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Politics and philosophy in the new order : a reappraisal of Miki Kiyoshi and the Shōwa Kenkyū Kai Dyche, Andrew Terence

Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of the Japanese philosopher Miki Kiyoshi and his involvement in the controversial Shōwa Kenkyū Kai, an organization charged with the task of formulating an intellectual foundation for Konoe Fumimaro's "New Political Order" and the "New Order in East Asia," the former project being a domestic program of reform and the latter being concerned with foreign policy. The study aims at elucidating on the complexities of the 1930s in Japan and suggests that previous attempts to place Miki and the Shōwa Kenkyū Kai into oversimplified categories has not aided our understanding of the period. It calls for a reappraisal of Miki and his role in the organization, and stresses the broader continuity in Miki's thought and action that has previously been neglected. The argument comprises five chapters. The first is a look at Miki's formative period and stresses that Miki was a complex and critical thinker who was interested in political involvement from the beginning of his career. The second addresses the 1930s, and argues that they were not only a time of distress for Japanese intellectuals, but also one of opportunity. This chapter addresses some key components of Miki's thought and helps to situate him politically. The third chapter compares Miki to Konoe Fumimaro, and argues that while the two men are often portrayed as quite different, in reality their thought and aspirations had much in common. It can be said that Miki was a philosopher who wanted to be a leader, and Konoe was a leader who wanted to be a philosopher. The fourth chapter is concerned with the Shōwa Kenkyū Kai itself as well as Miki's role within the organization, and shows how, far from being an aberration in Miki's career, his participation in the organization can be seen as a logical step. The thesis thus stresses the continuity running through Miki's thought and action and see his role in the Shōwa Kenkyū Kai as reflecting this. The final chapter explains the downfall of the organization, and of Miki.

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