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Print capitalism and the Russo-Japanese war MacDermid, Susan Cheryl


The aim of this paper is to trace the role Japan's print media played in the course by which the nation came to be imagined in the late nineteenth century, and once conceived, altered and expanded in the early twentieth century. By the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War (1905) a shift from a multiplicity of ideological articulations vis à vis the nation to a hegemony of "official" nationalism, which incorporated imperialism, had occured. How Japanese newspapers became an effective and powerful ideological institution which served to facilitate the hegemony of "official" nationalism is here examined. As the manner in which a culture communicates is a dominant influence on the formation of a culture's social and intellectual preoccupations, the monopoly of print in Meiji Japan makes an analysis of it a crucial first step in understanding how Japanese nationalism developed. Meiji newspapers evolved through four distinct phases: "pro-establishment," "political," "early commercial," and "fully commercial." In each succeeding stage of development, news was more finely strained. Print media's commercial coming of age had significant consequences: "official" nationalism became hegemonic, non-"official" nationalisms were effectively marginalized, and print came to play an increasingly central role in the body politic. An examination of editorial coverage of the war indicates the 1903-1905 period was pivotal to this development.

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