The nation-state, the school, and 19th-century globalization

Japanese childhood, modern childhood: the nation-state, the school, and 19th-century globalization

Brian Platt

Japan’s initial encounter with globalization was also its encounter with modernity. (1) In the mid- to late-19th century, Western imperialism in Asia plunged Japan into a new system of international relations, generating an unprecedented volume of interactions with other parts of the world. Most consequential for Japan were those interactions with the United States and Europe, for they brought to Japan, through a process of hegemony, the constellation of ideas and institutions central to the experience of modernity. Of interest here are three closely related points in this constellation: the political formation of the nation-state, the institution of the school, and a concept of childhood as distinct stage of life worthy of public discussion. (2) Japanese leaders during the early decades of Meiji period (1868-1912) believed that the source of Western power–and the key to Japan’s national survival in the face of Western imperialism–lay in the nationstate’s capacity for mobilizing human resources. When they set about creating institutions to accomplish this goal, they recognized the particular importance of the school, which extended the project of mobilization to Japanese children. In turn, they opened up the child to public inquiry, generating within an emerging mass society a new awareness of childhood–an awareness informed by an international discussion among social reformers in Europe and the United States about the problems facing urban, industrialized societies. The creation of modern childhood in Japan thus provides a case study by which we can trace how pre-existing local conceptions of childhood were transformed by an engagement with the field of ideas and institutions that began to circulate globally during the 19th century.

Using Japan as a case study for examining global themes or processes is a time-honored endeavor. For the first few decades following World War Two, the process under scholarly consideration was not globalization, but a concept equally grand in scope: modernization. As the only non-Western country to have modernized, Japan was the focus of intense interest from scholars seeking to develop a universal model of the process by which societies become modern. The implications of this scholarship were presumed to be global–after all, the context for this Cold War-era scholarship was the effort to present to unaligned developing countries a non-Communist path to modernity. Yet because these scholars tended to see societies as organic, self-contained units and modernization as internally-generated (though manifested globally), they often studied Japan in isolation. They also tended to emphasize the role of Japan’s cultural values in facilitating and shaping its modernization, thus contributing to assumptions of Japanese exceptionalism that remain dominant outside of academia. (3)

In the last decade or so, historians have contested this notion of uniqueness by attempting to place the last two centuries of Japanese history within the larger context of the history of modernity. (4) While eschewing the term globalization, they nonetheless explore the global influence of modernity due to the sudden expansion of interactions between Japan and other parts of the world (mainly the United States and Europe) in the 19th and 20th centuries. This perspective has generated innovative scholarship on a number of areas of Japanese cultural and intellectual life–everything from gender to jazz to concepts of domesticity–and has emphasized the extent to which they were informed by, and contributed to, modern trends and debates that were international in scope. (5) I will attempt something similar with the topic of schooling and childhood. A couple of caveats are in order, however. First, as we shall see, in claiming that a modern concept of childhood was “created” in the context of Japan’s encounter with modernity we need not assume that Japan lacked a concept of childhood before this encounter–even though modern Japanese commentators on childhood often made this claim. Nor does this line of argument imply that the spread of global modernity erased local differences concerning the issue of childhood. Yet since it is these differences that have so often been highlighted in discussions of Japan, (6) the emphasis here will be on the shared territory of modernity, focusing on how Japanese ideas about children were shaped by the global dissemination of characteristically modern ideas about the nation-state, schooling, and childhood.

Schooling, Childhood, and the Early Modern State

The expansion of schooling in Europe and America during the 17th and 18th centuries has often been linked to the creation of modern concepts of childhood. Most notably, Philippe Aries placed great emphasis on the role of formal schooling in precipitating the “discovery of childhood,” arguing that schools removed children from adult society and turned adults’ attention to their particular needs and abilities. (7) Though on a slightly later timetable, Japanese society experienced a similar expansion of popular schooling during the 17th-19th centuries–before Japan’s encounter with Western imperialism. In this section I will examine this phenomenon briefly in order to draw a general picture of the relationship between schooling and childhood before they were transformed by an engagement with the cultural field of modernity.

The expansion of schooling in Japan can be seen in the context of a fundamental, and relatively recent, transformation in the history of education: the widespread proliferation of schools for commoners. This occurred first in Western Europe and North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when clergy and local elites, convinced that a limited education for local masses would have a positive effect upon the moral climate and level of religious devotion in their communities, established schools for local children. Meanwhile, the expansion of the written word into the social and economic lives of ordinary people enabled them to conceive of the potential value of such schools. This convergence of factors established the context for an unprecedented expansion in both school attendance and popular literacy. In England, France, New England, and parts of Germany and Italy, more than half of the male population, and over a quarter of the female population, had received some form of schooling and achieved at least a modest level of literacy by the end of the eighteenth century. (8)

At that time, Japan was just beginning to undergo a similar transformation. The growth of educational institutions for samurai during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries helped to disseminate the idea of “school” while also generating a pool of educated, often underemployed, samurai. During the eighteenth century many of these samurai–along with Buddhist monks and Shinto priests, who had long served as bearers of literate culture–began to open schools, mainly for the children of wealthy commoners. This occurred first in Japan’s major urban centers (Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto), then in regional castle towns. An expanding class of urban dwellers with disposable income, as well as a vibrant popular culture based largely on the printed word, stimulated a healthy demand for such schooling. By the late eighteenth century there were several hundred schools in Japan’s major cities, and at least a handful in each of the castle towns scattered throughout the country. (9)

But the most significant phase of growth in commoner schooling would not occur until the first half of the nineteenth century, particularly during the last three or four decades of the Tokugawa period (1600-1868). It was during this time that village elites began opening schools in communities across the country and encouraging the attendance of ordinary children. Most of these elites had attended some kind of school, usually taught by a wandering samurai, priest, or regionally renowned literatus; for the most part, the schools they had attended were targeted at local elites and were geared towards advanced training in classical texts or elite cultural pursuits such as poetry or Noh theater. The schools they opened in their own communities in the final decades of the Tokugawa period, however, were quite different. Inspired by the desire to regenerate their communities amidst what they perceived to be a widespread moral and economic crisis–and seeking to shore up their own local position in the face of social mobility and unrest–they opened schools in an attempt to alleviate the current crisis by transmitting moral and practical knowledge to members of their communities. Due largely to their efforts, the number of schools in Japan increased exponentially during this period; we can estimate conservatively that over thirty thousand schools were established between 1830 and 1868. (10)

Following Aries’ thesis, this extraordinary proliferation of educational institutions would seem to suggest that Japan was well on its way to its own discovery of childhood, entirely independent of the emergence of such a discourse in Europe and America. Demographic changes in early modern Japan would also seem to point in this direction. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the birth rate and child mortality rate declined steadily, making each individual child a more precious commodity and a safer investment in the household’s future economic health. This same period also witnessed a shift in household structure from large, complex farming units with both non-nuclear kin and non-kin members toward smaller, independent nuclear families. (11) Japanese scholars have argued that this shift helped to create a powerful household (ie) identity–a sense that each individual held a stake in the long-term survival of the family. (12) Tasaki argues that this household consciousness actually prompted the decline in birth and mortality rates, contending that parents, in an effort to contribute to the longterm health and security of the family, began to consciously limit the number of offspring in order to invest sufficient resources towards the raising of each child.

