October 23, 1968, is the date on which Japan will mark the Centennial of its modern transformation. On that day one hundred years ago it was announced that the era designation would henceforth be "Meiji," enlightened rule. The régime of the Tokugawa shogun had fallen, but the new forces grouped around the boy emperor were still struggling to assert control; they had to promise and persuade, for they could not force. Yet it was soon clear that the Meiji Restoration was a political overturn whose consequences for Japanese history were incalculable. By the end of the century it was apparent that its significance for world history was scarcely less great.

Despite this, the Meiji Centennial is receiving little commemorative attention in the West-certainly nothing comparable to that which was accorded the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. More striking still is the way its commemoration is surrounded by controversy within Japan. The mass media have not let it be forgotten, and publishers have seized the opportunity to unloose a torrent of publications for the occasion. But important groups of historians have organized to oppose the manner and content of the commemoration. A recent writer goes so far as to bracket the Centennial with Okinawa as two major political issues for 1968. The Restoration seems as political and controversial in 1968 as it was in 1868. Its events and the recollection of those events can tell us a good deal about the historical present in which Japanese live.

In 1868 Japan was disunited, poor and weak, its people compartmentalized in an outworn social structure topped by an hereditary military caste. The country was divided into some 250 domains ruled by daimyo, feudal lords who enjoyed degrees of autonomy that varied with the definition of their vassalage to the shogun. The samurai had experienced little challenge during the two and one-half centuries of peace, and their preference for swords over more modern means of destruction gave the military advantage to the few areas that had profited from trade with Western arms dealers after the ports were opened in 1859. It was especially Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa, the great baronies of the southwest, which provided the core of the "imperial troops" advancing against the Tokugawa vassals that still resisted in 1868, Recent scholarship makes it clear that developments in the Tokugawa period had done much to prepare for Japan's late nineteenth- century modernization through education, bureaucratic rationalization, urbanization, the development of a central economy, and literary and philosophic preparation for nationalist and scientific thought. But in 1868 there were few signs of the achievements ahead. The old was collapsing, but the new was far from clear.

The future did not inspire very much trust. To many the warfare of 1868 seemed unnecessary and unfair. The Restoration had begun in October 1867 with a request from one of the feudal lords that the shogun resign his powers. When he did so in November in the full expectation that he would be the central figure in the new and more national government, he was confronted with an abrupt demand that he surrender his domains. From January 27, 1868, into 1869 the Tokugawa partisans were defeated in a short civil war. Most daimyo did their best to avoid taking part in it because they saw it as a private fight engineered by the southwestern lords bent on creating a new shogunate.

The shogun's complaints drew sympathetic echo from some of the foreign representatives. A. R. C. Portman, reporting to Secretary of State Seward from Yokohama, saw so little principle and so much treachery involved that he warned in March: "The real sovereign of this country is not the Mikado ..., neither is it the Tycoon;... the ruler is the Spirit of Evil, which appears to be all powerful, and to control every nobleman in this country." With reference to the American Minister's proclamation of neutrality and consequent refusal to deliver the ship Stonewall, a naval ram which had been purchased by the shogunate, he went on to warn that "in view of the utter unreliability of the ruling classes in Japan, such terrible engines for mischief as ironclads should never be permitted to get into their possession.... The supply of rifles cannot well be stopped ... that of ironclads, I sincerely hope, may not be a difficult matter, as they can only be built in the United States, England, and France." The American Minister, R. B. van Valkenburgh, predicted that the shogun was likely to be reappointed as first minister. He wrote in May that "a Government in Japan under any other than the Mikado as chief is now an impossibility, and it is almost equally certain that the chief of the Tokugawa clan will remain the most powerful personage in this Empire." But he was unable to account for the shogun's failure to resist his enemies. He confessed himself hampered by the fact that "it is next to impossible to find out with positive certainty what is actually going on in this country;" and described a report that the shogun would accompany the emperor into Tokyo as "very doubtful, though not in the least improbable."

