SIMULTANEOUSLY with their new war for the domination of China, the Japanese Army and Navy are engaged in another major war -- the struggle for complete mastery of the Japanese state and the Japanese national economy. There is nothing new nor accidental in the parallelism of these events. For more than half a century, now, the military has driven incessantly for the fulfillment of both continental and domestic ambitions, the one stimulating and sometimes even directly motivating the other. But never before has the causative interrelation between the tendency of expansionism and that of totalitarianism been quite so close and compelling, nor so complicated and so dangerous to the nation and to the Army and Navy themselves.

There are a number of new features in the present coincidence of the military's two struggles abroad and at home which distinguish it clearly from historical precedents. First of all, it would seem as though the military's initiative at this time has been taken somewhat less voluntarily than on former occasions and without the same conviction and wholeheartedness. It would be a gross exaggeration, of course, to say that this time the Japanese Army and Navy were first attacked by China, and that they adopted an offensive strategy merely in order to defend their positions on the Continent; just as it would be incorrect to assert that the anti-militarist forces at home had seriously challenged the political power of the services and thus provoked them to a counter-attack. Yet it can hardly be doubted that in both arenas the Army and Navy were half-driven into actions which they began to regret, or at least to regard with serious apprehension, at the very moment when they found them utterly unavoidable.

The old psychological fixation of the Japanese military mind in the traditional samurai attitude of taking the offensive against any odds, whenever there seems danger to life or a risk of loss of "face," and whether or not the dangers are real or imaginary; the irritation of the military at the new factors which reduced the speed of their progress abroad and at home; and a new nervousness lest they would miss what might be their last chance for the long-delayed decisive coup against enemies foreign or domestic -- all this made them lose whatever clear judgment and prudence they possessed, so that they rushed head-on into the dangers of a protracted war abroad and of an ill-prepared parallel fight for the completion of the totalitarian state at home.

During recent years it had become the considered opinion of anti-militarist financiers and liberal intellectuals in Japan that the only way to get rid of the ever-growing predominance of the Army and Navy in domestic politics was to let them commit the spectacular suicide in foreign war on which they had seemed to be bent ever since the "Manchurian Incident" of 1931. Many people abroad who have every reason to wish for the undoing of Japan's aggressive military power, had gradually come to agree that a new major "samurai" offensive might finally culminate, as happened so frequently to the samurai of old, in the political harakari of the military. And while the originators of this thesis now begin to wonder whether they did not underestimate the dangers involved for themselves in the process, some at least of Japan's military leaders seem to realize today that the hope of their adversaries may probably be fulfilled.

Moreover, differences of opinion between the Army and Navy have grown to such an extent recently, and they now concern such vital questions, that, even though the conflict is of long standing, it must also be regarded as a fresh feature aggravating the new situation. As long as Japan's fight abroad is confined to China, the dissension between the Army and Navy, considerable though it is on almost every concrete issue, need not necessarily cause a fatal split which might benefit substantially either China or the domestic adversaries of the military services. They are at least united in the common desire to see the Nanking Government defeated as the center of anti-Japanese resistance in China, and a "war economy" established as the basis of a totalitarian polity at home. But both services envisage, and prepare for, that "real war" against their respective major enemies whom they already are fighting in China now in a preliminary way -- the Army against the Soviet Union, and the Navy against Britain. They hardly conceal their wish to deal with these, their real antagonists, with the full backing of a perfectly totalitarian state, as soon as their present campaign in China is over. But Japan's economic and military power is so restricted that either turn -- suicidal as it might be even by itself -- must necessarily exclude the other, at least as far as the idea of simultaneous action is concerned. Therefore, whichever of the two services predominates in the totalitarian state that is to be the outcome of the present domestic campaign will get the chance of carrying out its particular ambition, and of forcing the other into coöperation.

