Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors

Last updated
Daily formal reading of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, at the IJA Engineering College, 1939 Reading of Imperial Rescript.jpg
Daily formal reading of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, at the IJA Engineering College, 1939

The Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors (軍人勅諭, Gunjin Chokuyu) was the official code of ethics for military personnel, and is often cited along with the Imperial Rescript on Education as the basis for Japan's pre-World War II national ideology. All military personnel were required to memorize the 2700 kanji document.

Contents

The Rescript was issued by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 4 January 1882. It was considered the most important document in the development of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy.

Description

The Imperial Rescript was primarily written by Inoue Kowashi and Yamagata Aritomo (two of the Meiji Oligarchs), along with some stylistic flourishes added by the pro-government journalist Fukuchi Gen'ichiro. [1]

The Rescript was presented to Army Minister Yamagata Aritomo directly by Emperor Meiji in person in a special ceremony held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. This unprecedented action was meant to symbolize the personal bond between the Emperor and the military, making the military in effect, the Emperor's personal army. Coming shortly after the Satsuma Rebellion, the Rescript stressed absolute personal loyalty of each individual member of the military to the Emperor. The Rescript also cautioned military personnel to avoid involvement with political parties or politics in general, and to avoid being influenced by current opinions in the newspapers, reflecting Yamagata's distrust of politicians in particular and democracy in general. The Rescript also advises military personnel to be frugal in their personal habits (reflecting back to the samurai tradition), and respectful and benevolent to civilians (reflecting on European traditions of chivalry).[ citation needed ] However, a clause that the military was subordinate to civilian authority did not make it into the final draft.

The Rescript also contains a number of Confucian themes including "proper respect to superiors,"[ This quote needs a citation ] and also draws upon Buddhist influences in that, "The soldier and the sailor should make simplicity their aim."[ This quote needs a citation ] A precept in the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors states that "duty is heavier than a mountain; death is lighter than a feather"; [2] this was later used by Robert Jordan in his book series The Wheel of Time .

Related Research Articles

Katsura Tarō

Prince Katsura Tarō was a Japanese politician and general of the Imperial Japanese Army who served as the Prime Minister of Japan from 1901 to 1906, from 1908 to 1911, and from 1912 to 1913.

Meiji (era) Japanese era between 1868 and 1912

The Meiji era is an era of Japanese history which extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912. This era represents the first half of the Empire of Japan, during which period the Japanese people moved from being an isolated feudal society at risk of colonization by Western powers to the new paradigm of a modern, industrialized nation state and emergent great power, influenced by Western scientific, technological, philosophical, political, legal, and aesthetic ideas. As a result of such wholesale adoption of radically different ideas, the changes to Japan were profound, and affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations. The period corresponded to the reign of Emperor Meiji. It was preceded by the Keiō era and was succeeded by the Taishō era, upon the accession of Emperor Taishō.

Yamagata Aritomo 19/20th-century Japanese military commander, politician, and idealogue

Gensui Prince Yamagata Aritomo, also known as Prince Yamagata Kyōsuke, was a senior-ranking Japanese military commander, twice-elected Prime Minister of Japan, and a leading member of the genrō, an élite group of senior statesmen who dominated Japan after the Meiji Restoration. As the Imperial Japanese Army's inaugural Chief of Staff, he was the chief architect of the Empire of Japan's military and its reactionary ideology. For this reason, some historians consider Yamagata to be the “father” of Japanese militarism.

Ōmura Masujirō

Ōmura Masujirō was a Japanese military leader and theorist in Bakumatsu period Japan. He was the "Father" of the Imperial Japanese Army, launching a modern military force closely patterned after the French system of the day.

Saionji Kinmochi

Prince Saionji Kinmochi was a Japanese politician, statesman and twice Prime Minister of Japan. He was elevated from marquis to prince in 1920. As the last surviving member of Japan's genrō, he was the most influential voice in Japanese politics from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s.

