The Japanese State-Nation Building from 1880s to 1920s: A Text-Mining Descripition

Teru Sako, Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University

In this presentation I pose an outline of modern Japanese state-nation building process, by text-mining of the book titles and their chapter titles (over 3,300 in number). Modern Japanese book names and chapter titles concerning ‘the state’ arose from the need for legal justification of the existence of sovereignty over Japanese islands against the Western superpowers. In the period of promulgation of the Japanese Constitution (1889), the state leaders established the existence of the Japanese state by formulating a theoretical Mobius loop of ‘state as an artifice’ and ‘state as a natural product’. And, at the moment, ‘the governed’ was nothing but a hypothetical object. We find the earliest usage of the term ‘nation’ as a label referring to men who were conscripted into the ‘state’ military. By Chino-Japanese War (1894-95) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the conception of “nation as the state’s soldiers” was expanded, and swallowed children (future soldiers) and women (bearers and raisers of future soldiers). After the Wars, the nation’s leaders enhanced the autonomy of nation by formulating a theoretical Mobius loop of ‘nation as an artifice’ and ‘nation as a natural product’. In its effect, the nation began protesting against the present state as violating the true raison d'être of the state in two ways. 1) The progressive nation blamed the present state as being insufficient in profit maximization. 2) The traditionalist nation criticized the present state as being persistent in in profit maximization. By that moment, the Japanese state bureaucracy was fully grown and differentiated. Each state agency (include the military) was being autonomous from the sovereign, could abuse discretionary powers of its own. Throughout the Great Depression (1929-), the state sovereignty was tossed about by the above three types of autonomous agents (the progressive nation, the traditionalist nation, the state government agencies).

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 Presented in Session 217. Changing Meanings of the State: Symbolic Power in State-Society Interactions