The mockery about the Chinese and its theme as a turn of the century did not exploit entertainment and humour but certainly promoted a slight belief that supported the regal beliefs of superiority and defended the goal of a regal empire in Japan.
The following points on Meiji or Taisho Japan can be visualised through humour and other performing arts-
The decomposing role of China served as the forage for the comic sketches of Japanese origin in live performances and surely for pamphlets, books and cartoons that were produced for the public but also were read by the children and women. These images protruded a quite pathetic and public mind-frame of China but it was at least unthreatening for the Japanese.
China was always used a model for comparison in the political humour of Japan and contrastingly China ignored Japan in this sense until the 20th century and even later. In order to be brief, this argument is generalised but the duality of the use and the metaphorism of the two countries and their respective comic performances raises stimulating questions of the role of humour in the building of the nation state and the identity of the nation. Moreover the idea of being funny translated across the borders and time should be the frame of concern for historical analysis. As the famous novelist of Britain, Evelyn Waugh, and many others have commented that as humour is begun to be analysed it stops being funny. However in the same manner that the Michelin Guide review of a pizza outlet is written, I shall make my best attempt with this incoherent approach.
The autocrats of the Meiji state were scared of obscenity and rough behaviour which were paradoxically the main ingredients of the early Meiji humour and the late Tokugawa humour. They were of the opinion that humour of this kind would cut into social customs and values. They also diverted the funds and the time of the government into the eradication of this form of humour. A regulation passed in August 1872 was meant to remind the performers that they were not permitted and allowed to exhibit obscene or coarse acts and the same was the case with those that were aimed at mocking the imperial heredity.2 The February 22nd edition of 1872 of the Tokyo NichiNichi newspaper proclaimed to the public that the government had curbed and prohibited those forms of theatre which the parents and their children could not bear and see together.