Episode 15 – The Homefront

This week, we’ll be discussing domestic developments in Japan, and the path by which a reasonably (if not totally) liberal democracy in the 1910s and 1920s morphed into a military dictatorship in the 1930s. We’ll talk about the various means by which the military grew its influence, and how it was able to use violence to cow the civilian government.Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: It’s Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Humphreys, Leonard. The Way of the Heavenly Sword: The Imperial Japanese Army in the 1920s.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Young, Louise. Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism.

Media (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation unless otherwise noted)

Participants in the Hibiya Riots, which took place after the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
Participants in the Hibiya Riots, which took place after the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
Kanno Sugako prior to her eventual arrest and execution on suspicion of aiding anarchists who had attempted to assassinate the Meiji Emperor.
Kanno Sugako prior to her eventual arrest and execution on suspicion of aiding anarchists who had attempted to assassinate the Meiji Emperor.
Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on the floor of the Japanese Diet (Parliament).
Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on the floor of the Japanese Diet (Parliament).
The Osaka Mainichi Shinbun's front-page coverage of Inukai Tsuyoshi's death (popularly referred to as the "May 15 Incident").
The Osaka Mainichi Shinbun’s front-page coverage of Inukai Tsuyoshi’s death (popularly referred to as the “May 15 Incident”).
Kodoha rebels occupying the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo during the February 26 coup attempt.
Kodoha rebels occupying the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo during the February 26 coup attempt.
Flag used by Kodoha troops during their coup of February 26, 1936.  The text around the hinomaru says "Revere the Emperor, Kill the Traitors."
Flag used by Kodoha troops during their coup of February 26, 1936. The text around the hinomaru says “Revere the Emperor, Kill the Traitors.”
Marines from the Imperial Japanese Navy were brought in to help crush the February 26 coup, since (being members of the Navy) they could be counted on to have no loyalty to the Kodoha.
Marines from the Imperial Japanese Navy were brought in to help crush the February 26 coup, since (being members of the Navy) they could be counted on to have no loyalty to the Kodoha.

 

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5 thoughts on “Episode 15 – The Homefront

  1. Gwen Moscoe

    In this episode you mentioned the US Secretary of Defense commanding the combined Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Actually, this isn’t totally true. The US Coast Guard is currently under the Department of Homeland Security. Before the Patriot Act it was part of the Department of Transportation. Because there are several laws and regulations (Posse Comitatus among others) preventing the US military (excluding the National Guard) from law enforcement within US borders, and because the US Coast Guard is a law enforcement body at its heart, they have to be under a “civilian” arm of the government. That said, in time of war or conflict, the Coast Guard can and has been called to arms and when this happens those forces thus called are under the command of the Defense Department. This has happened in the Gulf Wars as well as during Vietnam.

    That said, I am LOVING your lectures and am looking forward to making rapid progress through them to present. Thank you for doing this!

  2. Gwen Moscoe

    I think it was also in this episode that you mentioned Yamamoto Isoroku. I grew up studying the Pacific War and had subscribed hook line and sinker to the romantic version of Yamamoto’s legacy, that of a man who knew America and was personally against with “the sleeping giant” but who did his duty. I’d be curious what you think of more recent takes on the man from what I understand are Japanese language sources that have been around since the 60’s and 70’s but only since 2000 have become widely known in the West. Specifically, I would mention Shattered Sword which has an honored place on my shelves since it is spectacular (in my mind), but there are other works that have been re-evaluating Yamamoto. I honestly am not sure what to believe these days. I’m a doctor not a Japanese history professor, to paraphrase the great Dr McCoy. What is your take on the Yamamoto legacy? (Or has this been covered already and I just haven’t gotten there since I’m only up through Ep 17 so far)

  3. Gwen Moscoe

    If anyone reads my comment and like me is starting their way through the series (keep going, it’s awesome!), Isaac did spend an episode entirely on Yamamoto and it did a great job.

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