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Kokutai, a word with many associations in Japanese politics, is often rendered into English as national polity. "Among nationalists of the late 19th and early 20th cents., a term referring to the Shinto-Confucian idealization of the Japanese nation-state. Japanese society was compared to a large family, with the emperor at the head as the benevolent guiding hand and patriarch." [1]

Strengthening kokutai was the focus of the Imperial Way faction in the 1930s, a right-wing political-military group of the 1930s, which emphasized spirituality and cohesion over the modernization and economic reforms of the Control faction. Sadao Araki was the central leader of Imperial Way.

Preservation of the national polity, interpreted as the continuation of the Emperor, was one of the key issues in the surrender terms of Japan; it was essentially the only condition.


  1. John Bowker. "Kokutai." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. (July 8, 2010). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O101-Kokutai.html