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Chapter Summary

A complete understanding of the role of the monarchy in modern Japanese nationalism cannot suffice with simplistic reductions of nationalism to the emperor or to the “emperor-system”, but requires a familiarity with the wide-ranging debates over the relationship of the emperor to nationalism that still inform nationalist ideals and practices today. The concept of kokutai had a long history, but it was a history that was not immediately usable for this moral vision. It was this sense of kokutai that the monarchical activists emphasized in their writings, as they turned to the past for a vision of the monarch as united with his people, the monarch as savior of the nation. The major political debates of the early Meiji years did not focus much on the tennō. The constitution and its legal settlement of the monarchy’s role in the new nation did not end all debates over the monarchy.

Keywords: kokutai; Meiji Japan; monarchy; tennō



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