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Modern History Personality: Kita Ikki


Kitas Life

1. BORN
- Kita Ikki was born Terujiro
- April 3rd 1883
- Island of Sado, off northwest coast of Sea of Japan

2. BIRTHPLACE
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G.Wilson: Kitas birthplace was highly influential on his rise to


prominence
The island has a place in Japanese lore as a haven for exiled notables
Men of Sado made of rebellious stuff says Kitas bro Reikichi in his bio
o Tough, rebellious and anti-authoritarian
Islanders influenced by:
o Sonno Joi revere the emperor
o Minken civil rights movement
o Japanese nationalism
Kita shared with Sados previous reformist thinkers:
o Highly individualised personality
Through this radical background Kita developed...
o Resentment of authority
o Permanently at odds with the status quo

3. FAMILY
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Influenced later writings and activities


Father community leader (Mayor) and prominent sake brewer
Family had sumarai ancestors
Family represents the epitome of social developments during Tokugawa
times and exemplified the growth of commercial activity in rural Japan
well being
Uncle Homma
o Introduced to socialism
o He was a fiery socialist
Wilson: Fam background influenced Kitas later achievements and
contributed to rise to prominence as a political thinker

4. EARLY BEHAVIOUR
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Demonstrated eccentric behaviour from very early on in life


Exhibited showmanship

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Experienced a need to impress and command attention


Had a tendency towards fantasy
Showed sensitivity and intelligence
Enthused by Sino-Japanese War his artwork was sold commercially


5. EDUCATION
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Read widely Marx, Darwin... About romanticism, liberalism, imperialism

- Self educated outside influences of Imperial Rescript on Education



6. HEALTH
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Suffered eye condition: Pterygium


Temporarily dropped out of school x2 in 1891 + 1898 to Tokyo
University Hospital
Treatment: daily doses of cocaine
o Impact on physical and mental health
IMPACT OF THESE VISITS
o Broadened his interests
o Fuelled his interests in national events


7. RETURN TO SADO
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Paid scant attention to studies


Terminated education in 1900
Reikichi: spent his time leading the ideal life of a rural semi-intellectual
Spent a lot of time reading: Confucian, Marx, Darwin
o These works were highly influential in his later writings

8. SOCIALISM & EARLY WRITINGS


- 1900 Kita and Uncle Homma travelled to Honshu to hear speeches from
a socialist leader
o Homma declared enthusiasm for socialism
o Kita highly influenced by his uncles conversion
- Periodical Myojo 1900
o Kita influenced by the romantic poetry
o Contributed his own verse
- Began to publish articles on Kokutai in local daily Sado Shimbun
o So critical that the prefectural police came to Sado to investigate
him
- Soon after became an ardent socialist and activist
o Distributed socialist literature
o Staging socialist rally

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- Attracted to utopian ideals of socialism provided him with outlet for


his romantic and emotional temperament




9. RJ WAR
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Context:
o Dissatisfaction over limited gains in Treaty of Portsmouth
o Violent Hibiya riots
Kita was supportive of the war aims against Russia
Sympathised with rioters and believed they were protesting for the right
things but the wrong reasons
o The thought the root of their discontent was in their faith in the
emperor system (which had let them down)
o Kita saw the emperor system as a tool in hands of genro to
manipulate
o Influenced him to write a book spelling out this lesson

Early Life Conclusion (Wilson):


By 1905 Kita had yet to establish a career for himself.
He spent most of his time idly wondering and had an incomplete education.
He was a promising, yet frustrated romantic thinker burning with a desire to
prove his talents in a volatile world!