Tasaki proceeds to argue that this household consciousness “produced a rich culture of child-rearing” in Tokugawa-era Japan. He points not only to the remarkable spread of schooling that began in the mid-18th century, but also to the emergence of various rituals that marked the development of the child. The first such ritual in the child’s life actually occurred before birth: the obiiwai (“sash celebration”) ceremony, which amounted to a public announcement of the pregnancy and signified, according to Tasaki, an intent to carry the child to term (abortion was a relatively common practice in Tokugawa Japan (13)). The birth of a child was followed by ceremonies on the third and seventh days of life, as well as ceremonies marking the child’s first trip out of the house and first visit to the local Buddhist temple. Celebrations on the third, fifth, and seventh birth-days continued the cycle of rituals, punctuated by a ceremony marking a person’s transition to adulthood (in which youths, at some point between the age of 12 and 16, would appear appear before the family and community in adult clothing and hairstyles). Tasaki argues that these rituals reveal that parents made a conscious decision to have children and to devote sufficient emotional and material resources to the child’s upbringing, informed by an awareness and concern regarding the child’s vulnerability. The emergence of local campaigns against abortion and infanticide beginning in the late 18th century might also suggest a newfound consciousness of the humanity and vulnerability of children. (14)

Other evidence, however, might lead us to temper such claims of a pervasive concept of childhood in Tokugawa Japan, or at least to highlight its difference from modern articulations of the concept. Kathleen Uno has argued that the custom of multiple and non-familial caregivers–and, more broadly, the casual, un-self-conscious attitude towards child-rearing–suggests a comparatively weak sensibility of children as uniquely vulnerable and needing protection from harmful influences. (15) Penal facilities usually did not segregate youths from other incarcerates or administer different kinds of punishment or rehabilitation. (16) Indeed, there were no public institutions directed specifically at children–schools for children, after all, were entirely private. (17) Despite the growth of a creative and prolific commercial print industry that was obsessed with differentiating among and classifying different social groups, (18) children received surprisingly little attention from the popular culture of the day. The noted ethnographer Yanagita Kunio, who conducted extensive surveys of rural cultural practices in the early twentieth century, claimed that the various games and folk tales uncovered in his research revealed an absence of child-directed entertainment in pre-modern village society. (19) Like Tasaki, Karatani notes the child-related rituals in Tokugawa society but nonetheless argues for a whole-cloth invention of childhood during the Meiji period. (20) The rituals, he contends, fall into the category of primitive rites of passage that signify a “changing of masks” rather than the maturation of a stable, interior self from childhood to adulthood.

Following Linda Pollock’s critique of Aries, we should conclude that this evidence suggests not an absence of a concept of childhood in early modern Japan, but simply a different one. Parents felt an emotional attachment to their children, but only gradually conferred to them the status of full humanity. Children were seen as vulnerable in some ways, but that vulnerability did not lead to conspicuous efforts to shield them from exposure to adult knowledge. Adults recognized that children were in need of special care, but did not believe that such care required specialized expertise of a biological relationship between caregiver and child. They seemed to view children as different, but did not feel the need for elaborate displays of empathy with the child’s perspective. There was also a much weaker sense of the continuity of personhood between a child (particularly one under the age of seven or so) and the adult whom that child would grow to become.

What was also different is that childhood was not so closely associated with schooling–an association that, since the late-19th century, has become commonsensical. Contrary to Tasaki’s assertion, the spread of education in early modern Japan is not necessarily evidence of a “rich culture of childhood,” since the actual practice of schooling in early modern Japan was not, for the most part, oriented towards the specific needs and abilities of children. Though much of what children learned at school had practical applications, curricula were geared towards the eventual mastery of classical (mainly Confucian) texts; commentators on education rarely expressed a need to develop and transmit a body of child-specific knowledge. (21) Nor did they discuss the creation of teaching methods geared towards the particular abilities and temperament of children. (22) In fact, there was little recognition of the fact that “the child” was the primary target of schooling.

This negligible presence of the child in early modern discussions of schooling reflects not so much a lack of an awareness of childhood but a different conception of education and its relationship to the political order. Political power in early modern Japan was decentralized both geographically and socially, with the central government delegating considerable powers of self-regulation to regional barons, caste groups, and communities. Political authorities were interested mainly in maintaining harmony within and among these different self-regulating bodies. In such an arrangement, the basic goal of education was to exercise moral influence over social collectives. Those who proclaimed the importance of popular education in early modern Japan conceived of the school–along with, for example, granaries and public works projects–as part of a repertoire of benevolent Confucian governance that would allow leaders to preserve order by cultivating morality among the governed population. As we will see, the modern state’s interest in childhood derived in part from its need to mobilize individuals to participate actively in the life of the nation, which led to an interest in schooling–and, in turn, to a careful consideration of the abilities and inclinations of children who attended schools. The early modern Japanese state’s goal, by contrast, was to manage and exercise influence over collectives; there was no need to peer into the interior selves of the governed and mobilize them. Educators and government officials, therefore, did not feel a pressing need to examine the nature of those children who attended school, to contemplate what made them different, and to adapt the practice of schooling to their needs and abilities.

The Nation-State and Education

In the mid-19th century, Japan was thrust into an environment that would transform pre-existing views of both education and childhood. The new environment was that of Western imperialism, which intensified an already heightened sense of crisis in Japan and, within fifteen years, led to the overthrow of the Tokugawa government. This environment can also be examined under the rubric of globalization, at least in the “neo-institutional” sense articulated by John Meyer. Meyer uses the term to describe the diffusion of a global model of schooling that, like other modern institutions, derived in part from the political requirements of the nation-state. (23) Confronted by the threat to Japan’s national independence, a segment of the country’s leadership latched onto the model of the nation-state, thus setting into motion fundamental changes in the relationship of schooling and childhood in modern Japan. In this section I will trace how the engagement of Japanese leaders with the various ideas that circulated in this new global setting–particularly the concept of the nation-state–shaped the development of Japan’s modern educational system, thus setting the stage for the discovery of the child as an object of public inquiry and concern.

