This volume examines the careers and intellectual positions of three prominent Japanese “dissidents” in the later Imperial period – Minobe Tatsukichi, Sakai Toshihiko and Saitō Takao – as individual responses to the new forms of authority that appeared after the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
The principles to which each adhered – the rule of law, socialist egalitarianism, and representative government – contributed to the new ideas about authority and the individual in post-Restoration Japan. They also remain fundamental (at least in theory) in today’s Japanese polity and society. The study reaffirms the serious limitations of the pre-war Japanese political system, its structural and institutional problems, and deep-rooted ambivalence about democratic change. But it also confirms the birth of an alternative tradition in which individuals began to define and sponsor the processes of national self-regulation. This book traces the perspectives of three such individuals who chose to contest the new power arrangements through their writings and political activities.