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Japanese Fascism Research Paper

People always want good leadership and on the other hand, leaders want people to lead. What is however, of great concern in this form of leader-subject relationship is which party should have the power to choose.

Whether the subject should choose their leaders or whether the leaders should choose the style of leadership that they wish to impose on their people remains a thing of concern. From this issue of choice it is a fact that one form of leadership will fit a certain group of people where another form of leadership will not fit and vice versa.

Post war Japan as most historians look at it can be termed as a complete representation of fascism. This paper therefore begins by looking at fascism as a concept; the paper will however focus on Japanese fascism through its differences and similarities with other forms of international fascism. The paper finally looks at the role played by the Japanese culture in the support of the fascist ideology.

To some society, the nation or the country is greater than an individual is and in the same societies, there is no one particular time that the two will ever be equal. This is the origin of fascism and the same approach provides the basis on which a fascism leadership is build.

Fascism can be looked from both a concept and an ideology point of view and the later is the most dominant. Fascism can therefore be described as an extreme ideology that celebrates a nation or a race above all other form of loyalties.

The concept therefore calls for revolution among the people in order to counter the threats of moral decay that comes in the form of materialism and individualism. This revolution also seeks to unite the people against the common enemy that threatens the nation.

It goes without saying that there is safety in numbers and that all together it is difficult to get a victory then being in a fight alone facing something or somebody that is meaningfully bigger and stronger. To start with, the ideology focuses on the internal enemy before stretching its hands on the external enemy.

Leaders always have a way of maintaining authority over the people; some will divide the people in order to rule them while on the other hand the fascists will create a common enemy for the people to impose their unity and submissiveness towards their leaders.

Skirbekk (2011) emphasized on this by stating that “fascism was meant to strengthen and unite the people through emotional ties, such as willingness to make sacrifices and submit to discipline, so that the fascist leader could create order.”

Myths and religions always go alongside the governments and leaderships and this is observable from all forms of governments that have existed in the ancient and the modern world. As concept fascism celebrates masculinity, the youths and their power alongside this factor is the power of violence that is also celebrated.

Closely related to these facts are the aspects of doctrine and racial superiority and they all have a place in fascism. In order for fascist leaders to achieve, their leadership ambitions then they use the innocence of the people to promote imperialists expansion, doctrine superiority and ethnicity.

It is also important to note that the ruling class has limited control over a fascist authority but the society has the most control. Although fascism promotes capitalism, some of its agenda do not fit well in capitalist ideology. The two ideologies however contradict and convince in their agenda.

“Fascism is the dictatorship of monopoly capital drawn by its internal contradictions into policies of oppressions at home and expansion abroad” (Duss and Okimoto, 1997). This feature characterized post war Japan in the 1930s and this led most historians to describe experiences in this period as fascist (Olick, 1964).

Capitalism was facing the Japanese’s authority and they perceived it as a threat. This threat is the main cause of the measures that the authority took; fascism emerged as the main or the key policy that the government of Japan adopted.

Fascism in Japan finds a lot of similarity to other forms of fascism that were taking place in other parts of the world such as Italy and Germany. However, there are some outstanding differences between the different forms of fascism.

To begin with, opposition to communism, virulent nationalism, authoritarian form of government and aggression characterized Japanese fascism. These aspects are shared with other forms of fascism that took place in Germany and Italy at the same historic period.

The concept of fascism remains a controversial issue among historians and political scientists and for this reason, they have failed to reach consensus on the validity of fascism that was in Japan. In particular, the two groups have failed to agree on whether fascism is a revolutionary or a conservative issue.

They have also failed to reach consensus as to whether fascism is a modern or a traditional issue. The other issue that is of concern is whether the concept is a direct consequence of the First World War. In addition, socio economic and agricultural modernization has a close link to fascism and this is another source of controversy among most scholars.

Above all scholars have failed to reach consensus on the role of fascism as a form of ultra nationalism and as a means of restoring a country’s status. These controversies not only arise in Japanese fascism but it is also a common phenomenon in German and Italian fascism.

