Military Independence and the Prerogative of Supreme Command
This chapter focuses on the supreme prerogative system (tōsui-ken) and how it secured the independence of the Japanese armed forces from any civilian institution apart from the imperial throne. In the postwar years, the “prerogative of supreme command” became a bogeyman to be blamed for all disasters from early Meiji to the end of the Pacific War. The novelist Shiba Ryōtarō claimed that the Imperial Japanese Army, entrenched within their own “supreme prerogative country,” became as wild and murderous as the Pixiu, a gold-eating monster from Chinese mythology. The chapter first considers the Japanese military reforms of 1878 and the motives behind them before discussing the flaws of the supreme prerogative system, arguing that it created a rich background for the future development of military insubordination.
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