It was only in the half-century preceding Japan’s encounter with Western imperialism that a new model for schooling had begun to take shape in parts of Europe and North America. Two key factors set the stage for its emergence. The first was the rise of industrial capitalism. Industrialization may or may not have stimulated a demand for education among the general population; (24) however, what is clear is that the demographic shifts and social dislocations associated with industrialization begat new anxieties among elites about popular unrest. Old fears about the danger of over-educated commoners gave way to the even more threatening specter of uneducated urban masses who lay outside the influence and regulation of social elites. (25) Such concerns generated new ideas about how to prevent unrest through techniques of social management. Schooling came to be conceived as one of these techniques. Social elites, intellectuals, reformers, and government officials realized that the school could be used as a vehicle through which to properly socialize the lower classes–namely, to teach them discipline, frugality, and other values conducive to their new role in an industrializing society. (26) Childhood came to acquire special importance as the period of life during which that socialization could be undertaken most effectively, one that needed to be understood and managed in order to improve and regulate society.

The second factor behind the creation of a new concept of school was the emergence of the nation-state. This new political formation was premised on the active involvement of the entire population in the life of the nation. Governments at this time sought to integrate people into the institutions of the state, mobilize them for various kinds of service to the nation, and inculcate in them a personal identification with the nation. It was soon recognized that schools could facilitate these efforts. Just as schools could prepare people for their new economic roles in an industrialized society, they could prepare people for their new political roles as participants in the nation-state. (27) Schooling was therefore a task too important to be left uncoordinated. Nor could the responsibility for schooling be relegated any longer to local elites or the Church, who themselves constituted a threat to the power of the central government. Thus the rationale of the nation-state required that governments assume an educative role, instructing people–particularly children–in values and habits conducive to building the strength of the newly-conceived national community. (28) Childhood therefore became a window of opportunity during which the state could shape its citizenry and thereby strengthen the nation in an era of international competition.

Not long after Matthew Perry’s “black ships” appeared off Japan’s coast in 1853, the differential in power between the industrialized nations of the West and Japan became startlingly evident, prompting some elites in Japan to be open to radical changes in the interests of strengthening the state and maintaining national independence. Virtually everyone recognized the importance of adopting Western military technology, but a segment of Japan’s future leadership believed that Western power derived more fundamentally from the ability of national states to tap into the collective energies of their respective populations. Within a few years after the collapse of the Tokugawa regime and the Meiji Restoration of 1868, these leaders were able to gain a dominant position within the new government and initiated a series of reforms intended to harness these energies for the Japanese nation–in effect, to create the nation-state. (29)

A number of key officials in the new central government maintained that schooling would be essential to this project. Among them was Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883), a court noble who had played a major role in negotiating the fate of the imperial court in the years immediately surrounding the Meiji Restoration. Iwakura was deeply concerned with Japan’s instability at a time when Western nations were maneuvering to gain a foothold in the country amidst the chaos. His solution to Japan’s vulnerable diplomatic position was national unity, which he perceived as the key to strength and prosperity–and, by extension, independence. A unified system of education, he believed, was essential to this goal of unity. In March 1867–at a time when a truly national government would have been a highly unrealistic goal–he advocated the creation of a centralized school system. Such a system, he argued, would allow the government and the people “to cooperate as if of one mind,” thereby “promoting imperial prestige throughout the world.” (30) In a subsequent proposal from June 1869, he reiterated that the goal of primary education was to enable Japan “to present a unified front before the foreigners, both in times of peace and in times of war.” (31)

Iwakura’s proposal to organize education on a national scale under the leadership of a centralized government was new; his view of how education contributed to the task of governance was not. Education was the means by which elites could pacify the people as a collective, rendering them governable through moral suasion. As he remarked in an 1869 essay about the importance of education, “Clarifying the eternal Way of morality is the key to governing the country.” (32) For Iwakura, national unity meant organic social harmony, without the implications of mobilization that would later become essential to Japan’s nation-building efforts. Accordingly, he conceived of education as something undertaken by a government upon a passive populace. The recipients of this education rarely come into view, except as a collective; the fact that these recipients are children goes largely unmentioned.

Two other central figures in the early Meiji government stressed the importance of government-directed schooling for ordinary people, but articulated a somewhat different idea concerning the nature and function of that schooling. In February 1869, Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909), then governor of Hyogo prefecture (but who later would become the chief framer of Japan’s 1889 constitution), expressed a vision of mass schooling in which ordinary people were more than mere passive recipients of moral inculcation:

Today the world situation has changed dramatically. Engaged in

intercourse with all the world, men vie with each other to keep their

ears and eyes open, gaining information that spreads from one person

to another and eventually reaches ten thousand. Accordingly, we have

initiated a policy of civilization and enlightenment. Now is our

millennial opportunity to reform the bad old habits that have been

followed in our Imperial Land for centuries, and to open up the eyes

and ears of the people of our realm. If, at this juncture, we fail to

act quickly and make our people broadly pursue useful knowledge from

throughout the world, we will in the end reduce them to a backward

folk without eyes and ears. (33)

Ito follows these statements by urging the government to open elementary schools “in every locality, from metropolitan districts, domains, and prefectures on down to every district and village.” (34) Like Iwakura, Ito hoped that mass education would encourage unity, but here he emphasizes the role of education in achieving a form of national strength built on the collective strength of the Japanese people. This collective strength, in turn, cannot be fully tapped unless the abilities of the individual are developed through education.

Kido Takayoshi (1833-1877) used a similar rationale in stressing the importance of mass education. He, too, drew a connection between national strength and the collective strength of the individuals who comprised the nation. In a proposal from January 1869 entitled, “Recommendation on the Urgency of Promoting Mass Education, he states, “… if ordinary people are poor and illiterate, the wealth and power of the entire country cannot be summoned.” As an additional consequence, he argues, “Imperial Rule will fall into despotism.” (35) His ultimate concern in this proposal is not the political participation of the individual, but national strength; he conceives of the former quite narrowly, and mainly as a precondition for the latter. Neither can be fully realized without a state-run system of education. “For this reason,” he argues, “it is urgent to adopt regulations from each civilized nation, and to gradually establish schools throughout the country in order to develop the knowledge of ordinary people.” (36) In 1871, when Kido joined several dozen key officials within the Meiji government on a two-year tour of Europe and America, he had the opportunity to observe potential models of school systems firsthand. When he visited three elementary schools in San Francisco in January 1872, he was struck by the sight of over a thousand students learning in unison and following common rules and regulations. The experience seems to have left a deep impression on him, prompting him to write in his diary about how the goals of “civilization” and “national independence” are attainable only through the involvement of the entire population. This involvement, in turn, is made possible only by “cultivating knowledge among the masses.” (37)

