Imperial Way faction

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Also known as the kodoha, the Imperial Way faction was one of two competing Japanese nationalist groups in the 1930s, headed by Sadao Araki. It emphasized spirituality and the identity of the national polity (kokutai), Japanese spirit (Yamato dashi) and Emperor's army (kogun) over economic and technological development. Its symbolism was inspirational to young officers.

While the Control faction (todoha) shared goals of expansion with it, the more senior staff in it, headed by Tetsuzan Nagata and Hideki Tojo, opposed its disdain for modern weaponry. [1] Both Imperial Way and Control shared a good many national socialist ideas but differed in emphasis. Imperial Way was called the "go-slow" faction with respect to modernization.[2]

Conflict between the two factions flared until junior officers associated Imperial Way, angry that the sympathetic General Jinzaburo Mazaki as Inspector General of Military Education had been replaced, launched a coup attempt in the February 26, 1936 Incident. Emperor Hirohito, in spite of the Imperial Way's idealization of the throne, strongly disapproved and ordered counteraction. The leading officers, as well as two civilian theorists, Ikki Kita and Mitsugi Nishida, were executed. [3]

In the 1937 Konoe government, Imperial Way young officers found important roles in the Cabinet Planning Board. Konoe's goals were to revitalize the country from within, which was seen as socialist by some, and the movement was sometims called "reconstructionist", "Red Fascist" or "Emperor-System Communist". [2]

The Control Faction, however, was to gain dominance at the start of the Pacific War.

In 1970, the author Yukio Mishima, who had formed a nationalist organization, briefly seized a Self Defense Force base and exhorted soldiers to find their spirit again. They jeered. He and a deputy committed seppuku to establish their sincerity, but had little impact.


  1. Forrest E. Morgan (2003), Compellence and the Strategic Culture of Imperial Japan Implications for Coercive Diplomacy in the Twenty-First Century, Praeger, ISBN 978-0-275-97780-1, pp. 129-131
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eiji Takemae, Robert Ricketts, Sebastian Swann (2003), The occupation of Japan, Continuum, p. xxiv
  3. 4-7 The 2.26 Incident of 1936, National Diet Library