Army, Empire and Politics in Meiji Japan: The Three Careers by Stewart Lone (auth.)

By Stewart Lone (auth.)

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Extra info for Army, Empire and Politics in Meiji Japan: The Three Careers of General Katsura Tarō

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These activities highlight the place of empire in Meiji politics of the 1890s, and the attitudes of leading figures at home towards Japan's imperial opportunities and responsibilities. Initially, the acquisition of a colonial empire brought Japan neither economic nor strategic benefit. What it did bring was a feeling of international prestige and, to a nation on the wrong side of the global ethnic divide, this was of considerable value. Writing in 1898, Katsura argued that some had earlier used Japan's geographical location to label it the Britain of the Far East but in reality it had been more akin to Scandinavia lying separate and adrift from Europe.

However, as Katsura was to note at the war's end, the japanese were ready to slide into lUXUry and indulgence once they felt secure; positive support for the military was then and always conditional on victories continuing and there being some quantitative reward at a war's end. 8 In the earlier Katsura-Kawakami letter, the principal audience envisaged for a demonstration of japanese military prowess was the imperial powers. In order to impress friends and enemies alike, the army in 1894-95 was determined to emphasise japan's 'civilisation' which, in practice, came to mean military efficiency and discipline.

On New Year's Day 1896, a large rebel force attacked Taipei and, after being repulsed by japanese troops, took revenge on japanese civilians in the outskirts; many of the bodies were found to have been tortured and mutilated. Then, in june 1896, the central Taulok district was in chaos as rebels took control. In recovering this territory, japanese troops razed thirty villages accused of harbouring guerrillas and murdered many innocents in the process. 7 What this violence further demonstrates, however, is that the Japanese army in later years did not suddenly lapse into brutality.

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