of growing attacks on Japanese Christians as unpatriotic,
Uemura offered a rebuttal that appealed to an inclusive, civic concept
of the nation as an indictment of elitist, state officialsand Buddhists
and others who would question the loyalty of Japanese Christians.
Assessing the ancient Greco-Roman notion that a citizen (kokumin)
should be removed from labor (by slaves, if necessary), Uemura
countered that Christ taught one to be a servant to alland he added
that Christianity was a religion of social equality that in his day was
fighting against slavery, in marked contrast to the support for slavery
by the Muslims and Saracens.
Slavery itself was not a pressing
issue in Japanese society at the time. Rather, Uemura was using
history as analogy to address whether the Japanese people themselves
would be liberated as sovereign citizens or rendered as functional
equivalents to slaves to the state. He was also presenting the Christian
belief in the dignity and rights of the individual citizen as an active
member of the political community.

the influence of the Rikug Zasshi, the word Kristo ky (Christianity), was
standardized. Among the people on the Rikug Zasshi [which included Uemura],
however, there were some who used the expression Shin no Michi (the Way of Truth),
or simply Shinri (Truth) for Christianity. And in this connection it should be noted
that in Uemuras Shinri Ippan the word shinri is used in this sense. Ksaka Masaaki,
ed., Japanese Culture in the Meiji Era, volume IX: Thought, (Tokyo: Pan-Pacific
Press, 1958), 180. Ippan can mean an entire squad (ie., church) or spots, as in the
expression ippan o mite zenby o bokusu (to judge a leopard by his spots). In any
event, as the older translation common, indicates, ippan suggests unity and
wholeness, rather than pieces or spots of some large thing.
hata and Ikado, 230.
Uemura Masahisa (1882), cited in hata and Ikado, 231. These fears were not
unfounded, as subsequent years would prove.
Uemura Masahisa, Shinri Ippan (Tokyo: Keiseisha, 1884); reprinted in Suzuki
Norihisa, ed., Kindai nihon kirisutoky meicho sensh dai-ikki: kirisuto ky shishen,
vol 1 Shinri ippan, seiky shinron (Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Sent, 2002): 251-3.
This egalitarian and civic understanding of what kokumin could
signify was grounded in the transformative power of Christianity and
its future-oriented teleology. Earlier in the same text, Uemura had
argued that, as Christianity had made inroads into Rome, it called on
Romans to redefine their identity through the mediation of this new
religion that came from their despised Jewish subjects. Thus, Uemura
concluded, when he and his fellow Japanese Christians lectured on
the Bible, they never failed to emphasize how Christianity offered an
opportunity to escape from the stench of ones native soil and its
mores (hdo jisei no shmi). Taken out of context, such a remark
could lead cultural conservatives to agree with the Confucianist Inoue
Tetsujir or the Buddhist nationalist Shimaji Mokurai that Japanese
Christians were not loyal to their country. But Uemuras point was a
more nuanced one. Read together with his earlier discussion on what
kokumin meant to a Christian (i.e., service to all), it should be
understood that he was seeking a progressive, egalitarian sense of
committed citizenship and social engagement.
The Christian civic nationalism that Uemura had outlined was
developed more explicitly by Kozaki Hiromichi two years later in his
New Thesis on Politics and Religion. Kozakis work directly
addressed the need to embrace some form of nationalism, and for two
reasons: first, as a member of the Kumamoto Band, he had always
brought a political agenda to his interest in Christianity; and second,
the return of Christian persecutions between 1884-5 gave his political
theory a greater sense of urgency.
Christianity was locked in a battle
with Confucianism over the proper relationship between Man and the
state, and over whether hierarchy or egalitarianism was the best form
of social order. Kozaki outlined the political differences between the
two value systems by contrasting Confucian kingship (d) with the
lines from the Lords Prayer, Thy Kingdom comeon earth as it is
in Heaven:

In the famous Mt. Hanaoka covenant, the Kumamoto Band of Christians
expressed their determination to serve their country through their faith. The
possibility that their Christianity might be divertedto a kind of nationalism was
pronounced, and Kozaki himself noted that the Band all had politics as their aim.
hata and Ikado, 208, 207. There were at least two incidents of popular persecution
of Christian Japanese between 1884-5 that took place with the tacit approval of local
officials. In one town, a mob made a straw effigy of Christ, impaled it on a spear and
marched around the town with it. In another, Christian services were interrupted by a
mob that threw rocks, snakes and frogs at those present, while shouting that all
Christians, to the last man, should be slain with spears. hata and Ikado, 234.
Confucian kingship is limited to a single government in a single
country; in contrast, the Kingdom of God seeks to reach all the
countries in the world. Confucian kingship as government is limited to
a generation or age in the past; whereas the Kingdom of God, to the
extent it can be seen as a government, exists in the future and its
politics are eternal and unlimited; Confucian kingship distinguishes
superiors from inferiors, noble from servile, the honored from the
despised, and holds as its objective the strict maintenance of this
hierarchy; in the Kingdom of God, however, there are no distinctions of
superior or inferior, noble or servile, honored or despised: all stand
equal before God. It obligates all men on earth to eradicate such
distinctions, to regard everyone as a brother or sister, and to love one
another. Confucian kingship indoctrinates in a set pattern from top
down, from the country to the individual. The kingdom of God is not
like that: it holds the moral order to proceed from bottom up, from the
individual who can influence the entire country.
As Irokawa has pointed out, this political theory of human equality
assumes a conception of the individual in civil society and builds a
world order that begins with him and then goes on to consider state,
globe, and universe. It is a powerful conception.
What made it even
more powerful was Kozakis historical siting of Confucianism as a
product of Chinas past and vision of Christianity as the future of all
humanity. His point was not to denigrate Chinese culture, but to
rebuff authoritarian Japanese in his own day who were promoting
Confucian monarchy and values as part of their effort to rollback
civic consciousness and populist nationalism.
Kozakis Christian faith underwrote a vision of nationalism that
mediated individual and country, the particular and universal, ones
own nation and the world. It was, in fact, one of the strongest
articulations of civic nationalism that Japan had seen yet. Like many

Kozaki Hiromichi, Seiky Shinron, reprinted in Suzuki Norihisa, ed., Kindai
nihon kirisutoky meicho sensh dai-ikki,1-156, at 98-99. I have consulted Stephen
Vlastoss translation of this passage in Irokawa Daikichi, Culture of Meiji Period,
118, but made some revisions; see also Scheiner, 120. Vlastoss translation does not
make the connection of d (the Kingly Way or kingship) to Confucianism
explicit, but Scheiner does, as does Ksaka Masaaki, in Japanese Culture in the Meiji
Era volume IX Thought, 183-5.
Irokawa, 118-9. Irokawa goes on to discount the influence of Kozakis ideas
among the people. But this dismissal is rather tendentious: Irokawa is promoting
his own theory of populism, stemming from the later developments in the 1960s.
And if the influence of Kozakis views can be dismissed, even more so can Irokawas
champion Chiba Takusabur whose writings were completely unknown until Irokawa
unearthed them in a remote farmhouse in 1968. Scheiners assessment, which traces
this political thought from Protestant Christianity to socialist protest, captures the
historical influence of these ideas better.
contemporary theorists of civic nationalism, Kozaki drew from Alexis
de Tocquevilles Democracy in America in his effort to imagine a
civil society that is neither individualist nor collectivist.[that]
partakes of both the I and the we.
Kozaki understood, with de
Tocqueville, that what forged the American people into a nation was
to a great extent their shared moral values and their freedom to
express those values in religious practice. Kozaki identified this
common sense of identity as that of the freedom of a civic nation
(kokumin no jiy) that both drew from the peoples own moral values
and ensured that the state could not impose legal restrictions on the
nations free exercise of religious belief.
The challenge of Kozakis political theory was clear: the state did
not create the nation; rather, a free and healthy nation (kokumin),
steeped in the universal truths of Christianity, was seen as the bedrock
of a healthy state. In coming to understand the primacy of nation over
state, Kozaki was particularly influenced by Elisha Mulfords Nation:
the Foundations of Civil Order and Political Life in the United States
(1872). Kozaki translated the title of Mulfords book as Kokumin, and
this rendering, along with the subtitle of the book, tells us everything
we need to know about why Mulfords argument appealed to Kozaki.
But we need not merely infer. Kozaki cited with approval Mulfords
argument that all true, civic nations were informed by the life of
Christ and that, throughout history and in his own time, there existed
no civic nation outside the reach of Christian influence. Mulfords
interest was apparently in contrasting the politics of Islamic tribalism
with the civic societies of Europe and America. But Mulford also
cited Indian Buddhists who decried their own weak political
organization and failure to form a nation, and Kozaki leapt at the
chance to draw a parallel lesson for Meiji Japan. Those advocates of
preserving Japanese culture through Buddhism and those scholars
who simply want to perpetuate Buddhism to maintain historical
continuity with the past, he reflected, would learn a lot from this
What they might learn was not only about Christianity, he
suggested, but also about the political and moral superiority of a free
nation that was formed by a free people rather than by an
authoritarian state that propped up its power by appealing to a
restrictive concept of traditional morals and culture.

Elshtain, Democracy on Trial, 9.
Kozaki, Seiky Shinron, 75.
Kozaki, Seiky Shinron, 79.
III. Meiji Kokumin Political Theory
Kozakis civic nationalism was of course in part an apologia of his
Christian faith. But it was also offered as a defense of the Japanese
people in anticipation of the establishment of the Imperial Diet. He
opened his new theory on religion and politics by noting that the
Japanese people had been promised their own national parliament in
1890, only four years away, and yet the vast majority of the nation
[kokumin] has no idea of the nature of the government of their own
His effort to outline a theory of civic nationalism was offered
explicitly as an exercise in reforming the peoples minds so that they
would be ready to exercise the responsibilities of citizens in a
democratic nation. Yet the window of opportunity for a civic nation
was already closing. In July 1884, less than a year earlier, the
government had announced the kazokurei, the legal order that
recovered privileges for nobility and served as a bulwark against
democracy by enhancing the imperial house at the expense of
nationalization of people along lines of social equality. It remained in
effect until 1889 and, as Yamamuro has noted, technically, one could
claim that this nobility system prevented the development of Japan as
a true nation (kokumin) until the postwar constitution. Still, as
Yamamuro concedes, such a strict understanding of what a nation is
would exclude many European countries from nation-state status,
and at any rate, the criterion for being a nation is not the existence of
equality or the absence of social exploitation, but the belief in
equality of its members and the belief that one people does constitute
a nation.
Yamamuros point is an important one, for it alerts us to
the importance of both structure and consciousness in the process of
At no previous time in Japanese history was the issue of nation
building as important as during the years between 1885 and 1889. In
the intense, public and private political debates of those years,
structures and consciousnesses were shaped that would last for
decades and, in some ways, would inform much of subsequent
Japanese political history. One key moment was in 1886 when the
Home Ministry completed the process of establishing the House
(ie) system as the basis on the modern Japanese national identity
through its Koseki Hrei. Thereafter, the paternal house became the
legal foundation for the Meiji civil code, stipulating that head of

Kozaki, Seiky Shinron, 4.
Yamamuro Shinichi, Kokumin kokka keisei-ki no genron to media, 485.
household and inheritance would be determined patrilineally. This
was a serious blow to kokumin nationalists, as it directly undercut
their hopes for equal civic rights in the new constitutional nation. The
point was made even more clearly in November when, in Inoue
Kowashis draft constitution submitted to It Hirobumi, the term
shimmin (subjects) was used in place of the term jimmin (people).
Inoue had argued that the term shimmin was inappropriate and should
be replaced by the term kokumin, but he was overruled and in the end
the decision remained in favor of defining the Japanese people in the
constitution as monarchical subjects, not as a nation.
This was a
pivotal event and year, and thereafter populist nationalists grew
increasingly radical, steadily moving away from Nakaes belief that
cooperation with the state could lead to the establishment of a civic
nation in Meiji Japan. The next year, Nakae himself was forced to
leave the capital under the Peace Regulations, passed on 27 December
1887 to deal with the increasing radicalization of the kokumin
The radicalization of the movement for populist nationalism had
many sources, but Inoue Kaorus failure to secure revision of the
unequal treaties in 1887 was one key factor. It signaled to many in the
movement the folly of attempting to rely on an alternative West
(i.e., France) as the grounds of political criticism of the government.
Inoues failed attempt at treaty revision created the appearance of a
humiliating concession to the West and raised a new kind of populist
nationalism that was generally opposed to the Westernizing policies
of the Meiji government.
Opposition to the treaty revisions (which
would have opened Japan to a wide array of rights for foreigners)
came not only from conservative Japanese like Tani Kanj but also
from the governments French legal adviser. Boissonade who was
also responsible for much of the civil code. As hopes for France as a
symbol of civic rights and progressive nationalism began to disappear,
a strong counter-force of anti-Westernism and ethnic nationalism
began to rise to the fore of the populist movement. This movement
was fueled by resentment against the West for perpetuating the
unequal treaties and against the Japanese government for failure to
secure national interests vis--vis the West. Inoue was forced to resign,
and his successor in treaty negotiations, Okuma Shigenobu, was

Ineda Shji, Meiji kemp seiritsu shi vol. 2; also ibid, Meiji kenp seiritsushi no
kenky; cited in Yoon, Nihon kokumin ron, 96.
Motoyama Yukihiko, Meiji shis no keisei (Tokyo: Fukumura Shuppan, 1969)
attacked in a bombing incident two years later for what were
perceived as further unjust concessions to the West. He lost his leg as
a result.
Not all effects of this new anti-government populist nationalism
were so dramatic, at least in the immediate term. But anti-government
and anti-Western ideas were coalescing around a new intellectual
project that is best described as ethnic nationalism. This ethnic
nationalism was both a rejection of the Western concept of the nation
as a political subjectivity framed around the contingency of political
community (kokumin) and a rejection of the belief that this political
community rested in the institutional framework of the Meiji state. It
is important to grasp how both aspects played into this new
radicalization of populist nationalism. While the government had
already made it clear by 1887 that the new constitution would not
codify the Japanese people as a kokumin but instead as imperial
subjects (shimmin), the authorities were no less concerned about the
rising challenge to Japanese nationalism presented in the theory of the
Japanese people as a minzoku. The decision in favor of defining the
people as subjects marked the governments retreat from the field of
populist nationalism, leaving the way open for minzoku nationalists to
fill the void.
Ethnic nationalism was not only incompatible with a broader
vision of modern Japan as a multi-ethnic empire, it also ran counter to
dominant strains in modern constitutional and progressive political
theory that by the early 1880s had begun to emphasize, thanks largely
to Ernest Renans influence, a consciousness of constructed
citizenship over primordial claims of blood and culture. In deciding in
favor of monarchical sovereignty, the government found itself in a
dilemma: how to reconcile the Meiji imperial state with modern
expectations of national identity without making concessions either to
national sovereignty (kokumin shuken) or to ethnic nationalism? The
question came to the fore in June 1887 when the Privy Council
opened the Constitutional Conference and immediately debated the
problem of how to achieve national integration (kokumin tg) but
with the emperor as the center of the polity.
The solution they found,
and were to employ throughout the Meiji Constitutional period (1890-
1945), was to informally employ the rhetoric of kokumin as a
mechanism for ideological integration of the people into the state,
while maintaining the legal and constitutional reality of monarchical

Motoyama, 211.
sovereignty. Regardless of whether some government officials
occasionally intoned the concept of kokumin, it enjoyed no legal,
constitutional recognition or officially recognized status.
From Political to Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1945
The governments use of the rhetoric of nationalism, even while
rejecting the reality of nationalism and the rights it would bestow on
the people, did not set well with the many intellectuals and activists
who had pinned their hopes on a nationalist constitution. Their
disappointment led to a sharpening of one of the major features of
modern Japanese nationalism: deeply entrenched intellectual
movements that advocated a nationalism independent of, and at times
critical of, the state. The earliest instances of this movement were also
among the most influential. In 1887 Tokutomi Soh established the
Minysha (Friends of the People), a society of intellectuals
committed to populist nationalism and critical of the government As
noted above, Christians were prominent in this group, and Tokutomi
himself had been baptized, although by this time he no longer
practiced the faith. The following year, Tokutomi published his own
alternative vision of Japan, his influential The Future Japan. As
Motoyama summarizes these events, they began a ten year period,
beginning around 1888, when the earlier individualistic nationalism
of the Peoples Rights period was increasingly engulfed by a romantic,
historicist nationalism that asserted the particularity of the Japanese
ethnic nation (nihon minzoku).
This new ethnic nationalism was
advocated most prominently by such intellectuals as Miyake Setsurei
and Shiga Shigetaka who established the journal Nihonjin (the
Japanese) in 1888, and by Kuga Katsunan who founded the
newspaper Nihon (Japan) on 11 February 1889, the very day the Meiji
Constitution was promulgated (Kigensetsu Day).
Up to the promulgation of the constitution, Shiga had vigorously
advocated a nationalism centered on the Japanese ethnic people
(Yamato minzoku) against the Westernizing tendencies of Japans
political authorities.
But by 1890 the term had completely

Motoyama, 206-7.
Cf. Shiga Shigetaka, Nihonjin ga kaih suru tokoro no shugi wo kokuhaku su,
Nihonjin, no. 2 (April 1888): 1-6. It is noteworthy that while Shiga frequently refers
to the Yamato minzoku in this article, he does not employ the term minzokushugi.
Also, he provides the English term nationality as the equivalent for the Japanese
disappeared from his texts. Why? Motoyama thinks that it had to do
with the Meiji state avoiding the comprador behavior of selling out
Japan to the West and instead rapidly developing the Japanese
economy on largely autonomous conditions.
The development of a
successful capitalist economy seems rather forced as an explanation
of a change in Shigas thinking that happened in little over a year;
however, Motoyama is surely correct to suggest that the constitution
and the opening of the Diet did co-opt some of the support for Shigas
populist nationalism and re-direct it away from criticism of the state.
The 1889 Meiji Imperial Constitution was, then, not so much the
genesis of modern Japanese nationalism as a key moment in the
intervention in, and deflection of, it. Although it rejected the concept
of the Japanese as a kokumin in favor of the definition of the people
as imperial subjects (shimmin), it did stipulate that the conditions for
being a Japanese subject would be determined by law. But the
Nationality Law, the Kokuseki H, was not established until March
1899. Until then, the definition of what and who was a Japanese was
to a large degree up for grabs, yielding a raging debate that contested
the meaning of Japanese identity during the 1890s. This discourse on
Japanese identity was not, as often suggested, the result of a
momentary crystalization in Japanese nationalism, a simple return to
tradition, or a greater concentration of Japanese national identity in
the constitutional state, but quite the opposite. The debate over
Japaneseness during the 1890s reflects both an awareness of the
modern importance of determining national identity and a realization
that the question was still to a great extent an open one. It could and
would be contested in cultural, if not legal, terms. These post-
constitutional cultural nationalists were not always conservative, even
if they frequently invoked Japanese tradition in the criticism of the
Meiji state. Their politics were not backward looking or merely a
defense of existing political relations. Rather, we find in them the first
important moment in modern Japanese nationalism when culture, as a
code for conceptualizing the collective identity of the Japanese as a
single people, was mobilized in agendas that spanned the political
spectrum. There was probably no other time in modern Japanese
history when both the importance of nationalism as a contemporary
political issue and the open-ended nature of its political significance
were so great.
This shift from political nationalism to cultural nationalism can be
attributed to several causes: the denial of national sovereignty and the

Motoyama, 222.
rights of citizenship in the Meiji Constitution; the sense that
Westernization had overridden concern for cultural continuity in the
drafting of the Constitution and the practices and rituals of the Meiji
state; and even the conservative attack on Christians led by Inoue
Tetsujir in 1891 (see Chapter Three). Many of these populist
nationalists were Christians and/or traced their origins to the Peoples
Rights Movement. As Christians, many would grow disillusioned
with their status as subjects of the Japanese monarch, especially when
conservatives like Inoue began to offer revisionist interpretations of
the monarch, no longer as merely a constitutional sovereign, but as a
moral principle, even a Shinto god. Some of these populist
nationalists resisted this revisionism and continued to outline a sense
of the Japanese people as a cultural community that remained distinct
from the modern Meiji state. One key moment in this effort was the
Protestant Kashiwagi Giens debate with Kat Hiroyuki over the
effort to substitute statism (kokkashugi) for nationalism.
Kuga Katsunan was one of the most articulate spokesmen for this
new culturally-informed kokumin nationalism. The cultural emphasis
of his nationalism is clear from an article he published in June 1888 in
the Tokyo Denp called The Crossroads in Japans Progress in
Civilization. According to Nishikawa Nagao, this article marked the
first appearance of the word culture (bunka) in Japanese. Equally
significant is that Kuga used the term as an equivalent of the
Germanic concept of Kultur, a sense of culture as a collective identity
that captures the nationality of a people who may not enjoy a
distinctive, independent political citizenship. Although he used the
term kokumin, his cultural emphasis marks a new shift toward an
ethnic conception of the nation:
If one desires to integrate or consolidate each of these nations, then one
must integrate and consolidate cultures. But what makes culture are
those elements in language, mores, blood lineage and customs that truly
constitute the particular character of a nation (kokumin), along with
other things like institutions and laws that are appropriate to the body
of the nation (kokumin no shintai), and the difficulty in integrating and
consolidating these elements is no different than trying to turn a child
immediately into an old person.

Katano Masao, 124.
Kuga Katsunan, Nihon bunmei shimp no kiro, Tokyo Denp, (June 1888);
cited in Nishikawa Nagao, Kokumin kokkaron no shatei; 84.
Kuga grasped culture as national culture and understood nationalism
as divided between the nationalism of powerful countries and that of
weak countries, to be sure, but more innovative was his identification
of Japan with the nationalism of weak countries.
His approach to Japanese nationalism as one of the weak
nationalisms was shaped both by his understanding of both domestic
and international events. If international events (eg. Japans failures in
treaty revision, and later the Triple Intervention) seemed to provide
evidence for this distinction between the nationalism of powerful
countries and that of weak or subordinate countries, domestic events
(eg., suppression of the Peoples Rights Movement, Matsukatas
deflationary policies, and the rejection of popular nationalism in the
Meiji constitution) led Kuga, in Nishikawas words, to adopt the side
of those people who had been forced out of the flow of modernity.
Nishikawa concludes that even while Kuga did not explicitly
articulate an ethnic nationalism (minzokushugi) as such, his
viewpoint adumbrated the ethnic nationalist cultural theories of the
postwar war third world.
It is a tempting conclusion, made all the
more so by a recognition that a nationalism of the weak, even an
ethnic nationalism, does not preclude adopting an aggressive position
on international affairs. In fact, Liah Greenfeld and Daniel Chirot
have pointed out that it is precisely this kind of collectivistic-ethnic
nationalism that is more likely to engage in aggressive warfare than
individualistic nationalism.
And indeed, Kuga connected his
nationalism with the emperor, supported the Sino-Japanese war and
approved of Japanese colonial domination.
Other commentators have been even more harshly critical of
Kugas nationalism. The anti-Christian Yoshimoto Takaaki has
written that the progressive nationalism of such intellectuals as
[Kuga] Katsunan clearly already had the form of social fascism.
How could progressive nationalism become a foundation for social
fascism? For Yoshimoto, it was because Kugas nationalism was
built around the form of a schismatic unity (bunri-teki titsu) of
human rights philosophy and States rights philosophy (jinken shis,
kokken shis).
Whatever Yoshimoto precisely meant by such a
claim, the underlying reason for his hostility to Kuga is that, by the

Nishikawa, 84-5.
Liah Greenfeld and Daniel Chirot, Nationalism and Agression, Theory and
Society, vol. 23, no. 1 (February 1994): 79-130, at 86.
Yoshimoto Takaaki, Kaisetsu: nihon no nashonarizumu, 7-54 in Yoshimoto,
ed., Nashonarizumu, 36.
Yoshimoto, 36.
1960s, he had emerged as one of postwar Japans most influential
nationalists. Yoshimoto advocated a vague sort of nationalism that
was really a kind of anarchic populism that went even further than
Kugas nationalism did in disassociating itself from the state.
Yoshimotos critique of Kuga was really the expression of his own
Oedipus complex: he was seeking to slay his intellectual father, the
received modes of populist nationalism that Yoshimoto felt were too
closely linked to the West. Matsuda Kichirs more recent
assessment of Kugas nationalism is more persuasive. Matsuda has
presented a theoretically informed, close reading of Kugas key texts,
concluding that Kugas importance was in trying to establish an
autonomous field of political discourse that could provide a cultural
foundation for democracy in modern Japan. And a key concern of
Kugas within political discourse was in conceptualizing what
nationality (kokuminshugi) meant in Meiji society. For Kuga,
kokuminshugi was less a discourse on political nationalism than a
discursive effort to clarify the meaning of who the people were, a
question that was more a problem of culture than of constitutional or
legal definitions.
Kugas rise in influence in nationalist discourse came at a time
when a rift was developing between kokumin nationalism and the
Christianity that had played such an important role in advocating this
kind of civic nationalism. Influential kokumin nationalists left the
faith and shifted their nationalism towards cultural and ethnic
concerns, even as the government as a matter of policy encouraged
members of the upper classes to become [Catholic] Christians.As
Catholicism spread and the government learned that the Pope was the
head of a secular state, the Japanese realized that Modern Catholicism
did not oppose monolithic [sic; monarchical?] government.
key development was the spread of Liberal or Free Theology
between 1887-9 among Protestants. In 1889 Kozaki tried to defend
orthodox Christian teaching against this new theology (that denied the
necessity of believing Christ was the Son of God). But even the anti-
Christian Fukuzawa Yukichi found such a diluted form of Christianity