In retrospect the astonishing thing about the months of 1868 is that so much stability was maintained. Daimyo remained in control, and taxes continued to be collected. The principal Tokugawa families never really contested the issue. The shogun foreshadowed this in a document he addressed to the foreign representatives in January: "As to who is the sovereign of Japan," he admitted, "it is a question on which no one in Japan can entertain a doubt. The Mikado is the Sovereign." But a second reason for stability is that most Japanese were not very much concerned with what was going on. This left those who were, free to concentrate on each other and on the foreigners. Van Valkenburgh's descriptions of Tokyo stressed the perfect domestic order that prevailed even during periods of substantial evacuation when fighting loomed. He reported the feeling against the imperial troops as "intense. Yet there appeared to be a power somewhere to control it, as there was no outbreak of any kind." In June he wrote that the troops "levy in the name of the Mikado contributions on the people for their substance, and these requisitions are promptly met. In other respects they remain isolated and exercise no authority whatever." But most of all he stressed the "indifference" of the townsmen.

Indifference did not rule out respect, or even awe. A fine example of this in verbal and graphic imagery is found in the emperor's entry into Tokyo in November 1868. The shogun's capital of Edo had been renamed on September 3, and the emperor's journey (an act of some courage in the confusion of the time) began November 4. The progress and appearance of the procession, which included some three thousand men, are familiar from the famous print which shows the phoenix-topped palanquin being carried across Ky?bashi by a swarm of yellow-robed bearers. Formally gowned horsemen precede and follow it, and in the van are large numbers of strangely dressed, rifle-bearing soldiers. The Japan Times reporter described the way the great palanquin was carried on a frame that raised it a full six feet above the ground. Its sixty bearers, all dressed in bright yellow silk, wore a curious ornament of feathers at each ear eight inches in diameter, like two outspread fan frames placed together . . . the effect of the group, with the brilliant sun lighting up the sheen of the silk and the glitter of the lacquer, was very gorgeous and indescribably strange, comparable to nothing ever seen in any other part of the world. . . . [As the palanquin approached] a great silence fell upon the people. Far as the eye could see on either side, the roadsides were densely packed with the crouching populace. ... As the phoenix car . . . with its halo of glittering attendants came on ... the people without order or signal turned their faces to the earth ... no man moved or spoke for a space, and all seemed to hold their breath for very awe, as the mysterious presence, on whom few are privileged to look and live, was passing by.

It will be granted that this is not the stuff of which modern revolutions are made. No Lexington, no Bastille, no Lenin; only silence. But for those who led, the needed dynamic and reminder of the urgency of it all had come two days before, when the procession passed through Kanagawa. For a hundred yards or so covered stands had been erected there for the Yokohama foreigners so that they could watch in comfort. A foreign correspondent of that day reported that "it was something wonderful, that crouching crowd from whom not a sound was heard . . . and the more striking, as contrasting with the hum and laughter all along the line of foreigners . . . who expressed their disappointment in strong language. Many questioned whether in fact His Majesty was there at all. Secondly, the whole turnout represented such a miserable aspect." He thought that the guns were old and the horses poor; what drew awe from the Japanese brought derision from the foreigners.

Restoration documents and proclamations are full of language emphasizing the need to avoid shame and win respect. It was just such weakness and derision that proved the need for reform. And indeed nothing happened in quite the same way again. The emperor returned to Kyoto and came back to Edo the following year, but without the same fanfare. Such trappings were soon among the "uncivilized customs of former times" that had to be abolished. Eight years later, when a Korean embassy came to Tokyo with comparable pomp and dignity, another reporter wrote that the Tokyo crowd "laughed immoderately" at the very things that were meant to be most impressive. In a sense, the Japanese moved over into the covered stands they had put up for the foreigners.

The Restoration fits few conventional categories of social change. Like the peasant whom the educator Fukuzawa had to threaten with a thrashing before he would remount his horse in the presence of a samurai, the masses often had to be cajoled, promised and threatened into the patterns of behavior and participation which the modern state required. At numerous points archaic symbolism was used to sanction sweeping innovation. This applies even to the selection of the era name, for the characters "Meiji" were selected in a Shinto ceremony that combined mystery and majesty to promise modernity. Throughout, the Meiji leaders realized that it was easier to sell a new idea by describing it as an old one.

