Planning for Empire

Planning for Empire: Reform Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State

Janis Mimura
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7zjn3
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Planning for Empire
    Book Description:

    Japan's invasion of Manchuria in September of 1931 initiated a new phase of brutal occupation and warfare in Asia and the Pacific. It forwarded the project of remaking the Japanese state along technocratic and fascistic lines and creating a self-sufficient Asian bloc centered on Japan and its puppet state of Manchukuo. In Planning for Empire, Janis Mimura traces the origins and evolution of this new order and the ideas and policies of its chief architects, the reform bureaucrats. The reform bureaucrats pursued a radical, authoritarian vision of modern Japan in which public and private spheres were fused, ownership and control of capital were separated, and society was ruled by technocrats.

    Mimura shifts our attention away from reactionary young officers to state planners-reform bureaucrats, total war officers, new zaibatsu leaders, economists, political scientists, engineers, and labor party leaders. She shows how empire building and war mobilization raised the stature and influence of these middle-class professionals by calling forth new government planning agencies, research bureaus, and think tanks to draft Five Year industrial plans, rationalize industry, mobilize the masses, streamline the bureaucracy, and manage big business. Deftly examining the political battles and compromises of Japanese technocrats in their bid for political power and Asian hegemony, Planning for Empire offers a new perspective on Japanese fascism by revealing its modern roots in the close interaction of technology and right-wing ideology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6085-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    In September 1931, officers of Japan’s Kwantung Army blew up train lines of the South Manchuria Railway Company, or Mantetsu, and seized Manchuria. What began as an unauthorized military scheme to secure resources for a future total war evolved into an ambitious imperialist project to create the Manchurian state of Manchukuo, a domestic New Order, and a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This book begins with the Manchurian occupation not to analyze Japanese militarism and the history of Japan’s fifteen-year war of military aggression that ended in 1945. Rather, it seeks to examine the history of Japan’s transwar embrace of...

  5. 1 JAPAN’S WARTIME TECHNOCRATS
    (pp. 7-40)

    In his theory of what he termed the “managerial revolution,” James Burnham proclaimed that capitalism was coming to an end. What was emerging in its place was not socialism but a new type of “managerial” society.

    What is occurring in this transition is a drive for social dominance, for power and privilege, for the position of ruling class, by the social group or class of the managers. . . . This drive, moreover, is world-wide in extent, already well advanced in all nations, though at different levels of development in different nations.¹

    Burnham, a former adherent of Trotskyism, rejected Marx’s...

  6. 2 MILITARY FASCISM AND MANCHUKUO, 1930–36
    (pp. 41-69)

    The Great Depression marked the ascendance of the Japanese military and the right wing as a political force in the 1930s. For these groups, the financial crisis and collapse of world trade signified the implosion of the liberal capitalist system. Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi’s retrenchment policy and ill-fated decision to lift the gold embargo in 1929 led to one of the worst economic crises in Japanese history.¹ The painful effects of the Minseitō government’s tight money policies, its inability to pull Japan out of the depression, and the series of corruption scandals involving business provided ammunition for the right wing’s...

  7. 3 BUREAUCRATIC VISIONS OF MANCHUKUO, 1933–39
    (pp. 70-106)

    With the arrival of elite Japanese bureaucrats in Manchuria from 1932, Manchurian development entered a new phase. These bureaucrats introduced a managerial dimension to the Kwantung Army’s experiment in state reform. They devised new concepts, techniques, and institutions of planning and control that reflected the latest technocratic trends in interwar Japan, Germany, Soviet Russia, and the United States. During the first year, the Kwantung Army constructed the basic framework for fascism: a military-dominated, totalist state, pan-Asianist vanguard party, and planned economy. Building on this framework, bureaucrats under the leadership of Kishi Nobusuke refashioned the various organizations of the state and...

  8. 4 IDEOLOGUES OF FASCISM: Okumura Kiwao and Mōri Hideoto
    (pp. 107-137)

    Reform bureaucrats returned from their overseas postings in Manchuria and China with a new mandate to reform Japan, Manchuria-style. Under Prime Minister Konoe, who headed three cabinets between 1937 and 1941, they assumed key bureaucratic posts. Many joined the newly established Cabinet Planning Board and held joint appointments at their old ministries. These bureaucrats drew on the ideas and support of civilian technocrats in reformist bodies such as the Shōwa Research Association, National Policy Research Association, and Social Masses Party. They attended informal, weekly discussion groups of military and civilian technocrats to deliberate on national policy. Through their writings, speeches,...

  9. 5 THE NEW ORDER AND THE POLITICS OF REFORM, 1940–41
    (pp. 138-169)

    The New Order movement was the magnum opus of the reform bureaucrats. It represented the most direct assault on the citadels of liberal capitalism. It also represented the most ambitious bid for power by Japan’s wartime technocrats. Under the leadership of Kishi Nobusuke, reform bureaucrats set out a bold and comprehensive agenda to restructure Japan’s economy. Within a two-year period they drafted plans for various “new orders” in industry, finance, labor, science, technology, communications, and national land planning. The most controversial plan was the proposal to “separate capital and management” through the creation of industry-based control associations. These plans expressed...

  10. 6 JAPAN’S OPPORTUNITY: Technocratic Strategies for War and Empire, 1941–45
    (pp. 170-194)

    In 1915 Thorstein Veblen prophetically wrote about a temporary window of opportunity for Japan to combine its national spirit and recently acquired industrial technology with maximum effect in a major military offensive. Veblen predicted that the window would gradually close as modern technical advances eroded traditional notions of community and loyalty and introduced a materialistic and commercial mindset bringing about the “sabotage of capitalism.”¹ A quarter of a century later, however, Japanese technocrats remained exceedingly optimistic about their country’s prospects for war and empire. They were determined to “overcome the modern,” despite the attempts of conservative businessmen and bureaucrats to...

  11. EPILOGUE: From Wartime Techno-Fascism to Postwar Managerialism
    (pp. 195-200)

    This study suggests that the main political faultline in wartime Japan was not between militarists and peace-loving civilians, but between advocates of technocratic reform and defenders of the capitalist status quo. Membership in each camp cut across the traditional affiliations of the military, bureaucracy, business, labor, political parties, and academia. The driving force for reform was the professional class, which included military planners, reform bureaucrats, the new zaibatsu, progressive intellectuals, labor party leaders, and government engineers. On the opposing side were conservative elites such as the old zaibatsu, mainstream party politicians, traditional bureaucrats, and imperial advisors. Some leaders such as...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-220)
  13. Index
    (pp. 221-230)