Matsuda Kichir, Seironsha Kuga Katsunan no seiritsu, Tokyo toritsu
daigaku hgakkai zasshi, vol. 28, no.1 (July 1987): 527-84; Kinji seironk ichi:
Kuga Katsunan ni okeru seiron no hh, Tokyo toritsu daigaku hgakkai zasshi,
vol. 33, no. 1 (July 1992): 111-171; Kinji seironk ni kan: Kuga Katsunan ni okeru
seiron no hh, Tokyo toritsu daigaku hgakkai zasshi, vol. 33, no. 2 (December
1992): 53-95.
Kishimito, ed., Japanese Religion in the Meiji Period, 212.
acceptable, and he praised it in a published newspaper article. Liberal
Theologys influence was not long lasting on Japanese Christianity,
but its political and social impact was considerable. Its influence can
be seen in the Society for the Study of Socialism, founded in 1898
almost entirely by Christians who were drawn to this Liberal
Theology (the lone exception was Ktoku Shsui who was not a
Under the influence of Liberal Theology, these
Protestants become more interested in carrying out social work than
in defending the Christian faith. In 1900, this Society was re-
organized as Society for Socialism, and again Ktoku was joined by
five liberal Christians: Katayama Sen, Abe Is, Kinoshita Naoe,
Nishikawa Kjir, and Kawakami Kiyoshi. Although some Christians
continued to assert the compatibility of their faith with patriotism,
many Protestants, especially those involved in the socialist movement,
had began to withdraw their support for the imperial government
around the time of the Russo-Japanese War.
After the war, Abe,
Kinoshita and Ishikawa Sanshir withdrew from the socialist
movement in protest of its materialism and increasing violent
methods and advocated Christian humanism. But the impact on
nationalist discourse was already felt and, as a result, the
kokuminshugi movement that Christians had helped inspire in the late
nineteenth century never completely recovered from these
developments until the postwar period. Instead, social and national
issues were increasingly blended with ethnic identity, a topic
developed in more detail in Chapters Four and Six. In any event, by
the early twentieth century, nationalists were seeking a new
conceptualization of the nation to replace the Christian emphasis on
personalism and the dignity of the individual that had been invested in
kokuminshugi. Some turned to minzoku, others to shakai, and others
yet simply abandoned the nation for an embrace of the state or the
To trace the development of kokumin nationalism in the early to
mid twentieth century is difficult, as a number of historical, political,
social and discursive events intervened, rendering this nationalism
more ambiguous that it previously had been. The key development
was the incorporation of Taiwan in 1895 and Korea in 1910 as
integral parts of the Japanese policy. However, with this territorial

The founding members of the Socialism Research Society who were Christians
of this bent were Katayama Sen, Abe Is, Murai Tomonari, Kishimoto Nobuta,
Kakawami Kiyoshi and Toyosaki Zennosuke.
hata and Ikado, 269-76.

acquisition came the question of whether the people that resided in
those territories could be incorporated into the nation (kokumin), and
if so, under what conditions. There were certainly Japanese
intellectuals and ordinary people who favored an expansive notion of
the nation that would include other ethnic peoples. Yet, this process
of expansion appeared to many Japanese as driven by the political
elites, and since the Hibiya Riots of 1905, a strong sense of betrayal
of the nation by its own state pervaded any discussion of integration
of peoples acquired through imperialist expansion. As a result, the
earlier kokuminshugi discourse often incorporated ethnic nationalist
elements, expressing itself in continued criticism of (and at times
opposition to) the imperial state, but also occasionally collapsing any
meaningful distinction between a nationalism grounded in Japanese
ethnic identity and a nationalism framed in legal and civic terms. It is
important to emphasize that this was no mere conceptual or linguist
game. The issue was not the instability of terminology or concepts:
rather, an ethnically determined kokuminshugi was merely another
instance in world history of what ethnic nationalism has always
sought everywherea collapse of any meaningful distinction between
civic membership in the country and ethnic identity. And ethnic
nationalism in early twentieth century Japan was clearly in opposition
to the dominant tendencies of the imperial Japanese state.
The most succinct and reliable analysis of nationalism in Japan
prior to and during World War II is Thomas R. H. Havenss 1973
article on Frontiers of Japanese Social History During World War
Havens points out that modern Japanese nationalism was
structured around the tensions between kokuminshugi and kokkashugi,
and he recognizes the former as a true nationalism that is centered on
the people, whereas the latter is often called statism because it is
more concerned with the authority of the state than with the nation
At first most. . .kokuminshugisha accepted state authority but dismissed
it as peripheral to their central concern, which dealt with the essence of

Thomas R.H. Havens, Frontiers of Japanese Social History During World War
II, Shakai kagaku tky vol. 18, no. 3 (March 1973): 582-538 (the pages are in
reverse of the usual order, with higher numbers first). Although this is one of the
most accurate analyses of prewar Japanese nationalism, it has not had a significant
impact on the scholarship in the field (especially in comparison with Havenss other,
well-known works), in part because it was an English article published in a Japanese
scholarly journal, and in part because the title gave little indication of its substantial
focus on nationalism.
the Japanese as a people. Later, in the 1910s and 1920s, some of them
began to use their nationality sentiments to attack the state and its
kokkashugi dogmas glorifying governmental power. The precis which
follows outlines the dichotomy between state and nation in prewar
Japanese nationalist writing.
Havens locates a key shift in nationalism around World War I. These
were the years of kokumin nationalism, such as that of Kita Ikki, that
underwrote strong and sometimes violent attacks on the existing state
(Havens concedes that Kita was a statist, if only in the potential
future: his immediate politics attacked the existing Japanese state in
the name of kokumin nationalism). Havens concludes that by the eve
of World War II Japanese nationalist thought was cleft into
kokkashugi and kokuminshugi, an obvious and nearly irreparable
erosion of the early Meiji consensus on national loyalties.
emphasized the monarchy and a revisionist and rather obscure
interpretation of the kokutai (national essence); nationalists were
split among those who accepted the constitutional structure of
government and those who did not. Yet, for these nationalists, the
concept of kokutai was frequently irrelevantto many writers a
harmless vestige, worthy of obeisance but not veneration.
This sharp dichotomy between nationalism and the state was of
concern to both intellectuals and to the government. But between
1937 and 1945, the overriding concern of the state and its apologists
was to close the gap between nationalism and the state, and to renew
the peoples allegiance to the state at a critical moment of war.

Havens, 580-79. Havens glosses kokuminshugi as both ethnic and cultural
nationalism, a determination that reflects both the increasing influence of ethnic
nationalism in prewar Japan and the personal influences on some of his sources, most
notably Ishida Takeshi. Ishida, born in 1923, came of age at the height of ethnic
nationalism and his own writings on Japanese nationalism assert the position that all
Japanese nationalism is essentially ethnic nationalism and that Japan is a unique case
where the general distinctions between nation, state and ethnicity do not apply. See
Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no seiji to kotoba-ge: heiwa to kokka (Tokyo: Tokyo
Daigaku Shuppankai, 1989): 158-9. To be fair, Havens accepts Ishidas point that
minzoku and kokumin are not a meaningful distinction, but he maintains the
distinction between nation (kokumin) and state (kokka).
Havens, 578.
Havens, 577. Havenss point is a long-overdue one, as too many studies of
Japanese nationalism have misconstrued this obscure concept of kokutai as the
determining factor in Japanese nationalism. All such arguments do is mis-interpret
the problem of nationalism as one of statism. Such studies on kokutai may tell us
more about state indoctrination, but at the expense of learning much at all about
Japanese nationalism.
Consequently, the April 1938 State Mobilization Law expressed this
desire by implying that the countrys very future rested on a
reconciliation of these divergent discourses on the nation and the
An essential requisite for achieving the goal of victory is for the
country to do its utmost to secure the livelihoods of the people
[kokumin] and to harmonize those aspects of the well being of the state
[kokka] which are necessary for prosecuting the war.
This Law was preceded by a broader effort to utilize kokumin rhetoric
to legitimate the states cultural efforts to integrate the people into its
agenda. On 14 August 1937, the Konoe cabinet announced a National
Spiritual Mobilization (kokumin seishin sdin) movement. Again,
Havenss assessment is superb: Since it would hardly do to admit the
statist orientation of this government sponsored program, the
movement was called a [national] peoples (kokumin) campaign, and
elaborate steps were taken to invite their participation.
A wide range
of intellectuals participated in the effort to integrate nationalism and
the state, including Hayashi Fusao, Kamei Katsuichir and Kyoto
School philosophers like Tanabe Hajime, Ksaka Masataka and
Nishitani Keiji. In actuality, this intervention was less a matter of
integrating nation and state than it was a state-driven effort to
absorb populist nationalism into the state under the sign of the
nation-state (kokumin-kokka). Nishitani expressed the rationale of
this project most clearly when he explained that the state (kokka)
required the nation (kokumin) to adopt a subservient yet intrinsically
linked relationship to it because of the need to strengthen, as much
as possible, [the states] internal unity as a nation-state.
The effort
was never completely successful, but it did achieve a momentary
stabilization in the relationship of nation and state, particularly given
the exigencies of war.

Kokka Sdin H, reprinted in Suekawa Hiroshi, ed., Sdinh taisei (Tokyo:
Yhikaku, 1940); quoted in Ishida Takeshi, Hakyoku to heiwa, Nihon kindaishi taikei,
VIII (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1968), 81-82; cited by Havens, 575.
Havens, 574-3. For a similar assessment, but one which takes into account
ethnic nationalism as a distinctive discourse, see my Nationalism as Dialectics:
Ethnicity, Moralism, and the State in Early Twentieth Century Japan, chapter in
James Heisig and John C. Maraldo, eds., Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, &
the Question of Nationalism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994): 174-96.
Nishitani Keiji, Kindai no chkoku shiron, in Takeuchi Yoshimi and
Kawakami Tetsutar, eds., Kindai no chkoku (Tokyo: Fuzanb, 1979), 27.
The Postwar Return of the Kokumin, 1945 to the Present
Since the imperial state had subordinated nationalism to its priority on
public order under the impetus of wartime exigencies, defeat in the
war was thus most immediately a defeat of this state and not
necessarily a repudiation of nationalism. Indeed, after the war, the
nation now could be (and in fact was) represented as a victim of the
state and its elite-driven war and thus given an even greater patina
of legitimacy through the ubiquitous anti-war sentiment of
victimhood. This point has often eluded those historians and political
theorists for whom nationalism is simply reduced to an ideology of
the state. But for others who have paid closer attention to the tensions
between state and nation, between statism and nationalism as they
have played out both in theory and in modern Japanese historical
practice, the ironic re-legitimation of nationalism through the defeat
of the state is one of the most significant, if ironic, political lessons of
the postwar period.
Once again, Havenss analysis of the postwar resurgence of
nationalism in the absence of a state is a good place to begin to
unravel these ironies:
State and nation in modern Japan have existed in dynamic and
interdependent balance, both as magnets of nationalist ideology and as
focuses of day to day socio-political interaction. The two have normally
interacted cooperatively, but when they fell to loggerheads in World
War II it was the nation which proved the more durable. In a literal
sense, American bombs destroyed the Japanese state but not the nation.
Metaphorically the nation swallowed up the states ambitions by setting
limits on how successfully its dreams could be realized.
From a different perspective, I have come to a similar conclusion that
the disestablishment of the imperial state after the war left many
Japanese with a sense that the state was a thoroughly corrupt agent for
social change, but it did little to temper a broader, popular sense that
national cultural identityremained untrammeled by the sins of the
militarized, Westernized state.
There were many ways in which
Japanese turned to nationalist discourse in the postwar period, and the
ethnic revival is one that we survey below in Chapter Six. But above
and apart from the dispute that broke out among nationalists over
whether ethnic or cultural nationalism should prevail was their shared
sense that the end of the imperial state marked a new lease on life for

Havens, 544. Emphasis in original.
Kevin M. Doak, Building National Identity through Ethnicity: Ethnology in
Wartime Japan and After, The Journal of Japanese Studies, 27:1 (1-39): 3.
nationalism, a discourse that foregrounded the Japanese people
themselves as agents of their common fate. The question was whether
this resurgent nationalism would be a civic type that would integrate
the people into a new state as kokumin, or whether it would continue
the wartime discourse on the Japanese as an ethnic nation (minzoku),
with an ambivalent relationship to the state.
The most important element was the simple fact that from
September 1945 to April 1952 there was no Japanese state. The
Japanese people lived under an occupying armed force, essentially
run by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the
Allied Powers (SCAP) and his subordinates in the Allied Powers
General Headquarters (GHQ). Yet, even in the absence of a state, a
Japanese nation (kokumin) acquired legal existence on 3 May 1947
when the postwar Constitution of Japan went into effect while Japan
was still under foreign, military occupation. The much debated issue
of how much contribution Japanese legal scholars had in drafting the
constitution and how much of it was forced on the Japanese people
is a side-issue: there was some input by Japanese legal scholars, and
even broader acceptance by the general populace of the new
constitution. But most importantly, it remains in effect today, as does
its legally codified notion of what the Japanese nation isi.e, a
The postwar constitution, written and implemented in the absence
of a sovereign Japanese state, was issued in the name of the nation
(kokumin), which it defined in simple and concise terms:
Chapter III Article 10. The conditions necessary for being a member of
the Japanese nation (Nihon kokumin) shall be determined by law.
This constitutional provision marked the first time in Japanese history
that the nation was made legally sovereign. But the language, even in
stipulating a legal, political foundation for the nation, left open a
possible interpretation that the law could thus codify the Japanese as a
nation on the basis of blood or ethnic ties. That possibility was
addressed in part by Article 14, which stipulated that all members of
the nation (kokumin) are equal under the law, and there shall be no
discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of
race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
Thus, the newly
established Japanese nation was constituted as a constitutional nation,

Nihonkoku kenp, reprinted in Nihonkoku kenp, 1-58, at 16.
Nihonkoku kenp, 18.
a people whose common identity and fate was determined by laws,
not by race or creed. The irony remained, however, that this nation
existed in a context that did not include a Japanese state and in which,
only by confusing race with ethnicity, could ethnic nationalism be
excluded as a legal option. This situation would present challenges for
the full realization of a civic sense of nationhood, as the completion
of civic nationhood requires the engagement of citizens with their
own independent state and with the seductions of ethnic pride in a
post-imperial context.
Even though constitutionally enshrined, political nationalism
(kokuminshugi) faced serious challenges in early postwar Japan. It
could easily be seen as a continuation of the multi-ethnic polity of
imperial Japan, and thus tarred with all the criticism of the wartime
state, especially its denial of national sovereignty (to the Japanese
people, as well as other peoples conceived in ethnic terms). For this
very reason, mono-ethnic nationalism was quite strong in the early
postwar period, as we will see below in Chapter Six. Those who
sought to defend civic nationalism not only had to contend with
vestiges of statism, but also with those on both extremes of the
political spectrum who embraced ethnic nationalism as their only
spoils from a disastrous war. One of the key objections ethnic
nationalists raised to kokuminshugi was that the very concept of a
nation as a kokumin was a Western one, indeed an American
This argument gained strength from the joint publication of two
essays by Watsuji Tetsur in the last days of the war that juxtaposed
Japans way of imperial subjecthood with Americas civic
nationality (Amerika no kokuminsei). Watsuji was really seeking to
discredit the concept of a civic nationality by arguing that, beneath
its veneer of civic values, America was really just an Anglo-Saxon
racial nation. Yet, what may have remained in most peoples minds
was merely this unfavorable association of kokumin with America
precisely at a time when Japan was at war with that country. The
association of the two was only strengthened by the (largely)
American occupation issuing a constitution that enshrined the
kokumin as the only legally recognized concept of a sovereign nation
in Japan.
While many of those opposed to Americas influence in postwar
Japan (both die-hard rightists and Marxists) advocated the alternative
of ethnic nationalism, not everyone who was re-thinking the
possibilities of populist nationalism was so open in his ethnic
proclivities. Watsuji offered an influential intervention in the growing
divide between official civic nationalism and dissident ethnic
nationalism. In his 1952 essay The Issue of National Morality
(Kokumin dtoku no mondai; an earlier version was published in 1932
as Kokumin dtokuron), Watsuji presented a strong case for moral
consciousness as a key element in uniting the individual with the
In doing so, he made two major contributions to the nationalist
debate. First, he emphasized the polysemy of the word kokumin:
not that it referred both to ethnic and civic types of nations; rather,
that it could refer both to the nation as a collective and to an
individual member of that nation.
On the face of it, this argument
simply reinforced the mutually constitutive nature of the relationship
between an individual and the nationleaving unclear whether this
relationship was grounded in common ties of ethnicity or in a moral
consciousness that can and needs to be taught. Watsujis second
contribution was to wrench kokumin discourse away from its Meiji-
period foundations in Christianity. By failing to make a consistent
distinction in his writing between kokumin and minzoku, and by
rejecting moral systems that are universal in scope, he essentially
undermined Japans traditional civic nationalism that had grown out
of the Meiji Christian emphasis on the dignity of the individual
person, substituting instead a Buddhist concept of nothingness as the
ethical core of the national whole.
Watsujis understanding of
ethnicity (minzoku) stemmed from the 1920s liberal tradition of
seeing ethnicity as a cultural, rather than a racial, community. But this
cultural community was not seen as composed of individual persons
who retain their personhood even after integrated into the nation.
Thus, Karube Tadashi writes that for Watsuji, to be consciously a
member of the ethnic nation (minzoku) is the realization of true
character (shin no jinkaku).
In short, Watsuji provided the
theoretical language for an implicit, ethnic dimension to a discourse
that was ostensibly proffered under the rhetorical cover of kokumin
Watsujis effort to ethnicize civic nationalism in the name of a
culturally specific ethical sensibility of the Japanese people did not go
unchallenged. Maruyama Masao emerged from the war aghast at how
ethnic nationalism had underwritten what he called the fascist

Unuma Hiroko, Kokumin dtokuron o meguru rons, 356-379 in Imai Jun
and Ozawa Tomio, eds., Nihon shis ronsshi, 377-8.
Karube Tadashi, Hikari no rykoku (Tokyo: Sbunsha, 1995),185-97.
Karube, Hikari no rykoku, 189. For Watsujis rejection of individual person
(jinkaku) in favor of intersubjective human community (ningen), see 117-130.
values of the wartime. He identified the core of this anti-liberal
ideology in a myth of ethnic tribalism that sought to substitute for the
rights of the kokumin an irrational belief in the collectivist claims of
ethnic (minzoku) identity.
The very future of democracy, Maruyama
believed, rested on returning to Fukuzawa Yukichis early Meiji
effort to establish kokumin consciousness among the Japanese people
(i.e., Meiji civic nationalism without the explicitly Christian element).
Curtis Anderson Gayle has accurately described Maruyamas project
as one of raising civic national consciousness; Maruyama himself
generally referred to it merely as a healthy nationalism (kenzen na
kokuminshugi). In either case, it was offered in sharp contrast to the
unhealthy nationalism premised on ethnicity (minzoku). Gayles
analysis of Maruyamas nationalism is helpful in understanding what
was at stake:
Maruyama constructed a reflexive notion of individual identity based
upon the constant mediation and negotiation of individual interests in
the context of citizenship and a sense of nation. To this extent,
Maruyama appears closer to[the] notion that citizenship should be
bound up with the struggle to make something public as a struggle
for justice.
This would seem to place Maruyamas kokuminshugi not far from
[what has been] propounded as liberal nationalism.[These] liberal
forms of nationalism assume the nation to be a cultural construct that
defines membership in terms of participation in a common culture
that is flexible and able to accept people of various ethnicities.
In other words, Maruyama was the most powerful advocate in the
early postwar period for the individualist nationalism that Meiji
intellectuals like Fukuzawa, Kozaki, Nakae and others had hoped
would secure the future of a democratic modern Japan.
As always, historical context matters, and Maruyamas
nationalism was also a critical reflection on the excesses of statism
that he had experienced during World War II. Maruyama faced a
difficult problem: the need to steer carefully between the Charybdis
of the statism (kokkashugi) that during the war had denounced

Maruyama Masao, Nihon no shis, 106.
Curtis Anderson Gayle, Progressive Representations of the Nation: Early Post-
war Japan and Beyond, 7. The internal quotes are to Seyla Benhabib, Models of the
Public Sphere: Arendt, the Liberal Tradition, and Jurgen Habermas, in Craig
Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992);
Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993);
and Kai Nielsen, Cultural Nationalism: Neither Ethnic nor Civic, The
Philosophical Forum, vol. XXVIII, nos. 1-2, (Fall/Winter, 1996): 42-52,
individualism as a decadent Western ideology and the Scylla of anti-
liberal collectivism that now trumped individualism with class or
ethnic (minzoku) consciousness (often bothsee the discussion on
Takashima Zenya below in Chapter Six). We have seen that
Maruyama associated collectivist identity with the extreme anti-
liberalism of the wartime fascism. But it is also important to
understand his wariness toward the state. As Rikki Kersten has
suggested, Maruyamas positive evaluation of Fukuzawas ideas on
national and popular sovereignty rested on one key element:
Fukuzawas insistence on distance between the individual and the
Through his reading of Fukuzawa, Maruyama presented a
highly nuanced, subtle theory that offered not opposition to the state
but a sense of social autonomy from the state.
This distinctionalong with much of Maruyamas own
lusterfrequently was lost in the aftermath of the US-Japan Security
Treaty Crisis of 1960 and the radicalization of politics that followed.
Even Maruyama at times appeared to agree with his erstwhile
opponents on the left that the postwar state appeared hopelessly
fascist, in the grips of the dictatorship of the majority.
politically-embedded civic nationalism was tarnished, and the
momentum had shifted to those on both extremes of the political
spectrum who intoned a dis-enfranchised nationalism of the people,
especially in the form of an ethnic nationalism that would position
Japan against the West (meaning the United States) and its lackeys
in the Liberal Democratic Partys fascist state. During the 1960s
and 1970s, Maruyama was increasingly elevated to iconic status
among elite academics, even as populist nationalism turned to the
theme of minzokushugi as a viable ethnic critique of the state and
post-war democracy.
At the same time, beginning in the 1960s, Prime Minister Ikeda
Hayatos income doubling plan and high growth economic policies
sought to draw the support of the majority of the Japanese people
back to the postwar government, if not directly to an embrace of the
state per se. By the 1970s, newly found affluence was widening the
gap between collectivist nationalism and political activism, often
disconnecting minzokushugi of its earlier nationalist moorings and
rendering it merely as a free-floating discourse on Japanese cultural

Rikki Kersten, Democracy in Postwar Japan, 71.
Kersten, Democracy in Postwar Japan, 66.
Kersten, Democracy in Postwar Japan, 212.
Gayle, Progressive Representations of the Nation, 14.
identity (Nihonjinron). At times, it seemed as though there were an
inverse relationship between cultural theory and the politics of the
state (the more one delved into cultural theory, the less relevant
political parties and the like seemed; the more one studied national
politics, the less culture was of interest). Culture (ethnic nationalism)
was certainly more interesting. Most of what leading intellectuals in
the media and academia wrote about was given over to broad, cultural
themes (even stereotypes) rather than close, dispassionate political
analysis of party mechanics, voting behavior and political platforms.
A key effort to reconcile culture and politics, nation and state,
came in 1980 when Prime Minister hira Masayoshis policy
research group published its report on Economic Management in an
Age of Culture. At first glance, the report seems quite unremarkable
(in spite of its use of such phrases as an era that will overcome
modernitywhich for some echoed the 1942 Symposium on
Overcoming Modernity). It was mainly a dry outline of a series of
policies designed to enhance the welfare of the Japanese people, by
shifting the governments economic priorities from high-growth
industrial economics to de-centralized, consumer-oriented and social
welfare programs. But the point of the report, and its recommended
policies, was summed up in a telling phrase:
In order to secure the support and understanding of the nation
[kokumin] with regard to the seriousness and significance of policy
determination, it will be necessary to strive as much as possible to
reduce the sense of disconnect and the conditions of estrangement
between the national people (kokumin taish) and the complex
economic system.
In short, while scrupulously avoiding any reference to the concept of
the report recognized that a significant gap had arisen
between the people and the government. In rhetoric and policy
substance, the report tried to close that gap by outlining economic and
cultural policies that would demonstrate how the government would
enhance the welfare of the people.

