Sprotte, Maik Hendrik (2001):
Konfliktaustragung in autoritaeren Herrschaftssystemen – Eine historische Fallstudie zur fruehsozialistischen Bewegung im Japan der Meiji-Zeit. Marburg: Tectum Verlag (Diss. Universitaet Bonn), 408 pages, ISBN: 3–8288-8323–0, 25,90 €
„Conflict Settlement in Authoritarian Regimes – A Historical Case Study on the Early Socialism Movement in Meiji Japan”
My study is a political and historical analysis of the ways and means employed by authoritarian systems of government to control or eliminate domestic adversaries. Specifically, political measures employed against the socialism movement in the Meiji era (Meiji jidai shoki shakaishugi undô 明治時代初期社会主義運動) are investigated. Under the premise that measures and regulations of the ruling oligarchy against early Japanese socialism were the result of specific, anti-socialistic political doctrine, mechanisms of conflict escalation, its regulation, reduction, and resolution are depicted. When in the end of the 19th century socialist organizations came into being, this led the government to take strict measures aimed at the maintenance of the socio-political status quo which had arisen in the 25 years since the Meiji Restoration. A climate of conflict existed between the authorities and the socialists resulting in radicalization of the socialism movement and in turn ever sterner official measures against the socialists.
the term “power” in its general political context:
the theories of Max Weber (“The term ‚power´ is sociologically amorphous”), Peter Bachrach and Morton S. Baratz (“The Second Face of Power”) and, finally, Steven M. Lukes´ “Radical Review” of power and his three-dimensional interpretation of this political phenomenon as a “critique of behavioural focus”; historical aspects of political power, police and public security from a general perspective;
specific Japanese components of conflict:
criteria of political legitimacy in the Meiji era (kokutai 国体, Meiji kenpô 明治憲法, kyôiku ni kan suru chokugo) 教育に関する勅語, economic development and the foundation of an industrial proletariat, origins of socialism in Japan (egalitarian and utopian traditions in Asia, ideas of the “left-wing” in the peoples rights movement represented by Nakae Chômin 中江兆民), the connection between socially committed protestant Christianity and early European socialism, Kôtoku Shûsui‚s (幸徳秋水, 1871–1911) unique interpretation of the warrior ethic, the bushidô 武士道;
the concept of public security systems in Meiji-Japan:
the formation of police authorities during the 1870´s, the early legislation on public security, the preceding legislative discussions and the contents of the “Law of the Police for Public Security” (also called “Peace Police Law”, chian keisatsu-hô 治安警察法, 1900) and its particular importance for the relationship between the rulers and the socialists. This law prohibited the transformation of political conflict into parliamentary competition of political parties by obstructing political assemblies as well as the foundation of political parties, and by forbidding the political participation of soldiers, women, policemen and others; surveillance of socialists; the ongoing investigation into improved methods for fighting political enemies in foreign countries (e.g. the “Agreement Against Anarchists” of St. Petersburg, 1904);
the development and radicalization of the Japanese socialism movement:
from the first Japanese Social Democratic Party (shakai minshutô 社会民主党), founded in 1901, up to the “High Treason Incident” (taigyaku jiken 大逆事件) in 1910 within the framework of oppressive measures taken by the Japanese government. The antagonism of parliamentary socialism and anarchism as two diametrically opposed instruments aiming to translate socialistic ideas into reality, which had evolved in the Meiji Era, is taken into consideration.
analysis of power relations in the Meiji state:
The political measures of the ruling oligarchy in Meiji Japan appear to be a combination of understandable security interests due to the presence of anarchism and its revolutionary ideological approach and an unscrupulous defence of power, ignoring the desperate need of hundreds of thousands of industrial workers for fundamental social reforms. In contrast to the German model, where the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck coupled his anti-socialistic politics with far-reaching and unprecedented social legislation, the belated measures taken by the Japanese rulers (“Factory Law” (kôjô-hô 工場法), the imperial foundation of the “Saiseikai” 済生会, both 1911) were insufficient and half-hearted. On the other hand, the socialists´ partial dogmatism and ideological intransigence led to radicalization. Both antagonists of the political conflict ended up in a spiralling cycle of violence.
German translation: “Law of the Police for Public Security” (1900), Yamagata Aritomo´s (山県有朋, 1838–1922) private bill to intensify public security (1910), Secretary of Domestic Affairs Hirata Tôsuke´s (平田東助, 1849–1925) „Memorandum on Measures against Socialism“ (07–27-1910), the „Factory Law“ (the version which passed both houses of parliament in 1911); Documents: report of the German Imperial Embassy in Japan concerning the Ashio riots (2–15-1907); report of the German Imperial Embassy in Japan concerning the High Treason Incident (1–30-1911)