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Planning for Empire

Reform Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State

Janis Mimura

Publication Year: 2011

Japan's invasion of Manchuria in September of 1931 initiated a new phase of brutal occupation and warfare in Asia and the Pacific. It forwarded the project of remaking the Japanese state along technocratic and fascistic lines and creating a self-sufficient Asian bloc centered on Japan and its puppet state of Manchukuo. In Planning for Empire, Janis Mimura traces the origins and evolution of this new order and the ideas and policies of its chief architects, the reform bureaucrats. The reform bureaucrats pursued a radical, authoritarian vision of modern Japan in which public and private spheres were fused, ownership and control of capital were separated, and society was ruled by technocrats.

Mimura shifts our attention away from reactionary young officers to state planners-reform bureaucrats, total war officers, new zaibatsu leaders, economists, political scientists, engineers, and labor party leaders. She shows how empire building and war mobilization raised the stature and influence of these middle-class professionals by calling forth new government planning agencies, research bureaus, and think tanks to draft Five Year industrial plans, rationalize industry, mobilize the masses, streamline the bureaucracy, and manage big business. Deftly examining the political battles and compromises of Japanese technocrats in their bid for political power and Asian hegemony, Planning for Empire offers a new perspective on Japanese fascism by revealing its modern roots in the close interaction of technology and right-wing ideology.

Published by: Cornell University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

...I am grateful for the assistance that I have received from numerous individuals and institutions in completing this study. First and foremost, I thank my teachers at Berkeley, Andrew Barshay and Irwin Scheiner, whose guidance, enthusiasm, and support sustained me in the long road to this book. In Japan, I am indebted to Kobayashi Hideo...

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pp. 1-6

...In September 1931, officers of Japan’s Kwantung Army blew up train lines of the South Manchuria Railway Company, or Mantetsu, and seized Manchuria. What began as an unauthorized military scheme to secure resources for a future total war evolved into an ambitious imperialist project to create the Manchurian state of Manchukuo, a domestic New Order, and a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity...

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1. Japan’s Wartime Technocrats

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pp. 7-40

...Burnham, a former adherent of Trotskyism, rejected Marx’s theory of class struggle, by which capitalists would be overthrown by workers. Contrary to the Marxist historical view, he argued, the capitalist class was being replaced, not by the proletariat, but by a new quasi-class of “managers.” These managers did not own the means of production but controlled them through...

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2. Military Fascism and Manchukuo, 1930–36

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pp. 41-69

...The Great Depression marked the ascendance of the Japanese military and the right wing as a political force in the 1930s. For these groups, the financial crisis and collapse of world trade signified the implosion of the liberal capitalist system. Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi’s retrenchment policy and ill-fated decision to lift the gold embargo in 1929 led to one of the worst economic crises in Japanese...

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3. Bureaucratic Visions of Manchukuo, 1933–39

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pp. 70-106

...With the arrival of elite Japanese bureaucrats in Manchuria from 1932, Manchurian development entered a new phase. These bureaucrats introduced a managerial dimension to the Kwantung Army’s experiment in state reform. They devised new concepts, techniques, and institutions of planning and control that reflected the latest technocratic trends in interwar Japan, Germany, Soviet Russia, and...

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4. Ideologues of Fascism: Okumura Kiwao and Mori Hideoto

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pp. 107-137

...Reform bureaucrats returned from their overseas postings in Manchuria and China with a new mandate to reform Japan, Manchuria-style. Under Prime Minister Konoe, who headed three cabinets between 1937 and 1941, they assumed key bureaucratic posts. Many joined the newly established Cabinet Planning Board and held joint appointments at their old ministries. These bureaucrats...

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5. The New Order and the Politics of Reform, 1940–41

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pp. 138-169

...The New Order movement was the magnum opus of the reform bureaucrats. It represented the most direct assault on the citadels of liberal capitalism. It also represented the most ambitious bid for power by Japan’s wartime technocrats. Under the leadership of Kishi Nobusuke, reform bureaucrats set out a bold and comprehensive agenda to restructure Japan’s economy. Within a two-year period...

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6. Japan’s Opportunity: Technocratic Strategies for War and Empire, 1941–45

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pp. 170-194

...In 1915 Thorstein Veblen prophetically wrote about a temporary window of opportunity for Japan to combine its national spirit and recently acquired industrial technology with maximum effect in a major military offensive. Veblen predicted that the window would gradually close as modern technical advances eroded traditional notions of community and loyalty and...

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Epilogue: From Wartime Techno-Fascismto Postwar Managerialism

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pp. 195-200

...This study suggests that the main political faultline in wartime Japan was not between militarists and peace-loving civilians, but between advocates of technocratic reform and defenders of the capitalist status quo. Membership in each camp cut across the traditional affiliations of the military, bureaucracy, business, labor, political parties, and academia. The driving force for reform was the...


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pp. 201-220


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pp. 221-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780801460852
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801449260

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 730914437
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Planning for Empire

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Subject Headings

  • Japan -- Politics and government -- 1926-1945.
  • Bureaucracy -- Japan -- History.
  • Technological innovations -- Japan -- History.
  • Fascism -- Japan -- History.
  • Civil-military relations -- Japan -- History.
  • Manchuria (China) -- History -- 1931-1945.
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