Already in March 1868, an announcement had pointed to the diplomatic intercourse with China in antiquity as offering a precedent for the international society that lay ahead. At that time navigation was not highly advanced, so that "our intercourse was restricted to Korea, China, and other adjacent countries." But now it becomes necessary "to adopt such measures as the ancient constitution of the Empire and the public law of the world may jointly suggest." In April the famous Charter Oath was phrased with the same sweeping and skillful generality. It would, in fact, be used again to provide support for the changes that followed World War II. Its promises of "public councils," of "all classes" fulfilling "just aspirations," of abolishing "uncivilized customs" of "former times," and of seeking knowledge "throughout the world" portended both tradition and change, for this was all to the end that the "foundations of the Empire" might be made firm.

At first these promises were issued chiefly to reassure. But they remained as an outline for a program of modernization that remade Japan. Within a short time it proved that the "uncivilized customs" of the past included the divisions of feudalism which had proved unworkable in the face of Western imperialism. Foreign policy decisions required a single administrative center. The daimyo, who were burdened with debts, were let down by degrees until they found themselves rewarded with government bonds and eligible for a modern peerage.

With the end of decentralization came an end to feudal society, and the "just aspirations" that had been promised in the Charter Oath became more inclusive than most had foreseen at the time. If samurai were no longer to rule the land, it made no sense to support them in idleness. Their privileges disappeared; they were first permitted, and then ordered, to give up their swords. Their incomes, already modest, were changed to pensions and then to bonds. Farmers were given freedom of cultivation, of occupancy, of sale and of residence. They received the dignity of family names. Merchants lost their legal and social disadvantages. And within a half decade measures calling for universal education and military service made it certain that the commoners would never again be as indifferent to the political structure of their society as they had been in 1868. Local assemblies led to national; in 1890 a constitutional structure was implemented to permit a slow but steady increase in representation and participation.

The Meiji leaders worked carefully to develop national goals of industrialization and economic growth, and their papers reflect their determination to affect and channel economic development through industrialization. They were not easily discouraged. Kume, the official chronicler of a mission that sought "wisdom throughout the world" (1871- 73), learned from his travels that Europe's modernization was of fairly recent date. "If," he wrote, "you compare the Europe of today with the Europe of 40 years ago, you can imagine how great the changes are; then there were no trains, no steamers, no telegraph; small boats were pulled along the roads; soldiers using brass cannon and breach-loading muskets fought at close range. . . ." Japan was not so far behind; it could still catch up. And so the same embassy divided its complement of nearly forty top-level government leaders into specialist teams to survey Western patterns and institutions.

This embassy is worth a further glance, for in broad terms it is the political basis for the economic growth that now impresses us. Stability was central to the Meiji story. Despite changes in the leadership group, most of whom were from Satsuma and Choshu, their continuity of purpose and policy was impressive. The Iwakura Mission left home only three years after the Meiji Restoration, and it was abroad almost a year and a half during a period of strong disagreements about foreign and domestic policy; yet the members of the mission returned home to find their jobs waiting for them. The importance of the non-political emperor above and the non-political commoners below was very great, but this sustained ability to work together was perhaps most important of all. At no point in Japan's modern century have the taxes stopped being collected; has the administrative structure come close to collapse; or a substantial portion of the community or country withdrawn the consent that is required for forward motion.

The Meiji revolution thus came after the Meiji Restoration. It was guided, and popular participation was initially limited. But there was steady growth in response to the themes and slogans that official and unofficial leaders set for their countrymen. For it was impossible to "Establish a Rich and Strong Country!" without the diffusion of "Civilization and Enlightenment!" and a zeal to "Make Something of Yourself!" Samuel Smiles' "Self Help," first translated in 1871, became a best seller, and his examples of poor boys who overcame adversity and converted it to fortune were full of relevance to national as well as personal needs. Indeed the first political party, formed in 1874, called itself the "Self-Help Society." Without a dynamic and increasingly large-scale response the Meiji story would have been a very different one.

