Twentieth Century Japan: The Emergence of a World Power

Published by: University of California Press

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Twentieth Century Japan: The Emergence of a World Power

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The City as Subject

Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

Jeffrey E. Hanes

In exploring the career of Seki Hajime (1873-1935), who served as mayor of Japan's second-largest city, Osaka, Jeffrey E. Hanes traces the roots of social progressivism in prewar Japan. Seki, trained as a political economist in the late 1890s, when Japan was focused single-mindedly on "increasing industrial production," distinguished himself early on as a people-centered, rather than a state-centered, national economist. After three years of advanced study in Europe at the turn of the century, during which he engaged Marxism and later steeped himself in the exciting new field of social economics, Seki was transformed into a progressive.

The social reformism of Seki and others had its roots in a transnational fellowship of progressives who shared the belief that civilized nations should be able to forge a middle path between capitalism and socialism. Hanes's sweeping study permits us not only to weave social progressivism into the modern Japanese historical narrative but also to reconceive it as a truly transnational movement whose impact was felt across the Pacific as well as the Atlantic.

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Lever of Empire

The International Gold Standard and the Crisis of Liberalism in Prewar Japan

Mark Metzler

This book, the first full account of Japan’s financial history and the Japanese gold standard in the pivotal years before World War II, provides a new perspective on the global political dynamics of the era by placing Japan, rather than Europe, at the center of the story. Focusing on the fall of liberalism in Japan in late 1931 and the global politics of money that were at the center of the crisis, Mark Metzler asks why successive Japanese governments from 1920 to 1931 carried out policies that deliberately induced deflation and depression. His search for answers stretches from Edo to London to the ragged borderlands of the Japanese empire and from the eighteenth century to the 1950s, integrating political and monetary analysis to shed light on the complex dynamics of money, empire, and global hegemony. His detailed and broad ranging account illuminates a range of issues including Japan’s involvement in the economic dynamics that shook interwar Europe, the character of U.S. isolationism, and the rise of fascism as an international phenomenon.

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Reconfiguring Modernity

Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology

Julia Adeney Thomas

Julia Adeney Thomas turns the concept of nature into a powerful analytical lens through which to view Japanese modernity, bringing the study of both Japanese history and political modernity to a new level of clarity. She shows that nature necessarily functions as a political concept and that changing ideas of nature's political authority were central during Japan's transformation from a semifeudal world to an industrializing colonial empire. In political documents from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century, nature was redefined, moving from the universal, spatial concept of the Tokugawa period, through temporal, social Darwinian ideas of inevitable progress and competitive struggle, to a celebration of Japan as a nation uniquely in harmony with nature. The so-called traditional "Japanese love of nature" masks modern state power.

Thomas's theoretically sophisticated study rejects the supposition that modernity is the ideological antithesis of nature, overcoming the determinism of the physical environment through technology and liberating denatured subjects from the chains of biology and tradition. In making "nature" available as a critical term for political analysis, this book yields new insights into prewar Japan's failure to achieve liberal democracy, as well as an alternative means of understanding modernity and the position of non-Western nations within it.

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Rediscovering America

Japanese Perspectives on the American Century

Peter Duus

In this extraordinary collection of writings, covering the period from 1878 to 1989, a wide range of Japanese visitors to the United States offer their vivid, and sometimes surprising perspectives on Americans and American society. Peter Duus and Kenji Hasegawa have selected essays and articles by Japanese from many walks of life: writers and academics, bureaucrats and priests, politicians and journalists, businessmen, philanthropists, artists. Their views often reflect power relations between America and Japan, particularly during the wartime and postwar periods, but all of them dealt with common themes—America’s origins, its ethnic diversity, its social conformity, its peculiar gender relations, its vast wealth, and its cultural arrogance—making clear that while Japanese observers often regarded the U.S. as a mentor, they rarely saw it as a role model.

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The Social Sciences in Modern Japan

The Marxian and Modernist Traditions

Andrew E. Barshay

This incisive intellectual history of Japanese social science from the 1890s to the present day considers the various forms of modernity that the processes of "development" or "rationalization" have engendered and the role social scientists have played in their emergence. Andrew E. Barshay argues that Japan, together with Germany and pre-revolutionary Russia, represented forms of developmental alienation from the Atlantic Rim symptomatic of late-emerging empires. Neither members nor colonies of the Atlantic Rim, these were independent national societies whose cultural self-image was nevertheless marked by a sense of difference.

Barshay presents a historical overview of major Japanese trends and treats two of the most powerful streams of Japanese social science, one associated with Marxism, the other with Modernism (kindaishugi), whose most representative figure is the late Maruyama Masao. Demonstrating that a sense of developmental alienation shaped the thinking of social scientists in both streams, the author argues that they provided Japanese social science with moments of shared self-understanding.

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