FANDOM


This episode's thesis Edit

The "State Shintou" philosophical rubric of Meiji era Japan, contrived by statesmen and politicians to justify their actions through their perfect emperor (whose word never actually mattered), is much of the reason Japan became an extremely aggressive and cruel nation of imperial conquest starting in the 10s and 20s. Wartime Shintou was not just propaganda. It was one of the primary catalysts of Japan's decision to conquer the Asia-Pacific region, and eventually the world.

After the Opening ThemeEdit

Wikipedia blackout on the day we're recording? Does this spell this podcast's doom!?

In protest of Wikipedia's protest, this episode will be citing Wikipedia ONLY a lot. When we quote Wikipedia, we won't call attention to it, because Wikipedia is the PEOPLE'S ENCYCLOPEDIA. Other sources will be cited when we can be assed to. We're going to be all scholarly up in this bitch!

That being said...

JIS OF THE WEEK!Edit

Joe, you can have the pleasure of The JIS this week:

SHINTOISM EXPOSED!

Shinto fosters a pride and a feeling of superiority in the Japanese people. This type of pride is condemned by God, who says, "...There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). The same lesson was learned by the Apostle Peter who concluded: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Since Shinto teaches the basic goodness and divine origin of its people, there is no need for a personal Savior. This is the natural consequence of assuming one's race is of celestial origin. Christianity teaches that all of us need a savior because our sins need to be punished. God, through Jesus Christ, took that punishment on Himself so that all mankind could be brought back into a proper relationship with Him. Jesus plainly stated in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Furthermore, the Kojiki and Nihongi, as the basis of the Shinto myth, are found to be hopelessly unhistorical and totally unverifiable. The stories and legends contained in these works are a far cry from the historically verifiable documents of both the Old and New Testaments. The concept of kami is both polytheistic and crude, surrounded by much superstition. This is in sharp contrast to the God of the Bible, whose ways are righteous and beyond reproach. Immorality abounds in the stories of Shinto; while the Bible is quick to condemn acts of immorality (Matthew 5:28).

Shinto finds little acceptance apart from Japan since everything of Japanese origin is exalted and that which is non-Japanese is abased. Shinto is a textbook example of a religion invented by man to explain his ancestry and environment while taking no consideration of anyone but himself. While Shinto teaches that the kami might commune with those who have made themselves worthy through ritual purification, the God of the Bible promises to be present to anyone who calls upon Him for forgiveness (Romans 10:13). No amount of personal purification (a form of salvation by works) will make a person worthy of the presence of God in his life (Romans 4:5). Only faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross can accomplish cleansing from sin and make us acceptable to a holy God... “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). What a wonderful Savior!

Organic Shintou (as opposed to State Shintou)Edit

Japan is a land of many religions. The main ones are Buddhism, Confucianism, Taosim and Shintou. Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism were introduced to Japan from China, and were seen more as philosophical and ethical principles as opoosed to religions as such.

Shintou wasn't even called as such until after Buddhism integrated with it, to differentiate the two. It means "way of the gods." 神道 (or the way of Kami, losely translated as "Deities"). The elaborate court rituals associated with Sintou developed around the seventh century in response to the Buddhist stimulus, thereby becoming a distinct entity with a label. Despite that, the roots of Shintou can be traced to prehistoric times. It must be emphasised though that at this stage, Shintou was by no means an organised religion - more a conglomeration of superstitions and traditions.

Shintou differs from Buddhism, Taoism and Confuciansim in that it does not have an explicit doctrine or teachings. Another difference is that Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism all make universal claims about or for "all people". Shintou sees itself as an extension of the people and culture of Japan. Also, it Shintou does not have a founder. Essentially it is just animism tied in with a shared folklore.

Practices, beliefs and rituals varied immensely from region to region, but as with most ancient religions it was about purity and sacrificing to the spirits to gain their favor. {C}That being said, lots of commonly held Shintou belief come from two ancient texts, the Kojiki and the Nihongi. Collectively, the stories in these two texts are known as "The Kiki Stories".

The Kojiki (the oldest book of Classical Japanese history), was written in Chinese and phonetic transcription of Japanese. It starts in the realm of myth, with the creation of Japan from foam. A mutlitude of gods and goddesses are described. The narrative moves from mythology to historical legends, and culminates in a chronology of the early Imperial line. From the Kojiki comes the affirmation of the Emperor's Throne as a heaven-descended dynasty.

