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The way of revering the emperor: Imperial philosophy and Bushidō in modern Japan

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Chapter Summary

A diverse constellation of features and forces were marshaled in the ensuing debates and battles about the dimensions of the so-called essence of Japan. This chapter elaborates some of the ways in which bushidō became assimilated into the wider intellectual discourse of the so-called imperial philosophy, especially in the 1930s and 1940s. It explores the ways in which currents of thought about the symbolic and political function of the emperor in the modern state intermingled with the process of (re)inventing the quasi-feudal ethical standpoints of bushidō into their ostensibly modern forms. One of the crucial issues that were resolved, at least theoretically, by the proclamation of the Meiji Constitution was that of the conceptual locus of sovereignty. The significance and meaning of suicide or self-destruction in the name of the emperor was a crucial issue of serious social weight, especially during the war years.

Keywords: bushidō; imperial philosophy; Japan; Meiji Constitution



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