From 1868 to 1945 imperial Japan was governed by shifting coalitions of several dissimilar elite groups. In this historical analysis of the examination system that regulated access to the inner civil bureaucracy and shaped its political outlook, Professor Spaulding describes the steps by which Japan came to accept examinations as the key to office. The reasons for this acceptance are discussed by (1) piecing together fragmentary clues from government decrees, official memoirs, and the comparative history of Japanese higher education, political parties, and constitution, and (2) a quantitative analysis of many aspects of the civil service, showing why examinations were instituted, why they were ineffective at first, and how they worked after the system was reformed in 1899.
Originally published in 1967.
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