Some sections of the Kojiki have awesome names (but there are differences in translations). Some of these include:

Section VIII.—The Slaying of the Fire-Deity

Section XII.—The Crying and Weeping of His Impetuous-Male-Augustness (August is mentioned A LOT)

Section XVIII.—The Eight-Forked Serpent

Section XXIV.—The Wooing of the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears

Section XXXIV.—The August Reign in Himuka of His Augustness Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty

The Nihongi is also called the Nihon Shoki (Japanese Chronicles or Chronicles of Japan). It is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, and includes the most complete historical record of ancient Japan (however, its beginning is considered mythical and based in Chinese metaphysics). The Nihongi was finished in 720 CE.

The Nihongi again begins with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings, and continues its account through to events of the 8th century. It is believed to record accurately the latter reigns of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Temmu and Empress Jitō. It focuses on the merits of the virtuous rulers as well as the errors of crappy rulers. The Nihogi was written in classical Chinese (as was common for official documents at that time) but also contains numerous transliteration notes telling the reader how words were pronounced in Japanese. The word "Shintou" first appears in the Nihogi, where it states that The Emperor (Yungi)? had "reverence for the way of the Gods" (or Shintou).

One of the stories that first appear in the Nihogi is the tale of Urashima Tarō, which has been identified as the earliest example of a story involving time travel.

In any case, what does State Shintou have to do with traditional Shintou practice? Not a whole lot besides every other breath glorifying the Emperor, Japan kicks ass, and oh by the way die for him.

Basically, Shinto, is the belief in gods that are tied to the land of Japan; State Shinto is the Shinto
that had at its core the idea of the nation and reverence for the emperor.

Historical Background (brief overview)Edit

Before the Meiji Restoration (so named because it restored the Emperor to power), Japan had been ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate (a Shogunate was rule be hereditary military dictators), with the emperor as a mere symbol or figurehead. Before even then, across over a thousand years of historical chance and circumstance, Emperors had faced destitution, seclusion, military defeat, exile and all manner of hardship (such as being forced to copy texts for a living or living in a thatch-roof hut), all the while remaining the supposed rulers. The Shogunate never actually consulted the Emperor while ruling in his name. The Tokugawa Shogunate didn't deny the "Emperor is a diving being" thing, but only because he'd arranged the Emperor's total isolation from affairs--he'd be engrossed at all times by studying scholarly writings and honing his mastery over the arts. At that time most Japanese were unaware an Emperor even existed. Most reverence was reserved for regional daimyo.

The new regime devised a plan to indoctrinate the populace to their legitimacy, which was by villifying Buddhism as "foreign" and trotting out Shintou as pure Japanese. The Emperor's Throne was the only unbroken succession since time immemorial, and he is the direct descendant of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess and top of the pantheon.

The holy legitimacy of the Emperor was played up in order to quell internecine conflict between all the different political factions who might have salivated after that tall chair. The imperial legend was crafted by the statesmen behind the Restoration specifically for this purpose. It was also an alternative to a reversion to the feudal system, in allignment with the goal of Japanese statesmen to industrialize and catch up to foreign powers following the humiliation of the forcible opening of their harbors after centuries of official seclusion, and the unequal treaties that wrecked Japan's footing on the world stage.

MORE IN DEPTH OVERVIEW. State Shintou's ideological ancestryEdit

Even before the late Tokugawa period and the end of the Shogunate, an alternative scholarship opposed to studying Chinese and Confucian texts focused instead on indigenous beliefs, such as Shintou and the Kojiki + Nihon Shoki as "pure." This was called "Kokugaku." Scholars of Kokugaku believed they could make rapid modernization possible by making everyone's beliefs revolve around the Emperor. This strong sense of cultural identity would also ensure harmony, propelling Japan to the great heights it deserved.

Anti-foreign sentiment was tied in with Kokugaku a great deal. It was because of the West's forcible re-opening of Japan with unequal treaties that Emperor-worshiping purist rhetoric of the samurai culminated in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which was seen as unwilling or unable to execute the orders of an Emperor who, bolstered by the rebelling provinces, was finally getting back into politics in a big way. The slogan was "Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians!" (sonnou joui). During the Meiji Restoration, the new slogan was "Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Military!" (fukoku kyouhei). If the Meiji oligarchy pulling the strings behind the Parliamentary charade had anything to say about it, no foreign power would so humiliate Japan ever again.

