Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The fascist reflection Japan and Italy, 1919-1950
by Hofmann, Reto, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2010, 337; 3420868
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the political culture of interwar Japan, focusing on Japanese discourses surrounding European, and in particular Italian, fascism. Cutting across the boundaries of cultural, diplomatic, and political history, and drawing on extensive archival material from Tokyo and Rome, it reconstructs a picture of fascism as contemporary Japanese understood it. By following the discursive itinerary of fascism in various social milieus, the dissertation reveals the extent to which fascism intersected with Japanese reflections on contemporary political culture. Japanese public intellectuals and politicians were not only familiar with Italian fascism but also used fascism as an ongoing focus of debate over how best to achieve domestic order and geopolitical power.

In interwar Japan fascism was not so much an empty concept as one with many meanings. Somewhere in these many meanings Japanese recognized their own present and future aspirations. During the 1920s, which saw the emergence of party politics and new ideals of democracy (minponshugi) in Japan, Mussolini was frequently held up as a model of political and cultural leadership, a man who was capable of uniting elites for the state, and citizens for the nation. In the early to mid-1930s fascism was viewed around the world as a political alternative to liberalism and socialism, but in Japan it was subsumed in the language and practice of empire. This subtle difference erased the signs of an overt fascistization such as could be found in European countries. When Japan, Italy, and Germany aligned diplomatically in the late 1930s, the discourse on fascism moved toward a shared outlook on a New World Order based on the cultural superiority of the Axis powers. Yet even as Japanese ideologues and political leaders expressed solidarity with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany's efforts to redefine the cultural and political principles of the modern world, they maintained that their own New Order, based on Japan's national polity (kokutai), was distinct and superior to that of their European partners, thus paving the road to the decoupling of Japan from fascist Italy and Nazi Germany after the war.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gluck, Carol
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: History, European history, Political science
Keywords: Fascism, Italy, Japan
Publication Number: 3420868
ISBN: 9781124185651
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