Imperial Rule Assistance Association

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Imperial Rule Assistance Association

Taisei Yokusankai
President Fumimaro Konoe (1940–41)
Hideki Tojo (1941–44)
Kuniaki Koiso (1944–45)
Kantarō Suzuki (1945)
FoundedOctober 12, 1940 (1940-10-12)
DissolvedJune 13, 1945 (1945-06-13)
Merger of Rikken Seiyūkai , Rikken Minseitō , Kokumin Dōmei , Shakai Taishūtō
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Youth wing Great Japan Youth Party
Paramilitary wing Yokusan Sonendan
Parliamentary group Imperial Rule Assistance Political Association
Ideology Japanese imperialism
Japanese militarism
Japanese nationalism
Shōwa statism
State Shinto
Political position Far-right
Religion Shinto
International affiliationNone
Colours         Red, white

The Imperial Rule Assistance Association(大政翼贊會/大政翼賛会,Taisei Yokusankai), or Imperial Aid Association, was Japan's wartime organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940, to promote the goals of his Shintaisei ("New Order") movement. It evolved into a "statist" ruling political party which aimed at removing the sectionalism in the politics and economics in the Empire of Japan to create a totalitarian one-party state, in order to maximize the efficiency of Japan's total war effort in China. [1] When the organization was launched officially, Konoe was hailed as a "political savior" of a nation in chaos; however, internal divisions soon appeared.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Uyoku dantai are Japanese ultranationalist far-right groups. In 1996 and 2013, the National Police Agency estimated that there are over 1,000 right-wing groups in Japan with about 100,000 members in total.

Prime Minister of Japan Head of government of Japan

The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government of Japan. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the National Diet and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. He is the chairman of the Cabinet and appoints and dismisses the other Ministers of State. The literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Minister for the Comprehensive Administration of the Cabinet.



Establishment of Imperial Rule Assistance Association Establishment of Imperial Rule Assistance Association.JPG
Establishment of Imperial Rule Assistance Association
Imperial Rule Assistance Association cadres, 1940 Imperial Rule Assistance Association Cadre.JPG
Imperial Rule Assistance Association cadres, 1940

Based on recommendations by the Shōwa Kenkyūkai (Shōwa Research Association), Konoe originally conceived of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association as a reformist political party to overcome the deep-rooted differences and political cliques between bureaucrats, politicians and the military. During the summer of 1937, Konoe appointed 37 members chosen from a broad political spectrum to a preparatory committee which met in Karuizawa, Nagano. The committee included Konoe's political colleagues Fumio Gotō, Count Yoriyasu Arima and ex-syndicalist and right-wing spokesman Fusanosuke Kuhara. The socialist and populist left wing was represented by Kingoro Hashimoto and the traditionalist military wings by Senjūrō Hayashi, Heisuke Yanagawa and Nobuyuki Abe.

The Shōwa Kenkyūkai was a political think tank in the pre-war Empire of Japan.

Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eventually lead to fundamental changes in a society’s political and economic systems. Reformism as a political tendency and hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutionary upheaval is a necessary precondition for the structural changes necessary to transform a capitalist system to a qualitatively different socialist economic system.

A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of any size, although the term usually connotes someone within an institution of government.

Konoe proposed originally that the Imperial Rule Assistance Association be organized along national syndicalist lines, with new members assigned to branches based on occupation, which would then develop channels for mass participation of the common population to "assist with the Imperial Rule". [2]

National syndicalism adaptation of syndicalism to suit the social agenda of integral nationalism

National syndicalism is an adaptation of syndicalism to suit the social agenda of integral nationalism. National syndicalism developed in France, and then spread to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Romania.

However, from the start, there was no consensus in a common cause, as the leadership council represented all ends of the political spectrum, and in the end, the party was organized along geographic lines, following the existing political sub-divisions. Therefore, all local government leaders at each level of village, town, city and prefectural government automatically received the equivalent position within their local Imperial Rule Assistance Association branch. [3]

Syncretic politics, or spectral-syncretic, refers to politics that combine elements from across the conventional left–right political spectrum. The term "syncretic politics" has been derived from the idea of syncretism. The main idea of syncretic politics is that taking political positions of neutrality by combining elements associated with the left and right can achieve a goal of reconciliation. Since this umbrella term is defined by the combination of the two standard poles of a given one-dimensional political spectrum, it refers to quite heterogeneous approaches.


Celebrations on founding of the IRAA Announcement ceremony of Taisei-yokusan no Uta.JPG
Celebrations on founding of the IRAA

Prior to creation of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, Konoe had already passed the National Mobilization Law, which effectively nationalized strategic industries, the news media, and labor unions, in preparation for total war with China.

National Mobilization Law

National Mobilization Law was legislated in the Diet of Japan by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on 24 March 1938 to put the national economy of the Empire of Japan on war-time footing after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Nationalization is the process of transforming private assets into public assets by bringing them under the public ownership of a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets or assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being transferred to the state. The opposites of nationalization are privatization and demutualization. When previously nationalized assets are privatized and subsequently returned to public ownership at a later stage, they are said to have undergone renationalization. Industries that are usually subject to nationalization include transport, communications, energy, banking, and natural resources.

Total war conflict in which belligerents engage with all available resources

Total war is warfare that includes any and all civilian-associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines "total war" as "A war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded."