The anti-foreign sentiment was not limited to Western forces. The newly established government bureau, the Shintou Worship Bureau (jingi jimukyoku), was charged with the task of separating Buddhism from Shintou (shinbutsu bunri). For centuries and centuries native Shintou beliefs and Buddhist sects had become so intertwined as to be nearly inseparable. The anti-Buddhist movement turned violent, eradicating much of Buddhist life by closing temples, burning books, and defrocking monks, although it did emphasize reason and logic. Even Buddhist bronze bells were melted to make cannons. Anti-Buddhist thought actually originates from Neo-Confucianism, a repressively moralizing philosophy that was extremely xenophobic. The Shogunate had enforced a policy that required all Japanese families to register with and financially support their local Buddhist temple, in an effort to stamp out Christianity. But this was a significant monetary burden that soured many to both Buddhism and the Shogunate.

However, Japanese still relied on Buddhist services for funerals and ancestral rites, so the state's campaign to raise Shintou above Buddhism was doomed to failure. It was successful, however, at separating Shintou and Buddhism in the popular consciousness. This distinction remains more contrived than real.

In any case, under State Shintou people were required to register with Shintou shrines instead. In 1872, the Office of Shintou Worship (initially ranking even above the Office of State in importance) was created and all Shintou priests became government employees by extension.

However, it should be noted that during this period, Christianity was legalized in 1873 (it had to be), and most Japanese thinkers identified more with Western ideologies, with many attempting to reconcile democracy and modernization with State Shintou and Emperor worship.

A TIMELINE, the events that spurred Japan's dramatic rise to powerEdit

The three periods:

Meiji (1869-1912)

restored the Emperor to power over the Shogunate; Oligarchy in real power despite parliamentary charade. Extremely rapid modernization, social upheaval and class reform. State Shintou taught as dogma. Almost all leaders in Japanese society during the Meiji period (whether in the military, politics or business) were ex-samurai or descendants of samurai, and shared a set of values and outlooks.

Taishou (1912-1926) marked the begining of true party politics in the Parliament as public outcry ends oligarchic manipulation of politics. By this point Japan has successfully proved itself not vulnerable to colonization, unlike its Asian neighbors. Japan went to the WWI peace conference at Versailles in 1919 as one of the great military and industrial powers of the world and received official recognition as one of the "Big Five" of the new international order. A time of democratic/socialist demonstration and constant shadowy assassinations in Japan. Rising discontent among the people at the government's poor performance alleviating economic crises.

Shouwa (1927-1989) , the first part of which features Japan at its most militaristic and rapacious, as well as its most loony. Military leaders become increasingly influential, until eventually they're the ones running the show, virtually unaccountable. Furthermore, the withdrawal from the League of Nations meant that Japan was 'going it alone.' Japan had no strong allies and its actions had been internationally condemned, whilst internally popular nationalism was booming. Local leaders, such as mayors, teachers, and Shinto priests were recruited by the various movements to indoctrinate the populace with ultra-nationalist ideals. They had little time for the pragmatic ideas of the business elite and party politicians. Their loyalty lay to the Emperor and the military.

1853: American Commodore Matthew Perry's black ships (typical imperialistic tactic of "gunboat diplomacy"). Unequal treaties in subsequent years. Anti-Shogunate and anti-foreigner unrest to build in following decades.

1863: The UK Royal Navy bombards Kagoshima after the Namamugi Incident, a samurai assault on foreign nationals living in Japan (four Englishmen who had disrespected a riding contingent of samurai by drawing too close). Ironically, the attack sparked an admiration for the UK's superior navy, and eventually the Meiji regime would do everything in their power to catch up and play with the big boys. // Emperor Komei's order to "Expel the Barbarians!"

1864-1865: Shimonoseki bombarded by joint naval forces of England, France, the Netherlands and the US after a clan of the feudal domain of Choushuu starts following the Emperor, (ignoring their own government) and slaying foreign nationals. By this time many parts of Japan had already been ramping up their military using foreign vessels and foreign weaponry. The beginnings of the modernized Japanese military.