Bunka no jidai no keizai unei, hira sri no seisaku kenky hkokusho 7
(Tokyo: kurash Insatsu Kyoku, 1980): 166.
The lack of reference in the hira group report to the Japanese as a minzoku is
unexpected and thus significant. In the first place, it is unexpected, given that hira
himself had repeatedly referred to the Japanese as a minzoku in the 1970s. Cf.
Kenneth Pyle, The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Age, 69. Also,
Umesao Tadao, director of the National Ethnology Museum, was chair of one of the
nine groups involved in composing the report and would have been expected to
promote an ethnic concept of the Japanese people.
While the report highlighted the concept of culture in its title, the
body of the report focused on a new civic relationship between the
people and the government, and it scrupulously avoided the language
of ethnicity or cultural collectivism In this sense, its intellectual
antecedents may be found in the 1950s debates over whether, as a
pluralistic state, Japan should be a welfare or a cultural state.
opting for a welfare state, even one that included cultural activities
under the concept of welfare, the hira report adopted a pluralistic
theory of the state, one that ironically presumed and encouraged
distance between the state and society
(and society, as we saw in
Chapter Four, was often a surrogate for the nation). In trying to
reconcile nation and state, yet within a pluralistic, democratic
framework, the hira report opted for a loose relationship between
social and cultural identity and the state. The weakness of this
proposal stemmed from the fact that much of cultural and social
discourse was, at the same time, invested in the minzoku attitudes of
Nihonjinron, and simply did not respond to a nationalism premised on
a civic identity (kokumin) that left out this deeper sense of cultural
The true beginnings of a postwar kokumin nationalism that sought
to reconcile nation, culture and the state are largely found during the
1980s. Often given a variety of descriptive labels, (eg. liberal,
healthy, civic, political), this kokuminshugi movement was
spurred by Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiros effort to revise the
hira project by injecting the long-dormant political nationalism of
the Democratic wing of the Liberal-Democratic Party into the Liberal
wingss economism. Kokuminshugi advocates sought, not a
Sonderweg for the Japanese people (even if, especially if, Japans
putatively unique system was described as economism), but a greater
acceptance of Japan as a normal nation, both by the international
community and by the Japanese people themselves.
Nakasones revision of the hira groups proposal focused on its
fundamental weaknessits unintended encouragement of a greater gap
between the nation and the state by not addressing the broad, social
sense of Japanese identity that in the interim had all too frequently
become invested in the concept of being a particular minzoku
Nakasone, however, went too far in the other direction, making a
series of unfortunate remarks about Japans ethnic homogeneity in his

Ishida Takeshi, Nihon no seiji to kotoba-ge, 225-9.
Ishida, 224-6.
misguided effort to signal that nation and state could coalesce in
postwar Japan. The implication was as clear as it was unacceptable to
liberals and civic nationalists: for Nakasone, reconciliation of this
historical tension between nation and state in Japan could only come
about through a reaffirmation of Japan as an ethnic nation-state
(minzoku-kokka). These remarks were unfortunate because, as
Kenneth Pyle has demonstrated, Nakasones ultimate objective was to
strengthen a liberal nationalism that would extol Japans particular
strengths while showing a greater appreciation for other cultures,
even while moving towards closer collaboration with global
institutions and networks.
Nakasone wanted a more international
state, but his effort to bring the Japanese people on board was mired
in a prior appeal of ethnic identity, and this ethnic nationalism
undercut his effectiveness among many who truly sought a more
liberal nationalism in postwar Japan.
With the wide-scale discrediting of Nakasones nationalism, a
critique that drew (ironically) on a long history of minzoku
nationalism that distrusted the elite state (see Chapter Six below),
intellectuals again took the lead in promoting nationalism. But what
was different this time was that some intellectual nationalists tried to
reconcile nation and state from their positions outside the state. The
most significant of these intellectual nationalists are those who
associated themselves with the Liberal School of History which
Professor Fujioka Nobukatsu founded in July 1995. The School
claimed a membership of 500, and it was most active in promoting
middle school textbooks that would present a more patriotic view of
Japanese history. They were particularly incensed by the demands of
leftist teachers that middle school students focus on the Imperial
Armys role in forcing women into prostitution at the front during
World War II (the comfort women or jgun ianfu, issue). While
Fujiokas critics claimed he was simply trying to use history to
glorify war, Fujioka himself declared that the Liberal School was
based on the hypothesis that Japan could have avoided the war if it
had adopted other policies, [and] we wish to specifically investigate
these possibilities and realities.
While their critics argued they
were denying historical facts, Fujioka and his group countered that
the real question was which facts were appropriate for a history

Pyle, The Japanese Question, 94-101.
Fujioka Nobukatsu, Ware o gunkokushugisha to yobonakare, Bungei Shunj
(February 1997): 292-302, at 300-1; cited in Rikki Kersten, Neo-nationalism and the
Liberal School of History, 195.
curriculum that was part of a compulsory education system for
Ultimately the debate (which still smolders) revealed sharp
disagreements over whether nationalism could or should be
associated with the state (Fujiokas critics were often covert
nationalists themselves, but their nationalism stemmed from anti-state,
even ethnic nationalism), and whether ethnic nationalism or civic
nationalism should be the normative type for postwar Japan. For some
opponents of the School, a belief that the wartime state had
committed unpardonable sins against the Japanese people (in addition
to those against other people in Asia) militated against any effort to
augment loyalty to the postwar state. They were joined by others
whose communist sympathies and ethnic nationalism simply rejected
the capitalist state as inherently imperialist, oppressive, and
illegitimate. The Liberal School, for its part, by emphasizing
historical consciousness as the mode through which national identity
and civic-mindedness is fostered, and in finding an acceptable place
for the state within their nationalism, seemed to offer new hope for
civic nationalism in Japan. Yet, many prominent members of the
School (eg., Nishio Kanji, Kobayashi Yoshinori) revealed an ethnic
bias in their writings which, once again, undercut the arguments being
made for a civic nationalism that might realize the long-sought goal
of a democratic rapprochement between nation and state: a civic
nation-state (kokumin-kokka) that eschewed a view of Japan as an
ethnic nation-state (minzoku-kokka). In the end, Rikki Kerstens
assessment of this on-going drama may be best:
Perhaps we can take some comfort from the fact that Fujioka chose to
dress his nationalism up as liberalism. Even if it is only a label, it tells
us that liberalism retains its value as a legitimizing idea in
contemporary Japan.
One hastens to add that liberalism in Japan, whether the prewar
old liberals or the early postwar new old liberals were often those
intellectuals who most passionately advocated a healthy
nationalism that might balance the interests of the citizens (as the
nation) with the resources of the constitutional state.
Yet, there is another dimension to this struggle over nationalism in
contemporary Japan, and that is the possibility that what is taking
place in these public debates over memory, war, history, ethnicity,
imperialism and nationalism is both more and less than what often
meets the eye. Simultaneously, and independent of the discourse on

Kersten, Neo-Nationalism, 202.
nationalism, postwar Japan has witnessed the gradual decline of the
intellectual class as the spokesmen for public values. This decline was
first noted in the early postwar years, but it has sharply escalated
since the 1980s. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the
academic intellectuals are being supplanted by the kind of publicly
engaged civil intellectuals that Jeffrey Goldfarb has argued are
essential to a mature, functioning democracy.
Civil intellectuals
make use of the print media, but they often publish in more popular
formats, including newspapers and opinion journals, and they are
frequently active on the internet through web blogs and the like.
One of these new, civil intellectuals is Saeki Keishi, who began his
career as a typical academic intellectual, before breaking on the scene
in the mid-1990s as a public intellectual with a clear message for a
new postwar nationalism. In two major books published in 1996 and
1998, Saeki collected two dozen essays previously published in a
wide range of popular journals in which he had condemned the
postwar Japanese liberal democracy for its failure to address the
issue of nationalism, especially for its hostility to the state.
fundamental failure of postwar Japanese political thought, according
to Saeki, had been the attenuation of a sense of membership in the
state (kokka ishiki). Saeki argues that postwar Japanese liberalism has
militated against any open, legitimate sense of collective identity that
could provide a foundation for loyalty to the state.
Saeki does not
call for a complete subordination of individual to the state, but rather
seeks to reconcile national collective identity with the state in what he
outlines as a form of civic liberalism. Civic, he emphasizes, is
distinct from civil insofar as it not only avoids the overly
privatizing tendencies of civil (esp., in contrast to the military
actions of a state), but also in the sense that it relies on some notion of
virtue that binds a people together.
Consequently, Saeki believes
that what Japanese democracy needs is a complete overthrow of a
postwar culture rooted in selfishness and its replacement by a civic
democratic spirit that finds in the constitutional state a mechanism for
building a communal spirit of service to others.

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, Civility & Subversion: The Intellectual in Democratic
Society (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 42-55.
Cf. Saeki Keishi, Gendai nihon no riberarizumu (Tokyo: Kdansha, 1996) and
Gendai nihon no ideorog: gurbarizumu to kokka ishiki (Tokyo: Kdansha, 1998).
See, for example, Saeki, Gendai nihon no ideorog, 72-84.
Here, it should be noted, Saekis use of the concept of civil diverges from
that of Goldfarb, who sees civil society in terms largely analogous to Saekis
concept of civic. See Goldfarb, 78-102.
Saekis call for a new nationalism that would radically overturn
the postwar system is echoed by Matsumoto Kenichi, another
university professor who writes for a broad public. In one of his many
publications, Matsumoto took up the question of the relationship of
the people to the state by exploring the controversy that erupted when
a parliamentary bill was passed and went into effect on 13 August
1999, making the Hi-no-Maru the official Japanese flag and the
Kimi-ga-yo the Japanese national anthem. What could be so
objectionable about a democratically elected parliament passing a bill
that merely gave formal recognition to what had been the informal
status quo for the entire postwar period? (What other contenders were
there for the Japanese national anthem or flag?) Yet, many on the left
were outraged by this parliamentary act. What is surprising is that
Matsumoto shared their outrage, albeit from the other end of the
political spectrum. Like those on the left, Matsumoto argued that this
was a top down and utterly unnecessary measure. But his reasons
reveal much about how he understands nationalism and why he is so
critical of the postwar state.
For Matsumoto, the Japanese nation is really an ethnic nation
(minzoku) and thus any formal effort to define it legally is gratuitous
at best, and a foreign, Western cultural imposition at worst.
Matsumoto begrudgingly admits that, with the rise of (Western)
international law, a nation-state must have a flag. But this is mere
window dressing, for one can say that there is no other country like
Japan where the Hi-no-maru was established [as the nations flag] not
through law, but through Japans unique culture.
worry is that legal measures like the national flag and anthem bill
might mislead Japanese people into thinking that theirs is a contingent
nation constructed by laws rather than the ancient ethnic cultural
nation that he avers it really is. Nonetheless, Matsumoto does not
seriously object to a tighter embrace of nation and state in postwar
Japan so long as the ethnic nation is accorded priority in the resultant
minzoku-kokka (ethnic nation-state).
Matsumoto shares with Saeki and many other public intellectuals a
belief that a more populist nationalism is needed to secure Japanese
democracy. But not all these influential public intellectuals embrace
Matsumotos ethnic assumptions Perhaps the most interesting of these
civil intellectuals is Sakurai Yoshiko, graduate of the University of
Hawaii, former writer for the Christian Science Monitor, television

Matsumoto Kenichi, Hi-no-maru, Kimi-ga-yo no hanashi (Tokyo: PHP
Kenkyjo, 1999), 193-4.
news broadcaster, and now an independent journalist who has the ear
of many important Japanese politicians.
Sakurai is a good example of Goldfarbs civil intellectual in many
respects. She writes for a general educated public, and reaches many
of her audience through her stimulating website. Her preferred
concept of the nation is that of kokumin, and she does not restrict its
meaning to an ethnic one. In fact, she largely sidesteps the old
question of mono-ethnic vs. multi-ethnic nationalism by taking a
more pragmatic approach to the challenges of nationalism in Japan
today. Sakurais concerns range over a wide variety of topics (eg.,
AIDS, education, changing gender roles, political corruption, tax
policies and revenue sharing between local and central government).
But throughout, there is an underlying theme that the most serious
obstacle to the development of democracy in Japan is not too much
nationalism, but in fact a nation that is too weak.
Sakurai is a good
representative of where kokumin nationalism is going today: not by
any means towards militarist or expansionist nationalism, but towards
a greater civic engagement with public policy that will give the
Japanese people themselves more control over their destiny.

Cf. Tatakai o wasureta zeijaku na kokuminsei chapter 21 in Sakurai Yoshiko,
Nihon no kiki Shinch Bunko 41-1 (Tokyo: Shinch, 1998): 353-68.
The Great Japanese Empire is neither a state based on a homogeneous nation,
nor a country based on nationalism (minzokushugi).
Murofushi Takanobu, 1942.
Nationalists, who write so much of the material on nationalism,
unfortunately are not the most reliable source of information on the
history of nationalism. Leftwing ethnic nationalists, like Inoue
Kiyoshi, have tried to pin the origins of ethnic nationalism in Japan
on the sonn ji activists who overthrew the bakufu.
ethnic nationalists in contemporary Japan also trace the history of
their nationalism to those opponents of the bakufus policies of
Westernization (ka) who led the movement for direct monarchy and
expelling Westerners. But, as they tell the story, their nativist
forefathers were betrayed by the likes of Iwakura Tomomi and kubo
Toshimichi when they turned back to the same policy of
Westernization after their 1871-73 journey to the West. They see the
rejection of Saig Takamoris proposed invasion of Korea as a
bonding moment among early minzoku nationalists, and they lay
claim to early rebellions such as the 1874 Saga Uprising, the
Jimpren Incident and Hagi Uprising of 1876, and even Saigs
Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. But the most important of their
predecessors is Tyama Mitsuru. What they see in Tyama is his anti-
government nationalism revealed in the legendary tale of how he
approached Itagaki Taisuke, after the 1878 assassination of kubo,
seeking Itagakis help in raising an army to overthrow the
Westernizing new Government.
That request, needless to say, went
unheeded, but Tyama went on to form key organizations of
rightwing nationalists, especially the Genysha (est., 1881). The

Murofushi Takanobu, Monbush shakai kyiku kyoku (1942): 15; cited in Eiji
Oguma, Tanitsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, 3.
Hashikawa Bunz, Nihon nashonarisumu genry, reprinted in Hashikawa Bunz
Chosakush vol. 2 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shob, 1985), 3-4.
Ino Kenji, Uyoku minzoku-ha und o tenb suru, in Ino Kenji, ed., Uyoku
minzoku-ha sran, 71-72.
Genysha spawned a good many other rightwing nationalist groups
until it was finally disbanded in 1946, the most important of which
was undoubtedly the Kokurykai, founded in 1901 by Uchida Ryhei
with Tyama as its chief advisor.
This history, so replete with facts, seems quite compelling. But
this self-narration by postwar ethnic nationalists of their own
historical origins is flawed, and it ought to be a cautionary tale to
anyone who blithely projects certain concepts back onto the past. The
problem, simply put, is that it loads a heavy argument on flimsy
historical evidence. Inoue could not convince even his fellow left-
wing ethnic nationalist Tyama Shigeki, who called the anti-bakufu
activism nothing more than a reactionary feudal movement against
foreigners. Like Inoue, Ino Kenji, albeit from the other end of the
political spectrum, tried to establish the origins of what he called the
right-wing ethnic nation school movement (uyoku minzoku-ha
und) at a time when the evidence for the existence of the key
concept of ethnic nation is questionable at best.
It may be useful to begin with a review of the early origins of the
concept of minzoku. The earliest known instance of the concept in
modern Japanese discourse was in 1875, when Murota Mitsuyoshis
translation of Guizots A History of Civilization in Europe appeared.
But Murota used different kanji than the usual ones for nation to
render the homonym word minzoku and indeed his reference is not to
the nation per se, but quite clearly refers to Guizots concept of
The earliest use of the concept of minzoku as nation (with
the same kanji used today in the word for nationalism, minzokushugi)
was Miyazaki Murys 1882 translation of Dumass concept of
assemble nationale as minzoku kaigi.
Yet, as we saw above in
Chapter Two, this concept was conceived as a means of juxtaposing
the people to the aristocracy in revolutionary France. Whether it
carried the same relationship to ethnic nationalism that Ino associates
with his postwar nationalist group is quite dubious. And while
Miyazaki was affiliated with the Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement, the concept of minzoku was incidental to his text, just as it
was marginal in two other texts of the Freedom and Peoples Rights
Movement during the 1880s. These nearly simultaneous appearances
of the concept include the 1882 translation of Mirabeaus On the

Haga Noboru. Meiji kokka no keisei, 236.
Yasuda Hiroshi, Kindai nihon ni okeru minzoku kannnen no keisei: kokumin,
shimmin, minzoku, 61-72 Shis to gendai 31 (September 1992): 62.
Abuses of Despotic Government (the translator is unnamed, but was
probably Nakae Chmin) which introduced the homologous term
minzoku in Nakaes Seiri sdan (the Seiri sdan instances used
different kanji than Miyazaki, returning to the kanji used in Murotas
translation of Guizot.). The exact concept referred to by this term is
not self-evident, but it was not society, as the text used shakai for
that concept.
It seems to refer to something like national mores or
customs, but it could even refer to the people as the nation, as we
find it used in that context in the same issue of the journal in the
translation by a pseudonymous Kya Sei of an article by Oujean
Ballot that criticized the centralized governments destruction of
national culture. In what was clearly a case of political criticism of the
Meiji government by metaphor, Oujean argued that centralized
governments like Imperial Rome harm the national people (kokuf
States do not always enhance national identity.
In any event, in these early years, there is little, if any, record of
the extension of this concept of minzoku (which at the time could
mean anything from people, folk, society, nation and even
race) to the term minzokushugi, or nationalism. The term
minzokushugi (nationalism, in the ethnic sense) arises much later in
Japanese discourse and appears to have emerged around the First
World War. One sourcebook on Japanese social thought concludes
that minzokushugi did not enter public discourse until after that war.
This view gains additional weight from the reminiscenes of an active
participant in the minzoku discourse, Kamei Kanichir, who wrote in
1941 that the word minzoku first appeared in print in actual world
politics after the Versailles Treaty.
Since it is quite clear that the
word minzoku was used in printed debates about world affairs quite a
bit earlier than the Versailles Treaty (1919), it appears that Kamei
must have meant the word minzokushugi.
Sait Tsuyoshis linguistic
study of how the suffix shugi got applied to words in modern
Japanese in general also raises some intriguing questions about the

Mirabeau, [Nakae Chmin, trans.?], Sensei seiji no shukuhei o ron su (zoku)
Seiri sdan no. 6 (May 10, 1882): 233-9, at 233.
Oujean Ballot, (Kya Sei, pseud., trans.), Ch shuken no sei wa kokka no
fzoku o jhai su Seiri sdan, no. 7 (May 25, 1882): 5-13, at 5.
Habu Nagaho and Kawai Tsuneo, Minzokushugi shis, 326-346 in Tamura
Hideo and Tanaka Hiroshi, eds., Shakai shis jiten (Tokyo: Ch Daigaku
Shuppanbu, 1982), 330-3.
Kamei Kanichiro, Dai ta minzoku no michi. (Tokyo: Seiki Shob, 1941), 301.
One instance of minzokushugi in political discourse that well-predates the
Versailles Treaty is Tanaka Suiichirs article on "Minzokushugi no kenky, in Mita
gakkai zasshi (1916) 10: 1-22.
relationship of minzoku discourse to minzokushugi. Sait notes that
Inoue Tetsujir pointed out that the practice of adding shugi (C:
zhugi) as a suffix to words was a common linguistic pattern in
Chinese long before it was adopted in Japanese. But this suffix did
not necesssarily render the composite word an ism as in modern
concepts like individualism (kojinshugi) or socialism (shakaishugi).
Rather, in this practice, the meaning is that the concept so inflected
is the main principle. Sait concludes that the Japanese may have
coined the use of shugi for modern isms and reimported it back to
This may be a more useful way to understand the earliest
expressions of minzokushugi, i.e., to assert that it is minzoku that is
the main principle of the nation (not the kokka, kokutai, tenn, etc).
But it also raises the question of whether Japanese discourse derived
the word minzokushugi from Chinese, since Sun Yatsen had been
propagating the concept of minzokushugi in Chinese between 1904
and 1924. But which way the linguistic influence flowed remains
shrouded in mist, as Sun himself was also closely advised by
Japanese who were deeply involved in the minzoku movement back
home. What does seem clear is that minzoku emerged as a concept
before minzokushugi, and the meaning of both must be understood
historically, through close attention to both intra-discursive
developments and to international and domestic events that shaped
the rise of nationalism at that time.
Minzoku and Empire
As with the emergence of the concept of minzokushugi, exactly when
the concept of minzoku became an important factor in modern
Japanese nationalism is a contested issue. Hashimoto Mitsuru argues
that it was not until the Shwa era, 1928 to be exact, that Japan
started seriously asserting an image of itself as a particular
But most scholarship on the question concludes that
minzoku discourse originates much earlier, even as far back as the late
nineteeth century. Yasuda Hiroshi has concluded that there are few
instances of the word minzoku in Meiji discourse prior to 1890, but
thereafter it exploded across the pages of the journal Nihonjin and the
newspaper Nihon, as journalists like Shiga Shigetaka and Kuga

Sait Tsuyoshi, Meiji no kotoba, 370.
Hashimoto Mitsuru, Minzoku: nihon kindaika wo tg suru chikara, Senjika
nihon shakai kenkykai, ed., Senjika no nihon, 6.
Katsunan tried to clarify the meaning of the national essence
Yamamuro Shinichi agrees that the beginnings of ethnic
nationalism are to be found in the 1880s, and he points to Shiga
Shigetakas use of the concept of minzoku to mean
that which constitutes the essence of our nation is accepting the
influence of all sorts of foreign things in our country and mixing
appropriately with them like a chemical reaction, thereby planting,
giving birth, and developing them, while at the same time continuing to
preserve for the current era what has been transmitted and purified
among the Yamato minzoku since ancient time.
Nonetheless, Yoon Keun-Cha argues that in the first half of the
Meiji period [i.e., until 1890], there was an absence of collective or
group consciousness as a single ethnic nation, which is to say that the
ethnic nation did not exist or at least was still not fully formed, and
in reality, one can hardly find any actual instances of the word
minzoku then, and certainly not in the late bakufu or Restoration
Clearly the word (and with it, the concept) of minzoku grew
increasingly prominent in nationalist discourse in post-constitutional
Meiji Japan. But even then, one has to be cautious about assigning a
single, fixed meaning to the concept at this early date. Yonehara Ken
has demonstrated that in Tokutomi Sohs writings around that time,
the concept of minzoku was used interchangeably with class, but to
refer to Tokutomis ideal of the country gentleman.
What is clear
is that the concept was neither introduced nor promoted by Kat
Hiroyuki, as is sometimes thought to be the case. As late as 1887,
Kat was still employing a now obsolete term, zokumin, to render this
sense of nationality, the nation as a popular body, and his point was to
deny its legitimacy as a real form of the nation.
Given the historical
point of erupture of this discourse, and the arguments it spawned, it
does seem plausible that minzoku emerged as a challenge to the
Imperial Constitutions denial of legal nationhood and its substitution

Yasuda Hiroshi, 66.
Shiga Shigetaka, cited in Yamamuro Shinichi, Shis kadai to shite no Ajia:
kijiku rensa tki (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001), at 110.
Yoon Keun-Cha, Minzoku gens no satetsu, 9.
Yonehara Ken, Tokutomi Soh: Nihon nashonarizumu no kiseki, Chk Shinsho
1711 (Tokyo: Ch Kronsha, 2003), 74-75.
Kats term zokumin was his translation of Bluntschlis Nationalitt, presented
in his 1887 translation of Allgemeine Staatslehre. Cf. Kat Hiroyuki, Zokuminteki
no kenkoku narabi ni zokuminshugi, Doitsugaku kykai zasshi vol. 40, no.41
(January 1887); reprinted in Tanaka Akira and Miyachi Masato, eds., Nihon kindai
shis taikei: rekishi ninshiki (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1991): 432-441.
of the status of imperial subject (shimmin). It was trying to assert that
this principle (minzoku) was the heart and soul of what the nation
truly is, or at least should be.
Yet, other historians who accept the general time frame of late
nineteenth century as the point of departure nonetheless look to other
sources of the discourse. Oguma Eiji, for example, traces the
beginnings of minzoku discourse to a debate among anthropologists
over the origins of the Japanese people. Western anthropologists who,
like Edward S. Morse, Erwin von Blz and Heinrich Philipp von
Siebold (Philipp Franzs son), came to Japan during the 1870s
brought with them their Orientalist and imperialist assumptions about
peoples and cultures, and they applied these assumptions to the quest
for the origins of the Japanese people. In looking for enduring
patterns of ethnological identity among the Japanese, these Western
academics promoted a composite nation theory that held that the
Japanese people were the result of mixtures among several distinct
lineages. Oguma notes that while most mainstream Japanese
anthropologists adopted the composite nation theory of their
Western teachers, a few such as Kurokawa Mayori and Nait Chis
were offended by the notion that not all the Japanese were members
of the same group who had descended from the gods. Characteristic
of their work is their reliance on the concepts and methods of
ninetheenth century physical anthropology, and thus the resulting
confusion of the concepts of race and ethnicity. The result of this
anthropological inquiry was not so much distinctive theories about
race and ethnology, but competing conceptions of the Japanese
people that were informed by two forms of nationalism.
In short,
while the anthropological search for physical traces of the Japanese
peoples early origins left a racial ring to some forms of minzoku
discourse, it was not free from the same divisions that marked the
broader political discourse over whether the nation was the people or
the Imperial State.
The question of Japans ethnic origins, particularly whether the
Japanese were originally the same or different from other peoples in
East Asia, became an increasingly urgent matter as the century closed.
The 1870s saw the incorporation of Okinawa within Japan, and in the
1880s Hokkaid became part of the territorial realm, even before
Japan itself had established its own legal contours of identity as a
state through a constitution. But it was the acquisition of Taiwan in

Oguma Eiji, Tanitsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, 27-32.
1895 that most acutely brought forth the question of who the Japanese
people were, are, and should be. Prior to the 1890s, even
integral units of Japan proper found their administrative
incorporation into the new imperial state far from a natural transition.
But with a constituion in place, a constitution that by design refused
to answer the question of who was a Japanese national and instead
referred to all residents of the empire as imperial subjects, further
incorporation of other peoples raised the question of how far the
boundaries of Japan could be extended. This was particularly true
when the new members of the realm had a distinctive culture, were
located far from the center, and spoke an entirely different language.
Moreover, just as Taiwan was added to the empire (as the result of a
war fought with China over Korea), another war was heating up with
Russia, once again over Korea. So, as the century ended, ethnicity and
race intermingled over the issue of whether the Japanese nation was a
nation for the Japanese ethnic people, and how far the definition of
the Japanese ethnic people could be pushed.
The interwar period of 1895-1905 proved to be a formative
moment in the emerging minzoku discourse. Having defeated China,
Japan was experiencing a surge of nationalism that at first seemed to
legitimize the direction that the Westernizers and architects of the
imperial state had set. The sacrifices of the last two decades had
yielded real results, it seemed, in demonstrating that Japan was
superior to China. In 1897 Kimura Takatar captured this feeling in
an article he called The Japanese Are a Superior Minzoku.
the concept of minzoku performed two roles. First, it separated the
Japanese from the Chinese in ways that appeals to a common Asian
race could not have done, while at the same time not excluding the
theoretical possibility of assimilating the Taiwanese through this
concept of national identity that relied on a culturalist and
assimilationist notion of who was Japanese. Second, it located the
motive force for military victory in the cultural essence of the
Japanese people themselves, rather than in the machinations of
military and civil bureaucrats who guided the state. Minzoku was
being wedded to a cultural ideology that would disappoint state
officials who had hoped victory in the Sino-Japanese war would unite
the nation behind His Majestys government.

