History of Japanese Religion: With Special Reference to the Social and Moral Life of the Nation

By Masaharu Anesaki | Go to book overview

THE WORLD WAR AND AFTER

Social and Moral Effects of the World War

WHILE the Japanese nation was being entangled in social unrest and political instability, the World War broke out in Europe. Japan had experienced two wars fairly recently, which stimulated national self-consciousness and brought on many new problems ; but the disasters and miseries of war were not brought home to the people at large, since the battle‐ fields were far away from the homeland. The third war, too, at least in its first stages, seemed to the people a matter of distant lands, notwithstanding Japan's official share in it. They were indifferent to the various issues raised by the war, such as the combat between militarism and democracy, the question of international justice or of the self-determination of nations, the problems of peace and social reconstruction. Moreover, the biological view of human life applied to international relationships found an easy-going acceptance among the intellectuals, while indignation against the Occident's aggression in the East induced the people to discredit the pleas of the Allies and sometimes, in reaction, to sympathize with the German claim for " a place in the sun." 1 But later, the collapse of the great empires, the final outcome of the war and its aftermath, these could not fail to produce profound impressions upon the Japanese.The people little grasped the meaning of the situation and problems, yet the gravity of the situation and its troubles finally became evident to everyone,

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1
Cf. Anesaki, Japanese Views on Present International Problems, in the Centenary of the University of California ( Berkeley, 1919).

-393-

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