1867: Emperor Komei suddenly croaks, probably poisoned. 15-year-old Emperor Mutsuhito accedes to the Chrystanthemum Throne.

1868: Meiji Restoration. "Meiji" ("enlightened era") is Emperor Mutsuhito's posthumous name.

First industrialized Asian nation. Western-style capitalism encouraged.

The Five Charter Oath:

  1. Establishment of deliberative assemblies
  2. Involvement of all classes in carrying out state affairs
  3. The revocation of sumptuary laws (laws that restrict diet and consumption) and class restrictions on employment.
  4. Replacement of "evil customs" with the "just laws of nature" and
  5. An international search for knowledge to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule

Five hundred people from the old court nobility, former daimyo, and samurai who had provided valuable service to the emperor were organized in five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron. (based on German and Englisgh "noblesse oblige")

1871: Most daimyo cede their lands to the state (in exchange they became governors), and the traditional feudal domain system is replaced with centralized government authority. Formerly out-of-favor court nobles and lower-ranking, but more radical, samurai replaced shogunate appointees, daimyo, and old court nobles as a new ruling class appeared.

'1870-1884:' The Great Promulgation Campaign. At first, satirized and ridiculed: "Scribblers lampooned the campaign mercilessly, opining that the evangelists' internal rivalries were more likely to drive the population to Christianity than to prevent its advance. No one likes Shintou funerals, they complain; the teachings are not believable; the sermons are boring; the evangelists are ridiculous and unfit to serve the nation; Shintou priests are ritualists--it is absurd to have them teach a creed; Shintou has nothing to contribute to ethical thought."~~Shintou and the State, 1868-1988

Lots of so-called tradition was really modern or medieval inventions granted the patina of ages.

//

The Emperor and Shintou trotted out everywhere. Although part of it was the public's own curiosity; newspapers would report extremely minute details about the Emperor, like how he could distinguish which river a fish he ate came from. He'd also be regularly compared to other monarchs, and he was always, of course, superior to every other head of state in history. Sure, Napoleon may have seemed great, but he was so coarse--Emperor Meiji, on the other hand, could write fine poetry! More than just a symbol of ancient traditions, as a monarch he was recognized as a symbol of Japan's modernity alongside the train.

Meanwhile, ruthless taxes levied to support industrialization.

1889: Japan becomes a "constitutional monarchy" to be taken seriously by foreign powers. Actually more of a constitutional autocracy. Real democracy and rights were not the aim of the constitution that was drafted. Article I of the 1889 constitution encoded in law that the Emperor would rule Japan for ages eternal, and Article III says the Emperor is "sacred and inviolable." Article 28 of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan reaffirmed the privileged position of Shintō, but also guaranteed freedom of religion “within limits not prejudicial to peace and order and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects”. In practice, this meant that religious groups were required to receive government approval and that their doctrines and rituals came under government scrutiny. All this, alongside all the normal Parliamentary procedures of countries like Prussia. Of course, Prussia's model was emulated because it emphasized a strong, independent military capable of expansionism, and autocratic governance. And because Prussia had industrialized into a great power when it was once an agricultural state itself.

Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who were over twenty-five years of age and paid fifteen yen in national taxes, about one percent of the population, and the House of Peers, composed of nobility and imperial appointees; and a cabinet responsible to the emperor and independent of the legislature. The Diet could approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the emperor. Nevertheless, in spite of these institutional changes, sovereignty (the so-called kokutai) still resided in the emperor on the basis of his divine ancestry.

As you probably surmised, 1% enfranchisement does not a democracy make.

1890: The Imperial Rescript on Education becomes propaganda par excellence. It was read aloud during every event, and students had to swallow and memorize it as unquestionable dogma. It inculcated unquestioning obedience to the Emperor's whims as the highest virtue. "Offer yourselves courageously to the state!" Students were made to worship at the school's Shintō shrine regardless of their religious beliefs, bow before portraits of the Emperor, and copy the Imperial Rescript on Education.

