X: Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido and Nationalism
Topics from the ‘Dark Valley'
State Shinto, Divine Militancy, Holy Wars, and Martial ‘Fascism'
(NOTE on quotations. In this column I follow the convention of previous columns by indenting quotations and putting them in italics. However, items within the quotations not in italics and surrounded by square brackets are my insertions and not part of the quotation.)
This column follows on from the two previous columns on Japanese history and I consider in more detail a specific issue discussed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and John Stevens in their respective biographies of Morihei Ueshiba. As John Stevens records it, the issue is Morihei Ueshiba's supposed opposition to the entire Fifteen Years War (1931-1945); for Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the issue involves Ueshiba's change of heart about the way in which the Pacific War (1941-1945) was being waged by Japan. Given the evidence (or, more precisely, the lack of evidence), to fix a precise date is difficult, but, if it occurred at all, the change of heart seems to have occurred around 1940 - 1942. John Stevens thus presents Morihei Ueshiba as an anguished but silent pacifist throughout the war; Kisshomaru Ueshiba presents Ueshiba as a patriot, but a patriot who underwent his own personal version of what the Japanese call tenkou
, a term used mainly to refer to communists who changed their beliefs in the ‘Red Purges', which occurred in Japan after the 1911 Soviet Revolution]. Both biographies go out of their way not
to depict Ueshiba as a warmonger who happily accepted the Fifteen Years War, with all that this entailed about the Japanese empire extending to the rest of the world, and was very shocked at Japan's disastrous defeat. The issue for this column is whether either biography presents a true or even plausible picture of Morihei Ueshiba's war years.
If we consider the Transmission, Inheritance Emulation
columns as whole, I have devoted a number of recent columns to the examination of very general background issues relating to the development of aikido before and after Japan's defeat in World War II. The issues again bear repeating here:
- The belief in a ‘unique homogeneous culture' in postwar Japan,
- The general influence of this ‘unique homogeneous culture' on postwar Japan,
- The extent to which this ‘unique homogeneous culture' was a construct, created in order to assuage the pain of defeat,
- The extent to which there were prewar antecedents of this supposed ‘unique homogeneous culture',
- The extent to which the prewar antecedents of this supposed ‘unique homogeneous culture' were part of a supposed transformation of Japanese ‘identity' as a result of contact with foreign powers,
- The extent to which the writing of Japanese history itself was part of a cultural tradition, influenced not only by the nativists and the ‘militarists', but also by the World War II occupiers, especially the United States, who wanted to recreate Japan in its own image and likeness, as a beacon of ‘western' democracy.
- The extent to which the supposed ultranationalism of the ‘militarists' in the 1930s can be seen in a positive light, as something actually beneficial, especially to the martial arts,
- Conversely, the extent to which in the 1930s Japan actually ‘entered a dark valley' or ‘fell under a dark shadow', which are the code words for the theory that a generally benevolent, but generally hapless population was manipulated by a band of ‘militarists'.
In the last two columns I discussed mainly Item (6). This column has as its main focus Items (7) and (8). Actually, most of the issues discussed here were first examined in several previous columns. Since they were written I have had the benefit of a few more years of reading and research. In this present column I am trying to bring together a range of discordant—and some very much taboo—subjects and to consider them as a whole from one main viewpoint. Among the taboo subjects are the views of some radical Shinto ultranationalists, named Hozumi Yatsuka, Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko, who appear to be no longer studied in Japan, even as recent intellectual history. The main viewpoint can be stated very simply: an adequate view of Morihei Ueshiba's contribution to the martial arts and aikido needs to place him fully in the general cultural context of his time and consider all aspects of his personality and activities. The taboo aspect can be stated in the form of questions: to what extent was Morihei Ueshiba himself a radical Shinto ultranationalist; to what extent can Morihei Ueshiba's wartime activities with the Omoto religion and the Japanese military in Japan and Manchuria be seen as a part of martial ‘fascism', of the sort that is not discussed nowadays in polite postwar aikido circles?
Another way of putting the questions is to consider two parallel histories: the first history being of the rather nasty form of radical Shinto ultranationalism that allegedly ‘overwhelmed' Japan during the period from around 1921 till at least 1942, which was when Morihei Ueshiba was training in Ayabe and at the Kobukan. After a very large number of attempted and successful political assassinations up to 1936, one part of the ultranationalism—but not the rest—was curbed by the Tosei-ha
(‘control' faction) of the Japanese army and Japan decided on all-out war in South Asia. This first history would also include the Omoto religion, but would consider Omoto as a component of this radical ultranationalism. The second history would more specifically deal with Morihei Ueshiba himself and the martial art he was creating during the same period: from his arrival in Ayabe to study with Deguchi Onisaburo around 1921 until he withdrew to Iwama in 1942. The major issue here is the extent to which these two parallel histories intersect and one would need to examine whether there was any connection between the two for Morihei Ueshiba through his own deep association with Deguchi Onisaburo and the Omoto religion. The question should not be confined to Ueshiba's wartime activities at the military schools, arranged by some influential Omoto believers, but needs to be extended to include his general intellectual and spiritual attitudes and the way he saw his evolving training.
This consideration is complicated by the fact of two versions of each parallel history: the ‘orthodox' version and the more recent—and usually more iconoclastic—‘revisionist' version. The orthodox version conforms to the ‘frame' discussed in the two previous columns and presents the history of Japan from the late Tokugawa period onwards in terms of several recurring ‘tropes': a ‘turn to the West'; a ‘rush to modernity'; the central role of politicians at the expense of anyone else; Japan's ‘uniqueness'; and the inevitability of progress. The tropes have been summarized by James Huffington in his 2009 essay, "Restoration and Revolution" (See Further Reading). The main component of the parallel history for aikido, according to this ‘orthodox' version, is Aikido Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei Den
(translated into English as A Life in Aikido
), the biography written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and parts of this were discussed in the previous column. The orthodox history of Ueshiba's activities with the Japanese military establishment during this period has been written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and John Stevens; the ‘revisionist' history has yet to be written, but has been started in the essays written for these columns and by Stanley Pranin and Ellis Amdur.
As suggested above, a major problem concerning Morihei Ueshiba's thinking about the war and the conduct of the war is the extent and the nature of the evidence. Unlike his contemporary, the radical socialist Kita Ikki (who was born in the same year), Ueshiba appears to have written no books or tracts for publication, beyond occasional articles for the in-house magazine of the Omoto paramilitary organization, the Dai Nippon Budo Senyoukai
, very little of which is publicly available, and the only hearsay evidence is that he kept notebooks and a diary and also annotated his copy of Onisaburo Deguchi's massive Reikai Monogatari
. His friends and acquaintances outside the world of aikido, such as Minakata Kumagusu and Okawa Shumei, appear to have written nothing at all about him. With respect to ‘in-house' evidence, Ueshiba's thinking about Shinto and about the conduct of the war is touched upon in a number of places, but there is the additional issue of having to evaluate the quality of this evidence. Traces of Ueshiba's thinking can be found in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography of his father, in the Aikido Shinbun
articles collected together under the title of Aiki Shinzui
, and in the Takemusu Aiki
It is important to remember, however, that Morihei Ueshiba's published discourses have been edited by the Aikikai and have thus been previously interpreted (prior to publication: the exception is the Takemusu Aiki
discourses). Given the frequent references to taboos in this column, the possibility has to be entertained that any ultranationalist references in Ueshiba's discourses have been edited out. The editing is certainly true of Shinto and this has been acknowledged by one of Ueshiba's translators. In his ‘Note on the Translation' of Ueshiba's discourses entitled 『合気神髄』 [Aiki Shinzui
: The Essence of Aiki], John Stevens notes that,
"All serious students of Aikido must study Morihei's words and make their own interpretation of his marvelous philosophy of the Art of Peace. To facilitate understanding of the talks, I have added minimal explanations in brackets, simplified the references to Shinto mythology somewhat and edited out much of the repetition." (Morihei Ueshiba, The Secret Teachings of Aikido, 2007, Kodansha International, p. 148.)
This is also true of the English translation of 『武産合気』[Takemusu Aiki], the discourses delivered by Ueshiba to a religious group known as the Byakko Shinko Kai.
"The contents have been edited, condensed, and rearranged for a smoother flow of the English translation. Almost all of the Shinto/Omoto-kyo terminology and references have been eliminated…" (Morihei Ueshiba, The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki, 2010, Kodansha International, p. 24.)
Just how much has been edited out will be clear to anyone who reads Japanese and compares the English translation with the Japanese originals of these two works. The reason for the heavy editing of both works is also given by Stevens: he has already explained the Shinto aspects of Ueshiba's thought in The Secret Teachings
, cited above, and in another work, also written by him, entitled The Essence of Aikido
. However, these translations are no help at all for any historian who wishes to study Ueshiba's possible Shinto ultranationalism in his own words and it is not difficult to see how these English translations put out by Stevens and his publisher can also be seen as adding to the taboo, mentioned earlier.
Of course, aikido practitioners use Morihei Ueshiba's discourses for different reasons, but when we consider them in connection with the history of aikido, there is a danger that this previous editing is forgotten and that they are considered as words actually uttered by Ueshiba himself, and uttered in a cultural and political vacuum. In this case, like the tablets delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, the discourses become a kind of direct Aikido Holy Writ, isolated from the time they were first composed and edited. This isolation is quite apart from any issues involved in translating the discourses, or in editing them with the intention of having them interpreted or ‘read' in a specific way. It might well be acceptable to those who wish to read Morihei Ueshiba in English for spiritual nourishment or even enlightenment (however they conceive this), or as a practical training tool, but for those who are trying to place Ueshiba the man in the context of the development of Japanese martial arts in Japanese history, the discourses need to be supplemented by extensive background information.
If we follow the general ‘frame' discussed in the previous column, Kisshomaru Ueshiba gives a dazzlingly ‘bright' account in his biography, which should be compared with an essay written by Ellis Amdur and published in his book, Dueling with O Sensei: Grappling with the Myth of the Warrior Sage
. The essay is entitled, "Tenchi: Head in the Clouds and Feet in the Muck," and the question for this column is whether it was only Ueshiba's feet, or whether, on the other hand, Ueshiba simply floated above the entire quagmire, touched by it only because, like the angels in Milton's Paradise Lost
or the Hotoke-sama
in Akutagawa's short story, The Spider's Thread
[蜘蛛の糸], he was an avatar spectator on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, viewing what was going on below with detached but increasingly agonized compassion.
The previous column began with a quotation from Franziska Seraphim on the general postwar quest for war responsibility in Japan and the Tokyo Trials brought this issue into sharp focus. A large number of Morihei Ueshiba's friends and students were arraigned as war criminals and Gozo Shioda himself opined that Ueshiba himself was regarded as a Class G war criminal. The two previous columns provide a clear background for the reasons behind Kisshomaru Ueshiba's vigorous denial of this in Aikido Ichiro
—and also for the omission of even the slightest hint of such a possibility in his father's biography. In fact, apart from the admission that Japan entered a ‘dark valley' (in the 1948 application for recognition of the Aikikai as a foundation), there is no hint whatever in Kisshomaru's biography that aiki-budo
or aikido actually played any part in the war at all: the latter was seen merely as a general backdrop for Ueshiba's teaching activities. In this biography, Ueshiba was a patriot and taught at army and navy schools, as he was invited/requested to do. Of course, what is not stated is that he taught military personnel how to kill the enemy efficiently, but this was part of the job and as a patriot he would not have been expected to have any moral qualms about it. Ueshiba's activities in the military schools and his acquaintance/friendship with the Japanese military are presented by Kisshomaru (who, luckily, is also an inveterate military and political name dropper) in what he thinks is a positive way: as an illustration of the esteem in which his father was held by the military and political elites.
The presentation of aikido as a general martial art dedicated to world peace has become a postwar trope and Morihei Ueshiba's wartime activities have been burnished and presented as part of this trope. Nevertheless, the ‘brightness' of Kisshomaru's depiction of his father's patriotism is ambivalent and needs to be questioned. The question has to be asked about Ueshiba's own sense of war responsibility and one way of putting this would be to ask to what extent Ueshiba saw himself as just another ordinary civilian going about his martial business, at the mercy of the fluctuating political and military decision-making going on around him—in which he played no part at all. There is some evidence, to be discussed below, that some people did protest about the creeping ultranationalism during the 1930s and that this protest took a number of forms. However, Morihei Ueshiba is not included among these protesters and so the question has to be asked whether he did protest about the war to anyone other than in private to his own son and if so, how.
From 1942 onwards, Ueshiba seems to have been isolated in Iwama from the general conduct of the war and also from the agonized debate about general war responsibility, which took place between the surrender in 1945 and the time of the peace treaty with the United States in 1952. The references to building a shrine in Iwama contain the only oblique references to the war. So another way of putting the question, following the discussion by Ellis Amdur in his book Hidden in Plain Sight
, would be to ask to what extent Ueshiba's discourses about the divine command to build a shrine in Iwama, as a means of ending the war, can be seen as a kind of avatar's confession that he had not quite managed everything properly.
The way these questions are actually stated has a large measure of influence on how they are answered. The orthodox ‘dark valley' hypothesis asks to what extent the general Japanese population was manipulated by a group of ‘militarists', the unstated assumptions being (1) that they were indeed manipulated and were also generally blameless otherwise, (2) that there was a major gap in general attitudes between the one and the other and (3) that the general Japanese population did nothing of its own accord, except act with a sort of vague benevolence. As we shall see, this last assumption has been both supported and questioned by those who see the presence in twentieth century Japan of a far higher degree of social management or ‘moral suasion' (the Japanese term is kyouka
: 教化) than would be acceptable in western democracies like the US or UK. The agents of this social management were a large section of the general Japanese population, who acted under the direction of the Home Ministry bureaucrats and who saw themselves as ‘floating bridges' between the traditional elites above them and the uneducated—and potentially dangerous— ‘masses' below them. This social management began much earlier than the twentieth century, continued after Japan's defeat in 1945, and is still evident today. However, one can ask how effective this actually was: the repeated campaigns of spiritual renewal and mobilization in the 1930s and 1940s suggest that such ‘moral suasion' was not particularly effective. On the other hand, this was also a tatemae
, duly supported by all right-thinking Japanese, just so long as it allowed the honne
of unspoken private attitudes to exist alongside.
So this column starts very deeply in the ‘muck' and can be considered as a meditation on aspects of a ‘dark' period in Japanese history that are not usually considered, even by those historians who follow the general positive ‘frame' determined by postwar US scholars like Edwin O Reischauer and their Japanese colleagues. The relevance of this issue to contemporary questions can be stated very bluntly: more recent scholars have compared the radical Shinto ultranationalism of the 1930s and 1940s in Japan to the Islamic radicalism of the present. One scholar has this comment on a statement by Mark Juergensmeyer. First, the statement:
"The longing for an indigenous form of religious politics free from the taint of Western culture has been expressed by many in countries that have become independent this century: not only by Egyptians, but by Central Asians and other Muslims from Algiers to Indonesia, and by Ukrainians, Sri Lankans, Indians, Israelis, Mongolians, and intensely religious persons from a variety of faiths throughout the globe. In fact, what happened to be an anomaly when the Islamic revolution in Iran first challenged the supremacy of Western culture and its secular politics in 1979 has become a major theme of international politics in the 1990s. The new world order that is replacing the bipolar powers of the Cold War is characterized not only by new economic forces, a crumbling of old empires, and the discrediting of communism, but also by the resurgence of parochial entities based on ethnic and religious allegiances. Although Francis Fukuyama, among others, has asserted that the ending of the old Cold War has led to an ‘end of history' and a world-wide consensus in favor of secular liberal democracy, the rise of new ethnic and religious nationalism belies that assertion."
Then, the comment:
"Juergensmeyer's idea that the source of future world conflict is fundamentally a conflict between religious nationalisms and secular nationalisms is another very useful conceptualization the origins of the conflict between Japan and the Western world in the first half of the twentieth century. He could very well have added Japan to the list of countries that had a "longing for an indigenous form of religious politics free from the taint of Western culture . . . in this century." Japan was the first non-Western nation to challenge the Western world for global power in modern times. … Shinto ultranationalist ideologues theorized that secularized western civilization was Japan's mortal enemy. The only way for Japan to free itself spiritually and physically from the clutches of Western civilization was to destroy the Western secular democratic international world order and replace it with an emperor-centered hierarchical world order ruled by Japan's divine emperor." (Walter A Skya, Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism, pp. 3-4, quoting Mark Juergensmeyer, The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, pp. 1-2.)
In view of the present situation in Libya, Iran, Syria, and other countries in the middle East, Juergensmeyer's statement about future world conflict seems just about as ‘absolute' as Francis Fukuyama's statement about the end of history and thus wide open to question. However, Walter Skya's comment on the similarities between Islamic radicalism and the radical Shinto ultra-nationalism of the 1930s and 1940s is notable for depicting the latter in much starker terms than is conveyed by the bland narratives in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography.
Breaking Some Taboos
The research of Walter Skya offers a good platform for reconstructing one of the parallel histories. In his recent book, Japan's Holy War
, Skya questions the orthodox version mentioned above and asks how and why radical Shinto ultranationalism came to be embraced by the Japanese population as a whole. This embrace apparently took place precisely at the time that Morihei Ueshiba was developing his art as a member of the Omoto religion. Skya is primarily concerned with the availability of knowledge and its effect on moral behavior. His starting point is a question raised by Maruyama Masao in one of his essays:
"What was the main ideological factor that kept the Japanese people in slavery for so long and that finally drove them to embark on a war against the rest of the world? Writers in the West have vaguely described it as ‘ultranationalism'; but until now no one has examined what it really is. …
Here we find a striking contrast to the situation in Nazi Germany, which, for all its emotionalism and illogicality, did in fact possess an orthodox, systematic Weltaunschaung expressed in books like Mein Kampf and The Myth of the Twentieth Century. Yet the absence from Japanese ultranationalism of this sort of authoritative basis does not mean that it was weak as an ideology. Far from it: ultranationalism succeeded in spreading a multi-layered, though invisible, net over the Japanese people, and even today [sc. 1946] they have not really freed themselves from its hold." (Maruyama, "Theory and Psychology of Ultra-Nationalism", p. 1.)
Maruyama uses the metaphor of an invisible net; Irokawa Daikichi, in his book, The Culture of the Meiji Period
, uses the metaphor of a black box, into which everyone walked unaware both of its existence and of its dimensions. In another essay, Maruyama makes the usual distinction between the upper class elites, the middle class, and the uneducated ‘masses' and argues that it was really those in the middle category who entered the net first and led the masses into it, too. (Those who accept Maruyama's classification can ask in which category Morihei Ueshiba would appear.)
"Roughly speaking, we can say that the middle strata provided social support for the fascist movement in Japan as well [sc. like the middle classes in Germany and Italy]. The middle or petit bourgeois stratum in Japan can be divided into the following two types: first, the social class that comprises small factory owners, building contractors, proprietors of retail shops, master carpenters, small landowners, independent farmers, school teachers (especially in primary schools), employees of village offices, low-grade officials, Buddhist and Shinto priests; secondly, persons like urban salaried employees, so-called men of culture, journalists, men in occupations demanding higher knowledge such as professors and lawyers, and university and college students. The distinction between these two types is especially significant when we consider the fascist movement in Japan.
In Japan it is mainly the first type that provides the social foundation of fascism. If the second group represents the intellectuals in the proper sense, the first group might be called the pseudo- or sub-intellectuals. It is the pseudo-intellectuals that create the so-called voice of the people. Of course, among Japanese of the second type the number of people who persisted in an openly anti-fascist attitude to the last was comparatively small. Most people adapted themselves to the process of fascization and followed in its wake. On the other hand, they were certainly not positive advocates or the driving force of the fascist movement. Rather, their mood was generally one of vague antipathy towards it, an antipathy that amounted almost to passive resistance.
This is an important characteristic of Japanese fascism; the Imperial Rule Assistance organizations [created by Konoe Fumimaro in 1940] never succeeded in getting control of the urban salaried employees. The fashion for ‘culturism' during the war may be considered an expression of passive resistance to fascism by the intelligentsia of the second group. In Germany and Italy the learned class hoisted the banner of fascism, and the university students played a major role. Not so in Japan." (Maruyama, "The ideology and Dynamics of Japanese Fascism," pp. 57 -- 58.)
Maruyama is somewhat dismissive of the highbrow ‘composite magazine' [総合雑誌: sougou zasshi
] and ‘Iwanami culture' of the intellectuals and even more of the lower brow ‘Kodansha culture' [named after two famous Japanese publishing houses—the irony here being that Kodansha has been publishing the English translations of Morihei Ueshiba's discourses].
Irokawa criticizes Maruyama's arguments, but both Irokawa and Skya agree that the ultranationalism involved the entire nation: everyone was in the net; virtually everyone was in the black box. (Maruyama and Irokawa speak from a certain experience: they are both Japanese and lived through the war years in Japan. Maruyama was born in 1914 and was drafted into the army early in 1945. He was stationed in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Irokawa was born in 1925 and graduated in 1948.) Skya also agrees with Irokawa's arguments against Maruyama, but the point of Skya's own research is to take issue with Maruyama's statement that the intellectuals did not generally support Japanese fascism. Skya's aim is to examine why and how relatively unknown radical Shinto ultranationalists like Hozumi, Uesugi, and Kakehi—clearly top-rank intellectuals, apparently succeeded so well in convincing the entire Japanese population—including all three categories delineated by Maruyama and the intellectual, military, and political elites of which Morihei Ueshiba can be considered a member. Skya's arguments will be examined in detail below and this examination will form the main part of the column.
There are important points about Skya's analysis that need some initial emphasis. First, Skya's thesis about the contradictions within the Meiji constitution is quite controversial, but this is not immediately clear from his book. As we shall see, Skya attacks a number of scholars, on the grounds that they have a false idea of the Meiji Restoration, but their views are somewhat more reasonable than Skya admits. Secondly, a corollary of Skya's main thesis is that is that he does not consider those who resisted the radical Shinto ultranationalism of the 1930s and 1940s. There were a number of Japanese who resisted all attempts to make them enter the black box and the case of these people is different from those who initially supported the war and gradually lost their enthusiasm for it. Thirdly, Skya takes it very much for granted that the ‘enslavement' of the Japanese, stemming from the Meiji Restoration, is something that is readily understandable to one living in the twenty-first century, but I do not think this is quite accurate. No one would dispute the vast cultural gulf separating present-day aikido practitioners from the days of the samurai, even the Tokugawa-era samurai who had certainly stopped fighting and had largely stopped training. However, Skya seems to assume that the Meiji Restoration is on our side of the gulf, but I believe this is not the case. The world of Meiji Japan, even late Meiji and Taisho Japan, in which Morihei Ueshiba lived his early life, and the world of Showa Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, as the country prepared to wage war in Asia, are still on the far side of the gulf and present beliefs and attitudes that are quite alien, especially beliefs and attitudes concerning the emperor and the elites surrounding him.