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TOKYO KOKUTAI AND PURE SOCIALISM


Wrote his book against above post RJ backdrop
Wrote 1000 page manuscript in 6 months
No publisher wanted it
Used family money to publish 500 copies himself on May 9, 1906
Banned by Home Ministry within 10 days!
***See other notes on writings for details about the book

JOINED GROUPS, DEVELOPED INTEREST IN CHINA


After banning of his book, above events, etc... Made contact with Japanese
who were active in giving aid and advice to Chinese revolutionaries
operating out of Tokyo
Developed an interest in course of events in China remained his chief
concern over the next decade
Conditions in China allowed him to play a role in the process of
evolutionary change he believed in
o Wilson: His involvement an adventure for altruistic ends
Accepted by a number of different groups
o Chinese Alliance

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o Black Dragon Society


Attended meetings; addressed Chinese audiences; develped contacts with
leaders

CHINESE REVOLUTION & TRIP TO CHINA 1911-1913


Interest in China/Reasons for involvement:
o Boyhood immersion in Cs traditions
o Wilson: sincere grattitude of what C civilisation had given to Japan
o W: Honest desire to help C throw off shackles of imperialism and
resume her former eminence
*Had been working on the editorial staff of the Kokurykais (patriotic club)
monthly publication with status of guest member
o Used these funds to travel to China at the outbreak of revolution in
1911
He acted as a free agent once he arrived in China
o Did not support Japanese objectives; his chief objective was to do
what was best for China
Supported the campaign for revolution in China
Thought Sun Yat-sen was unfit to lead the revolutionary cause because he
seemed determine to accept foreign aid and emulate foreign models
Wanted a leader free of the disease of over-dependence on Western
ideas and institutions He supported his friend Sung Chiao-Jen who was
a more genuine C nationalist
o Sung was assassinated after his party was elected Kita accused
Sun Yat-Sens colleagues
Japanese consulate in China grew impatient with Kitas activities -> He
was ordered to leave China and not return for 3 years
Chinese revolution had had a significant impact on his thinking (Masaki)

BACK TO TOKYO
Kita returned to Tokyo with his new wife Suzuko who he met in Shanghai
Changed his name to Ikki (meaning Single Brilliance)
Wore Chinese clothing, W calls him a Sinophiles
Wrote Private History of the Chinese Revolution in 1915 upon his return
(published 1921) ***see other notes for details





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BACK TO CHINA 1916-1920


Returned to China in June 1916
At the time anti-Japanese sentiments had increased in China after 21
Demands Kita disappointed
WWI particularly frustrated him
o Japans actions @ PPConference where it did not promote Chinas
rightful claims and instead consolidated its wartime gains
o Anti-J feelings in C exacerbated
Witnessed 1919 May the Fourth Demonstration
o Despaired at resentment against his homeland
o Wrote letter: Highest Judgement on the Versailles Conference his
interpretation of the world situation at the end of the war
All he had worked for seemed vitiated by the resentment towards his
country
Sino-J relations deteriorated Came to belive that the pre-requisite to
alterations in Js FOREIGN policy was a REORGANISATION of the nation
INTERNALLY!
Turned attention back to Japan itself completing its evolutionary
breakthrough

PLAN FOR THE RE-ORGANISATION OF JAPAN


... Thus (above reasons) he wrote this book! A Program of ACTION!
Best known work gives him his reputation
*** See writings notes for details
Manifesto for how Japan should change
Continued historical evolution approach His program would help
Japan achieve its destined place on the scale of historical evolution
No single way, rather a mixture of ideologies and doctrines

YUZONSHA
Okawa Shumei and associates wanted to create a political vehicle for the
emerging taisho nationalism
Kita Ikki was encouraged to join the group.
o Members impressed by Plan for the Reorganisation of Japan
Wilson: their activities often inconsequential
o Lacked a large membership and had few financial resources.
o Yuzonsha is seen by Wilson as a failure.

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Yuzonsha may have infiltrated the military and had some influence on
young soldiers
In 1923 the Yuzonsha broke up
Differences between Okawa and Kita Ikki were cited as the cause
The most problematic issue was Japanese relations with the Soviet Union
Yuzonsha fundamentally weak because of its inability to unify
o Reflected the wider Japanese nationalist movement of the 1920s

WITHDREW MITSUI PAYMENTS, NICHIREN BUDDHISM


Between 1923 and 1936 Kita Ikki was generally out of public view.
Content to write the occasional article and live off the income he received
from the Mitsui Zaibatsu.
Wilson A need to support himself and his family...?
Wilson: doesnt see Kita as having sold-out
o Mitsui wanted to understand this emerging nationalism and hoped
Kita could help them do that.
Szpilman: His financial assistance from politicians and zaibatsu
exemplifies nexus between shadowy figures from criminal demi-monde
and legitimate businessmen/politicians that was a part of Japans political
culture
By 1930s he had almost completely retreated into his private world of
religious mysticism and chanting Lotus Sutra
Nichiren:
o Dynamic popular priest
o From Sado!
o Linked with a somewhat nationalistic Buddhist sect
o Kita influenced by his ideas and practices
Kita fell deeper into supersitition

