History and background
The Shōwa Kenkyūkai was established in October 1930 as an informal organization led by Ryūnosuke Gotō, with the original intent of reviewing and assessing issues with the Meiji Constitution and the current political process. Goto was a close friend and political companion of Fumimaro Konoe, who hoped that the study group would generate innovative ideas for political reform, and Gotō called upon Masamichi Rōyama, a political scientist from Tokyo Imperial University to head the association.
Membership in the Shōwa Kenkyūkai was intentionally very diverse to avoid a systematic bias. It included noted scholars, journalists, bankers, socialists, militarists, businessmen and leaders of youth organizations. Established specifically as an organization of intellectuals, the Shōwa Kenkyukai excluded bureaucrats and politicians from the outset. Many of the members had been regarded Marxists and leftists. By the time the group was dissolved in 1940 it had involved, at its height, some three hundred intellectuals every year in its work.
In 1936, it spun off a Shina-mondai Kenkyūkai (China Problems Study Group), and in 1938 it formed a Bunka Kenkyūkai (Cultural Study Group) to deal with the cultural aspects of Japanese-Chinese relations. In July 1938, it also established the Shōwa Dōjinkai (Shōwa Comrades' Association), which brought together middle-level bureaucrats, business leaders, and politicians to spread the ideas it was developing. In November of that year it established a school, the Shōwajuku (Shōwa Academy), to train successors in its methods.
Discussion concerning Japan's future polity after the projected victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War dominated discussions after 1937. The Shōwa Kenkyūkai was a strong proponent of Pan-Asianism, in which it envisioned that Japan would take the leading role, and its thesis influenced Konoe in his New Order in East Asia declaration of November 1938, and formed part of the theoretical basis for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Politically, the Shōwa Kenkyūkai decided that liberal democracy was obsolete, and that the Diet of Japan should be replaced with a corporativist national assembly where membership would be based on occupation, and which would direct a state socialist command economy.
Some members also promoted the future political integration of Japan and China, and envisioned a unified economic block that would cover all of Asia.
- Pyle, Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power And Purpose, page 197
- Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, page 613
- Brendon, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, page 652
- Townsend, Yanihara Tadao and Japanese Colonial Policy: Redeeming Empire, page 223
- Streeck, The Origins Of Nonliberal Capitalism, page 75
- Brendon, Piers (2002). The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s. Vintage; Reprint edition. ISBN 0-375-70808-1.
- Jansen, Marius B. (2000). The Making of Modern Japan. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674003347; OCLC 44090600
- Steeck, Wolfgang (2005). The Origins Of Nonliberal Capitalism: Germany And Japan In Comparison. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8983-0.
- Pyle, Kenneth B (2007). Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power And Purpose. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-417-6.
- Townsend, Susan (2000). Yanihara Tadao and Japanese Colonial Policy: Redeeming Empire. Routledge Curzon. ISBN 0-7007-1275-5.