Some idea of this cultural gulf is conveyed in two important works, both of which are written by Japanese scholars. Iritani Toshio is a Japanese historian who was born in 1932. He is ‘orthodox', in the sense that in his book, Group Psychology of the Japanese in Wartime
, he largely accepts Maruyama's arguments and conclusions, but supplies much essential background, especially in the early chapters. In particular, he argues that the contradictions involved in the Meiji constitution would be unknown to the average Japanese, who would also regard them as well beyond the scope and boundaries of his/her existence. The late Ienaga Saburo (1913 -- 2002) was a Japanese historian of some renown, famous for a long-running legal battle with the Japanese education ministry over the censoring of school textbooks. He was a prolific writer, but the focus for this column would be on 『戦争の責任』 [Sensou no sekinin
: War Responsibility] and more especially 『太平洋戦争』[Taiheiyou Sensou
], translated into English as The Pacific War 1931 -- 1945
. Ienaga's sources are all Japanese and he recounts the war from the viewpoint of a Japanese participant who is fundamentally opposed to it. This second work complements Skya's research on the radical Shinto ultranationalist intellectuals who taught at Tokyo Imperial University and, since Ienaga documents those who actively resisted the rise of radical Shinto ultranationalism and the war to which it led, it also provides a much sharper focus to the question of Morihei Ueshiba's wartime activities and his own thinking about the war.
However, to place the issues in the correct social and political context, it will first be necessary to go back a few years and consider the Meiji Restoration, for it is Skya's general thesis that the contradictions created by the said ‘restoration' directly contributed to the rise of radical Shinto ultranationalism.
Setting the Scene 1:
What Did the Meiji Restoration Restore?
(1) The Emperor, as a ‘System'
The Meiji Restoration restored the Emperor, but as both an absolute and a constitutional ruler at the same time. There are several elements in this seeming contradiction.
The first element that the Meiji restorers strove to emphasize was the Japanese Emperor, but considered as the latest incumbent of an ancestral priesthood going back as far as Amaterasu O Mikami, whose exploits were believed to be recorded in the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
. This is very clear from the first articles of the constitution bestowed by the Meiji Emperor in 1889, with Ito Hirobumi's commentary.
Article I: The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.
Since the time when the first Imperial Ancestor opened it, the country has not been free from occasional checks to its prosperity nor from frequent disturbances to its tranquility; but the splendor of the Sacred Throne transmitted through an unbroken line of one and the same dynasty has always remained as immutable as that of the heavens and the earth. At the outset, this article states the great principle of the Constitution of the country, and declares that the Empire shall, to the end of time, identify itself with the Imperial dynasty unbroken in lineage, and that the principle has never changed in the past, and will never change in the future, even to all eternity.
Article III: The Emperor is sacred and inviolable.
"The Sacred Throne was established at the time when the heavens and the earth became separated" (Kojiki). The Emperor is Heaven-descended, divine and sacred; he is pre-eminent above all his subjects. He must be reverenced and is inviolable. He has indeed to pay due respect to the law, but the law has no power to hold Him accountable to it. Not only shall there be no irreverence for the Emperor's person, but also shall he neither be made a topic of derogatory comment nor one of discussion. (Quoted from David J Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, Volume II, p. 340.)
According to Skya, these two articles (together with two other articles, Articles V and XI, wherein it is stated that the Emperor is the supreme legislative power and is also commander of the armed forces) embody clear contradictions that emerged as major problems in the later Meiji and Taisho eras and indirectly led to World War II.
State Shinto and its Ideology
The second element is that the Emperor was restored as part of state Shinto. In order to understand the discussion in this column, it is important to be aware of the fact that the common name Shinto
encompasses an enormous variety of beliefs and activities. Breen and Teeuwen observe that,
"Shinto, as it emerged after Meiji, had three faces:
(1) A ‘nonreligious' body of state ritual focusing on the emperor.
(2) A broad swathe of local rituals that addressed a range of other concerns, from community prosperity to individual good luck and health.
(3) A number of religious groups, defined by the state as ‘Shinto sects'.
All three came with their own definitions of Shinto, ranging from imperial kokutai ideology, via Yanagita [Kunio]'s folklore-based notion of an authentic national culture with roots in ancient times, to the various teachings of the founders of Shinto sects." (John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, A New History of Shinto, p. 18.)
[Though the government at the time resisted the requests from Omoto to include the Omoto religion in the third category, we can include Deguchi Nao and Onisaburo among these founders.]
I will discuss Shinto as a general system of religious belief in Column 23, but here Shinto is considered in its first aspect (1), as a mystical/religious/political system centering on the Japanese emperor [the oblique slashes indicate that it was seen as all three at the same time—and note also that this affords an exquisite ambiguity to the term ‘spiritual']. In this respect it is a recent phenomenon (recent, that is, compared with the enormous time scale commonly attributed to Shinto). There is general agreement that Shinto, considered as such a political system, was originally created by those who drew up the 1889 Meiji Constitution, but the ideological foundations were the earlier kokugaku
(nativist) doctrines of Motoori Norinaga and Hirata Atsutane. D C Holtom gives a reasonable sketch of State Shinto. Holtom was writing in the immediate prewar period and explains the dilemma faced by the Meiji modernizers quite well, as they attempted to balance the conditions necessary for Japan to become a member of the international community (the 1889 Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion) with Japan's claim to an exclusivity based on the Emperor system.
"In the case of a civilized country there must exist freedom of faith. If Shinto is a religion, however, the acceptance or refusal thereof must be left to personal choice. Yet for a Japanese subject to refuse to honor the ancestors of the Emperor is disloyal. Indeed, a Japanese out of his duty as a subject must honor the ancestors of the Emperor. This cannot be a matter of choice. It is a duty. Therefore this cannot be regarded as a religion. It is a ritual. It is the ceremony of gratitude to ancestors. In this respect the government protects the shrines and does not expound doctrines. On the other hand, since it is possible to establish doctrines with regard to the (Shinto) deities, it is necessary to permit freedom of belief in Shinto considered as a religion. Hence there has arisen the necessity of making a distinction between Shinto regarded as the functioning of national ritual and that Shinto which proclaims doctrines as a religion." (D C Holtom, The National Faith of Japan, pp. 69-70, quoting Ariga Nagao, ‘Shinto Kokkyo Ron,' in Tetsugaku Zasshi, Vol. 25, no. 280, p. 702.)
In fact, this ingenious distinction is still used today, in order to justify the official/unofficial visits made by Japanese prime ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine (discussed in the previous column). One half of the distinction was also used by my first aikido teacher, to explain why the martial way of aikido can be seen as a ‘ceremony of gratitude' centered on ancestors, including parents, previous deceased teachers and Morihei Ueshiba himself, in a line going right back to the Japanese emperors.
The Meiji modernizers therefore placed overwhelming emphasis on Shinto understood as the first ‘face', outlined by Breen and Teeuwen, above. In 1868, during the first reorganization of the government, the Office of Shinto Worship was placed above the Council of State in rank. According to Skya,
"This is proof enough that that the state Shintoists held, though for a very brief period, considerable clout in the highest circles of government. In the extreme, some Shinto fundamentalists believed in direct emperor rule in some in of religious mystical sense. One might liken them to political romantics who imagined some kind of direct relationship between the emperor and a communal collectivity." (Skya, op.cit., p. 38.)
Though the romantic kokugaku
fundamentalists were pushed aside by the more practical oligarchs in their attempts to form a working government, they returned to the center of state politics in the twentieth century.
What Did the Meiji Restoration Restore?
(2) No ‘Power to the People'
The third element is more of an innovation than a restoration. The Meiji Restoration certainly restored a form of direct rule by the Emperor, but the drafters of the Meiji constitution envisaged an emperor ruling as a constitutional monarch, in conjunction with a cabinet and a parliament known as the Diet. It is also argued by Walter Skya that the Meiji modernizers made a complete mess of the complex issues arising from the contradiction outlined here and that this eventually led to a massive power vacuum: a chaotic situation that was exploited by, among others, radical Shinto ultranationalists. In Japan's Holy War
, Skya gives a fresh account of the contradictions involved in the framing of the new constitution, which provides a framework for examining the ultranationalism based on Shinto. The following few sections are largely based on Skya's account.
The point that Skya is at great pains to make is that there was a fundamental change of thinking as the Meiji era progressed. Initially, the main movers of the Meiji Restoration were middle-ranking and lower-ranking samurai, like Ito Hirobumi, from the feudal domains of Satsuma in Kyushu and Choshu in western Honshu, who became oligarchs in the new government and constituted the prime source of power. The Charter Oath, drawn up by these reforming samurai in 1868, provided for the restoration of rule by the Emperor, but also laid down very bare, but starkly clear, outlines of constitutional rule. In Skya's terms, these clear outlines were "startlingly liberal", for the first articles stated that "Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by public discussion.
" The outlines were amplified in another document, the "Meiji Constitution" of 1868, which laid down that, "the legislative organ
[of the Council of State] shall not be permitted to perform executive functions, nor shall the executive organ be permitted to perform legislative functions
." There was a clear idea of a separation of powers. Without question, the overall aim was a sharing of power between the restored Emperor and ‘the people', however the latter were conceived.
According to Skya, problems arose around 1873, in the form of a split within the Council of State over the issue of whether or not to invade Korea. Some of the oligarchs who resigned from government at this time submitted a ‘memorial' calling for a national assembly. As Skya puts it,
"This memorial marked the beginning of the Freedom and Popular Rights movement and stimulated support for parliamentary government among journalists and intellectuals of the time." (Skya, op.cit., p. 35.)
However, for those remaining in the oligarchy, the overwhelming issue became the extent to which they themselves would actually be willing to share their own power with other parties, whose intentions they neither fully understood nor accepted. Of course, the issue was not whether to share power. The Charter Oath was written with an eye on Japan's relations with ‘western' powers, especially Britain, France and the USA, and constitutional government was the minimum requirement for acceptance and rectification of the unequal treaties. The dilemma it presented was how to combine absolute rule by the Emperor—which really meant leaving real power in the hands of the oligarchs, with constitutional rule by an elected parliament.
Two European models were considered on which to base the Meiji constitution: the Prussian model, favored by the oligarchs, and the British model, favored by some of the former oligarchs who left the government in 1873. In the Prussian model there was no separation of powers. The popularly elected Parliament was basically a rubber stamp between the executive and the bureaucracy, a channel for making opposition acceptable and a vehicle for mobilizing popular support for state policy. The British model made parliament—and the political parties that sent members to parliament, a major partner in government, along with the cabinet. Skya notes that,
"An increasingly broad segment of the educated elite became involved in the debate and the positions taken by people in the debate tended to become increasingly polarized. Opinion leaders … went far beyond the English style of constitutional monarchy, expressing ideas close to republicanism." (Skya, op.cit., p, 37.)
Skya's aim here is to hint that the issues involving the problems with the constitution were known by an increasing proportion of the general population, who also had radical opinions concerning these problems. Skya cites the case of Kato Hiroyuki, for example. Kato became President of Tokyo Imperial University and was a firm supporter of the Prussian model. He was a member of the Meiroku Club [Meiroku is short for Meiji Roku, which is 1874: members were also, like Kato, members of the political and intellectual elite]. In his work Kokutai Shinron
[『国体新論』: A New Theory of the National Essence
] he really attacks the earlier kokugaku
scholars by suggesting that the Emperor was not divine, but was just a man like any other man.
From Contradictions to Ultranationalism
The Prussian model actually won out, since the modernizers saw great similarities between newly united and democratic Prussia and newly united and ‘democratic' Japan. Nevertheless, the constitution was drawn up in secret by a small group of advisers who embodied in the constitution Ito Hirobumi's ideas about a Prussian model state. The result was indeed a ‘work of art', which assumed a harmonious interaction of a wide cluster of stakeholders all with conflicting interests. When the constitution was bestowed by the Emperor Meiji in 1889, no one knew what it contained, but the subsequent development of political parties and the ensuing political battles ensured that Japanese politics conformed more to the British model. This outcome was not really foreseen and no one knew how to deal with it. The result was a chaotic political stalemate and it is Skya's thesis that the development of radical ultranationalism was directly caused by this political stalemate, ultimately engendered by the contradictions within the Meiji constitution. (Whether the creators of the constitution were aware of the contradictions is a question that Skya does not answer clearly.) This stalemate arose in several steps and was paralleled by increasing state emphasis on the Emperor.
The Prussian model envisaged Diet approval of legislation, including the annual budget, but when this did not happen, there was an impasse. Skya gives the main phases:
"The first phase, from the opening of the Diet in 1890 to the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, was characterized by implacable hostilities between the oligarchy and the parties. The latter posed repeated obstacles to the passage of government budgets and the oligarchy frequently responded by dissolving the Diet. During the second phase, from 1895 to 1900, tentative short-lived alliances were struck between the cabinet and elements in the House. This was a time of rapid expansionism of armaments and the oligarchs were willing to make limited concessions to the parties in order to gain the passage of budgets. Those alliances, however, tended to break down once the oligarchs had won their way." (Skya, op.cit., p. 46.)
Skya notes that there were further phases wherein some form of accommodation was achieved, but this was not lasting and the impasse was not resolved one way or the other until Japan was put on a total war footing and ruled by the military. His aim in presenting this conflict is to emphasize that the ensuing gridlock in government led to
"mounting fears among the intellectuals and the political elite that the country was steadily descending into political chaos. Critics of the system began searching for a stable and workable form of government to break the political impasses brought on by a parliament bent on trying to force the ruling oligarchs to relinquish power and an oligarchy equally determined to retain control of the state." (Skya, op.cit., p. 49.)
Skya's further aim is to show that the contradictions within the Meiji Constitution, alluded to above, rendered a "stable and workable form of government" impossible to attain.
Skya finds a "direct link" between the gridlock in government and the arguments of the radical Shinto ultranationalists and argues that this direct connection has been missed by ‘orthodox' scholars like Edwin O Reischauer. In a work he co-edited, Reischauer discusses some of the same ultranationalists as Skya does, but gives them a much less dangerous role. According to Reischauer, they simply produced armchair philosophical theories to explain how the Meiji constitution would work in practice, in relation to ‘Japanese tradition'. (Fairbank, Reischauer, Craig [eds.], East Asia: Tradition and Transformation
, p. 531.) Skya sees these theorists in a different light; he sees them as providing practical and usable answers to the very basic and practical question of what would replace the existing oligarchic state monarchy, forced to share power with a recalcitrant parliament. The answers to this basic question envisage two alternatives: to place all legislative and executive power in the hands of the emperor and reduce parliament to a rubber stamp, or to place all legislative power in the hands of parliament and reduce the emperor to a supreme figurehead. The second alternative gained ground during the Taisho era, but gradually lost out altogether to the first alternative, which was the motivating force behind the activities of the radical ultranationalists and army officers who planned and carried out the assassinations of the 1930s. Morihei Ueshiba was allied to these radicals through his association with Onisaburo Deguchi and his membership of the Omoto religion, but the important issue for the history of aikido is how deep his association actually was.
As part of his argument, Walter Skya devotes several chapters of his book to some of the relatively unknown ultranationalists and argues that their ideas provided the "main ideological factor that kept the Japanese people in slavery for so long" (Maruyama, op.cit.
). The issues for this column are the alleged strength of the causal connections argued by Skya to exist between the said ultranationalists and the ‘masses': the strength of the ‘ideological factor', and the existence of the ‘slavery'—and, especially, the extent to which the ‘intellectual elite'—and by implication ‘the masses', actively embraced the radical Shinto ultranationalism preached by academics such as Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko, who were law professors at Tokyo Imperial University. Skya appears to take this causal connection for granted, but his arguments are difficult to prove exhaustively. The writings of none of these ultranationalists are freely available in Japanese, or included in the major postwar sourcebooks in English, such as de Barry's Sources of Japanese Tradition
or David Lu's Japan: A Documentary History
. There are very few monographs or collections of essays devoted to them (in Japanese or English). Nor does David Bergamini include them in his ‘Uyoku
bible', Japan's Imperial Conspiracy
. These Shinto ultranationalists thus appear to have done the job of brainwashing the general Japanese population while remaining entirely in the shadows.
Of course, it might be that the writings of these authors are not generally available because they are considered taboo. If radical Shinto ultranationalism is really a taboo subject for postwar Japanese, and especially for people like Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Japan's political and intellectual elites, then it is quite likely that its more extreme exponents, like Uesugi and Kakehi, are no longer read, studied or discussed. In fact, none of the adult Japanese members of my dojo in Hiroshima or in my circle of friends outside aikido had ever heard of Hozumi, Uesugi or Kakehi and their publications are quite difficult to obtain in Japan. In addition, there seem to be only one or two Japanese scholars who have studied the radical Shinto ultranationalists since the war, and those whose works I have consulted are mentioned or cited in the present column. (They are Nagao Ryuichi [長尾龍一], Ida Terutoshi [井田輝敏], Suzuki Sadami [鈴木貞美], and Tendo Tadashi [天道是]: for details of their books, see the text below and Further Reading
.) In fact, Skya's research is revealing for what it does not, actually, reveal. Skya casts much light on radical Shinto ultranationalism from the writings of Hozumi, Uesugi and Kakehi, but from then on the evidence is uncomfortably circumstantial, with too many uncertainties to impute guilt to someone like Morihei Ueshiba by anything other than guilt by association with the ‘wrong sort of people'.
Some Radical Shinto Ultranationalists:
1. Hozumi Yatsuka and the Völkisch Religious Family-State
The Emperor as Absolute Sovereign
Hozumi Yatsuka [穂積八束] is the first to be mentioned by Irokawa Daikichi as proclaiming the Emperor as the center of the Japanese family and Skya considers Hozumi as the intellectual pioneer of those who regard the Emperor as an absolute sovereign. Hozumi (1860-1912) entered Tokyo Imperial University in 1879 and after graduating and spending a few years in Europe, notably Germany, he returned to Tokyo University in 1889 and taught there as professor of law until 1912. Hozumi had little time for either democracy or socialism and his views became more nationalistic after 1890, when the Meiji constitution gave rise to political parties and the beginnings of democratic participation in government. Skya regards Hozumi as having a central place among radical Shinto ultranationalists,
"for it was Hozumi who first welded the fundamental Shinto doctrines to the family concept of the state in a comprehensive theory of monarchical absolutism." (Skya, op.cit., p. 53.)
Hozumi's believed that the state was essentially hierarchical and monarchical and not contractual. There are three main elements to Hozumi's concept of the state. Despite the objections made to Hozumi's theories by later ultranationalists, the three elements of (1) kokutai
, (2) blood ties and (3) ‘family' relationship between the emperor and the Japanese people would remain and reappear in their own theories.
(1) The Japanese state is the
kokutai, with the Emperor at the center as a living reincarnation of
Skya devotes some space to the translation of kokutai
[國體, 国体]. The orthodox ‘national polity' does not quite capture the nuances of the nation or state considered as an entity to which everyone belongs in a public and positive way, and the immediacy of a physical body and its parts. Hozumi believed that the Japanese kokutai
was unique among all other states because it was eternal: its central focus was an emperor who traced his lineage back to the originator, who was the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Japanese kokutai
had been ruled by an unbroken line of emperors from the origins up till the present and would continue to be so ruled for eternity. (An analogy would be the Pauline doctrine of the mystical body of Christ, the members of which are the vast group of Christian believers who have lived since Paul's time, but also including those still unborn.)
(2) The Japanese state is a völkisch family state based on blood ties.
The German term völkisch
is Skya's choice for capturing the nuance of minzoku
[民族, also 民俗], in preference to the English folk
. In his 1897 popular work Kokumin Kyoiku Aikokushin
[『愛国心 国民教育』: Citizen Education & Patriotism
], Hozumi defined the state as a völkisch group [民族団体] protected by the sovereign power (this being the emperor); a völkisch group was defined as blood relatives of the same womb, the womb in question being that of Amaterasu O-Mikami. It followed that the only members of the kokutai
were those who were Japanese of ethnic blood descent and that one could not become a member of the Japanese kokutai
by cultural assimilation. This emphasis on blood ties caused some consternation, since from 1984 -- 1895 onwards Japan began to create an overseas empire in which Koreans and Chinese had somehow to be accommodated. Hozumi was against such assimilation and believed that the Korean Volk
was inherently inferior to the Japanese Volk
"This idea that the Japanese state must be a pure ethnic state would be a constant political principle among Shinto ultranationalists from the late Meiji period to the end of the Second World War." (Skya, op.cit., p. 57.)(3) The Japanese state is a family state, with direct links between each Japanese and the Emperor.
The familial links between the Emperor and every Japanese were what caused the most disquiet for Daikichi Irokawa.
"Even as a child I thought there was something phony about the idea. Had it meant that all Japanese were to join together as if in a family-state, I might have understood. But there was nothing I could see in the world around me that suggested a "filial harmony unparalleled in the world." (Irokawa, The Culture of the Meiji Period, p. 285.)
Probably, Hozumi would have told Irokawa to look a little further and also reflect on his own family situation. Hozumi regarded the family, with the father at the head, as a Japanese cultural and historical archetype. He believed that the state eventually had a patriarchal head because the family did and interpreted his Japanese history accordingly. The patriarchal family was also uniquely Japanese: Hozumi denied that there was any influence from China and offered the reason that for Confucius the Mandate of Heaven was the prime factor in keeping or removing an emperor from power. For Hozumi there was no Mandate of Heaven, or, rather, the mandate began and ended with the Sun Goddess Amaterasu O Mikami and her successors. The Japanese term used by Hozumi is chuukou
[忠孝 filial piety], which Skya interprets as an identity of the concepts of loyalty to the emperor and filial piety to one's father: for Hozumi there was never any separation of the two and certainly no potential conflict between the two.
