1. How did the Japanese police achieve maintaining order during the following periods: (1) during the early Meiji period, (2) in the Taisho period, (3) during the Occupation, and (4) in the postwar era (1952-1999)?
2. What are examples of violence found in the assigned readings or seen in the film?
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As we are limited in space and are unable to access your reading assignments, below are a few ideas on the Japanese police system throughout the periods to help get you started.
It was in 1874, during the Meiji period (1868-1912) that the Japanese government established a civil-police system modeled after the European civil-police system. Since Japan was an authoritarian state, meaning a government that demands full obedience without any consideration of the people's freedoms, their police system was designed to incite both "fear and respect" among the people, especially in the rural areas. The role of the police was also to especially uphold the authoritarian state by enforcing government control and enforcing policies. As time progressed in Japan, the police were granted more and more power until they controlled "almost all aspects of daily life" ("Japan: The Police System").
The Taisho period started in 1912 and lasted until 1926, the same period as World War I, which spanned from 1914 to 1918. During the Taisho period, a two-party democracy was established, which meant that the police system would be more relaxed and less authoritarian than it would soon become under the militant Showa period.
The Showa period began in 1926, lasted until 1989, and included the period of post-WWII US-Occupation in Japan. The police system within the Showa period was greatly influenced by initiation of the Peace Preservation Law passed in 1925, which prohibited any government opposition, greatly diminishing any individual freedoms that would have been established under the Taisho democratic period. The Peace Preservation Law especially gave police the power to arrest individuals simply on the basis of "wrong thoughts" ("Japan: The Police System"). It was also during this period that the Special Higher Police were established to control "motion pictures, political meetings, and election campaigns" (Japan: The Police System"). Under this time period, military police were also established to assist the civilian police. Once Japan surrendered to the US at the end of WW II, the US permitted Japan to keep their current police structure until the 1947 Police Law was passed, actually decentralized Japan's police structure rather than creating a stronger police force to deal with post-war political unrest, while Japan would have preferred a stronger police force. Instead, under the 1947 Police Law, occupational administrators created independent police forces in cities and towns, much like we have in the US. What's more, the occupational forces abolished Japan's Home Ministry, and, instead, the National Public Safety Commission, a part of the Prime Minister's office, regulated police activity. Occupational forces essentially diminished Japan's police system's powers, removing their responsibility for "fire protection, public health, and other administrative duties" (Japan: The Police System").
When the US had to withdraw its occupational troops from Japan at the start of the Korean War, Japan saw even more changes take place in its police system. For one thing, the National Police Reserve was created so that the police force had back up. By 1951, their 1947 Police Law was changed, allowing for the individual police forces in cities and towns to join the National Rural Police force, which is the more centralized system Japan was more comfortable with. However, most cities and towns preferred to keep their own private police forces.
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