JAPAN IN 1925: A SOCIETY IN FLUX
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By 1925 two generations of Japanese had lived through the flurry of fundamental social and political change inaugurated by the Meiji Restor ation. It appeared that Japan ’s transition to modernity would continue apace into the next generations. Underlying Japan’s government-directed transition to modernity was a deep-seated fear of Western domination. To face the foreign challenge, Japanese leaders had adopted many Western institutions, attempting to gain recognition from and equality with the powerful, industrialized Western nations. As a result especially of adopting Western political institutions, the Japanese population enjoyed more freedom than ever before. By the 1920s, the Japanese seemed more than ever to expect that freedom as a natural benefit of their commitment to national modernization. On the other hand, however, the Japanese government feared the implications of a nation of citizens voicing their individual demands. Consequently, by the mid-1920s a long simmering contest between greater democracy and greater government control was coming to a head. By the early 1930s, for reasons we shall examine later, the contest was settled on the side of government control.