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)