Japan The 20's Analysis

For Japan, the 1920’s are generally depicted as a period of liberalization and democratization, contrasting fiercely with the militarism and imperialism of the 30’s, and the oppressive years before. While it is true that there were significant advancements to the rights of Japanese citizens during the 20’s, there was always a substantial undercurrent of dissent towards the corrupt bureaucratic diet and their allies in business. Liberal parties gradually faced more and more pressure from nearly every facet of Japanese society as the years went by, with organized labor, military factions, middle class business owners, and the emperor himself all critiquing their policies and actions. Loyalty to the emperor and nation was taught in schools, and …show more content…
The year 1931, and the political landscape of the 30’s, was not a surprise upheaval of social order, but the result of consistently widespread nationalist sentiment, the suppression of organized labor and political dissent, and the overall failure of the parties of the diet at establishing support from anyone but businesses and journalists.
Set against largely hostile unelected reactionaries, and the extreme ideas of organized labor, the liberal parties of the diet, working from a structure not meant to hold substantial power, were facing a difficult battle from the start. Liberal intellectuals like Ishibashi Tanzan and Kiyosawa Kiyoshi highlight the middle-ground position of their movement, criticising the left and right, while promoting free speech as a crucial societal value. Kiyosawa further described liberalism as the sole “ideology that tolerates arguments and theories opposed to itself.” But these ideals failed to establish a place in the minds of the Japanese public, only earning the ire of reactionary elements. The parties of the diet failed dramatically at inspiring the masses, and
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From the very start, liberal ideology, and the politicians espousing it, were fighting an uphill battle against a disapproving society. This is not to say that the rise of Japanese fascism was inevitable, or that the diet achieved nothing in the 20’s. Just that nearly universal feelings of strong nationalism (and with it dedication to the emperor), the gilded promises of the military, widespread bitterness at diet politics and business ties, and the economic collapse of 29/30 made for an environment that the ideals of liberalism could not adapt to. So they

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