"TRAINED IN THE HARDEST SCHOOL"
During its brief, violent history, the IJA grew from a handful of loyalist warriors in 1868 to 5.9 million officers and men by 1945. It achieved monumental triumphs over Manchu China ( 1894-95), Czarist Russia ( 1904-5), and Western colonial powers ( 1941-42). Yet it ended in ashes, stigmatized as an army of fanatics run amok.
Radical change characterized the early army. Although the slogan "Rich country, strong army" became a rallying cry for the newly constituted government headed by Emperor Meiji ( 1868- 1912), the restoration displaced the societal role of the warrior-administrators, or samurai, by revoking their privileges and status. 1 The abolition of clan armies and the subsequent introduction of universal manhood conscription in 1873 offer the most striking examples of the assault on samurai privileges. Almost all the officers of the new Imperial Army were aristocrats or samurai, 2 but, in addition, the great Satsuma uprising of 1877 was inspired, fueled, led, and fought by disaffected samurai. Moreover the mutiny of an Imperial Guards artillery battalion the following year--the Takebashi Incident 3--underscored that discontent in the ranks could erupt at any moment.
The army's problem then was twofold: first, how to guarantee the loyalty of the troops to the nation; and, second, how to capitalize on the highly esteemed warrior values--courage, loyalty, bravery, obedience, frugality, self-sacrifice, and so forth--to convert these traditional and