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Youth and Rural Modernity in Japan, 1900s–20s

  • Sayaka Chatani
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)

Abstract

At the turn of the twentieth century, social leaders in Japan and around the world saw the development of youth movements as having an essential role to play in the creation of modern society. In their eyes, youth represented the potentiality of modernity. An industrializing Japanese society ushered youth to the fore in a variety of ways. By the 1920s, elite students in the modern school system, highly trained in Western knowledge and destined for careers as bureaucrats, were referred to as ‘the engine of the nation’. Other students led socialist and communist movements as self-styled ‘vanguards’ of society. On the street, an increasing number of culturally subversive urban youth — sometimes called ‘moga’ (modern girls) and ‘mobo’ (modern boys) — embodied modern consumer culture and urban decadence. But while these archetypes of youth prevailed in big cities, the countryside also witnessed the rise of youth — pure, strong, and hardworking agrarian youth came to symbolize Japan’s masculine empire.

Keywords

Youth Group Urban Youth Miyagi Prefecture Rural Youth Rural Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    L. Young (2013) Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press), p. 84. The number of people living in rural areas differs depending on how one defines ‘rural’ areas. According to the national census, about 49 million (76 per cent) lived in ‘gun-bu’ and 15.4 million (24 per cent) lived in ‘shi-bu’ even in 1930, when urban migration was a dominant social phenomenon. In a different measure, those living in villages and towns under the population size ol 20,000 also constituted 76 per cent.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    The first national network was established in 1915. State bureaucrats established the national headquarters, the Japan Youth Club [Nihon seinenkan], in Tokyo in 1921. The national network was amalgamated into the Greater Japan Seinendan Federation in 1924, which absorbed the seinendan federations in Taiwan and Korea in 1938. It was renamed the Greater Japan Seinendan the following year, and was merged with similar national organizations of young women and boys to form the Greater Japan Seishônendan in 1941. On these formal changes in institutions, see T. Kumagai (1942) Dai Nihon Seinendanshi (Tokyo: Nihon Seinenkan) and various other publications by the Japan Youth Club. The seinendan were reduced back to village-centered organizations (although still headed by the Japan Youth Club) after the end of World War II.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Associations for young women also spread, although on a much smaller scale. For discussion on young women’s groups in the Japanese countryside, see Y. Watanabe (1997) Kindai Nihon joshi shakai kyôiku seiritsushi (Tokyo: Akashi shoten).Google Scholar
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    The most comprehensive accounts of this include K. Hirayama (1978) Seinen shûdanshi kenkyû josetsu, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Shinsensha)Google Scholar
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  6. 6.
    Only 20 per cent of the young male population passed the conscription exam during Meiji, and it only increased to 40–50 per cent during the Taisho (1912–26) and early Showa periods (1926–89). See Y. Katô (1996) Chôheisei to kindai Nihon (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kôbunkan), pp. 65–7.Google Scholar
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    Tenancy had increased from about 27 per cent of arable land in 1868 to 45 per cent in 1908. Okada, ‘Seinendan undô no haha, Yamamoto Takinosuke no shôgai to shisô’, p. 2; A. Waswo (1988) ‘The Transformation of Rural Society 1900–1950’ in P. Duus (ed.) The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 6: The Twentieth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press), p. 543.Google Scholar
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    Ryôminsha (1911) Chihd seinen no jikaku (Tokyo: Rakuyûdô), p. 9. A similar argument appears in Maeda, Chihd seinen no tebiki, pp. 11–14.Google Scholar
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    See K. Pyle (1973) ‘The Technology of Japanese Nationalism: The Local Improvement Movement, 1900–1918’, Journal of Asian Studies, 33 (1), 51–65, for more detail on the Local Improvement Movement.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Y. Norisugi (1917) ‘Senji ni okeru doitsu seinen wo ronjite wagakuni no seinen ni oyobu’, Miyagi kyôiku, 235, 16–20.Google Scholar
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    Y. Kawai (1929) Tanaka Giichi den (Tokyo: Tanaka Giichi den hensansho), p. 306;Google Scholar
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    Monbushô futsû gakumu-kyoku (1921) Zenkoku seinendan no jissai (Tokyo: Monbushô), p. 32.Google Scholar
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    Monbushô (1910) Kansai shokenka seinenkai jôkyô torishirabesho (Tokyo: Monbushô).Google Scholar
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    See Hiroshima-ken (1910) Hiroshima-kenka seinendantai jôkkô torishirabesho (Hiroshima: Hiroshima-ken naimu-bu).Google Scholar
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    Gunma-ken (1909) Gunma-ken seinen yagakkai jôkyô shirabe (Maebashi: Gunma-ken naimubu).Google Scholar
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  27. 39.
    ‘Aru seinen no otakebi jinsei ha doryoku’, Yamane seishi kaihô, 32, 1 September 1927, 1–2. Nakano sei, ‘Seikô wa doryoku kara’, Yamane seishi kaihô, 33, 1 October 1927, 1–2.Google Scholar
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    R. Tahata, ‘Itoshiki kora no tameni 7’, Yamane seishi kaihô, 19, 25 August 1926, p. 1.Google Scholar
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    Ishigaki Yuki sei ‘Seikatsu no igi: Nanji wa nazeni ikite irunoka’, Yamane seishi kaihô, 19, 15 August 1926, p. 1; Suzuki Jôichi ‘Kibô wa seinen no inochi’, Akitashi seinendan danpô, 3, 20 November 1926, p. 1.Google Scholar
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    R. Kimura, ‘Nôson seinen no shinro’, Yamane seishi kaihô, 23, 5 December 1926, pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
  31. 51.
    Furukawa shishi hensan iinkai (2005) Furukawa shishi dai-9 kan shiryô IV: kindai, gendai (Miyagi: Furukawashi), p. 470. 40 ha is equivalent of 0.4 km2.Google Scholar
  32. 52.
    Personal information about Katô Einojô is drawn from an interview with Katô Haruhiko, 24 April 2012 in Ôsaki city, Miyagi, and Katô Einojô’s memoirs: H. Katô (ed.) (year unknown, probably around 1987) Jinsei sanmyaku yume bôbô: Katô Einojô ikôshû (Ôsaki city: Self-published).Google Scholar
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  34. 56.
    For the development of labor relationships and agricultural politics in this region, see S. Sunaga (ed.) (1966) Kindai Nihon no jinushi to nômin (Tokyo: Ochanomizu shobô), pp. 303–83.Google Scholar
  35. 57.
    See R. Smethurst and R. P. Dore and T. Ôuchi (1971) ‘Rural Origins of Japanese Fascism’ in J. W. Morley (ed.) Dilemmas of Growth in Prewar Japan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), pp. 181–209.Google Scholar
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    T. Yonekura (1984) Miyagi kusa no ne undo no gunzô (Sendai: Azuma shobô), p. 80.Google Scholar
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    Yonekura, Miyagi kusa no ne undô no gunzô, pp. 104–14; Y. Saitô (1985) Monogatari Miyagi-ken nômin undôshi chû (Sendai: Hikari shobô), pp. 7–32.Google Scholar

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© Sayaka Chatani 2015

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