The Kōdōha or Imperial Way Faction (皇道派) was a political faction in the Imperial Japanese Army active in the 1920s and 1930s. The Kōdōha sought to establish a military government that promoted totalitarian, militarist, and aggressive expansionist ideals, and was largely supported by junior officers. The radical Kōdōha rivaled the moderate Tōseiha (Control Faction) for influence in the army until the February 26 Incident in 1936, when it was de facto dissolved and many supporters were disciplined or executed.
The Empire of Japan had enjoyed economic growth during World War I but this ended in the early 1920s with the Shōwa financial crisis. Social unrest increased with the growing polarization of society and inequalities, such as trafficking in girls, with the labor unions increasingly influenced by socialism, communism and anarchism, but the industrial and financial leaders of Japan continued to get wealthier through their inside connections with politicians and bureaucrats. The military was considered "clean" in terms of political corruption, and elements within the army were determined to take direct action to eliminate the perceived threats to Japan created by the weaknesses of liberal democracy and political corruption.
The founders of the Kōdōha were General Sadao Araki and his protégé, Jinzaburō Masaki. Araki was a noted political philosopher within the army, who linked the ancient Japanese bushido code of the samurai with ideas similar to European fascism to form the ideological basis of his philosophy, which linked the Emperor, the people, land and morality as one and indivisible.
The Kōdōha envisioned a return to an idealized pre-industrialized, pre-westernized Japan, in which the state was to be purged of corrupt bureaucrats, opportunistic politicians, and greedy zaibatsu capitalists. The state would be run directly by Emperor Hirohito in a "Shōwa Restoration" assisted by the military. Domestically, the state would return to the traditional values of Japan, and externally, war with the Soviet Union was not only unavoidable, but necessary to eliminate the threat posed by communism. In a news conference in September 1932, Araki first mentioned the word "Kōdōha" ("The Imperial Way"), from which his movement received its popular name.
Araki became Minister of War in the cabinet of Prime Minister Inukai in 1931, and Masaki became Vice Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. Both began to purge followers of their rival General Kazushige Ugaki from important posts in both the ministry and the general staff. Whereas Ugaki was pushing for a modernization of the military in terms of materials and technology, Araki and his followers argued that the spiritual training, or élan, of the Army was more important.
Fundamental to both factions, however, was the common belief that national defense must be strengthened through a reform of national politics. Both factions adopted some ideas from totalitarian, fascist and state socialist political philosophies, and espoused a strong skepticism of political party politics and representative democracy. However, rather than the confrontational approach of the Kōdōha, which wanted to bring about a revolution, the Tōseiha foresaw that a future war would be a total war, which would require the cooperation of the bureaucracy and the zaibatsu conglomerates to maximize Japan's industrial and military capacity. The Kōdōha was strongly supportive of the Strike North strategy of a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union, but the Tōseiha wanted a more cautious defense expansion.
After the Manchurian Incident, the two cliques struggled against each other for dominance over the military. The Kōdōha was initially dominant; however, after the resignation of Araki in 1934 due to ill health, the Kōdōha began to suffer a decline in its influence. Araki was replaced by General Senjūrō Hayashi, who had Tōseiha sympathies.
In November 1934, a plot by Kōdōha army officers to murder a number of important politicians was discovered before it could be implemented. The Tōseiha faction forced the resignation of Masaki from his position as Inspector General of Military Education (the third most powerful position in the Japanese Army hierarchy) for his complicity in the plot, and demoted some 3,000 other officers.
In retaliation, a Kōdōha officer, Saburō Aizawa, murdered Tōseiha leader General Tetsuzan Nagata in the Aizawa Incident. Aizawa's military tribunal was held under the jurisdiction of the First Infantry Division in Tokyo, whose commander, General Heisuke Yanagawa, was a follower of Araki. The trial thus became a vehicle by which the Kōdōha was able to denounce the Tōseiha, portray Aizawa as a selfless patriot, and Nagata as an unprincipled power-mad schemer.
At the climax of the Aizawa trial, to reduce tensions on the Tokyo area, the First Infantry Division was ordered from Tokyo to Manchuria. Instead, this caused the situation to escalate further, as the Kōdōha decided that the time was right for direct action, and backed the First Infantry Division in an attempted coup d'état on 26 February 1936 known as the February 26 Incident. The failure of the coup three days later resulted in the almost complete purge of Kōdōha members from top army positions and the resignation of their leader Sadao Araki.
Thus, after the February 26 Incident, the Kōdōha effectively ceased to exist, and the Tōseiha lost most of its raison d'être. Although Tōseiha followers gained control of the army, the Kōdōha ideals of spiritual power and imperial mysticism remained embedded in the army, as did its tradition of insubordination of junior officers (gekokujō), and resurfaced with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.