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- Attraction to Nichiren
o Wilson: Kita saw parallels between Nichiren and himself
o Nichiren a nationalist would have appealed to Kita
- Kita became devoted to the wonderful law of the Lotus Sutra (Wilson)
maintained until his death
- Szpilman: By the mid thirties, with the rapid political changes taking place
in Japan, Kita, increasingly moderate and isolated, had become a political
irrelevancy

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FEBRUARY 26 MUTINY
1936 Kita became involved in the drama of the Ninoruku Jiken!
The Reorganisation Plan had been read eagerly by young officers
o A Sort of Bible for some (Masaki)
o The extent of the influence of Kitas ideas over these young offers
is a subject of historical debate.
Spzilman: Kitas hold over them was weaker than it is
generally believed... [he] admittedly had impact on some of
the young officers, but even that tends to be exaggerated.
o Ideas didnt resonate with everybody... they werent even properly
understood by a lot of those who were influenced
o **See other notes for evaluation of influence
Why were they influenced??
o They resented the privileged position of General Staff senior
officers
o They sought ways to better their position
o Many came from the countryside; they were aware of inequities
o They blamed elites who operated in the name of the Emperor for
improper government
o They proposed the destruction of these elites so that the emperor
could rule

Little evidence to show he was involved in the plot
He believed it would fail
Only found out about it on the day it occurred
Arrested on February 28 and was never released

THE END
A year and a half later, after incarceration and trials, he was executed by
an army firing squad D:
o civillian ringleader for the conspiracy!
o Deemed guilty by ideological association
o *Despite lack of clear evidence he was even involved
Kita Ikki was prosecuted as a civilian under military jurisdiction bad

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He adamantly stated during his trial that he had taken no part in planning
or executing coup
He received a death sentence BECAUSE OF:
o His role as a source of inflammation among officers
o His reputation as a communist had grown significantly
o The Army wanted him out of the way
o The public thought he was a fascist, army thought he was a
communist
o As a precaution against future plots
Executed August 1937

Kitas Writings

THE THEORY OF KOKUTAI AND PURE SOCIALISM


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He published 500 copies himself May 9, 1906


AIM
o Analyse Japanese history/ Question national polity
o Disprove the officially sanctioned interpretation of Kokutai
o Attempted to reconcile the conflict between Kokutai and
socialism by proclaiming that there was no conflict because
Kokutai and socialism were identical Social democracy
characterised the Kokutai
o Intended to redefine both socialism and Kokutai
Broad literary audience in quest of fame

How did he redefine socialism?
o Applied the theory of biological evolution to human society
Kitas view of history
o History was simply the record of social evolution
o History was linear story of evolutionary progress
Belived Japan was at the stage of social democracy in its evolutionary
progress towards utopia
Supported universal suffrage
Wanted to eliminate the political elites through a legal battle

Wilsons critique of the book:
o Kita had a flawed and restrictive interpretation of history
o His linear view of history allowed him to see through the myth of
the restoration
o Had a reasonable grasp of socialism
o Weakness: belief in the absolute validity of his construct
o Failed because of the governments authoritarianism
OR poor writing style? Eg 1000 pages long

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Reception
o Evoked strong praise and criticism
o Angered the authorities banned by Home Ministry within 10
days
o This would have caused Kita great frutstration
Expected it to be widely read and provoke controversy
o Hoped to fight the banning of the book in court (even bought
clothes lol) but this never happened
Even denied the satisfaction of notoriety! (that Szpilman
states he wanted)


A PRIVATE HISTORY OF THE CHINESE REVOLUTION
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First appeared in two parts in 1921


