Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The Meiji Education System: Developing the Emperor's Ideal Subject Public Deposited

  • Japan transitioned from what was essentially a decentralized state with an agrarian based socio-economic infrastructure (1868) to an industrialized nation in roughly thirty years (1904). By 1930 Japan had the military capacity to maintain one of the largest maritime empires in world history, controlling nearly three million square miles of the Pacific. The astounding rapidity at which Japan established its prodigious empire produces my chief research question: what institutional mechanism was employed to produce not only the manpower necessary to maintain a colossal empire, but a society that would readily serve an aggressive imperial cause? To ascertain the answer my thesis begins with an examination of the formative years of Japan’s modernization (1870-1890), with a focus on the government’s development of a compulsory education system, the governing philosophy of Japan’s leaders, and the national goals education was intended to help produce. The thesis then turns to the actualization of state ideology into the curriculum of the education system (1890-1930). Finally, the thesis assesses the success the education system had in inculcating the government’s ideals by analyzing soldiers’ diaries during the Pacific War (1941-1945) in order to understand what beliefs motivated men to offer their lives to the state. The findings show the compulsory education system served as the institutional mechanism that forcefully conditioned young Japanese to serve the state unconditionally.
Date Awarded
  • 2012-11-01
Academic Affiliation
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-02
Resource Type
Rights Statement


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