While these officials were taking up the cause of education in order to build a nation-state capable of resisting the incursions of the West, a handful of intellectuals were advocating learning as a means of individual liberation and general societal progress. These intellectuals were the leaders of what was called the “civilization and enlightenment” movement. While they, too, were interested in the strength of the national collective, they were more concerned with cultivating independent citizens. Independence of mind and spirit was, according to these intellectuals, the core value of modern civilization, and was necessary to release Japanese society from the fetters of its feudal, hierarchical past. Education, they believed, was the key to developing such independence. The prevailing models of education from the Tokugawa period, however, were unacceptable. Inspired by the utilitarianism of the European enlightenment, they advocated instead what they termed “practical learning.” In a critique of both the content of pre-Meiji education and, more generally, of the role of that education in perpetuating the rigid social hierarchy, Fukuzawa Yukichi (the most prominent of the “civilization and enlightenment” intellectuals) remarked, “Being educated does not mean knowing strange words or reading ancient and difficult literature or enjoying poetry and writing verse and other such accomplishments which are of no practical use in the world.” (38) Practical learning, Fukuzawa argued, was the means to unlocking the potential of the individual and cultivating his or her independence. This would bring Japanese society into alignment with natural law and place it on the path to civilization and progress.

Japan’s first educational system, outlined in a plan issued by the Meiji government in 1872 (called “The Fundamental Code of Education”), reflected this concern with societal progress and enlightenment. The preamble to this plan articulated the purpose of education in terms of its benefit for the individual:

It is only by building up his character, developing his mind, and

cultivating his talents that man may make his way in the world,

employ his wealth wisely, make his business prosper, and thus attain

the goal of life. But man cannot build up his character, develop his

mind, or cultivate his talents without education–that is the reason

for the establishment of schools … Learning is the key to success

in life, and no man can afford to neglect it. (39)

The new Meiji government did not, however, undertake this unprecedented intervention in the practice of education with the primary goal of fostering individual success among its citizenry. In the minds of most Meiji leaders, individual success was meaningful only if it could be mobilized effectively by the new government to strengthen the nation against the threat of Western imperialism. Accordingly, the remainder of the 214-article Fundamental Code of Education laid out an elaborate set of structures and regulations by which the Ministry of Education could direct the educational pursuits of the entire country. Indeed, the very first article of the first section of the Fundamental Code begins with the statement, “The educational affairs of the entire country will be under the control of the Ministry of Education.” In subsequent articles, the Fundamental Code explained that this control would be exercised through a nationwide administrative structure linking all schools directly to the central government. The plan was modeled on the French system; the Meiji leaders who had traveled to Europe and America as part of the Iwakura Mission perceived the British and American systems as too decentralized for a nation seeking to mobilize educational practices behind the goal of national strength. The plan divided the country into eight university districts (with one university per district), each under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. In turn, each university district was divided into 32 middle school districts, each of which was divided further into 210 primary school districts, for a grand total of eight universities, 256 middle schools, and 53,760 primary schools. Together these districts formed a rationalized pyramidal structure with the Ministry of Education at the top, generating policy for all institutions below.

In the Fundamental Code–indeed, in all of the discussions within the Meiji government during its initial attempt in the 1870s to establish a centralized educational system–there is little mention of children. There was not much discussion of the fact that this new system of education would be directed specifically at children, and no discussion at all of the implications of schools for issues or problems relating to children. When Meiji leaders discussed the function or importance of education, they almost always talked generically about its impact on the “person,” rarely addressing its specific implications for children. This is not particularly surprising when we consider the historical circumstances behind the Meiji government’s decision to intervene in the practice of education. The government’s decision was based on its goal of “catching up” with the West by adopting the political technology of the nation-state; based on their observation of contemporary nation-states in Europe and America, the Meiji leaders believed that a national educational system was a means to that end. The government’s involvement in education was not a response to, or a reflection of, patterns of social differentiation in Japanese society that created a widespread consciousness of childhood and the various social issues relating to it. What we see in early Meiji Japan, therefore, is the widespread creation of public institutions targeted at children–that is, schools–before the articulation of an awareness of issues relating to childhood.

Once created, however, schools were instrumental in generating a new conception of childhood. By integrating children into the institutions of government on a massive scale in order to tap the potential of the child and mobilize it for future participation in the nation-state, the Meiji leaders opened up the child as a possible site of public scrutiny and concern. This concern began to surface in the 1870s–only a few years after the Meiji state’s intervention into the arena of early education–and was voiced first by progressive Japanese educators who adhered to the pedagogical theory of “developmentalism.” (40) These educators were informed by the latest pedagogical theories from the West, particularly those of N.A. Calkins and David Page. They shared the criticisms of traditional Japanese education articulated by Enlightenment intellectuals such as Fukuzawa Yukichi, arguing that previous educational practices were impractical and reinforced the feudal social hierarchy. They were also critical of traditional pedagogical techniques. They ridiculed what they referred to as the “pouring-in” method of instruction, by which the teacher would attempt to fill empty minds with the knowledge of classical texts through endless memorization and recitation. What was wrong with this method, they argued, was that it was in-appropriate for children. Drawing from the emerging discipline of psychology that was also shaping the views of educators in the United States and Europe, they maintained that this method did not take into consideration the unique intellectual and emotional state of the child. For example, developmentalist pedagogy argued that though children’s sensory perception is strong, their intellectual faculties are not fully developed; accordingly, teachers should tailor their instruction to take advantage of the child’s orientation towards sensory perception. More broadly, they argued the content and method of education should change according to the child’s stage of development, proceeding from the simpler to the more complex. (41)

An appreciation of the unique predispositions of the child led naturally to concerns about the child’s vulnerability. In 1874, Mitsukuri Shuhei remarked:

From infancy until they are six or seven, children’s minds are clean

and without the slightest blemish while their characters are as pure

and unadulterated as a perfect pearl. Since what then touches their

eyes or ears, whether good or bad, makes a deep impression that will

not be wiped out until death, this age provides the best opportunity

for disciplining their natures and training them in deportment. They

will become learned and virtuous if the training methods are

appropriate, stupid and bigoted if the methods are bad. (42)

Another advocate of developmentalism reiterated these sentiments in an 1876 teacher’s manual:

During childhood, good and evil both germinate in the mind and

compete with one another. What determines whether habits of good

behavior and diligence, or bad behavior and indolence will form are

the standards and models provided by the conduct of parents and

teachers. Especially in Japan, whose culture is still shallow,

parents lack the know-how to educate their children, so it is the

teacher who bears the greatest responsibility. (43)

These quotes express several novel claims about education and childhood. To begin with, these reformers claimed that the stage of childhood is characterized by vulnerability. The child begins with the potential for both good and bad behavior, and is extremely sensitive to outside influences. Accordingly, the influences received during childhood determine the fate of the adult; thus childhood is not just unique, but uniquely important. In fact, the second author argues that childhood is too important to be left to parents, who may not be enlightened enough to appreciate the gravity or complexity of their responsibilities. The proper socialization of children thus requires the intervention of trained experts–in this case, teachers. All of these claims would later become central to modern Japanese conceptions of childhood.