The events that took place from the time of industrial revolution to World War 1 had a close link to fascism although there is no clear-cut reason as to which event led to the rise of fascism. It is also important to note that all the above countries were directly influenced by these historical events and therefore the form of fascism present in these countries had many similarities.

When it comes to taking control over people with their entire mind and might leaders emerges as the best. In a fascist authority, the issue of taking control over the people is of great significance and fascist leaders know that for them to control the naivety of the people well then they have to be affiliated to the religion and traditions of the people.

The national culture and religion was of great importance to fascist (Payne, 1999). Both in Japan and in Italy fascism was characterized by religion affiliation where in Japan, for example the fascist leadership existed in the umbrella of Buddhism while in Italy fascism was affiliated to the orthodox faith.

Authority in the past has applied fascism to define the structures of their authorities or government although fascism in itself is not a fully defined political system (Duss and Okimoto, 1997). This fact gives the concept or ideology of fascism the ability to exist in different forms.

However, it is important to note that these different forms are not easily distinguishable and as noted by (Sims, 2011) different categories of fascism cannot be distinguished and this applies even in Italy and Germany. In the same article (Sims, 2011) continues to argue that if the issue is perceived from that particular perspective then fascism in Japan did not begin with the invention of the word.

In Japan, bureaucrats promoted a radical, authoritarian form of technocracy, referred to as “techno-fascism” (Mimura, 2011). This claim proves the point that fascism manifests in various forms, some can easily be noted while other cannot and this is a major similarity between the fascism in Japan and fascism in Germany, Italy and other European countries.

Fascism lacks theoretical definition that is acceptable across border and across the different academic fields. In studying the concept of Japanese fascism, looking at the similarities and the differences that existed between Japanese fascism and the other fascism therefore remains the key element that is applicable.

To begin with, unlike in Germany and Italy fascism brought economic destabilization in Japan. By the year 1930 the Japanese was doing far much better and it was closer to Italy and Germany economy more than the Spanish economy (Sims 2011). The Japanese industrial and agricultural sector was also doing much better.

However, fascism brought about economic stagnation, which caused dissatisfaction among the people. Fascism also led to massive unemployment. In particular “disputes involving labor unions did indeed rise from 393 in 1928 to 998 in 1931 and the number of strikes exceeded 80,000” (Sims 2011).

Disputes among tenants and property owners also characterized the fascist era in Japan. The dissatisfaction among the Japanese people did not end with the labor union strike because in 1918, a major food crisis that led to the increase in rice prices led to massive demonstrations among the Japanese people.

Another thing that was easily notable in Japan during this period is the support that was given to the society movements that were behind the demonstrations by top leaders in the government. All these activities that followed fascism point to one major thing, which is national destabilization.

This destabilization is actually, what followed the adoption of this most anticipated ideology of fascism. This is however very different to what happened in fascist Italy and Germany. “In this respect the situation in Japan, though less critical, was not unlike that in post-first world war Italy” (Sims, 2011).

The young people always have a major role to play for an ideology to achieve its objective. In most cases, most of these ideologies take advantage of the youth’s innocence to work while the benefits go to the older generation.

This leads to dissatisfaction among the young people and if this situation arises, the main consequence is destabilization of the economy. Unlike in fascist Germany and Italy the Japanese youths were dissatisfied with their government.

The young people also form the majority of the lower class and therefore in Japan the disconnection between the middle and the lower class was a direct consequence of fascism (Siniawer 2008). In particular, expansion of Zaibastu had great effect in young and small-scale entrepreneurs and this continued to create the differences between the two classes of people.

The issue of unemployment especially among the youths also continued to widen the gap between the middle and the lower class. Although the ideology of fascism had contributed to the rise of the number of colleges and universities in Japan, most of these graduates remained unemployed even after completing their studies.

Following this massive unemployment in Japan, the Japanese university students were left with no option than to join radical student’s movements and these movements such as the brotherhood movement band that was responsible for the 1932 assassinations (Reynolds 2004).