The major corrupting influences on the Japanese state were, according to Hozumi, the dangerous western imports of religion based on universal notions of deity and morality and also western individualism and liberalism. Hozumi's theories in this regard are of some importance, since he was the first ultranationalist to work out a theory of the individual and the group that contained its own inherent moral values. Those who followed him, like Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko, also worked out their own (quite different) theories of the individual in relation to the state—and also the universe as a whole, which also contained their own inherent moral values. The issue is of some relevance to Morihei Ueshiba and aikido, in view of the cosmology and ‘internal' morality that is assumed, both here and in Ueshiba's own discourses.
Pernicious Western Influence
Hozumi believed that the gravest threat to the kokutai
came from western culture, with the supreme value accorded to the individual by religions such as Christianity.
"In Hozumi's opinion … the concept of individualism had become irrevocably embedded in the consciousness of Westerners and … in the end, individualism was at the root of all occidental ideologies: not just of liberalism and democracy, but also of socialism and, by implication, communism. That is to say, socialism was also a derivation of liberalism and the thought of the Enlightenment. Both individualism and socialism were premised on atomistic and mechanistic assumptions of state and society that were antithetical to his organic doctrine of sociality." (Skya, op.cit., p. 69.)
What, then, was Hozumi's ‘organic doctrine of sociality'? It was certainly not Confucian. Confucius taught that society was organized according to the ‘five human relationships' of emperor/subject, father/son, husband/wife, older brother/younger brother, and friend/friend, but Confucian morality merely specified the proper social relationships of individuals. Nor was there room for a transcendental god, individual obedience to whose law was a passport to eternal salvation. Hozumi thought that the völkisch
ethnic family state based on ancestor worship allowed no room for the emergence of the individual as an independent moral being. The individual had to merge with society and the purpose of all ethics and social morality was to direct the individual to what Hozumi termed koudoushin
[公同心]: the desire for two independent elements to become one. The end state to be achieved he terms goudou seizon
[公同生存]: fusion or amalgamated existence. Hozumi held that society and the state were identical and that the emperor was
the state. Accordingly, obedience to law was obedience to the word of the emperor and the very act of obedience was sacred, since the emperor and his ancestors were to be worshipped as deities. Since the emperor was the living incarnation of Amaterasu O Mikami, this doctrine had no place for any private morality, such as would be based on a personal belief in God, such as the monotheistic Christian God. All morality was seen as ordered to the good of the ethnic family state, embodied in the emperor and his will.
Given the robustness of the ‘western' notion of the individual, the concept of an individual embodied mind merging with other individual embodied minds in a shapeless mass presents some difficulties. We will see later that Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko both discuss the matter further and that each attempts to present Hozumi's nebulous theories more robustly. However, the value system it engendered had practical consequences that were not so nebulous and one particular instance, namely, the conduct of Japanese soldiers towards allied prisoners of war, has been discussed in a previous column. The remarks of Tanaka Yuki, who was cited in Column 9, are worth repeating here.
Tanaka begins by sketching the background.
"The Meiji constitution had been imposed on a feudal value structure, and significant features of that value structure persisted in the early period of Japanese modernity. Much of the populace seems to have placed a higher value on the concepts of duty and fealty to the nation then on the concept of rights and liberties. To claim one's "rights" was seen as egocentric, individualist and destructive of the social fabric. The organic model of the nation—with the state as a family and the emperor as the "nation's father"—persisted as the dominant model of national life for the vast majority of Japanese." (Tanaka, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II, p. 201.)
He then discusses the consequences for wartime ethics and decision-making.
"Indeed in Japan, the whole framework of ethics was not seen as emanating from individuals or even from a collective cultural base. Instead it was seen as coming downwards from the Emperor to the people, as a framework for understanding their duties and these duties went upwards from the people to the emperor. In both cases the state acted as the conduit and effective framer of the details—the Emperor thus becoming a symbolic National Father who legitimized state power. … Such a framework for ethics gives rise to a conflict between the universalizing tendency of modernity, with its aim of founding morality in rationally discoverable rules for the personal conduct of any individual, and the older feudal ideal of a morality that fused with authority, which emanated from the Emperor and over which abstract demands for legitimation had no purchase."
"Within such an authority-based system of morality, the worth of individuals was conceived in terms of their proximity to the Emperor. Despite the fact that the constitution ostensibly guaranteed equality to citizens before the Emperor, the everyday reality was that those who carried out the Emperor's wishes—the state bureaucracy and the military in particular—were represented as the most worthy and valuable citizens.
"This value system, in which human worth is anchored in proximity to the Emperor, became accepted and embedded in Japanese culture to such a degree that it did not require efforts by the state to make it hold." (Tanaka, op.cit., pp. 202-203.)
Thus Tanaka believes, with Maruyama Masao, that the extreme ultranationalism of which Hozumi was an intellectual pioneer, was embraced by the Japanese population as a whole.
Setting the Scene 2:
Taisho Democracy and ‘Ultranationalizing' the ‘Masses'
Hozumi Yatsuka died in 1912, not long after the Emperor Meiji himself. Though a pioneer radical ultranationalist, Hozumi is regarded as being of the same generation as the oligarchs. Skya argues that his theories were attacked and, in terms of radical Shinto ultra-nationalism, surpassed by his successors at Tokyo Imperial University. However, it is important to be clear about what this means.
One of the reasons cited by Skya is that Hozumi confined his radicalism to the ruling elites and had a major distrust of ‘the masses' and popular participation in government. Thus, his radical Shinto ultranationalism was essentially vertically structured and stressed the patriarchal qualities of the family, with the result that Hozumi envisaged no popular participation at all in government. The ‘masses' simply acted like good children, but were strictly to be seen and not heard. However, the actual content of radical Shinto ultranationalism—understood as direct rule over the whole world by the Japanese emperor, as the successor to Amaterasu O Mikami in an everlasting line, ruling over the Japanese ethnic/racial body—did not change very much. Hozumi's successors, especially Uesugi Shinkichi, understood the need to have the ideology of radical Shinto ultranationalism horizontally structured, so that it could be embraced by the Japanese population as a whole. This anonymous body of people is understood by Skya and many other historians to have assumed a major role in government from the turn of the century onwards, but especially as a result of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and the riots caused by the Treaty of Portsmouth.
The ‘Masses' become Self-Aware
Skya quotes another scholar on the extent of the Hibiya riots in 1905.
"In the first two decades of the twentieth century, crowds of city-dwellers took to the streets of Tokyo and launched the most vigorous urban protests yet seen in Japan. At least nine times from the Hibiya riot of 1905 to the rice riots of 1918, angry Tokyoites attacked policemen, police stations, and national government offices, smashed streetcar windows and beat the drivers, marched on the Diet, and stormed the offices of major newspapers. They destroyed public and private property, launching both symbolic and substantive attacks on the institutions of established order of imperial Japan." (Skya, op.cit., p. 155, quoting Andrew Gordon, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Postwar Japan, p. 1.)
The Hibiya riots are presented as a spontaneous outburst of the entire general population, enraged at the poor treatment of Japan by the major powers, as evidenced in the Treaty of Portsmouth. Skya does not mention the background to these riots, which was the propaganda preached by the government about the valiant exploits of the army in Manchuria, as it tried to capture Port Arthur under the direction of the spectacularly incompetent General Nogi. The opinion of the military historian Edward Drea is worth quoting here.
"During the lead-up to the war, the army appealed to an increasingly literate public and conscript force with themes of Japan's uniqueness by virtue of the unbroken imperial line. Pamphlets subsidized by the war ministry explained in simple language that the army protected Japan from foreign threats, much like the wall round a storehouse kept wild animals or thieves from stealing treasures. Essays popularized notions that seishin and the intangible factors of battle were responsible for tiny Japan's victory over the enormous Chinese empire and that Japan had to fight Russia to save China from itself and prevent a collapse of the international order.
Building on that foundation, wartime propaganda had concealed Japan's military weaknesses to manufacture an unprecedented national commitment to the war across the society. The potent combination of prewar indoctrination and wartime propaganda raised popular anticipation that shared hardships would entitle everyone to benefit from the fruits of victory. With these unrealistic expectations, the Japanese people were infuriated that the treaty contained no indemnity and doled out seemingly paltry rewards for such great sacrifices. Anti-treaty rioting and popular demonstrations erupted in Tokyo as the public directed its fury against the civilian cabinet. It might better have targeted the army." (Edward Drea, Japan's Imperial Army, p. 110.)
Skya ends his discussion of the Taisho era with an argument based on a dilemma posed by Kato Shuichi, which sums up the supposed contradictions of the Meiji restoration quite well:
"Was this [shift from liberalism and ‘Taisho Democracy' to militarism and ‘super-nationalism'] a conversion of a nation or did it merely indicate new stage of that Japanese imperialism which had its origins in the Meiji period? Those who emphasize the contrast are inclined to idealize the term ‘Taisho Democracy' and consider the years from 1931 to 1945 a national conversion or rather an unfortunate accident or nightmare which had best be forgotten. Hence, the success story of Japanese modernization. Those who underline the continuity of the Meiji oligarchy throughout the Taisho and Showa eras until 1945 are inclined to minimize the extent of liberalization which did take place in the 1920s within the traditional framework of the state and society. In doing so, they obscure, in part, the origins of militarism insofar as it was a reaction to Taisho liberalism, and underestimate the heritage from the Taisho era evident in the post-Second-World-War period." (Shuichi Kato, "Taisho Democracy as the Pre-Stage, for Japanese Militarism," in Silberman and Hatutoonian (eds), Japan in Crisis, pp. 217-218. Quoted by Skya, op.cit., pp. 149-150.)
Among those who thought that Taisho was the beginning of a new era was Yoshino Sakuzo [吉野作吉](1873 -- 1948). Yoshino was famous for his theory of Minpon-shugi
[民本主義: government on behalf of the people—a narrow and restricted version of democracy], which enjoyed an intense but fleeting existence in the early 1920s. According to his political biographer, Tetsuo Najita,
"Yoshino observed unprecedented numbers of people taking to the streets in movements and demonstrations of protests such as in riots against the Portsmouth Treaty of 1905, the Movement for Constitutional Government in 1902 -- 1913, the protest against naval corruption in 1914, and the rallies against high consumption taxes throughout these years. And he felt the momentous political transformation of political consciousness among the people to be the central theme of these demonstrations. Thus in his essays of 1914 -- 1916, his first and in many respects most important, he heralded the demonstrations as marking the dawn of a new era." (Najita, "Some Reflections on Idealism in the Political Thought of Yoshino Sakuzo," in Silberman and Harutoonian (eds), Japan in Crisis, p. 43. Quoted by Skya, op.cit., p. 137.)
The comment by Andrew Gordon, quoted earlier, though specific to Tokyo, deals with popular protest, which had begun in the Meiji era with the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement in the 1880s. Gordon's comments about Yoshino need to be seen in a certain context, best conveyed by Ienaga Saburo in his history of the Pacific War (see below and Further Reading). Like Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Ienaga displays his biases for all to see, but his picture of Meiji Japan and of so-called Taisho Democracy (in Chapter Two of his book, entitled "Thought Control and Indoctrination") cannot be compared with the democratic freedoms that the Allied powers brought to Japan in 1945. According to Ienaga, it was the failed Freedom and Popular Rights Movement that caused the establishment of an elected parliament, but the constitution was drafted in secret and bestowed by the emperor. There was no popular participation and the freedoms that the constitution guaranteed ‘within the limits of the law', were swiftly eroded—and this occurred as much in in Taisho era after 1912 as in the Meiji era that preceded it. Skya's comment, that the drafters of the constitution strove to keep as much power in their own hands, and as little power as possible in the hands of an elected parliament, bears repeating here.
Japan's New Model Army:
There is one other factor that needs to be considered in relation to the Imperial Japanese Army at this time. During the period under discussion the army was essentially re-created as a modern army. It was transformed from an outdated relic of the Tokugawa era into an efficient fighting force, commanded by career officers who ceased to belong to the samurai class; the transformation was also an emancipation from domination by Choshu / Satsuma samurai headed by Saigo Takanori, Ito Hirobumi, Yamagata Aritomo and other students of the late radical, Yoshida Shoin. The armed forces were also supposed to be immune from politics—which is why the army answered directly to the emperor, but this rule was seen much more in the breach than in the observance, especially in the years of the Taisho era. This was especially true of the junior officers, many of whom came from local farming communities and saw at first hand the disastrous economic conditions that arose in the 1920s.
"Military men … believed that the pre-1945 Japanese government was based on two almost equally important documents, their rescript and the Constitution. The former, which they considered preeminent because of its spiritual basis, established the military as the sole, strong right arm of the ‘revealed man deity' [arahitogami: 現人神]. The latter, a ‘mere' legal document, reinforced their faith by allowing the services the ‘right of supreme command,' the power in many situations to ignore the civil government and report directly to the emperor. … Men like Tanaka [Tanaka Giichi, 田中義一, Founder of the Imperial Reserve Association: 帝国在郷軍人会] believed even before the crisis of 1930 … that they had the correct view of Japan's destiny and that they were not being political in their efforts to educate civilians to agree with them. These educational efforts did not violate the injunction against military involvement in politics because military men believed they rose above politics by serving the emperor and his ‘whole' nation rather than ‘divisive' personal, company and party ‘political' interests." (Richard J Smethurst, A Social Basis for Prewar Japanese Militarism, pp. 164 -- 165.)
As such the army and navy were a principal target of the theories produced by the radical Shinto ultranationalists, especially (a) the doctrine of a direct connection between all fighting men and the emperor, (b) the identification of society in general with the state and (c) the ‘internal' moral values that go with these doctrines. I will touch on these points below, in connection with the theological and cosmological theories of Kakehi Katsuhiko.
Some Radical Shinto Ultranationalists:
2. Uesugi Shinkichi and Power to the Masses:
The Emperor as the Divine Will
Another student of Hozumi Yatsuka at the Imperial University was Uesugi Shinkichi [上杉慎吉1878 -- 1929]. Like Hozumi and many others, Uesugi spent time in Germany and then returned to Japan to teach constitutional law at his alma mater. When Hozumi retired, Uesugi succeeded him and taught at Tokyo University until his death. He also gave lectures at the army and navy academies for many years (though this would have been before Morihei Ueshiba started teaching there) and would have found a receptive military audience for his theories. Uesugi initially believed more strongly in the constitutional aspect of the emperor system, but came to realize that Hozumi's model of the völkisch family state was inadequate, since Hozumi had no time for mass movements and his theories of the family state did not allow for mass participation in politics. Quite early on in his academic career, Uesugi resolutely turned away from the attractions of Western culture during his stay in Germany and saw this as a pernicious influence to a greater extent than Hozumi. We can examine Uesugi's activities and thinking under several headings.
Uesugi the Preacher
Like the historian Hiraizumi Hiyoshi, who came after him, Uesugi Shinkichi used his position as a professor to preach the virtues of his own view of the emperor system. He also created—or was instrumental in creating—a large number of radical associations. The first was the Toukagakkai
[桐花学会: Paulownia Flower Society], created in 1913, in order to defend the kokutai
against Minobe Tatsukichi and the emperor-as-organ theory and also to work for the eradication of political parties. (Note that this was just after the death of the Emperor Meiji and the beginning of ‘Taisho Democracy', when the elites worried about the incipient power of political parties.) The society attracted some 200 members, including scholars, bureaucrats and military officers. This was followed in 1920 by the Koukoku Doushikai
[興国同志会: Association of Those Devoted to the Advancement of the State], formed among the students of the Law Faculty of Tokyo Imperial University. The purpose of this organization was to counter democratic and socialist ideas. A notable member of this organization was Minoda Muneki [蓑田胸喜: 1894 -- 1946; see below], who became an ardent opponent of Minobe Tatsukichi and his version of the emperor-as-organ theory.
The third society to be founded by Uesugi was of major importance. With Takabatake Motoyuki and his National Socialists, he founded the Keirin Gakumei
[経綸学盟: Association for the Study of Statesmanship]. This association was relatively short-lived, but was highly influential. Skya compares this society with two older groups, the Gen'yousha
[玄洋社: Dark Ocean Society] and the Kokuryukai
[黒龍会: Black Dragon Society / Amur River Society], of which Uesugi was a member and also Yoshida Kotaru, who introduced Morihei Ueshiba to Takeda Sokaku in Hokkaido. Whereas these two societies were basically "small organizations that attempted to influence governmental policy either by allying with, or engaging in terrorist activities against, political elites
", the Keirin Gakumei
aimed at "mobilizing the Japanese masses
" by means of a six-point agenda: (1) realization of the ideal of ‘the whole nation beating as one heart' through ideology, (2) the enhancement of national glory through the mobilization of the entire nation, (3) the enforcement of national militarization based on the premise that every individual in the nation is a soldier, (4) the creation of a national economy through the control of capital and labor, (5) the establishment of a nation of one people through a public welfare system and the preservation of the national characteristics of the nation, and (6) the adoption of a nationwide system of elections. (Cited by Skya, op.cit.
, p. 161.) Ida Terutoshi, one of the very few Japanese scholars who have studied Uesugi and prewar ultra-nationalism, makes two points. The first is that the six-point agenda comprised the main tenets of ‘Japanese style fascism: a Japanese version of Mussolini's Blackshirts'. The second is that Uesugi and the Keirin Gakumei
were on the files of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice as a radical ultranationalist and a fascist group: one of the ‘two great well-springs of recent radical national revolutionary movements in our country,' (the other being the Yuzonsha
[猶存社: Society of Survivors], founded in 1920 by Okawa Shumei and Kita Ikki).
In 1925, which was four years before his death, Uesugi formed yet another society, the Teidai Shichiseisha
[帝大七生社: Seven Lives Society]. This society appears to have been formed to counter a left wing society called the Shinjinkai
[新人会: Association of New People] created by Yoshino Sakuzo. The society held weekly meetings and some members were also members of the Ketsumeidan
[血盟団: League of Blood], which in February and March, 1932, carried out the assassinations of Inoue Junnosuke, former Minister of Finance, and Dan Takuma, director of the Mitsui holding company. Finally, Uesugi was president of the Kenkokukai
[建国会: National Founding Association], which was formed in 1926, by the anarchist Akao Bin [赤尾敏 1899 -- 1990] and supported by Hiranuma Kiichiro and Toyama Mitsuru. Akao's radicalism and his advocacy of terrorism alienated some supporters and eventually the meetings took place in Uesugi's own private house.
The Imperial State According to Uesugi Shinkichi
Uesugi Shinkichi's statist cosmology was a more extreme version of Hozumi Yatsuka's. He took Hozumi's theories of koudoushin
[公同心: the desire for two independent elements to become one] and goudou seizon
[公同生存: fusion or amalgamated existence] and added a powerful teleological dimension, which was allied to an equally powerful concept of what he called ‘organizational will'. For Uesugi, the problem with Hozumi's theory was that it was too sharply focused on the individual as a complete and self-sufficient entity. Such a theory, which assumed that some form of conflict was the basis of society, led to social Darwinism, which Uesugi believed had been introduced into Japan since the Meiji restoration. Uesugi believed that social Darwinism was a state based on ‘mechanistic organization' [機会的組織] and was not appropriate for the Japanese, who were accustomed to social organization based on mutual cooperation. We can summarize Uesugi's ultranationalist philosophy in several steps.
(1) Uesugi had to find a new way to capture the mutually beneficent relationship between one self and other selves. The relationship could not be based on the idea of the self as an entity existing independently of the existence of other selves. The focus of the relationship had to be the prior recognition of the interdependent existence of the self with other selves in an organic totality. So the individual beings that were constituents of ‘being-as-a-totality' were in movement. This movement Uesugi called sokan
[祖関: the movement of beings in a cause-and-effect relationship with other beings in a spatial environment] and was a central element in his philosophy of the state. However, this interrelationship was also in time and the resulting movement in a spatial-temporal matrix was called renzoku
[連続]. Skya's discussion focuses on ‘movement' but the main point of sokan
is that it was a theory of action. Each being, as part of ‘being-in-totality' mutually and interdependently developing and perfecting the self in relation to other selves in a definite spatial-temporal matrix, was what Uesugi called hito no sokan to renzoku
[人の祖関と連続] and this mutual development and perfection of beings in the spatial-temporal matrix was what Uesugi defined as morality. The state thus was identified with ultimate morality.
(2) Since hito no sokan to renzoku
implied movement in a spatial-temporal matrix, Uesugi broadened the environment of this matrix to include other worlds: ‘spiritual' beings, including ancestors and descendants. Uesugi believed that all the people and events since the origin of the state exist at this very moment. All of these beings form a community of moral beings harmoniously striving for perfection, by means of direct action. This perfection Uesugi called honsei
[本性: man's essential being]. Such striving, of course, implied a teleological dimension: the supreme goal of morality was thus self-realization, or the realization of one's essential being, which was one's innate nature. There was thus an essential unity of being and ultimate morality.
(3) Being-as-a-totality, of course, was coterminous with the state, which was the society of beings interacting in an organic totality, all the beings aiming towards essential being. However, the state was not the sum total of individuals who made up the state. Rather, the state was an organism over and above the beings that comprised it, which developed and responded to laws of organic functional relationships between parts and wholes. Society could not be disconnected from the state, so in China, for example, the state and society could not be identified. Uesugi believed that the Japanese had never made such a disconnection: for a Japanese, Japan meant one state, one society, and one ethnic group.
(4) The state, considered as a society of ‘beings-in-totality', had a will of its own, which Uesugi called the Organizational Will [taisei ishi
: 体制意志]. In the same way that the state was not the sum total of the individuals within it, the Organizational Will was not the sum total of individual wills, or the will of each individual. It was the a-priori will of the state, the source of state cohesion, since it cemented each individual into the state and was the moral force that inspired the teleological striving of each individual for the perfection that was man's essential being. The moral action that contributed to the realization of man's essential being also contributed to the collective ‘being-as-a-totality'. So there was no contradiction between the individual self and all other selves: the sacrifice of the self for the good of the collective ‘being-as-a-totality' was not really a sacrifice of something considered valuable, but was itself the realization of one's own essential being. Of course, the individual self was not expected to behave individually: its role was to work out what was required in order to cohere with the general will of the collective ‘being-as-totality.'
