The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945

By Joshua A. Fogel | Go to book overview

SEVEN
Journalists and Politicians

Journalism and politics in modern Japanese history are usually discussed together only in the context of their mutual opposition. The emergence of journalism as a career was a product of the Meiji period in Japan. It became an alternative route for educated men who either chose not to pursue a career in politics or were prevented from doing so because of their backgrounds. The press became a bastion for criticism of Meiji-era government policy and attracted many of the brightest, most inquisitive, and boldest minds of the day, men who might otherwise have gone into government service or education.

As Japan moved into the Taishō and Shōwa periods, the press continued to expand, with newspapers and other serial publications covering a wide range of political views and aiming at more selective readerships such as students, women, or businessmen. Government service remained open to only a small minority of the Japanese male population, but the political spectrum continued to grow on both the left and the right, despite efforts by the government to crush those at both ends. Political figures out of office--a new phenomenon in modern Japan--found the press a natural medium for expressing their views and rapidly communicating their positions to a wide audience. To be sure, the rivalry between press and government continued, but the line between those in the press and those with ties to the government began to blur. The press hammered away at the government and political figures with whom it disagreed, just as the government made several famous attempts to silence opposition by political means as well as through censorship and intimidation of the press.

Nonetheless, when it came to writing travelogues about China, journalists and political figures demonstrated a remarkable similarity in their re

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