Kimura Takatar, Nipponjin wa yshteki minzoku nari, Nipponshugi, no. 3
(1897); cited in Oguma, 63.
In May 1897, Kimura had joined with Inoue Tetsujir and
Takayama Chogy in forming the Great Japan Society and espousing
a brand of cultural nationalism they called Japanism (Nipponshugi).
This nationalism looked to the core of Japanese culture and argued
that unless that core identity was purified and strengthened, Japan
could not continue to achieve victories like that of the Sino-Japanese
war. And with the humiliation of the Triple Intervention by Russia,
Germany and France still stinging, and a general recognition that war
with Russia was around the corner, the Japanists began to regard
Western culture in Japan, not as the reasons for Japans victory over
China, but as a fifth columnist influence that had to be rooted out.
Inoue, as we have seen in Chapter Three, was already embroiled in
the clash between religion and education and this clash indicated
where the influence of Western culture was most dangerous:
Christianity. From the very first article of its founding charter, the
Great Japan Society declared that we worship the founder of our
country and their journal Nipponshugi took the lead in publishing
attacks on Christianity. It was a popular position to take: as Oguma
notes, the intellectuals of that age joined the Great Japan Society one
after another.
Christian intellectuals quickly responded to this attack on their
loyalty to the nation, just as they had five years earlier during the
attack on their loyalty to the emperor in the aftermath of the
Uchimura lse majest affair. Many Japanese Christians in the late
nineteenth century had an affinity with the minzoku movement and
shared social and political roots with activists in the Freedom and
Peoples Rights Movement To them, especially after the elevation of
the monarch and the rise of State Shintoism, conceiving of the true
nation as the minzoku rather that the now Shintoist State was an
essential means of asserting the compatibility between their national
identity and their faith. Watase Tsunekichis rebuttal of the Japanist
attack on Christians is illustrative of this effort. Watase did not reject
the concept of minzoku or its importance to national identity. But he
countered that it was too narrow a concept for the kind of civic
consciousness required by a cosmopolitan, modern government with
the dynamic and democratic aspirations he attributed to Japan. He
rejected the narrow ethnic nationalism of Kimura and Inoue, arguing
that the founding spirit of modern Japan was one that was open to
peoples of various races or ethnicities.
Watase and other Christians

Constitution of the Great Japan Society (1897); cited in Oguma, 57.
Oguma, 57-8.
quickly sensed that the victims of such an exclusivist ethnic
nationalism were not only Taiwanese and Koreans, but also
themselves and anyone else who professed a faith that did not permit
the worshipping of the monarch as a Shinto god. They did not reject
the claim minzoku made on individual identity; rather, they merely
sought to subordinate it to the universal transcendence of their
Christian faith.
That was not enough for the Japanists; or perhaps it would be more
accurate to say that it was too much. They found their best spokesman
in Takayama Chogy who developed a wide-ranging theory of
cultural nationalism between 1897 and 1902 that mixed minzoku and
race, nationality and Asianism, all the while drawing heavily on
Western theorists in order to denounce the deleterious effects of
Western culture on Japan. Takayama understood Japans growing
tensions with Russia as part of a broader idea of global racial war
that Ludwig Gumplowics had sketched in Der Rassenkampf (1883).
From this racial lens, Takayama was certain that the Triple
Intervention, Russian designs on Korea, and even the 1875-78 war
between Russia and Turkey and the 1897 war between Greece and
Turkey (Takayama believed Turkey was part of the East, or the
Turanian race) were indicative of a 600 year old racial war between
the Aryan race and the Turanian race.
Against Watases argument
that a modern state was able to withstand the challenges of a multi-
ethnic populace, Takayama drew from Max Mller and Henry George
to argue that a state cannot simply be a territorial administrative unit,
but must be built on, with, and through, a single people with a shared
cultural identity. Thus, even through the Japanese, Koreans,
Taiwanese and others were all part of the Turanian race, their
distinctiveness resulted from the fact that this race, like all races, was
divided into Naturvlker (shizen minzoku) and Kulturvlker (jinbun
minzoku). The Naturvlker were those peoples who had yet to
develop an integral, shared culture that provided the dynamism for
their own independent states; the Kulturvlker were those ethnic
groups who had emerged out of the state of nature to built an
independent state on the basis of their unique culture.
Of course,
among the Turanian race, only Japan met the requirements of a
Kulturvlker. In one broad sweep of the pen, Takayama had sketched
the conceptual foundations for modern Japanese imperialism as well
as the grounds for culturalist attacks on Christianity as a foreign creed

Takayama Chogy, Chogy zensh, volume 5, 313.
Takayama, volume 5, 20-22.
incompatible with the culture of the emperor-nation. Not surprisingly,
his last work published in 1902, the year he died, was an exploration
of the thinking of the medieval xenophobic Buddhist monk, Nichiren.
The annexation of Korea in 1910 renewed and sharpened the
debate on whether Japan should be a homogeneous ethnic nation-state
and whether the concept of minzoku was flexible enough to
incorporate Koreans in the Japan minzoku. Again, Christian
intellectuals played a leading role in asserting an optimistic, open
reading of the potential limits of ethnic assimilation, while the
Japanist and statist intellectuals like Takayama and Inoue Tetsujir
were slow to accept a sense of minzoku that was not thoroughly and
exclusively racist. Yamaji Aizan had laid the foundations for his
fellow Christians, arguing several years prior to annexation that the
Japanese were a composite nation, historically formed through a
combination of Ainu, Malay, and the Yamato (a branch of the
Turanian race). On the eve of annexation, he refuted the argument
presented in Takekoshi Yosaburs 1910 Nankokuki that the Tenson
(descendents of the gods) group was entirely Malay.
arguments were controversial, but the helped spawn a sense that
Japans national identity, even when conceived in ethnic or racial
terms, was more open, more pliable, to the forces of history than
some anthropologists and racial determinists were willing to
Christians in particular had reason to argue in favor of this multi-
ethnic notion of Japanese nationality. Their interests were complex,
involving both domestic and regional concerns, but it is not accurate
to say that they simply were promoting imperialist intervention
against a mono-ethnic interpretation of the nation that might have
prevented imperialism. The crux of the matter was not imperialism
(both sides supported the annexation of Korea), but over how Japans
new imperial subjects should be treated: compassionately, as
members of the same family; or as a conquered people to be exploited.
Influential Christian intellectuals like Ebina Danj and Ukita
Kazutami argued the former line, with Ukita stressing that the
annexation of Korea was not the result of a self-interested policy on
the part of Japan and that intermarriage between Japanese and
Koreans, and thus Korean assimilation, should be encouraged.
Japanese Christians generally welcomed the incorporation of Koreans

Oguma, 99-100.
Oguma, 109-113. Ebina also went so far as to praise the patriotism of An Chung
Ken who had assassinated It Hirobumi in 1909.
into the empire since they hoped the relatively larger number of
Korean Christians would strengthen the voice of Christianity within
the empire and counter the rising Shintoist nationalism at home. (It is
also not unreasonable to assume that they had a personal interest in
intermarriage, so that their own sons and daughters would have a
wider pool of Christian marriage partners.) This position was in sharp
contrast to the views of the national polity (kokutai) and Shinto
nationalists for whom Japans annexation of Korea was proof of
Japans superior ethnic identity and the necessity of keeping Koreans
in a separate and inferior social position. Even for those like Inoue
Tetsujir who grudgingly came to accept the composite nation
theory of the origins of the Japanese, the true underlying moral fiber
that held together the empire was to be found in the monarch as a
moral figurehead for his subjects. These tensions over how the
concept of minzoku was to be deployed continued to play a role in
nationalist discourse throughout the imperial period.
Minzoku and Liberal Political Theory
The outbreak of world war in Europe, sparked by a nationalist
Serbian revolt against the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian empire, had
a significant impact on Japanese concepts on nationhood. While
Japan played an extremely limited role in the fighting of the war, no
one in Japan could ignore the resurgent ethnic nationalism
(minzokushugi) that the war had unleashed in the world, particularly
as a tool against multi-ethnic empires like their own. As Benedict
Anderson has noted, by 1922, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Romanovs
and Ottomans were gone. From this time on, the legitimate
international norm was the nation-state, so that in the League [of
Nations] even the surviving imperial powers came dressed in national
costume rather than imperial uniform.
Legitimacy now meant a
government had to make a persuasive case that it represented the
nation, which is to say, the people. This national principle was a new
and revolutionary idea. In 1914, Matsumoto Hikojir recorded one of
the earliest recognitions of the new challenge posed by this rising
ethnic nationalism, as it struck close to home in the form of attacks by
Chinese nationalists on Japanese in China during September 1913.
Clearly, Takayama and the Japanist belief in Asian racial solidarity

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and
Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983): 104
against the West was revealed as limited in its appeal and, as a
consequence, the racial flavor of their understanding of the nation was
also losing any attraction it once might have had as a principle of
unity against the West.
The reality of ethnic tensions within Asia made the demand for a
new understanding of what a nation is an urgent one. To meet that
demand, Matsumoto introduced a new approach to understanding the
formation of ethnic nations that relied less on biological and natural
scientific claims about past origins and more on consciousness of the
nationals themselves as expressed in the present. New psychological
theories were seen as offering an advantage over the old racial studies
approaches that, at best, had introduced composite nations, but
which were seen as mired in an old-fashioned way of thinking about
nations at a time when a multitude of new nations seemed to be
exploding out of the present, rather than the past. To explain this new
phenomenon, Matsumoto introduced Wilhelm Max Wundts
Elements of Folk Psychology as the most recent development in
scientific understanding of the formation and function of national
identity. Given this assumption that nations were mainly a matter of
consciousness, Matsumoto proposed a new theory of national identity
built around religion. The constructivism of his approach is evident in
his suggestion that the religion needed to hold Japans empire
together was not State Shintoism, but a new composite religion that
would weave together the shard and patches of native Shintoism,
Buddhism and even Christianity.
Needless to say, Matsumotos proposal for a newly constructed
religion for the empire went unheeded. But his introduction of
psychology as the best hope for a scientific understanding of minzoku
was a watershed event. The immediate effect of this approach was to
call attention to the difference between the institutional reality of the
state and the cultural and psychological force of national identity.
With a world war underway that was reinforcing the claims of an
ethnic identity, an identity that was not always easily mapped out
spatially, the distinction between the nation (conceived in ethnic
terms) and the political state was a growing feature of Japanese
discourse on minzoku. In what may have been an indirect rejoinder to
Matsumoto, the historian Tanaka Suiichir (who established the Mita
Historiographical Institute which would produce many of the
important theorists on minzoku) drew from Rudolph Springer to

Matsumoto Hikojir, Minzoku kenky to kojiki, Shigaku vol. 25 (1914): 228-
reinforce the argument that the nation (minzoku) and the state (kokka)
were distinct entities and should be kept as separate as religion and
Tanaka may not have appreciated Matsumotos effort to
shift Japanese national identity toward a new, composite religion, but
both men were in agreement that Shinto, as a state religion, was
unlikely to succeed in raising national consciousness in most Japanese
peoples minds. It was simply too closely associated with the state.
Liberal and leftist intellectuals were quick to seize on this theory
of the nation as a form of consciousness, as they saw in it a way to
break free of the determinism of the older, racial theory of the nation.
Abe Jir was one such liberal who was attracted to this new form of
ethnic nationalism. One of the most influential intellectuals of the
time, he wrote in 1917 that there was no contradiction between the
individualism of liberals and ethnic nationalism; indeed, he argued
that only by assimilating oneself to the ethnic national spirit that is
alive and well could the individual truly thrive. His worry was that
the state might suppress the unique identity of ethnic nations and
reduce them all to some generalized, universal human nature. The
greater threat to international justice, he concluded, was not ethnic
nationalism but imperialist statism (teikokushugi-teki kokkashugi).
Two years later, his support for ethnic nationalism was echoed by the
leading Taisho democrat Yoshino Sakuz who waxed exuberantly
in the pages of the influential Ch Kron that the reorganization of
the international world on the basis of ethnic nationalism was simply
the completion of the movement towards democracy that began with
nineteenth century civilization.
Yoshinos colleague, and later
socialist luminary, yama Ikuo joined the chorus, singing the glories
of an ethnic nationalism that would not be a subjugating
imperialism like the old nationalism built around the state, but would
usher in a new era of international harmonism.
What animated
this liberal support for ethnic nationalism was a broad consensus that
it was not blood nationalism, but an identity that rested on the
consciousness of individuals to embrace their own forms of identity.
It was, therefore, democratic.

Tanaka Suiichir, Minzokushugi no kenky, (1916); cited in Kevin M. Doak,
Culture, Ethnicity and the State in Early Twentieth-Century Japan, 189.
Abe Jir, Shisj no minzokushugi, Shich 1: 99-120, at 116-9.
Yoshino Sakuz, Sekai kaiz no ris: minzoku-teki jiy byd no ris no jikk
kan, Ch Kron 367 (1919): 87-91, 90.
yama Ikuo, Shinky nishu no kokkashugi no shtotsu, Ch Kron 367
(1919): 74-86, 82-83.
If this new psychological approach to national consciousness
emphasized the difference between nation and state, it also
encouraged diverse ways to think about the nation itself. One of the
most remarkable texts to express this way of thinking about the nation
was Nakamura Kyshirs The Nations of the Far East. The text is
interesting for many reasons. It was part of a series published by the
Minysha, so it had a historical connection with one of the groups
that had originated the discourse on minzoku in the late nineteenth
century. It came with two glowing introductions: one by Tokutomi
Soh and another by Yoshino Sakuz, both among the most
influential intellectuals of that time writing on issues of populist
nationalism. But it also was unusual in its effort to reach a broad
audience. The text provided furigana throughout, so that even those
who were only marginally literate could understand what was written.
This consideration, along with the topic itself, suggests a serious
effort to reach readers in Taiwan and Korea who may not have been
native Japanese speakers, in addition to native Japanese of limited
literacy but unlimited interest in the problems of nationalism. Anyone
who is inclined to follow Yoshimoto Takaakis postwar theory that
the nationalism of intellectuals never reached the nationalism of the
masses should first pay careful attention to this text.
work faithfully reflects both the broader intellectual worlds concern
with coming to a proper conceptual understanding of the problem of
nation as minzoku, and the growing turn from racial concepts in favor
of a sense of the nation that was distinct from the state but formed
through the usual factors: common ancestral lineage, historical unity,
common culture, common religion, common language and customs,
shared economic interest, and a common state structure. The
repetition of the familiar recipe for a nation is as important as
Nakamuras insistence that a minzoku was not the same thing as race
(jinshu), political nationhood (kokumin) or a state (kokka).
In short,
Nakamuras text reveals how widely diffused this burgeoning
discourse on minzoku as a mode of cultural consciousness was, as
well as how much this discourse was mobilized to intervene in the
political realities of the Japanese empire.

See Yoshimoto Takaaki, Nihon no nashonarizumu,.
Nakamura [Nakayama] Kyshir, Kokut no minzoku (Tokyo: Minysha,
1916 ), 6-10. For further analysis of this text in its historical milieu, see my chapter,
Narrating China, Ordering East Asia: The Discourse on Nation and Ethnicity in
Imperial Japan, in Kai-Wing Chow, Kevin M. Doak and Poshek Fu, eds.,
Constructing Nationhood in Modern East Asia (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 2001.)
The end of the First World War and the convening of the Paris
Peace Talks in 1919 brought the issue of this new, populist
nationalism to the attention of journalists, intellectuals and politicians
around the world. Japan was no exception. The basic question this
new nationalism raised was how to set uniform conditions for
recognition as a nation. The old rules, under which any government
that could demonstrate exclusive authority over a certain territory
could be recognized as a sovereign entity, no longer sufficed, as the
war had witnessed the ravages of a new, bloody nationalism that had
brought down empires rather than shoring up existing power
structures through indoctrinating loyalty among its people. Suddenly,
the world was awash with claims of national identity, nationality,
nationhood, and thus demands for recognition and political
independence of countless new groups. It was impossible to recognize
all these groups as sovereign nation-states, and it was left to a handful
of diplomats at Versailles to decide who had a right to self-
determination and who did not. Most of the claims raised at the time
did not concern Japan. But the outbreak of Korean and Chinese
nationalism in March and May of 1919 was not unrelated to this surge
in populist, ethnic nationalism and did require a response from
Japanese government officials. The problem of who constituted a
nation under the new, post World War I rules was, in the end, also an
urgent matter for Japan.
Masaki Masato was one of the first to address directly the problem
of identifying this new principle of national self determination in
the postwar years. He did so by introducing William McDougalls
1920 book, The Group Mind which promised to bring the certitude of
science, psychology to be exact, to resolve the thorny problem of who
constituted a nation and who did not. Masakis article What is a
Minzoku? went beyond a mere review of McDougalls book as it
surveyed the field of liberal theories of national identity, introducing
many of the theorists whose work would continue to inform Japanese
debates on minzoku for the next ten to fifteen years. Chief among
them were, in addition to McDougall, Karl Lamprecht, G.P. Gooch
and Ramsey Muir. Together, their work reinforced the idea that the
nation (minzoku) is not equivalent to the state, nor is it the same thing
as race (jinshu); rather, the nation is defined by the ties of affinity that
people conceive with one another on the basis of a variety of
Masakis article was explosive, and both conservatives and

Masaki Masato, Minzoku to wa nani zo?, 151.
Marxists responded quickly to the liberal claim that the nation was in
essence a form of collective consciousness, or group mind.
To counter Masaki and defend the empire, Uesugi Shinkichi
employed the rhetoric of restatement in his article published the same
year on The Source of the States Powers of Unification. Uesugi
rephrased Masakis question as what is the state (kokka)? Uesugi
latched on to the psychological approachs recognition of the open
definition of a minzoku to reappropriate the concept for the service of
the imperial state. Since, as Uesugi repeated, a nation (minzoku) is
not the same as race there could be no objection to conceiving even
an imperial state like Japan as a nation-state. Korean identity, for
example, was merely a contingent form of group consciousness that
can, and would, change over time.
Not to be left behind, socialists
and Marxists also tried to appropriate minzoku nationalism for their
agendas. For them, the main attraction of the concept was the
demonstrated ability of minzoku movements to break up empires.
yama Ikuo emerged as one of the leading leftists to contribute to the
minzoku project when, in 1923 he published a book-length study, The
Social Foundations of Politics, that built on his earlier argument that
minzoku had unleashed a new kind of nationalism that was on a
collision course with statist imperialism. He drew on the Austrian
social democrat Otto Bauer, particularly Bauers distinction between
the socialist nation and the capitalist state, as a pre-condition for
positing minzoku as the preferred social imaginary, a proletarian
agency that would rise up against capitalist imperialism. Like the
liberals, yama accepted that minzoku was the effect of a group
consciousness and not an effect of racial or natural ties, but he
preferred Bauers mode of explanation: nations, he argued, were
products of history rather than of nature and this meant that
nationality (minzoku), like the state, was the result of struggle, war
and conquest. In short, he accepted the liberals view that without an
adequate definition of the nation, the formation of nations would be a
matter left to sheer power politics. But he turned the problem around
and argued that power was ultimately all there was to the matter: no
rules, however carefully crafted, could or should restrain the violence
unleashed by minzoku movements.
Although yama did not share the liberals belief that a better
theory of nationality might reduce, if not completely prevent, wars
fought for national independence, he did agree with them that the

Uesugi Shinkichi, Kokka ketsug no genryoku, Ch Kron, no. 36 (1921):
15-37, at 24.
concepts of nation, nationality and nationalism were fraught with
confusion and required clarification. His own effort to define these
terms is worth citing at length:
What I would like to add here is a reflection on how such terms as
ethnic nationalism (minzokushugi) and nationalism (kokuminshugi) are
generally understood in their actual usage. The insistence on liberating
one or more nationalities from the statist domination of another
nationality usually is expressed through the term minzokushu-
giprinciple of nationality [yama's own English gloss]. In contrast,
when a nationality [minzoku] that occupies a dominant position within
a state attempts to realize its desire to express its existence in the form
of an independent nation-state by carrying out assimilation policies or
oppressing weaker nationalities at home, while manifesting hostility in
various ways toward other nationalities or foreign states, we usually
call the guiding principle behind such efforts kokuminshu-
ginationalism [yama 's English]. This is because a nationality that
is under the dominance of another nationality is usually simply called a
minzokua nationality [yama 's English], but a nationality that
either has already formed its own state, or that occupies the center of
superior dominance and power within a statea nationality that has
made a stateis therefore called a kokumin nation [yama 's English].
We must pay careful attention to the fact that in Japanese common
usage, the original word "nation" is often used in a highly
indiscriminate way, and its direct Japanese translation as kokumin is
also used in a very thoughtless manner. In Japan, there are many cases
where the word kokumin is used as a direct translation of the German
Staatvolk to express collectively the general members of the object of
sovereign power. Before we use such terms as minzoku and kokumin,
we should first be prepared to distinguish these points.
What is striking about yamas terminology is his negative view of
kokuminshugi and his valorization of minzokushugi. This valorization
can only be explained as the influence of the Versailles principle of
self-determination as the right of ethnic groups to their own nation,
and his own Marxist commitment to undermining imperial Japan,
which was nothing more than an elitist, capitalist state that had
suppressed the ethnic nations of Asia. There still were two forms of
nationalism at war with each other, as he had argued in 1919. But
now he argued that, in addition to Japans oppression of other ethnic
nations, the polarization of politics in Japan suggested that this war
between nationalisms also could be found within the same country,

yama Ikuo, Seiji no shakai-teki kiso (1923); reprinted in yama Ikuo zensh
(Ch Kronsha, 1947), 1:217-237, at 232-3.
that there was, in effect, something like internal colonization in
If it is true, as Hashimoto Mitsuru has argued, that by the
beginning of the Showa era (1926), minzoku first became a major
feature of Japanese political debate, it is not because, as he claims,
Japanese society had begun to coalesce around a minzoku identity.
Just the opposite. From 1925 to 1935, minzoku discourse was more
diverse than at any other time in Japanese history. This development
can be explained as a result of the appeal minzoku still had for various
people, parties and political agendas across the spectrum: from right
to left, everyone, it seemed, wanted a piece of the action. The effect
of this broad interest in minzoku was not an enhanced national unity
in Japan, but a dispersed, contested discourse over what minzoku
meant, both conceptually and in practice, and a broad disagreement
over how Japanese people should respond to its appeal. Through that
decade, advocates of the liberal psychological approach continued to
present their case. Kamikawa Hikomatsu summarized their arguments
in his 1926 essay in the Kokka gakkai zasshi, which reviewed
McDougall, Hayes, Muir and Pillsbury, and sought to provide what
Hayes had announced was urgently needed: a systematic theory of
nationality and nationalism. Kamikawas theory merely admitted race
had some influence on the formation of a nation, but ultimately he
concluded that a nation was formed most through the subjective
factors of culture, history and tradition.
The following year, former Diet member and Tokyo Imperial
University professor Nakatani Takeyo drew from the same theorists
to once again seek in minzoku a fusion of self and society that would
not extinguish the liberal hopes for a culture of personalism. He
rejected Carlton Hayess effort to separate minzoku (nationality) and
nationalism (minzokushugi), arguing such an effort was not consistent
with the lessons of social psychology: if the nation was the effect, not
the cause, of national consciousness, then there can be no significant
time lag between the emergence of national consciousness and
nationalist movements. Since minzoku, in contrast to the state, was a
mode of consciousness that existed simultaneously in the mind of the
individual and in the minds of those who shared his national identity,
minzoku consciousness was in fact the mediation between individual
and the group. Consequently, nationalism, which completes the

Hashimoto Mitsuru, MinzokuNihon kindai o tg suru chikara, in Senjika
Nihon Shakai Kenkykai, ed., Senjika no nihon, 6.
Kamikawa Hikomatsu, Minzoku no honshitsu ni tsuite no ksatsu, 1851.
individual, and is therefore a liberal movement, can be called a kind
of national personalism (minzoku-teki jinkakushugi), or social
individualism (shakai-teki koseishugi).
This theory of minzoku as a
form of subjective consciousness had a deep and broad influence on
liberal political thinkers of the early Showa period, including
Yanaihara Tadao, Tanaka Ktar, and Hasegawa Nyozekan.
At the same time, those further to the left continued to assert their
preference for minzoku nationalism as the best hope for a
revolutionary subjectivity. Nagashima Matao played a significant role
in making minzoku acceptable to Japanese Marxists. His 1929 article
on The Nation and Nationalist Movements, published in the journal
Under the Banner of the New Science, was essentially a response to
yamas interest in the nationalism theories of Otto Bauer.
Nagashima explored Bauers writings on the nation in depth, but he
also cited heavily from Stalins The National and Colonial
Question. This minzoku turn among Marxists was made possible by
the shift within the Marxist movement towards a reconsideration of
cultural and national issues in the late 1920s that lay behind the
establishment of the journal Under the Banner of the New Science.
In addition, Sano Manabu and Nishi Masao had just translated
Stalins work on the National and Colonial Question as Minzoku
Mondai in 1928, drawing their comrades into the already vigorous
debate over the meaning and politics of minzoku. Following Stalins
writings closely, Japanese Marxists contributed to the discourse on
minzoku by, paralleling their analysis of class struggle, positing a
national struggle (minzoku ts) with dominant nations (shihai
minzoku) and dominanted nations (hi-shihai minzoku), or sometimes
oppressor nations (appaku suru minzoku) and oppressed nations
(hi-appaku minzoku).
These distinctions were of course unstable,
and allowed Sano himself (along with Nabeyama Sadachika) to
abandon Marxism in 1933 in order to remain loyal to his own

Nakatani Takeyo, Minzoku oyobi minzokushugi, 127. Nakatani is responding
to the arguments Carlton J.H. Hayes made in Essays on Nationalism.
For more on liberal views on minzoku during this time period, see my chapter on
Culture, Ethnicity and the State in Early Twentieth-Century Japan, ; on Tanaka
Ktars views on minzoku, see my What is a Nation and Who Belongs?: National
Narratives and the Ethnic Imagination in Twentieth-Century Japan.
See my article, Under the Banner of the New Science: History, Science and the
Problem of Particularity in Early 20th Century Japan. Philosophy East and West
vol.48: no.2 (April 1998): 232-256.
Cf. Nagashima, 30-31.
Sano had come to believe, not merely that national
struggles paralleled class struggles, but that in fact national struggles
were the fundamental ones.
Sano and Nabeyamas abandonment of Marxism was a watershed
event for many on the left. Both held key positions on the Central
Committee of the Communist Party, and their turn from Marxism
toward a closer embrace of the nation made support for minzoku even
more controversial among Marxists. Tosaka Jun was the loudest voice
against an intoxication with minzoku identity, warning that it would
always lead to reactionary politics and undermine the struggle against
Not all Marxists agreed. Matsubara Hiroshi (Suga
Hirota) published his own outline of Stalins ideas on minzoku in
1935 as study material for his comrades who were planning a
conference on ethnic nationalism. Matsubara emphasized that Stalins
definition of the nation is a most accurate, principled critiqueof
the confusion we find in our everyday consciousness of ethnicity
[minzoku], tribe [shuzoku], and race [jinshu], or of the ethnic nation
[minzoku], the state [kokka], and the political nation [kokumin].
Matsubaras memo on Marxist minzoku ideas was vigorously debated
by Tosaka Jun, Izu Tadao, ta Takeo, Hirokawa Hisashi, Utsumi
Takashi, Kojima Hatsuo and Mori Kichi at the conference. Their
views ranged widely, but their responses to Matsubara, published in
the 49th issue of the journal Studies in Materialist Theory, revealed
that most accepted minzoku as a useful tool, even as they stressed that
it was a product of history, and therefore was both real and
Although their politics were different, Marxist and
liberal intellectuals shared a broader conceptualization of the ethnic
nationality as a matter of consciousness (ideology) and as a
historical reality that was forged through culture and history, rather
than through organic, racial ties.