Further, dissension within each of the services, and especially within the Army, may also be regarded as greater today than at any of the former vital turning points in Japan's history. The kind of peace to be imposed on China; the juncture at which this is to be done; and the way in which the North is to be made "independent" and then to be exploited for Japan -- all these are questions in which the radicals and the so-called moderates among the Army leaders do not see eye to eye. And even these two main groups are split, according to personal affiliations and ambitions rather than primarily along lines of strategy and policy. Much more important, each of the services is also divided regarding the desirability and the actual timing of the war against the "real enemies," as also regarding the measure and kind of regimentation into which the political, economic, and social life of the nation must, and actually can, be forced in order to achieve an optimum of national military strength.

Taking into account all these facets, a close observer must emphasize how much a situation which looked at from afar may seem fairly clear nevertheless is full of uncertainty. The direction and the speed of Japanese expansion after the present war with China cannot be foretold, nor yet the degree of intensity and the success of the military's fight for the completion of totalitarianism at home. This is even more true because the civilian groups which still share political power with the military have recently undergone certain changes in attitude. For example, opposition against the perfection of the totalitarian features of the Japanese state has markedly decreased. The big financial and industrial interests, the bureaucracy, the political parties, and even the influential circles around the Imperial Court, have come to desire "stronger government" with more centralization of power and initiative.

This is, first of all, because at heart all of these groups are thoroughly expansionist, and because they realize that expansion can be actually carried forward only if there is a minimum of friction inside the direction of the state and a maximum of exploitation of the restricted resources of national strength. Furthermore they seem to realize that, whether they want it or not, changes toward a completion of totalitarianism are inevitable. Each group, then, and each of their numerous subdivisions, wants to secure a firm position in the "renovated state" and to forestall the preëminence of its adversaries. Here is one of the reasons why, to the surprise of many foreign observers, Japan has not advanced even further towards the totalitarianism obviously in preparation for many years. It explains also the seeming contradiction between the impression of a "Fascist" country that Japan makes on anybody who observes it from the viewpoint of the Japanese masses or as a liberal intellectual, and the impression of an almost anarchic liberalism which it gives when looked at from above, from what ought to be the apex of a solid "Fascist" pyramid.

It is in the economic sphere that structural conditions are least favorable for the rapid completion of a totalitarian state. Here the shortcomings of existing semi-totalitarian arrangements are most pronounced and attempts at more effective regimentation, in the name of war economy, are most timid.

By far the largest part of Japanese economy still consists of exceedingly small production and distribution units. These are so closely identified with the family, so unfit for merger into larger groupings, and so backward technically that the installation of any centralized control aimed at increasing national productivity could be accomplished only by a revolution at least as immense as that which transformed Russian agriculture. In this category are included retail trade as well as small-scale manufacturing, which still is estimated to provide nearly half the country's industrial production and industrial exports. True, these are striving to improve their miserable conditions through coöperative organizations, and this process might be intensified, but so far all the state's half-hearted attempts to be of assistance have been frustrated by opposition -- from the small merchants themselves and from the legion of oppressive middlemen who are so characteristic of semi-feudal Japan. These groups are often supported by the land-owners and big industrial and trading interests, who fear that their selling prices for fertilizer might be depressed or their buying prices for rice, wheat, and silk might be raised if strong agricultural coöperatives came into existence. The guilds of small-scale manufacturers, again, are opposed by their large-scale rivals in industry, or are entirely dominated by the big trading and financial concerns. The question also has a political aspect, for coöperative associations might finally give expression to the inarticulate dissatisfaction of the long-suffering middle classes which make up fully three-quarters of the population.

But the present political powers in the country, including the military leaders, are far from sharing the desire of the most radical "young officers" of the Army and Navy to "mobilize" these social strata politically and use them as the ideological basis for a "real" Fascist state on the European pattern. They want to have nothing to do with such a dangerous and un-Japanese experiment. Thus one of the much propagandized measures for creating "national unity" on the occasion of the war with China was a ceremonial "reconciliation meeting" sponsored by the Government, between the agricultural coöperatives and their opponents in trade and industry.

