chapter  38
The Historiography of Postwar Japan: A Survey of Surveys
Pages 7

FROM THE COMPILATION of imperial chronicles by the early Japanese court to Japan’s defeat in 1945 written history provided moral and intellectual support for a variety of Japanese elites and rulers. Shoguns and Buddhist clerics of the medieval and early modern periods, and nativist writers of the late Edo centuries all regarded the moral lessons of history as valuable appurtenances to their influence and authority. However it was the creation of the Meiji state which linked such objectives to the power of modern government and attempted to impose an imperial historical orthodoxy. As early as 1892 two distinguished professors were dismissed from Tokyo Imperial University for applying scholarly analysis to traditional religion and in 1940 Tsuda Sokichi was driven from his university post for challenging the authenticity of early imperial chronicles. Yet even in these years of restrictive policies historical pluralism survived. In 1932 a broadly Marxist coalition of scholars founded the Rekishigaku Kenkyukai and Marxist discourse remained a significant element in historical enquiry throughout much of the 1930s. Nevertheless these fluctuating traditions of orthodoxy and pluralism were not fully emancipated until the American occupation of the postwar years.