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The Crisis Of "Conversion" And Search For National Doctrine In Early Meiji Japan

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Chapter Summary

Peter van der Veer observes that &t;the colonial era makes new imaginations of community possible, and it is especially in the religious domain that these new imaginations take shape. Ironically, the attempt to counter Christianity with a "national doctrine" capable of capturing the hearts of the people led to a crisis of a different kind. The ability of the imperial institution to assist governance depended on its ability to stand above the possibility of choice. The Meiji state inherited the problem of the hidden Christians from the shogunate and had little choice but to reaffirm the prohibition in large part to prevent Christian conversions within Japan from providing an excuse for radicals to undermine its still fragile rule. The political calculus behind the Meiji state's policy towards Christianity reveals itself more clearly in exchanges with the representatives of the Treaty Powers.

Keywords: Christian conversions; colonial era; hidden Christians; imperial institution; Japan; Meiji state; national doctrine; Treaty Powers



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