But Japan's economic structure does not differ from that of modern Western nations, totalitarian and otherwise, merely in that it contains an abnormally large proportion of very small units which would be difficult to regiment. At the other extreme of the scale are a dozen plutocratic private concerns, vertical as well as horizontal, which play an immense rôle in Japanese economy. In no other great nation in the world do a few huge enterprises like those of the Japanese "big families" -- Mitsur, Iwasaki (Mitsubishi), Sumitomo, Yasuda, Okura, Aikawa, etc. -- almost monopolize the banking and insurance business, predominate in the export and import trades and in so many important manufacturing industries, and control directly or indirectly, singly or between them, so much of the whole economic life of the nation, right down to the cottage industries of the miserable and over-taxed peasantry.

Rivalry between the giant concerns, even when they have interests in common, has reduced their potential political power. Government efforts to create or strengthen cartels in the major industries, in order more easily to control them on the traditional German pattern, have always been defeated by the individualism, or rather "familism," of the various units. But now that a totalitarian state seems gradually to be developing, big business has begun to strengthen its collective power, both against the state and against its medium-scale rivals. When the ambitious Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Shinji Yoshida, an admirer and pupil of German planned economy, prepared to command the merger of all the country's important business associations, in order to create a central organ through which the national economy could be controlled from above, the big concerns themselves took this plan in hand and founded the "Federation of Economic Bodies," bringing in all the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Japan Economic Federation, and almost all the other business associations of national importance. Ostensibly they acted for patriotic reasons, in order to strengthen the war economy; but the real intention behind their quick action was, of course, to fortify their own positions against outside assault. The Federation made this fairly clear when it styled itself "the highest private organization serving as adviser to the Government on economic, financial, and industrial policies;" and when it resolved "to decide on important economic policies in order to meet the present situation and to submit them to the Government, as well as to announce them at home and abroad." If there is to be a real totalitarian state, the Federation, dominated by the big concerns, will certainly fight with much cunning to sell its coöperation on the best possible terms.

Nor are these the only reasons why the military will experience great difficulty in attaining strict state control over economy. Many leaders seem to have increasing doubts as to the ability of their own military kind and of their bureaucratic satellites to take charge of and direct the country's whole economic life with the efficiency requisite either in the present conditions of actual war in China or in view of a further and more "real" war elsewhere. Since the "Manchurian Incident" military officers have been studying economic books and trying their hand at writing propaganda pamphlets and magazine articles about the requirements of war economy; and more recently still they have been working out a Five-Year Plan for the strengthening of the country's armaments capacity. All this has not been sufficient to convince their responsible seniors of their expert knowledge. Nor were the government officials who had been charged with learning from the Fascist experiments in the West able to produce enough feasible and concrete projects to satisfy the expectations of the military leaders and encourage them actually to try to take over direction of the national economy. The plans which these officials brought home from their visits to Germany seem to have been particularly discouraging. Basic conditions in Japan were seen to be too different from those obtaining in the Third Reich to recommend an imitation of the National Socialist economic system. And when Japanese totalitarians looked about for individuals with the personal resourcefulness of Dr. Schacht and the others responsible for whatever success German methods have attained, they were overcome with envy and discouragement. This is not to say that even the comparatively moderate Army and Navy leaders are prepared to scrap their ambition to secure eventual mastery over the national economy. But at the moment they want to win only the title to exercise such mastery, letting the financiers and industrialists stay in temporary command, and waiting to supplant those not willing to accept military guidance at some moment when full economic "renovation" can be attempted with less risk than at present.

That such is the ultimate aim and intention is clearly indicated by the economic emergency legislation passed by the extraordinary session of the Diet in September and by the way in which that legislation is actually being applied. The Government demanded and secured, under the pressure of a state of acute emergency, a first instalment of discretionary power to interfere in almost every branch of economy. So far it has refrained from using its new power in a general way. And even the Army and Navy Ministers have since said that they hoped voluntary coöperation between business and the Government would not be superseded by coercion. On the other hand, each of the important bills included in this emergency legislation is to remain in force "until one year after the cessation of the present China Incident."