The Imperial Rescript on Education was so ubiquitous that it was often illustrated with heroes of Japanese folklore in illustrated books, magic-lantern shows, and New Year's games: "If you make a mistake reciting the Rescript, you lose a turn!"~~Japan's modern myths

School would inculcate manners and etiquette

Morning Assembly would have students bow deeply to an image of the Emperor, praying for the long life of the Imperial House

Enshrinement altars for images of the Emperor and the Rescript were guarded by people who would sacrifice their lives protecting them

__*__*__

IMPORTANT NOTE!! Japan after 1890 was far from completely indoctrinated. Constant political demonstrations, anti-government satire, and opposition parties sprung up evrerywhere. Rather absurdly, everybody and his dog paid tribute to the Emperor's supreme and inviolable sovereignty while hashing out their competing ideologies, and what the Emperor actually believed seldom mattered in the scheme of things--it was the elder statesmen, the oligarchy, who were the real game in town during the Meiji era, and the military honchos that mattered during the Shouwa period. In any case, I don't want to depict Japanese as gullible or easily brainwashed. Moreover, the Imperial Japanese government was hardly ever very free or respectful of human rights even before the warmaking kicked in gear. That being said, party politics did briefly gain some measure of power during the Taishou period.

As an aside, even many samurai organized against the Meiji regime once they're swords and privileges were stripped from them (such as in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877). Samurai were traditionally the only armed force, but now they were shunted aside in favor of a conventional military in the Western mode. Samurai became Shizoku (士族) who retained some of their salaries, but the right to wear a katana in public was eventually abolished along with the right to execute commoners who paid them disrespect. However, most samurai integrated, since being a samurai was more than just wielding a sword for your master--it also meant you were literate and well-educated.

__*__*__

1894-1895: Japan schools China in the Sino-Japanese War.

1895: Japan takes Taiwan.

1904-1905: Japan broke through as an international power with a victory against Russia in Manchuria (the Russo-Japanese War).

1910: Korea annexed. Cruel and invasive "Japanization" sought to erase Koreanness. Under the Japanese colonial administration the use of written Korean in education and publication was banned by the Empire of Japan. Even Korean history was methodically distorted. Koreans regarded as inferior and barely human. Of course, this was more or less the same thing every imperial power was doing to its colonies.

1912: Emperor Taishou accedes.

1915: Japan declares war on Germany in WW I as a pretext to hegemonize Germany's holdings in China.

World War I permitted Japan, which fought on the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence in Asia and its territorial holdings in the Pacific. Acting virtually independently of the civil government, the Imperial Japanese Navy seized Germany's Micronesian colonies.

1925: Universal manhood suffrage. Pressure from the conservative right, however, forced the passage of the Peace Preservation Law of 1925 along with other anti-radical legislation, only ten days before the passage of universal manhood suffrage. The Peace Preservation Act severely curtailed individual freedom in Japan. It outlawed groups that sought to alter the system of government or to abolish private ownership. The leftist movements that had been galvanized by the Russian Revolution were subsequently crushed and scattered. Conservatives forced the passage of the Peace Preservation Law because the party leaders and politicians of the Taishō era had felt that, after World War I, the state was in danger from revolutionary movements. The Japanese state never clearly defined a boundary between private and public matters and, thus, demanded loyalty in all spheres of society.

It's after this proper death of democracy that Japanese nationalism starts to go truly nutso.

1926: Emperor Taishō dies; Hirohito ("Shouwa") becomes emperor

1931ish: A New York Times correspondent called Japan a country ruled by "government by assassination."[6] The army, moving independently of the proper government of Japan, took the opportunity to invade Manchuria in the Summer of 1931.

1932: In March 1932 the "League of Blood" assassination plot and the chaos surrounding the trial of its conspirators further eroded the rule of law in Shōwa Japan. In May of the same year a group of right-wing Army and Navy officers succeeded in assassinating the Prime Minister. The plot fell short of staging a complete coup d'état but it effectively ended rule by political parties in Japan. Admirals take over.

1936: In what is known as the February 26 Incident, about 1,500 ultranationalist army troops marched upon central Tokyo. Their mission was to assassinate the government and promote a "Shōwa Restoration". Prime Minister Okada survived the attempted coup by hiding in a storage shed in his house, but the coup only ended when Emperor Hirohito personally ordered an end to the bloodshed.

1937: Japan invades China. The invasion led to a large scale war approved by Emperor Shōwa and called a "holy war" (Seisen) in Imperial propaganda.

1940: Japan becomes an Axis power.