Intended for:
o High ranking bureaucrats
o Military officers
o Those who shaped Japans policies towards China
AIMS
o 1. To write an interpretation of the Chinese Revolution and its
significance
o 2. To show that Japans national interests demanded a
revolutionary change in Japanese foreign policy (A critique of Js
foreign policy)
o Mixture of historical interpretation and political
pamphleteering (Wilson)
THEMES
o Non-Western societies must not imitate Western ways each
couontry has its own evolutionary route towards modernity
o Westernisation introduced capitalism and political doctrines that
did not conform to Japans evolutionary pattern would corrupt J
philosophy
o Capitalism had led Japan, esp in WWI, to embark on W-style
imperialism in Asia
This had come into conflict w Cs evolutionary process and
caused ill feeling toward J
o C needed to achieve its own revolutionary settlement based on
Chinese tradition
o Japans role:
Abrogate AJ alliance and go to war to drive the west out of
Asia

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Free from Westernisation, J could develop as an Eastern


monarchy and C as an Eastern republic
Main theme: In spite of overwhelming military power and successes
of the west, non western societies must not imitate western ways for
every country has its own characteristic evolutionary route towards
modernity.
Wilson: The book provides historians with a detailed narrative of the
Chinese recolution






A PLAN FOR THE REORGANISATION OF JAPAN
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Started the book in 1919 when still living in Shanghai


For 40 days he fasted consuming only water, sake, eggs or small Chinese
lollies
PROGRAM OF ACTION How Japan should change
His reputation as an advocate of violent change can be attributed to this
book
AIM: To address Japans international and domestic problems
sweeping reform
Wrote partly for his adopted son, Taiki (to help him understand his dual
heritage)
Continued historical evolution approach to help Japan achieve its
destined place on the scale of historical evolution
Mix of various ideologies (socialism, militarism, pan-asianism etc)
For Japanese leaders he was hoping to influence

DOMESTIC ISSUES
o Wanted to remove privileged cliques that intervened between the
emperor and the ppl
True union of the emperor and Japanese people only by
getting rid of the financial, military, bureaucratic and
political party elite cliques
o This could only be achieved by coup d'tat.
KEY FOREIGN POLICY IDEAS
o Bringing all of east and South-East Asia under the
leadership/influence of Japanese military and economic power
o Did this occur?
1940 - Greater East Asia co-prosperity Sphere
POLITICAL AND MILITARY CHANGES

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o Advocated removal of elites that were coming between the


emperor and people
His solution? - Coup d'tat led by young military officers
Military officers would be joined by a small educated
civilian elite
o After the coup? Martial Law
Three years of military rule
Parliament dissolved
Council of Advisors- 50 talented men appointed by
emperor
Army to police the countryside to prevent rebellion
OUTCOMES
o All men over 25 able to vote
o Basic freedoms recognised
o Imperial lands handed over to the nation
o Retain bicameral legislative system BUT:
Lower house of the Diet granted more powers
Upper house replaced by a House of Review of
distinguished persons
ECONOMIC REFORMS
o Eliminate large concentrations of land and capital in the hands of
big companies and landowners
o Create economic efficiency and coherent planning
o Set limits on private land ownership and capital
7 new revamped government ministries to supplement the existing
bureaucracy would regulate the nations economy
Evaluation of SOCIAL REFORM THINKING
o Wilson:
Favours the working class
Profit sharing/worker management
Favours subsidies for rural sector
Believed education was a social necessity
o Rejects the role of women in politics but states that women should
have equal labour rights
o All children have the right to 10 years of education boys/girls
should be treated equally
o Defends civil liberties
Right to a fair trial
Right to personal property
LIMITS ON WEALTH
o Limits on amount of land and capital eliminate large private
concentrations

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o Personal property owned by a single family should not exceed Y 3


000 000
o Targeting large companies - Zaibatsu
o Economic wellbeing for all individuals
o Allow Government to achieve defence needs

F POLICY
o All countries must be allowed to reach their final destiny
o Japan would have to expand to be able to support its population
o Present state of affairs is unjust
England and Russia dominate the world order
INTERNATIONAL POSITION
o Japan can bring justice to the world liberating European colonies
in Asia
o J has right to go to war on behalf of another state or people
oppressed by unjust force
o Plan:
Drive Britain back to the Suez (Egypt)
Neutralise USA with trade agreement
Encourage China to defeat Russia in war

