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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Informal Figures of Japanese Imperialism: the political activism of the Gen’yōsha

The history of Japanese nationalism and expansionism remains a controversial part of the nation-building process in postwar Japan. Many historians have struggled to come to terms with the ambivalent role of the past in the processes of modern nationalism and imperialism. In this respect, the history of the Meiji era is particularly controversial.

This talk will focus on the political association Gen’yōsha and its members during the 1868-1910 period. It will show how the association was an integral part of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement and its spearhead in the Kyūshū region. After presenting the historical process that led to the foundation of the Gen’yōsha, it will explain how the group played an instrumental role in the uprising of the so-called tairiku rōnin, and how these political activists where important elements of Japan’s expansionist policies.

Picture: Public Domain | wikimedia