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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the permeations on Japanese collective consciousness of a concept and reality that we now recognize as "society" (shakai). The most striking example of this radical effort to build an egalitarian society was the effort by Katō Hiroyuki and Ōe Taku and the “enlightened bureaucrats” (kaimeiha kanryō) to outlaw discrimination against the historically persecuted outcaste people. Unfortunately, the “Taisho Political Crisis” is often neglected in histories of modern Japan or passed over as yet another intrigue that remained narrowly confined to internecine battles within elite political circles and thus at best of marginal significance to social history. After post war, it was quite difficult to articulate and propagate a sense of civil society that would provide a modern, democratic nationalism that neither worshipped the state nor rejected it out of hand.

Keywords: Ōe Taku; constructing society; Katō Hiroyuki; postwar Japan; shakai; taisho sociology



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