Sano Manabu, Nihon minzoku no yshsei o ronzu, (February 1934);
reprinted in Sano Manabu chosakush (Tokyo: Sano Manabu chosakush kankkai,
1958): 945-61, 945.
Tosaka Jun , Nippon ideorogii ron (1936); reprinted in Tosaka Jun zensh
(Tokyo: Keis Shob, 1966); vol. 2: 223-438, at 316-7.
Matsubara Hiroshi, Minzoku no kiso gainen ni tsuitekenky sozai,
Yuibutsuron kenky, no. 30 (April 1935); reprinted in Band Hiroshi, ed., Rekishi
kagaku taikei 15: minzoku no mondai, 9.
Band Hiroshi, Rekishi ni okeru minzoku no mondai ni tsuite, in Band
Hiroshi, ed., Rekishi kagaku taikei 15: minzoku no mondai, 313-314.
Minzoku and War
During the ten years from 1925 to 1935, when the influence of liberal
and leftist discourse on minzoku was at its zenith, the emphasis of this
discourse gradually shifted from political theory to cultural theory. It
is tempting to attribute this shift to an internal development of the
discourse itself: the force of conceptualizing the nation in terms of
psychology and consciousness, artifice and contingency, history and
tradition which ultimately drew theorists to culture as the ground of
such identity-making practices. And there may be some truth to that
analysis. But contingency was not only a theory, as specific events
and particular individuals did make a difference. For example, in
1935 Yasuda Yojr founded a new journal Nihon Rmanha that
spawned an influential literary movement that lasted throughout the
war. The Romantic School writers were not inclined to theoretical
articulation of the nation, nor did they connect with the earlier efforts
to keep up with the latest writings on nationalism coming from the
West. Rather, drawing on late eighteenth century German romantics,
they condemned such intellectual activities as modern scholarship
and sought to actually re-present the ethnic nation itself through the
creation of aesthetic and literary works that spoke less to the intellect
than to the heart. Along with Kamei Katsuichir and Hayashi Fusao,
among others, Yasuda sought the core of Japanese national identity in
an ethnic or Vlkisch cultural identity which he traced back to the
sixth century, before Korean, Chinese (and certain Western) cultures
had influenced Japan.
Needless to say, this poetic archaicism was
not easy to reconcile with the reality of the modern Meiji state, and
part of the fascination of the Romantic School writers is the variety of
ways in which they tried to reconcile these two, the nation and the
From the middle of the 1930s, Japanese literary and philosophical
works were awash with minzoku impulses. In 1935, Watsuji Tetsur
wrote an influential tract, On Climate, that sought to explain the
Japanese national character as a function of Japans unique climate.
While he situated Japan within a broader monsoon climate that
included other Asian nations, ultimately he argued that Japans
climate was a unique blend of monsoon and temperate climates which

On the Japan Romantic School and their contribution to minzoku discourse, see
my Dreams of Difference: The Japan Romantic School and the Crisis of Modernity
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); also Ethnic Nationalism and
Romanticism in Early Twentieth-Century Japan, Journal of Japanese Studies, vol.
22, no.1 (1996): 77-103.
yielded the unique ethnic character of the Japanese people. Indeed,
Watsujis argument on climate was in fact anti-nature in a manner
that paralleled the emphasis on minzoku as a cultural or spiritual
principle that contrasted with the nature of biological race. When
applied to explaining Japans unique climate and its role in shaping
Japans particular culture, Watsujis argument was an effort to isolate
Japan both from the claims of Westernizers and from Orientalists who
would relocate Japan in Asia. Watsujis approach blended literary and
philosophical ideas with social scientific concerns. There was a sense
that the social sciences (other than psychology) were lagging behind
the humanities, particularly in terms of responding to the appeal of
minzoku. Indeed, Hashimoto Mitsuru has concluded that the discourse
on minzoku in the social sciences merely followed the initiative of
philosophy and sought empirical evidence to support the ideas of
minzoku philosophies through fieldwork.
If political science, philosophy and literature had quickly
gravitated to the concept of minzoku as a product of culture rather
than nature, anthropology was taking a bit longer to accept this idea.
As a discipline, it was still recovering its footing in the aftermath of
the subjectivist challenge from psychology, and was moving away
from an emphasis on the objective approaches of physical
anthropology and its emphasis on race in favor of new appreciation of
the impact of culture and consciousness. There were earlier hints of
this new direction, particularly in 1925 when Yanigita Kunio and Oka
Masao founded a new journal Minzoku to shift the focus of
anthropological research from race studies to a more culturally
informed ethnological approach. But Yanagitas influence on
professional anthropologists was limited, as he mainly worked outside
the professional discipline, drawing as much from the mythological
streams that fed Yasuda as from cutting edge anthropological
scholarship. And Oka left for Vienna in 1929, not to return until 1935,
a pivotal year in minzoku discourse.
Consequently, the anthropological turn to ethnicity was spurred in
large measure by the work done by sociologists. Many of the future
ethnologists in Japan were trained in sociology, as it was in sociology
that they focused on developing an adequate theory of the people as
the national body (see Chapter Four). A key barometer of the
sociological interest in ethnicity is the 1934 Annals of the Japanese
Society for Sociology. All six of the essays carried in that volume
were explicitly concern with the problem of minzoku. Since they were

Hashimoto Mitsuru, Minzoku: nihon kindaika wo tg suru chikara, 8.
treated above in Chapter Four in some depth, here I merely want to
focus on how some of these key arguments continued to shape the
formation of ethnology and wartime discourse on minzoku.
Watanuki Tetsurs article called Nationality (minzokusei)
followed Usui Jishs article on The Concept of Nation (kokumin
no gainen), and implicitly raised the question of what the distinction
between kokumin and minzoku is. And, in fact, that question was the
fundamental one that his article addressed. Watanuki did not build his
argument around a theoretical response to the difference between
kokumin and minzoku so much as a historical analysis of different
minzoku within the Japanese nation. He explicitly drew his
conceptions of what a minzoku (nationality) is from the liberal,
psychological vein, citing Muir, McDougall, Fouile, and Le Bon,
among others, to make the point that what constitutes a sense of
nationality is not so much consciousness (ishiki) as mind
His reliance on McDougalls concept of nationality as
group mind allowed him to distinguish his approach to nationality
from the Marxist theory that transferred class consciousness to
nationality consciousness. Instead, Watanuki was interested in how
sub-groups (what today we would call ethnicities) within a given
state or national arena develop distinctive cultural styles that yield
distinctive ethnic identities, or nationalities. What made his argument
most provocative was that it emphasized different national mores
(kokuf) within Japan, specifically the different cultures of Tosa
people and Nagasaki people. Watanuki skillfully employed
subjectivist theories of nationality as a form of group mind to
conclude that Nagasaki and Tosa represented two particularly strong
examples of the variety of nationalities (minzokusei) that existed
within Japan proper. Ultimately, Watanuki concluded that, as
revealed by the example of Nagasaki and Tosa as particular cultural
styles that co-existed within the Japanese state, current efforts to
reorganize global politics based nationality as the fundamental unit of
political society failed to reflect the continuous dynamic change in
these social identities called minzoku.
Watanukis article was provocative and influential. A shift was
underway within sociology and it bore fruit when the Japanese
Society of Ethnology was formed in 1934. The members of the
Society read like a whos who of minzoku theorists during the

Watanuki Tetsur, Minzokusei, Shakaigaku no. 2 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten,
1934): 99-150, at 139.
Watanuki, 150.
wartime: Uno Enk, Ishida Kannosuke, Koyama Eiz, Shibusawa
Keiz, Shinmura Izuru, Kuwata Yoshiz, Utsurikawa Nenoz and
Furuno Kiyoto, with Shiratori Kurakichi as the Chairman of the
Societys Board of Directors.
All these men (but Ishida, Koyama
and Shinmura in particular) would make substantial contributions to
the wartime discourse on minzoku and, at least initially, all started
with the belief that the cultural, subjective nature of minzoku required
a specific discipline distinct from the natural orientation of
anthropology and the institutional formalism of sociology.
But in fact, sociology in Japan was changing under the impact of
minzoku theory. No one did more to push the discipline into a serious
engagement with ethnology that the senior sociologist Takata Yasuma
who joined his theory of total society to the new work being done
on minzoku with revolutionary results. In 1934, the same year that
Watanukis article appeared, Takata published his major work on
Class and the State which sought to refute the theory put forth by
Marxist social scientists that posited a deterministic relationship
between class and the state. In the process of building a pluralistic
theory of political structures, Takata argued that the concept of
minzoku held an independent value that could not be reduced to the
political state in all cases.
In that work, Takatas main concern was
with demonstrating the pluralistic nature of the state; he was not yet
focused on the problem of minzoku and he strongly rejection the
notion that he supported ethnic nationalism (minzokushugi).
But it
immediately became the central concern of his work to the end of the
Between 1935 and 1939, Takata mainly developed a theory of
minzoku that situated it within both modernist and subjectivist
approaches, rejecting blood as the primary factor and also criticizing

See my Building National Identity through Ethnicity: Ethnology in Wartime
Japan and After, 18-9.
Takata Yasuma, Kokka to kaiky, (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1934): 15.
In a October 1934 issue of Keizai rai, Takata published a rebuttal of Shimmei
Masamichis claim that Takata had converted to a minzokushugi position, describing
his own position as that of a cosmopolitan (sekaishugisha). Cited in Seino Masayoshi,
Takata Yasuma no Ta minzoku ron, 29-59 in Senjika Nihon Shakai Kenkykai,
ed., Senjika no nihon: shwa zenki no rekishi shakaigaku, 32. But as Seino goes on to
demonstrate, But by 1942Takata had converted into one of Japans leading ethnic
nationalists. (33).
The centrality of minzoku in Takatas wartime work can be gleaned from a
quick list of some of his major publications: Minzoku no mondai (Tokyo: Nihon
Hyronsha, 1935); Ta minzoku ron (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1939); Minzoku to
keizai, vol. 1 (Tokyo: Yhikaku, 1940); Minzoku ron (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten,
1942); Minzoku to keizai, vol. 2 (Tokyo: Yhikaku, 1943); and Minzoku kenkyjo
kiyo (Tokyo: Minzoku kenkyjo, 1944), which he edited.
climate theories (Watsujis?) for relying too much on natural causes
and not enough on culture (see the discussion on Takatas sociology
in Chapter Four above).
Takatas 1939 A Theory of East Asian Nationality made a major,
original contribution to both minzoku discourse and imperialist
ideology by offering the concept of a single, culturally determined
East Asian nationality (k minzoku; ta minzoku).
This idea of a new,
East Asian nationality drew from the subjectivist theory that
nationality was a matter of consciousness or mind and thus was
relatively open in possibilities. If nationality was largely a subjective
sense of identity, then why could not socialization result in a singular
sense of loyalty among all East Asian peoples to the Japanese empire?
The key, however, remained the necessity of a state to raise the level
of identity to a true consciousness, thereby yielding a modern nation
(kindai minzoku). Until they developed such a consciousness, other
East Asian nationalities would remain at a pre-modern stage of
development and would have to rely on the imperial Japanese state to
provide them with organization and structure. In this way, Takata
transformed and extended a theory of a pluralistic state to a theory
that justified Japans multi-ethnic East Asian empire.
Takata had begun to outline a theory of ethnic nationality that
could reconcile the two countervailing pressures in minzoku discourse
up to that time: on the one hand, minzoku appealed as a cultural
theory of identity that was not invested in regional or racial identities;
yet at the same time, it was deeply implicated in post World War I
political movements for nationalism and a right to self-determination.
For Takata, and for those who sought to legitimize the Japanese
empire, the problem was how to embrace this new concept as a
cultural theory without losing their right to govern other ethnic
nationalities. The solution Takata found was a dual notion of minzoku,
one that was temporally and spatially inflected: not all minzoku were
at the same stage of historical development, and not all minzoku
identity claims were narrow in scope. But it was Oka Masao who
came up with the most powerful articulation of this concept. Having
spent the years from 1929 to 1935 in Vienna, where he watched the
development of ethnology, he returned to Vienna again that year and
stayed, impressed with the Nazi support for ethnology. When he
returned to Japan in 1940, he brought with him a new idea. Within

On Takadas theories on minzoku, see Hashimoto Mitsuru, Minzoku: nihon
kindaika wo tg suru chikara, 16-19; Doak, Building National Identity through

Takatas horizontal community of an East Asian ethnic nationality
there had to be a hierarchy of ethnic nations (minzoku chitsujo) that
reflected the different historical stages of development of each
member minzoku. And since Japan was the only ethnic nation to have
developed its own independent state, it was accorded the top position,
the Herrenvolk (shid minzoku) with the moral responsibility to
develop the other ethnic nationalities to their own, eventual political
Oka not only provided intellectual support for imperial ethnology,
he was also the motive force behind the creation of the Japan Ethnic
Research Institute (Minzoku Kenkyjo) in 1943. Takata was named
the Director of the Institute. Oka had many valuable contacts in the
military, as well as in companies with close connections to the
military and civilian powerbrokers. He received substantial help from
Furuno Kiyoto who was working for the East Asian economic
research department of Mantetsu and had strong ties to people in the
Ministry of Education and in the Imperial Navy. Once it became clear
that minzoku ideas were not limited to the Marxist agenda, pragmatic
imperial bureaucrats, bankers and high level military offers were
eager to use the fruits of this discourse both to suppress Marxism and
to shore up imperial rule. Ishiwara Kanji is a case in point. Drawing
on the idea of Kyoto Imperial University Professor Sakuda Shichi
that the ideals of ethnic national harmony and integration within the
political state were compatible goals, Ishiwara founded Kenkoku
University (National Foundation University) in Manchuria in May
1938, placing Sakuda effectively in charge of the University. At that
university, ethnic harmony was not only an idea, but enacted through
admissions policies that yielded a remarkable ethnic balance among
the students enrolled. According to research done by Naka Hisao, a
member of the last class of Kenkoku University, the first class
enrolled 65 Japanese, 59 (Han) Chinese, 11 Koreans, 13 Taiwanese, 7
Mongolians and 5 White Russians, a proportion that was maintained
until the university closed in 1945.
But Tj Hideki thought
Ishiwaras belief in ethnic national harmony was quixotic at best, and
he never warmed to Ishiwaras social reorganization plans for
Manchuria. In fact, he finally recalled Ishiwara to Tokyo and placed
him on inactive service.

Naka Hisao, Minzoku kywa no ris: manshkoku kenkoku daigaku no
jikken, 81-100 in Senjika Nihon Shakai Kenkykai, ed., Senjika no nihon, 90-91,
Cf. Miyazawa Eriko, Kenkoku daigaku to minzoku kywa (Tokyo: Fma Shob,
Okas contribution to wartime Japanese minzoku discourse
revealed a new shift in the way that discourse placed the people in
relation to the Imperial state. The concern no longer was limited to a
shift from race to ethnicity through the mediation of culture. Rather,
cultural and political issues began to merge more frequently,
particularly under the influence of the Nazi model that the State itself
could be reconceived as a Volk-Staat. This mode of taming the force
of ethnic nationalism to serve an expansive wartime state was
providing Imperial Japans state bureaucrats with hopes that they
might be able to overcome the Wilsonian liberal theory of minzoku as
a form of nationalist self-determination, an anti-imperialist movement.
This was a marked shift from the negative assessment of minzoku that
was characteristic of imperial state apologists from the days of
Fukuzawa Yukichi, Kat Hiroyuki and Uesugi Shinkichi.
From the late 1930s, the emphasis within Japanese minzoku
discourse turned toward ways the state might appropriate minzoku for
its own purposes. This was no simple matter. First, the state had to
adopt the liberal theory that minzoku was not an objective, racial
identity but a matter of consciousness. Second, it had to make a
persuasive case that such ethnic consciousness could be transformed,
and transformed in a way that would align minzoku identity with what
was institutionally, historically, and legally a multi-ethnic Empire.
And finally, it had to find methods that would successfully
accomplish this goal, transforming minzoku consciousness from a
potentially anti-imperial movement into one that would further invest
the loyalties of various peoples throughout Asia in the Japanese
Imperial State. What made this agenda particularly difficult was it had
to be accomplished without completely alienating ethnic nationalists
within Japan who had been opposed to the modern, bureaucratic
empire that had, in the words made famous in Japan by J.A. Hobson,
become a debasement ofgenuine nationalism by attempts to
overflow its natural banks and absorbreluctant and unassimilable
At the same time, the incorporation of minzoku into
official ideology had to proceed without transforming the very nature
of the constitutional Imperial state. Few of the state bureaucrats who
were now turning toward minzoku discourse wanted Japan to change
its constitutional system as Germany had. And fewer yet were
interested in overthrowing the monarchy.

J.A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (New York: James Pott & Co., 1902), 4.
The quote is from Hobsons introductory chapter, Nationalism and Imperialism
which was widely cited by the liberal theorists of nationalism discussed above. It was
particularly influential on Yanaihara Tadao.
Domestically, the extreme positions were marked out by
conservative ethnic nationalists like Yasuda who sought in minzoku a
principle of overcoming all traces of modernity, including the modern
Japanese imperial state, and reform bureaucrats inspired by Nazi
Germany who sought to push the limits of the imperial state as close
to the Nazi model as possible. In between these two extremes were
legal theorists like Yanaihara Tadao and Tanaka Ktar who
incorporated minzoku discourse into their writings but with the goal
of resisting both the anti-modernity of romantics like Yasuda and the
totalitarianism of the reform bureaucrats. Significantly, in the
context of a rising State Shintoism, both men were Christians.
Yanaihara was a mukykai (non-affliliated, i.e., in Uchimura
Kanzs tradition) Christian, and was inclined to see institutions like
church and state as secondary to ideals which, transcendent, must be
employed to guide institutions. He brought this idealist philosophy to
bear on the problem of minzoku in two books Minzoku to Heiwa
(1936) and Minzoku to Kokka (1937), the latter based on a series of
speeches he had delivered in Nagano between 31 August and 02
September 1937. On the basis of these works, Yanaihara developed a
theory of national identity that accepted ethnic nationality (minzoku)
as the foundation of national identity, and he saw the state as an
artificial institution that needed to be guided by the ideals of a nation
(minzoku). In practice, he was offering a critique of the Imperial
States efforts at assimilating Koreans and at the war in China that had
just started in July. When he published this moral critique of the
Japanese state in Ch Kron in September, he attracted the attention
and ire of the rightwing ideologue Minoda Muneki who attacked
Yanaihara for his pacifism, and ultimately Yanaihara was forced to
resign his chair at Tokyo Imperial University.
While the precise
reasons for Yanaiharas removal from teaching at the Imperial
University are in dispute, what is clear is that he argued that the state
must be accountable to the minzoku, not the other way around. And
this view directly contradicted what statists had been trying to do with
the concept of the minzoku since the outbreak of the second Sino-

In fact, Yanaihara was only removed from the classroom and had his writings on
minzoku and the state suppressed. At the same time, he was allowed to stay on as
librarian at Tokyo Imperial University and was never imprisoned. As Susan C.
Townsend has noted, the Japanese authorities, although they persecuted and
harassed Japanese Christians, were reluctant to imprison them (267-8). See her
Yanaihara Tadao and Japanese Colonial Policy: Redeeming Empire (Richmond,
UK: Curzon Press, 2000): esp., 235-251. On Yanaiharas minzoku discourse, see my
Colonialism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Political Thought of Yanaihara Tadao
(1893-1961), East Asian History (July 1997): 79-98.
Japanese war: subordinate minzoku claims to the imperial structure of
In any event, Yanaihara was neither persecuted for advocating
minzoku ideas nor for being a Christian liberal. That much is clear
from the example of Tanaka Ktar, a liberal, Catholic professor of
law at the same university. Conceptually, Tanaka agreed with
Yanaihara that the nation (minzoku) had developed out of race but had
matured into a concept distinct both from race and from the state.
The real question from the perspective of international law, or what
Tanaka called global law, was to determine whether a state was the
by-product of a nation, or whether a nation could be engineered by a
state. Tanaka rejected the idea put forth by radical conservatives that
the Japanese state was an expression of the Yamato nation. But he
also rejected the notion that ethnic nationality was merely a tool,
either to overthrow the state (Marxists) or to be used to support the
multi-ethnic state (authoritarian imperialists). Staking out his position
in the moderate middle, Tanaka argued that the relationship between
nation and state was one of mutual influence, or what we might today
call overdetermination. His main point, from a perspective
grounded in the transcendental principle of natural law, was to limit
the states activities to regulating the objective forms of social life:
the state should simply stay out of national issues, as the nation was,
ultimately, a spiritual reality.
This argument was not only a defense
of the right to be both Christian and a loyal Japaneseas outlined by
Maeda and Linguel forty years earlierit was also a defense of Article
28 of the Meiji Constitution that guaranteed freedom of religion. At
the same time, it did not completely reject empire as a viable and
potentially just political system. Like Yanaihara, Tanakas approach
was not a structuralist, deterministic one, but a human, practical one:
how might moral men exercise power in imperfect institutions to
achieve the most just and humane result possible? But unlike
Yanaihara, Tanaka did not adopt a pacifist position, either in principle
or in regard to the second Sino-Japanese war. And, even though he
was an active and devout Christian throughout the war, he never
suffered any persecution.
There were, however, many social engineers who were eager to
make the principle of minzoku subordinate to the raw political
interests of Japanese imperialism. From the late 1930s, it became an
increasingly common feature of minzoku discourse that morality