(5) The source and embodiment of the Organizational Will in the state was the emperor. Since the emperor was the state, only the emperor could embody the Organizational Will. The consequence was that to obey the emperor was the highest realization of the self and of one's essential being [honsei
本性]. The essential component of the kokutai
was the emperor and for Uesugi the individual self was to be absorbed into the emperor as a part of the emperor, whose will, the Organizational Will, was the wellspring of absolute morality. The important point is that for Uesugi, as for the members of the Imperial Japanese Army, for example, who supposedly embraced his theories, this intellectual construction was much more than a metaphor. Given such a construction, moreover, there was no place at all for individual moral concerns unless these conformed to the Organizational Will.
Uesugi complemented his theory of the state with a theory of history. The main points to note here are Uesugi's belief that the end of history is the evolution of the state, which was identified with society itself and which culminated in the Japanese state under the absolute rule of the emperor. Concerning Uesugi's general ultranationalist thesis, another point is the difference with Hozumi's position concerning the family nature of the kokutai
. Whereas for Hozumi, the kokutai
was a family with a strictly vertical, patriarchal ordering, for Uesugi the kokutai
was a family like a vast beehive, with one queen and the rest workers—all constantly laboring on the same horizontal level. This is where Irokawa attacks Maruyama; for Maruyama, the fascist nature of the prewar Japanese state lay in the ‘family' nature of the kokutai
—and this is the aspect that Irokawa could not see. For Uesugi, according to Skya, there was no family nature of the kokutai
: everyone had the same direct and radical relationship with the emperor, but a relationship that had constantly to be manifested in direct action of some kind.
"Under Uesugi's state theory, the emperor had become totally internalized. The separation between the emperor and the individual had been closed theoretically. Under Uesugi's state theory, conservative, reactionary, or counter-revolutionary Shinto ultranationalist ideology had become radical Shinto ultranationalist ideology or totalitarian ideology and militant radical Shinto fundamentalism. The emperor invaded the essence of one's very being, becoming one's consciousness, one's self-identification. From total control over the individual, it sought to embrace everything and everyone in the state and beyond on the road to domination on a global scale. This is the essence of totalitarianism as posited by Hannah Arendt."Some Radical Shinto Ultranationalists:
3. Kakehi Katsuhiko and the New Cosmology:
The Emperor as the Entire Universe
"His [Uesugi's] thought justified terrorism both theoretically and morally, for it made it the individual's duty to eliminate, in the popular refrain of radical Shinto ultranationalists of the time, ‘wicked [imperial] advisers, corrupt politicians, capitalists and weak-kneed bureaucrats' who separated the masses from the Emperor. Such thinking … was the chief inspiration behind the terrorist actions by radical Shinto ultranationalists in the 1930s." (Skya, op.cit., pp. 183-184, 186. The mention of Arendt is to her Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3.)
Kakehi Katsuhiko (筧克彦1872 -- 1961) is the least known among the radical Shinto ultranationalists discussed by Skya and it will be instructive to compare Kakehi with Morihei Ueshiba. As the above dates show, Kakehi Katsuhiko was born and died some ten years before Morihei Ueshiba. Like Ueshiba, he taught at the military schools, but Kakehi went one better: he lectured to the Emperor Hirohito when the latter was Crown Prince. Like Ueshiba, he numbered among his friends ultranationalists such as Okawa Shumei and Konoe Fumimaro. Finally, like Ueshiba, Kakehi expressed his thought in semi-religious terms: his brand of ultranationalism also related to the balance within the universe (I have used the term ‘semi-religious' to distinguish Shinto from established religions like Christianity). Unlike Ueshiba, Kakehi taught at Tokyo Imperial University and published many books. Like Hozumi and Uesugi—and Deguchi Onisaburo, he was an opinion leader and it is Skya's thesis that Kakehi had great influence on Japan's Imperial Army and Navy. In fact, Skya argues that the ideas of Uesugi and Kakehi related in their own separate ways to the two main factions within the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy: the Kodo-ha
[皇道派: Imperial Way Faction] and the Tosei-ha
[統制派: Control Faction].
"The fundamental difference between the ‘revolutionary' or ‘militant' radical Shinto ultranationalists such as Uesugi and the ‘controlled' radical Shinto ultranationalists such as Kakehi had more to do with the means than with fundamental or ultimate goals. The former, an extremely utopian ideology, tended to support and encourage terrorism or violent revolution to destroy existing structures and institutions of government that separated the emperor from the masses and to promote unlimited expansion abroad. Kakehi, however, sought to unite the emperor with the masses through a spiritual revival and religious transformation, accepting at the same time the necessity of operating through the existing structures and institutions of government ultimately to obtain direct imperial rule and then work to spread the emperor's rule throughout the world." (Skya, op.cit., p. 187.)
Suzuki Sadami, cited by Skya with approval, mentions this aspect of Kakehi's importance in his book Nihon no Bunka Nashonarizumu
[『日本の文化ナショナリズム』: the Nationalist Culture of Japan]. The immediate context to Suzuki's discussion of Kakehi is the response of the military and the right wing [U-yoku
: 右翼] to a conference on the emperor-as-organ theory (on which more follows below) held in 1935.
"Kakehi's ideas, such as the ‘great life of the ethnic nation' [民族の大生命] and his kami spiritualism [神がかった精神主義] served as the pillar of the ideology of a clique of officers identified with the Imperial Way Faction. … The Imperial Way Movement was suppressed by the February 26, 1936 Incident, but the ideology of Kakehi Katsuhiko was then swallowed up by the Control Faction." (Suzuki, op.cit., pp. 202, 209.)
I have discussed in an earlier column the thesis of Thomas Nadolski that the close association of Omoto-kyo with the Imperial Way Faction of the Japanese army led to the Second Suppression of Omoto in 1935. However, Morihei Ueshiba's own association with radical Shinto ultranationalists extended much more widely than with this particular faction.
Skya notes that Kakehi's ideological thinking seems to have been inspired by the transformation of Japanese society from 1905 onwards. He quotes and cites Andrew Gordon, a historian of Japanese labor relations whose views have been mentioned above, as evidence of the profound transformation—and later, polarization—in attitudes caused by popular protest, the protests being brought on by the economic consequences of the drive to create a empire, the rise of industrial capitalism and the working class it created, and the taxation without representation of the smaller business proprietors and factory owners. (In his Modern History of Japan
, p. 132, Gordon gives a table of all the main riots in Tokyo between 1905 and 1918.) For Kakehi, the transformation was a "weakening or erosion of the bonds uniting the emperor and the Japanese people, to remedy which, he urged the Japanese people to return to the core religious belief of ancient Shinto." (Skya, op.cit.
, p. 190, citing Suzuki, op.cit.
, p. 179). Suzuki adds a little more.
筧克彦は、日露戦争後の国民の精神的基盤が崩れていると見て、その建てなおしをはかろうとしたのだろうが、国家神道は、「宗教ではない」とした帝国憲法の精神に違反するように見えている。しかし、どうやら、この「古神道」も「宗教を超えた宗教」らしい。神道は、日本の古来連綿と続いてきた民族宗教とする考えは、久来邦武が「神道ハ古俗の祭典」で論じたときには非難を浴びたが、それを忠君愛国の精神と論じた新渡戸稲造『武 士道』は広く読まれた。(鈴木貞美, op.cit., pp. 179 -- 180.)
Suzuki thus depicts Kakehi as arguing, like Nitobe Inazo in his book Bushido
, that ancient Shinto has had a continuous existence, and amounts to ancient festivals showing respect for the emperor and love of the country. In particular, his references to ancient Shinto as a religion are reminiscent of Morihei Ueshiba's references to aikido as a religion. Kakehi's statements (given above in bold type) were that kokka Shinto wa shuukyou de wa nai
, and also that, kono koshinto mo shuukyou wo koeta shuukyou rashii
. Thus state Shinto ‘is not a religion' (and it was not regarded as such in the Meiji constitution), but ‘ancient Shinto is like a religion that surpasses religion.' Ueshiba made a similar paradoxical statement, that ‘Aikido is a religion while not being religion.' 「合気道は宗教にあらずして宗教なのであります。」 Aikidou wa shuukyou ni arazu shite shuukyou nano de arimasu
.] (Takemusu Aiki
, p. 36.) While not being a member of Omoto, Kakehi discussed Shinto in a similar vein and, like Ueshiba, was fully aware of both the ancient Japanese myths. He was also well aware of the doctrines of Christianity, especially Catholicism. We will discuss this issue further in Column 23.
Ancient Shinto is the first of several headings under which we can examine Kakehi's theory of the state.
1. Kakehi, the Gods and the Emperor
In addition to studying law, Kakehi Katsuhiko was also a scholar of ancient texts and grounded his doctrine in the Kojiki
. It was on the subject of ancient Shinto that he lectured to the Empress Teimei and to the future Emperor Hirohito. Kakehi regarded the Meiji Restoration as of crucial importance, since it offered a unique opportunity to give both the emperor and Shinto their proper roles. As such, Kakehi was an enthusiastic member of the group who wished to purify Shinto of its connections with Buddhism.
Skya presents a composite picture of Kakehi's theology, culled from several of his works (some of which are currently unobtainable: thus I have been unable to check Skya's translations from the Japanese). Skya starts from the slogan Isshin Doutai
[「一心同体」: One Heart, Same Body
], a phrase coined by Kakehi himself and one of the major ideas on which he based his militaristic ideology. This phrase represented the true essence of the Japanese state, which, according to Kakehi, was the unique unity of all the Japanese people, superiors and inferiors, living at different times and places throughout history under the rule of the divine emperor. This organic unity had been preserved throughout the ages since the establishment of the Japanese state and what made it possible was the steadfast faith of the Japanese people in the religion of their ancestral deities.
"In this context, Kakehi stressed that the state was founded neither on brute force, a case in which the strong had suppressed the weak, nor on the basis of a compact among equal peoples, thus rejecting both the autocratic idea that the essence of the state was force or power and the classical Western notion that the state originated with a voluntary pact among men. Rather, he insisted that the Japanese state was founded on a basis much more profound and fundamental: the ideals of a national faith. This faith was, of course, Shinto, or the ‘Way of the Gods', in which the true essence of the Japanese state was the manifestation of Takama-ga-hara (the Plain of High Heaven) in this world. … The Japanese state had the religious goal of realizing the essence of the Plain of High Heaven in this world. This goal could be accomplished by being faithful to the Kannagara-no-michi." (Skya, op.cit., pp. 193-194.)
Skya cites a lengthy discussion by D C Holtom in his National Faith of Japan
, published in 1937. Holtom analyses the meaning of the term kamu-nagara
, which he states occurs in the chronicle of the Emperor Kotoku (reign: 645 -- 654) and tentatively suggests that it "probably" means "following the will of the gods without question
" and that kamu-nagara-no-michi
means "following implicitly the will of the gods with no introduction of one's personal will whatever.
" (Holtom, op.cit.
, pp. 14 -- 15.) Skya ignores both the tentativeness of Holtom's definition and the obscurity of the reference (which does not appear in Aston's translation of the Nihongi
) and regards Holtom's definition as both accurate and identical to Kakehi's definition, which is,
"to praise and realize the inherent state of ‘being of one heart and the same body' while preserving from ancient times the proper relationship between superiors and inferiors,"
"the realization of this intrinsic being of one heart and the same body of all people high and low unified by, and under, a single line of emperors established and unchanged since from the beginning of creation." (Kakehi, Kokka no Kenkyu, p. 4, quoted by Skya, op.cit., p. 194.)
(I sought the opinions of Japanese university colleagues about the meaning of kamu-nagara
and they conformed to the general definition given above.) Nevertheless, Skya grounds the theological part of Kakehi's theology of action in an obscure text of the Nihongi
the meaning of which is unclear and debatable. The term Shinto [神道] occurs in the Nihongi
, usually with reference to emperors like Kotoku, who did not follow it since they preferred Buddhism instead. Kannagara
is written with different characters [惟神 or 惟ながら, which are used by Kakehi, or 随神] and the reference given by Holtom, based on an obscure translation of the Nihongi
, is the sole reference.
However, the practical consequences of the action part of Kakehi's theology are less unclear, and necessitate actually becoming—like all Japanese past, present and to come—part of the emperor, in obedience to the will of the state [kokken
: 国権] and as part of the universal self [fuhenga
: 普遍我] or universal person [fuhenjin
: 普遍人]. Since this situation is not the same as a total aggregate of all past, present and future individuals, including the kami
, the submission of one's own desire to the will of the state—and the exhilarating sense of accomplishment arising from such a submission—is Skya's preferred interpretation, which he buttresses with a quotation from Eugene Weber:
"When a people achieves a true national self-consciousness, … the leader is no longer a master, a dictator who does what he wants and leads where he wills. He is the state of consciousness. He does not do what he wants. He does what he must. And he is led [by the interest] of the eternal nation which the people has sensed.
Here is the basis of that cult of the leader as the emanation of his people, produced by his people as the materialization of its profound will and purpose. Such a leader is neither elected nor appointed. He affirms himself as the ‘truly democratic' chief of a group that freely accepts him. … Fascists and National Socialists stress this oneness between the statesman and his people, a people that gives itself to him, trusts him and loves him. … The general will of the nation is now concentrated in one person in whom the people, his people, can glimpse their true historical selves, their true destiny, as a magic mirror in which they see themselves magnified and exalted." (Eugene Weber, Varieties of Fascism, p. 35.)
A corollary for Kakehi is to downplay the biological family connection between children and parents and substitute an analogous relationship between Japanese and the emperor—and then deny the analogical quality of the relationship.
"Nowadays, if we say that we are born from our parents, everyone agrees. I do not think there is anyone who does not understand that were born from our parents. However, if we say that we were born from the emperor, foreigners would shake their heads and say they do not understand that we were born from the emperor. The reason that they do not understand this is because they are foreigners. We are indeed born from the emperor. It is a plain and true fact that our parents gave birth to us, but when we seek for the greatest and most fundamental cause of our birth, or our parents' birth, it derives from the emperor's grace. It would be awful to say that there was no emperor. But if one were to say hypothetically that the emperor did not exist, we would never have been born at all. No Japanese subject would have been born." (Kakehi, Kokka no kenkyu, p. 41 -- 42, quoted by Skya, op.cit., p. 197.)
Nevertheless, despite the fact that this severance of individual dependence on the family leaves no intermediary family loyalties between the emperor and the individual, Kakehi constructed the internal structure of the state in a vertical fashion. Everyone was to interact with fellow Japanese and work to realize the Takama-ga hara
in this world, but this was to be done according to one's proper place [honrai no bun
: 本来の分] in the social hierarchy. Skya quotes from a speech given by Kakehi to the military.
"Lower-ranking people must respect their superior officers if they feel obliged to the emperor. Even if you say that you will directly render devoted service to the emperor by abandoning your superior, it cannot be done. You have to do it through your superiors, whom you should regard as a substitute for the emperor. Furthermore, this applies not only to soldiers, but also to [civilians]." (Kakehi, op.cit., pp. 33 -- 34, quoted by Skya, op.cit., p. 197.)
There are traces of this way of thinking in Morihei Ueshiba's discourses, but without the overtly fascist overtones. These traces can be found in the Takemusu Aiki
discourses, which were based on interviews made between 1958 and 1961. They were discussed in Column 10, but bear repetition here, for the similarities and differences between Kakehi's statement of the mission of the state and Ueshiba's statement of the mission of aiki are striking.
「つまり自己に与えられた天命を行うことであります。自分の使命を行っているということが、国のためになっていれば結構なことだと思う。自分の使命 の遂行よりな い。国のため世のためと言葉に出した折りには汚れる。自分のつとめを完うすればよいのです。つとめが神になっていれば、これは幸いである。」
In other words, (the purpose of aikido) is to carry out the will of heaven that has been assigned to oneself. As for the having of one's own personal mission, if this is for the sake of the country, I think this is a good thing. There is nothing that comes before the execution of one's personal mission. (Alternative: There is nothing that one can do except execute one's personal mission.) However, on the occasion of this being put into words, uttered for the sake of the country or society, this is impure. If one can accomplish one's own mission, this is good. If [in] the execution of one's own mission [one] becomes a ‘kami', then this is happiness/good fortune.
「一国を侵略して一人を殺すことではなく、みなそれぞれに処を得させて生かし、世界大家族として集いとなって、一元の営み の分身分業として働けるようにするのが、合気道の目標であり、宇宙建国の大精神であります。これが明治御大帝の大み心であったと、今日なお仰いでおりま す。」
The goal of aikido is not invading a country and killing someone. Rather, it is to enable everyone to go forward in life, with each person having his own place, so that there may be a gathering together of a ‘one-world family', so that all may be able to work as specialized branches of the unitary operation (of the universe), leading to the ‘Great Spirit that Builds the Universe Nation'. This was the august wish of His Majesty the Meiji Emperor and it is still to be respected today. (Takahashi Hideo, Takemusu Aiki, 1976, pp. 127 -- 128. Quoted in Column 10.)
Kakehi Katsuhiko would certainly have approved of the ‘Great Spirit that Builds the Universe Nation.' Of course, it would have been politically suicidal for Morihei Ueshiba to have uttered publicly any such sentiment about invasion and killing during the 1930s, but the Takemusu Aiki
discourses were given after the war, in 1976, when Ueshiba had had the time and leisure to reminisce about his war experience. What is striking is that Ueshiba still talks of finding one's own personal place, or executing one's own personal mission, and of the Emperor Meiji's ‘august wish', but in the pan-Asianist and globalistic terms of Omoto-kyo, with which the Emperor Meiji might not have entirely agreed.
2. Kakehi and the Universe
In one of his articles Maruyama Masao compared the Japanese state to a diagram. We know that Morihei Ueshiba liked diagrams and occasionally referred to them in his discourses. Ueshiba was following a tradition, for Skya notes that Kakehi, also, often used diagrams as part of his explanations and there are several of these in his 1937 work 『大日本帝国憲法の根本儀』 [Dai Nihon Teikoku Kempo no Konpongi
: Fundamental Principles of the Constitution of the Great Empire of Japan]. All the diagrams purport to illustrate the world or universe [世界: sekai
; 宇宙: uchu
] and illustrate its theological and political structure.
The diagram given by Skya on p. 220 of Japan's Holy War
is supposedly taken from Kakehi's 1915 publication 『古神道大義』 [Ko Shinto Taigi
: Great Principles of Ancient Shinto], but it does not appear in the 1958 reprint of this work. The diagram is a set of five concentric circles of the universe and at the center is the emperor. The three innermost circles are separated from the rest by a thickly drawn boundary. The other circles within the thick boundary contain, respectively, the imperial ancestors and Amaterasu O Mikami. The emperor and his descendants thus have their own exclusive part of the universe. Outside the boundary are two other circles, the inner circle containing six deities and the outer circle containing the two creation deities Taka-mi-musubi-no-kami
. Since the emperor is at the center of the universe and every other Japanese is a constituent element of the emperor, all Japanese can justly state, ‘I am the Universe.' On the basis of the diagram reproduced by Skya, non-Japanese cannot be so sure.
However, there are other charts of the universe that appear in Kakehi's Dai Nihon Teikoku Kempo no Konpongi
, one of which is more accommodating to non-Japanese, who are in the そとの國 [soto no kuni
: outside countries]. (This chart, inserted between pp. 152 and 153, has a different function from the one in Skya's book. It illustrates Kakehi's view of the politics of the Japanese kokutai
and graphically illustrates his view of Japan's policy towards other countries, whereas the latter illustrates Kakehi's view of Shinto ultranationalist theology.) The chart follows Kakehi's usual style of concentric circles, but the outermost circle depicts the soto no kuni
. The two main inner circles are thickly bounded in red and depict 大日本皇國 [Dai Nippon Koukoku
: The Great Empire of Japan]. The innermost red circle is 天皇 [Tennou
: Emperor], but within this circle are several other circles, depicted in different colors and surrounding a red core, which is the天皇 and the 皇祖 [Kouso
: Founder of the Empire]. The various colored circles generate six ellipses that depict life in the various parts of the Empire, considered as actual parts of the kokutai
, which is the Emperor. They are, in order, 信仰生活 [shinkou seikatsu
: religious belief], 學問生活等 : gakumon seikatsu nado
: scholarship], 血族生活等 [ketsuzoku seikatsu nado
: blood relationships], 土地經濟生活 [tochi keizai seikatsu nado
: land resources and economics], 軍事生活 [gunji seikatsu
: military], and 政治生活 [seiji seikatsu
: politics]. (Note: I have left untranslated the common terms seikatsu
[life or living] and nado
[etcetera].) So, Kakehi has provided a vivid diagrammatic picture of the living body of the Emperor, in which all Japanese participate.
The red circles are hermetically sealed, but each of the six ellipses extends to the outermost circle, where the foreigners are, and each contains a similar explanation relating to the aforementioned ‘life' categories. So the foreigners are included in the Japanese scheme of things, but not included in the kokutai
and are depicted in a perpetually subservient relationship to the Japanese. The obverse of this is that Kakehi considered it a sacred duty for the Japanese to make it possible for all the other parts of the globe to receive the inestimable benefits of the emperor's rule, whether they liked it or not. It is Japan's answer to the early American doctrine of Manifest Destiny.
3. Kakehi and the Military
Some essential cultural background is needed to illuminate what follows concerning Kakehi and the Japanese military. First, the Yasukuni Shrine was inaugurated in 1868 to enshrine the souls of all those who fought and died in the wars that Japan fought since the Boshin Civil War. It received its present name in 1879, by which time the dead of Japan's later wars had been included. It is fair to state that since its foundation Yasukuni has played a major role in Japanese cultural politics and still does so today, as previous columns have shown. The reason for the importance of Yasukuni is that the army "ritualized" death.
"Before the war, the service had popularized the concept of death before dishonor, citing ancient practices of killing oneself in accordance with the tenets of bushido and Yamato damashii (Japanese spirit). Death in battle or suicide was preferable to capture, and catchphrases assured the public that soldiers had to avoid the shame of captivity and its accompanying stigma of cowardice. The popular imagination internalized the informal taboo against being taken captive, and repatriated prisoners were expected to endure vituperation and insults while they apologized for allowing themselves to be captured.