All this made of Japan a modern nation, one in line with the egalitarian trends of the nineteenth century and the modern world. A quarter-century later the diplomatic and political rewards came into sight. Treaty equality with the West, victory over China and Russia, and alliance with Great Britain; by the end of the Meiji Period in 1912 Japan was one of the world's great powers, the envy of some of her neighbors and the master of others.

There is understandable pride of achievement in the centennial statement that was drawn up by a committee of leading Japanese convened by Prime Minister Sat?. It points to the Meiji change as a period of achievement without parallel in world history. The very speed of Japan's recovery from the war, it continues, testifies to the soundness of the work. This generation is under obligation to take up this heritage and challenge. Japan has now completed its work of catching up with the West, and is looked to for leadership and help by its neighbors. And, in view of the disruption that the development of material culture has caused in the relationship between man and nature, it would not be inappropriate to call for a reappraisal of East Asian and Japanese values. In short, the wheel has come full circle. Japan can contribute as well as benefit, and the "search throughout the world" for wisdom of a century ago gives way to a "youth ship," fitted out to sail to Southeast Asia to symbolize friendship and international coöperation.


The gratification of the centennial celebrants is matched in volume and exceeded in intensity by those who write in opposition. Associations of historians and educators have formed a coalition to oppose the manner and content of the centennial. One might expect professional historians to take a jaundiced look at official history, but the nature of the Tokyo dissent is interesting because of what it shows about contemporary Japan; for it is charged that bad history is being put at the service of bad politics.

Many objections focus on the treatment the Meiji emperor is receiving, and charge that this is purposeful. The Meiji emperor is in fact making up for the neglect he has endured in the last quarter-century of historical writing. He will be the subject of a thirteen-volume biographical account compiled in the Imperial Household Ministry; he will be immortalized in bronze, dwarfed by memorial halls and museums, and his memory, indeed all Japan, will be forever green in Meiji parks and forests. The protesting historians think they see the phoenix palanquin being carried into the city once again, past a multitude whose heads bend low, this time not to the ground in awe but to their television screens in unconcern.

Whatever the difficulties in finding alternate heroes, it has to be granted that there is little justification for giving the Meiji emperor a personal role in the formative decades of his reign. To do so is to ignore the way in which the Meiji leaders engaged in emperor-building as well as in nation- building. For the emperor had to be explained and sold to the masses by the élite in nineteenth-century Japan. Thus Yomiuri instructed its readers in these terms in 1881:

Tomorrow, the third, is Tencho setsu. Tencho setsu is the birthday of Japan's emperor, his majesty Mutsuhito. Formerly the shogun ruled our country, but now it is different. Tenchi Sama himself rules. People born in Japan must extend their greetings and everybody must be joyous, for it is a great holiday.... There are a good many people who do not know the name of Tenchi Sama. But to be born in this country and not to know it is like not knowing your parents' age. This is unforgivable. It must be carefully remembered. ...

It required effort to acquaint the commoners with their emperor's virtues, and it was the task of the modern education system to diffuse this throughout the populace. One result of this was that the twentieth century saw the emperor receive a much more structured worship than the breathless adoration that crowds had given him in 1868.

But the historians' complaints go well beyond this. They point out that centennial statements and ceremonies focus on early Meiji, when not a great deal had been achieved, and that they ignore the uses to which modernization was put when it did begin to take effect-that mass education was used for emperor worship, industrialization for armaments, and national power for imperialism. They note also that the official statements say almost nothing about Japan's democratization since World War II, and conclude that plans are afoot to undo as much of this as possible. Anything that stresses only the "plus" factors of this century's experience, they argue, will contribute to a new orthodoxy as misleading as was the prewar praise of famous men and emperors. Today's distortions are tomorrow's dangers.