The Evolution of State Shintou, from Meiji to ShouwaEdit

Shaped by many philosophers on the subject over time. Gradually became more and more whacked out until it crashed full bore into crazy land.

Always dissed democracy as degenerate, common rubes squabbling among themselves, unable to steer their countries to greatness as they're always distracted by their own foolish, selfish whims.

Japan, the land without coercion. As a big happy family, every Japanese has the same vested interests, and so they need only realize they should put their faith in the Emperor and the Emperor will obtain the power he needs to make everything better and foster harmony. Dumb commies and rabble-rousers will eventually see the light of Japanese harmony when they're rehabilitated to Emperor worship. You should strive not to be an individual, but to be a cell of the state. The state is the Emperor. Well, so long as the throne remains unbroken, there isn't too much foreign influence, and Japanese keep their traditions and believe in him.

Also, you owe the Emperor your life. He is the progenitor of Japan, and it is because of him you were ever born to begin with.

How to justify the Emperor obviously not always being exactly at the top all throughout Japanese history-- the legitimacy of the state was always invested in Him since he was always sovereign (kokutai), it's just that the method or means by which he rules (seitai) has changed.

How would universal belief in the Emperor fix all of Japan's internal problems (e.g., shitty economy, massive corruption, etc.)? Why, the Emperor would be vested with the power to exercise his perfection and fix everything with magic. I don't know which step in that thought process is off, but something's gone rather awry!

Nationalist // fascist thinking in generalEdit

How could authoritarianism appeal to so many? Because fascism was a populist authoritarianism. The nation would achieve glory as a single organism, and you were a cell of that organism! No elites, no class distinction, no "parties." Just a great leader who is executing the unified will of his people to revive the ancient glory days and let the world know you are part of a power in which you can be proud.

It sounds crazy that such a notion could come across as empowering, what with the alternative being a functional democracy. But that's the toxic draw of nationalism, getting people to vote against their own interests for the sake of "glory."

The shift in State ShintouEdit

Old generation thinking: Just as you must obey your father, so too must everyone obey the ultimate father of Japan, the Emperor. As Grandpappy of everything, he is unimaginably wise and knows best, just as your dad knows best for his family. Damn, he's so above you, you can't even look at him. Mind, you should still die for him as though he were your next of kin. Other countries are degenerate democracies because their line of emperors was broken. They are inferior and cannot integrate with Japanese, therefore leave them alone.

By the 20s, Shintou nationalism had transformed into a totally senseless cult of destruction and war.

~~from anti-imperialist to expansionist~~

New generation thinking: There is no middleman between you and the Emperor. You ARE a part of the Emperor. You must obliterate your will and become totally one with his eternal all-soul. The greatest glory is to die (the securest obliteration of your individuality) and become reborn in the Emperor, in whom resides all souls across time. Also, foreigners and their "abstract reason and logic" need to be tamed under the selfless auspices of the Emperor using force (there's just no other way!) while pure Japanese need not be held under duress to follow the infallible Emperor's words as though they were nothing more than instruments of his divine will. The Emperor is totally selfless, therefore everything he does is moral. To be Japanese you must obey. To be Japanese, you must want to obey.

Another fundamental shift was from the, you know, actual attention paid to policymaking with the old guard. The new thinking was essentially, nyaaa the Emperor will fix it. Logic was not the style of the new State Shintou.

Case in point, wisdom had it that since, unlike Japanese, Chinese didn't identify with their rulers of the week (snigger snigger), that means Japan could invade and China would just roll over and let their new invader rulers take control.

Oh, and here's another way this way of thinking fucked things up for normal people: it meant that Japanese occupations in their annexed lands would actively eradicate indigenous cultures. Despite the fact that they'd never be "pure Japanese" anyway. You can imagine how many soldiers and civilians it must take to occupy a land whose population is undergoing cultural annihilation. Not exactly the most welcoming crowd.

State Shintou was incredibly contradictory. "Let's build some temples abroad--but not let any gaijin in! That makes perfect sense."

Constant assassination and the plunge into lunacyEdit

Since the new State Shintou was populist, it veered away from "just wait for orders" to "do whatever you can to improve the Empire!" So there were dozens and dozens of separate right-wing groups and clandestine militias looking to do just that. And the Taishou Emperor wasn't exactly up to oratory. The rationale was that if the country was in a sorry state, then it must be because all the advisors and bureaucrats around him were steering him wrong.

