MILITARISM

MILITARISM
   Despite the isolation and relative peace of the Tokugawa period, Japan’s emergence as a modern nation, beginning with the Meiji Restoration, was born of conflict and military struggle. Leaders of the Meiji government from the Satsuma and Choshu fiefs played a central role in Japan’s military as well, and through the end of World War II the military was a separate entity in government, with the right to appeal directly to the emperor. During the Meiji period, Japan entered into two major conflicts with other nations, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5. Both of these victories brought great pride and a sense of national unity to Japan, and several writers, including Masaoka Shiki and Mori Ogai, were involved in the war efforts, while other writers, such as Yosano Akiko and Kinoshita Naoe, expressed antiwar sentiments and concern in their writings over the rising militarism of the time. Although military power waned somewhat during the 1910s and 1920s, the Great Depression and Western trade barriers encouraged the Japanese to embrace militarization as a safeguard against foreign threats, and Japan witnessed increasing military control and interference in political and social arenas. By the late 1920s, many writers had either chosen to join the propaganda campaign or remain silent for fear of military and police reprisal. The military-initiated conflict with China that led to World War II began a dark period for Japanese writers, of whom many were conscripted into military service. Immediately following the war, with pacifism as the new national doctrine, literature saw a flowering of output as such writers as Ooka Shohei sought to come to grips with the horrors of war, defeat, and the Occupation. In recent years, increasing Japan Self Defense Forces involvement in foreign military operations has led to widespread national and international debate on Japan’s global military role.

Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. . 2009.

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