In its most extreme forms the argument goes farther still. The centennial effort to boost national pride, it is charged, is a transparently political effort on the part of the Sat? cabinet to get Japan ready to play its part in a scheme of world politics developed by Mr. Sat?'s American backers. And the opposition group warns that the foreign praise the centennialists court is actually a trap prepared by American intellectuals with their fashionable concept of modernization. The whole point is really to "talk up" Japan's accomplishments for 1970, the date the Security Pact with America comes up for reconsideration.

Thus the centennial argument becomes another chapter in the long battle between Japan's intellectual Left and the conservative government. It is a contest that has focused on controls over the school system, on educational authorities' efforts to contain the Japan Teachers Union and on government control over textbooks. A leading historian and author of a popular history text is today battling the Education Ministry in the courts in an argument more than ten years old. Efforts on the part of the Government to encourage patriotism draw fire from the same groups, and because so much of the institutionalization of patriotism was tied in with the mystique of imperial mythology it is usually the historians who lead the opposition. That the protesting organizations are dominated by men who adopt a Marxist framework of analysis encourages both sides in each dispute to resort to extreme statements. Nor, of course, do such controversies come as a setback to publishers' and editors' plans for exploitation of the Centennial. The recent resumption of observances of February II as National Foundation Day (for the supposed accession of the legendary emperor, Jimmu, in 660 B.C.) climaxed one vigorous battle. The Meiji revival is thus seen by some as part of a much larger scheme of restoration.

It has to be granted that there are groups of whom this is true. The historians' alarm stems in part from the fact that many right-wing organizations, eager to capitalize upon an expected surge of radical action in connection with the Security Pact, are also, for their own counterrevolutionary purposes, pointing to 1970 as a crisis date. Their aim and language are unambiguously revisionist; Japan must revise its postwar Constitution, recover its lost morality and carry out that ill-defined goal of the military extremists of the 1930s, the long-delayed Showa Restoration. Yesterday the restoration of National Foundation Day, today the Meiji Centennial and tomorrow the showdown. And so private schools, institutes, corps and fund drives prepare for the task ahead. The Japan Alliance stresses the importance of "Japanese remaining Japanese," while the Greater East Asian Academy and the Fuji Poetry Society see in the present the opportunity for first a national, and then a world, restoration to get under way, though a full reconstruction program may require thirty years to complete. In the language of some of these statements are traces of the fevered pledges of the Meiji Restoration's anti-foreign loyalists with their talk of reactivating the Japanese spirit and bringing about a rebirth of patriotism and purpose.

All this can serve as a useful reminder that the legacy of the Restoration years was not only progress and enlightenment; there were also intolerance and parochialism. Few of the activists of the Meiji Restoration survived its coming, but many of those who did became ideal ethical types, inspiring the official patriotism of the modern state. They felt deeply and thought simply about the problems of their country, and combined scorn for authority as corrupt and self-seeking with affirmation of the total purity of imperial devotion. They have served as models for political fanatics of many persuasions in more recent Japanese history. Even today, what they stood for has one meaning to rightists indignant over Japan's forsaking of its imperial tradition, and quite another to leftists who lament their government's acceptance of American leadership, somewhat as their forebears complained about the Tokugawa treaties with the Western powers.

Yet this is an argument about the present and not the past. Considered as a whole, the Meiji Restoration constitutes a significant chapter in the revolution of modern times. Deflected or distorted as it may have been by the urgencies of the situation, influenced as it was by a tradition radically different from those in which the modern revolutions of the West unfolded, and seldom as it was justified in terms of larger human rights or individual dignity, the Meiji revolution nevertheless made possible a radical increase in individual freedom, equality and opportunity within Japan. Herein lies one of its principal paradoxes. It is one that seems to be overlooked by both the centennial planners and their critics.


In this journal recently, George Kennan described as one of the principal aspects of the Russian Revolution an altruism of purpose that, he suggested, made it of very broad and universal importance. It is appropriate to ask whether there was in the Meiji Restoration anything of significance and benefit for the world outside Japan. Was all this entirely, as the stock phrase of Meiji times had it, "for the sake of the country," or was there something of importance for all countries?

