Chapter

Illusion and Disillusion

Peter Duus and Kenji Hasegawa

in Rediscovering America

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268432
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950375 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520268432.003.0002
Illusion and Disillusion

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This chapter discusses how the Japanese viewed Americans in the nineteenth century. It notes that of all the foreign powers the Japanese encountered, the United States seemed the most different—it was a country to be admired, not feared. The chapter further notes that even before educated Japanese had any direct contact with Americans, they idealized the United States as a political and moral utopia. It observes that the Japanese were impressed that all the people participated in their own governance, that laws were determined by “public discussion,” and that, in America, “liberty” was the highest civic virtue. The chapter adds that even before the Meiji Restoration, future government leaders such as Itō Hirobumi and Kido Kōin queried Joseph Iteco about the American Constitution, and that, in its early days, the Meiji government established a rudimentary representative assembly.

Keywords: Japanese; United States; laws; liberty; Meiji Restoration; Itō Hirobumi; Kido Kōin; Joseph Iteco; American Constitution; representative assembly

Chapter.  12503 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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