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Moral Nation

Moral Nation: Modern Japan and Narcotics in Global History

Miriam Kingsberg
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt5hjhr9
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  • Book Info
    Moral Nation
    Book Description:

    This trailblazing study examines the history of narcotics in Japan to explain the development of global criteria for political legitimacy in nations and empires in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Japan underwent three distinct crises of sovereignty in its modern history: in the 1890s, during the interwar period, and in the 1950s. Each crisis provoked successively escalating crusades against opium and other drugs, in which moral entrepreneurs--bureaucrats, cultural producers, merchants, law enforcement, scientists, and doctors, among others--focused on drug use as a means of distinguishing between populations fit and unfit for self-rule.Moral Nationtraces the instrumental role of ideologies about narcotics in the country's efforts to reestablish its legitimacy as a nation and empire.As Kingsberg demonstrates, Japan's growing status as an Asian power and a "moral nation" expanded the notion of "civilization" from an exclusively Western value to a universal one. Scholars and students of Japanese history, Asian studies, world history, and global studies will gain an in-depth understanding of how Japan's experience with narcotics influenced global standards for sovereignty and shifted the aim of nation building, making it no longer a strictly political activity but also a moral obligation to society.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95748-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  6. MAP
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  7. INTRODUCTION: The Moral Nation
    (pp. 1-8)

    One winter day in 1934, an elegantly muffled, elderly Chinese gentleman entered a Japanese police station in Harbin, the northernmost major city in the two-year-old state of Manchukuo. In a gloved hand, he held the long, rusty shackles with which he had chained his son, who trailed behind “as if he were a slave.” With tears in his eyes, the father begged the assembled officers to lock up the youth. Laughing at the odd spectacle, the police shook their heads and hustled the pair outside into the snow. A moment later, the son broke free of his parent’s grasp, reentered...

  8. CHAPTER ONE Moral Crusade in Meiji Japan
    (pp. 9-28)

    “How came any reasonable being,” the writer Thomas De Quincey asked in 1821, “to subject himself to such a yoke of misery, voluntarily to incur a captivity so servile, and knowingly fetter himself with such a seven-fold chain?”¹ De Quincey’s captor was opium, and hisConfessions of an English Opium-Eaterbecame a classic of Victorian literature and the forerunner of a new genre, still vibrant today: the addict memoir. The comparison of addiction to slavery, one of the most controversial issues of the nineteenth century, invested opium with particular political significance. In an age that defined sovereignty in opposition to...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Drug Users in the Epicenter of Consumption
    (pp. 29-49)

    The original draft of the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895, by which Japan acquired Taiwan, also gave the empire possession of the Liaodong Peninsula. This fragment of southern Manchuria, organized for administrative purposes as the Kwantung Leased Territory (KLT), was valuable for its harbor, which remained passable in winter.¹ Although Russia, the third power in northeast Asia, was not a party to the treaty, Saint Petersburg nonetheless objected to Japan’s ambitions in an area it also aspired to dominate. Together with its allies, Germany and France, the czar’s government pressured Japan into returning the 1,300-square-mile peninsula to China in exchange...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Cultural Producers and the Japanese Empire
    (pp. 50-77)

    At the end of World War I, the great powers, including Japan, came together to re-envision the global order. Delegates at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference were forced to acknowledge rising calls for self-determination among their colonial subjects. In response, they evolved a new justification for empire: grooming colonies for (eventual) independence. Although the sincerity of this aspiration was both variable and questionable, the interwar years nonetheless witnessed sweeping transformations in imperialist ideologies throughout the world.¹ Europeans and Americans gradually distanced themselves from the traditional “mission to civilize,” a late nineteenth-century “humanitarian” justification of imperial rule that cloaked economic and...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Cultural Producers and Manchukuo
    (pp. 78-97)

    On September 18, 1931, Japanese army officers detonated a bomb on the tracks of the South Manchuria Railway. The explosion furnished a pretext for provoking armed conflict with the troops of Zhang Xueliang, the Chinese warlord then in control of northeast China. Within months of this clash, remembered as the Mukden Incident, Japan’s Kwantung Army had overrun Zhang’s domain and proclaimed the establishment of the state of Manchukuo.¹

    By administering Manchukuo as a nation rather than a colony, the Kwantung Army and its allies hoped to enjoy a free hand in the region rather than to share power with civilian...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Merchants
    (pp. 98-116)

    During the interwar years, the KLT was an especially important theater for Japan’s moral crusade against narcotics. Not only was the city-state the epicenter of the global opium economy, but it also suffered from a particular problem of political legitimacy. In contrast to the formal colonies of Taiwan and Korea, which Japan theoretically held in perpetuity, the Kwantung was a leased territory, originally scheduled for return to China in 1923.¹ A strong, unified administration like the Office of the Governor-General in Taiwan was not suitable. Instead, Japan split authority among four “heads,” or branches of government: the Foreign Ministry, represented...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Law Enforcement
    (pp. 117-138)

    Throughout the imperial age, merchants faced competition from unlicensed traffickers in the drug market. By the 1920s, Dairen had become the epicenter of the global narcotic economy, home to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dealers. One moral entrepreneur believed that up to three-quarters of the Japanese in southern Manchuria were somehow involved in illicit opium ventures. Other estimates ranged as high as 95 percent.¹ It was said that among Chinese, “only priests abstain from the traffic.”² Illegal dealers drew business away from the revenue farms and the opium monopoly of the KLT, and damaged the reputation of the...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Laboratory Scientists
    (pp. 139-156)

    “Japan is a doctor responsible as a teacher of civilization,” declared Fukuzawa Yukichi, one of the leading public intellectuals of Meiji Japan.¹ Medical metaphors abounded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the binaries of physican and patient, healthy and sick, and hygienic and unsanitary evoked the legitimate nation-state and its premodern past, recalled in the present by the various “backward” imperial territories. Public health(eisei)was a proxy for civilization and a duty of the moral nation.² Through scientific medicine, the state cultivated citizens able to appreciate and extend its power. The modernization of medical knowledge, care,...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Medical Doctors
    (pp. 157-180)

    As moral entrepreneurs, laboratory researchers sought to demonstrate the civilization of imperial Japan by creating scientific knowledge and institutions. Clinical doctors, by contrast, inscribed benevolence directly on the body of the subject. To facilitate this process, the 1924 KLT Opium Law established the Dairen Kyūryōsho (Kwantung Government Home for Opium Addicts). This clinic did not attempt to transform Chinese addicts into Japanese abstainers—an impossible task according to imperial ideology. Rather, doctors endeavored to liberate drug users from their “enslavement” to opium, thus increasing their biological “fitness” in social Darwinist terms. Detoxification therapy also demonstrated the legitimacy of Japanese rule...

  16. CHAPTER NINE Moral Panic in Postwar Japan
    (pp. 181-200)

    The defeat of Japan in August 1945 brought an end to the moral crusade of the high imperial age. Within weeks, the victorious Allied powers disestablished the wartime state and occupied the home islands. Under American leadership, the government of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) enjoyed virtually unlimited power to reconfigure Japan as a Western-style democracy and ally in the increasingly tense environment of the nascent Cold War.

    Almost seven years later, in April 1952, Japan celebrated the departure of SCAP and the restoration of independence. Despite the festive public mood, the resumption of sovereignty exposed deep-seated...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 201-254)
  18. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 255-290)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 291-304)