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Old 08-20-2012, 07:18 PM   #15
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
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Re: Hiroshi Tada Interview, Part 2

Chris -
It's quite a bit more complicated than that. There were myriads of political action groups. It is unclear to me if they were formed, one after another, often by the same personages, because:
1. Each had a specific goal
2. The leaders thought that the group had become "played out" with too many hangers-on, so they would create a newer more exclusive group, which would, in their view, fall prey to the same issues.
3. Different personages each wanted their own group to lead.

Anyway, they were as common as mushrooms on the forest floor.

I doubt that Yoshida Kotaro had much influence on Ueshiba in this area. I've not been able to find any information that Yoshida was a very significant figure in the Kokuryukai. First of all, he was a newspaperman and pamphleteer, and secondly, surprisingly, he was a Christian (IIRC). This latter would make him quite an eccentric in those circles, and it's doubtful he was more than one of many members/hangers-on intellectuals in those circles. He was not, apparently, a man-of-action, despite his martial arts interests.. His writings are certainly not cited in any texts I've seen about influential right wing figures. There certainly may be more of a story than we know regarding the relationship between Yoshida and Ueshiba. But even so, the Kokuryukai was an "old school" organization by that point in time, supplanted by all sorts of newer organizations. I think we only know the name because Western journalists seized upon it as sounding so "yellow peril." As folks probably know, it really stood for the Black Dragon River - the Amur - the idea being that the destiny of Japan was across that river, striking into what they considered the greatest threat to Japan, Russia. It was not about any sort of mythic, demonic "black dragon" which was to strike terror in the hearts of the West or the slackers among the Japanese.

Ueshiba's real involvement with far-right circles almost surely started with Omotokyo. Toyama Mitsuru, a founder of the Genyousha and Kokuryukai (Dark Ocean Society & Black Dragon Society) was photographed with Deguchi, along with Uchida Ryohei (among other things, a great figure in Shinto Muso-ryu jo history, the creator of a set of tanjo kata). Toyama was a major sponsor of both sword preservation societies and classical martial arts. And as Peter Goldsbury writes in such detail, Omoto was playing its own part in the incredible political ferment of right-wing politics of the time. (One of the eight members of their ill-fated journey through Manchuria was, if I recall correctly, a member of one of the radical, messianic right groups).

Deguchi was trying to play politics, playing and using such groups for his own power cravings, but because of his own grandiosity, he wasn't nimble-footed enough when the pragmatic right (Okawa Shumei) took over from the idealists (note that the idealists were incredibly murderous - but they did so for ideals that bordered on the religious rather than "realpolitik.")

At any rate, it seems clear that as Ueshiba developed his own career, first with Omoto and then, with the military figures around Takeshita in the 1920's and early 1930's, his involvement with all these various right wing - terrorist - individuals was at its peak.(And I'm not using the term "terrorist" loosely - Ueshiba was closely related with those who lead groups of assassins, and whose ideology was one of genocide). And for all the starry eyed, who want to believe that he had some kind of turning against them, like Saul on the road to Taursus, he never cut himself off from such individuals. As I've written elsewhere, he regarded his friendship with Okawa Shumei as profoundly important throughout his life, treasuring a bokken given to him by Okawa.

Ellis Amdur

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