In contrast to the enduring stereotype of a ‘nation of samurai’, this book uses provincial newspapers and local records to hear the voices of ordinary people living in imperial Japan through several decades of war and peace. These voices reveal the authentic experiences, opinions and emotions of men, women and children. They show that the impression of a uniquely disciplined, regimented, militaristic society, which took root in the Western imagination from the 1890s and which helped bring about the Pacific war of 1941-5, is a gross illusion.
Stewart Lone challenges the long-standing view of prewar Japan as a ‘militaristic’ society. Instead of relying on the usual accounts about senior commanders and politics at the heart of government, he shows the realities of provincial society’s relations with the military in Japan at ground level. Working from the perspective of civil society and both rural and urban life in the provinces, Lone investigates broader civil contacts with the military including schools, local businesses, leisure and entertainment, civic ceremonies and monuments, as well as public attitudes towards the military and its values.
This book will be of interest to upper undergraduates, postgraduates and academics interested in military history and Japanese history.