Liberalism, internationalism, and democracy

Authored by: Michael A. Schneider

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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Liberalism, democracy, and internationalism are frequently regarded as minority traditions in the political history of modern Japan. Advocates of liberal democracy and internationalism, however, played important roles in modern Japan for much the same reason as in other modern societies. The collapse of the autocratic Tokugawa government in 1868 had opened new possibilities for political life. Although the 1889 constitutional order blunted hopes for broad democratic participation, industrialism provided the material basis for new urban and professional classes. In turn, these emergent classes viewed the expanding public sphere in liberal terms and pushed for greater participation. By the early twentieth century, the global growth and influence of liberal internationalist thought had found many adherents in Japan. For these reasons, liberal democratic traditions were established in the modern period, despite running counter to state-sanctioned ideologies and facing attacks from radical right-wing groups.

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