Cities, The Middle Class, and the Global Discussion of Childhood

These commentators were writing in the late 1870s, at a time when discussions of childhood were confined mainly to a small circle of progressive educators. A broader recognition of the importance and uniqueness of childhood would not occur until the 1890s and the early decades of the twentieth century. It was at this time that larger changes resulting from economic development changed the social realities of children and families, while also creating a dense public sphere in Japan’s cities within which widespread discussions of childhood could take shape. These discussions were led by social commentators who were acutely aware of the growing body of commentary on childhood in Europe and America and who sought to apply its theories in an effort to address what they perceived to be the social problems arising from Japan’s modernization. Their advice found a fertile audience in Japan among the growing population of educated middle classes in Japan’s cities. These various developments–industrialization, urbanization, expanding communications systems, the growing volume of exchanges between Japan and the West, the formation of a mass society dominated by middle-class consumers, the increasing interest among officials and social elites in social regulation–converged to produce a variety of institutions relating to children, and marked Japan’s full engagement with modern discourses of childhood.

By the 1890s, the fruits of the Meiji government’s modernizing policies had begun to appear. A modern constitution was promulgated in 1889–a crucial step in achieving its goal of amending the unequal treaties that had been imposed upon Japan during the 1850s and 60s. The economy had been highly unstable during the first two Meiji decades, but beginning in the 1890s, things began to improve: agricultural production began to rise slowly, and manufacturing output quadrupled by 1914. The decision to abolish the samurai and create a national military force based on conscription was vindicated by victories in two modern wars: the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895, and the Russo-Japanese war a decade later. Both of these wars stimulated the growth of industrial capitalism and marked the early formation of Japan’s empire in East Asia. An increasingly dense network of railroads and telegraph lines linked distant parts of the country, fostering economic and political integration. Finally, this period witnessed an unprecedented growth of Japan’s cities. The percentage of the Japanese population living in cities of over 50,000 doubled from seven percent in 1888 to fourteen percent in 1913. Tokyo’s population increased from 1.2 million to over two million during this period; Osaka’s rose from 483,000 to 1.4 million. (44) Both cities were flooded with tens of thousands of new residents from the countryside each year.

The effects of these changes upon children and families were similar to those that had precipitated the growth of child-targeted institutions in Europe and America. To begin with, many of the children themselves were removed from the household to work in factories. By the turn of the century, fifteen percent of factory labor was provided by elementary school-age children, and those that did not work in factories were often sent out of the home for apprenticeships in smaller commercial and manufacturing shops. (45) The growth of industrial employment sometimes removed both parents from the home for extended, uninterrupted blocks of time; this disrupted customary childcare patterns in which parents could tend to children cooperatively during agricultural work and commercial by-employments. Compounding this problem was the fact that industrial employment often pulled parents into cities and away from extended family structures, reducing the number of possible caregivers within the household. (46) And as many contemporary commentators noted (and lamented), within the newly industrialized cities children were not as tightly restrained by the confines of family and community, and could participate more readily and independently in what urban society had to offer.

But the changing social experience of children was only one factor in the emergence of a discourse of childhood. The other was the growth of a segment of social reformers and intellectuals eager to talk about children–and of the mechanism of the mass media through which to carry out this discussion. (47) The journalists, social workers, academics, and progressive civil servants who participated in this discussion were interested in the social conditions of modern urban society. They recognized that conditions in Japan had begun to resemble closely those found in the modern nations of Europe and North America, and hoped to learn from the Western experience in order to formulate social policies that would address the “social ills” of modern Japan. They also believed that their education and their familiarity with trends in the West made them uniquely equipped to diagnose and remedy these ills. They carried out their discussions through a burgeoning publishing industry that included newspapers (seven dailies in Tokyo each had circulations of over 100,000), books, and a diverse selection of both popular magazines and professional journals. (48) Their writings found an audience in the new middle class that had grown up in Japan’s cities. Historians sometimes limit inclusion in this category to salaried employees of corporations or government bureaus, but the cities were filled with many more middle-school and university graduates in a variety of jobs–department store clerks, teachers, telephone operators–whose educational backgrounds (middle school or university graduates), lifestyles, and consumption patterns placed them squarely within this new middle class. Through their consumption of mass media and their participation in public discussion they generated a shared concept of “society” and a consciousness of its problems.

Many of those concerns related to children. Reformers looked with horror at the sight of poor children in the new urban slums, which had become the subject of lurid fascination in the hands of the mass media. Urban poverty was itself a serious problem, but many activists were concerned more specifically with the plight of children who were exposed to such an environment of material deprivation and moral depravity. The following account by two activists depicts this plight:

Because these [poor] parents are without education and must strain

their bodies and minds in order to make ends meet, they do not have

time to pay attention to the children they love. Therefore the

children roam the trashy streets from infancy. They are assailed by

the winter winds and are scorched by the summer heat … Their

environment is filled with evil and temptation which increases their

misfortune … The children don’t know that they are in a bad

environment, and the fact that they play without evil intentions is

quite pitiable. (49)

These words are found in the statement of purpose of one of Japan’s first day care centers, one of several types of institutions created during the early twentieth century to ameliorate the effects of urban poverty upon children. The founders of this particular day care center were Christian converts informed by similar efforts by Protestant social activists in the United States. (50) Before long, these and other day care activists began to work with municipal authorities to expand the provision of day care. Facilities were rare at first; in 1912 there were only 15 day care centers nationwide, mainly in Japan’s biggest cities. By 1926, however, the number had grown to 273, and facilities were now available in regional cities and even in some rural areas.

