As one means of uniting the people behind the new regime, Japanese government authorities employed a series of ethics (shushin) textbooks in the schools during the Meiji period (1868–1912) and beyond. With the appearance of fully government-produced texts in 1903 and their first revision in 1910, ideological patterns were established which were influential down to the last revision of the series in 1941. The 1910 revision fused old and new socio-ideological patterns and values under the designation of “national morals,” retrospectively known as the “family state” (kazoku kokka) ideology. This was comprised of (1) a German “state organism” theory of state sovereignty, as the intellectual superstructure; (2) Confucian-like familyism, as the ethical base; and (3) ancient Shinto imperial mythology as the religious sanction. Progression of thought in the textbooks placed crucial emphasis on the extension of loyalty from home and parents to nation and emperor through the absolute equation of filial piety and emperor-loyalty. The frondine soldier, however, found difficulty reconciling the call to die for the emperor with his filial obligation to live for his parents. This may be one reason why in successive revisions (especially 1941) the familial approach to national loyalty was downgraded in favor of a direct national-imperial appeal.

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