Debating Patriotism in Meiji Japan - Professor Takashi Shogimen
About this eventAs Japan was redefining itself as a modern nation state in the wake of the Tokugawa shogunal regime’s fall, political and intellectual leaders recognised that promoting patriotism was a priority, yet there was no consensus around what patriotism meant. Indeed, some intellectuals assimilated a variety of European and American patriotism, while others rehabilitated the traditional Japanese idea. Controversies around patriotism encouraged cross-pollination of relevant ideas through linguistic and conceptual translation. Furthermore, debating patriotism among intellectuals was one thing; preaching it to the wider public was quite another.
At the beginning of the 1890s, some intellectuals deplored that most of the Japanese people had no idea about patriotism. By the end of the decade, however, a French missionary remarked that no nation was so enthusiastically patriotic as Japanese.
The talk will trace the historical process of making the distinctively Japanese patriotism (chūkun aikoku) in the 1870s and 80s and examine how the idea was embraced by the Japanese nation rapidly in the 1890s.
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Takashi Shogimen is Professor of History at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He has published widely on medieval European and modern Japanese political thought including seven sole-authored books. His 2013 monograph in Japanese on The Birth of European Political Thought (Nagoya: University of Nagoya Press) was awarded the 2013 Suntory Prize, one of Japan’s most esteemed national prizes for humanities and social sciences. His other books include Ockham and Political Discourse in the Late Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), The Structure of Patriotism (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2019) and, most recently, What’s Wrong with Obedience? (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 2021).
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