Dominant Narratives of Colonial Hokkaido and Imperial Japan: by M. Mason

By M. Mason

Recasts the generally disregarded colonial venture pursued in Hokkaido in the course of the Meiji period (1868-1912) as a tremendous strength within the construction of contemporary Japan's nationwide identification, imperial ideology, and empire.

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Additional resources for Dominant Narratives of Colonial Hokkaido and Imperial Japan: Envisioning the Periphery and the Modern Nation-State

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On the one hand, living in comparatively sparsely populated enclaves with sufficient cultural variation, Ainu never formed pan-island governance, unity, or self-identity. On the other, not unlike the indigenous peoples of the United States and Australia, 22 C ol on i a l Hok k a i d o a n d I m p e r i a l J a pa n Ainu were deemed primitive tribal peoples, and, according to the prevailing global imperial logic of the time, disqualified from the narrowly defined precondition for sovereignty—statehood.

The reference to displaying his majesty’s authority to foreign powers and halting Russia’s watering at the mouth (suizen no nen) over the territory corroborates the triadic nature of Japanese imperialism. Viewed together with the declaration that Ezo would reap unprecedented profits for the domestic sphere, it becomes evident that this seemingly arbitrary ambition, in reality, dovetailed neatly with the diplomatic and economic challenges addressed in this proposal. One of the early and critical moves to domesticate the newly claimed territory was to christen it with a new designation that would disassociate the island from its vulgar “barbarian” past.

Tondenhei were equipped with distinct uniforms and essential military equipment. For the initial three years, the men were on full duty and remained on reserve status thereafter for ten years. They were mobilized for both the Seinan War (1877) and the Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). Nine months after the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), the tondenhei system was abolished and eligible tondenhei soldiers were absorbed into the national army as the Sapporo-based Seventh Division according to the national conscription system.

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