When the Way is that of the Heavenly Sword,
children are the flowers of heartbreak.
In spite of tragic losses, the Japanese nation acclaimed the army as heroes after the Russo-Japanese War without realizing how very narrow the victory was. For the people, the army and the navy had defeated a formidable European enemy, smashing once and for all the myth of Western military invincibility. They could take pride in this race of Japanese, who would no longer be counted as inferior to whites, and they could provide an example to other Asian and nonwhite people suffering under the heel of Western imperialism. Japan was unique -- the nonwhite world power and the only one representing an Asian people. Buoyed up by a new selfconfidence, the nation turned to a reexamination of the traditional values it had consciously rejected or neglected during the fearful years when Japan modernized in the image of the West to meet the Western challenge. For the army, the Russo-Japanese War confirmed the principles on which army discipline was anchored -- nationalism, patriotism, and above all loyalty to the emperor, the living embodiment of the national essence. Like the rest of Japan, the army could, on reflection, attribute its victory in the face of a numerically superior Western enemy as much to the unmatched, traditional qualities of the Japanese fighting man as to the Western weapons and military concepts acquired and applied over the past half century. After all, the Russians had those things, too. There must be something exceptional about Japan and the Japanese people that made their extraordinary victory possible. True nationalism could not, when all was said and done, be built on borrowed values.
The people tended to consider the defeat of Russia as final, while the army and the government elite knew that the country faced a vengeful Russia. They realized that it would be only a matter of time before the