The "Law in Respect to the Application of the Armament Industry Mobilization Law, for the China Affair" empowers the Government "to take control of, use, or requisition, the whole or part of factories and businesses which have any bearing on the requirements of war, or to issue orders for the distribution and supply of industrial raw materials and fuel, etc." But a joint statement issued by the Army and Navy, in explanation of the law, said: "It is hoped that the aims of the law can be achieved through autonomous and positive coöperation on the part of the private enterprises concerned. Consequently, the law is intended solely to authorize the Government to exercise appropriate guidance over private industry, when necessary." Indeed, the Army and Navy seem to feel certain of getting a maximum of industrial efficiency from that very large section of the modern Japanese economy which is directly or indirectly dependent on armaments and whose whole history is one of most profitable coöperation with the state -- provided its customary big profits, subsidies, and special privileges are continued.

This of course is not what the radical elements in the Army and Navy have been demanding ever since they turned their interest to economic matters. According to their view, the services of the armament and allied industries should not be secured by granting them large and secure profits, the like of which no other branch of the Japanese economy can exact from its customers. They feel that the strictest sort of state control, or even state management, is required in order to overcome the "evils of capitalism," at least in that sphere of economy which is of importance to national defense. They demand that armament expenditures should produce more war materials than big industrial profits permit. They also think that unprofitable but nationally important enterprises like coal liquefaction and the manufacture of automobiles would get quicker development in a framework of planned economy. The revelation last year that some private firms had corrupted a distinguished general in charge of buying war materials intensified the desire of the young radicals to put an end to "the evil machinations of capitalism." There is every indication that this desire will increase, whatever the military outcome of the present conflict in China.

The "Law for Temporary Measures Regarding Exports and Imports" gives the Japanese Government another instrument for wielding a very large measure of control over the general economy of the country if it inclines to do so. According to this law, the Government is now entitled to: 1, "specify articles and restrict or prohibit their export or import when such a step is considered necessary to secure the satisfactory working of the national economy in connection with the China Affair;" 2, "set conditions or impose restrictions on the manufacture of goods for which the articles in question constitute the raw material;" 3, "issue orders regarding the distribution, transfer, use or consumption of the articles in question or their manufactures;" 4, "collect reports or conduct inspections regarding matters pertaining to such restrictions or prohibitions." These provisions are very elastic; there is hardly a type of industrial manufacture in Japan which they could not be made to cover.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, who finally drafted this bill after having been defeated in his initial attempt to introduce legislation for a much more clear-cut and comprehensive control, has so far confined its application to an almost non-controversial matter of undeniable urgency, i.e. the prohibition or restriction of some 300 kinds of foreign imports which are of a more or less dispensable character and which represent an annual value of nearly Yen 200 million. This step was necessary to check the embarrassing rise of the country's import surplus, which this year may reach a record high of between 700 and 800 millions, and which definitely threatens the stability of the yen. In every other regard the Minister still has found it necessary to carry on direct negotiations with industrial organizations in order to achieve the aims he has in mind. An example of the sort of problem confronting him is the need for convincing the woolen industry that a high percentage of domestic staple fibre must be added to foreign wool if the yen is to be maintained. So far he has failed in this. Nor has he been able, so far, to perfect the rather nominal price control legislation. Instead, a propaganda campaign to reduce popular consumption -- dampened, of course, by the influence of business interests -- is being tried in order to slow down the rise in prices. The cost of living in Japan has already increased by one-third since the "Manchurian Incident" in 1931, while the concurrent worsening of the "national emergency" prevents salaries and wages from rising.

Another major instrument of potential control, the "Law for the Emergency Regulation of Capital Investment," entitles the Government to: 1, "regulate the use of domestic capital, as a means of mutually adapting the supply and demand of capital and goods in connection with the China Affair:" 2, "submit to Government permission the lending of capital in connection with the creation or extension or improvement of the equipment of an enterprise, as well as transactions like the subscription to, the underwriting of, or the issue of securities by banks, trust companies, insurance companies, the Central Treasury of Coöperation Societies, the Central Treasury of Merchants' and Manufacturers' Guilds, the Federation of Credit Associations, or underwriters;" 3, "appoint, for examining or discussing important matters concerned, a Temporary Capital Regulation Commission."