Events in the year 1936 in Japan. It corresponds to Shōwa 11 (昭和11年) in the Japanese calendar.Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan
The Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan during that Empire's existence from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 through the Second World War until the signing of the Constitution of Japan (1868–1947) included the:
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese NavyAir forces were divided into the Army Air Service and the Navy Air Service.Asaichi Isobe
Asaichi Isobe (磯部 浅一, Isobe Asaichi, 1 April 1905 – 19 August 1937) was a Japanese former Imperial Japanese Army officer who was one of the leaders of the February 26th Incident, a coup d'etat attempt by young officers of the Imperial Way Faction.Fukoku kyōhei
Fukoku kyōhei (富国強兵, "Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces"), originally a phrase from the ancient Chinese historical work on the Warring States period, Zhan Guo Ce, was Japan's national slogan during the Meiji period, replacing the slogan sonnō jōi ("Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians"). It is a yojijukugo phrase.Gozen Kaigi
Imperial Conference (御前会議, Gozen Kaigi) (literally, a conference before [the emperor]) was an extraconstitutional conference on foreign matters of grave national importance that was convened by the government of the Empire of Japan in the presence of the Emperor.Gunbatsu
Military Factions (軍閥, Gunbatsu) is a Japanese language term having two separate meanings. It is used to refer in the Japanese military in general, when it competed against the civilian leadership for control of the government’s domestic and foreign policy in the pre-World War II Empire of Japan. It is also used to refer to political factions or cliques within the Japanese military itself. The term came into common use in the Taishō period (1912-1926).House of Peers (Japan)
The House of Peers (貴族院, Kizoku-in) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947).Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
The Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff (軍令部, Gunreibu) was the highest organ within the Imperial Japanese Navy. In charge of planning and operations, it was headed by an Admiral headquartered in Tokyo.Imperial Rescript on Education
The Imperial Rescript on Education (教育に関する勅語, Kyōiku ni Kansuru Chokugo) was signed by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 30 October 1890 to articulate government policy on the guiding principles of education on the Empire of Japan. The 315 character document was read aloud at all important school events, and students were required to study and memorize the text.Jinzaburō Masaki
Jinzaburō Masaki (真崎 甚三郎, Masaki Jinzaburō, 27 November 1876 – 31 August 1956) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He was regarded as a leader of the radical political faction within the Japanese military.Kōhei Kashii
Kōhei Kashii (香椎浩平, Kashii Kōhei) (January 25, 1881 – December 3, 1954) was a lieutenant-general in the Imperial Japanese Army.
Kashii was born in Fukuoka Prefecture, graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and became a lieutenant-general in 1931. He was the commander of the Japanese China Garrison Army from 22 December 1930 to 29 February 1932. In November 1931, Kashii imposed martial law over the Japanese-ruled area of the Chinese city of Tientsin (now Tianjin).In the February 26 Incident attempted coup d'état of 1936, Kashii was a leader of government forces that suppressed the revolt. Since he was sympathetic to the Imperial Way Faction, which included some of the officers who started the coup, he initially resisted military action against the revolt. He was later relieved of his duties, and then transferred to the reserves.Line of succession to the Japanese throne
The current line of succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne is based on the Imperial Household Law. At present, only direct male-line males are allowed to ascend the throne.Military Academy incident
The Military Academy incident (士官学校事件, Shikan Gakko Jiken), also known as the November incident (十一月事件, Juichigatsu Jiken) was an attempted coup d'état that took place in Japan in November 1934. It was one of a sequence of similar conspiracies for a "Shōwa Restoration" led by radical elements with the Imperial Japanese Army.Ministry of War (pre-modern Japan)
The Ministry of War (兵部省, Hyōbu-shō), sometimes called Tsuwamono no Tsukasa, was a division of the eighth century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period. The Ministry was replaced in the Meiji period.October incident
The October incident (十月事件, Jūgatsu Jiken), also known as the Imperial Colors incident (錦旗革命事件, Kinki Kakumei Jiken), was an abortive coup d'état attempt in Japan on 21 October 1931, launched by the Sakurakai secret society within the Imperial Japanese Army, aided by civilian ultranationalist groups.Shōwa Modan
Shōwa Modern (昭和モダン), or "Shōwa's modernness," is the culture of the compromise between Japanese and Western styles that started at the beginning of the Shōwa period. Shōwa began after the Great Kantō earthquake in Taishō period, and its social condition was the times when the May 15 Incident and February 26 Incident happened and the war seems to be begin.
The term was used for the song title of Masayoshi Yamazaki in the 2007 tribute album of Ryoichi Hattori. Hattori was a famous composer during the period.
In those days, the lifestyle was changing rapidly. Japanese women began to wear Western clothes and hats in contrast with the traditional kimono and previous Japanese hairstyles. Female bus conductors were called basu gāru, and wore the latest trends in (Japanese) Western fashion, thus earning the title moga, (from modern girl).
Houses were built along railway lines. People living there did some shopping at the department store of the terminal, and called in at the restaurant or the cafe in the return from it in the holiday.Supreme War Council (Japan)
The Supreme War Council (軍事参議院, Gunji sangiin) was established during the development of representative government in Meiji period Japan to further strengthen the authority of the state. Its first leader was Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Imperial Japanese Army and was the first constitutional Prime Minister of Japan. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the Emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials. The Supreme War Council was the de facto inner cabinet of Japan prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War.Takebashi incident
The Takebashi incident was an armed rebellion that occurred on August 23, 1878, in which 260 members of the Imperial Guard of the Imperial Japanese Army mutinied and killed officers. The motivation for the incident was the desire of those individuals to be paid for their part in quelling the Satsuma Rebellion. The rioters were stationed at the Imperial Guard headquarters in Takebashi, which was just north of Akasaka Palace. The rioters were planning on burning down the palace. The government executed 53 of the rioters after putting down the mutiny.Tōseiha
The Tōseiha or Control Faction (統制派) was a political faction in the Imperial Japanese Army active in the 1920s and 1930s. The Tōseiha was a grouping of moderate officers united primarily by their opposition to the radical Kōdōha (Imperial Way) faction and its aggressive expansionist and anti-modernization ideals. The Tōseiha rivaled the Kōdōha for influence in the army until the February 26 Incident in 1936, when the Kōdōha was de facto dissolved and many supporters were disciplined or executed. The Tōseiha became the primary influence in the army, but the Kōdōha ideology and its supporters continued to influence Japanese militarism into the late 1930s.