Kokutai (Jap., ‘national polity’). Among nationalists of the late 19th and early 20th cents., a term referring to the Shinto-Confucian idealization of the Japanese nation-state. Japanese society was compared to a large family, with the emperor at the head as the benevolent guiding hand and patriarch. As such, the imperial throne served as the focus for the patriotic, nationalist fervour of the period prior to the Second World War. Kokushi (Chin., Kuo-shih) ‘teacher of the nation’ is the title of a Buddhist who teaches the emperor, because the nation is summarized in his person. Ben'en was the first to receive the title in Japan (posthumously in 1312).
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