One of the aims of this law is to preserve the resources of the capital market, already narrow, for the requirements of the armament and allied industries. These are being urged to increase their productive capacities as much and as fast as possible, at the expense of all other branches of economy. These, at least for the time being, are not to invest any capital above Yen 500,000 in expansion schemes, unless they get a special permit. But here, too, the powerful influence of the business community is showing itself. Power to make decisions as to when the investment of capital is to be allowed has been given to a committee in which private interests are well represented. Actually, of the first three permits granted only one was in favor of an iron manufacturing company of any importance to national defense; the second went to a cotton spinning mill, in spite of the fact that the Japanese spinning industry already has a large surplus of idle spindles and was supposed to stop internal competition by not acquiring new equipment; while the third permit was given to the country's largest candy concern, which promised to manufacture some "special food" for the Army and Navy.

This laxness in the control of newly accumulated capital is bound to be especially disappointing to the fighting services, because it was mainly the lack of capital (and of foreign exchange for the purchase of more foreign machinery) that forced them, just on the eve of the war against China, to give up their ambitious Five-Year Plan for the wholesale expansion of the armament and allied industries of Japan and Manchukuo. The services are still fighting the financial authorities to try to salvage something from the wreckage of their Plan, especially those parts which provided for a tremendous expansion of the production of iron and steel, coal, artificial oil, and certain machinery; but it seems that, as so often before, most of the projects, drafted in any case by way of compromise and mutual "face saving," will remain just blueprints.

Only in one field have the Army and Navy effectively imposed their control on national economy. Now more than ever before are they the real masters of the Treasury, at any rate as regards decisions about their own expenditures. Despite apprehensions of a disastrous inflation within the next year or two, they have managed to raise their combined appropriations from Yen 455 million, before the "Manchurian Incident" in 1931-32, to Yen 877 million in 1933-34, and to an estimate of Yen 1,410 million in the current year. Even leaving out of account the cost of the war (or its aftermath) during the last three months of the current fiscal year, their expenditures for 1937-38 are figured at almost Yen 4,000 million. Their combined appropriations reached a sum equal to 36 percent of the total non-borrowed revenue of the state in 1931-32, 61 percent in 1933-34, and fully 70 percent in the original estimates for the present year. Actually the figure for the current year is already 184 percent. To meet the demands of the military services the total national debt, already very considerable in view of the country's economic strength, had to be raised from Yen 6,200,000,000 in 1931-32 to Yen 11,000,000,000 at the end of the 1936-37 fiscal year. And the present war with China will likely increase it further to something like Yen 15,000,-000,000 by March 1938. Even in this field, however, the military have so far been defeated whenever they wanted to extend their control to matters of procedure, i.e. the devising of schemes for fresh direct taxation.

But it is not directly in the economic and financial spheres that the fight for a totalitarian system of economy is really concentrated. The real battle is being waged mainly in the political arena. And here the totalitarian enthusiasts, if by no means satisfied, have reason to be increasingly hopeful.

One cabinet after another during the past six and a half years, beset by a bewildering conflict of group and personal ambitions, has shelved the real problems. They have drafted plans of reform which were never meant to be carried out, appointed and reconstructed commissions, brain trusts and planning boards which were never meant to do more than save "face" all around, and preserved the status quo of badly-defined government authority under a worse-defined and little heeded Constitution. Each cabinet alike strove to get rid of parliamentary and public interference; and each stumbled, therefore, deeper into the unknown and hence alluring terra incognita of totalitarianism. All this has happened without the emergence of any personalities ambitious and self-confident enough to regard themselves, much less to impress others, as equivalents of a "Duce" or a "Fuehrer."