LEFT/RIGHT WING?
o Economic and social views are still very much leaning towards the
Marxist/socialist/left-wing approach of his early writings.
o Views on foreign policy represent a militaristic/imperialistic
approach
o Mix of both
Wilson: Kita still believes in social democracy as the final state of Japans
evolution
o To achieve this new tactics must be undertaken direct

CONCLUSION:

o Japan must follow a course of conquest and bloodshed to re-
establish an independent Asia
o Japan will offer the future to all of Asia
o Peace without war is not the way of heaven (war is inevitable)
o Japan has to evolve into a social democracy with rights for the
individual essential (same as 1906)
o To get there Japan must undergo massive upheaval (coup, martial
law)
**more extreme than previously (1906) reflects world
situation and Kitas experiences
Wilsons Problems:

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How do Advisers get appointed?


Must de-modernise for a period of 3 years
A lot of faith in the good sense of leadership
Fails to explain how the system will work on a continuing basis
Little understanding of how organisations work
Stresses men of talent must step forward to lead. Doesnt this
present danger of oligarchs like before?

KITAS WRITINGS
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Reputation as a political thinker


Quite unlike each other
o Different contexts, perspectives and audiences
Constant threads:
o DISATISFACTION w political, economic, social situation
o Nationalism
o Social Darwinism
o Organic theory of the state
Called for popular and egalitarian ends by a highly authoritarian
and elitist means (through time his means became more radical)

Evaluation of Kitas Life



Kita is one of the most written about figures in J history but had a
limited role
KITA AS A PERSON
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Iconoclastic attitude and romatic temprament (Wilson)


An idealist and activist
Szpilman:
o Ultra-nationalist symbol of Japanese fascism
o Japans first authentic revolutionary
o Left wing critic of emperor system and victim of militarism
o Right wing pan-Asian visionary and a nationalist
o Kita Ikki was a critic of the particular shape and process of
Japanese modernisation
o Kita wrote for effect, to impress, to shock, to frighten
Wilson:
o An ideologue
o Favoured radical immediate and drastic change to existing
institution to fulfill Japans nationalist mission and goals
o Was equally influenced by Japanese tradition and western ideas
o Was misunderstood

WHAT WAS/ WASNT HE?


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Kita was neither a typical or average Japanese intellectual

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He was not a policymaker


He was not a charismatic leader of the masses
He was a private and solitary ideologue and activist who strove to resolve
the many tensions of a modernising nation
There was a paradox in his ideas: He was an unrestrained individualist
who never even attempted to found a political organisation

CONVENTIONAL INTERPRETATION: FASCIST


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Kita is viewed as a fascist who converted from socialism.


He is viewed as paralleling European fascists who found a way to achieve
the twin goals of reforming domestic institutions and expanding national
prestige abroad.
These writers interpret fascism as a country that is both capitalist and
militarily expansionist
Japanese historians e.g. Maruyama, Sogoru, Shiso
NOT a fascist lacked defining characteristics




Wilsons Interpretation (Contrary to fascist):
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Kita did not convert from socialism to fascism. Nor did he support the
fascist regime of the 1930s
He was an iconoclast permanently at odds with the status quo
The main feature of Kitas life is not change from one position to another,
but rather continuity and consistency of outlook and ideas
Throughout his career he maintained two chief preoccupations:
o 1. Belief in the desirability of change and modernisation based on
not only Western ideas but also on traditional Japanese attitudes
o 2. Intense faith in Japans national mission to regenerate an Asia
inundated by imperialist power politics

KITAS IMPORTANCE CIRCA 1930s


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Kita was irrelevant by the time of his death


New Japanese leaders had a detailed programme that had nothing to do
with Kita he had no influence on these people

INFLUENCE ON FEB 26 COUP


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Had nothing to do with the preparation or execution of the uprising


His book was a sort of bible for some of the young officers (Masaki)
HOWEVER

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Spzilman: Kitas hold over them was weaker than it is generally


believed... [he] admittedly had impact on some of the young officers, but
even that tends to be exaggerated.

...WHY? Wilson explains Kitas views differed from theirs!


