chapter  3
The challenge of Sh)wa Restoration radicalism, 1931–1937
Pages 20

From the Manchurian incident onward the Japanese people increasingly succumbed to a ‘subject mentality’ as they projected ‘their naive and passionate fantasies toward the Emperor’, whom they patriotically viewed as the allpowerful symbol of national greatness (Irokawa 1983:35). The role of the state in fostering ‘the dying monarchist illusions of the masses’, which typified this subject mentality, was emphasized in the Comintern’s 1932 Theses to guide the Japanese communist movement. The Theses asserted that although ‘thinly concealed by pseudo-constitutional forms’, the ‘absolute’ monarchy served the interests of the ruling elite and of Japanese imperialism. Therefore, ‘Its destruction must be considered the first of the fundamental tasks of the revolution in Japan’ (Beckmann and Okubo 1969:336).l

The Comintern’s call to arms in opposing the Japanese monarchy, the bureaucracy, the military and the class system reflected Moscow’s own illusions about the prospects of communist revolution in Japan. Nevertheless, it is true that the monarchy was used by the state to ensure public conformity to state authority. Ever since the enactment of the peace preservation law, ‘The use of the enigmatic and highly emotional term kokutai reflected a continuation of the government drive to indoctrinate its subjects in the way of reverence for the Emperor’ (Mitchell 1976:67). Hence, in the early 1930s, great priority was placed by the Special Higher Police (Tipton 1990), who enforced the law, on eliciting the ‘conversion’ (tenk)) of alleged ‘thought criminals’ to the ideology of emperor-centered nationalism.