Tanaka, Sekai h no riron, I, 162-166.
Tanaka, Sekai h no riron I, 212-6.
ultimately rested in the state, and thus minzoku identities could, and
should, be manipulated to suit the interests of the Japanese state.
One way this argument was put forth is evident in the collection of
essays called Minzoku and War published by the Young Japanese
Foreign Relations Association in 1939. This volume, with essays by
leading minzoku theorists Shimmei Masamichi, Kada Tetsuji,
Shimizu Ikutar, Nagata Kiyoshi and Maehara Mitsuo, placed ethnic
nationality at the center of Japans war in Asia, arguing from a variety
of perspectives that Japan had a moral mission to rectify the political
instabilities in the region that resulted from a failure to resolve the
claims of ethnic nationalism. The purpose of the book, which was
addressed to young men of draft age, is best captured in the title of
Shimmeis article, The Role of War in Establishing Ethnic Societies
[minzoku shakai]. It provided a bibliography, which illustrated the
enduring influence of liberal national theories and established the
writings of Takata, Yanaihara, Kada, Koya Yoshio, and Komatsu
Kentar as canonical works in the Japanese discourse on minzoku.
But most importantly, the authors had learned the lessons of the
failure of the liberal theorists to establish a definitive theory of who or
what constituted a nation. Ultimately, they concluded, the liberal
effort to seek an adequate theory of the nation had failed, and the only
solution was to be found through the effects of war.
This approach to resolving the minzoku issue through force
became most salient after 7 (8 in Japan) December 1941, when the
attack on Pearl Harbor offered the chance to reinterpret the overtly
imperialist war in Asia as a war for the liberation of Asia from the
West. The war could not be presented effectively as a war of
liberation of Asian nations without a compelling case for what

The scope of this minzoku discourse from the late 1930s is truly impressive and
of course there are individual variations within it. But a representative sample of the
influential works would include: Komatsu Kentar, Minzoku to bunka (Tokyo:
Rissha, 1939); Izawa Hiroshi, Minzoku ts shikan (Tokyo: Sangab, 1939); Takata
Yasuma, Ta minzoku ron (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1939); Tanase Jji, Ta no
minzoku to shky (Tokyo: Kawade Shob, 1939); Matsuoka Jhachi, Shina
minzokusei no kenky (Tokyo: Nihon Hyronsha, 1940); Kamei Kanichir, Dai ta
minzoku no michi (Tokyo: Seiki Shob, 1941); Koyama Eiz, Minzoku to jink no
riron (Tokyo: Hata Shoten, 1941) and Minzoku to bunka no sh-mondai (Tokyo:
Hata Shoten, 1942); Kaigo Katsuo, Ta minzoku kyiku ron (Tokyo: Asakura Shoten,
1942); the 12 volume Minzoku series published by Rokumeikan in 1943, Ogawa
Yatar, ed., Nihon minzoku to shin sekaikan (Osaka: Kazuraki Shoten, 1943); Hirano
Yoshitar, Minzoku seijigaku no riron (Tokyo: Nihon Hyronsha, 1943); and
Minzoku kenkyjo kiyo (Tokyo: Minzoku Kenkyjo, 1944).
Nihon Seinen Gaik Kykai, ed., Minzoku to sens (Tokyo: Nihon Seinen
Gaik Kykai, 1939): 211-244.
nationality was and how it could be liberated by an outside
stateJapan. Yet, as we have seen, the effort over several decades to
establish a definitive theory of nationality had met with little success.
Even so, the failure of political theorists to establish a theory of
nationality for the empire did not lessen the need for a philosophy of
nationality, a normative outline for how nationality, properly
understood, could provide a justification for Japans war. And there
was no shortage of philosophers in Japan ready to provide just that.
Ksaka Masaaki, a leading philosopher in the Kyoto School
tradition, emerged as the most influential of such philosophers when
he published a book called The Philosophy of Minzoku in April 1942.
In that book, he drew from the liberal theory of minzoku as a
contingent product of history, as well as conservative views of those
like Yasuda that there was no transcendental moral principle beyond
that of the minzoku. He argued that the true subject of world history
was neither the individual nor class but the minzoku, and he drew
from Muir and others to emphasize that minzoku was distinct from
both race and the state. But Ksaka offered something new. He
emphasized that the ultimate goal, a world historical nation was a
state-nation (kokka-teki minzoku):
Of course, the world is not going to be changed solely through
minzoku; the minzoku must be mediated by culture. And even if the
world itself can be seen as a kind of negative universal (mu-teki fuhen),
there must be within the historical world a species-subject (shu-teki
shutai). And that is the state-nation.
Ksakas fusion of nation with the state, minzoku with kokka, through
the process of mediation, was a new, original contribution to the
moral discourse on minzoku. He was not proposing a nation-state
(minzoku-kokka), which would have contradicted the multi-ethnic
empire, but the need for all minzoku in the region immediately to
associate themselves with a state (the only effective option being the
imperial Japanese state). Even while recognizing the distinction
between the two concepts, he subjected that conceptual distinction to
his historicist philosophy that was more interested in offering creative
assertions about new realities than the more modest goal of reflecting
what was traditionally seen as limitations to what the nation and the
state could demand of the individual.
This was no mere philosophical game. Ksaka made it clear that
his interests were practical and involved specifically offering a
rationale for the policy of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity

Ksaka Masaaki, Minzoku no tetsugaku (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1942); 3.
Sphere. The key to resolving the national question within the empire,
he felt, lay in the grand concept of a co-prosperity sphere. Once the
pluralistic and artificial (historical) character of minzoku was
grasped, Ksaka believed there would be no barrier, certainly not
nature (he spent a great deal of energy distinguishing and discounting
natural scientific concepts like race from the historical subject of
nation), to the reconstruction of minzoku in a new relationship of co-
prosperity. It was not simply a matter of liberating nations in East
Asia, but of a new discovery of them and an establishment of them.
Sounding very much like Takata Yasuma, he argued that
the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere does not simply mean that
existing states and existing nations will enter into a new relationship of
co-prosperity. Rather, it means the construction of their own states, the
beginning of their own history, for those nations that are non-
autonomous, that lack their own history, and in this way, a new East
Asian world will open a new stage in world history.
Such a grand constructivist project was possible, Ksaka maintained,
because a minzoku was an on-going social construct (gen ni dekitsutsu
aru). But from a world historical standpoint, the most important
consideration was how such non-historical nations would become
historical state-nations. The answer was quite predictable. Through
the leadership of our nation, new states will arise from among the
other nations and appear on the stage of world history. But this will
also mean that our nations mode of existence will be fundamentally
enlarged and become capable of mediating the process toward a new
While this 1942 defense of the co-prosperity sphere placed
Ksaka squarely among those on the political right, his philosophy of
minzoku could not have taken shape without the contribution of
liberal and leftist theories of minzoku that had sought to overcome the
constraints of nature and of race in particular.
By the late 1930s, imperial minzoku discourse had taken shape
around two distinct conceptual approaches. Ksaka and Takata
represented the corporatist approach that insisted that the plasticity of
the concept of minzoku provided the grounds for the creation of a new,
single East Asian identity that would provide the basis for the
construction of a New Order in Asia. Takatas student Nakano Seiichi
gave this theory its strongest articulation as a policy position in his
1944 article on An Unfolding of the Nationality Principle in East
Asia published in the Bulletin of the Ethnic Research Institute.

Ksaka, 193, 194-5.
Ksaka, 196, 197.
Nakano recognized Okas call for an ethnic national hierarchy in
the region, but he added Takatas notion of a broader ethnic nation
as the foundation for a sense of community within the hierarchy of
ethnic ations in the East Asian region. He noted that
the basis of all East Asian ethnic nations is to be found in the position
of a single East Asian Ethnic Nation (Dr. Takata). Once we accept this
fact, then it is clear that the position of an East Asian ethnic nation is
also basis of the position of ethnic national complementarity (minzoku
hokan no tachiba). Moreover, this means that what appears as a
complementary relationship among the ethnic nations is, when seen
from a different angle, merely each ethnic nation making manifest its
own special job. So, we can call this position of ethnic national
complementarity the position of ethnic national duty. In time, as this
complementarity progesses, disarray might arise in the relationship
between ethnic nations and their specific duties. If we are to avoid such
a development, there will need to be a hierarchy among the ethnic
nations. Thus, the position of ethnic national complementarity is tightly
linked to the position of an ethnic national hierarchy.
Nakanos synthesis was not a very successful one. It is most valuable
as an example of how far the social theory of constructed identity
could go in providing justification for imperialism as a project that
would overcome the limitations to national formation history had
recorded, and which were seen in the last years of the war as a
problem of modernity, or the West.
If Nakano had sought his synthesis largely from within the
corporatist approach to nationality in the empire, those who believed
that unity in East Asia could best be formed on the basis of a league
of separate ethnic nationalities remained unconvinced by his policy
recommendation. Kamei Kanichir still asserted that the life of the
empire depended not on some dubious social experiment in
engineering unprecedented forms of ethnic identity, but in
strengthening existing ethnic identities in East Asia. Kamei had been
deeply impressed by the ethnic nationalism he found in Nazi
Germany, and he drew from that experience to argue that something
analogous was possible in East Asia and would lead to unity under
the Japanese empire. His league approach had been favored by many
activists since the early 1930s, including Ozaki Hotsumi and Ishiwara

Nakano, p. 54.
For a more detailed treatment of Nakanos ethnic nationality policy, see my
chapter on Nakano Seiichi and Colonial Ethnic Studies in Akitoshi Shimizu and
Jan van Bremen, eds., Wartime Japanese Anthropology in Asia and the Pacific,
Senri Ethnological Studies no. 65 (2003): pp. 109-129.
But after Pearl Harbor and the shift in ideology to emphasize
the war as a war against modernity, the league approach began to lose
influence to the corporatists, who had an easier time connecting their
image of a new East Asian minzoku with the effort to overcome
modernity and its emphasis on the state as the privileged unit of
modern political life. But the debate continued down to the end of the
war, preventing any final consensus on a nationality policy for the
The unresolved tensions between these two approaches informed
the massive A Study of Global Policy with the Yamato Volk as the
Core composed in 1943 by bureaucrats in the Ministry of Social
Welfares Research Office Department of Population and Nationality.
The report reflected the same tensions that existed in the broader
public discourse on minzoku which pitted Takatas new, single East
Asia Volk against Kameis vision of a Greater East Asia Co-
Prosperity Sphere built around the particular ethnic identities in the
In the end, wracked with internal contradictions and multi-
vocal arguments, the report could only conclude that the Japanese
state needed to establish a nationality policy that would bring these
various minzoku into an organic unity.
Yet, there was to be no
reconciliation of these two approaches. In a sense, the failure to
establish a nationality policy was most likely the result of intractable
differences of opinion within the department over what a minzoku is
and how far it could be molded into something new. But, at the same
time, it may simply be that these bureaucrats found themselves
confronted with the fundamental problem of Asian regionalism, as
Yamamuro Shinichi has expressed it: the impossible dilemma of

On the East Asian League (Ta remmei) and the East Asian corporatist (Ta
kydtai) approaches to nationalism in the empire, see my chapter on The Concept
of Ethnic Nationality and its Role in Pan-Asianism in Imperial Japan in Sven Saaler
and J. Victor Koschmann, eds., Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History (London
and New York: Routledge, 2006).
Indeed, one section of the report urges cultural assimilation of other East Asian
Vlker by Japan, Yamato minzoku o chkaku to suru sekai seisaku no kent 7, 2351;
another section argues against any single policy for all the Vlker of Asia, and
particularly warns that assimilation efforts would merely cause a backlash against the
Japanese (7, 2364-5). On the public debate between proponents of a single Ta
minzoku and those who insisted on a plural interpretation of Ta (sho-)minzoku, see
my Narrating China, Ordering East Asia, 102-105, 112, n. 57. It is easy to suspect
Kameis hand behind the anti-assimilation sections of the report, due to his influence
in governmental circles, familiarity and support for Nazi nationality theories, and the
parallels in the reports arguments and in Kameis published works.
Yamato minzoku o chkaku to suru sekai seisaku no kent 7, 2197.
trying to hammer unity out of the plurality that has always been the
reality of Asia.
Minzoku and the Postwar Nation
It is often assumed that the devastation of Japans cities in the final
years of the war and the humiliation of defeat and occupation
cleansed the Japanese people of any attraction to nationalism.
Alternatively, it is claimed that during the seven years of military
occupation, certainly during the early stages, any overt expression of
nationalism was censored or punished by SCAP. Evidence offered in
support of this view is principally the ease of the Occupation and the
rarity of any retaliatory attack on the foreign soldiers in Japan.
Nationalism must have been worn out by the long war, it is presumed,
or there would have been more resistance to the Occupation. Nothing
could be further from the truth. There was a wide ranging and very
public expression of nationalism from the immediate postwar days
throughout and beyond the period of occupation, and it came from all
points on the political spectrum: right, left and center. Why did
occupation officials allow this open expression of nationalism? Why
have so many historians of Japan in the past failed to recognize the
vigorous nationalism in the early postwar period? And how has this
failure to recognize and restrain nationalism during the years of
occupation subsequently shaped the political discourse on national
identity and nationalism throughout the postwar period?
To understand why a free expression of nationalism was permitted
under military occupation, it is necessary first to recognize that
appeals to minzoku and minzokushugi are indeed forms of nationalism.
The most common expression of nationalism in the immediate
postwar period was made in minzoku terms. American observers of
Japanese political thought from the occupation period up until quite
recently have not always understood that appeals to the minzoku were
inherently forms of nationalism; instead they have often swept the
problem of minzoku under the rug of race. This tendency to believe
that a reference to the Japanese minzoku identity was simply a de-
politicized (if somewhat morally disreputable) way of referring to
race was encouraged by anthropological studies of the Japanese, the

Yamamuro Shinichi, Ta ni shite ichi no chitsujo genri to Nihon no sentaku
In Aoki Tamotsu and Saeki Keishi, eds., Ajia-teki kachi to wa nani ka (Tokyo:
TBS-Britannica, 1998).,43-64
most important of which was Ruth Benedicts Chrysanthemum and
the Sword, a work widely read among occupation officials and even
translated into Japanese as early as 1948.
In short, there was a
curious kind of mirror-effect, in which Americans who had been
encouraged during the war to view the Japanese as a race different
from themselves, reflected their own racial interpretation of the
Japanese onto discussions of minzoku identity among the Japanese.
The irony was that the postwar Japanese were not talking about race
as the Americans understood it, of course, but were continuing a
discourse on nationalism that had been quite vibrant during the
wartime and prewar years. But in seeing this discourse as one about
race rather than about nationalism, American Occupation officials
could easily conclude that it was a politically harmless, if somewhat
distasteful, topic for Japanese intellectuals to indulge. The imperial
Japanese discourse on minzoku that separated minzoku claims from
the right to an independent state only augmented this predilection for
seeing minzoku discourse as political harmless.
There were also structural reasons for the resurgence of minzoku
discourse in the immediate postwar years. Oguma Eiji has
summarized the structural changes that made minzoku so attractive
after the war. As he points out, a key condition for the rise of this
myth of minzoku identity was the transformation of Japan from the
multi-ethnic Meiji Imperial State to a mono-ethnic nation through the
process of de-imperialization. In short, the liberation of such
territories as Taiwan and Korea from the Japanese empire meant that
the claims of ethnic nationalism there now resonated with a sense of
ethnic purity within Japan. Koreans and Taiwanese were no longer
automatically subjects or citizens of the Japanese nation
(Okinawans were not to be Japanese again until 1972), and this ethnic
cleansing of the empire encouraged among the Japanese people a
sense of being a mono-ethnic nation. Moreover, drawing from both
prewar Marxist and liberal theories that idealized the minzoku and
criticized the state, this early postwar minzoku nationalism found it
easy to imagine the minzoku as a peaceful nation in contrast to the
prewar, militaristic, multi-ethnic state.
And, equally important, the
earlier liberal distinction between the nation as minzoku and the state
(kokka) provided a sense of legitimate national identity through
minzoku for the seven years of foreign occupation when an

Aoki Tamotsu, Nihon bunka ron no heny (Tokyo: Ch Kron Shinsha,
1999), 31.
Oguma, Tanitsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, 339-40.
independent Japanese state did not exist. The theoretical distinction
between nation and state seemed to be borne out by the political
realities of occupied Japan.
One of the most remarkable continuities between wartime and
postwar Japan is the way this minzoku discourse continued on,
unchallenged by either occupation officials or by liberal or leftist
Japanese. In recent years, Nishikawa Nagao described the spell
minzoku has continued to have over the Japanese people as the
preferred form of national identity, even while they have largely
distanced themselves from the state.
It may be tempting to conclude
that this continuity, one of many historians have depicted across the
prewar-postwar divide, represents the retention of rightwing, even
fascist, elements in postwar democratic Japan. Yet, on closer
inspection, the continuity in minzoku discourse proves to be, not an
exclusively or even largely conservative ideology, but also an
extension of the liberal and leftist minzoku discourse of the prewar
period. Certainly, rightwing ethnic nationalists tried to express their
views, but they had the most difficulty getting their ethnic nationalism
in print under the occupation. It was not their ethnic nationalism that
raised objections, but simply their identities, past associations with
wartime pro-government parties, or other extraneous, often personal,
reasons that led them to be blacklisted by the occupation censors.
Kageyama Masaharu has detailed was he sees as a history of
oppression that rightwing ethnic nationalists suffered at the hands
of the occupying forces.
But he also points out that, as a right-wing
ethnic nationalist, he took considerable solace in reading the
nationalist appeal of the Christian Yanaihara Tadao that was
permitted to appear in the pages of the leftist journal Sekai (although
Kageyama distanced himself from Yanaiharas Christianity).
the extreme right was prevented from expressing their views through
the occupation censors, minzoku nationalism was able to thrive
through liberals and leftists who led the way in rehabilitating it in the
context of post-imperial, occupied Japan.
One of the earliest instances of minzoku nationalism in the postwar
period was a lecture given on 11 February 1946 by Nanbara Shigeru,
president of Tokyo University. Nanbara was an expert on Fichte, and
he drew on his knowledge of Fichte in his speech on the Creation of

Nishikawa Nagao, Two Interpretations of Japanese Culture, (trans. Mikiko
Murata and Gavan McCormack) in Multicultural Japan, 247-8.
Kageyama Masaharu, Senryka no minzoku-ha: danatsu to chkoku no shgen
(Tokyo: Nihon Kybunsha, 1979).
Kageyama, 103-8.
a New Japanese Culture in arguing that the minzoku is the site for
the creation of the spirit of freedom. The war and all the horrible
things Japanese had done to othersand had been victims of
themselvesall this could be laid at the feet of the state. States go to
war, but minzoku were just people, and people were by nature
peaceful. Nanbara may have drawn inspiration from Fichte, but he
was also implicitly rehashing arguments that had been raised under
Wilsonian idealism around the time of the First World War: the hope
that if the world map were only redrawn along the lines of ethnic
nationalism, true world peace might be attained at last. Nambaras
investment in this minzoku form of national identity, and his belief
that such a national identity would be the foundation for a more just
postwar world order is evident in his statement that, although our
minzoku has made mistakes, we nonetheless rejoice that we were born
into this minzoku and we have unending love for this minzoku. It is
precisely for that reason that we seek to punish our minzoku ourselves
and so recover its honor before the world.
When the president of
Tokyo University makes such an appeal to the concept of minzoku,
others are bound to follow. And follow they did. But what is most
striking about the flood of articles and books on minzoku nationalism
in the early postwar period is that it came largely from liberals and
leftists, not from rightwing nationalists like Kageyama.
Nanbaras 1946 speech may have signaled that it was socially and
politically acceptable to discuss minzoku identity in postwar Japan.
But it was Shimmei Masamichis 1949 Theory of Historical Minzoku
that provided the clearest connection to prewar and wartime minzoku
discourse, while at the same time charting the future direction for
many minzoku theories. Shimmei of course was an active minzoku
theorist during the wartime: he was one of the contributors to the
1939 Minzoku and War volume discussed above. Indeed, the chapters
of his 1949 book had been composed originally as lectures given at
Thoku Imperial University between 1943 and 1945. As such, they
provide ipso facto evidence of the transwar nature of this minzoku
discourse. But they also allow us to see how the ideas of the earlier
liberal theorists were used, not only to legitimate Japanese
imperialism, but after the war to provide a foundation for a Japanese
national identity in the absence of a state. Shimmei not only built his
argument on wartime Japanese theorists like Takata Yasuma,
Komatsu Kentar and Ksaka Masaaki; he also went back to the

Nanbara Shigeru, cited in Oguma, Minshu to aikoku: sengo nihon no
nashonarizumu to kkysei (Tokyo: Shinysha, 2002): 139
liberal theorists Hobson, Muir and McDougall to emphasize that the
core of national identity lies in this sociological sense of community
forged through such elements as a common language, historical
experience, and shared fate.
Like the liberal theorists after World
War I, he emphasized the importance of the sentiment of the people
as determining whether or not they constituted a nation (minzoku).
And like them, too, he also drew a sharp distinction between race,
nation, and the state.
In the two and a half years since the end of the war (the book was
written in early 1948), Shimmei had time to consider how these ideas
about the nation, articulated during the wartime empire, applied to
Japans new situation as an occupied people. In revising the context
and significance of his argumentif not the literal terms he
employedhe was able to apply his earlier argument that minzoku,
which captured the essence of a society and did not depend on the
political form of the state for its existence, was the key form of
national identity. As during the war, however, the relationship of
minzoku to the state remained of crucial importance:
Yet, while it is true that the state has an intimate role in the
establishment of a nation (minzoku), it is not necessarily correct to
think that the state precedes the nation and creates it. The nation does
not always depend on the state to create it, but may be thought of as
coming into being in a spontaneous form. Of course, as the states
political unification progresses, the nations formation will also
progress necessarily. But rather than saying this is the creation of the
nation, it is better to understand this process as the completion of the
nation. In this sense, the state is not the creator of the nation but that
which fosters the nation. In this way, the nation may be called a
Kulturnation (bunka minzoku). But the fact that the Kulturnation is
fully established apolitically, without any direct mediation by political
unification, is sufficient proof that the political unification of the state
does not necessarily constitute an absolute precondition for the nation.
Shimmeis was a nuanced argument with high stakes for postwar
nationalism, and it deserves a careful reading. He explicitly termed
his theory of the nation a historical one, thus aligning it ostensibly
with the earlier Marxist theories of the nation that reduced the nation
to historical determinism. But his ultimate objective was in asserting a
sense of the nation, rooted in minzoku, as the real foundation of
national identity. Here he found an unexpected bonanza in imperialist

Shimmei Masamichi, Shi-teki minzoku riron (Tokyo: Iwasaki Shoten, 1949): 36-
Shimmei, Shi-teki minzoku riron, 55-6.
national theory. During the empire, the theory that minzoku was the
essence of national identity was offered to deny subjected peoples
their own independent state. But now it was re-packaged as proof that
the Japanese had not lost their nation and national identity, even
though they had no state of their own.
Shimmeis postwar ethnic nationalism provides telling evidence of
a continuity between wartime and postwar efforts to place the people
as an ethnic nation that was distinct fromindeed substituted foran
independent political state. His argument is a powerful articulation of
a conclusion that many others had come to in the early postwar years,
even those who had to revise much of their wartime theories to make
them fit Japans new circumstances. A key example of such a
revisionist is Wakamori Tar. Wakamori was an active participant in
the wartime ethnological discourse associated with Takata Yasuma,
Oka Masao and others. In 1942, he legitimated Japanese imperialism
in China with an argument that the Chinese people traditionally did
not invest their nationality in a political state as the Japanese did. But
in his Theory of the Japanese Minzoku published in 1947when Japan
no longer had an independent state to boast ofhe reversed himself,
arguing that any national identity promoted by or invested in a state
was inauthentic. And to give context to this anti-statist minzoku
nationalism, he added that it was Westernersnot the Japanese
themselveswho seemed unable to understand the difference between
Japans true nationality based in ethnic culture and the false national
identity propped up by the state.
Wakamoris revisionism did not
stop there. He laid the foundations for a particular brand of
conservative ethnic nationalism that asserted a moral difference in the
two sets of characters used to write the word minzoku (),
with preference going to the latter set. Wakamori thus was one of the
earliest ethnologists to argue that there was a similar distinction
between an acceptable form of folklore, associated with Yanagita
Kunio, that was derived from this preferred minzoku called
minzokugaku ( ) and that was morally superior to the old,

For a different view of the relationship of state and nation in Shimmeis work,
see Fujita Kunihiko, Senjika nihon ni okeru kuni no honshitsu, Senjika no nihon,
61-79, esp, 67-68. I am not able to tell whether Fujitas conclusion (that the state and
nation were always connected) is due to his prior theoretical conviction or whether it
is because he relies on a 1980 anthologized version of Shimmeis Shi-teki minzoku
Wakamori Tar, Nihon minzoku ron (Tokyo: Chiyoda Shob, 1947); cited in
my Building National Identity through Ethnicity: Ethnology in Wartime Japan and
After, at 33-34.
discredited wartime ethnology (). The problem with Wakamoris
revisionist effort was that Yanagita himself rejected such
orthographic distinctions, arguing that all minzoku referred to
ethnicity and thus preferring himself the characters to capture the
subject of his ethnological studies.
Yanagitas epigones have uni-
formly ignored his warning on this point, and a postwar discourse of
minzokugakucontinues to this day to promote a form of
ethnic national identity that masquerades as merely folklore.
Shimmeis historical approach to minzoku was significant for
another reason. Even as Wakamori was joined by wartime
ethnologists Oka Masao, Ishida Eiichir, Egami Namio and others in
asserting a new national identity determined by ethnic culture,
Marxists were re-asserting their historically determined minzoku
theories that had been silenced for ten years during the war. Although
Shimmei did not join with them, his effort to present his theory as a
historical one testified to the prestige that the Marxist minzoku
theories enjoyed in the early postwar years. Kubokawa Tsurujir was
one of the first of the Marxists scholars to revive the prewar leftist
ethnic nationalism in the postwar period. His 1948 Literature,
Thought, Life was, like Shimmeis book, a republication of earlier
work, essays that first had been written between 1936 and 1941 and
published in earlier volumes that had appeared in 1940 and 1942.
Kubokawa had been a member of the Communist Party until his
conversion to nationalism in 1933, and he was most active as a
literary critic from then until the end of the war. In 1945, he rejoined
the Communist Party and played a leading role in the New Japanese
Literature group. His experience, both in converting to nationalism
and then back to Communism in the postwar period gave him an
unusually flexible perspective on ethnic nationalism.
Kubokawa was critical of minzoku cultural theories in the early
postwar period because he saw how liberals and conservatives were
embracing minzoku culture as a surrogate for the political state, when
his own goal was political independence from the American-led
occupation. Given the employment of minzoku culture during
Imperial Japan as a tool for preventing political independence of
nations within the Japanese empire, it is not surprising that he would
argue that

