The 1918 Rice Riots helped propel Hara Takashi to the center of Japanese politics.

Episode 175 – The Great Commoner

This week, it’s time for Japan’s first party politician: Hara Takashi. Was he a populist hero or a wannabe elite? And in the end, does that even really matter?

 Listen to the episode here.
Sources
Najita, Tetsuo. Hara Kei in the Politics of Compromise.
Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.
Dickinson, Frederick. World War I and the Triumph of a New Japan. 
Images
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Hara during his time as an attache to the Japanese embassy in Paris.
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The current HQ of the Mainichi Shimbun in Osaka. Hara’s old paper is still going strong.
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The 1918 Rice Riots helped propel Hara Takashi to the center of Japanese politics.
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Hara as a party politician. I think this photo does a good job of capturing his style, which is very clearly an elite one. That doesn’t look like a populist to me.
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Hara Takashi in his formal palace jacket as Prime Minister.
The makeup in kabuki is exaggerated both for the effect of its imagery and in some cases to obscure the gender of the actor.

Episode 174 – All The World’s A Stage

This week, we explore the history of one of Japan’s most popular art forms: kabuki theater. Major themes include prostitution, Tokugawa era morality laws, stagecraft, prostitution, and the superiority of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over The Next Generation.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Leiter, Samuel L. A Kabuki Reader: History and Performance.

Images

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One of the biggest differences between Noh and Kabuki is the lack of masks in the latter. Noh plays like this one keep the actor’s face obscured and move at a far slower pace; emotion is conveyed by delicate movements rather than over the top performance.
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A statue of Izumo no Okuni next to the Kamo River in Kyoto. Okuni’s first performances took place in a dry part of the Kamo riverbed.
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The makeup in kabuki is exaggerated both for the effect of its imagery and in some cases to obscure the gender of the actor.
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A traditional kabuki theater with the hanamichi running towards the stage.
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The various actors of the Ichikawa Danjuro lineage.
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Nakamura Kenzaburo as Imagawa Yoshimoto. Kabuki actors have been fairly successful in transitioning to roles on TV dramas; in general, kabuki has been more successful than noh in keeping up a modern following.
The army's obsession with spiritual toughness was such that eventually it was able to receive a mandate to begin army training before men were even conscripted. Children were given basic army drills as part of their PE requirements starting in the 1920s, with the instructors being former army officers.

Episode 173 – The Maelstrom, Part 11

Today, we’ll wrap up our look at the Russo-Japanese War with some thoughts on its long term consequences. How much of an impact can a war that lasted for a year and a half really have?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States.

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

Drea, Edward. In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army.

Images

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For Russia, one of the biggest differences made by the war and the revolution was the birth of a representative assembly, the Duma. However, the assembly was generally disregarded by the Czar, which only proved to enemies of the regime that promises of moderation and an end to autocracy were so much hot air.
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An execution scene like the one that inspired Lu Xun to try and mobilize nationalism within the Chinese people. Though the Japanese generally did not attack or harm Chinese civilians intentionally during the war, this did not mean that they had much regard for Chinese lives. Accused spies like the one shown here were doomed merely by suspicion.
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The massive folly of the Yamato class superbattleship, shown here (the IJN Yamato on its shakedown cruise) was a direct outgrowth of the outmoded naval ideas of Togo Heihachiro. Nobody could challenge the authority of the victor of Tsushima, which meant that the navy wasted a lot of time refusing to update its ideas or equipment.
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The army’s obsession with spiritual toughness was such that eventually it was able to receive a mandate to begin army training before men were even conscripted. Children were given basic army drills as part of their PE requirements starting in the 1920s, with the instructors being former army officers.
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The burning wreck of the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. The success of the Russo-Japanese War convinced Japanese planners that similar tactics would work on the United States. They did not.

 

Episode 172 – The Maelstrom, Part 10

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

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

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Peattie, Mark et al. Kaigun. 

