Modern technology was introduced into Japan under the sanction of traditional Japanese values. I do not suggest that there was logical necessity in this: that from the values we could infer modernization; nor do I suggest that nothing new was added. But despite amplification and reinterpretation, it was, none the less, traditional ideas that Japanese leaders used to justify change. Japanese mythology, long neglected by political theory, became the core of an ideology that made national power a necessity. At a time when Japan found herself impotent yet plunged into the middle of a world power struggle, mythology was called upon to endow the nation with one kind of greatness: the emperor was descended by unbroken lineage from divine ancestors, and he was father of a nation conceived as an extended family: what other nation could make that claim? A nation unique and precious as this was, could not fall behind others in power—economic and political as well as military—even if inherited institutions had to be scrapped wholesale to keep abreast. Otherwise the claim to greatness must eventually collapse. Belief in the claim, which was bolstered in everyday life by making a cult of the patriarchal family with its values of obedience and hierarchy, gave the nation the will and discipline to transform an almost purely agrarian society into a predominantly industrial one within a generation. No Asian nation has yet duplicated this feat.

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