Meiji Constitution Constitution of the Empire of Japan, in effect from 1890 to 1947

The Constitution of the Empire of Japan, known informally as the Meiji Constitution, was the constitution of the Empire of Japan which was proclaimed on February 11, 1889, and remained in force between November 29, 1890 and May 2, 1947. Enacted after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, it provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy, based jointly on the Prussian and British models. In theory, the Emperor of Japan was the supreme leader, and the Cabinet, whose Prime Minister would be elected by a Privy Council, were his followers; in practice, the Emperor was head of state but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government. Under the Meiji Constitution, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were not necessarily chosen from the elected members of the group.

Imperial Japanese Army Ground-based armed forces of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

Imperial Rescript on Education

The Imperial Rescript on Education, or IRE for short, was signed by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 30 October 1890 to articulate government policy on the guiding principles of education on the Empire of Japan. The 315 character document was read aloud at all important school events, and students were required to study and memorize the text.

Japanese nationalism Political ideology

Japanese nationalism is a form of nationalism that asserts that the Japanese are a monolithic nation with a single immutable culture, and promotes the cultural unity of the Japanese. It encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Japanese people over the last two centuries regarding their native country, its cultural nature, political form and historical destiny. It is useful to distinguish Japanese cultural nationalism from political or state-directed nationalism, since many forms of cultural nationalism, such as those associated with folkloric studies, have been hostile to state-fostered nationalism.

The Supreme War Council was established during the development of representative government in Meiji period Japan to further strengthen the authority of the state. Its first leader was Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Imperial Japanese Army and was the first constitutional Prime Minister of Japan. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the Emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials. The Supreme War Council was the de facto inner cabinet of Japan prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Ministry of the Army Former Japanese government ministry (1872–1945)

The Army Ministry, also known as the Ministry of War, was the cabinet-level ministry in the Empire of Japan charged with the administrative affairs of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). It existed from 1872 to 1945.

Japanese militarism

Japanese militarism refers to the ideology in the Empire of Japan that militarism should dominate the political and social life of the nation, and that the strength of the military is equal to the strength of a nation.

<i>Senjinkun</i> military code

The Instructions for the Battlefield was a pocket-sized military code issued to soldiers in the Imperial Japanese forces on 8 January 1941 in the name of then-War Minister Hideki Tojo. It was in use at the outbreak of the Pacific War.

Miura Gorō

Viscount Miura Gorō was a lieutenant general in the early Imperial Japanese Army.

The Government of Meiji Japan was the government that was formed by politicians of the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain in the 1860s. The Meiji government was the early government of the Empire of Japan.

Jakob Meckel

Klemens Wilhelm Jacob Meckel was a general in the Prussian army and foreign advisor to the government of Meiji period Japan.

Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office

The Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office, also called the Army General Staff, was one of the two principal agencies charged with overseeing the Imperial Japanese Army.

Meiji Restoration Restoration of imperial rule in Japan

The Meiji Restoration, referred to at the time as the Honorable Restoration, and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was a political event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ruling Emperors before the Meiji Restoration, the events restored practical abilities and consolidated the political system under the Emperor of Japan. The goals of the restored government were expressed by the new Emperor in the Charter Oath.

Jōtarō Watanabe

Jōtarō Watanabe was a general in the early Shōwa period Imperial Japanese Army, noted as one of the victims of the February 26 Incident.

Yoshikawa Akimasa

Count Yoshikawa Akimasa was a Japanese bureaucrat, statesman and cabinet minister, active in Meiji- and Taishō-period Japan.

References

  1. McClain, James L. (2002). Japan, A Modern History (First ed.). New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company. pp.  201–202. ISBN   0-393-04156-5.
  2. Tsunoda, et al. Sources of Japanese Tradition II (Columbia University Press, 1958)

Text of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors at the Wayback Machine (archived January 20, 2019)