- 法政大学国際日本学研究所, フランス国立科学研究学院東アジア文明研究所, ストラスブール大学現代言語学部日本語学科, アルザス欧州日本学研究所
- Centre européen d'études japonaises d'Alsace
Kokutai or National Structure had an important significance in Japan after the Meiji Era. Especially after the enforcement of the Peace Preservation Law (1925), democratic movements using the term “Taisho Democracy” were constrained by the authorities. This was followed by further restrictions prohibiting associations aiming to “change the Kokutai” [Japan’s politiy] after delegalizing the Theory of the Emperor as an Organ of Government (1935), and the declaration of the Kokutai Meicho Statement by the Okada Keisuke Cabinet (1935). The development towards a totalitarian system with the exclusion of the democratic parties and the creation of the Taisei Yokusankai took place under such conditions. Ishibashi Tanzan, a well known liberalist and democrat in the pre-war period, was opposed to interference with the party government and repression of the political parties, and criticised the Taisei Yokusan political system. In his criticism Ishibashi referred to Article 1 of Gokajō no Goseimon (the Charter Oath) promulgated in 1868, “Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion.,” and pointed out that totalitarianism was not in agreement with the Japanese national structure. Most of those advocating totalitarianism, held that totalitarianism was a natural consequence of upholding the Kokutai. In this presentation we focus on Kokutai as the symbol for Japan’s body politic and the basis of totalitarianism, and discuss how Ishibashi by contrast was able to promote the principle of liberalism or democracy through his interpretation of the Charter Oath.