The First World War and the Rise of Radical Right Wing Ideology in Japan
Christopher Szpilman (Sophia University)
Paper short abstract:
The presentation focuses on the rise of totalitarian and radical reformist ideology in Japan after WWI. By examining the writings of some influential men, it traces some causes of the collapse of the party cabinets and the rise of militarism that put Japan on a collision course with the US.
Paper long abstract:
The presentation focuses on the rise of totalitarian and radical reformist ideology in Japan in the aftermath of WWI by discussing the writings of a number of at the time highly influential academics, writers and journalists, such as Imai Tokio, Itô Masanori, Kita Reikichi, Wakamiya Unosuke, Nagai Hôsuke, and Sugimori Kôjirô. The rise of this new ideology is directly related to the effects of the war upon Japan. First, arguments for radical reforms made by the above individuals were based on their observations of the war in Europe and, in particular, of the German efforts to achieve total mobilization, Second, the rapid decline of Western power and prestige in East Asia inspired a new confidence in Japan's ability to expand onto the Asian continent, while calling into question the Japanese government's policy of cooperation with the Western powers. Third, the war generated a profound crisis of values due to the collapse of Imperial Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, the emergence of the US as a world power, and the birth of a communist state in Russia. This crisis was further exacerbated by the rise of pacifism, the principle of national self-determination and the spread of liberal ideas within Japan. The articles the above mentioned men produced shaped public opinion that was hostile to liberalism, viewed the League of Nations as an Anglo-Saxon trick, and supported militarism and expansionary policies. With their writings, I will conclude, they made a significant contribution to the collapse of the party cabinets and to the termination of Japan's cooperation with the Anglo-Saxons that put Japan on a collision course with the US.
The Circulation of Ideas between Japan and Northeast Asia: Possibilities and Limits of Global History