Images

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Finnish demonstrators in the streets during the 1905 Revolution. In addition to a social upheaval at home, the revolution helped make ethnic separatism in the Russian Empire a more visible problem.
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Russian troops blocking the path of — and eventually firing on — protesters during Bloody Sunday in January, 1905. This event would kickstart the 1905 revolution, with thousands taking to the streets to protest the Czar’s autocracy.
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The drama of the mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin is probably the best known part of the 1905 revolution, thanks to the fantastic film made on the subject during the early Bolshevik years by Sergei Eisenstein.
Count sergei yulyevich witte (left) with theodore roosevelt (center) in 1905.
The American president, Theodore Roosevelt, with the peace delegations at Portsmouth. Sergei Witte is on the left; Komura Jutaro is on the right.
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The Portsmouth negotiations were a huge profile booster for the United States, and for Roosevelt in particular (who got a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts). This postcard celebrates the American role in the process with Roosevelt’s image front and center.
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An excellent map showing the final arrangements between the two sides. Overall, the Russo-Japanese War was far more costly for Japan than the Sino-Japanese War had been, and the benefits were not at all proportionate to the increased sacrifices.

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

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

Peattie, Mark and David Evans. Kaigun.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Images

 

After the battle, Togo's flagship, the IJN Mikasa, was preserved by the navy. You can still visit it at Mikasa park in Yokosuka.

Episode 171 – The Maelstrom, Part 9

It’s time for the Imperial Japanese Navy to bail out the Imperial Japanese Army. But first, let’s enjoy the Russian Baltic Fleet’s Party Cruise to the Pacific!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States.

Evans, David and Mark Peattie. Kaigun.

MacMillan, Margaret. The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914.

Images

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Zinovy Roshestvensky, the Russian admiral who led the fleet to Tsushima and was then knocked unconscious and captured.
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The Knyaz Suvorov, one of the ships of the Russian fleet.
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A British depiction of the Dogger Bank Incident, which almost brought Russia into a second war.
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This famous painting is of Togo preparing to give the order to attack. His cool, collected demeanor in the face of the upcoming battle became somewhat legendary among Japanese commanders.
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The path of the Russian fleet — first to Tsushima and then once the battle began.
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A period woodblock celebrating the victory by showing the destruction of a Russian warship. I couldn’t get a high enough resolution image to read it clearly, but based on the explosion I think it’s supposed to be the Borodino.
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After the battle, Togo’s flagship, the IJN Mikasa, was preserved by the navy. You can still visit it at Mikasa park in Yokosuka.
The Russo-Japanese War was big news around the world. This Italian magazine carried front page coverage of the Battle of Sandepu.

Episode 170 – The Maelstrom, Part 8

In the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, two great powers enter and…two great powers leave? Wait, I’m confused. How are the Japanese winning every battle and still not winning the war?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

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

Nish, Ian. The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05.

Wolff, David et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

Images

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The Russo-Japanese War was big news around the world. This Italian magazine carried front page coverage of the Battle of Sandepu.
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Georgii Stackelberg, the Russian general whose gloryhound tendencies resulted in him leaking the planned Russian attack on Sandepu to the press in hopes of getting credit for it.
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Russian field guns in operation at Mukden.
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A postcard showing Japanese troops storming the ramparts of the Russian defenses. In practice, these kind of massed ranks of troops were very uncommon — charging forward in such a formation was functionally suicidal. However, older romantic notions of what an infantry assault looked like still held firm in many quarters.
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Russian forces retreat towards Harbin after the battle.
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Russian field medics treat an injured soldier. About 1/3 of the Russian force at Mukden was killed, wounded, or captured.
Japanese troops at the Battle of the Sha River (sometimes called the battle of Shaho). Stylized depictions like this print played up the valor and skill of the Japanese but showed little of the hardship or monotony of soldiering.

Episode 169 – The Maelstrom, Part 7

The Russians retreat, the Japanese advance, the losses pile up. Things are starting to get a bit worrisome for the Japanese army; could they potentially win every battle and still lose the war?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

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

Wolff, David, et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

 

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