Labor unions were replaced by the Nation Service Draft Ordinance, which empowered the government to draft civilian workers into critical war industries. Society was mobilized and indoctrinated through the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, which organized patriotic events and mass rallies, and promoted slogans such as "Yamato-damashii" (Japanese spirit) and "Hakkō ichiu" (All the world under one roof) to support Japanese militarism. This was urged to "restore the spirit and virtues of old Japan". [4]

National Spiritual Mobilization Movement

The National Spiritual Mobilization Movement was an organization established in the Empire of Japan as part of the controls on civilian organizations under the National Mobilization Law by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe.

Yamato-damashii or Yamato-gokoro is a Japanese language term that refers to the cultural values and characteristics of the Japanese people. The phrase was coined in the Heian period to describe the indigenous Japanese 'spirit' or cultural values as opposed to cultural values of foreign nations such as those identified through contact with Tang dynasty China. Later, a qualitative contrast between Japanese and Chinese spirit was elicited from the term. Edo period writers and samurai used it to augment and support the Bushido concept of honor and valor. Japanese nationalists propagandized Yamato-damashii – "the brave, daring, and indomitable spirit of Japanese people" – as one of the key Japanese military-political doctrines in the Shōwa period. English translations of Yamato-damashii include the "Japanese spirit", "Japanese soul", "Yamato spirit", and "The Soul of Old Japan". Lafcadio Hearn mentions the latter in connection with Shinto.

For this national type of moral character was invented the name Yamato-damashi , — the Soul of Yamato , — the appellation of the old province of Yamato, seat of the early emperors, being figuratively used for the entire country. We might correctly, though less literally, interpret the expression Yamato-damashi as "The Soul of Old Japan". (1904:177)

<i>Hakkō ichiu</i> Japanese political slogan, popuarlized during the Second Sino-Japanese war, describing Japanese imperial rule as divinely ordained to expand until it united the entire world

Hakkō ichiu(八紘一宇, "eight crown cords, one roof" i.e. "all the world under one roof") was a Japanese political slogan that became popular from the Second Sino-Japanese War to World War II, and was popularized in a speech by Prime Minister of Japan Fumimaro Konoe on January 8, 1940.

Some objections to it came on the grounds that kokutai , imperial polity, already required all imperial subjects to support imperial rule. [5]

In addition to drumming up support for the ongoing wars in China and in the Pacific, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association helped maintain public order and provided certain public services via the tonarigumi neighborhood association program. [6] It also played a role in increasing productivity, monitoring rationing, and organizing civil defense.

The Imperial Rule Assistance Association was also militarized, with its members donning khaki-colored uniforms. In the last period of the conflict, the membership received military training and was projected to integrate with civil militia in case of the anticipated American invasion.


As soon as October 1940, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association systemized and formalized the Tonarigumi , a nationwide system of neighborhood associations. The November 6, 1940 issue of Shashin Shūhō (Photographic Weekly Report) explained the purpose of this infrastructure:

The Taisei Yokusankai movement has already turned on the switch for rebuilding a new Japan and completing a new Great East Asian order which, writ large, is the construction of a new world order. The Taisei Yokusankai is, broadly speaking, the New Order movement which will, in a word, place One Hundred Million into one body under this new organisation that will conduct all of our energies and abilities for the sake of the nation. Aren't we all mentally prepared to be members of this new organization and, as one adult to another, without holding our superiors in awe or being preoccupied with the past, cast aside all private concerns in order to perform public service? Under the Taisei Yokusankai are regional town, village, and tonarigumi; let's convene council meetings and advance the activities of this organization. [7]

Imperial Rule Assistance Association election speech, 1942 Imperial Rule Assistance Election Speech.JPG
Imperial Rule Assistance Association election speech, 1942

In February 1942, all women's associations were merged into the Greater Japan Women's Association which joined the Imperial Rule Assistance Association in May. Every adult woman in Japan, excepting the under twenty and unmarried, was forced to join the Association. [8]

Likewise, in June, all youth organizations were merged into the Greater Japan Imperial Rule Assistance Youth Corps (翼賛青年団), based on the model of the German Sturmabteilung (stormtroopers). [9]

In March 1942, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō attempted to eliminate the influence of elected politicians by establishing an officially sponsored election nomination commission, which restricted non-government-sanctioned candidates from the ballot. [10] After the 1942 Japanese General Election, all members of Diet were required to join the Yokusan Seijikai (Imperial Rule Assistance Political Association), which effectively made Japan a one-party state. The Imperial Rule Assistance Association was formally dissolved on June 13, 1945.

During the occupation of Japan, the American authorities purged thousands of government leaders from public life for having been members of the Association.

Later, many of the leaders of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association became major members of the LDP and the Social Democratic Party.

See also


  1. Wolferen, The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation, page 351
  2. Sims, Japanese Political History Since the Meiji Renovation 1868–2000, p. 220
  3. Duus, The Cambridge History of Japan, page 146
  4. Edwin P. Hoyt, Japan's War, p 189 ISBN   0-07-030612-5
  5. James L. McClain, Japan: A Modern History p 454 ISBN   0-393-04156-5
  6. Aldus, The Police in Occupation Japan: Control, Corruption and Resistance to Reform, page 36
  7. David C. Earhart, Certain Victory, M.E. Sharpe, 2008, p.142, citing Shashin Shūhō
  8. Modern Japan in archives, the Yokusan System,
  9. Shillony, Ben-Ami (1981). Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan. Oxford University Press. pp. 23–33, 71–75. ISBN   0-19-820260-1.
  10. Stockwin, Governing Japan: Divided Politics in a Major Economy, page 22

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1 Fumimaro Konoe 1940 – 1941
2 Hideki Tojo 1941 – 1944
3 Kuniaki Koiso 1944 – 1945
4 Kantarō Suzuki 1945 – 1945
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