Skip to Main Content
Farm and Nation in Modern Japan: Agrarian Nationalism, 1870-1940

Farm and Nation in Modern Japan: Agrarian Nationalism, 1870-1940

Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 372
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Farm and Nation in Modern Japan: Agrarian Nationalism, 1870-1940
    Book Description:

    A study of agrarian thought in prewar Japan, this bonk concentrates on the developing fissure between official and rural conceptions of nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Professor Havens analyzes the response of Japanese farmers and their spokesmen to the pursuit of modernization during the Meiji and Taishō periods.

    Through a critical examination of writings and speeches of major farm ideologues, including Gondō Seikyō, Tachibana Kōzaburō, and Katō Kanji, the author examines the ways in which agrarianist theories shaped modern Japanese nationalism and the extent to which rural ideologies triggered political violence in the turbulent 1930s. He then focuses on the romantic rural communalism of the 1920s and 1930s as an example of antigovernment nationalism designed to rescue the Japanese people at large from bureaucracy, capitalism, and urbanization.

    Based on extensive research in modern Japanese ideological, political, and economic materials, the study offers new insight into the early twentieth century revolution in nationality sentiments and provides fresh grounds for doubting the state's monopoly on public loyalties during the years immediately preceding Pearl Harbor.

    Originally published in 1974.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7216-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Tables
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Chapter I Agrarian Thought and Japanese Modernization
    (pp. 3-14)

    Each may the emperor of Japan wades into a paddy on the grounds of the imperial palace in central Tokyo to perform a symbolic planting of young rice shoots. Each September or early October he harvests the rice in his shirt sleeves under a warm late summer sun. The new rice is taken as an offering to the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture, where until 1945 Amaterasu Ōmikami was worshiped as the great ancestress of the Japanese imperial line. Although much of the mythology associated with the state shrine system evaporated after World War II, many Japanese continue to...

  6. Chapter II Early Modern Farm Ideology and the Growth of Japanese Agriculture, 1870-1895
    (pp. 15-55)

    The steep mountain slopes, narrow valleys, and sharp seaside cliffs that dominate Japan’s fifteen-hundred-mile-long volcanic archipelago scarcely create an ideal locale for one of the world’s most productive agricultural economies. Only 15 percent of the total land area is available for farming, and much of it is deficient in natural fertility and irrigation. On the other hand, most of the country is blessed with a mild climate, abundant and well-distributed rainfall, and a long growing season, permitting double cropping in many areas. Throughout much of the country, the lowlands and gentler slopes are reserved for rice paddies, irrigated for many...

  7. Chapter III Bureaucratic Agrarianism in the 1890s
    (pp. 56-85)

    The surprising victory over the forces of the Ch’ing Empire in 1894-1895, a bold accomplishment in its own right, was also a sign that times in Japan had changed greatly, both in substance and in mood, since the 1868 restoration. Together with the creation of parliamentary government in 1889, the abolition of the unequal treaties with the European powers in 1899, and the victory over Russia in 1904-1905, Japan’s triumph in the Sino-Japanese War was a giant step forward in the national effort to pull level with the West. The war coincided with a rising sentiment of nationalism in the...

  8. Chapter IV Small Farms and State Policy, 1900-1914
    (pp. 86-110)

    Historians of Europe have often been titillated by an interpretive puzzle: should the years between 1900 and World War I be regarded more as an extension of the old century or as the beginning of a new one? The same riddle applies a fortiori to the history of Japan during this period. The death of the Meiji emperor in 1912 symbolizes the continuities at work in the early twentieth century, as though the entire Meiji era was of one piece. Until 1912, politics remained under the domination of the old oligarchy; the political party movement had yet to approach its...

  9. Chapter V Popular Agrarianism in the Early Twentieth Century
    (pp. 111-132)

    A dyspeptic revolutionary once said that a person need not be able to comprehend Marx in order to be a good Marxist. In a way this was true of popular agrarianism in Japan during the first two decades of the twentieth century, in the sense that attitudes toward farming expressed by the most significant nonofficial agrarianists of the day showed a good deal less consistency and rigor than the bureaucratic Nōhonshugi set forth by Hirata Tōsuke, Shinagawa Yajirō, and especially Yokoi Tokiyoshi. Of course even Yokoi’s astute ideas on the subject fell far short of the logical clarity and integrity...

