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Curse on This CountryThe Rebellious Army of Imperial Japan$
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Danny Orbach

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501705281

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501705281.001.0001

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Gold-Eating Monsters

Gold-Eating Monsters

Military Independence and the Prerogative of Supreme Command

(p.81) 5 Gold-Eating Monsters
Curse on This Country

Danny Orbach

Cornell University Press

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.

Keywords:   supreme prerogative system, supreme command, Imperial Japanese Army, military reforms, Japanese military, military insubordination, Japan

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