Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan

Making a Moral SocietyMaking a Moral Society: Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan, an innovative study of ethics in Meiji Japan (1868–1912), explores the intense struggle to define a common morality for the emerging nation-state.

“Richard Reitan argues that modern Japanese ethics—and particularly the creation of an ethics of a ‘Japanese spirit’ or ‘Japanese national character’—arose in the context of the Meiji movement for civilization, as Japan attempted to become more like Europe in order to recover its sovereignty and equality with western states. His is a thoughtful and original contribution to the historiography of Japan and valuable account of the rise of ‘national morality.’ The book demonstrates an admirable command of the material, great clarity with which Japanese concepts are explained, and an argument of nuance and subtlety. Making a Moral Society will not only be of interest to scholars of Japanese history, religion, and culture, and scholars of ethics, nationalism, and modernization generally, but will also be useful in graduate seminars and advanced undergraduate courses.” —Douglas Howland, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

November 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3294-0 / $48.00 (CLOTH)