Yanagita Kunio, Minzokugaku kara minzokugaku e: Nihon minzokugaku no
ashiato o kaerimite, Minzokugaku kenky 14:3 (February 1950): 1; cited in my
Building National Identity through Ethnicity, 34.
the danger of Japan being colonized today comes from nothing but a
spirit of anti-foreignism and ethnic nationalism. The reason is that
ethnic nationalism and anti-foreignism are, as we all know, simply
tools by which a certain group enslaves the people for their own
interests. But the present danger of being colonized also arises because
a certain group pursues its own interests by sacrificing the people, and
through subordination, seeks to rely on a foreign country.
Drawing from his knowledge of how minzoku was used in the
imperial period as a cultural substitution for political independence by
Japans colonies, Kubokawa was working toward a theory of internal
colonization that would explain how some Japanese elites had
betrayed the Japanese people through a similar ideology of minzoku
as a substitution for political independence from the United States.
The key point is that he did not reject ethnic nationalism ipso facto
but was merely critical of its exploitation by certain elites who sought
to prevent its inherent goal: political independence. The larger point
of Kubokawas argument reveals that he was not opposed to all forms
of anti-foreignism (here, his complaint seems directed at those wary
of Soviet influence in the Communist Party of Japan). In his short
essay on The Conditions of Ethnic National Culture, Kubokawa
decried, not so much ethnic appropriations of national identity, but
the formalistic and abstract nature of ethnic nationalism that left
it devoid of any significant response to the demands of the day. In
language quite reminiscent of Ksaka, he argued that this national
theory should not be rejected but merely needed to be articulated in
world historical, rather than in particularistic, terms.
Kubokawa wrote as a literary critic for literary scholars. But his
call for a more historical approach to minzoku that would connect
ethnic national culture to a critique of anti-colonization directed at the
United States was answered by leading members of Japans historical
profession. These historians were mostly Stalinists affiliated with the
Japan Communist Party, the Party that had just announced a series of
positions at its Sixth Conference that included a commitment to
ethnic national independence (minzoku dokuritsu). While party
members presented this turn to ethnic nationalism as a response to the
Occupation of Japan by the capitalist side of the Cold War, it is clear
from Curtis Gayles recent work that this appeal to minzoku could not
be divorced from the prewar Marxist minzoku discourse that had been

Kubokawa Tsurujir, Bungaku shis seikatsu (Tokyo: Shinseisha, 1948): 241-2.
Kubokawa, 26.
derailed during the wartime.
Of course, there were difference
emphases. There were, to start with, differences of context: the
postwar Marxist historians benefited from a more open society, from
a retrospective sense throughout society that the war was morally
wrong and thus everyone who opposed it (Marxists figured
prominently) were moral heroes, and from the affront of military
occupation to national dignity. Thus, one finds a resounding theme in
Marxist historical writing from the late 1940s through the early 1950s
that emphasized interpreting the Japanese people as an ethnic nation
oppressed by their own imperial state, betrayed by their postwar elites,
and crushed under the rule of foreign military occupation. Ishimoda
Sh, Toma Seita and Matsumoto Shinpachir were leaders in the
minzoku faction of Marxist history, but the influence of minzoku as
a way of conceptualizing the Japanese people was broadly and deeply
felt: the 1951 and 1952 annual meetings of the Japan Historio-
graphical Research Association were focused on the problem of
minzoku as the true subject of national history.
Leftist historians all
agreed that the minzoku was a product of history but beyond that
formulaic expression there was little agreement as to how far back in
history its origins were to be found. Ishimodas minzoku faction
sought to explain that historical production internally, as a
precapitalist, organic development going all the way back. In contrast,
Inoue Kiyoshi, Eguchi Bokur and Tyama Shigekis modernization
faction argued that the Japanese minzoku was a product of capitalism
and the advent of the West in the mid-nineteenth century.
In spite of
this difference, both wings of the Marxist minzoku movement shared
a negative view of modernity, seeing postwar history not as a
liberation of the nation from fascism, but as only further ensconcing
the people in fascism under liberal democratic cover.

Curtis Gayle, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism (London and
New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003): 52-57.
Doak, What is a Nation and Who Belongs? National Narratives and the Ethnic
Imagination in Twentieth-Century Japan, at 302-3.
Gayle, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism, 86-87. Gayle quite
correctly notes the similarity between Ishimodas faction and the primordialism of
Anthony D. Smiths theory on the historical origins of ethnic nations. One might also
add that Inoue and the modernization faction reflect arguments on the connection
between modern capitalism and national formation that have been raised more
recently by Benedict Anderson and Ernest Gellner.
Cf. Kubokawa, Here I believe is the essence of this tendency that, in contrast to
the fascism of militarism we had in the past, now spreads fascism under the name of
democracyour only true way to live is to make every effort to protect the peace,
freedom and independence of Japan from the dangers of a new fascism and war; I
The Left was not the only part of the political spectrum in postwar
Japan that was outraged at foreign occupation and that turned to
minzoku as the preferred form of nationalism. Conservative ethnic
nationalists who had been prominent during the war were often
silenced by occupation censorship, but some continued to write under
pseudonyms. Yasuda Yojr, one of the most influential of this group,
was purged in 1948. Yet, he continued to find ways to express
himself: in print through poetry and essays published under other
names, and in social gatherings where he influenced the thinking of
fellow conservatives who were not purged. Yasudas influence was
especially pronounced in the journal Sokoku (1949-55). During this
period, he found various ways to present his argument that the
Japanese minzoku, an agrarian people, had remained largely
unchanged in their commitment to ways and mores that were
distinctive from the Western forms of life introduced during and after
the Meiji Restoration.
In curious ways, Yasudas conservative ethnic
nationalism echoed aspects of the ethnic nationalism of the leftist
historians: an appeal to Asia as an alternative to the modernity
promoted by the occupation, a sense that minzoku was a preferred
alternative social identity to that of citizenship in the postwar liberal
state, and a romantic appeal to pacificism as grounded in Asia as the
third way beyond the Cold War polarities of the United States and
the Soviet Union.
Of course, there were serious political differences that separated
Yasuda from the likes of Ishimoda and Inoue. But even within their
appeal to ethnic nationalism, there were significant differences. While
the leftwing ethnic nationalists intoned Asianism and a critique of
modernity, what they meant by Asia was a political principle of
resistance to capitalist imperialism and what they meant by
modernity was simply bourgeois class culture. In contrast, to
Yasuda Asia was a thoroughly poetic mode of being prior to and
outside of modernity, and by modernity he meant the entire culture
of the world as he experienced it in his day. Modernity included the
United States, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the communism of Mao
Zedong. Perhaps because of the depth of Yasudas anti-modernity at a
time when much of Japanese society was convulsed with celebrations
of modernity, his writings (even after he was freed from censorship)

believe that is the only way we can discover the true historical image of Japan at this
current moment. Bungaku shis seikatsu, 242.
The best summary of Yasudas postwar ethnic nationalism is Oketani Hideaki,
Yasuda Yojr (Tokyo: Kdansha, 1996), 136-217.
never garnered the attention and influence of his wartime work. But
he remained one key anchor of conservative, anti-state minzoku
nationalism for many postwar intellectuals.
Yasudas influence was also diminished by the attack on him by
Marxists and other leftists in the immediate postwar period. His high
school classmate and friend Takeuchi Yoshimi was able to avoid
criticism for war responsibility and bring to the publics attention
many of Yasudas ideas about Asia and ethnic nationalism. As a
Sinologist, Takeuchi saw Asia less as a projection of Japans own
resistance against the West, and more in terms of China as both
victim of Japanese aggression and as offering a way outside of
modernity (which he equated with Westernization). But even for
Takeuchi, the core of this alternative to modernity was, as imperialists
had argued during the war, the national concept of minzoku as an
alternative to the modern state. Takeuchis first impulse was to resist
the postwar modernists who sought to move beyond ethnic nationality
and invest Japanese national identity in the new postwar sovereign
nation-state. In his 1951 essay on Modernism and the Problem of the
Ethnic Nation, he argued against the notion that Yasuda and the
Romantic School were responsible for everything that was wrong
with the war. While he explicitly decried the invasion of China and
other parts of Asia, he celebrated the Pacific theater as a war against
the West and suggested that postwar Japan should be built on a
minzoku consciousness as the foundation for a pan-Asian, anti-
Western regionalism. Many aspects of Takeuchis embrace of ethnic
nationalism make him easy to confuse with the Marxist ethnic
nationalists: especially, his critique of modernity, his expressed
solidarity with Asia, and his antipathy toward the American
Occupation. The belief that he was really on the left was
encouraged further by his 1959 essay Overcoming Modernity
which was seen as providing a rationale for the progressive riots
against the LDP and the United States over the handling of the
revision of the US-Japan Security Treaty (Anpo) in 1960. Here, the
left really meant those who were anti-America. But, regardless of
whether one characterized the Anpo riots as leftist (and there is
ample evidence of participation by those on both ends of the political
spectrum), Takeuchi was no Marxist (he included Marxism in the
modernity that he rejected) and was in fact politically and personally
close to Yasuda and the conservative ethnic nationalist movement.
The decade of the 1960s saw the rise of populism in Japan, as
elsewhere, and this populism had a decisive if complex impact on
minzoku nationalism. As mentioned above in Chapter Five, as a
resurgent state tried to regain the peoples respect and allegiance
under Prime Minister Ikedas economism and income-doubling plan,
rising affluence and an assertive youth culture combined with the
protest culture to make the relationship between state and minzoku a
more estranged one. Takashima Zenya is perhaps the best example of
how the 1960s transformed the debate over minzoku. In a series of
articles and books, most notably his 1970 Minzoku and Class,
Takashima offered a new theory that would synthesize the Stalinist
approach of Ishimoda with liberal minzoku theories of Watsuji
Tetsur and Imanaka Tsugimaro and the conservative nationalism of
Hayashi Fusao and Mishima Yukio. To Takashima, the key point in
understanding Japanese nationalism was the distinction between state
and nation. Nationalism held that the nation was the purpose of the
states existence, and by nation Takashima really meant the
minzoku conceived as a natural mode of existence prior to the
institutions of politics and culture. His pet formula was minzoku as
mother, class as master (botai to shite no minzoku, shutai to shite no
Takashima explained that minzoku as mother was a
literary expression (a gesture toward conservative literary nationalists
like Takeuchi Yoshimi, Mishima Yukio and Hayashi Fusao?) and
class as master(or subject) was a philosophical expression (a
gesture toward Marxists like Ishimoda, Inoue and Eguchi?). The
precise meaning of Takashimas poetic argument is elusive, but as
metaphor it quite clearly was attempting a synthesis of minzoku
theories as well as a synthesis of the nation itself that had split
between right-wing and left-wing ethnic nationalists. Significantly,
Takashima saw class as a sub-category of minzoku, emphasizing that
the bourgeoisie and the proletariat were equally members of the
Japanese minzoku and each had valuable contributions to make to the
minzoku. Takashimas goal was a laudable one. He argued that by
first separating nation (minzoku) from the state, the crisis that
confronted Japanese nationalism could be resolved by building a civil
society that would tame the state to serve its own purposes. But his
democratic theory was fatally flawed by his equation of the nation
with an ethnic body and by his dismissal of kokumin as a national
identity that was not moored to the natural claims of ethnicity. Rather
than to democracy, his national theory brought him closer to national
National socialism, even understood as ethnic nationalism in
proletariat packaging, remained marginal to postwar Japanese

Takashima Zenya, Minzoku to kaiky (Tokyo: Gendai hyronsha, 1970): 29-53.
political culture. In part, this was because minzoku was increasingly
discussed in isolation from the state, as a form of Nihonjinron that
sought to imbue the Japanese people with a distinctive identity not
determined by what was seen as a bureaucratic postwar state run by
the LDP for their American masters. As the postwar state receded into
managerial and technological bureaucratism, national identity, if not
quite nationalism, became even more closely associated with minzoku.
But minzoku was increasingly intoned as an ostensibly benign cultural
theory of how the people in Japan really are: their identities, values
and traditions. As Peter Dale has summarized it,
the curious thing about the nihonjinron is that while they express,
beneath a bewilderingly diverse range of ideas, a coherent ideology of
nationalism, they at the same time deny that they have anything to do
with ideology or politics. A key theme of the literature distinguishes the
ostensibly ideological, power-fixated character of Western discourse
from the putatively aesthetic and sentimental expressionism of the
Japanese. Postwar nihonjinron merely attempts to salvage this
discourse [of prewar nationalism] by detaching it from the more overly
imperial-political idiom.
If Takashima had hoped to move minzoku away from political theory
toward a more culturally inflected nationalism, he had succeeded in
ways he surely had not intended. The relationship this cultural theory
had to nationalism may not always have been clear, but minzoku
certainly had retreated from the kind of overtly political stance that
leftists like Ishimoda and Inoue, or conservatives like Yasuda and
Hayashi, or liberals like Yanaihara or Nanbara, had given it in the
early postwar period. It provided the people with a coherent identity
of a people set apart, but the degree of identity thus achieved was also
a measure of its distance from the institutions and organizations that
shaped political life. Nation and state were indeed separate and
By the early 1980s, nationalism had left the realm of ideas and
intellectuals and was becoming a central concern of mainstream
politicians. This neo-nationalism has often been attributed both to
Japans rising economic prosperity and to increasing frictions with
Japans major trading partners, notably the United States. But
personalities played a role too. The most important individual in
reviving a political theory of minzoku was Nakasone Yasuhiro. When
Nakasone became prime minister in 1982, he brought with him the

Peter N. Dale, The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness (New York: St. Martins Press,
1986), 38-39.
long aspirations of the Democratic wing of the LDP to overturn the
abnormal nationalism of Yoshida Shigeru and the Liberal factions
emphasis on mercantilism as a sufficient national purpose for postwar
Japan. At an LDP seminar in Shizuoka in 1986, Nakasone proposed a
new liberal nationalism that would reconcile the people with the
postwar state. Tragically, he articulated this project the following year
as the need to reconcile internationalism with correct nationalism
which he explicitly identified with minzokushugi.
emphasis on ethnic nationalism as the correct or healthy form of
nationalism, along with a series of pronouncements on Japans ethnic
homogeneity, offended those Japanese who had begun to think
beyond ethnic nationalism, as well as many who simply were not
ready to see their ethnic national identity associated by political elites
with the postwar state. To simply write off Nakasone as an ethnic
nationalist is to miss a good deal of what he was trying to achieve. He
was one of those postwar Japanese political elites who, as Kenneth
Pyle noted a few years after the controversy, more often seek to
contain, if not to suppress, political nationalism.
Nakasone was
trying to associate the appeal the Japanese people felt for a cultural
theory of ethnicity with the state so that the Japanese state might be
able to act more resolutely, with broader popular support, in the
international arena. This project of reconciling the ethnic nation and
the state was a good part of his much ballyhooed final accounting
of the postwar period. That he confused ethnic nationalism with
liberal nationalism is easy to understand, given the long history in
Japanese political discourse, dating back to the First World War, that
sought to embrace ethnic nationalism for liberal and even Marxist
agendas. That his effort to reconcile the ethnic nation with the state
met with such stiff resistance tells us as much about Japanese
attitudes toward the state as it does about antipathy toward ethnic
By the turn of the century, support for ethnic nationalism by the
Japanese public, as well as among intellectuals, was fading. This turn
of events is surprising, especially since nationalism was a growing
feature of intellectual and political discourse. Part of the reason for
this new devaluation of ethnic nationalism can be attributed to the
shock effect of seeing a leader of the postwar democratic state
reverting to a discourse that was deeply implicated in the wartime

Nakasone Yasuhiro, Minzokushugi to kokusaishugi no chwa o, Gekkan jiy
minshu (October 1987): 44-61, at 44-45.
Kenneth B. Pyle, The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Era
(Washington, D.C.: The AEI Press, 1992): 63.
empire (many critics immediately brought up Nakasones wartime
connections with the imperial state). Another part of the reason,
however, can be attribute to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and
the general demise of Marxism around the world that followed in its
wake. The two main supports of postwar ethnic nationalisma
Marxist theory that found in ethnicity a foundation for an anti-
capitalist nationalism and conservatives who had accepted ethnicity
as a pacifist substitute for a nationality invested in the postwar
statehad been seriously undermined. But ethnic nationalism was not
only falling of its own accord. Increasingly, it was being challenged
by an alternative nationalism, a liberal nationalism that was grounded
in political membership in the postwar state and which was more
concerned with integrating the peoples loyalties into the state than
with proclaiming their ancient ethnic lineages. This new nationalism
(kokuminshugi) did not always escape the tugs of ethnicity, especially
when articulated by older intellectuals who had been influenced by
the postwar minzoku discourse.
Yet, the very fact that this neo-
nationalism more often preferred to be known as kokuminshugi rather
than minzokushugi is a significant departure from the dominant appeal
enjoyed by ethnic nationalism in Japan for most of the twentieth
century. How significant this change will be for the future of Japanese
nationalism, and whether ethnic nationalism will eventually give way
to a more civic nationalism, only time will tell.

Representative of this rising kokuminshugi which, alas, did not always escape
from elements of ethnic nationalism is Matsumoto Kenichi, Hinomaru, kimigayo
no hanashi (Tokyo: PHP Kenkyjo, 1999).
As a handbook on Japanese nationalism, this volume has not set out
to present an evaluation of nationalism, nor a particular thematic
approach to nationalism such as nationalism and war, nationalism
and memory, or nationalism and gender. There is, at any rate, a
plethora of such studies already available in English and Japanese.
Instead, this volume has tried to identify the basic elements of
nationalism in Japan from which other specific arguments and
assertions about nationalism in Japan have been, are, and presumably
will continue to be, built. It is comparatively easy to offer a thematic
study on nationalism in Japan, and the bookstores and newspapers are
full of them. But without first identifying the basic building blocks of
nationalist discourse in Japan, it is impossible to fully understand
what nationalism means in particular historical and discursive
instances. This is particularly true when those building blocks are
obscured by language that is not explicit about its sources and
conceptual definitions.
The goal of this handbook has been to identify those basic
elements of Japanese nationalism, but also to demonstrate how those
elements themselves were not static but subject to historical change
over time. This process of historical change, as we have seen, is both
an effect of the internal dynamics of national discourse and of
historical events, both events in Japanese political life and in the
broader world. Japanese nationalist discourses, like all discourses,
were structured around a common subject (tenn, shakai, kokumin,
minzoku), even as they were open to influences from other nationalist
and non-nationalist discourses, most especially those concerning the
state and race. The chronological structure of the individual chapters
of this book was deemed necessary in order to convey something of
the historical nature of these discourses. Nothing could be more
misleading than to see kokumin, minzoku or other elements of
Japanese nationalist discourse as essential, trans-historical ideas that
simply inform nationalist debate. Certainly, some nationalists believe
that to be the case (just as ethnic nationalists assert there is no
distinction between a minzoku and a kokumin). But the historical
record of these basic elements of Japanese nationalism stands against
such reductive argumentsindeed against all efforts to erase the
reality of historical specificity in the emergence and development of
To identify these basic building blocks of Japanese nationalism,
and even to understand their historical developments is not, however,
sufficient to comprehend Japanese nationalism, past or present. A
comprehensive understanding of Japanese nationalism requires yet
another conceptual move. Once these individual elements (tenn,
shakai, kokumin, minzoku) are understood in their own historical and
discursive contexts, they must then be interrelated with each other to
yield the meaning and significance of particular nationalist assertions.
In essence, the individual chapters of this book need to be understood
as particular national discourses in their own independent contexts
and simultaneously interwoven with and against the national elements
addressed in others chapters at specific moments in time. At that point,
we can begin to appreciate just how elusive any final grasp of
something as complex as nationalism truly is. This final grasp of
nationalism is not something that this book, or any booklimited as
books are by the conventions of narrative structure and timecan
bring to fruition: that must be left ultimately to the readers own
powers of cognition and imagination.
Nonetheless, a brief conceptual example may at least be offered of
how these elements can and need be interwoven: to grasp what
Japanese nationalism is in a given moment, one needs to take a cross-
section of the discourses and events regarding, say, kokumin and
reference it with the discourses and events shaping tenn, shakai, and
minzoku at the same moment in time. In some instances, kokumin will
align easier with tenn than with shakai or minzoku and in other cases
not. When it does, we may have something like contemporary
official nationalism where the kokumin is sovereign, the tenn is a
symbol of the kokumin and, by remaining distant from shakai or
minzoku, the latter concepts are reserved for less-nationalistic
purposes (eg., shakai can refer to the space of residence in the
territory of the state, regardless of citizenship or nationality, minzoku
can be relegated to the realm of private ethnic identity or a
consumerist approach to multi-cultural goods and service). Yet, this
determination must also take into account other factors, especially
how that particular nationalist equation relates to the state. When the
state is premised on a sovereign kokumin (as under the Postwar
Constitution), the above scenario is a possibility. However, when
kokumin is not sovereign (as under the Meiji Imperial Constitution),
then the result more closely approximates Kita Ikkis efforts to
construct a kokumin tenn as a critique of the Imperial Meiji state,
with its more ambiguous implications for society and ethnicity. The
most important elements indubitably are kokumin and minzoku. More
so than the others, they directly address the question of who is or is
not a member of the nation. Since, under the current constitution
whoever is included in the kokumin shares specific rights of
sovereignty, the relationship between kokumin and minzoku is of
crucial importance. The greater the gap between them, the more
ethnically inclusive (and by most standards, democratic) Japanese
nationalism is. The more closely they converge, the more nationalism
resembles an ethnic nationalist model and restricts membership in
the circle of those who constitute the nation to members of a single
ethnic group. Yet, all modes of connecting these elements of nation-
alism are instances of efforts to place the people, and thus forms of
nationalism. But the position of, and limitations around, the people
vary widely depending on how these conceptual elements are
interwoven. And how they are interwoven has real consequences for
those within and without the Japanese nation.
Certainly, any assertion that denies the distinction between
ethnicity and citizenship (there is no difference between the kokumin
and minzoku, or any effort to make a distinction between kokumin
and minzoku is a mere parsing of concepts, not a reality) is merely
the familiar refrain of ethnic nationalists everywhere. A contemporary
example may be found in a recent reprisal of Yoshimoto Takaakis
effort to locate Japanese nationalism in a nebulous, non-intellectual
grounding among the people. Asaba Michiakis Nashonarizumu
(2004) is exemplary of the effort to redress the relationship between
the Japanese people and the state; it is also symptomatic of the
inability to do so while remaining indifferent to the conceptual
elements employed in historical Japanese nationalist discourse. Asaba
surveys ten key nationalist texts from the Meiji period to the present
day, and he offers a promising analysis that organizes all nation-
alisms around the polarities of diffusion nationalism (kakusan
nashonarizumu) and convergent nationalism (shren nashona-
Diffusion nationalism stemmed from the French
Revolution and carried with it a belief in universal values; con-

Asaba Michiaki, Nashonarisumu: meicho de tadoru nihon shis nymon,
Chikuma Shinsho 473 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shob, 2004). Asaba acknowledges Raoul
Girardet as his source for these two types of nationalism on 275.
vergent nationalism originated in Germany as a reaction against the
Napoleonic invasion and emphasized the particular identity
(egoism) of a nation. Note the similarities with civic (or republican)
nationalism and ethnic nationalism discussed in Chapter One. Yet,
what is most characteristic of Asabas theory is that, in the end, it is
no theory at all. He not only follows Yoshimoto in erasing the
historical distinction between minzokushugi and kokuminshugi under
the imported term of nashonarizumu, but he also asserts that Japanese
nationalism is exclusively of the convergent (ethnic) variety. This
convergent Japanese nationalism that Asaba upholds is a functional
equivalent of ethnic nationalism, not avant la lettre, but sans la lettre.
Moreover, he joins a growing chorus of other covert ethnic
nationalists who follow Yoshimoto in arguing that real nationalism
lies at the instinctive level of the masses of Japanese, not among the
ideas of intellectuals.
These theoretical problems aside (and they are serious), Asaba
quite correctly emphasizes that the problem of nationalism in Japan
today is ultimately a matter of reconnecting the people and the state.
His words are worth quoting:
Japan is now in the period of maturity in terms of its modern state.
The excesses in efforts to repair [Japans] warped nationalism and
military power [during the early Shwa period] led to the forcing deep
into the subconscious, as a taboo, both the original choice to become a
modern state and the significance of an egoism of self-existence and
self-defense and its method, military power, which we have not been
able to think about during the postwar period.
Thus we are on an asymptotic line toward the recovery of what we
need: an equation of state consciousness [kokka ishiki] with autonomy
[shutaisei]. That is the current state of nationalism in Japan.
Asaba is no doubt correct that this subconscious desire for national
respect and national autonomy is coming to the fore among ordinary
people in Japan. He is also quite correct to note that intellectuals may
be the last to recognize what is truly at stage in this neo-nationalism
or return to a sense of responsibility for the defense of ones own
nation. But his argument is truly a double-irony: Like Yoshimoto, he
rejects intellectual representations of this nationalizing phenomenon
(he gestures instead toward manga, film, science fiction, etc. as
sources of this populist neo-nationalism), but he does so within the

