Becoming Apart : National Power and Local Politics in Toyama, 1868-1945

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9780674002425: Becoming Apart : National Power and Local Politics in Toyama, 1868-1945

What ties bound region to center in the making of the modern Japanese state? What forces shaped these bonds? How did the local–center relationship change over time? What is its current legacy?

Focusing on the marginal region of Toyama, on the Sea of Japan, the author explores the interplay of central and regional authorities, local and national perceptions of rights, and the emerging political practices in Toyama and Tokyo that became part of the new political culture that took shape in Japan following the Meiji Restoration. Lewis argues that in response to the demands of the centralizing state, local elites and leaders in Toyama developed a repertoire of supple responses that varied with the political or economic issue at stake.

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What ties bound region to center in the making of the modern Japanese state? What forces shaped these bonds? How did the local-center relationship change over time? Focusing on Toyama on the Sea of Japan, the author explores the interplay of central and regional authorities, local and national perceptions of local rights, and the emerging political practices in Toyama and Tokyo that became part of the new political culture that took shape in Japan following the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Using a wide variety of sources -- government records, newspapers, biographies of local worthies, economic statistics, and poetry -- Lewis argues that the national policies put in play after the Restoration and the local responses to them created Ura Nihon, a peripheral zone that includes Toyama and the surrounding region. He challenges the notion of unchanging structural backwardness by considering the national policies and local responses that made for underdevelopment.

Although Becoming Apart centers on Toyama, the prefecture's modern history is a microcosm of a process of political centralization, popular resistance, and imperfect national integration that happened in many other regions, both in Japan and elsewhere.

About the Author:

Michael Lewis is Associate Professor of Japanese History at Michigan State University.

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