A big part of it was general frustration. Once the Meiji oligarchs died off in the Taishou Era, government ground to a standstill due to the Meiji Constitution's ambiguity of exactly who would do what (which was fine by the oligarchs). Half of Japan wanted true democracy and the other half wanted the Emperor to rule directly. Compound that with the fact that at the top there were multiple factions just kinda doing their own thing without any one person really behind the wheel, and you're bound to foster enough resentment among radicals that hey, maybe they should be taking things in their own daggery hands. Naturally, constant assassination did not help the democratic process along.

Minobe Tatsukichi, a respected professor at Tokyo Imperial University declared the emperor to be a part of the constitutional structure of Japan rather than a sacred power beyond the state itself in 1935. His constitutional interpretation was overwhelmingly accepted by bureaucrats until the 1930s. In the increasingly militant 1930s, these ideas led to attacks against Minobe in the House of Peers and his resignation from that body. Minobe got straw manned, and his "Emperor as Organ" thinking (up to the point respected by most intellectual circles as correct) got pilloried in the press as traitorous anti-patriotic bilge, subverting the Emperor (that's why everything was so shitty!). (Emperor-as-Organ comes from the weird characterization of the state by the German philosopher Hegel as an independent organism, with organs. Basically, the Emperor is an organ of the state just like the Diet, and he can't override the Constitution willy-nilly. He is NOT synonymous with the state or sovereignty.)

Even Parliament shat all over Minobe. Strange for a deliberative body to be dissing a guy for expounding logic and reason. But then, when there are assassinations everywhere, maybe politicians don't want to be seen as accountable.

It was so absurd that, as one example, "ratification of the Kellogg Peace Pact was held up for ten months because of criticism in both in the Diet and the Privy Council on the grounds that the words of the pact had been concluded by the various sovereigns 'in the names of their respective peoples' constituted an insult to the Japanese Emperor."

This disconnect with logic got so bad that all the religious radical nutjobs would start slaughtering each other over the right to coup.

After killing their intended targets, assassins would often kill themselves, thereby proving they had been acting selflessly. It was really fucked.

1937's Kokutai no Hongi ended the constitution debate by saying the constitution is as nothing next to the Emperor.

Shouwa and WWII Ultafucked Ultranationalism and PropagandaEdit

It should be noted that until the creation of the Wartime Shrine Board in 1940 (whose duty was "spreading the reverence for the kami"), Shintou at the local shrine level was not associated with the totalitarian and militaristic ideologues who dominated governance.

During the first part of the Shōwa era, racial discrimination against other Asians was habitual in Imperial Japan, having begun with the start of Japanese colonialism.[7] The Shōwa regime thus preached racial superiority and racialist theories, based on the sacred nature of the Yamato-damashii. Japanese nationalists propagandized Yamato-damashii – 'the brave, daring, and indomitable spirit of Japanese people' – as one of the key Japanese military-political doctrine ("the official rallying cry for the Japanese armed forces in World War II").

Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子, lit. "Japanese fringed pink") is a floral metaphor for "the idealized traditional Japanese woman". During World War II, ultra-nationalists popularized Yamato-nadeshiko as the female manifestation of Yamato-damashii.

During World War II, the government used State Shintō to encourage patriotism and to support efforts towards militarism. Noted figures in government, including Kuniaki Koiso, Heisuke Yanagawa, Kiichirō Hiranuma and Prince Kan'in Kotohito, participated in public rituals modeled after ancient ceremonies to foster a sense that supporting the war was a sacred duty.

Really fucked euphemism for often pointless, mandated suicide charges-- "Shattering jewels." The idea being, you should get smashed while you're still a glittering jewel, lest you get tarnished.

Within the state, the idea of a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere began to foment. The nationalist believed that the "ABCD powers" were a threat to all Asians and that Asia could only survive by following the Japanese example. Japan had been the only Asian and non-Western power to industrialize itself successfully and rival great Western empires. While largely described by contemporary Western observers as a front for the expansion of the Japanese army, the idea behind the Co-Prosperity Sphere was that Asia would be united against the Western powers and Western Imperialism under the auspices of the Japanese. The idea drew influence in the paternalistic aspects of Confucianism and Koshitsu Shinto. Thus, the main goal of the Sphere was the hakko ichiu, the unification of the eight corners of the world under the rule (kôdô) of Emperor Shōwa.