The day care centers were directed specifically to the needs of families involved in factory labor, usually keeping long hours to accommodate the schedules of working parents. Some day care activists–particularly officials in municipal governments–were motivated in part by the prospect of expanding industrial production by freeing up the labor of parents burdened by child care responsibilities. But most were concerned primarily with meeting the needs of poor children. They based their efforts on the conviction that children had unique and complex needs, ranging from the physical to the moral and psychological; accordingly, they expanded their services to include not only basic child care but also education and health care. Often frustrated by the sense that their efforts were being undone when the children left day care to return to their homes, some activists tried to extend their sphere of influence to parents as well. They created programs intended to spread proper child-rearing techniques among the urban poor, offering lessons in everything from child discipline to household savings and hygiene. Preaching the importance of family togetherness, they even took parents and children on family field trips to city parks, hoping to impress upon them “the limitless joy expressed when the whole family was together.” (51)

The concern for the well-being of the children of Japan’s new urban slums was mixed with fear of those children who succumbed to their unhealthy environment and sank into a life of deviance and crime. Journalists and reformists revealed to a middle-class public a dark subculture of youths on the streets of the big city, telling stories of young people who joined gangs and scavenged and stole to support themselves. (52) Commentators blamed such activity on an exposure at a young age to the corruptive influences of the slums, where children grew up in broken homes with ignorant or inattentive parents and suffered from a lack of schooling and discipline. Anxiety over their behavior prompted reformists to press for the creation of new institutions targeted at these deviant children–aimed less at the prevention of future misbehavior (as was the focus of day cares) than at the regulation and reformation of those youths who had already misbehaved. First came the concept of the reformatory. What was new about this concept was that it treated deviant youths as youths, rather than as adult criminals. Activists well-versed in the latest developments in penology and juvenile reform in the United States in the 1890s called for reformatories that would address the peculiar needs of youths–needs that, it was generally assumed, had not been met in the households of most deviants. (53) The government followed up on these demands in 1900 by mandating the creation of public reformatories in each prefecture. In addition to reformatories, activists and government officials helped to develop a juvenile court system designed not so much to determine the guilt or innocence of the child, but, in the words of one legal scholar, “to evaluate the accused in his entirety, and thus to correct all of the conditions that bear upon the child’s nature.” (54) Through the discussion of juvenile delinquency and the creation of institutions to address it, children came into the purview of public discussion and state policy–not only as victims of the various social problems that plagued modern urban society, but as social problems in and of themselves.

Day cares, reformatories, and juvenile courts were just a few examples of a larger movement in which private activists worked with progressive officials to create a network of laws and institutions targeted at children, both to protect children from society and vice versa. Among the many laws regarding children passed during the early nineteenth century were those barring children from smoking (1900), prohibiting factories from hiring children under 12 (1911), and requiring local authorities to oversee the protection of delinquent children (1919). In addition to day cares, reformatories, and juvenile courts, this period saw the creation of orphanages, nursery schools, poor schools, child medical clinics, and vocational bureaus (intended to provide vocational counseling for youths and link them up with appropriate employers). By the 1920s, child-welfare projects amounted to 60% of the Home Ministry’s budget. (55) Justifying this expansion in child-centered programs and legislation, the Home Ministry’s Social Bureau Chief declared in 1925, “The social weaknesses regarding children are the root of all social problems.” (56)

At the same time that working-class childhood was becoming a symbol of the problems of urban industrial society, reformers began to hold up middle-class childhood as a kind of respite from those problems. (57) In the 1890s, a group of child psychologists, pediatricians, normal school teachers, and other highly educated “experts” began urging Japanese parents to apply scientific modes of knowledge to the task of child rearing. The explosion of the urban mass media enabled them to reach out to a wide audience of middle class parents. They communicated their approach to child rearing through magazines (The Family Companion, The Family Magazine, The New Family) and guidebooks (A Guide for Childrearing, The Family’s New Taste, Family Education). The sudden growth of advice on childrearing assumed, of course, that existing approaches to child rearing were deficient, and that successful parenting required the acquisition of specialized knowledge. In the pages of these journals and books, and in the minds of middle class parents, another image of childhood began to take shape: not “child as problem,” but “child as treasure” (kodakara).

The essential premise behind this notion was that children were distinct from adults, and that parents needed to understand that distinctiveness–to celebrate and nurture the childlikeness of their children. Reformers in the “child study movement” argued that to simply “educate the child by instinct and natural love” was insufficient, because adults’ sensibilities prevented them from understanding the child-specific needs of children. Understanding and nurturing “the childlike child,” they argued, required “scientific knowledge” in such areas as hygiene, cooking, nutrition and psychology. (58) It also required money. Parents were urged to buy the child special toys that would stimulate the child’s curiosity and improve its coordination; to create a special room in the household for the child, filled with items suitable for children (including child-sized furniture and child-oriented decoration); to make elaborate, nutritious, and aesthetically pleasing box lunches for schoolgoing children; to take children to theaters and department stores to enjoy child-oriented entertainment; to purchase subscriptions to children’s magazines such as The Child’s Companion and Children’s Illustrated; to take children to parks and playgrounds designated for children (often referred to as “child’s countries”). One such playground was the “Children’s Paradise,” created in Tokyo in 1917 by a team of child psychologists. This particular playground was a grass-covered space of over 8000 square meters, and included a zoo, a wading pool, a botanical garden, slides, seesaws, sandboxes, and a sumo wrestling ring. (59) The proliferation of such spaces reflected the value that the middle classes now attached to play, which it saw as a distinctively childlike instinct. More generally, it reflected the urge among middle-class parents and social commentators to seal off from the adult world of urban modernity a protected space within which the child could be a child. (60)


These kinds of ideas about childhood that were voiced in Japan during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century–particularly the notion that the protection and regulation of children was essential to overall societal health–were not unique to Japan. Virtually all of the views expressed by reformers in Japan would have been received unproblematically by middle-class audiences in London, Paris, or New York. This was due in part to the fact that social conditions in Japan, particularly those relating to modern industrial cities, were remarkably similar to those in contemporary Europe and North America. But it also stemmed from the fact that the views of reformists and social commentators in Japan were informed deeply by the ideas of reformists and social commentators in the West. Early day care reformers in Japan were influenced by the works of Friedrich Froebel, the German educator who first proposed the concept of kindergarten. (61) Japanese experts on juvenile delinquency based their reform proposals on the “recapitulation” theory of G. Stanley Hall and Herbert Spencer–the idea that the biological and moral development of children mirrored the process of human evolution. (62) Others in Japan chose sides between the opposing views of the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (who argued that social deviants were biologically different from “normal” children) and the English reformer Douglas Morrison (who believed that environmental controls might outweigh biological predispositions towards deviance). (63) The new vocational bureaus in Japan were inspired by similar programs in the West and, more generally, by ideologies of Taylorism and Fordism. (64) Japanese educators, meanwhile, debated the pedagogical doctrines of Johann Pestalozzi and Johannes Herbart and their implications for Japanese children. (65)

By pointing out the influence of Western thinkers upon early twentieth century Japanese views of childhood, my intention is certainly not to reaffirm the stereotype of the Japanese as imitators. The various nations of Europe and North America were, after all, borrowing from each other as well. Together they generated a discourse of childhood rooted in a set of ideas and institutions that historians have traditionally associated with modernity. These ideas and institutional models–most prominently, the nation-state and the school–began to circulate globally in the 19th century through the vehicle of Western imperialism. Japan’s encounter with Western imperialism convinced Japanese leaders of the need to construct a modern nation state, prompting them to create public institutions that could integrate and mobilize Japanese citizens in an unprecedented fashion. Because children were also to be mobilized, the Meiji state prioritized the construction of schools, which at the time were the most prominent child-targeted public institutions in the West.

