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Inventing the Way of the SamuraiNationalism, Internationalism, and Bushidō in Modern Japan$
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Oleg Benesch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198706625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198706625.001.0001

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The Shōwa Bushidō Resurgence

The Shōwa Bushidō Resurgence

(p.174) 6 The Shōwa Bushidō Resurgence
Inventing the Way of the Samurai

Oleg Benesch

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the rapid transformation of bushidō into a key ideological pillar of the increasingly militaristic imperial state in the 1930s. It examines the practical application of bushidō in civilian and military education, especially in the context of ‘spiritual education’. The lines between civilian and military life became increasingly blurred as the 1930s progressed, with the country sinking deeper into conflict with China while preparing for an expanded total war. When this came, bushidō had a major influence on the wartime behaviour of Japanese troops and their adversaries, whereby the illusion of bushidō ideology could be more devastating than the acts it inspired. While the dominance of imperial bushidō in wartime often obscures the continuing diversity of bushidō, the great breadth of interpretations added to the cumulative exposure to bushidō among the population, contributing significantly to its perceived legitimacy and acceptance.

Keywords:   Showa, militarism, education, military, emperor, loyalty, surrender, China, ideology, war

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