But's that just it, the context (of O Sensei's actions and teaching) is what is in question, or let's just say it is what is being examined and commented upon. .. So who does one believe, and just exactly how circumspect should we be in interpreting anything we are told about O Sensei? Now, no one would thoughtfully accuse Allen Dershowitz of opposing civil liberties, because there is a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.
Which is all fine. Answers are easy -- It is the questions are hard. What is the question that we are really asking? The issue of yamato damashii
is fraught with many agendas, and they must be carefully questioned lest we assume an agenda in operation for which there is no evidence, other than the contested use of the term.
I am no hagiographer, but we cannot judge a man adequately divorced of his own time. To say on the basis of expressing yamato damashii
that Ueshiba was an imperialist before the War is a no-brainer uncontested point of cultural reality. But only a very narrow historical lens takes that information amiss, since Churchill was expressly so, and his historical contemporary, no less, and personally advanced the cause of empire in the Sudan and India. Britain was very little different in its excesses, which are not excused thereby, but then that hardly makes Japan atypical in its goals and ends, even if its means in obtaining them may legitimately be challenged.
As far as it relates to the War, in which the phrase is very prominent, there was no inevitability in the war with the U.S. from the Japanese side, and much strongly expressed political opposition to it, up to and possibly including Hirohito himself, and expressly including the admiral charged with carrying the war to us. Yamamoto did not want that, he had long running ties in the States -- but he carried it out.
To me this speaks deeply of a true concept of budo and yamato damashii
which it is meant to embody, even though he acted to attack. In a different way, so does O Sensei's withdrawal to Iwama after Pearl Harbor and the second "vision of Aiki" in 1942.