By the 1890s, these schools, along with major changes in social and economic organization resulting from Japan’s integration into the system of global capitalism, had begun to generate new sensibilities regarding childhood. Within the setting of the modern industrial city, activists and government officials began to engage a new middle class in a discussion about the various problems that beset their society. Some focused on the problem of poor children in the slums of Japan’s major cities; others talked about the need to protect middle-class children from the pressures of adulthood–and, more broadly, from the negative influences of modern society. Both discussions assumed the distinctiveness of childhood, and in the early decades of the twentieth century produced a spate of new laws and social institutions targeted specifically for children. The focus on children, and the urge to create institutions to protect and regulate them, was informed by a newfound consciousness of the social body, and by the characteristically modern ambition to transform this social body through science and reason. A host of new child-related laws and institutions sprang up at this time, inscribing into the Japanese social landscape a set of basic assumptions concerning childhood. As one would expect, the precise contours of the debates about childhood in Japan varied from those in other countries in significant and interesting ways. But these debates continue to take place within a framework of laws, institutions, and assumptions generated by Japan’s engagement with modernity in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


1. This statement’s validity depends on whether one views 19th century developments as the initial phase of contemporary globalization, which is a major debate among global historians. On this issue, see Thomas Zeiler, “Just Do It: Globalization for Diplomatic Historians,” Diplomatic History vol. 25, no. 4 (October 2001): 529-551.

2. Some would argue, along with Jurgen Habermas, that what defines modernity is this element of public discussion. From this perspective, it could be argued that what distinguishes modern childhood is not so much the concept of childhood itself, but the emergence of a system of communication through which the concept can be discussed–that is, in the context of a modern public sphere.

3. Harry Harootunian has pointed out the paradox of exceptionalism within modernization theory-influenced scholarship on Japan: while one of its goals was to model the process of modernization for export to other non-Western societies, its emphasis on cultural values ended up paradoxically rendering the Japanese model inaccessible to any society other than Japan. See Harry Harootunian “America’s Japan/Japan’s Japan,” in Harootunian and Masao Miyoshi, eds, Japan in the World (Chicago, 1993), pp. 198-221.

4. A recent textbook on modern Japan addresses this issue explicitly. See Andrew Gordon, Japan: A Modern History (Oxford, 2003).

5. See Barbara Sato, The New Japanese Woman: Modernity, Media, and Women in Interwar Japan (Durham, N.C., 2003); Taylor Atkins, Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan (Durham, N.C., 2001); and Jordan Sand, House and Home in Modern Japan: Architecture, Domestic Space, and Bourgeois Culture, 1880-1930 (Cambridge, MA, 2004). A comprehensive recent study in this vein is Harry Harootunian, Overcome By Modernity: History, Culture, and Communty in Interwar Japan (Princeton, N.J., 2000).

6. See, for example, Thomas Rohlen, Japan’s High Schools (Berkeley, 1983); Joseph Tobin, David Y.H. Wu, Diana Davidson, eds., Preschool in Three Cultures (New Haven, 1991).

7. Phillipe Aries, Centuries of Childhood, trans. By Robert Baldick (New York, 1962).

8. Mary Jo Maynes, Schooling in Western Europe: A Social History (Albany, NY, 1985), pp. 13-20. These figures are based largely on wedding registration records. As Maynes points out, these aggregate figures are somewhat misleading, since there was wide variation in literacy rates among the regions of any given country, and the literacy gap between rural and urban areas was considerable.

9. On Tokugawa education, see Ronald Dore, Education in Tokugawa Japan (London, 1965); Richard Rubinger, Private Academies of Tokugawa Japan (Princeton, N.J., 1982); and Brian Platt, Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 (Cambridge, MA, 2004).

10. On this late Tokugawa expansion of rural schooling, see Platt, Burning and Building, pp. 47-64.

11. The classic work in English on this development is Thomas C. Smith, The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan (Stanford, 1959).

12. Tashima Hajime, “Kinsei shakai no kazoku to kyoiku,” in Koza Nihon kyoikushi, vol. 2 (Tokyo, 1982), pp. 20-47.

13. Emiko Ochiai, “The Reproductive Revolution at the End of the Tokugawa Period,” in Hitomi Tonomura, Anne Walthall, and Wakita Haruko, eds., Women and Class in Japanese History (Ann Arbor, 1999), 187-215.

14. Ibid.

15. Kathleen Uno, Passages to Modernity: Motherhood, Childhood, and Social Reform in Early Twentieth Century Japan (Honolulu, 1999), pp. 19-30

16. David Ambaras, “Treasures of the Nation: Juvenile Delinquency, Socialization, and Mobilization in Modern Japan, 1895-1945” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1999), pp. 27-63.

17. That is, schools for children; the central and domainal governments often funded academies designed to train older youths and adults for careers in government.

18. On this popular culture, see Mary Elizabeth Berry, “Was Early Modern Japan Culturally Integrated?” Modern Asian Studies, vol. 31, no. 3 (1997): 547-81; and Lisa Yoneyama, Mapping Early Modern Japan: Space, Place, and Culture in the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868) (Berkeley, 2003).

19. See Karatani Kojin’s essay, “The Invention of Childhood,” in Karatani, The Origins of Modern Japanese Literature (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993), p. 125.

20. Ibid., pp. 123-24.

21. Teachers often made primers for children, but these consisted mainly of copy books that would teach students the characters needed to read classical texts.

22. One notable exception to this statement were the Shingaku (an eclectic Tokugawa ideological movement) schools studied by Janine Sawada; see her Confucian Values and Popular Zen: Sekimon Shingaku in Eighteenth-Century Japan (Honolulu, 1993).

23. See J.W. Meyer, G.M. Thomas, and F.O. Ramirez, “World Society and the Nation-State,” in American Journal of Sociology, vol. 103, no. 1 (1997): 144-181.

