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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces the emergence of the concept of a civic or political sense of nation (kokumin), first in context of efforts to protect the rights of samurai against the Sat-Chō clique government; then as a broadening movement that aspired to national sovereignty in the constitution. It then traces cultural national sovereignty that would be exercised through the Diet, before becoming overwhelmed by the Constitutional rejection of national sovereignty and the rise of a rival minzoku discourse that abandoned political nation-building for the compensations of cultural identity. By the time kokumin nationalism was explicitly debated in the 1870s and 1880s, it was not anti-Christians, but Christians themselves who played a leading role in advocating this particular kind of nationalism. During the mid-1880s, advocates of civic nationalism kept it alive by developing “deep” theories that prepared the ground for subsequent efforts to restore kokuminshugi to the forefront of Japanese political theory.

Keywords: cultural nationalism; Japanese political theory; kokumin; kokuminshugi; Meiji kokumin theology



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