Again... thanks for your continuing efforts to share your views. As my friend, Janet, wrote above, "Even if my first response is always, oh boy, the printer will be chugging away for a while tonigt so I can take this away to read at leisure!" I enjoy repeated visits to your gifts to us. Thanks again with appreciation for your hard work.
Thank you for your comments.
Actually, the spur to writing this column was a discussion with the English translator of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography, who is a good friend of mine. I was approached about doing the translation, but my university responsibilities left no time for other activities. A lengthy discussion of Kisshomaru's biography will appear in Column 21, but I needed to compare Kisshomaru's book with the two versions of the biography written by John Stevens and the biography written by Kanemoto Sunadomari, which has not been translated into English.
These biographies are all very different and this led me to think about general questions of biography and 'straight' history. Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography has been severely attacked, and I can see why, but it conforms to a certain tradition in Japanese writing, exemplified by the historical fiction of writers like Shiba Ryotaro. John Stevens admits that he is writing hagiography, but the present Doshu believes that Kisshomaru was presenting solid and reliable historical evidence.
We do not know whether Kisshomaru was writing fact or fiction and the absence of sources or footnotes prevents any judgment. However, the novels of Shiba Ryotaro are part of a literary tradition in Japan that sees no distinction between historical fact and historical fiction, so long as the fiction supplements a plausible interpretation of the known 'facts' and I think that this explains to some extent why Kisshomaru was not worried so much about specifying his sources.
As you might have gathered, the discussion of the three accounts of the American War of Independence was an attempt to outline the biases and selectivity that one could expect to find in lives of Ueshiba. However, I am somewhat surprised that no one has questioned (as yet) my treatment of this war.