Fascism in Japan: The Army Mutiny of February 1936

Richard Storry describes how the Army Mutiny of February 1936 was the climax of revolutionary nationalism in Japan. Its outcome meant action against China, and in the end led to Pearl Harbour

On February 26th, 1936, the world was startled by the news that part of the Japanese Army had mutinied and had seized important buildings in the centre of Tokyo, after having murdered several men in public life. When loyal troops were massed to suppress the rebellion, it seemed inevitable that severe fighting would break out. Yet within the space of four days the mutineers surrendered without bloodshed, and life in Tokyo returned to normal.

The underlying cause of this remarkable outbreak was the rivalry that had developed during the previous four years between two politically active factions in the Japanese Army. These were called the Kodo-ha and Tosei-ha. Their mutual struggle was quite unknown to the mass of the Japanese people at the time; it was indeed hidden, to some extent, from the eyes of experienced foreign observers in Tokyo. Even today, after the publication of several memoirs and other works in Japanese dealing with the subject, the full story of what took place on February 26th, 1936, and of what lay behind the revolt, remains undisclosed.

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