Kita DID NOT reflect the views of the army radicals. Two main points of
difference:
1. Kitas belief in organ state theory.
Kita believed that sovereignty rested with state not emperor
Army believed in Showa Restoration where the emperor had absolute
sovereignty
2. Kitas belief in the role of the army

Kita believed the army ought to become an instrument of the nation- a
popular army

Army believed themselves to belong to the emperor (role to execute his
wishes)
These fundamental differences in ideology meant that Kitas writings
and ideas would NEVER be totally accepted by the army
In reality, his book could serve only as a reference book (W and S
agree)
THEREFORE LIMITED INFLUENCE


KITA AS A THINKER
- WILSON + MASAKI

o Assign IMPORTANCE to Kitas Role as a political thinker


They make close study of his life in conjunction with his
ideas
SZPILMAN
o SEPARATES Kitas life and ideas, calls for CAUTION in viewing Kita
as a thinker
Provides context for actions of blackmail and extortion
o Kitas ideas not very powerful and did not carry great influence
on Japanese policy or political thinking
(his role is to
exemplify nexus etc...)

KITAS WRITINGS
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Contribute to his LIMITED role in J history BECAUSE they attribute to his


failure as a political thinker BECAUSE:
o Varied nature of his works
o Select choice of audience
o Readership
o Banning of his works
Varied nature of works, the audience, and direct purpose
o Kokutairon and Pure Socialism
Intended for big audience BUT banned
o Private History of Chinese Revolution

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Small readership
No perceptible impact on policy in China
*A small contribution CAN be seen in the value it provides
the historian as an account of the Chinese Revolution BUT
no influence
o Plan for the Reorganisation of Japan
Most successful
Did contribute to Ninoruku Jiken

ROLE IN HISTORY
KITA WAS A PERSON WHO WAS NOT OUTSTANDING
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The meaning of his life... has eluded the historians who have striven to
understand him S
Kita proved an outstanding failure at every stage of his life S
By the mid thirties... Kita had become a political irrelevancy S
An advocate of change who failed to achieve
Not a great man valued by historians (eg. not like other 20th century
personalities)

***DID NOT influence 1936 Coup sufficiently to be important (see


above)
***DID NOT write successfully enough to be important (see above)


As a failed inconoclast who faded into the History books with
political irrelevancy, his main role is to:

1. Exemplify Japans persistent tradition of political intrigue, blackmail and


extortion WITHOUT being a revolutionary thinker who changed Japan
- Kita is important because he aptly exemplifies Japans persistent
tradition of political intrigue, blackmail and extortion S
- The fnancial assistance Kita received from prominent politicians and
leading businesses exemplifies the nexus between shadowy figures from
the criminal demi-monde and legitimate politicians that was a part of
Japans political culture. S
- ***This can be discovered through Szpilmans REVISIONIST biography
2. Represent the experiences and ideas of his society
- He manifestly was not [an original thinker] S
He was an ideologue and activist whose experiences mirrored
the many tensions of a nation that was rapidly becoming a modern
urban-industrial society
o In his extreme statism Kita was by no means alone in prewar
Japan. Nor was he alone in his wholehearted espousal of the organ
theory of the state S

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o Kita was amongst the vast majority of his fellow countrymen for
whom tradition played a role at least equally decisive as Western
ideas in shaping attitudes towards modernisation W
o He, like other Japanese nationalists, believed in Japans national
identity, the justice of its national mission and the promise of
progress through national effort W
o Some Japanese called in the name of nationalism for radical
reform of domestic institutions on a grounds that a great
modern nation ought to be doing more for its people. One such
radical nationalist was Kita Ikki. W
***This can be discovered through BIOGRAPHY, esp Wilsons 1960s
SOCIAL bio
Davies: when studying the life of an ordinary person, the significance for the
historian lies in the extent to which it is representative of the experience of a
large class

3. His political ideas deepen an historians understanding of how political history


is shaped by viewing the unfulfilled possibilities of his works

Kita Ikki thought of the total reconstruction of Japan. We should be able to catch
a glimpse of the image of another Japan through his works and acitivities
o Builds up out picture of political history
o Historian forms an image of a given time (the political idea reflects the
situatoion)



