The Journal of Japanese Studies



Shepherds of the People:
Yasuoka Masahiro and the New Bureaucrats in Early Showa Japan

This essay revisits the meaning and significance of the ideal of bokuminkan (officials who shepherd the people), arguing that the archetype derived primarily from Tokugawa administrative thought and practice and helped shape the ethos of the modern Home Ministry. It further demonstrates how the nationalist intellectual Yasuoka Masahiro (1898–1983) incorporated his particular bokumin ideology into a Confucian-influenced discourse legitimizing a pivotal role for the “new bureaucrats” in an age of parliamentary politics, bolstering their identity as “transcendental,” nonparty political elites and serving their agenda of enhancing bureaucratic authority. In sum, this essay elucidates an important yet overlooked component of bureaucratic ideology in early Showa Japan.

Volume 35, Number 2 (Summer 2009)
© 2009 Society for Japanese Studies

Marie Anchordoguy and Kevin M. Doak, Coeditors     Martha L. Walsh, Managing Editor
The Journal of Japanese Studies
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