Following the end of the Second World War, Japanese and foreign scholars eagerly seized upon the concept of fascism as the basis of an analytic framework for explaining what had gone wrong in pre-war Japan and who, if anyone, could be held responsible. The literature on Japanese fascism is, as a result, quite extensive; some of it is richly insightful. The problem with such studies, however, is that fascism has never been satisfactorily defined, either logically or empirically. Recent studies have shown how difficult it is to find a definition that is at once broad enough to encompass the varieties of fascism across time and space and yet concrete enough to illumine distinctive characteristics. In this comment, some of the salient distinguishing features of the Japanese experience are alluded to, and a few important questions which studies of Japanese fascism have failed to address are identified. After nearly forty years' pursuit of the phantom of fascism, the time has come to direct our search toward alternative theoretical concepts which promise to throw new light and fresh perspective on what happened during the twenties and thirties, and why.

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