Kita Ikki was a radical nationalist who lived from 1883 to 1937. Some of his countrymen consider him to be an almost legendary nationalist hero but to the great majority he remains unknown and misunderstood. Early in the twentieth century this man of higher purpose formulated a comparative theory of social evolution which allowed him to examine all countries, East and West, in a new perspective.(Martin 73) Kita Ikki considered revolution to be the inevitable result of earlier evolutionary processes and was a necessary step by which a society enters the modern world. Completing Japans revolution was therefore his ultimate goal and, in his eyes, the duty of all Japanese patriots. His life marks him as an unusual and controversial figure given the radical change in his ideological perspective that occurred in the early nineteenth century. While a young student Kita Ikki was attracted to socialist ideas and met with many influential Japanese socialists. In the July 20 1906 edition of the Japanese socialist journal Hikari, shortly after he published his first work The Theory of Japan's National Polity and Pure Socialism, Comrade Kita Ikki was praised as a "very young and promising socialist". (Wilson 2) Scarcely more than a decade later, however, the same man would write A Plan for the Reorganization of Japan which historians have generally condemned as blueprint for the introduction of a fascist system with some even going so far as to draw parallels to Adolf Hitler's Mien Kampf. (Wilson 2) Authors who have written about Kita Ikki assume some dramatic shift in his thinking must have come during the thirteen years that separated his two books. Some consider that Kita Ikki was the Japanese analogue to the group of European intellectuals who saw in Fascism a way of accomplishing both domestic institutional reform and expanding national prestige abroad while others contend he became disillusioned with Socialism after he participated in the failed Chinese Revolution of 1911. (Martin 83) Neither is the case, the reality being that Kita Ikki's goals were no different in his second book then they were in his first, it was simply a change in tactics that necessitated the internal reorganization of Japan laid out in his Reorganization Plan.
For Kita Ikki all nations had their particular levels of attainment and all countries were in a hierarchy, some lower others higher. China long the center of East Asian civilization had recently been in decline and Kita Ikki believed they were on the verge of a great transformation and while ready, they were unable to break through to the next evolutionary stage. (Wilson 26)The reason for this he believed was Western Imperialism and any true Japanese socialist should be prepared to take action in order to promote China's progress hence his attraction to the cause. After participating in the failed revolution in 1911 Kita Ikki later returned to China after a three year expulsion in 1916. He and his remaining acquaintances from the revolutionary days of 1911-1913 once again believed progress was possible but what followed was a series of disappointments in particular with his own country, Japan. From Kita Ikki's perspective the end of the Great War in Europe should have brought about Japan's willingness to promote China's rightful claims to the Western powers at the Paris Peace Conference but instead Japan sought to gain international acceptance of its war time appropriation of Germany's holdings in China.(Narangoa and Cribb 142) This combined with the poor allocation of Japanese financial aid led to several protests within China against Japans imperialist behavior. The May Fourth 1919 demonstrations in Peking set off a chain reaction of repercussions cumulating with a boycott of Japanese goods in Shanghai. Kita Ikki in response composed a letter with the title Highest Judgement on the Versailles Conference in which he offered his interpretation of the world situation at the end of the war. In the...
Cited: Brown, Myers. Nationalism in Japan: An Introductory Historical Analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955.
Harris, Martin. The Early Life and Times of Kita Ikki. California: Stanford University Press, 1955.
Makiyo, Hori. "Kita Ikki and Japanese Fascism."Rethinking Japan: Social Sciences, Ideology & Thought. Eds. Adriana Boscaro, Franco Gatti and Massimo Raveri. London: Routledge, 1991. 70-86.
Narangoa, Li, and Robert Cribb. Imperial Japan and National Identities in Asia 1895-1945. London: Routledge 2003.
Wilson, George. Nationalist in Japan: Kita Ikki 1883-1937. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.
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