Rumors spread about the shame of captivity, including one about a Diet member who was unable to bear the embarrassment of his son's captivity and committed suicide. These apocryphal stories were sufficiently widespread to convince popular opinion that captivity was shameful. Along with the ideas of racial superiority, national uniqueness, and seishin, the myth of death before dishonor slowly permeated postwar society, incubating until the army could use it again." (Drea, op.cit., pp, 119, 120.)
The second point is the extensive media coverage of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 -- 1905 and the popular interest in the siege of Port Arthur during this war. The use of government propaganda to cover up military and logistic problems and to present the siege of Port Arthur as a glorious military achievement has been mentioned earlier and the propaganda found one fervent believer in Kakehi Katsuhiko. Skya uses the matter of popular interest in his discussion of Kakehi's theology. Kakehi is arguing that the universal self [普遍我: fuhenga
] or great universal life [普遍的大生命: fuhenteki daiseimei
] actually exists.
"Kakehi cites a concrete example. A child who senses that the parent is being treated cordially by an outsider naturally feels that this cordiality is also extended to himself or herself. When the child experiences this unity of his or her self with the selves of the parents, it illustrates a smaller universal self—the parent and the child becoming one self. In other words, in that particular mode of consciousness the child and the parent constitute one universal self.
Expanding this analogy to an even greater level of conscious identity, the individual self can be identical to the state. To illustrate this, Kakehi cited an incident in the Japan -- Russia War of 1904 -- 1905 when Port Arthur capitulated. During the euphoria over the victory of the Japanese forces, all Japanese felt as if they had personally won the battle. In this case, the individual identified with the state, and the individual became identical to the state and to the Japanese Volk as a collectivity. At that moment, the individual self merged totally with the universal self. Thus, in this way, the great universal life exists as ‘one spirit', something that spiritually unites the beings that constitute the state." (Skya, op.cit., p. 199, citing Kakehi, Kokka no Kenkyu, p. 216.)
Edward Drea also makes the point that the capture of Port Arthur was publicized worldwide, but, far from drawing Kakehi's conclusions about the ‘universal self', Drea compares the fact of the worldwide publicity with the severe criticisms amongst the senior army officers of General Nogi's blundering incompetence. Morihei Ueshiba, also, makes reference to the Russo-Japanese War in one of his articles for the magazine of the Dai Nippon Budo Senyoukai
. (At the time, he used the name Moritaka.) He mentions a dream of Captain Akiyama, who was one of the main naval protagonists in the Russo-Japanese War:
"The essence of waging war is to foresee the enemy's battle plan. As the Baltic fleet of Czarist Russia was approaching our national waters, the hardships faced by Admiral Togo and his men, including Shimamura and Akiyama, were more than words can express. They were almost unable to eat or sleep. Their one thought was to beseech the ‘kami' to preserve this imperial nation. One night Captain Akiyama had a vision of the Baltic fleet in a single line heading north in the Tsushima straits between western Japan and the Korean Peninsula. When the later related his dream to his commanding officer, Admiral Togo realized that the enemy fleet must be going to pass that way and so it was that our nation's plan of battle was decided [by this dream]. Anyone who has ever had an experience with inspiration will readily admit that such things happen." (Moritaka Ueshiba, "On the Martial Ways of Japan: Training in the Unification of Body and Spirit", aikidojournal.com. Accessed July 4, 2012.)
The third point is the robotic training that Japan's new modern army received and it is fair to assume that Morihei Ueshiba would also have been subjected to this kind of training. Ienaga Saburo depicts this quite vividly.
"It is no exaggeration to call the ‘Greater Japanese Empire' [大日本帝国: Dai Nippon Teikoku, depicted in Kakehi's diagrams] a Kafkaesque state dedicated to the abuse of human rights. On the one hand, people voluntarily surrendered their rights either because of a largely agrarian, premodern consciousness, or because of a conformist statist education. The state, on the other hand, made sure that most of the people never understood that they had civil rights. Indoctrination was reinforced by police and army swords."
"Army draftees were called issen gorin (一銭五厘: one sen, five rin, or less then a penny, the cost of a draft notice postcard in the 1920s). They were expendable, there was an unlimited supply for the price of the postcards. Weapons and horses were treated with solicitous care, but no second-class private was as valuable as an animal. After all, a horse costs real money. Privates were worth only issen gorin. Soldiers' rights were treated as cheaply as the men themselves. The navy, with its greater reliance on modern technology and a cosmopolitanism acquired from foreign travel, was relatively more rational than the army. Its harsh treatment of enlisted personnel … however, was identical with that of the army. Cruelty towards subordinates was a psychological technique. It provided an outlet for pressure by allowing each rank to shift the oppression to the one below. The oppression snowballed as it rolled down the ranks, till all the tensions and abuse landed on the recruits. They were the lowest of the low; they had no outlet, no one they could mistreat." Ienaga, The Pacific War, p. 52.)
A postwar relic of this can be seen in the routine hazing that is part of training in the more tradtional university martial arts clubs—and the very powerful senior/junior [先輩/後輩: sempai
] relationships that help to continue this practice. The kohai
receive the routine hazing and later regard it as one of the privileges of being a sempai
to mete out the same treatment to their own kohai
Ienaga makes one point that is of some relevance to Morihei Ueshiba, as Kisshomaru depicts him during his military career from 1903 to 1906. During this time, Ueshiba entered the army as a private, but left as an NCO, with the rank of sergeant. Ueshiba clearly developed a liking for the army and Kisshomaru suggests some chagrin on Ueshiba's part, when his father rejected a future career in the army for him.
"Military life was rough and tough, yet most of the NCOs were volunteers who loved their assignments. They had found a home in the army. They enjoyed the amenities of their position. The drill instructor was a demi-god to the recruits. When training ended for the day, the recruits fought for the privilege of untying the squad leader's puttees. In the bath they held the soap for the NCOs and washed their backs. These noncommissioned officers were flattered and fawned over night and day. Another attraction of army life was a perverse equality found nowhere else in Japanese society. No matter how prestigious or wealthy a man's family, all this was left behind when he entered the service. He was just another recruit. The NCOs were catered to by men who would not have deigned to speak to them in civilian life." (Ienaga, op.cit., pp. 53 -- 54.)
In fact, many of the totalitarian ideas that were incorporated into imperial rescripts for soldiers were actually Kakehi's ideas, in particular, the idea that the soldier loses his identity—and also his responsibility for his own actions as an individual; this is an aspect of pernicious ‘western' thinking left unmentioned in Skya's discussion. In this respect, Kakehi's ideas are more extreme than those of Hozumi or Uesugi. Skya quotes from a lecture given by Kakehi to members of the armed forces. The lecture was entitled Isshin Doutai
[「一心同体」: One Heart, Same Body
], one of the major ideas on which he based his militaristic ideology.
"We abandon the self and offer our entire body and soul to the emperor. When you think that you are what you are, you are not a true Japanese. Because western influences have been coming into Japan rapidly in recent years, there are some people who have been imbued with bad aspects of Western culture [Western secularism and individualism]. Of course, such a thing is not supposed to happen in a sound military. … A true Japanese is not like that [thinking of one's self-interest]. One forgets one's own concerns and completely offers oneself to the emperor. … When we speak from our innermost feelings, we live without regard for ourselves. This is especially true for soldiers. When you enlist in the military, you die and are reborn again to the armed forces under the command of the emperor himself. You give up your life and do not think for a moment that you are what you are. This [way of thinking] applies not only to the armed forces, but also to ourselves [civilians] as well." (Kakehi, Isshin Doutai, quoted by Skya, op.cit., pp. 194 -- 195.)
Kakehi also tries to have it both ways, in that the coercion of individuals to obey the state—and military men to obey their officers—is actually turned on its head and seen as a voluntary act.
"To obey the will of the state is not to be forcefully bound by an external force like a slave or a piece of wood, but to obey the will of the state voluntarily based on one's own sincere desires and one's own conscience. … There is no contradiction between obeying the will of the state and following one's own conscience." (Skya, op.cit., pp. 195.)
Finally, the doctrine that one's conscience—when correctly informed—constitutes an ultimate guide to action is also turned around to show that Kantian ‘universal' moral actions do not enter into the equation. The similarities with the Crusades (including the granting of papal plenary indulgences to those who participated and also the ‘internal' rules governing the killing of Saracens: Kill them all; God will recognize his own
) can be seen here.
"No matter how much of a wrongdoer, no matter how evil a Japanese subject may have been, when once he has taken his stance on the field of battle, all his past sins are atoned for and they become as nothing. The wars of Japan are carried on in the name of the Emperor and therefore are holy wars. All soldiers who participate in these holy wars are representatives of the Emperor; they are his loyal subjects. … The matchless superiority of the Japanese national life lies here. … Those who, with the words ‘Tenno Heika Banzai' [May the Emperor Live Forever] on their lips, have consummated tragic death in battle, whether they are good or evil, are thereby sanctified." (Holtom, Modern Japan and Shinto Nationalism, p. 55.)Kakehi vs. Ueshiba
None of Kakehi Katsuhiko's ideas can be found in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography of his father. However, given the nature of Kisshomaru's education as a boy and youth and his desire to write a ‘bright' biography, this is not surprising. The remark that comes closest is that his training in the ancient traditions of the martial arts made Ueshiba a ‘super' patriot. We will consider Kisshomaru's remarks later, but it might be that Morihei Ueshiba was also too intelligent to give Kakehi's ideas much credence. On the other hand, Uesugi and Kakehi were serious academics at Japan's foremost academic institution and Kakehi was additionally well versed in Japan's ancient myths, which Ueshiba also studied deeply. Ueshiba had no qualms about accepting the arcane superstructure of Japanese mythology revealed in Deguchi Onisaburo's Reikai Monogatari
and the few articles that appeared in the house magazine of the Dai Nippon Budo Senyoukai
under the name of Moritaka Ueshiba suggest that the writer would have been quite happy with some aspects of Kakehi's theology.
Skya on the Radical Shinto Ultranationalists
An important part of Skya's research in Japan's Holy War
is to describe the thinking of radical Shinto ultranationalists in some detail. This Skya eminently succeeds in doing. Another part of Skya's research is less successfully argued. This is the double thesis that (1) the radical Shinto ultranationalists effectively destroyed all opposition to their ideology and that (2) the Japanese population actively embraced this ideology. (1) A very important opponent of Hozumi and Uesugi was Minobe Tatsukichi and some aspects of his opposition and the way it was handled must be considered. The Minobe Affair presents an illustration of how radical Shinto ultranationalists handled opponents and destroyed the opposition and one scholar has suggested that the defeat of Minobe meant the defeat of all opposition to Japanese fascism. However, one cannot argue from the fact of the Minobe Affair that the ultranationalists destroyed all the opposition. (2) The other plank of Skya's thesis is that radical Shinto ultranationalism was embraced by the Japanese population as a whole. Skya is less concerned to show that the whole population actively embraced ultranationalism than that, contrary to Maruyama's arguments, Japanese intellectuals embraced it. In any case, it is difficult to suppose that the population as a whole grasped the finer points of German state law and its application to the Meiji constitution, or the entire furniture of the universe as sketched by Kakehi Katsuhiko. However, one contemporary critic argued that there were at least two interpretations of the Meiji state, including one for the elite and a ‘Meiji-lite' version for the masses. We will first examine some details of the Minobe Affair and then consider several aspects of Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, to see the extent to which any opposition was possible during these years.
Ultranationalists in Action:
Minobe Tatsukichi, Minoda Muneki and the ‘Minobe Affair'
Set against the theories of Uesugi and Kakehi were the ‘organ' theories of Minobe Tatsukichi [美濃部達吉](1873 -- 1948) and Yoshino Sakuzo, who was mentioned above. The theories of Minobe constituted a major intellectual obstacle to Uesugi and Kakehi, since they presented a very rigorous, plausible, and generally accepted theory of the emperor system and also one that allowed the essential constitutional aspect of the emperor system to flourish. The way in which Minobe and his theories were attacked by the academic, political, bureaucratic, and military establishment at the behest of the radical Shinto ultranationalists is considered by Skya and other scholars as a central case of the creeping ‘enslavement' of the Japanese people. In addition to being a good example of how an eminent academic ‘opinion leader' suddenly disappeared from the political and public spectrum and became a total nonentity for the rest of the war, the ‘Minobe Affair' provides a clear gauge of the opposition to the creeping ‘enslavement'. Skya does not consider this aspect of the ‘Minobe Affair.' In fact, drawing some parallels between Minobe and Morihei Ueshiba is an instructive exercise and by doing so, we can put Ueshiba's alleged discomfort with the war in a more concrete perspective.
The Emperor as Organ: German Origins
Skya is concerned to show that there was a contradiction in the Meiji constitution right from the very beginning. Hozumi Yatsuka, along with Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko, represents one half of the contradiction and Minobe Tatsukichi represents the other half. Minobe was also a nationalist, but of quite a different sort to Hozumi. He was Hozumi's student at Tokyo Imperial University and, like Hozumi, spent some time in Germany after graduation. He returned to Japan and followed in his teacher's footsteps with a teaching post in constitutional law at the same university. The Faculty of Law at Tokyo University was the preferred route into the new Meiji bureaucracy and the bureaucracy had great political influence in the Meiji government. Accordingly, the professors in the said faculty also had positions of great influence. Like Hozumi, Minobe became a major ‘opinion leader', but soon began to attack Hozumi's theories. It is not clear from Skya's discussion how widely Minobe's views were generally accepted by the Japanese population as a whole (such as the members who trained at Ayabe or the Kobukan Dojo).
The Emperor-as-Organ theory [天皇機関説: Tenno kikan setsu
], of which Minobe Tatsukichi became the most famous exponent, was based on Hegel's doctrine of the state. For Hegel, the state was a living entity with a mind and will of its own. Contrary to Hozumi's view, according to which the emperor was prior to the state, Minobe held that the state was the absolute and that the emperor was an organ of the state, along with other organs such as the Diet and cabinet. The emperor was a very important organ and supreme over the others, but was an organ, nevertheless, and thus subservient to the state. There is no space for a detailed examination of Minobe's theories (which are explained in exhaustive detail in Chapters III, IV and V of Minobe Tatsukichi: Interpreter of Constitutionalism in Japan
, Frank O Miller's study of his life and work), but a very important point to make about them is that they were in no way similar to western notions of individualism and constitutional democracy. Though nowhere near as radical as his opponents, Minobe was still a Japanese nationalist.
Yuki Tanaka, quoted above, mentioned the ‘organic model of the nation,' which led a quiet but widespread existence for about thirty years, being accepted by most of those who considered the matter, including the Meiji reformers and the Emperor Hirohito. On the other hand, Minobe's version of the theory became increasingly controversial and Minobe was attacked by Uesugi Shinkichi as early as 1913. The attacks were initially confined within the law faculty of Tokyo University, but became more widespread as they gained in intensity. Later on, in the 1930s, the organ theory became a major national issue and Minobe was marked out for assassination by radical ultranationalists. In 1935 some of his law textbooks, which had been in print for years and were the staple diet of generation of students, were banned and he had to leave his post at Tokyo University. It is Skya's thesis that Minobe's emperor-as-organ theory was stifled out of existence almost exclusively because of campaigns mounted by radical ultranationalists such as Uesugi Shinkichi, and especially his acolyte, Minoda Muneki.
Minobe vs. the Rest
The ‘Minobe Affair' seemingly erupted quite by chance in 1935 and its main instigator seems to have been Minoda Muneki, who had been a student at Tokyo Imperial University and had moved to Keio as a professor. Minoda was a journalist and really a popularizer of the theories of others, notably Uesugi Shinkichi. He acted as Uesugi's ‘hit man'.
Miller provides a clear and cogent analysis of the forces confronting Minobe in 1935. He appears to have had the entire Japanese state arrayed against him. Opposition came from the academic community, the bureaucracy, and the military. The three groups had their own separate agendas and all three were fighting internal battles, but were happy to combine their forces in the attack on Minobe. The bureaucrats, led by Hiranuma Kiichiro, wanted Minobe prosecuted for lese majesty, while the internal battles in the military between the Imperial Way faction and the Control Faction were reaching a decisive stage and both factions attacked Minobe. They attacked the constitutional model favored by Minobe, in favor of the absolutist model favored by Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko.
Attacks from the academic community had begun much earlier than 1935. The controversy between Minobe and Uesugi Shinkichi had begun in 1913 and the academic communities at Tokyo University and other universities were divided according to who supported Minobe and who supported Uesugi. It was Minoda who was instrumental in broadening the front. In 1930 Minoda published an article entitled "Dr Minobe the Anarchist" [無政府主義者 美濃部博士]. He followed this in 1933 by filing charges for Minobe's prosecution under the Peace Preservation Law and in 1935 by the publication of a ‘poisonous little volume', which was collection of his regular newspaper articles. As Miller puts it,
"Minoda was not himself an ideologue; he was a journalist engaged in propaganda and agitation. He made some pretense of addressing the intellectual class, but it may be supposed that his audience was of the ‘pseudo-intelligentsia' of Maruyama's sociology of Japanese fascism. … That Minoda's assault eventually met with the reward that had been denied to Uesugi's is to be explained by the relatively more favorable circumstances under which Minoda operated. In the mid-thirties the soil was fertile, the harvesting equipment was primed. For Minoda was working in harmony with bureaucratic and military forces even more impressive than his academic legions." (Miller, op.cit., pp. 206 -- 207.)
Minoda was unsuccessful in his efforts to have Minobe prosecuted, but the latter was encouraged to resign from his post at Tokyo Imperial University. It should also be noted that during the campaigns against Minobe, not one of his university colleagues who supported the Emperor-as-Organ Theory came to his support.
On the other hand, one of Minobe's supporters was the arahitogami
himself, the center of all the fuss. From the statements quoted by Miller, the emperor appears to have subscribed to the organ theory.
"In my opinion the state-sovereignty theory is preferable to the monarchical-sovereignty theory, but what difference does it make in a country such as Japan in which there is an identity of monarch and state? … They talk about Minobe, but I think Minobe could never be disloyal. Is there really anyone his equal in Japan today? To consign such a one to oblivion would be lamentable…" (Miller, op.cit., p. 236.)
However, even Hirohito's support was not enough to spare Minobe from censure and oblivion—to which he submitted, but under very strong protest.
Miyazawa Toshiyoshi: Three Levels of Organ Theory
Minobe's successor at Tokyo Imperial University was Miyazawa Toshiyoshi, who wrote what is still the most detailed and authoritative account of the Minobe Affair [宮沢 俊義, 『天皇機関説事件―史料は語る』]. Like Skya, Miyazawa is concerned with the availability of knowledge and the effect this has, or does not have, on moral conduct. He discusses the fact that the organ theory actually operated on three different levels. Minobe articulated his theory at the first level: a dry and scholarly intellectual level, based on technical conceptions of German state law. However, it was received by the non-specialist Japanese public in a different way. The dry legal level was the level at which Minobe operated and he wrongly assumed that everyone else understood this. The second level of the emperor-as-organ theory was more general. It was an interpretation of the Meiji constitution based on a liberal understanding of the constitution. It placed great importance on the role of the popularly elected Diet, in opposition to the absolutism preached by Hozumi Yatsuka, based on a theory of divine right. It was probably at this level that the organ theory was attacked by Omoto-kyo, as we shall see below. The third level was the most popular level. According to this most basic interpretation, the emperor was a puppet: the theory meant that the emperor was manipulated by his close advisers and was unable to make decisions of his own free will and on his own initiative. The accusation that Minobe was guilty of lese majesty was based on this popular interpretation of the theory.
Miyazawa's aim in sketching out the three levels is to make clear how Minobe's encounter with Minoda and the ultranationalists was a classic case of miscommunication, doomed from the start to end in disaster, and also to make clear how the radical ultranationalists were able to attack Minobe. Minobe was a dry academic and believed in the importance of logic and rational argument, but made the mistake of assuming that his opponents would use the same tools, also. There was an absence of rational argument in the popular reaction to Minobe's thesis, and this rejection of rational argument was also shown in the Diet, where it was condemned as evidence of pernicious Western individualism.
The Minoda Affair is of some importance in the matter of opposition because it led to the formation of a Movement to Clarify the National Essence
and the issuing of the document known as the國體の本義 [Kokutai no Hongi
: Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan
]. Skya provides a clear and convincing analysis of the contents of this pernicious little document and his analysis shows especially how it was almost a mirror image of the doctrines of Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko, discussed earlier. The Kokutai no Hongi
went through many editions, spawned many commentaries and was required reading in schools. Kisshomaru Ueshiba would certainly have been required to study it. This fact is an important element of Skya's thesis that the intellectual elite strongly supported radical Shinto ultranationalism and made sure that it was preached to the Japanese population as a whole.
Minobe vs. Ueshiba
Later, we will consider the matter of opposition to the radical Shinto ultranationalists and government policies. Minobe Tatsukichi and his son Ryokichi are usually regarded as part of the opposition and so it is appropriate to compare the older Minobe with Morihei Ueshiba, in terms of this opposition. Of course, the two cases do not match in all respects, but there are some rough similarities. Minobe, like Ueshiba, was a pillar of the establishment. Like Ueshiba, he gradually rose to prominence as a result of the expertise he displayed in his own sphere. Like Ueshiba, Minobe strongly supported the emperor in his mission to bring to the world the benefits of Yamato-damashi
. Unlike the case of Ueshiba, Minobe's role in opposition was thrust upon him by others, notably Minoda Muneki. In Ueshiba's case this was never a role and Ueshiba remained a public supporter—and an eminent martial arts teacher—of the military establishment right up until his retreat to Iwama. Ueshiba's retreat to Iwama matches Minobe's disappearance from public view after 1935, but Minobe's disappearance was forced and backed up by the threat of assassination. Ueshiba's disappearance was voluntary. Minobe does not appear to have voiced any opposition to the Pacific War and, as we shall see, Ueshiba's own opposition to the Pacific War appears to have been a private matter (though there is evidence of an article published just before his departure for Iwama, communicated to the writer by Tada Hiroshi in a private conversation).