The cabinet of Prince Fumimaro Konoye is no exception. The Premier himself, politically unambitious but sufficiently awake to realize that Japan is at the crossroads of her political destiny, certainly strives to exercise a moderating and constructive influence. His course seems to be dictated by the desire to retire soon, having prepared the way for some stable government which would be neither adventurous nor without a spirit of courageous enterprise, neither the dictatorial organ of one group of interests nor a pseudo-democratic body at the mercy of conflicting influences. The ideal government he seems to envisage would have to be strictly authoritative in its domestic policies, though not lacking in the old Japanese art of compromise and ceremonial decorum. In its international dealings it would be prudently yet stubbornly expansionist, following the Pan Asiatic line that Japanese chauvinists have fixed for their country to follow until it finally conquers or breaks down. Such a Government would have to be prepared -- and, if need be, willing -- to fight a major war of decision in pursuit of its aims, if only to prevent the domestic upheavals a stalemate would entail. But at the same time it would have to try to be subtle enough to achieve its objectives abroad by the mere political pressure of the country's growing military strength and the driving force of its new totalitarian discipline; that is, its first line of attack would be by the "peaceful means" which most so-called Japanese liberals have been used to recommend for the missionary purposes which they share with their more impatient domestic opponents.

In the domestic arena Prince Konoye recently made a courageous move. As is well known, he has carried on a silent struggle against the freshly stimulated political ambitions of the dominating "Army Center" which aspires to establish a purely military dictatorship. To meet this menace he has attempted to find allies in two very different camps, hoping to reconcile them for at least the time being. One camp comprises the radical "young officers" who have a certain following in the patriotic associations and in the "Social Mass Party," the leaders of which recently turned from semi-Fabian ideals to an ideology akin to National Socialism. They aim at a totalitarian state with socialist slogans, as closely copied from the German model as is permitted by the peculiarities of Japan's economic, political and social structure and her national psychology. They also contain elements which are quite ready to repeat murderous incidents like those of May 15, 1932, and February 26, 1936 (in the latter they killed, among other national leaders, a prominent general belonging to the "Army Center"). The other allies of Prince Konoye's bureaucratic régime are "big business" circles which oppose pure Army dictatorship as the acutest danger, but whose former animosity against totalitarianism as such has recently given place to conditional acquiescence. These are clever enough not to object to mere socialist slogans so long as there is no fear of their being given practical application.

This strange alliance is reflected in Prince Konoye's choice of personnel for the newly-created Cabinet Advisory Council. This may turn out to be of actual consequence only as further governmental "super-structure," but the fact that it was created offers an important clue to the type of totalitarian state which the Premier thinks might consolidate the status quo. The Council's ten members do not include a single representative or potential upholder of the "Army Center," but about an equal number of "radicals" and "moderates." Among the latter is the "pro-capitalist" General Ugaki, who failed to form a Cabinet immediately before Prince Konoye because the Army denied him a Minister of War and gave him so drastic a warning that he asked to have his name struck from the list of retired generals. There are, further, the moderate Admiral Abo, and the industrial leader and chairman of the new Federation of Economic Bodies, Baron Goh, a fairly outspoken critic of the military's financial demands. Among radicals, the Council comprises General Araki, famous for expansionism as well as totalitarian extremism during the "Manchurian Incident," but whose influence over the "young officers" seems since then to have somewhat diminished, and Admiral Suetsugu, the famous firebrand of the Navy, now often mentioned as one of the few candidates for the succession of Prince Konoye in the Premiership. And there is Mr. Yosuke Matsuoka, Japan's representative in Geneva during the Manchurian crisis. When Mr. Matsuoka took up his present position as President of the South Manchuria Railway Company, in the summer of 1935, he made the following prophetic statement: "Most of the people of Japan do not yet quite understand the great importance of our future operations in North China, and their lack of understanding will, beyond doubt, bring about a really serious crisis for the nation. Regardless of how serious the crisis may become, however, Japan cannot halt her North China operations. Their progress will decide the destiny of the Yamato race, its rise or fall in the world situation. To carry it through, domestic renovation is inevitable, and I think it is within sight."

