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Old 08-28-2012, 10:57 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 22

Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
Thanks for that clear answer, Peter. I'm looking forward to the next four columns.

Best regards,

Hello Niall,

Perhaps I should expand just a little more on my previous answer.

I regard the last six columns as two connected sets. Columns 17, 18 and 19 deal with questions raised by Ellis Amdur's book, while Columns 20, 21, and 22 deal with history writing and the historiography of the twentieth century in Japan, especially the years from the Russo-Japanese War to the surrender in 1945. This time span almost precisely covers the period from Morihei Ueshiba's enlistment in the Japanese army in 1905 until his retreat to Iwama in 1942. The historical novels of Shiba Ryotaro are also of importance here, since his popular fiction helped to influence the thinking of ordinary Japanese about this period.

There is also the related question of precisely how much Japanese attitudes have changed since 1945—and I think this relates quite directly to the growth of aikido. However, I have not pursued this question very much yet.

Of course, postwar Japanese attitudes relate to the matter of war responsibility and I mentioned in the column that debate about this began right after the war ended, when Morihei Ueshiba was quietly tilling the soil in Iwama. The seminal essays of Masao Maruyama were written during this period. I think Maruyama was influential in creating the generally received thinking that Japanese intellectuals did not support radical Shinto ultranationalism, but were powerless to do anything about it.

Then I came across Walter Skya's book Japan's Holy War, and saw how he attacked Maruyama. Skya spent ten years in Japan and gave a very detailed picture of the thinking of Hozumi, Uesugi and Kakehi and suggested that these three, professors of the most prestigious faculty at Japan's most prestigious university, played a crucial role in disseminating radical Shinto ultranationalism, especially in the Japanese Imperial Army (among both factions), and the Imperial Navy. So, against Maruyama, Skya argued that there was a strong tradition among Japan's intellectuals in support of radical Shinto ultranationalism.

I was led to look at some of the Japanese writings of these three professors and I do not think Skya proves his thesis entirely. Certainly, the ideas of Kakehi, especially, appear in the Kokutai no Hongi, which was required reading for people of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's generation. Kakehi was a Shinto theologian and was familiar with Japan's ancient myths as given in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, so he and Ueshiba spoke a common language, which extended right through to concepts like ‘I am the Universe' etc.

So the next question would be the connections between the writings of someone like Kakehi and Deguchi whether they ever met, for they were almost exact contemporaries (Deguchi was born in 1871 and Kakehi in 1872: fully a decade before Morihei Ueshiba). Other scholars have noted the connection between Omoto and radical Shinto ultranationalism and I cannot help wondering whether and to what extent Omoto's ultranationalism rubbed off on Morihei Ueshiba.

One final point I should make is that there is clear evidence of dissent from radical Shinto ultranationalism and some went to great lengths to show this, often at great personal risk. Minobe Tatsukichi was one such and I have given some indication of others. Morihei Ueshiba is absent from the ranks of such dissenters, unless there is evidence we do not know about.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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