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From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Japan - Toltalitarian?
Date: 01 May 1997

As of c. 1940 Japan was probably the most thoroughly totalitarian state in
the world.  All dissent was effectively suppressed by 1890 with the
promulgation of the Meiji constitution.

Ienaga Saburo has written of the Meiji Restoration (1868):  "A small elite
seized power, crushed the nascent popular reformists and created an
absolute state around an emperor system."

All publications, from daily newspapers to novels, were strictly censored.
 If a writer persisted in producing books the authorities did not like,
his life was short.  One example:  the then well-know novelist Kobayashi
Takiji was deemed to be too "proletarian."  In 1933 he was arrested and
beaten to death by detectives at the Tsukiji police station in Tokyo.
During the same time frame, the entire editorial staffs of the magazines
Chuo Koron and Kaizo were arrested and tortured because they published
articles the police did not like.  The editor of Kaizo, a woman, was
subject to what the police called "erotic terror" to force her to confess
she was an enemy of the Japanese people.  One of the most famous
philosophers of the pre-WW2 era, Tosaka Jun, was arrested and died at the
hands of the police.  Miki Kiyoshi, another well known philosopher,
survived his police ordeal but died of his injuries shortly after the war

Nakamura Tadashi, a school teacher in Yamaguchi-ken in the 1930s has
written, "Police spies and informants were everywhere.  The authorities
willingness to fabricate evidence and charges meant that not even the most
innocent person was safe.  A person had to be extremely careful of
everything he said and did.  It was dangerous to confide one's real
feeling even to a diary. The police did not respect individual privacy.
Detectives always rode the trains.  The police made a practice of going
through passengers' baggage.  My friend Haruno Yoshie was confronted on
the train while we were riding together by a policeman who found her diary
in her luggage and read it.  "You're a Red!" he shouted.  She was taken
off the train and no one ever saw her again.  Another time, I was
listening to a record of La Cumparsita at home with my friend Matsumoto
Chizuko when two Kempeitai men burst into the room.  "You're traitors!"
they shouted.  "The nation is in a grave emergency but you listen to enemy
music."  They smashed all my records.  Not long afterward I lost my
teaching position and was assigned to a labor unit [He was subsequently
drafted and placed in a Home Defense suicide squad.].  Chuzuko was
arrested and disappeared.  I later learned she had been sent overseas as a
comfort woman (military prostititute).  All goverment authorities acted to
supress freedom.  They only stressed obligation.  Every aspect of life was
so regimented and controlled that no one could plan an anti-governement
act, such as were carried out in Germany and Russia.  The populace
remained silent, terrorized into obedience, with no memory of any other
way of life, and no hope of any better future.  Then the Americans came
and the nightmare was ended."

The Russians endured such a life beginning c. 1920.  The Germans from the
early 1930s.  But the Japanese suffered it from the 1870s.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Japan - Toltalitarian?
Date: 08 May 1997

[Mod. Note: This thread is starting to wander far from World War II.
 General discussion of the Meiji Restoration should take place in
 soc.history.moderated. sg]

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Japan's version of totalitarianism
is the fact that it was deliberately created by a handful of individuals
who had very clear ideas about what kind of society they wanted to

Among these were Motoda Nagazane, the Confucian teacher of the Meiji
emperor, Ito Hirobumi, one of the chief leaders of the Meiji Restoration,
Inoue Kowashi, his political adviser,  Inoue Kaouru, education expert, and
Yamagata Aritomo, founder of the post-Meiji Restoration military.

 Under the direction of these men, beginning with the 1868 overthrow of
the shogunate, a series of ever-stricter security laws governing every
aspect of public and private  life were enacted.  The so-called
"Publishing Regulations" of 1869 were the first, quickly followed by the
"Newspaper Law" of 1873.  These forbade criticism of government officials
and regulations.  The "Libel Law" of 1875 placed severe punishments on
offenders, initiating what has been called a 70-year reign of terror
against writers.

An 1880 law essentially forbade public assembly.  Freedom of association
was erased by an 1884 law.

The Meiji Constitution of 1889 was composed without public debate and
presented to the population as a gift from the Emperor.  While purportedly
guaranteeing a number of liberties, it permitted subsequent laws to
restrict or ban these, which they did.  Administrative rulings also
effectively constrained public freedom to the vanishing point.

Beginning in 1886, the government controlled education.  In 1890, the
Imperial Rescript on Education began inculcating emperor worship, moribund
for centuries, in the population, treating as factual history the myths
contained in the "Kojiki" and "Nipponshoki,"  both about as historically
accurate as "Beowulf."

By 1904, the Ministry of Education held absolute sway over the education
of all Japanese children from their earliest lessons.  The chief aim of
elementary school education was to instill awed obedience to the emperor
and the state.
Mere passive acquiescence to the actions of the state was not enough.  The
Meiji authorities wanted education to turn out  subjects who spontaneously
and enthusiastically supported national policies.

All education was standardized under central government control.  Neither
teachers nor parents could make any educational choices for their
children.  Academic freedom for professors was not recognized.  From
nursery school through college, students were told what they would learn
and what they would think.  The result was generations of Japanese
conditioned to pathological submission to authority.

The Japanese totalitarian effort was logically and systematically carried
out, and lasted long enough that by the outbreak of the Pacific War, even
the oldest subjects of the emperor had only vague memories of a time when
the emperor was not considered a god and the central government his
earthly agent.

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