An important part of Skya's thesis in Japan's Holy War
is that only one interpretation of the Meiji Constitution of 1889 is really acceptable—and that ‘orthodox' historians like Maruyama and Reischauer did not grasp this. Skya's interpretation is that the contradictions inherent in Ito Hirobumi's ‘work of art' were open and clear to all and that the result was a political impasse engendered by those who recognized and made use of these contradictions. The impasse was exploited by the radical Shinto ultranationalists and a central case of this exploitation was the Minobe Affair. Along the way, Skya takes aim at other interpretations and these must be considered very briefly.
Kuno Osamu: Esoteric and Exoteric
The first issue for Skya is again an issue of knowledge and its availability. The issue relates to a theory of esoteric / exoteric interpretations of the Emperor system enshrined in the Meiji constitution: there was one interpretation for the intellectuals and oligarchs; there was another much more basic interpretation for mass consumption. The theory appears to have been the brainchild of Kuno Osamu [久野収: 1911 -- 1999] and an English version of the essay in which appears can be found in a collection of essays on citizen protest edited by J Victor Koschmann, entitled, Authority and the Individual in Japan: Citizen Protest in Historical Perspective
. It seems to be this essay on which Skya bases his criticisms of Kuno, and not his other extensive writings in Japanese.) Born in 1911, Kuno Osamu was an activist at Kyoto University and was arrested in 1937 for violation of the Peace Preservation Law. He spent two years in prison.
Kuno's argument can be stated in three main points.
(1) The Meiji state was a "work of art" (Kuno employs a metaphor originally used by Jacob Burckhardt). It was a ‘product of nature', carefully crafted by Ito Hirobumi and his colleagues, but relying very much on a balance of potentially opposing interests.
(2) The central component of this ‘work of art' was the emperor, whose position was unique among absolute rulers in that all his subjects without exception had the obligation to give assistance and advice. This obligation encompassed all activities of the people both in public and private life.
Kuno regards this aspect of the Meiji state as a mark of Ito Hirobumi's cleverness. Apparently, Ito had taken the explosive ‘spontaneous' energy displayed during the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement as an object lesson for avoiding any outlet for popular antigovernment or anti-imperial activities. By ‘canalizing' the spontaneous enthusiasm of the people, Ito ensured that they retained the capacity to act autonomously, just so long as no nails stuck out that had to be hammered down.
(3) The emperor's authority was interpreted in two ways and the successful working of the Meiji state depended on a balance between the two. The exoteric
] ideology for public consumption maintained the emperor as absolute monarch with unlimited authority and power and enjoined the people, in all aspects of public and private life, to offer assistance and advice. The esoteric
] ideology placed the authority and power of the emperor in a framework of limitations formed by the Meiji constitution and the advice offered to the emperor was actually offered only by those who held positions in the hierarchy. Kuno gives a list: the genrou
[元老: elder statesmen]; juushin
[重臣: chief retainers], the cabinet, the military, the Privy Council, the House of Peers, the House of Representatives, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the imperial universities, prefectural governors, district heads, village chiefs, school principals, police chiefs and so forth. The exoteric ideology served to mobilize the energy of the people in service to a monarch in whom they could believe without qualification; the esoteric ideology allowed the government to be run on the basis of constitutional monarchy—the Emperor-as-Organ Theory (expounded by Minobe Tatsukichi, discussed above).
天皇は、国民にたいする「たてまえ」では、あくまで絶対君主、支配層間の「申し合わせ」としては、立憲君主、すなわち国政の最高機関であった。小・ 中学および軍隊では、「たてまえ」としての天皇が徹底的に教えこまれ、大学および高等文館試験にいたって、「申し合わせ」としての天皇はじめて明らかにさ れ、「たてまえ」で教育された国民大衆が、「申し合わせ」に熟達した帝国大学卒業生たる官僚に指導されるシステムがあみ出された。(久野収,「日本の超国 家主義ー昭和維新の思想」, 『現代日本の思想』, p. 132.)
"The emperor then was an absolute monarch to the people, but within the ruling class he was treated in terms of the tacit understanding [moshiawase] that he was a constitutional monarch. Elementary and secondary schools, and the military, thoroughly instilled belief in the absolute authority of the emperor. Should one succeed in attending a university or passing the higher civil service examinations, he would be for the first time allowed to share in the exoteric understanding. The masses educated in the exoteric belief were ruled by the bureaucrats and graduates of imperial universities who had been initiated in to the esoteric view." (Kuno, op.cit., p. 64.)
A corollary of these three points is that the ideology expounded by Hozumi, and especially by Uesugi and Kakehi, whose teachings were primarily directed at the military, was only for mass consumption, and was not something in which they themselves believed. Skya attacks Kuno's thesis on several grounds, but prefaces his attack with an observation.
"It is important to note that this explanation of the prewar Japanese state system continues to be accepted by many Japanese intellectuals and foreign scholars. For Kuno and the others who adopted this theory, the crux of the problem came when the military, alone among the groups at the top of state power still clinging to the exoteric view of state, began to clash with the House of Representatives, which began to overstep its supposedly advisory to assist imperial rule and started to dominate the national government." (Skya, op.cit., p. 133.)
The crux of Skya's attack is that Kuno's esoteric-exoteric ideology "depended largely on deception and falsehood to function efficiently and effectively." (Skya, ibid
.) When the deception was found out, the response of the masses and the military was to demand direct imperial rule. Skya appears not to have read the Japanese original of Kuno's article and does not entertain the possibility that Kuno was using something that had been elevated into a uniquely Japanese rhetorical device, namely, the distinction between omote
(the term is actually used by Kuno in his Japanese text). A clear sense of the desired distinction between the ‘public' and the ‘private' would certainly have been known to the Meiji modernizers. Skya believes that Kuno's analysis is "fundamentally flawed" for four reasons.
First, Skya believes that Kuno's idea that Ito's carefully constructed system, in which diverse political players cooperate harmoniously, was built on "sheer political fantasy", for the German model was also fundamentally flawed. However, the thesis that the German model is flawed and the thesis that the Meiji modernizers assumed that diverse interests would cooperate need to be considered separately. My own experience at a large Japanese university has shown that the management of Japanese academic institutions is also based on the assumption that diverse and potentially opposed academic interests will strike a harmonious balance—the balance itself being more important than the quality of the decisions arrived at. Secondly, Skya believes that Kuno sidesteps the emperor's actual historical role and cites in support Herbert Bix's recent book Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
as evidence that Emperor Hirohito was certainly not the "non-ruling constitutional monarch" of Kuno's theory. However, Skya is unwise to place so much reliance on the views of such a historian and, in any case, the issue is one of degree. Thirdly, Kuno's argument diverts attention from the role of Japan's intellectuals in promoting radical Shinto ultranationalism. Kuno places on the military the full responsibility for destroying the harmony, but
"it was not in the military academies, but at Tokyo Imperial University and other state and private universities where the fundamental ideas of radical Shinto ultranationalism were generated in the first place and then subsequently, and relentlessly, promoted to mobilize the masses to eventually destroy Ito's Meiji ‘work of art'." (Skya, op.cit., p. 136.)
This is Skya's main thesis is his book and his main target is Maryuama Masao.
"Maruyama Masao is equally responsible for promoting this fallacious notion that most of Japan's intelligentsia was not supportive of what he referred to as Japan's fascist movement. For instance, … he stated that it was primarily the pseudo-intellectuals who provided the social foundation for fascism because the true Japanese intellectual was ‘essentially European in culture and, unlike its counterpart in Germany, could not find enough in traditional Japanese culture to appeal to its level of sophistication'." (Skya, ibid.)
Finally, Skya believes that the ‘masses' were rather less gullible and more sophisticated than Kuno suggests. This is an important issue, but Skya provides no evidence for his objection to Kuno. Mass movements played a major role in Japanese politics during the early twentieth century, but these movements have not been subjected to the same level of analysis as that given to the role of the mobs in Boston during the American War of Independence, to give an example discussed in earlier columns.
Benedict Anderson and Meiji ‘Official Nationalism'
As part of his argument on Minobe, Skya also considers Benedict Anderson's discussion of nationalism in his book Imagined Communities
. Anderson's arguments have become highly influential and are actually relevant to the Meiji restoration as a whole, including all the theories of constitutionality agonized over by the Meiji reformers and considered by Skya. Skya takes exception to Andersen's discussion of the Meiji Restoration because Andersen appears to have accepted the orthodox views of the Meiji Restoration and regards the event as an example of successful empire building. Skya's aim with Andersen is the same as with Kuno, namely, to show that his ‘orthodox' account of the Meiji restoration is mistaken.
Andersen discusses the Meiji Restoration as one of several cases of ‘official nationalism' (the phrase was first used by the historian Hugh Seton-Watson in a reference to the ‘Russification' under the czars).
"These ‘official nationalisms' can best be understood as a means for combining naturalization with retention of dynastic power, in particular over the huge polyglot domains accumulating since the Middle Ages, or, to put it another way, for stretching the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of the empire. ‘Russification' of the heterogeneous population of the Czar's subjects thus represented a violent conscious welding of two opposing political orders, one ancient, one quite new.
"The key to understanding ‘official nationalism' -- willed merger of nation and dynastic empire -- is to remember that it developed after, and in relation to, the popular national movements proliferating in Europe since the 1820s. If these nationalisms were modeled on American and French histories, so now they became modular in turn. It was only that a certain legerdemain was required to permit the empire to appear attractive in national drag." (Andersen, Imagined Communities, pp. 86-87.)
In addition to ‘Russification' under the czars, the other ‘parallel' and ‘contrasting' cases considered by Andersen include, the ‘Britification' / Anglicization of the Empire, including India, under Queen Victoria, and also Meiji Japan. The language factor, considered by Andersen to be so prominent in the Russian and British empires, occupies a rather more dubious role in the Meiji Restoration as such. Anderson is right to see the Meiji Restoration as an example of ‘official nationalism' and ‘imagined communities'. There are degrees, of course, in the extent to which the ‘community' is ‘imagined' by the members of that so-called community, but the issue here is whether for there to be an imagined community, as Anderson envisages the term, any restoration or empire building has to be complete. Skya's view of the Meiji restoration as event that carried with it fundamental contradictions that led to the disappearance of democracy does not affect Anderson's view that the same restoration was an example of ‘official nationalism.'
Conclusions: 2: Skya on Ultranationalists and Organ Theories
We have seen that an important part of Skya's thesis in Japan's Holy War
is that only one interpretation of the Meiji restoration is possible. The clear contradictions created by Ito Hirobumi and his modernizer colleagues led to an open stalemate that was exploited by the radical Shinto ultranationalists. An important parallel issue here is the extent to which opposition to radical Shinto ultranationalism was both possible and actually occurred. It is this issue that more directly relates to Morihei Ueshiba and his wartime activities. For Skya, a crucial element of his general thesis is the argument that the ‘enslavement' by the radical Shinto ultranationalists was extensive and all embracing. It included the intellectual and political elites, since it was based on an open and well-known contradiction in the Meiji constitution, and would certainly have been known by someone with the influence wielded by Morihei Ueshiba. On the other hand, Skya is attacking a well-established body of scholarly opinion that the contradictions within the Meiji constitution were not so open or well known. Iritani, mentioned near the beginning of this essay, suggested that there was a vast gulf between the emperor and the elites who served him, and everyone else. This gulf extended to the constitution that the emperor bestowed in 1898. In respect of these competing interpretations, the issue is whose arguments are more convincing.
Life in the Dark Valley:
If you were a public figure in Japan of the 1930s, one of the risks that had to be taken is that you might fall foul of some group or other and be assassinated or be the object of attempted assassination and this is why the Minobe Affair is worth examining is some depth. Here was a relatively innocuous professor, teaching to his students a dry theory widely disseminated and accepted at the highest levels, who was suddenly placed in fear for his life, because certain radical Shinto ultranationalist groups objected to the theory, of which they themselves in fact had a very limited understanding.
One of the valuable aspects of Skya's discussion of radical Shinto ultranationalism in Japan's Holy War
is his attempt to place the violence that took place in the 1930s within a wider context. Using the research of scholars of international terrorism, he compares the terrorism of the 1930s with the terrorism of present-day radical Islam, for example, as exemplified by Al-Qaeda. Skya argues that the murders and assassinations in Japan of the 1930s were indeed a clear case of domestic terrorism and many of these were the work of radical Shinto ultranationalists. This terrorism was crucial in edging the Japanese state to all-out war in 1941. As such, the terrorism was the work of radical religious groups and it is for this reason that it bears comparison with the present-day terrorism of radical religious groups.
Skya gives a general summary of the groups, victims and numbers involved in domestic terrorism in 1930s Japan and the contemporary atmosphere is conveyed by Hugh Byas, in his account of incidents that took place in 1932. Byas was a reporter for the New York Times
and his book, Government by Assassination
, is a contemporary account of the early period, before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
"All the crimes [the murders of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi, former Foreign Minister Inouye, and Dan Takuma in 1932] were part of a single plan. The murders were intended to strike terror into the governing and possessing classes, and the raids on banks and powerhouses and police headquarters were to create such confusion that martial law would be proclaimed. Some of the young officers thought martial law the same as military government. They believed that if they created the opportunity, the army would use it bring about what they called a second restoration, taking power from politicians and capitalists and giving it to the Emperor, who would thereupon entrust it to faithful servant and patriots." (Byas, Government by Assassination, pp. 30 -- 31.)
The murders referred to by Byas were executed by radical Shinto ultranationalist groups, the leaders of which occasionally met in the Kobukan Dojo of Morihei Ueshiba. The meetings were meetings of the Sakurakai
[桜会: Cherry Blossom Society] and the names given by Iwata Ikussai in his interview with Stanley Pranin indicate that they were also attended by those who were not military officers and members of the Sakurakai
. Membership of the Sakurakai
was in fact restricted to military officers above a certain rank and there were several factions within this organization, some more extreme than others. Thus, as Iwata indicates, it does not follow that meetings held at the Kobukan Dojo actively planned assassinations. However, it does indicate that Morihei Ueshiba associated with and taught members of the officer class who were involved in plotting terrorist incidents designed to lead to a real Showa Restoration. Another observation made by Byas indicates why meetings in Morihei Ueshiba's dojo might not seem so unusual, given the reputation that the army had and the unsettled climate of the time. The immediate context is an impromptu conversation between a young army lieutenant and the Minister for War and Byas's surprise that such a conversation was permitted.
"The young-officer movement was not confined to the fanatical groups that joined hands with the patriotic murder societies and organized assassination and revolt. It permeated all the younger ranks of the army and navy and expressed in an incessant political agitation. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that between 1931 and 1936 more political meetings were being held in officers' quarters than in the rest of the country. At these gatherings demands were made and sentiments uttered which would have caused an ordinary public meeting to be abruptly closed by the policemen in attendance. The speakers would have been marched to the police station and cooled down by a night in the cells. The young officers were able to obtain the attention of their commanders for hours at a time." (Byas, op.cit., p. 78.)
The young officers wanted radical change and one of the major issues that Skya attempts to account for is the slow pace of political change in Japan at this time. Here Skya does not really help himself; he has attacked Kuno Osamu earlier for suggesting that Ito Hirobumi expected the Meiji state to function by means of a complex balance of potentially opposed interest groups, but he does not deny the existence of these groups and fails to see that the only way for change to take place in this situation is by a realignment in the balance of these same groups. The Japanese state in the 1940s was still the same as had existed in Meiji and Taisho Japan: a discordant group of potentially conflicting interests, all of which had to agree in order for any major change to take place.
was one of many patriotic associations and secret societies and a public figure had no idea by which society he would be targeted for assassination. Skya shows that many of these societies had their origin in the radical Shinto ultranationalist ideology of Uesugi Shinkichi, whose theories were discussed above.
Life in the Dark Valley:
2. An Extensive Web of ‘Secret' Societies
Some scholars have noted the wave of activity in Japan during the early 1930s among new and existing ‘patriotic' associations. In his history of modern Japan, Peter Duus notes that membership in patriotic associations doubled between 1932 and 1936, reaching six hundred thousand (Duus, Modern Japan
, p. 216). The composition of these was complex and fragmented, but the rise can be explained in part as an expression of the sentiment that, ‘Something Needs to be Done.' It was a public response to the dire economic conditions caused by the Showa panic in 1927, the New York stock market crash in 1929, Japan's return to the Gold Standard in 1930, government deflationary policies and budgetary cutbacks, the resulting decline in exports and the crop failures in 1931. The government took the blame for acting in the interests of big business conglomerates and landlords while failing to relieve the economic distress of farmers and workers.
In her study of Omoto, Nancy Stalker makes the following general observation.
"Yet [in comparison with intellectuals like Kita Ikki, Gondo Seikei and Okawa Shumei and violent radical groups] considering the spike in membership in patriotic associations, there is no doubt that large numbers of ordinary Japanese were similarly outraged by the pervasive structure of privilege in society. … Some groups advocated agrarianism while others admired National Socialism, but all were united by an alternative view of the nation that was stridently anti-establishment and anti-statist." (Nancy Stalker, Prophet Motive, p. 172.)
The earlier discussion about Uesugi Shinkichi showed that many of the societies he created were ultranationalist, even fascist, and also closely associated with other similar groups, forming a kind of ultranationalist web. In his discussion of Uesugi's activities, Skya cites an appendix in Richard Storry's book, The Double Patriots
, which is of direct relevance to Morihei Ueshiba and aikido. Storry's book is an early study of Japanese nationalism and Appendix III (pp. 320-321) is a chart of ‘leading nationalist societies.' Storry gives well over 70 such societies, organized in four major groups. The first group begins with the Dai Nippon Butotukai
, the martial arts organization created in 1895. It should come as no surprise that such an organization appears in Storry's list, since the martial arts were regarded as exhibiting the quintessence of Japanese ultranationalist culture and as such the Dai Nippon Butokukai became a government-sponsored organization that regulated the Japanese martial arts, including Ueshiba's Aiki-budo, as part of the war effort. In 1942 it decided to include Ueshiba's art in a general category to which it officially gave the name aikido
. On the other hand, it must be noticed that 1942 was the year that Ueshiba vacated the martial arts scene in Tokyo and retired to Iwama. Kisshomaru makes it quite clear in his biography that he thought that there was a connection between the two events.
The second group of nationalist societies included Uesugi's Keirin Gakumei
, which was connected to a large number of other societies, such as Okawa Shumei's Yuzonsha
. The two other groups are, respectively, the Genyousha
and the Kokuryukai
, both mentioned above. One of the ultranationalist organizations listed by Storry as having links to the Kokuryukai
is Omoto-kyo, the religious organization founded by Nao and Onisaburo Deguchi, of which Morihei Ueshiba was an eminent member.
Life in the Dark Valley:
3. 『國體の本義』Kokutai no Hongi
It was mentioned above that Masao Maruyama and Daikichi Irokawa both state that the entire Japanese population was caught in the net or entered the black box. The evidence adduced by Skya as to the extent of the box and to the entry of the entire Japanese population consists of the fact of the political assassinations, discussed above, and the existence and dissemination of a political tract published in 1937 and entitled Kokutai no Hongi
[translated into English as Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan
]. We discussed some aspects of this tract in Column 14, notably the references to kotodama
. Skya offers an analysis of each chapter, the point of which is to show in detail how the ideas of Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko are reflected in this document. Lack of space prevents a detailed treatment of Kokutai no Hong
i, but we need to examine in more detail Skya's argument that the Kokutai no Hongi
reflected the ideology of Uesugi and Kakehi.
In fact, the ideology is not difficult to see. The Kokutai no Hongi
is a small booklet, the English translation of which was carried out by members of General McArthur's SCAP staff (the Japanese original was actually banned by SCAP in December, 1945). As the title indicates, the book is a concise exposition of the kokutai
and starts off with a sketch of Japan's ‘prevailing ideologies'. The conclusion is quickly reached that Japan has suffered a confusing and unhealthy infusion of western ideas proclaiming the importance of rational thinking, logic and individualism.
"This means that the present conflict in our people's ideas, the unrest in their modes of life, the confused state of their civilization, can be put right only by … grasping the true meaning of our national entity. Then, too, this should be done not only for the sake of our nation but the entire human race which is struggling to find a way out of the deadlock with which individualism is faced." (Robert King Hall / John Owen Gauntlett, Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan, p. 55.)
The proposed way out of the deadlock is by means of a renewed emphasis on the national entity itself and the manifestation of the national entity in history. The conclusion is a restatement of Japan's mission to the world; the ‘sublimation' of western thinking always has to go hand in hand with the ‘clarification of our national entity.'
Most of the ideology expounded in Kokutai no Hongi
can be found in the writings of Hozumi, Uesugi and Kakehi. The family nature of the kokutai
is stressed, after Hozumi, as is the fundamental importance of the blood identity between the Japanese people and the emperor, after Uesugi and Kakehi, and the importance of self-sacrifice. The unique harmony among the Japanese people is manifested, after Kakehi, in each doing his appointed task with utmost faithfulness, according to his own sphere. The inseparable unity between the emperor and the Japanese people was fundamentally different from the (Western) relationship between the ruler and subjects, in which a tinge of individuality inevitably intruded.
"Loyalty means to reverence the Emperor as [our] pivot and to follow him implicitly. By implicit obedience is meant casting ourselves aside and serving the Emperor intently. To walk this Way of loyalty is the sole Way in which our subjects may ‘live', and the fountainhead of all energy. Hence, offering our lives for the sake of the Emperor does not mean so-called self-sacrifice, but the casting aside of our little selves to live under his august grace and the enhancing of the genuine life of the people of a state. … Our relationship between sovereign and subject is by no means a shallow, lateral relationship such as [means] the correlation between ruler and citizen, but is a relationship springing from a basis transcending this correlation, and that is of self-effacement and a return to [the] one. This is a thing that can never by understood from an individualistic way of thinking." (Hall / Gauntlett, op.cit., pp. 80, 81 -- 82.)
Skya correctly quotes some the above passage as evidence of the ideology of Uesugi and Kakehi but alters the Gauntlet translation of the phrase in bold, above, to, Dying to the Self and Returning to the One
, because the phrase means more than mere self-effacement. [The Japanese phrase is 沒我歸一: botsuga kiitsu
.] It means the annihilation of the self and returning to the mystical body of the emperor, who is in turn really Amaterasu O Mikami living in the present. Skya also compares the sentiments expressed to more recent discussions of totalitarianism and mass movements.
