Manchukuo's Contested Sovereignty: Legal Activism, Rights Consciousness, and Civil Resistance in a 'Puppet State'
Asian Journal of Law and Society 3.2 (2016): 351-376
26 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015 Last revised: 8 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2016
Though often viewed as a mere stepping stone in Japan’s gradual early-twentieth-century military and economic encroachment on China, the “puppet state” of Manchukuo was also paradoxically characterized by a high degree of legitimizing legal rhetoric. While its political realities generally failed to reflect these idealized foundations, the latter did provide significant space for legal and other forms of civil society resistance, including by Chinese legal professionals. The germinal resistance movement of these actors demonstrates a complex relationship between the concepts of sovereignty, law, and national affiliation, both in the context of state repression and in the overlapping demands of competing identities. Though various theoretical understandings of resistance help to illuminate this activism, it is perhaps best seen as a radical challenge to the regime’s power to define the norms and exceptions of political and social life.
Keywords: Chinese Law, Japanese Imperialism, Chinese Legal History, Manchukuo, Legal Development, Legal Reform, Civil Society
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