24. The relationship between industrialization and the popular demand for literacy is complex, and has been debated at length among historians of education. For example, see C. Arnold Anderson and Mary Jean Bowman, “Education and Economic Modernization in Historical Perspective,” in Lawrence Stone, ed., Schooling and Society (Baltimore, 1976), pp. 3-19; R.S. Schofield, “The Dimensions of Illiteracy, 1750-1850,” Explorations in Economic History, vol. 10 (1973): 473-54; and E.G. West, Education and the Industrial Revolution. Not only is there some doubt as to whether industrialization stimulated a demand for literacy, but historians of education are also skeptical that literacy provided real opportunities for economic betterment among working people in industrializing societies. See Harvey Graff, The Literacy Myth: Social Structure in the Nineteenth Century City (New York, 1979).

25. See Harvey Chisick. The Limits of Reform in the Enlightenment: Attitudes Towards the Education of the Lower Classes in 18th-Century France (Princeton, 1981); Carl Kaestle, “Between the Scylla of Brutal Ignorance and the Charybdis of a Literary Education: Elite Attitudes Toward Mass Schooling in Early Industrial England and America,” in Stone, ed., Schooling and Society, pp. 177-191; R. Johnson, “Educational Policy and Social Control in Early Victorian England” Past and Present, no. 49 (1970): 96-119.

26. It would be disingenuous to characterize the movement for educational reform in Europe and America strictly as a cynical attempt to control the masses. The motivation of many reformers should be characterized as “concern” rather than “fear,” and most would view the school less as a “technique of social control” than a “method for solving social problems.” A few reformers, like the Swiss Johann Pestalozzi, saw education as a tool for genuine social mobility. On the other hand, it would be unwise to draw a sharp distinction between “fear” and “concern” in this case, or between “social control” and “social management.” Furthermore, we should separate the motivations for school reform from its effects. However noble the motives of some reformers, centralized schooling certainly provided a new form of social control.

27. The “political roles” that elites envisioned for the masses in the emerging nation-state were usually quite limited, at least at first, and usually did not entail active participation in political decision making. For many government officials, both in the West and Japan, educational reform was stimulated by the need to prepare the masses for military service, not political participation. Where centralized educational systems did emerge in the context of the rise of a representative political order, schools were intended to function as a mechanism of containment rather than empowerment or liberation. For example, Bruce Curtis shows how educational reform in Canada West coincided with the expansion of representative government, and argues that reformers sought to use universal schooling to create responsible, self-regulating citizens whose political participation would not undermine the prerogatives of elites. See Curtis, Building the Educational State: Canada West, 1836-71 (Sussex and London, 1988).

28. Some states were much more explicit and agressive than others in their use of schools as a tool in the effort to consolidate political power. In England and the United States, educational reforms were often initiated by private groups outside the government, and while the regulative functions of government expanded during the nineteenth century, the level of centralized control was relatively weak. In revolutionary Mexico, on the other hand, central government officials explicitly conceived of schools as political instruments and teachers as a political vanguard, both of which would be used to carry out land reform, to organize labor unions, to build roads, to promote hygiene, to create a new patriotic culture, and so on. See Mary Kay Vaugn, Cultural Politics in Revolution (Tuscon, AZ, 1997), esp. pp. 25-46.

29. The ascendance of these modernizing reformers was by no means inevitable. Many influential intellectuals and court nobles, for example, interpreted the “Restoration” to mean a return to a mythic ancient government in which political administration was excercised through Shinto ritual.

30. Iwakura, “Sakugi,” in Iwakura Ko Kyuseki Hozonkai, Iwakura ko jikki (Tokyo, 1903), vol. 2, pp. 23-31.

31. Iwakura, “Jimu suken,” in Ibid, pp. 760-61.

32. Ibid.

33. Here I use Rubinger’s translation of Ito’s document, found in Motoyama Yukihiko, Proliferating Talent: Essays on Politics, Thought, and Education in the Meiji Era, translation edited by J.S.A. Elisonias and Richard Rubinger (Honolulu, 1997), pp. 117-18. The original document, entitled “Kokuze komoku,” is in Shunpo Ko Tsuishokai, ed., Ito Hirobumi den, vol. 1, pp. 422-423.

34. Ibid.

35. Kido Takayoshi, “Futsu kyoiku no shinko o kyumu to subeki kengensho,” in Tsumaki, ed., Kido Takayoshi monjo, vol. 8, pp. 78-79.

36. Ibid.

37. Kido Takayoshi. The Diary of Kido Takayoshi, trans. by Sidney Devere Brown and Akiko Hirota (Tokyo, 1986), vol. 2, pp. 118.

38. Fukuzawa Yukichi, “Encouragement of Learning,” in Fukuzawa Yukichi on Education: Selected Works, translated and edited by Kiyooka Eiichi (Tokyo, 1985), p. 67.

39. A translation of this document can be found in Herbert Passin, Society and Education in Japan (New York, 1965), pp. 209-211.

40. On developmentalist ideology among Meiji educators, see Mark Lincicome, Principles, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan (Honolulu, 1995).

41. Ibid., pp. 29-30.

42. Mitsukuri Shuhei, “On Education,” in William Braisted, trans., Meiroku Zasshi: Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment (Tokyo, 1976), p. 106.

43. Aoki Sukekiyo, Shihan-gakko kaisei shogaku kyoju hoho. Quoted in Lincicome, p. 37.

44. Carol Gluck, Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period (Princeton, 1985), p. 33.

45. Ambaras, p. 92.

46. Uno, p. 15.

47. See Ambaras, “Social Knowledge, Cultural Capital, and the New Middle Class in Japan, 1895-1912,” Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 24, no. 1 (Winter 1998): 1-33; Gluck, Japan’s Modern Myths, pp. 157-178.

48. Gluck, pp. 171-172.

49. Cited in Uno, p. 55-58.

50. Ibid., pp. 52-3.

51. Ibid., p. 65.

52. This discussion of deviant youths and reformatories is based on Ambaras, “Treasures of the Nation.”

53. Ibid, pp. 76-7.

54. Cited in Ibid., p. 117.

55. Uno, p. 136.

56. Cited in Uno, p. 10.

57. The following discussion of middle-class images of childhood comes from Mark Jones, “Children as Treasures: Childhood and the Middle Class in Early Twentieth-Century Japan” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2001).

58. Ibid., p. 67.

59. Ibid, pp 260-61.

60. As Jones points out, this middle-class desire to protect childhood from the intrusions of adult demands and stresses existed in tension with the emphasis on preparing children for a successful adulthood–which meant, first and foremost, pressuring children to succeed academically, particularly in increasingly competitive entry examinations for middle schools.

61. Uno, p. 54.

62. Ambaras, p. 78.

63. Ibid., p 118.

64. Ibid., p. 232.

65. Lincicome, pp. 199-201.

By Brian Platt

George Mason University

Department of History

Fairfax, VA 22030

COPYRIGHT 2005 Journal of Social History

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group