The reality during this period differed from the propaganda. Some nationalities and ethnic groups were marginalized, and during rapid military expansion into foreign countries, the Imperial General Headquarters tolerated many atrocities against local populations, such as: the experimentations of unit 731, the sanko sakusen, the use of chemical and biological weapons and civilian massacres such as those in Nanjing, Singapore and Manila.

Some of the atrocities were motivated by racial prejudices e.g., the Japanese soldiers taught to think of captured Chinese as not worthy of consideration.

Poor sod Japanese soldiersEdit

Constantly slapped, basically had "DIE FOR THE EMPEROR" drilled into their head (and they couldn't not die, the shame of it). Forced to fight with insufficient food, water and supplies.

Conscripted into a largely hopeless war. Conquer the world or die trying! die die die

Lots of psychological trauma.

The last Japanese soldier didn't officially surrender himself until 1974 - 29 years after the end of the war. In that instance, the Japanese government had to track down his by-then elderly retired former Commander to come to the jungle and tell him person, as he refused to believe anyone else.

After the Occupation and ningen sengenEdit

Popular attitudes of the Japanese people towards the emperor after the second world war were described in a publication from 1953.

The authors, Hugh Smythe and Mashaharu Watanabe, suggest the following:

Before the war, the Japanese nation was ruled by the Emperor, and this relationship was seen as one of father to son (and the subsequent associated loyalty).

However, the occupying forces changed the role of the Emperor into one more like a British monarch.

It was acknowledged that ascertaining the opinions of the Japanese people was a challenge, given their reluctance to express themselves freely or as individuals.

However, there was some suggestion that the fact that the occupiers worked through the Emperor to achieve their objectives reinforced the established tradition of the Emperor being “indispensable” and the highest authority.

After the Japanese surrender, the Emperor toured the still disorganised and shell shocked nation, doing the usual political tour of schools, factories, hospitals etc. However, his reception offered a stark contrast to earlier, pre-occupation occurrences of silence, bowed heads and a very strict adherence to etiquette. After the war, the emperor received cheers and ovations from a multitude of citizens who had never seen him before. His presence was promoted as a major event and huge crowds gathered to praise him.

At this time, the media tried to create a sense of intimacy between the Emperor and the people by portraying him as a simple family man (much like themselves). On “Mother’s Day” in 1948, the public were permitted direct access to the Empress. All the while, the Emperor was depicted as a man of love, character, peace and innocent of any wrong doing with regards to the war. There were also suggestions that he had reduced his standard of living in an effort to share his subjects’ hardships.

So, what was the effect of this on public opinion?

Hard to tell, as the Emperor’s people were unlikely to diss him openly in opinion polls….

Basically, not much. According to several surveys and studies, they generally still loved his guts and the whole Emperor system. It’s popularity dropped slightly, but 83% - 91% of people surveyed favoured its retention. 65% thought Hirothito should not abdicate. Those favouring the abolition of the Emperor system tended to be younger intellectuals.

A cross section of opinions from one study can be summarised thus:

The Emperor, then, is needed on spiritual grounds, according to the elderly wife of a poor farmer, because "He is necessary to the rebuilding of our country." An aged landlord said, "He is the mainstay of our people, its centre and pillar." A high-school girl remarked, "He is like a national flag, a form of our existence." The wife of a day labourer explained, "When we look at a family, we find it needs a father, and when there is no father the family becomes very gloomy and sad." This father sentiment was prevalent among both schoolchildren and elderly people.

Some justified his existence on the basis of his divinity. Thus, a middle-aged landowner said: "I think that the Emperor is descended from the kami (gods)." The elderly wife of a poor farmer re- marked: "You may say that the Emperor is not a kami; yet he lives in a dis- tant palace, and so I believe that he is a kami."

So basically, shortly after the war and occupation, attitudes towards the emperor may have changed slightly, but not that much.

Even after the Emperor sort of declined his god-ness in the Ningen Sengen (humanity message) after he surrendered, the shroud of mysticism over the throne persisted. He had extremely good PR.

On the other hand, you have abiding hatred for the Emperor from people like disenchanted soldiers and people who lost loved ones in the war.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.