"To ripen a person for self-sacrifice he must be stripped of his individual identity and distinctiveness, He must cease to be George, Hans, Ivan or Tadao—a human atom with an existence bounded by birth and death. The most drastic way to achieve this end is by the complete assimilation of the individual into a collective body. … The effacement of individual separateness must be thorough. In every act, however trivial, the individual must by some ritual associate himself with the congregation, tribe, the party, etcetera. His joys and sorrows, his pride and confidence must spring from the fortunes and capacities of the group rather than from his individual prospects and abilities." (Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, p. 62.)Life in the Dark Valley:
4. State Shinto and Japan's Holy War
Valley of Darkness
is the title of a work by Thomas Havens concerning the ordinary Japanese population during World War II. The book is one of a number of such memoirs and diaries. However, very little in fact has been written about these people. Carol Gluck makes the following comments in her introduction to a collection of essays on Showa Japan. (Yamazaki Masakazu and Kosaka Masatake, cited below, are contributors.) First, she discusses the ‘intellectuals.'
"Even ‘fascism from above' (a famous interpretation [actually, a controversial interpretation made by Maruyama and discussed above] from 1946) required and in fact possessed its counterpart in ‘grass-roots fascism' (an innovative interpretation from 1987) at the popular level. Yamazaki offers a glimpse of those intellectuals who, while not grass-roots themselves, at least wrote for the mass press, ‘which loudly argued for an unrestrained military and at times gratuitously goaded the nation to military adventurism.' Like Kosaka, he describes the intellectuals as ‘shaken emotionally by the avalanche of modernization' to which they responded by digging themselves out with shovelfuls of chauvinism, imperialism, anti-modernism and anti-Americanism. His is a variant of the stumble theory, in which the intellectuals were buried rather than tripped by the force of modernization. As one would imagine, the widespread wartime support among Japanese intellectuals for Asian empire and anti-western war has long been a besetting problem for postwar Japanese intellectuals [such as Maruyama]. Japan had no Resistance, no stream of exiles, no martyrs except on the Left—and only a few of them, the majority having ‘recanted' in the early thirties and gone over to patriotism by the time of the Pacific War. Thus it will take more than an avalanche of modernization to explain the breadth and vigor of their wartime support." (Gluck, Showa: The Japan of Hirohito, p. xvi.)
Intellectuals (インテリ: interi
) were a distinct category in Japan, usually graduates of university literature faculties and a category to which Morihei Ueshiba did not belong. But nor did he belong to the category of ‘ordinary Japanese', which Gluck considers next.
"And what of the ordinary Japanese, as they are vaguely called, who inhabited the fabled grass-roots? They are hazily invoked here as having been brought to war by the state, but did they play no role in bringing themselves to war? The experience of other societies, whether German, Austrian, Italian, or French, suggests that ordinary people, too, played such a role, even in the strongest of states. It is a measure of the postwar concern with the strength of the prewar state that there is far less written … about the social history of Japan in the period leading to the war, both the protest and the complicity, the victims and the accomplices, the bystanders and those who stood by the cause. The protagonist of prewar history still remains the state." (Gluck, op. cit., pp. xvi-xvii.)
In the paragraph quoted, Gluck mentions ‘the protest and the complicity, the victims and the accomplices, the bystanders and those who stood by the cause.
' We need to look at the inhabitants of the ‘fabled grass-roots
' more closely.
As we have seen from the earlier discussion on Hozumi, Uesugi and Kakehi, Japan has a long history of ‘statist' government (by comparison with the United States, for example). The state is the subject of research by Sheldon Garron, who attempts to show that in Japan during the 1930s it interfered—and still interferes today—in far more aspects of daily life than would be considered acceptable in the UK and especially in the US. The problem for Garron, however, and for Skya, who argued earlier that radical ultranationalism was actively embraced by the Japanese population as a whole, is to show that this embrace was actually as effective as was claimed. Two contemporary examples suggest that it might not have been. First, every three months of the year the Japanese police hold a safe-driving campaign. They think of a slogan—the slogan is seen as an inevitable feature of the campaign—that is displayed prominently in the street, and for two weeks the traffic laws are seen to be enforced more rigidly than usual (whether they actually are is debatable: it is the public display, called tori-shimari
[取り締まり] , which is important). The effect is that for the duration of the campaign the driving public is more than usually careful, but one cannot argue from this that the Japanese public have actively embraced the ideology of safe driving as understood by the Japanese police, even for two weeks. The whole point of tori-shimari
campaigns is that they are public displays.
Secondly, on the first and fifteenth day of each month the city government circulates a broadsheet called Shimin to Shisei
[市民と市政]. The information presented about forthcoming events is laced with much earnest advice on how to be better citizens than we are already. The weather usually plays a major role. For example, a recent issue declared that Japan has four seasons, that the present season was spring, and that ‘healthy eating' demands meals that are appropriate to the season. A later issue declared that the rainy season had finished and that we were to take steps to cope with the summer heat.
Shimin to Shisei
is a broadsheet put out by the Hiroshima city government and circulated as 散らし [chirashi
: leaflets or handbills] inside the Japanese daily newspapers, along with the usual advertisements for items such as ‘miracle' dietary supplements and equally ‘miraculous' ‘yellow wallets' that are virtually guaranteed to increase the number of banknotes they contain. This raises the general question of newspapers or the media as proponents of state interference at a very basic level in the lives of ‘ordinary Japanese'. The newspaper media in Japan are notorious for the existence of press clubs, attached to government organs such as the police (and from which the foreign press is excluded), which self-censor the news before it is published in the newspapers. This was shown very clearly in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region in March 2011 and the subsequent ambivalent attitude towards the media: on the one hand, they were the sole source of news; on the other hand, there was a general skepticism—coupled with a general disbelief that became increasingly extensive and justified—about the truth of the news they presented.
The underlying assumption is that the ‘general population', or shimin
, or kokumin
—those on the receiving end of the official directives, need to be reminded constantly of the behavior expected of them as citizens. An essay by Isaiah Berlin on freedom is relevant here. Berlin distinguished between ‘negative' freedom, beloved of the Englishman in his castle or the American gun owner, able to be as nonconformist as one wants to be and based on a robust notion of the individual, and the ‘positive' freedom, beloved of those who organize the mass gymnastic displays in North Korea, available only to those individuals who selflessly strive to fit the model prescribed by bodies such as the state. Those who do not so strive are considered un-free and thus bereft of all virtue. The freedom in Japan of the 1930s was certainly on the positive side of this divide and required an extensive apparatus of legislation, thought police etc., to provide constant monitoring against ‘un-free' thoughts and deeds. Some idea of the results of this monitoring is conveyed by D C Holtom, who, like Byas, was resident in Japan until the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"We have examined in some of its major aspects a situation that introduces us to the pattern according to which the Japanese mind is molded from the cradle to the grave and to forms of nationalistic dogma that are so successfully imbued through constant reiteration in the schools, in the newspapers, in magazines, in books, over the radio, in all the manifold agencies of propaganda of an all-powerful state, and which are so inextricably merged with the sanctions of religion that rejection of the stereotypes becomes an indignity offered to the deity and criticism a form of treason. The rare professor who dares to turn the light of scientific historical research into the amazing mixture of mythology, rationalization, and historical fact that makes up the texture of the Japanese state structure and its official interpretation finds his writings confiscated, himself apprehended by the police and prosecuted in the courts of law, and his family subjected to social censure. There was a time when the mythology of elements in the traditional picture of the sun-goddess Amaterasu Omikami or the impossible idealization of history that places the first accession to the throne in 660 b.c. could be brought up for open discussion. To raise the question now would involve serious consequences. Japanese scholarship is in the hands of a modern inquisition." (Holtom, Modern Japan and Shinto Nationalism, pp. 24 -- 25.)Life in the Dark Valley:
5. Radical Shinto Ultranationalism and the Martial Arts
The references in the Kokutai no Hongi
to the importance of 武 [bu
: translated by Gauntlett as, martial spirit
] suggests that the training dedicated to developing such martial spirit would also attract the attention of radical Shinto ultranationalists. The martial arts, gathered under the wing of the Dai Nippon Butotokai
[大日本武得会: Great Japan Association for Martial Virtue], can also be considered as budo
variations on the fascist theme. This organization had been created in 1895 and controlled martial arts instruction in Japan. A jujutsu division was eventually created and Kano Jigoro chaired a committee for standard jujutsu kata.
Among the patriotic societies created by Deguchi Onisaburo during the 1930s was the Dai Nippon Budo Senyoukai
[大日本武宣揚会: Great Japan Association for Martial Enhancement], founded in 1932. Morihei Ueshiba was the first director and some of his uchi-deshi
taught at the Senyoukai
dojo opened in Takeda. The society appears to have been founded for Omoto members, but there was considerable friction with some of the uchi-deshi
who had no connection with Omoto. The society published a magazine and some of the articles were published under the name of Ueshiba Moritaka (one of a number of forenames used by Ueshiba). However there is evidence that, like the introductory and explanatory material in Budo Renshu
(published in 1933), the articles were not actually written by Ueshiba himself. Nevertheless, the articles faithfully reflect the ideology being preached at the time by radical Shinto ultranationalists.
"Almost all the things that we Japanese take so much pride in as being our own unique ‘Japanese culture' originated in Indian or Chinese culture, so that today what is really the genuine, native Great Japanese Spirit (dai-seishin: 大精神) is completely and entirely forgotten."
"The modern budo grew out of the background of Buddhism and Confucianism and such budo arts are fine as they go, but we who believe the ‘Imperial Way' is the absolute way are attempting to realize a life according to the Dai Nippon Budo which is based on the Way of the Gods (Kannagara) and has been handed down since the age of the ‘kami'. Therefore, to understand true Japanese Budo, we must understand the true meaning of the Imperial Way, then master the great path of the ‘kami' and return to the Magokoro of Yamato-damashii [literally, ‘to the genuinely sincere heart/mind of the Japanese soul/spirit: 大和魂の真心]."
"Just as the ‘kami' give new life to living things each new day, so it is that budo must live through the ‘kami'. Should someone ask if Kendo or Judo aren't part of Nihon Budo, the answer is that they are; in the same way we can include the boxing and wrestling which were recently imported from the West because the true task of Dai Nippon Budo is to become the leader of all the martial arts on earth as part of the continuing process of realizing the Imperial Way for the whole world."
"Japan is the suzerain of the globe, the model for the earth and the will of the entire world is Dai Nihon. Japan is the model form for the perfect world. It is only after this spirit is completely understood that one can really understand the genuine meaning of Dai Nihon Budo." (Moritaka Ueshiba, ‘The Martial Ways of Japan', Aikido Journal, retrieved from aikidojournal.com, 23 July, 2012.)
In the 1930s the martial arts were increasingly militarized. In 1931 the Ministry of Education enacted compulsory judo or kendo training for all able-bodied schoolboys boys. From 1937 military subjects and jukenjutsu were added for older boys. There was a radical change in the Dai Nippon Butokukai
in 1942 and a new organization was established, headed by Tojo Hideki as Chairman and under the control of several ministries, including the Army and Navy. It was in the same year that the new organization included the new division of aikido and, if Kisshomaru's observations are to be believed, offered Morihei Ueshiba a possible way of escape.
Life in the Dark Valley:
6. The General Opposition
Carol Cluck's observation, mentioned in passing above, suggests that the Japanese population was both inside the box and carrying on life there, with the intellectuals offering widespread active support and those at the grass roots offering benign passive support. However, there was opposition to radical Shinto ultranationalism and some examples are considered in an essay written by Hashikawa Bunso.
"In a chapter entitled ‘Resistance and Dissent during the War' of his Taiheiyo Senso[『太平洋戦争』: The Pacific War 1931 -- 1945], Ienaga Saburo attempts a typology of resistance. At one end of the spectrum is the passive mode of resistance in which the individual maintained ‘perfect silence', refusing to endorse the war in any way. At the other end is active, illegal resistance, such as refusing induction into the armed forces and going to prison because of beliefs or actions. Ienaga's examples of the former type are Arahata Kanson, Ishikawa Sanshiro, and Hattori Shiso, while active resisters ranged from communists, who maintained their ideological conviction despite severe police pressures, to Christians like Asahi Junzo and Fujimoto Zen'emon. Between these poles were ranged many passive resisters. There was no overall correlation between the radicalism of their beliefs and the forms of resistance. There were communists who remained in perfect silence and numerous examples of liberals who became active resisters using illegal methods." (Hashikawa Bunso, "The ‘Civil Society' and Wartime Resistance," p. 128.)
Earlier in his essay, Hashikawa had noted that the May 15 Incident (1932), discussed above, involving the murder of Prime Minister Inukai, "marked the maturation of Japanese fascism", but he also noted the "many individuals who resisted this swing to the Right." Even as late as 1936, the results of the Diet elections indicated to Hashikawa that "the public still supported parliamentary government based on the party system," but this was just before the attempted coup d'état known as the February 25 Incident. Hashikawa notes that
"many of the people who saw through slogans such as ‘clarifying the national polity' or ‘the essence of national polity' and who were critical of the military radicals' fascistic ideas were members of the generation that had experienced the best years of the Meiji era [1868 -- 1912]. They had deep and abiding faith in the concept of constitutional government established by the ‘great Emperor Meiji' and believed that spirit of constitutional government to be the expression of an ideal which supported their own freedom and independence. They were spirited patriots who revered the Meiji emperor as a symbol of the progress of modern Japan. Those who courageously resisted the militarism of the Showa era shared that ethos. Their ranks included, for example, Saito Shigeo, Hamada Kunimatsu, Watanabe Tetsuzo, Iwanami Shigeo, Mizuno Hironori, Masaki Hiroshi, Kiryu Yuyu and Yoshida Shigeru." (Hashikawa, op.cit., p. 130.)
Hashikawa considers one particular group of resisters also mentioned by Ienaga. These are the ‘active legal resisters' and they were active from 1933 onwards. Hashikawa puts them into the general category of the ‘liberal resistance.'
The ‘liberal resistance' group were not particularly infused with the ‘Meiji spirit', but "believed in a militant democracy and liberalism and fought against an indiscriminate political authority which threatened the individual's personal and spiritual values." (Hashikawa, op.cit.
, p. 131.) In this first group was Minobe Tatsukichi, discussed above, but there were others, such as Yanaihara Tadao, Kawai Eijiro, Nakai Ushikichi, Ishibashi Tanzan and Kiyosawa Kiyoshi, the last of whom kept a secret diary that was published in 1948. Their political leanings were to the left and to the right of the political spectrum. A common feature of their various stands was their hounding by the government. If they were professors or writers, their publications were banned; if they gave speeches, publication was suppressed. The resistance could continue only through privately published magazines also circulated privately. One of these, 『近きより』 [Chikaki yori
: From Nearby
] continued from 1937 till 1949. It was run by Masaki Hiroshi [正木ひろし]. In his diary entry for February 25, 1943, Kiyosawa wrote the following:
"There is a small magazine called Chikakiyori (The Contemporary Scene), put out by a lawyer named Masaki Hideri [sic]. The January and February issues are surprisingly antimilitary cynical things. The existence of something that goes this far in wartime circumstances is amazing, and one should be astonished at the courage of the person who wrote it. He is a born democrat and his writings are extremely skillful." (Soviak, Diary of Darkness, p. 20.)Life in the Dark Valley:
7. Morihei Ueshiba's Opposition
The discussions of Hashikawa and Ienaga suggest at least three categories of resistance: passive ‘silent' resistance, active illegal resistance, and active legal resistance. If Morihei Ueshiba resisted the war, he would have done so in the first or third of the categories mentioned by Ienaga, that is, as a passive silent resister or as an active legal resister. However, unless the move to Iwama is taken itself as an act of resistance, there is no evidence that he was in the last category and the evidence that he was a ‘passive silent resister', like those discussed by Hashikawa, lies only in the early pages of Kisshomaru's biography, which we need to consider. For Aikiweb
readers who wish to test their Japanese reading and translation skills, the Japanese text is followed by the translation from A Life in Aikido
, with comments after each paragraph (I have altered the paragraphing in Japanese, which does not match that in the English translation).
「武道界に植芝盛平あり」と自他ともに認める、世間的な意味での開祖の最盛期は、すでに記述したように昭和二、三年から十五、六年までの間であった といってもさしつかえない。戦後はむしろ、社会的な道の発展を私どもを中心とした若い者にまかせ、自分は岩間の里でゆっくりと合気の産み出しにつとめつ つ、若者の動きに慈愛のまなざしを送っていたといえる。
"You could say that the height of O Sensei's public renown as a martial artist was between 1927 and 1941. After that, he turned over the growth of aikido to a younger generation of people, such as myself, retiring to the country at Iwama to continue his pursuit of Aikido at a more relaxed pace and to give affectionate support to the efforts of the younger generation."
COMMENT: Kisshomaru is quite clear here that it was in 1942 that Morihei Ueshiba ‘turned over' the Kobukan Dojo to him and the ‘younger generation'. The translation does not mention Kisshomaru's 社会的な道の発展 [shakaitekina michi no hatten
], or his employment in a company.
"The period from 1927 to 1941 overlaps with certain political and military events: close to home, there was the Japanese plan of expansion into China under the auspices of the Greater Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, the forceful occupation of territory there by the army and navy, and the attempt to create the ‘peaceful kingdom' of Manchukuo in the northeast of China. More distant events that were unfolding included Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations, along with the formation of the Axis with Germany and Italy, and eventually the Pacific War against the United States and Great Britain."
"People have noticed that the period when O Sensei came to prominence as a martial artist coincided with the emergence of an aggressive military policy at the national level, and it is natural to wonder how these two developments were related."
COMMENT: Kisshomaru does not, in fact, give much explanation of the coincidental connection between the two. He does not mention here, for example, that it was Morihei Ueshiba's Omoto contacts in the Navy who told Isamu Takeshita about him and led the latter to visit him in Ayabe. However, the period of his prominence coincides with his residence in Tokyo. Rather than wonderment, 評価 [hyoka
] has the nuance of estimation and evaluation, which Kisshomaru resolutely refrains from doing.
"O Sensei was well acquainted with political and industrial leaders, as well as with generals of the Japanese Army and Navy. He was actually an instructor at the Naval Academy, as well as the Toyama Military Academy, Nakano Gakko (the secret service training school), and Manchukuo University."
COMMENT: One of the issues here concerns Morihei Ueshiba's actual status as an instructor. Clearly he was not a member of the regular staff and so must have been a part-time or visiting teacher. Such status would not necessarily afford any power of decision making about the structure or content of the syllabus of courses taught at the school, which would be the exclusive preserve of the faculty of the schools. Equally clearly, given the political climate and the existence of laws such as the Peace Preservation Law of 1925, it is unlikely that Ueshiba would have been hired, had his political allegiance been in question.
"It is also true that O Sensei was determined to contribute whatever he could to his country, and to sacrifice for the greater cause out of patriotism and a desire for the good of the Japanese people. The readiness to sacrifice the smaller self for the communal good belongs to the most ancient tradition of the martial arts, and it was an integral part of O Sensei's identity as a martial artist."
COMMENT: Kisshomaru's comment here fits the earlier discussion about the eminence of the martial arts and their important role in Japan's expansion into Asia. However, the way in which Kisshomaru couches his father's readiness for sacrifice suggests to this reader an ideology that reflects Kakehi Katsuhiko's ideology required of the military: selflessness in obedience to the emperor.
しかし反面、開祖は全体的な国策の方途には賛同を惜しまない気持ちながら、部分的な方途の行き過ぎや誤謬にはかなり批判的になっていた。ことに中国 との和平の努力をおこたって、いたずらに強圧的、侵略的な軍事的征覇一辺倒に偏りはじめた暴走には、いずれ破局がくるであろうとの危惧を予感していた。す でに太平洋戦争勃発の前あたりから、開祖はしばしば不機嫌に、私に次のようなことをいっては嘆息した。
"Yet despite his readiness to support his country, there were areas in which O Sensei felt reservations, even opposition to what he saw as mistaken policies. When a peaceful resolution with China was rejected, he began to fear that the aggression of the Japanese military would have catastrophic consequences. As war in the Pacific began to seem imminent, O Sensei would sometimes sigh, showing great displeasure, and say this kind of thing to me."
COMMENT: The ambiguity of Kisshomaru's later discussion about Morihei Ueshiba's prospective trip to China on behalf of his friend Konoe Fumimaro, to attempt to broker a peace between Japan and China, has been discussed in previous columns. It seems clear from Kisshomaru's statement above that Ueshiba's reservations arose around 1940 -- 1941 and concerned the prospect of ‘Japanese aggression' in the Pacific, which would lead to war against the United States and Britain. One should note that Konoe Fuminaro's practical concerns about the dangers of bringing the United States into war against Japan did not prevent his vigorous pursuit of the war in Asia and his arraignment as a war criminal—and his subsequent suicide, when events did not turn out to Japan's advantage.
「己れの力をわきまえぬ無謀な軍人たちが増えとるのう。足もとの経世済民の大事を忘れおって、偏狭な無益殺生の暴力を誇示する愚かな輩ばかりのさば りおる。自然に反し、神意に反する馬鹿者じゃ。真の武の道は、万物造成の宇宙的根源生命力を活かすことなのじゃが。和と愛と礼節あってこその真の武道だ が、最近の連中は武器ばかり弄びおって、権力と破壊と暴力の争闘の具に武道の名を詐称しょうとたくらんでおる。そのことにわしを利用したがっている阿呆が おる。迷惑なことじゃ。わしは、お先棒をかつぐ気などはまったくない。神隠れするほかないようじゃ。」
"‘There are more foolhardy and arrogant people in the military all the time. They have lost sight of their duty to the nation; they want only to show off their bone-headed aggression and bloodthirstiness, whatever the cost to their country. These are fools who go against nature and God's will. True Budo draws on the vital power of the universe for the highest purpose. To follow a real martial path, you must combine harmony, discipline and selfless love. These criminals play with weapons and use the name of ‘Budo' as a cover for destruction, violence and the lust for power. There are plenty of fools that would make use of me if they could. I would never give my approval to this kind of conduct. Maybe the only way for me is to withdraw from the world.'"
COMMENT: It is clear from his other comments that Morihei Ueshiba would never have dared utter such sentiments publicly. Thus, Ueshiba seems to fit the category of ‘passive silent resister', especially in view of the last sentence quoted. However, Ueshiba's sentiments are uncomfortably close to those expressed in another document, discussed above, although there is a logical twist towards the end.