One must begin with the admission that the Japanese were so obsessed with the danger to their own land that they had little time to worry about others. The fact that the Meiji developments seemed forced upon Japan after a long period of isolation affected their nature and emphases. Meiji Japan began with the conviction that imminent danger threatened from the West, and for decades it retained that belief. At first there was a genuine fear of foreign conquest. Later this gave way to a more reasoned approach in which Japan's danger was seen as less unique; there was therefore much to learn from the experience of others. The Restoration activist, Nakaoka, wrote his friends shortly before the Restoration that he was no longer in favor of immediate expulsion of the foreigners, but favored learning from them first. "Exclusion has been practiced everywhere," he wrote. "When the American people suffered ... a man named Washington . . . carried out exclusion and drove out the barbarians." Japan should "cross the seas, learn from other peoples, adopt their spiritual unity, master their technology, study their military science and bring about true exclusion."

Writing shortly after the Restoration, Prince Iwakura shared this gloomy view of the society of nations as a jungle: "We have no choice in having intercourse with countries beyond the seas, but in the final analysis they are our enemies. Why? Because they develop their arts and their technology with a view to growing in wealth and power. Every country tries to become the other's superior."

In view of the urgency of the danger and the silence of the masses that crouched in the dust along the emperor's route, it was probably inevitable that in setting priorities social justice should take second place to international equality. A united effort in the face of pressing foreign danger was the universal desire; it had also been the reason for the shogun's decision against resisting the new régime. This meant that most political controversy would be about means rather than ends, and that the most important criterion of governmental performance would be the way national honor and strength were advanced.

Perhaps the one escape to a less particular and nationalistic Japan lay in the idea of partnership with nearby Asian countries in resistance to Western strength. If not domestic justice, regional coöperation might still have produced some measure of altruism of purpose. A dream of Asian partnership did in fact provide the purpose in life for a number of courageous and idealistic Japanese, and revolutionaries in China particularly owed much to their help. And yet within decades it became a dream to lead and finally to dominate. The Tokyo historians who oppose the Centennial tend to see in this sure evidence of basic structural faults in modern Japanese thought and society.

But it is equally possible to emphasize two other reasons: first, the weakness and disorganization of the régimes in neighboring lands; second, the gradual conviction of Meiji Japanese that it would be necessary to join the West in order to equal it. The Japanese reluctantly concluded that affiliation with Asia would mean association with backwardness and weakness, and that they would risk being permanently handicapped in their unequal contest with the West. Fittingly enough it was Fukuzawa, the apostle of modernity, who called for his countrymen to part with Asia after the Chinese lost a war to France and reformers failed to seize power in Korea. He argued that it was hopeless to wait for Japan's neighbors to modernize. "When judgments of China and Korea are applied to our country," he wrote, "it hurts our foreign policy. We do not have time to wait for neighboring countries to develop and then to join them in the revival of Asia. We ought instead to get away from them and join the company of Western, civilized nations. If we keep bad company we will get a bad name." And so association with Asia was put off until Japan had secured its national goals. When diplomatic equality was reached in 1894, Minister to England Aoki exclaimed in jubilation, "With this treaty Japan enters the ranks of civilized countries." The very next year Japan forced from a defeated Manchu empire the diplomatic inequality it accorded other "civilized countries."

But Japanese influence on modern Asia was also profound in more constructive ways. For at least half a century would-be modernizers elsewhere in Asia associated Japan's achievements with their hopes for their own countries. The Chinese revolutionary movement in particular was powerfully affected by the Japanese example, and Japan's victory over Russia brought thousands of Chinese students flooding into Tokyo to make of it the seedbed for the revolution of 1911. Years later Sun Yat-sen remembered how, as he returned to Japan through the Suez Canal in 1905, the people along his path had been excited by the Japanese victory. An Arab, he recalled, asked him, "Are you Japanese?" Even after Sun, who was travelling as Mr. Takano, said he was Chinese, he could see that "the joy of this Arab, as a member of the great Asiatic race, seemed to know no bounds." Japan became, by example, a factor in change elsewhere, and the Meiji Restoration found echo in the modern Asian revolution. Soon the Japanese image became marred by selfish and shortsighted interest. Yet the Japanese example contributed to freedom, nationalism and modernization throughout East Asia despite the best efforts of the Japanese to limit and control that response in the areas subject to their control. Tokyo leaders never fully comprehended why a response they had helped stir should not be pro- Japanese. This is another of the paradoxes of the Centennial and its significance-and again it is one that seems overlooked by both the planners and their critics.


