Kokutai no hongi

Kokutai no hongi
   'Cardinal Principles of the National Entity'. An ethics textbook for schools and universities published in 1937 for the Ministry of Education which set out the principles of the emperor system, focusing on the notion of the kokutai or 'national entity' and incorporating ideas from the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyoiku chokugo) of 1890. It may be taken as representative of the ideology of what is called 'state shinto' (see Kokka Shinto). Sections of the text were included in other ethics textbooks and pupils and teachers were required to read and discuss its contents. The teachings of religious groups were tested against the principles set out in Kokutai no Hongi. The first section 'The National Entity of Japan' recounts as history the mythological origins of the Japanese nation and the sacred ancestry of the emperor, drawing directly on the Nihongi and Kojiki accounts popularised by kokugaku thinkers since the late Tokugawa period. Other themes include the virtues of the emperor, the unity of rites, administration and education and the emperor's love for his people. Under 'The Way of the Subjects' patriotism and the unity of loyalty and filial piety are extolled. A chapter on harmony between God and man compares the fragmented situation in the West with that of Japan.
   The martial spirit, musubi and the oneness of sovereign and subjects are explained. In part two 'The Manifestation of our National Entity in History' a description is given of the many ways in which the noble characteristics of the Japanese have been manifested at different periods of history and through different religious traditions, all of which are shown to esteem selfless devotion. The work concludes with a comparison of Western and Eastern ideologies which criticizes the individualism of Western thought and shows how only those ideas are acceptable which accord with the national entity. There is an English translation of the Kokutai no Hongi by John Owen Gauntlett.

A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. .

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