Cf. Kayama Rika, Puchi nashonarizumu shkgun: wakamono-tachi no
nipponshugi, Chk shinsho rakure 62 (Tokyo: Ch kron Shinsha, 2002).
Asaba, Nashonarizumu, 288-9.
traditional genre of intellectual discourse: an academic book replete
with abstract, even mathematical, jargon.
Whether intentionally or not, Asaba conveys an important truth
about the state of nationalism in Japan today. It is not being addressed
most effectively by intellectuals, even anti-intellectual intellectuals
like Asaba and Yoshimoto. Rather, it is from journalists and
politicians that the most promising inflections of nationalism are
being articulatedand even more importantlytaken up as part of an
effort to strengthen democracy in Japan. The outbreak of the Persian
Gulf War in 1991 was a watershed event. When Japan was criticized
for not sending troops to the arena and only offering monetary
assistance instead, the Japanese government was criticized for its
checkbook diplomacy. But what could Japan do? It was a nearly
unanimous view among Japanese politicians, lawyers and judges that
the postwar Constitutions Article Nine forbade sending Japanese
troops out of the region, even as part of a United Nations or Coalition
Force. This event led to a recognition that if Japan were to pursue
democracy while respecting its postwar Constitution, it could not
participate with other democratic nations in their international
military operations. Japan would be democratic, but isolated. Were
Japan to join in international missions (and move closer to the
requirements of a leadership position in the United Nations), it would
risk at a minimum the appearance of violating the letter of the
Constitutions Article Nine.
Ozawa Ichir, one of Japans best-known politicians, tried to
address these problems in his 1993 Blueprint for a New Japan. His
book has been fairly described as a manifesto for a normal country.
Ozawa drew on the pioneering efforts by Prime Minister Nakasone
Yasuhiro during the mid-1980s to strengthen the office of the prime
minister, as the chief representative of the people, and to connect the
institutions of government with what he called healthy nationalism
(kenzen na kokuminshugi). Ozawas contribution was to pick up this
effort to redress the unhealthy alienation of popular nationalism from
the state and to do so without falling into Nakasones ethnic
nationalism (minzokushugi). He emphasized the need for Japan to
become and act as a normal country (futs no kuni), by which he
chiefly meant liberating Japan from the abnormal restraints on its
military imposed by Article Nine and a misunderstanding of the
Yoshida Doctrine that held Japan should always disavow its right to

Asaba, Nashonarizumu, 250.
His definition of a normal country is worthy of
What, then, must Japan do to become a true, global state? Japan
must become a normal country.
What is a normal country? First, it is a country that willingly
shoulders those responsibilities regarded as natural in the international
community. It does not refuse such burdens on account of domestic
political difficulties. Nor does it take action unwillingly as a result of
international pressure.
Ozawa did not directly address nationalism per se, but by avoiding
the language of ethnic nationalism and by calling on Japanese to
become a society that values the individual
, he clearly was calling
for an enhancement in Japanese society of everything that we
normally associate with civic nationalism. The underlying civic
nationalism is evident in his surprising remark that it is not the
Japanese state that inhibits civic democracy but the Japanese people
themselves. He concluded that the biggest source of our lack of
freedom lies with the people. As long as citizens are unable or
unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, we will have only a
quasi-democracy, no matter how much politicians and bureaucrats
strive to institute democratic practices.
Ozawas point that the key to democratic practice lies with the
people is an important reminder that nationalismthe particular way
in which the people are placed in relation to political, ethical and
civic valuesis a bottom up, not a top-down social phenomenon. Yet,
it certainly will not suffice to simply wait for a bottom-up movement
to happen spontaneously. One of the most astute of observers and
practitioners of politics in Japan is Abe Shinz, son of a foreign
minister and grandson of a prime minister, who became Japans
youngest prime minister on 26 September 2006. Abe is also the first
prime minister who was born in the postwar period, and thus has no
personal link to the wartime. These personal facts give Abe a unique
perspective on nationalism in Japan today.

Ozawa Ichiro, Blueprint for a New Japan: The Rethinking of a Nation, trans.
Louisa Rubinfein, edited by Eric Gower, (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1994). Cf.
with Ozawas original terminology, cited in Asaba, 250.
Ozawa Ichiro, Blueprint for a New Japan, 94. I have changed Rubinfeins
translation slightly: where she refers to normal nation, I render the concept normal
Ozawa Ichiro, Blueprint for a New Japan, 156-8
Ozawa Ichiro, Blueprint for a New Japan, 203.
Just prior to his election as prime minister, Abe published a book,
Toward a Beautiful Country, that builds on the previous work of
Nakasone and Ozawa in moving Japanese society towards a tighter
embrace of healthy nationalism, or kokuminshugi. Like Ozawa, he
does not embrace minzokushugi in the way that Nakasone did. But
unlike Ozawa, Abe directly addresses the topic of nationalism,
providing us with a sense of where he stands in the discourse and how
he places the Japanese people as a nation. Although he refers to
nationalism in the ambiguous foreign loanword favored by
Yoshimoto and Asaba (nashonarizumu), even a cursory reading of his
book is enough to grasp that his nationalism in founded on the civic
values and patriotic sensibilities that place the nation in an ethnic-free
context that emphasizes individual freedom. Abes favored term for
the nation is not minzoku, but kokumin. And he writes in moving
terms of how national sports teams, particular in the World Cup
soccer tournament, include nationals of various ethnicities. In
reference to Japans own national teams efforts to qualify for the
1994 World Cup, he notes
At the Doha tragedy of 1993, when Japan entered the World Cup
qualifying rounds for the first time, the native-born Brazilian [Ruy]
Ramos shed tears of disappointment along with the Japanese. Even
today, he is greeted with heartfelt applause when he performs in the
major Japanese cities. We really have to see that this sense of belonging
to the community is found in this consciousness that anyone who fights
under the Hi-no-Maru flag, regardless of his country of origin, is one of
Abe invokes a nationalism that locates the people as those who give
allegiance to the flag and anthem of their country, not those who
share the same blood or descent. His example of soccer is well made.
Although Ramos was unable to play for Japan in World Cup
competition due to his retirement in 1998, another naturalized
Brazilian, Alessandro Alex Santos has played with the Japanese
national team in both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup competitions.
Ramos and Alex have given the Japanese people and the world
undeniable evidence of the multi-ethnic nature of the legal, Japanese
nation (kokumin).
This emphasis on the kokumin as defined by laws, institutions and
loyalty to the state is precisely what is meant by civic nationalism and
stands in direct opposition to ethnic nationalism. In this regard, Abe is

Abe Shinz, Utsukushii kuni e, Bungei shinsho 524 (Tokyo: Bungei Shunj,
2006), 80-81.
certainly no epigone of Nakasone. He directly rejects ethnic
nationalism, noting that when nationalism is translated as
minzokushugi, it encourages people to accept an untenable allegiance
to two national flags. He implies that when progressive intellectuals
separate Japanese nationalism into two types, they often do so only to
discourage the Japanese people from embracing the kind of
nationalism necessary for a democratic nation-state (kokumin-kokka).
His civic nationalism is encapsulated in his insistence that when
Japanese wave the Hi-no-Maru national flag, they are not expressing
any kind of intolerant nationalism.
Of course, when progressive
intellectuals criticize the nationalism of Abe and other democratic
representatives, it is critical to understand that they do not always
reject all forms of nationalism. They are often simply afraid that this
civic nationalism, this multi-ethnic citizenship that embraces
naturalized citizens like Ramos and Alex, is leaving their own
preferred ethnic nationalism in the dustbin of history. It is precisely
for this reason that any critique of nationalism in Japan must begin by
clarifying its terms.
The various controversies over a supposed neo-nationalism in
Japan today need to be seen in this light. Whether it is the question of
Prime Minister Abes future visits to Yasukuni Shrine, the issue of
history textbooks, proposals to revise the Constitution, or Japans
dispatching a small force to assist behind the lines in the war against
terrorism in Iraq, the most important question is how the relationship
of the various elements of Japanese nationalismminzoku, kokumin,
shakai, tennoare mobilized in particular assessments of a given
controversy. To take but one example, the issue of visits to Yasukuni
Shrine. Former Prime Minister Koizumi made it clear in the past that
he visited the Shrine to pay respects to those who sacrificed their lives
for Japan, not for any religious purpose. Moreover, his visits were
applauded by Catholic Japanese like Sono Ayako and Miura Shumon,
who also visited Yasukuni to pay their respects to those who died for
their country.
Such visits were ruled constitutional by the Supreme
Court in a 1977 decision that affirmed that visits to Yasukuni for
purposes of rituals in keeping with social customs, are not considered

Abe Shinz, Utsukushii kuni e, 98-99.
I have written on the history of Catholicisms respect for visits to Yasukuni
Shrine in various Japanese media. See, for example, Yasukuni sanpai no ksatsu ch,
Sankei Shimbun (26 May 2006); Sanpai wa seinaru mono e no apurchi da,
Shokun! (August 2006): 24-35, Shink kara mita yasukuni sampai mondai, Voice
(September 2006): 195-201.
as religious acts.
Prime Minister Abe supports the constitutional
guarantee of freedom of religion, noting that the monarch is, and
always had been, a symbolic monarch. By way of contrast, it is
important to note that, among Prime Minister Abes critics are those
who see the emperor as an ethnic tribal chieftain, or who feel that
visits to Yasukuni Shrine are part and parcel of a revival of Shintoism
as an ethnic religion required of all Japanese. Such arguments are
difficult to take seriously, however, in light of the fact that those souls
enshrined at Yasukuni include former soldiers of various ethnicities
and religions.
Will Prime Minister Abe succeed in enhancing a sense of civil
nationalism (and with it, civic responsibility) among the Japanese
public? Will the subconscious ethnic nationalism that many
intellectuals embrace overwhelm this more open, international, civic
nationalism? How will the pieces of Japanese nationalism be put back
together? It would require either extraordinary sagacity or unbounded
imprudence to predict the future. There are, however, grounds for
optimism when the current culture of Japanese pacifism, globalism
and democracy are taken into account in understanding the reasons
for the current awakening of interest in nationalism in Japan. This
book has emphasized that nationalism in Japan, as in all modern
societies, has been a conflict-filled mode of consciousness that
appeals to humanitys highest hopes for community, respect, love,
and compassion as well as to our lowest temptations toward
selfishness, arrogance, hatred and indifference. Democracy is
impossible without nationalism, but so too was fascism. If
nationalism has been so contested and yet essential to democratic life
throughout the world, how could it be anything less in Japan?

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Abe Is, 147, 150, 168, 199
Abe Jir, 228
Abe Shinz, 270-273
aesthetics, 177-183; Hegelian 181;
personalist, 183
Aizawa Seishisai, 40, 41, 84, 87
Akizuki Tanetatsu, 53-55
Amino Yoshihiko, 120
Anderson, Benedict, 226
Anno Kinzane, 56
Anpo (see US-Japan Security Treaty),
29, 30, 159 , 162, 260
Arano Yasunori, 166-167
Arendt, Hannah, 79,
Arisugawa Taruhito, Prince, 48-52
Armstrong, John, 7
Asaba Michiaki, 267-269, 271
Ashida Hitoshi, 113
Ashio Copper Mine Incident, 146-147
Asukai Masamichi, 179
bakufu, 42-49, 52, 58, 61, 66, 87, 166,
168-169, 216, 220
baku-han system, 38, 40, 42, 61, 167;
dissolution of, 39, 42-49, 52, 58,
61, 66
Blz, Erwin von, 221
Band Hiroshi, 25
Barnes, Harry Elmer, 15,
Bauer, Otto, 15, 17, 23, 231, 234
Befu, Harumi, 160
Benedict, Ruth, 251
Bluntschli, Johann Caspar, 71, 144
Boissonade, Gustave Emile, 69, 185,
Buddhism, 167, 190, 227
bunmei kaika (see civilization and
enlightenment), 170
Catholic Funeral Affair, 106
Catholic political theory, 100
Catholics, 85, 98-100, 117-118, 185,
198, 244, 272
Chambers, William G. and Robert,
Charter Oath, 50-51, 54, 57
Chiba Takusabur, 73, 185
Chirot, Daniel, 197
Christ (see also Jesus), 198
Christianity, 55, 94-101, 105-106, 109,
157, 167-168, 185, 187-190, 198-199,
206, 223-224, 226-227
Christians (see also Catholics,
Kumamoto Band of), 145, 147, 150,
167-168, 184, 186-188, 194, 196,
198, 207, 223, 225-226, 243-244,
ch-kokkashugi (see ultra-
nationalism), 25-26, 28
Chsh domain, 47, 59-61
civic nationalism, 6, 80, 205-208, 212,
264, 270-273
civil society (shimin shakai), 41, 63-
64, 72, 76, 78, 80-82, 158-162,
168-169, 185, 189-190, 261
Civil Society School, 156, 159
civilization and enlightenment (see
bunmei kaika), 169-170
commoners, 44, 52, 75, 79, 133, 136-
137, 141
communism, in Japan, 256
constitution: Japanese, 51, 68, 69, 73,
192-195, 205, 221-222, 242;
Imperial Constitution of 1889
(Meiji), 62-63, 73, 81-82, 88, 91-
97, 101, 103, 115, 122, 148, 175-
176, 193-197, 220, 244, 267; of
Japan (postwar), 33, 118, 122-124,
191, 204-205, 266, 269, 272
cultural nationalism (see
Kulturnation), 3, 29, 108, 117, 156,
194-195, 203, 223-224
Dajkan, 45, 49, 51-53, 56-61, 67, 68,
140, 166
Dale, Peter, 262
Dan Takuma, Baron, 123
domains, abolition of (see haihan
chiken), 59, 60, 173
Dumas, Alexandre, Ange Pitou, 74-79,
Ebina Danj, 225
Egami Namio, 256
Eguchi Bokur, 258, 261
1881 Political Crisis, 71, 73, 90, 175,
177, 179
Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 80, 160, 185
emperor, of Japan (see tenn), 37, 40-
45, 48-52, 70-77, 103-108, 110-
116, 118-125, 147-148, 168, 193,
197, 273
Emperor Godaigo, 120, 122
Emperor Heisei (Akihito), 122-123
Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito), 77, 104,
Emperor Showa (Hirohito) 110, 112,
115, 122, 124-125
Emperor Taisho (Yoshihito), 112
Enomoto Takeaki, 91, 92
Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, 9-10
tatism (see kokkashugi, statism), 2, 6,
27, 94,
ethnie, 7-8
ethnic nationalism, 9-10, 22-24, 28-35,
108, 110, 114, 121-122, 148, 156,
164-165, 180, 192-194, 197, 200,
205-206, 208-209, 211-212, 216-
217, 220, 223-224, 226, 228, 230,
232, 235, 239, 242, 245, 248, 251-
253, 255-257, 259-261, 263-264,
Ethnic Research Institute, 153, 241,
ethnology, and nationalism, 221
Ethnology, Japanese Journal of, 153
Ethnology, Japanese Society of, 153,
Et Shimpei, 62, 67, 140
Fenollosa, Ernest Francisco, 180-181
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 169, 252-253
French Revolution, 79, 83, 138-139,
141, 267; impact on Japan, 73-79
Fujioka Nobukatsu, 211-212
Fujioka Wakao, 161-162
Fujita Shz, 119
Fujita Tok, 88
fukoku kyhei (rich country, strong
military), 67
Fukuchi Genichir, 133
Fukuoka Takachika (Ktei), 50-54
Fukuzawa Yukichi, 26, 64, 69, 73,
87-89, 105-110, 125, 130-132, 134,
140, 166, 168, 171-172, 178, 198,
207-208, 242
Furuno Kiyoto (Kiyondo), 239, 241

Gayle, Curtis Anderson, 207, 257
Gellner, Ernest, 10, 128-129
Genysha, 216-217
George, Henry, 224
Gibbons, Herbert Adams, 15
Giddens, Anthony, 128-129
Giji Taisai Torishirabesho, 54
gij, 49, 52, 54,
Giseikan, 52-53
Gluck, Carol, 81
Gobineau, Joseph-Arthur, 21,
goken und (protect constitution
movement), 104, 107
Goldfarb, Jeffrey C., 213, 215
Gooch, G.P., 15, 230
Got Shjir, 48, 52
Greenfeld, Liah, 5-10, 129, 135, 169,
Gumplowics, Ludwig, 224
gunken, 55-56, 61
Haga Noboru, 71, 89
Hagi Uprising of 1876, 62, 216
haihan chiken (abolition of domains,
establishment of prefectures; see
domains, abolition of), 173
Hamano Teishir, 176
Hani Gor, 121,
Harootunian, H.D., 41, 150
Hasegawa Nyozekan, 234
Hashikawa Bunz, 31-32
Hashimoto Mitsuru, 219, 233, 237
Hashimoto Rytar, 124
Havens, Thomas R.H., 200-203
Hayashi Fusao, 121-122, 202, 236,
Hayashi Kentar, 157
Hayashi Shihei, 40
Hayes, Carlton J.H., 15, 19-21, 233
Hi-no-maru ( see national flag), 214,
Hibiya Riots of 1905, 102, 200
High Treason Incident, 103, 149
Hirata Atsutane, 43, 140
Hirokawa Hisashi, 235
Hishinuma Gor, 123
Hobson, J.A., 15-17, 242, 254
hken, 55
Hopkins, Caspar, 133
Howland, Douglas, 131
Hozumi Yatsuka, 109
Ichimura Mitsue, 109
Ida Shinya, 178
Igarashi Akio, 168
Ikeda Hayato, 208, 261
Ienaga Sabur, 121
Ikimatsu Keiz, 149
Imanaka Tsugimaro, 261
Imperial Rescript, 61, 91-94, 97-100
103, 167, 175
imperialism, 11, 15-16 , 20-25, 37,
102-103, 114, 212, 224-225, 228,
231, 244, 248, 253, 255, 259
Ino Kenji, 217
Inoue Kaoru, 61, 69, 91, 140-141,
Inoue Kiyoshi, 121, 216-217, 258-259,
Inoue Kowashi, 74, 82, 96
Inoue Mitsu, 109
Inoue Shun, 160
Inoue Tetsujir, as anti-Christian, 97-
105, 145, 168, 188, 192, 196, 219,
223, 225-226
Inukai Tsuyoshi, 104-105
Irokawa Daikichi, 185, 189
Ishida Eiichir, 256
Ishida Kannosuke, 153, 239
Ishida Takeshi, 143, 147-149, 155,
157, 159, 161-162
Ishikawa Sanshir, 199
Ishimoda Sh, 258-259, 261-262
Ishiwara Kanji, 241, 248
Itagaki Taisuke, 59-62, 73-74, 216
It Hirobumi, 51-52, 72-73, 86, 88-
92, 99-100, 175, 179, 192
It Miyoji, 88-89, 91
It Yahiko, 42
Iwakura Tomomi, 216
Iwamoto Yoshiharu, 97
Izu Tadao, 235
Janes, Capt. Leroy, 186
Japan Romantic School, 119,121, 236,
Japanism (see Nipponshugi), 223
Jesus, 99
jimbun minzoku (see Kulturvlker),
Jimpren Incident of 1876, 216
jinsai ty (rewarding talent ), 46, 59
Joseph, Bernard, 15
Kada Tetsuji, 15, 245
Kaempfer Engelbert, 40
Kageyama Masaharu, 252-253
Kaji Ryichi, 141
Kamei Kanichir, 218, 248-249
Kamei Katsuichir, 121-122, 202,
Kamikawa Hikomatsu, 21, 233
Kamishima Jir, 119
Kanai En, 168
Kanda Takahira (Khei), 54, 57, 171-
Kaneko Kentar, 88
Kano Masanao, 38, 40, 145
Karube Tadashi, 206
Kashiwagi Gien, 101, 168, 196
Katayama Sen, 103, 147, 199
Kat Hiroyuki, 54, 67, 72, 109, 136,
144, 196, 220, 242
Katsura Tar, 104-105, 149-150
Katsuragi Kenji, 162
Katsuta Masaharu, 56, 61
Kawakami Kiyoshi, 147, 199
Kawazu Sukeyuki, 73-74
kazoku (Peers), 78
Kazunomiya, Princess, 47
Kenkoku University, 241
Kersten, Rikki, 125, 157-158, 208,
Kido Takayoshi (Kin), 47, 50-52,
60-61, 68, 70, 79
Kikuchi Takeo, 111
Kimi-ga-yo (see national anthem),
Kimura Junji, 87, 119
Kimura Takatar, 222-223
Kinoshita Naoe, 147, 199
Kirchhoff, A., 14-15
Kirishitan (see Catholics), 85
Kita Ikki, 103-104, 107-108, 201, 267
Kitazawa Shji, 180-181
Kobayashi Yoshinori, 212
kbu gattai (unification of court and
camp), 47
kgi seitai ron (debate on government
through public consultation), 48,
51, 54, 57
kgi yoron (public consultation), 46
Kgisho, 54-58
Kohata Tokujir, 172
Kohn, Hans, 6-7, 10, 165
Koizumi Junichir, 124, 272
Koizumi Shinkichi, 172
Kojima Hatsuo, 235
kokkashugi (see statism), - 3, 25, 27,
29, 94-95, 167, 196, 200-201, 207,
kokumin, 2, 8-9, 13-14, 22, 26-35, 38,
43, 67, 73, 75-76, 82, 89, 96, 101,
106-107, 111-119, 144, 151-152,
155-156, 158, 163-170, 172-178,
184-188, 190-196, 198-207, 209-
210, 215, 229, 232, 235, 238, 261,
265-267, 271-272
kokumin-kokka (civic nation-state),
31, 36, 38-39, 56-57, 169, 176, 202,
212, 272
kokumin seishin sdin (see National
Spiritual Mobilization), 32-33, 202
kokuminshugi, 2-3, 27, 30, 35, 167-
168, 172, 176-177, 184, 198-201,
205, 207, 210, 232, 264, 268-269,
Kokurykai, 217
Kokuseki H (see Nationality Act),
kokutai, 40-41, 84-89, 94-95, 104,
106-107, 111-113, 115, 121, 201,
219, 226
Komatsu Kentar, 15, 245, 254
Konoe cabinet, 202
Ksaka Masaaki, 246-247, 254
Ksaka Masataka, 202
Ktoku Shsui, 102, 147, 199
Koya Yoshio, 15, 245
Koyama Eiz, 153, 239
Koyanagi Kimihiro, 162
Kozaki Hiromichi, 167, 169, 186,
188-191, 198, 207
Kubokawa Tsurujir, 256-257
Kuga Katsunan, 194, 196, 219
Kulturnation, 13-14, 254
Kulturvlker (see jimbun minzoku),
13, 224
Kumamoto Band of Christians (see
Christians), 101, 186, 188
Kume Kunitake, 101
Kurimoto Joun, 66
Kuroda Kiyotaka, 91
Kurokawa Mayori, 221
Kuwata Yoshiz, 239
Kyoto School philosophers, 202, 246
Lamprecht, Karl, 230
law, civil codes, 65
Lenin, Vladimir, 15,
Liberal School of History, 124-125,
Linguel, Fr. Franois A.D., 98-100,
MacArthur, General Douglas, 115,
156, 204
Maclay, Rev. R.S., 185
Maebara Issei, 52, 62
Maeda, Fr. Chta, 98-100, 118, 244
Maehara Mitsuo, 245
Makihara Norio, 143-144, 172
Maruyama Masao, 25-29, 86, 93-94
119, 156-158, 206-208
Maruyama (Modernization) School,
Masaki Masato, 230-231
Mashita Shinichi, 157
Matsubara, Hiroshi (see Suga Hirota),
24-25, 235
Matsuda Kichir, 198
Matsukata Masayoshi, 91, 197
Matsumoto Hikojir, 226-228
Matsumoto Kenichi, 214
Matsumoto Sannosuke, 92, 119
Matsumoto Shinpachir, 258
Matsuura Takeshir, 173
McDougall, William, 15, 18-19, 21-
22, 152, 230, 233, 238, 254
Meinecke, Friedrich, 12-15, 26
Mill, John Stuart, 16-17, 131
Minami Hiroshi, 157
minken (rights of the people), 65-73,
81-82, 87, 90-91
Minobe Tatsukichi, 104, 109, 111,
115, 125
Minoda Muneki (Kyki), 111, 243
minzoku, 2-3, 9, 15, 21, 25-26, 28, 30-
35, 67, 69, 71, 76-80, 101, 106,
111, 114, 122, 134-135, 144, 148,
150-153, 155-156, 158, 160-161,
163, 165, 169-170, 176, 193-194,
199, 204, 206-211, 214, 216-262,
264-267, 271-272
minzoku chitsujo, 241
minzoku-kokka (ethnic nation-state),
9-13, 22, 26-27, 31-33, 36, 38-39,
56-57, 211-212, 214, 246
minzokushugi, 2-3, 26-27, 29, 31-33,
82, 176. 180-181, 197, 208, 216-
219, 226, 232-233, 239, 250, 263-
264, 268-269, 271-272
Mishima Yukio, 121, 261
Mita Historiographical Institute, 227
Mitsukuri Rinsh, 62, 64-65, 67, 70,
78, 80-82, 133
Miura Shumon, 272
Miwa, Kimitada, 112-113, 121
Miyajima Seiichir, 59
Miyake Setsurei, 194
Miyamoto Kenji, 113-114
Miyazaki Mury, 62, 64, 71, 74-80,
82, 217-218
Mizuno Hiroshi, 120
monarchy (see tenn), 34-35, 58, 63,
70, 72, 83-85, 87, 89-93, 96, 98,
100-109, 112-126, 136, 139, 169-
170, 179; of