Japan’s 1930s

Crisis, fascism, and social imperialism

Authored by: Ethan Mark

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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This chapter explores historical challenges and scholarly analyses of the decade that witnessed Japan’s greatest crisis of modern times – and provoked its most radical responses. Beginning with a brief survey of the state of Japanese society at the beginning and the end of this tumultuous decade, it then turns to scholarly debates about what happened in between – and why. Focusing on the evolution of approaches to the Japanese civil society and its relationship to the state, the chapter reveals an early postwar field largely concerned with ‘top-down’, state-centred history, whose battle lines often reflected the political divisions of the Cold War, giving way since the 1980s to an increasingly ‘bottom-up’ focus on civil society, including cultural history, ideology, lived experience, and popular imperialism. Special attention is devoted to Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s seminal work Grassroots Fascism (1987, trans. 2015) as a pioneer of such recent trends.

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