The Ideology and Dynamics of Japanese Fascism
What mainly characterizes the formation of the Japanese radical fascist movement from the Blood Pledge Corps Incident until the February Incident is that until the very last its practical managers had no mass organization and showed no particular zeal for organizing the masses. Rather they made it from first to last a movement of a limited number of "patriots." The heroism, or the consciousness of the "patriot" bound up with the Japanese fascist movement, acted as a check on its development on a mass basis. For example, Tachibana Kōsaburō in his Principles of the Japanese Patriotic Reformation writes as follows:
What I now emphasize, and ask you all to engrave on your hearts, is the cardinal fact that a nation-wide social reformation can be initiated only by a group of patriots who are capable of pursuing the great aim of saving the country and relieving the people in accordance with the will of Heaven.... Needless to say, the number of patriots who can be found to initiate this great task at the sacrifice of their lives will never be large. But it is also a fact that scattered among all classes of society there are patriots who can carry out the will of Heaven if it chooses them to do so.... People who call for reformation must be willing to sacrifice their lives for the people. Only a group of patriots who would sacrifice their lives for the great aim of saving the country and relieving the people can be the leaders of a national reform movement. In view of the present state of Japan, such patriots can be found only among you military men,
and it is above all the farmers who will respond to your call. This is why I must ask you to contemplate deeply and to make an iron decision.
In this way Tachibana whipped up the strong patriotic spirit of the military class, which was already imbued with what Nietzsche called "the pathos of distance."
Because of this basic idea the movement naturally developed as the visionary idealism of a minority and failed to organize and mobilize the masses. This was allied to other distinctive characteristics of the Japanese fascist movement, such as its extreme fantasy, abstraction, and lack of plan. The radical fascist movement was always governed by the mythological optimism that, if patriots led the way by destructive action, a future course would become clear. For instance, the thought of Inoue Nisshō, the leader of the Blood Pledge Corps Incident, is described in the court judgement as follows:
To overthrow the old system of organization is a destructive or negative act. To establish the new system of organization is a constructive or positive act. Without destruction, however, there can be no construction. Since ultimate denial is the same as genuine affirmation, destruction is itself construction, and the two are one and inseparable. 1
During the trial Inoue himself stated: "It is more correct to say that I have no systematized ideas. I transcend reason and act completely upon intuition." He deliberately rejected any theory for constructive planning after the rising....
Thus the pattern of the radical fascist movement was almost invariably characterized by fantasy and____________________