[I-House Press] The Sino-Japanese War and the Birth of Japanese Nationalism

The Sino-Japanese War and the Birth of Japanese Nationalism
By Saya Makito (Professor, Keisen University)

Translated by David Noble
First English edition, 2011
210 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-4-903452-20-3
Originally published in Japanese in 2009 by Kodansha as Nisshin Senso: “Kokumin” no tanjo.
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“The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95 was an event that determined the subsequent course of Japan’s modern history. The war transformed the political consciousness of the Japanese people and brought about the formation of a modern nation-state. This book is an analysis of that process, focusing primarily on developments in the mass media and their impact on popular behavior. . . . this transformation of Japan had repercussions throughout all of Asia, and would eventually serve as a catalyst for the restructuring of the entire international order in the region. The impact of Japanese nationalism on the rest of Asia would ultimately result in the formation of the nation-states that comprise contemporary Asia.

—Saya Makito, from Preface of this volume.

From this volume’s foreword

The Sino-Japanese War (1894–95) did more than rob China of its centrality. It served as the impetus that transformed the Japanese, until then confined to their limited island habitat, into a nascent empire that had just gained the first of its colonial possessions, Taiwan. . . . This was accompanied by a movement attempting to reform the traditional domestic social order to create a unified nation of individuals with equal civil rights. With the disintegration of the hierarchical international order centered on China, forces of nationalism were awakened in the surrounding countries, which in turn encouraged democratic reforms. . . . Yet even in Japan itself, such nationalism did not really permeate the general population until the advent of the Sino-Japanese War. This book presents a vivid picture of the way in which the war plunged Japanese society into a nationalistic fervor, analyzing its manifestations in journalistic competition to report the war, popular theater, victory celebrations, children’s games, school textbooks, and the construction of war memorials.

—Mitani Hiroshi, University of Tokyo