So, fascism did not leave any choices to people in the countries that were reckoned to be democratic. These consequences of fascism in Japan create a major difference between Japan and other countries that underwent fascism. Contrary to Japan, fascism in Italy brought about the reduction of the gap between the rich and the poor. The ideology was also meant to reduce the differences of economic classes that existed in Europe before that.

World War 1 played a major role in shaping the direction taken by the history of most states. To the Japanese’s people world war, one was the source of solidarity and this is what formed the basis for the fascism ideology. This however is different from what happened to postwar Germany and Italy.

In these and most of the other European countries world war one had little or no effect on strengthening solidarity among the people. The war created a common enemy that the Japanese people had to fight and this is what strengthened their solidarity.

From this solidarity, Japan emerges as a hostile country whereby most of its hostility was directed towards stakes that were against the national integration and solidarity. The approach that Japan was taking led to the deterioration in its international relations and caused its economic decline. A combination of these factors gives a clear reason as to why Japan favored a military leader over a democratic leader.

Culture determines the people although most of the times people have claimed the opposite holds. Japanese are people who hold their culture to high esteem and therefore the culture of the people was a major determining factor in the success of fascism.

The main issue between culture of the Japanese people and fascism is how the Japanese’s culture was able to adapt to fascism. Culture is mostly about how people dress, eat and behave and they are all subject to fascism influence.

We are interested on how Japanese fascism operated in artifacts and texts and therefore the connection between it and real life is of concern (Tansman, 1960). From this statement, it is a fact that for Japanese culture and fascism to co-exist, then one had to submit to the other and this is the root of the culture adopting fascism.

Violence characterized fascism and the Japanese people had to adopt violence as part of their culture. Violence however was part of the Japanese religion and in particular, the Japanese people had a god of war. As stated by Tasman (1960) the gods of war made real the connection between culture as a rhetoric and violence as a reality in life.

This directly leads to the idea of heroism, which became a necessity in the culture of fascism. Young people hoped to live as national heroes and therefore they dedicated their lives to serve for the benefit of the Japanese empire (Duus & Okimoto 1979). The Japanese people fully dedicated their service to the empire especially during the war to the extent of dying for the empire.

Spiritual purity is a part of Japanese culture and this is emphasized through their Buddhist religion. The fascism ideology had the religion as the basis for its leadership and control of the people. The Japanese therefore found a connection between their religion and fascism and therefore their culture readily adapted to fascism.

Japanese are also people who believe in hard work and this found application in fascism, which required people to work hard for the good of the Japanese empire.


Fascism is both an ideology and a concept that became dominant in Japan, Italy and Germany after world war one. Fascism was mainly put in place to foster national integration and development and it was meant to combat the external aggression.

Fascism in Japan was different from fascism in Italy and Germany as in Italy and Germany, the Japanese fascism had its root on religion and the culture of the people. Similarly, in all the three states there were different forms of fascism that had no clear distinction.

The major difference that stands between the fascism in the three states is that fascism in Japan led to decline in economic prosperity and social integration unlike in Italy and Germany (Sims, 2011).


Duus, Peter and Daniel Okimoto. “Fascism and the History of Pre-War-Japan: The Failure of a Concept.” Journal of Asian Studies 1 (November 1979).

Mimura, Janis. 1963- Planning for empire: reform bureaucrats and the Japanese wartime state. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011.

Olick, Jeffrey K. 1964- States of Memory: continuities, conflicts, and transformations in national retrospection. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Payne, S. G. Fascism in Spain, 1923- 1977. London. University of Wiscon Press. 1999.

Reynolds, E. Bruce. Japan in the Fascist era. New York, N.Y. : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Sims, Richard. Criminal Justice in Action: Belmont. Cengage Learning, 2011.

Siniawer, Eiko Maruko. Japan in the Fascist era, 1860-1960. Ithaca. Cornell University Press, 2008.

Skirbekk, Gilje, A History of Western Thoughts: From Ancient Greece to the Twentieth Century. New York: John Wily and Sons, 2011.

Tansman, Alan. 1960- The culture of Japanese fascism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

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