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The Age of Visions and Arguments: Parliamentarianism and the National Public Sphere in Early Meiji Japan

The Age of Visions and Arguments: Parliamentarianism and the National Public Sphere in Early Meiji Japan

by Kyu Hyun KimKyu Hyun Kim


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The Meiji Restoration of 1868 inaugurated a period of great change in Japan; it is seldom associated, however, with advances in civil and political rights. By studying parliamentarianism—the theories, arguments, and polemics marshaled in support of a representative system of government—Kyu Hyun Kim uncovers a much more complicated picture of this era than is usually given.

Bringing a fresh perspective as well as drawing on seldom-studied archival materials, Kim examines how parliamentarianism came to dominate the public sphere in the 1870s and early 1880s and gave rise to the movement among local activists and urban intellectuals to establish a national assembly. At the same time, Kim contends that we should confront the public sphere of Meiji Japan without insisting on fitting it into schemes of historical progress, from premodernity to modernity, from feudalism to democracy. The Japanese state was inextricably linked, in its origins as well as its continuing growth, to the self-transformation of Japanese society. One could not change without effecting a change in the other. The Meiji state's efforts to ensure that the state and society were connected only through channels firmly controlled by itself were constantly and successfully contested by the public sphere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674017764
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/30/2008
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #247
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 520
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Kyu Hyun Kim is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis.

Table of Contents

  • List of Maps, Figures, and Tables
  • Note to the Reader
  • Introduction: Theoretical and Historical Considerations

    Part I: Precedents and Conditions
  1. Political Discourse and the Public Sphere in Transition from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan
  2. The Meiji State, Nation-Building, and the Public Sphere, 1868-74

  3. Part II: Effervescence
  4. Parliamentarianism in Ascendance, 1874-78
  5. Metropolitan Intellectual Associations, 1871-82
  6. Local Notables and the Parliamentarian Movement, 1878-82
  7. “Lecture Circuits” and Communicative Polyphony: The Political Culture of Early Meiji Japan

  8. Part III: Reaction
  9. Parliamentarianism and the Meiji State: Toward the Consolidation of State Ideologies, 1874-81
  10. the 1881 Crisis and the Hokkaido Colonial Office Scandal

  11. Part IV: Development and Institutionalization
  12. Civic Constitutions in the Public Sphere
  13. “Pre-Diet” Political Parties: Parliamentarism Institutionalized (1), 1881-84
  14. “With My Two Eyes, I Want to See the Opening of the Diet”: Parliamentarianism institutionalized (2), 1884-90

  • Conclusion: The National Public Sphere in Early Meiji Japan
  • Bibliography
  • Character List of Names
  • Character List of Terms
  • Index

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