Did Fascism Exist in Japan? An Analysis with a Comparative Emphasis on Germany
Brennan, James M.
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The similarities between German and Japanese authoritarian experiences are manifest. Both nations became world powers following a "revolution from above" in the mid to late 1800s. The Japanese Meiji constitution was modeled after the original German constitution. Therefore, the German and Japanese governments were profoundly oriented towards modernization and industrialization, but stood against an alteration in the political status quo. Both governments were fundamentally conservative with respect to notions of change, they wanted to preserve the power of a certain traditional elite. The German National Socialists used violence, terrorism, and murder to cow their political enemies. Likewise, those on the Japanese right-wing, although they did not form a coherent front, also used tactics of violence and political assassination to remove those who posed a threat to their totalitarian aspirations. A virulent strain of nationalism which often had pan-national components, better termed "hyper-nationalism", was apparent in Japan and Germany during the 1930s and 40s. This "hyper-nationalism" was "beyond the nation" in the sense that it often became a personal loyalty to a "leader figure" who embodied state and nation. Similarly, both the German military and the Japanese military had a direct responsibility to Hitler and Hirohito, respectively. Additionally, the Germans as well as the Japanese pursued the goal of economic autarchy in order to 85 wage total war against a specific enemy. other traits were also shared, such as anti-Marxism, desire for a kind of "Lebensraum", and eventually the goal of world empire. Evident in both the Japanese right wing ideology and the German Fascist creed is the belief that they were superior to all other races and peoples and, hence, they deserved to head a world empire. Lastly, despite the arguments of those opposed to the inclusion of Japan as a Fascist nation, there was most certainly a Japanese "leader figure" analogous to Hitler and Mussolini--the Emperor Hirohito. But ultimately, despite all the evidence which would point to the inclusion of Japan within the "pantheon" of Fascist nations, Japan cannot be considered to have been Fascist in the contemporary sense of the word. Although there are many similarities between the German and Japanese militarist experiences, there are many profound differences as well.