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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of this book, which discusses the life and thoughts of Yamaji Aizan, an eminent historian and journalist of the Meiji and Taishō periods. After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan developed the military and economic capacity to join the Western powers in colonizing Asia. Benedict Anderson has asserted that Japanese nationalism was aggressive and imperialistic even among those who were not the ruling class. The author treats Yamaji Aizan as one of the liberal nationalists in pre-war Japan and also as a pioneer in the field of Japanese social history, who valued the role of commoners in contrast to the imperial view of history. It is suggested that post-war academics who studied Yamaji Aizan tended to stereotype his thinking, which prevented them from properly evaluating its significance in his day. The chapter presents an overview of how the other chapters in the book are organized.

Keywords: colonizing Asia; Japanese nationalism; Japanese social history; Meiji restoration; Yamaji Aizan



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