Whatever may become of Prince Konoye's Cabinet and of his attempted political alliance during the next months of potential crisis, this much is certain: the tendency toward totalitarianism has recently been growing so fast, in spite of all obstacles, that it now seems the only direction in which Japan's internal politics can possibly develop for some time to come. The economic crisis which is in store will accelerate the movement. And lack of enthusiasm on the part of Japan's well-disciplined population will probably be the least serious difficulty in the way of the consummation of a totalitarian state. The fact is that the Japanese people in their present state of political development stand ready to be led or moulded by any group or man. Most of them are restless, it is true, hoping simply for better luck in the future, and some even are thoroughly discontented with developments which they saw approaching but could not hinder. Yet most are willing to submit to whatever is asked of them in the sacred name of the Emperor, at least as long as there is a plausible "national emergency." For the ideological field is the only one in which centralization and regimentation have never ceased to exist through all the seventy years since the official but in many respects only nominal "abolition of feudalism." This semi-feudal type of ideological totalitarianism has indeed been strengthened continuously and successfully -- without a guiding party, without brown or black or any other color shirts, without more marching than early military training involves, and without concentration camps.

The Japanese people, even most of those who struggle against the hypnotizing influences of semi-feudal traditions and training, still are imbued with the same old spirit of loyalty and unquestioning submission to the head of the family, to the master of the economic enterprise, to the military leader, and to the sacred Emperor. They still respond to demands for romantic heroism and self-sacrifice, still have an unwavering belief in the superiority of the divine Japanese race and its mission in a barbarian world. The story-tellers in the streets prepare the ground. The school textbooks teach these myths -- or truths -- to the exclusion of any others, hammering them in unremittingly from elementary school to university. Radio, cinema, theater and most Japanese literature broadcast them, true to pattern; if the form is slightly amusing it therefore is even more effective. The press cultivates them even in times of comparatively free political criticism. Family pressure; neighborly interference in a country of crowded, open houses; the patriarchal office and the factory régime; patriotic street associations, and the omnipresent police which still makes its weekly rounds of calls and keeps its watchful little police boxes at the street corner -- all these prevent "thought offenses" in the widest sense of the phrase. This mechanism for the enforcement of Japan's peculiar totalitarian ideology is ever on the alert, always uncompromising in its petty interference and oppression. Primitive as it appears, it has proved to be sufficient, so far, to deal both with outside influences and with internal tendencies toward emancipation. That much it certainly can do, even though it has not always been able, and obviously is not able at present, to generate much active enthusiasm.

But though they conform to rule so thoroughly, the Japanese nevertheless seem to be slowly preparing themselves for fundamental changes of social attitude. More and more of them seem to be learning to compartmentalize their conventional opinions and behavior, developing alongside of their traditional attitudes a kind of alternative personality, progressive and critical. This some day might break through and take hold of them with surprising rapidity. It also is undoubtedly true that social unrest and a half-articulate dissatisfaction with the military and the Government had been spreading through the country just before the war against China began. Indeed the Diet at that time, in spite of its pitiable impotence, gave the fighting services fair warning of the unfriendly feeling entertained toward them by most of the population. But, once more, the totalitarian system of thought, strengthened by all the peculiar agencies available in Japan, responded to the requirements of the "national emergency."

Perhaps in the course of a serious economic crisis such as Japan seems to face in the near future there may take place the long-dreaded political awakening of a population at last thoroughly dissatisfied. The necessity of forestalling that development is, in the eyes of most political persons in Japan, an additional and highly important reason both for creating a state of genuine national excitement on the basis of a major war and simultaneously of establishing, while there is still time, a thoroughly regimented state on somewhat more modern and more efficient totalitarian lines. Only a few critical minds realize that, on the contrary, the danger of an awakening is itself the strongest argument in favor of moderation, both at home and abroad; they foresee that a new round of expansionist and totalitarian adventures, and especially the desired mobilization of popular dissatisfaction for the benefit of National Socialism, can make the awakening unpredictable in its dangerous consequences.

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  • GUENTHER STEIN, for some years Tokyo correspondent of the London Financial News and the London News Chronicle; author of "Made in Japan" and "The Far East in Ferment"
  • More By Guenther Stein