The debate about the Meiji Centennial is then only partly a debate about Japan's recent past. It is much more a debate about the nature and direction of Japan's present and future. And the argument about the past is really less about the Restoration itself, about 1868, than it is about the Meiji modern state. The Restoration years were a period of relative openness. The structured Tokugawa hierarchy came apart, and Japanese discussed the response their country should take to the modern world with imagination and courage. The Meiji state, on the other hand, which represented the final response to this, was completed in 1890 with the constitution, the educational system, the powerful military establishment and the newly formulated ideology of imperial divinity and national uniqueness.

For many, 1890 cancels out 1868; at the least, it conditions it and links it to 1941. The government spokesmen, and the Japanese Establishment generally, are the least disturbed by this; they are the most willing to emphasize the undeniable contributions and achievements of the modern order, and are understandably anxious to stem the tide of self-criticism and lament that has saddled Japan with an almost paralyzing inability to form a consensus since the war. The authorities move cautiously with the mercurial tides of public opinion, avoiding both extremes, and seem to ask only that Japan rediscover its pride and confidence. The right wing, on the other hand, without any of the institutional or financial support that once made it so potent, represents a constant nuisance but has little real potential. Its nostalgia for a non-capitalist social unity and imperial purity is not accompanied by any practical program for getting there. The men of letters, however, and the Left generally, while they share some of this utopianism and nationalism, remember the pre-surrender state chiefly for its stultifying restrictions and police controls, which are described in ever darker tones for those too young to have experienced them. The one consensus that emerges, in fact, is a determination uniting almost all groups that it shall happen "never again."

Many writers and intellectuals would prefer to see 1945 recognized as the date for the commemoration of a truly modern and democratic Japan. Their opposition to any degree of rearmament, to government control over teachers, schools and textbooks, and to ties with the United States, makes them quick to charge the Government with planning a "return" to the unacceptable. From this perspective the Centennial represents an insidious effort to promote reversion. The Meiji Centennial will and should be commemorated, But the larger argument will be decided by the generation that has had its education since 1945, and which recalls neither a divine nor a defeated monarch. The 23 years since the present order began represent the same time span that brought the Meiji state to its fruition in 1890. There are many lines of comparison that suggest themselves. Japan is infinitely stronger today in organizational and economic power than it was then, and it is a far more diverse and interesting society. Then, as now, there was much alarm about an uncommitted younger generation that took its gains for granted and thought of self over country. There was uneasiness then as well that representative government did not seem to lead to that perfect harmony in which money and party played no role. Then, too, the establishment was alarmed because it saw military and political challenges ahead, and felt the need for united effort.

Other comparisons are even more pointed. In 1890 young Japanese who had no recollection of the crisis of their country in late Tokugawa times were resentful of Japan's second-class standing in international society, tired of the unequal treaties and increasingly suspicious of their leaders. Today, despite the cost advantages of the Security Pact, there are comparable stirrings, discontent and calls for self-assertion and autonomy. In 1890 a few states still served as models, and allegiance to the Western camp was a clear condition for full independence. Today, after the Cultural Revolution and Viet Nam, the model states decline in prestige and influence, and there is a new interest in the nature of a polycentric world that beckons. Fukuzawa could write that it was necessary to "depart from Asia" to secure true independence, but his successors today demand a bridge to Asia as Japan's only hope of freedom.

The fervor, innocence and simplicity of Meiji Japan will not return a second time. In retrospect the past seems contentious, divisive and suspicious. It is almost as though things were reversed; as though the emperor's palanquin, a century later, drew silent respect from the foreigners, while the Japanese crowd provided the hum, laughter and indignation.

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