WHY IS HE STILL KNOWN AND DISCUSSED?
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Japanese admire those who have failed but have failed with their
principles pure
Continued popularity because of the Japanese admiration of heroes
whose failure is enobled
o Thus widely covered in Eastern History
o Epitome of a failure executed on the verge of success
Not covered widely in Western History
Execution saved him from obscurity
Kita had a legion of followers on both sides of the political spectrum:
o Acceptable to the left: victim of Militarism
o Acceptable to the right: nationalism and pan-Asianism
Kita Ikki thought of the total reconstruction of Japan. We should be able to catch
a glimpse of the image of another Japan through his works and acitivities

o Interests many Japanese historians eg. Masaki



.... PERONISM..?

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Nationalistic and has usually been the creation of nationalist military


officers seeking to destroy privileged classes which have kept the masses
poor
Juan Peron Argentina
o Ideology between socialism and capitalism
o Methods of governing were often repressive. Very much a
nationalist
Similar to Peron
o He sought to rid Japanese society of political, social and economic
elites
o Placed faith in the military to achieve this, and his belief that the
Japanese people were the key to greatness (views all held by
Peron)

Describe the Life of Kita



Kita Ikki was born on 3 April 1883 on the island of Sado as the first son of a
community leader and nephew of a committed socialist. Wilson regards Sados
tradition of rebellious thinkers as influential to Kitas resentment of authority
and disagreement with the status quo; features that characterised his
iconoclastic ideas and actions. From 1891 Kita travelled to Tokyo to receive
treatment for his eye condition known as ptyerygium. His visit in 1898 had a
profound effect on him by steering his interests towards politics and away from
school.
Kita withdrew from formal education in 1900 to pursue the development of his
own ideas, leading the idle life of a rural semi-intellectual.1 He wrote for Sados
local Sado Shimbun where he criticised the government to the extent that he
was investigated by the local police. Kita was not deterred and became a vocal
socialist in his community. He travelled to Tokyo where he completed his first
work: The Theory of Kokutai and Pure Socialism, which received considerable
interest upon its publication in 1906, though within ten days was banned by the
Home Ministry.
Kita rose to some prominence as a socialist, which took him to China in October
1911. He subsequently witnessed the Chinese Revolution which significantly
impacted upon his thinking.2 His actions were viewed with suspicion, however,
and he was forced to leave China in April 1914. Upon Kitas return to Japan, he
began to write his second book: A Private History of the Chinese Revolution, which
was not published until 1921. It was intended for Japans policy makers to
explain the Chinese revolution and demonstrate that a change in Japans foreign
policy towards China was in the nations best interests.
Kita returned to China in June 1916 to observe high anti-Japanese sentiments
after WWI. This caused him to doubt Japans policy toward China and believe

1 Reikichi, Meiji no Nihon
2 Miyake, Kita Ikkis Political Ideas and the Revolution of February 1936: the Chinese Revolution

had caused a change in his thinking, and led to his belief in a military dictatorship and to his
conviction that a military confrontation with the British Empire and Russia was unavoidable.

HSC STUDY BUDDY

that Japan needed to be re-organised internally. His third and best known work,
A Plan for the Reorganisation of Japan, was thus published in 1923 as a plan of
action to reform Japan so that it could reach its destined place on the scale of
historical evolution3.
After 1923 Kita withdrew from the public sphere and immersed himself in
Nichiren Buddhism whilst living off payments from the Mitsui Zaibatsu. During
this time, The Reorganisation became a sort of Bible4 for some young army
officers5 who partook in the 26 February 1936 mutiny. Despite a lack of
evidence that he was involved in the uprising, Kita was deemed guilty for the
mutiny by ideological association and was executed on 19 August 1937.


3 Wilson, Radical Nationalist, p66

4 Miyake, Kita Ikkis Political Ideas and the Revolution of February 1936
5 The extent of the influence of Kitas ideas over these young offers is a subject of historical

debate. Spzilman, Kita Ikki and the Politics of Coercion, p488: Kitas hold over them was weaker
than it is generally believed... [he] admittedly had impact on some of the young officers, but even
that tends to be exaggerated.