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The Preconditions Of Japanese Nationalism

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Chapter Summary

The author explains, it is incorrect to argue that popular nationalism among the peasants and commoners was the driving force behind the political changes that led to either the Meiji Restoration or the construction of a modern Japanese state. Japanese nationalism was the result of a specific series of historical and political events that created a plurality of agents in a contested arena, where each sought to expel, expunge or appropriate the others in the name of the true Japanese nation. The foundation for this new context in which nationalism would rise as a debate over political, social and cultural identity may be found in the emergence of a new concept of “the public” during the bakumatsu and early Meiji years. Mitsukuri Rinsh and Miyazaki Mury tells that we should not succumb to facile conclusions that either nationalism “already existed“ or “was completely lacking“ at this early period.

Keywords: bakumatsu years; early Meiji; Japanese Nationalism; Mitsukuri; Miyazaki; national identity

10.1163/ej.9789004155985.i-292.9
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