  10. Chapter VI Farm Thought and State Policy, 1918-1937
    (pp. 133-162)

    The twenty years from the end of World War I to the invasion of China in 1937 encompassed a very unsettled and disquieting period in the modern history of Japan. No longer did the national unity and direction of the Meiji era prevail, yet new leadership and purpose remained very uncertain. Part of the anxiety of the interwar years resulted from international tensions common to the great powers after the Versailles settlement of 1919. Although the treaty ending World War I recognized Japan as the paramount force in East Asia, world diplomats searched in vain for reasonably stable mechanisms to...

  11. Chapter VII Gondō Seikyō: The Inconspicuous Life of a Popular Nationalist
    (pp. 163-189)

    Sudden fame seldom strikes any individual, but rarer still is the person who achieves instant notoriety at the end of a long career that has hitherto escaped public notice. Such was the case with Gondō Seikyō (1868-1937), who sprang into prominence at the age of sixty-three as the supposed ideological inspiration for a series of violent episodes in the winter and spring of 1932 that shocked the Japanese political world and hastened the end of parliamentary dominance. Gondō was most closely linked with the Ketsumeidan incidents of February 9 and March 5, 1932, in which a band of rural terrorists...

  12. Chapter VIII Gondō Seikyō’s Ideal Self-Ruling Society
    (pp. 190-211)

    Perhaps the most vexing dilemma facing the politically knowledgeable citizen of a modern country is how to oppose the programs of his government without seeming unpatriotic. Even in societies with institutionalized channels for expressing nonviolent dissent, it is hard to appear loyal to either state or nation when attacking official policies, especially where nationalism is virtually monopolized by the state.

    The political culture of modern Japan has been slow to nurture the idea of loyal opposition, and before 1945 few means existed to protest government decisions that were ultimately sanctioned as the imperial will under the 1889 constitution. It is...

  13. Chapter IX Gondō Seikyō and the Depression Crisis
    (pp. 212-232)

    Deprive a man of his memory and he will die a slow death. Destroy his hope for the future and you rob him of a life worth living. For the present first becomes meaningful when it is interpreted in terms of what we remember from the past and the yoke of the present becomes light when there is the promise of a new day

    These words, written in 1972 by a Protestant missionary in an entirely separate context, capture quite skillfully the tone of Gondō Seikyō’s efforts “to cite the past in order to awaken the present,”² as he put...

  14. Chapter X Tachibana Kōzaburō’s Farm Communalism
    (pp. 233-253)

    A constant problem in reconstructing the past is to sort out the age differences among persons who shared a common historical experience. For example, it would be tempting, but erroneous, to assume that the Meiji restoration embodied the same aspirations and significance for men and women in their sixties as it did for the youthful enthusiasts who formed the new oligarchy after 1868. Likewise, since Tachibana Kōzaburō is routinely bracketed with Gondō Seikyō as a foremost agrarian nationalist in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s, it is easy to forget that he was twenty-five years younger than Gondō and necessarily...

  15. Chapter XI Tachibana Kōzaburō’s Patriotic Reform
    (pp. 254-274)

    Although happiness is a frame of mind and emotion that is difficult to measure, few of Japan’s thirty million rural residents thought the countryside was a very pleasant place to live during the depression. Historically, to be sure, Japanese farmers have taken a generally optimistic view of their livelihood, in line with the benevolent natural philosophy that for many centuries has stressed divine favor and agricultural bounty. This was not true of Japanese cultivators during the period between the world wars, however, partly for reasons such as high taxes and low rice prices, but primarily because of new anxieties which...

  16. Chapter XII Katō Kanji and Agricultural Expansionism
    (pp. 275-294)

    It is axiomatic that domestic factors are normally just as decisive as international considerations in determining a country’s foreign policy. Despite the political tumult and economic uncertainty of the interwar period, Japanese diplomacy during the 1920s and 1930s leaned heavily on a policy of expansion—first by peaceful means, later by armed aggression against China and other nations.¹ Since it was proportionately still a highly productive sector as well as the largest source of employment, agriculture was naturally an important force affecting Japan’s external relations. In the twenties its influence was mainly negative, since most cultivators opposed the low farm...

  17. Chapter XIII Agrarianism and Modern Japan
    (pp. 295-322)

    The agrarianist response to Japanese modernization was fully as diffuse as the remarkable array of profarm ideologues who extolled village life during the period from the Meiji restoration to World War II. The most prominent defenders of agriculture ranged from aristocrats, statesmen, and generals to scholars, landlord-officials, peasant movement leaders, and rural educators. The doctrines they advocated were equally diverse: they variously called for large farms and small ones, progressive techniques and traditional methods, cooperation with commercialism and opposition to it, support for state programs and resistance to them, expansion abroad and reform at home.

    The complicated nature of Japanese...

  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 323-346)
  19. Index
    (pp. 347-358)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-359)