我が武の精神は、殺人を目的とせずして活人を眼目としてゐる。その武は、萬物を生かさんとする武であって、破壊の武ではない。卽ち根底に和をもち生 成発展を約束した葛藤であって、その葛藤を通じてものを生かすものである。こゝに我が國の精神である。戰爭は、この意味に於て、決して地を破壊し、壓倒 し、征服するためのものではなく、道に則とって創造の働をなし、大和卽ち平和を現ぜんがためのものでなければたらぬ。(國體の本義, p. 52.)
"Our martial spirit does not have for its objective the killing of men, but the giving of life to men. The martial spirit is that which tries to give life to all things, and is not that which destroys. That is to say, it is a strife which has peace at its basis with a promise to raise and to develop; and it gives life to things through its strife. Here lies the martial spirit of our nation. War, in this sense, is not by any means intended for the destruction, overpowering, or subjugation of others; it should be a thing for the bringing about of great harmony, that is peace, doing the work of creation by following the Way." (Hall / Gauntlett, op.cit., pp. 94 -- 95.)
The twist towards the end of this extract, from the Kokutai no Hongi
, turns the logic round and asserts that war is just fine, just so long as the intention is pure and is conducted in accordance with the Way. Kisshomaru finally notes that his father took possession of aikido, in the wake of the extension of the war, by insisting on the name.
開祖は、太平洋戦争たけなわな頃になると、それまでの合気武術あるいは合気武道などの世間的呼称をあえて拒み、はっきり「合気道」の名称を表明した。(植芝吉祥丸, 『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, pp. 34 -- 35.)
"After the war began, O Sensei stopped using the common terms ‘Aiki Bujutsu' (Aiki martial techniques) and ‘Aiki Budo' (Aiki martial way) for his art. Clearly and definitely, he named it ‘Aikido.'" (Kisshomaru Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, pp. 18 -- 19.)
COMMENT: The Japanese, hakkiri ‘aikidou' no meishou wo hyoumei shita
, (in bold type, above) leaves intact the ambiguity surrounding the actual naming of the art. The sub-committee of the Dai Nippon Butokukai (DNB) announced the name aikido
in 1942, as part of the alignment of the martial arts firmly behind the war effort, but Kisshomaru's Japanese leaves it unstated whether the name had actually been coined by Ueshiba himself, or whether the name had been coined by others who were following a DNB precedent with the other arts.
Skya does not discuss opposition to the war at all. He relegates mention of this subject to one small, grudging, throwaway paragraph at the very end of his book.
"Of course, it is possible that not everyone in Japan in the 1930s and the 1940s came to believe in the divinity of the emperor, despite the decades of mass indoctrination of radical Shinto ultranationalist ideology. Perhaps groups and individuals resisted to the bitter end, as Ienaga Saburo tried to show in the chapter ‘Dissent and Resistance: Change from Within' of his book The Pacific War, 1931 -- 1945. But one thing is unquestionable: the massive impact of this radical form of Shinto nationalism on the life of the Japanese people in the first half of the twentieth century." (Skya, op.cit., p. 328.)
It is a pity that Skya did not spend more time discussing opposition to the war in more detail, for the devil is in the details and Skya's statement in the above paragraph is much more innocuous than his arguments in the rest of the book, especially his strictures against Maruyama Masao, discussed above, for suggesting that Japan's ‘intellectuals' did not buy into the indoctrination.
1. State Shinto and Omoto: Nadolski Revisited
Even a cursory examination of Omoto-kyo in the years between 1910 and 1935 will reveal how inadequate is the account given by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in his biography of his father Morihei. This account focuses exclusively on the glowing master / disciple relationship of Deguchi and Ueshiba and passes over the complex political activities of the organization, in which Ueshiba must have been involved if he was as intimate with Deguchi as Kisshomaru says he was. Ueshiba was a card-carrying member of a politico-religious organization that had the distinction of being suppressed not just once, but twice, the second time being a virtual annihilation. This is one of the clearest examples of Kisshomaru's desire to record only the ‘bright' episodes in Ueshiba's relations with Deguchi and depict the suppressions as an unwarranted attack by the forces of darkness.
In previous columns, Thomas Nadolski's doctoral research was examined, especially Deguchi's support of the Imperial Way Faction of the army, in its campaign for a Showa Restoration and direct rule by the emperor. Since the earlier columns were written, new studies have appeared on Omoto and its founders, but this new research has shown the need to modify Nadolski's conclusions only slightly. Nadolski saw the connection between Omoto and right-wing groups as simple and very direct, but the connection was rather more complex. As a result of the reorganization following the Meiji Restoration, the so-called ‘new religions' also became part of Shinto and thirteen of these religions came under the heading of ‘Sect Shinto.' The Omoto religion was not one of these and had to retain its earlier affiliation with Konko-kyo. After the First Suppression of Omoto in 1921, Deguchi became much more circumspect about Omoto and Japanese politics and changed the doctrinal content of Omoto's message accordingly. Thus, Omoto proclaimed to organize the world's yonaoshi
renewal, not through Take-haya Susa-no O, but through the Japan's imperial line, descendants of the Amaterasu O Mikami, Susa-no O's nemesis and progenitor of the Imperial Grandchild. The political stance of Omoto also became more closely in tune with radical Shinto ultranationalism, but this does not, of course, entail that Deguchi Onisaburo was himself a radical Shinto ultranationalist. An example of this is Omoto's stance during the Minobe Affair. The writer of a recent study on Omoto has the following comment. (The context is a wider discussion of the activities of the Showa Shinseikai
, one of the many patriotic groups established by Omoto in the 1930s. The Dai Nippon Budo Senyoukai
was another such organization, dedicated to the ‘patriotic practice' of the martial arts and Morihei Ueshiba was one of its leaders.)
"The Shinseikai was also active in the well-known campaign to condemn the ‘Emperor-as-Organ Theory' [tenno kikan setsu]. This political theory, formulated by Tokyo Imperial University law professor Minobe Tatsukichi (1878 -- 1948), held that national sovereign power rested with the state and not with the emperor, who exercised power only in his capacity as the highest organ of state under a constitutional structure. This theory was first circulated and widely supported during the Taisho period, but given the rightward shift in politics and society, it was publicly attacked in the Diet in 1934 as contrary to the national essence (kokutai). The theory was condemned by a diverse group of academics, bureaucrats, politicians, the military and ordinary citizens. The Shinseikai was crucial in organizing popular opposition and sponsoring speech programs that denounced the theory because it denied the basis of Kodo and the possibility of a true Showa restoration in favor of a modern and materialistic view of the monarchy." (Stalker, op.cit., p. 181.)
Stalker's sources appear to be Nadolski and the official Omoto history 『大本七十年史』 [Omoto nanajunen-shi
: Seventy Years of Omoto], but she appears not to have studied the Minobe Affair in any depth. Stalker does, however, highlight the differences she perceives between Omoto and other nationalist groups.
"Yet … Omoto's call for the restoration of divine rule [神政復古: shinsei fukko] differed markedly from the call for restoration of imperial rule [王政復古: osei fukko] that motivated advocates of the Showa restoration. The first was a spiritual initiative based on reverence for the true god, while the second was characterized by reverence for the imperial system, binding the populace, its ancestors and ujigami (clan deities) to the emperor and Amaterasu through national shrines like Ise and Yasukuni. Onisaburo's view of kokutai (national essence) also differed from official views. State authorities believed that kokutai was fostered by creating national subjects through education, military service, and other organs of state. Onisaburo believed that cultivating kokutai meant returning to god and creatring a society where politics, economics and education were based on God." (Stalker, op.cit., pp. 172 -- 173.)
However, Stalker also goes on to note that, with an eye to the main chance, Deguchi saw an opportunity for furthering Omoto's mission and showed his "charismatic entrepreneurship" and committed enormous resources of time and money to creating patriotic societies that both "supported both his religious vision and his desire for organizational growth." Stalker's point could explain both why Deguchi's aims were misinterpreted by a government apparently unable to distinguish between charisma and entrepreneurial skill and why an Omoto believer like Morihei Ueshiba was able to combine outward support of the kokutai
with inward disenchantment with some of its less spiritual aspects.
2. The Retreat to Iwama Reconsidered
The retreat to Iwama and the connection with the Pacific War has been discussed in Column 10. In that column extracts from the Takemusu Aiki
volume were discussed. In the Aiki Shinzui
collection of discourses, we find occasional references to ‘the war' and more substantial treatment of the move to Iwama in the following two paragraphs. The Japanese text precedes the translation by John Stevens.
今までは形と形の物のすれ合いが武道でありましたが、それを上台としてすべてを忘れ、その上に自分の魂をのせる。自分に愛の心が無かったら万有愛護 の大業は成りがたく、愛のかまえこそ正眼の構えであります。無形の真理、日本の武道は相手をこしらえてはいかぬ。無抵抗主義、これこそ霊界の処理法であ り、念彼観音力と申します。武の極意は形はない。心自在に生ずる。気は一切を支配する源・本であります。
"Heretofore, budo was concerned with training in physical forms, but now training in spiritual forms is more important. If you lack a mind set on love, you can never accomplish any great techniques. The stance of love is the stance of seigan [triangular posture used in the martial arts]. In Japanese budo we don't try to force the opponent to move. Budo is based on the principle of non-resistance, a principle of the spiritual world—this is nenpi kannonriki. The secret of bu is that it has no forms. The heart must be free and ki must be fully charged."
COMMENT: Ueshiba is recounting a ‘before' and ‘after' in respect of budo, but does not state when the latter occurred. We can assume that it started after the vision described below, which presumably took place just before the move to Iwama. However, Kisshomaru states that Ueshiba's dissatisfaction with the actions of the Japanese military, which he ties to their lack of knowledge of true budo, occurred as Japan prepared for war in the Pacific, which would be before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Ueshiba's discussion of ‘before' and ‘after' as recorded in his discourses needs much closer analysis, especially in respect of his actual training methods.
このことはすべて猿田毘古の大神のお導きにして、昭和十七年十二月十六日、午前二時より三時の間、日本中の神々が現れて合気の出現を寿ぎたまう。大 和魂の錬成、松竹梅の剣法。天地合体して諸刃の剣、精神の発動によって世の濁りを洗う。それには第一にこの大東和戦争を止めさせねばなりません。あまりに いうことが大きいのではじめお受けしかねましたが、各地からいうて来るので御神意により、岩間に三十六畳敷の合気神社を建てました。やがて広島、長崎に原 爆落ち、いよいよ決意を固めた時、陛下より宣言があって戦争終了。それ以来、日本のことはみな合気と結んであります。神ながらの道と興武を行って復興すべ し。天の村雲九鬼さむはら竜王、この御名の中に合気の技ことごとく含まれ、汝は血縁結んでおるぞう。すなわち私が伊豆能売命になったわけであります。伊豆 能売とは経魂たる荒、和、二魂の主宰する神魂を厳の御魂といい、緯魂たる奇、幸二魂の主宰する神魂を厳の御魂といい、厳瑞合一したる至霊魂を伊豆能売の御 魂というのです。(『合気神髄』, pp. 129 -- 130.)
"All of this was imparted to me by the deity Sarutahiko on December 16, 1942, between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning. All the gods of Japan gathered and brought aiki truly into life, fostering universal spirit and sho chiku bai swordsmanship. The double-edged sword of heaven and earth symbolizes the spiritual movement that works to purge the world of filth and corruption. To accomplish this, first that terrible war had to end. I was entrusted with a tremendous task: the gods instructed me to construct a thirty-six mat aiki jinja in Iwama. Then the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the emperor called an end to the war. Since then Japan has been tied together by aiki. The true budo of the gods will be restored. Within the powerful name of Ame no murakumo kuki samuhara ryu-o all the techniques are contained. It is in your blood. As for me, I was an incarnation of the deity Izunome no mikoto [the spirit of reformation and renewal]." (Ueshiba / Stevens, The Secret Teachings of Aikido, pp. 95 -- 96.)
COMMENT: As noted at the very beginning of this column, Stevens stated that he had omitted repetition and he has done so in this translation. However, this concerns the final part and the earlier references to the war are not omitted. On the other hand, Stevens has certainly not made a verbal translation. In terms of content, this passage should be compared with the more extensive extracts from the Takemusu Aiki
discourses quoted in Column 10. There, the causal connections made by Ueshiba between the building of the Aiki shrine and the ending of the war are spelled out in more detail.
Conclusions: 4: Morihei Ueshiba, the Japanese Military and State Shinto
I have tried to present a detailed picture of radical Shinto ultranationalism as a theory and have also discussed the practical effects of this radicalism on Japanese society in the 1930s. As with previous columns, the evidence has been allowed to speak for itself. One can legitimately ask where Morihei Ueshiba stood in all this and we have seen that Kisshomaru Ueshiba asked this question and gave his own answer in respect of the Pacific War. However, if we look at the writings that have appeared under the name Moritaka Ueshiba, there is no hint of any dissatisfaction, either with the war in China or with the increasingly fascist character of Japanese government and society.
The thesis that Morihei Ueshiba was actually opposed to the Fifteen Years War from the very beginning, and not merely the period that began in 1941, is certainly not proven by the evidence available. It is a more plausible thesis that if he did become unhappy with the war, this would have happened as the war progressed. Ueshiba is said to have written a diary, but if he did, we do not know when he started writing it. If, like Kiyosawa Kiyoshi, he kept an anti-war diary, it is highly likely that Kisshomaru would have known about it and published it. If Ueshiba had been opposed to the war from the very beginning, this would mask another curious anomaly, rather closer to the fundamentals of the art he taught. Some of those who showed off the "boneheaded aggression and bloodthirstiness" condemned by Ueshiba, via Kisshomaru, were actually his own students and had practiced his art for many years under its prewar name and, if some are to be believed, in its more martially effective prewar form.
Since this column is a study of Japanese history, understood in a certain way, the bibliographical references given in previous columns are also relevant here. A general essay on the topics covered here in more detail appeared in the new edition of the martial arts encyclopedia edited by Thomas Green and Joseph Svinth: Peter Goldsbury, "Political Conflict and Aikido, 1931 -- 1942", in Thomas Green & Joseph Svinth (Eds.), Martial Arts in the Modern World
, Volume Two: Themes
, 2010, ABC-Clio, pp. 638-643. Other relevant articles in this work are William Bodiford, "Religious Systems: Japanese Martial Arts and Religion before 1868," op.cit.
, pp. 371 -- 382; "Religious Systems: Japanese Martial Arts and Religion since 1868," op.cit.
, pp. 382 -- 394: Lance Gatling, "Judo in Japan, 1931 -- 1950," op.cit.
, pp. 573 -- 578; "Jukendo," op.cit.
, pp. 578 -- 582; Alexander Bennett, "Social and Cultural Evolution of Kendo," op.cit.
, pp. 598 -- 603.
Essential background is provided by several seminal works. A primary source of documents is the series published by Columbia University Press. The relevant volume is Wm. Theodore du Barry, Carol Gluck and Arthur E Tiedemann (eds.), Sources of Japanese Tradition
, Second Edition, Volume Two, 2005, Columbia U P. There is also David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History
, 1997, M E Sharpe. Wiley-Blackwell publish ‘Blackwell Companions to History' and the volume on Japanese history is useful for setting out the issues and noting the latest trends in scholarship: William M Tsutsui (ed.), A Companion to Japanese History
, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell. Later chapters cover some of the topics discussed in this column and all have bibliographies of works in English: James L Huffington, "Restoration and Revolution"; Stephen S Large, "Oligarchy, Democracy and Fascism"; Y Tak Matsutaka, "The Japanese Empire"; W Miles Fletcher III, "The Fifteen-year War". The various essays in two earlier works edited by Helen Hardacre deal with (mainly American) history writing on Japan and the Meiji Restoration after World War II: Helen Hardacre (ed.), New Directions in the Study of Meiji Japan
, 1997, Brill; The Postwar Development of Japanese Studies in the United States
, 1998, Brill. Two major orthodox histories are: Marius B Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan
, 2000, Belknap / Harvard U P, Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852 -- 1912
, 2002, Columbia U P.
Some of the issues relevant to a discussion of Japanese culture and Morihei Ueshiba's place within it are presented by Edward Said in a controversial work: Edward W Said, Orientalism
, 1979, 1994, Vintage Books. Said deals with Islam and the Middle East, but his arguments—and the controversy surrounding them—are relevant to Asia and Japan. Said's arguments and assumptions have been applied to Japan and China by Stefan Tanaka, in a study of the concept of touyou-shi
[東洋史: ‘orient history']: Stefan Tanaka, Japan's Orient: Rendering Pasts into History
, 1993, U California. Of great relevance to Meiji Japan is Carol Gluck's pioneering study: Carol Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period
, 1985, Princeton U P.
The boundaries between Meiji Japan and Taisho Japan are far more fluid than the dates of the respective emperors. Two collections of essays give essential background information about a variety of issues relevant to this column: Bernard S Silberman and H D Harootunian (eds.), Japan in Crisis: Essays on Taisho Democracy
, 1974, Princeton U P. Reprinted in 1999 by the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan. Conflict is a related theme and there are a number of studies in English: Testuo Najita and J Victor Koschmann (eds.), Conflict in Modern Japanese History: The Neglected Tradition
, Princeton U P, republished, 2005, Cornell U P. The essay by Kuno Osamu, discussed in the column, appears in an abridged English translation on pp. 60 -- 80. The Japanese original is久野収,「日本の超国家主義ー昭和維新の思想」, 『現代日本の思想』, 岩波新書, pp. 117 -- 182. Koschmann has also edited a book on a related subject: J Victor Koschmann (ed.), Authority and the Individual in Japan: Citizen Protest in Historical Perspective
, 1978, Tokyo U P. Hashikawa Bunso's essay on wartime resistance, discussed in this column, is to be found on pp. 128 -- 142 of this volume.
Gluck cites the work of Masao Maruyama and acknowledges a debt to Irokawa Daikichi, whose work, The Culture of the Meiji Period
, was cited in this column. Irokawa made severe criticisms of the work of Maruyama, who was a major scholar and opinion leader in postwar Japan. Required reading for this column are the following works by Maruyama: "Theory and Psychology of Ultra-Nationalism," "The Ideology and Dynamics of Japanese Fascism," and "Thought and Behavior Patterns of Japanese Wartime Leaders," in Masao Maruyama, Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics
, edited by Ivan Morris, 1969, Oxford U P. Maruyama laid some groundwork in his earlier work: Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan
, 1956, Tokyo U P. One of his most important works has not been translated: 丸山真男, 『日本の思想』, 1961, 岩波新書. There is a study of this book in Japanese by Miyamura Haruo: 宮村治雄, 『丸山真男「日本の思想」精読』, 2001, 岩波現代文庫. Irokawa's work has been translated into English: Daikichi Irokawa, The Culture of the Meiji Period
, 1985, Princeton U P.
What is called ‘State Shinto' is discussed in a number of seminal works, two published during the war discussed in this column: D C Holtom, The National Faith of Japan: A Study of Modern Shinto
, 1937, Kegan Paul International; D C Holtom, Modern Japan and Shinto Nationalism
, 1943, 1947, University of Chicago Press.
The other is a more modern work: Helen Hardacre, Shinto and the State 1868-1988
, 1989, Princeton U P. Hardacre criticizes Holtom, but her own book is narrower in scope. She does not really attempt to do what Holtom attempted and he was also hamstrung by lack of acquaintance with key Japanese texts.
D C Holtom also published another work: The Japanese Enthronement Ceremonies, with an Account of the Imperial Regalia
, 1928, 1996, Kegan Paul International. This is a discussion of Shinto and the imperial regalia, based on a detailed account of the enthronement ceremonies of the Emperor Taisho in 1915. The enthronement ceremonies are crucial for the view of the Emperor as the highest sacerdotal authority in Shinto.
The work of both Holtom and Hardacre are subject to the criticisms leveled by Kuroda Toshio in his essay "Shinto in the History of Japanese Religions," Mark R Mullins, Shimazono Susumu, Paul L Swanson (eds.), Religion & Society in Modern Japan
, 1993, AHP, pp. 7-30. A later general history follows Kuroda but without accepting all his arguments: John Breen and Mark Teeuwen, A New History of Shinto
, 2010, Wiley-Blackwell.
This column has subjected the work of Walter Skya to close analysis: Walter A Skya, Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism
, 2009, Duke U P. Works relevant to Skya's general thesis are the following: Hugh Byas, Government by Assassination
, 1942, Alfred A Knopf; Kenneth J Ruoff, Imperial Japan at its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Emperor's 2,600th Anniversary
, 2010, Cornell U P; David C Earhart, Certain Victory: Images of World War II in the Japanese Media
, 2008, M E Sharpe; Alan Tansman (Ed.), The Culture of Japanese Fascism
, 2009, Duke U P; Tetsuo Najita, Japan: The Intellectual Foundations of Modern Japanese Politics
, 1974, Chicago U P; Toshio Iritani, Group Psychology of the Japanese in Wartime
, 1991, Kegan Paul International; Shin'ichi Yamamuro, Manchuria Under Japanese Domination
, 2006, U of Pennsylvania P; Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism
, 1998, U of California P; Sheldon Garron, Moulding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life
, 1997, Princeton U P; Thomas Havens, Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War Two
, 1986, University Press of America; Eugene Soviak (ed.), A Diary of Darkness: The Wartime Diary of Kiyosawa Kiyoshi
, 1999, Princeton U P; 家永三郎, 『太平洋戦争』, 1968, Second Edition, 2002, 岩波書店; Original edition translated into English as, Saburo Ienaga, The Pacific War 1931 -- 1945
, Pantheon; 天道是, 『右翼運動100年の軌跡―その抬頭・挫折・混迷』, 1992, 立花書房.
A pioneer scholar on nationalism is Richard Storry: Richard Storry, The Double Patriots: A Study of Japanese Nationalism
, 1956, Houghton Mifflin. The patriots in Storry's title are the radical ultranationalists and can be compared to the strength of the whisky in a ‘double whisky'.
Morihei Ueshiba fought in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and some background can be obtained from a recent history of the Japanese Imperial Army: Edward J Drea, Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853 -- 1945
, 2009, U P of Kansas. In Japanese, there is a multivolume series entitled 「戦争日本史」 [Wars and Japanese History
]. The volume on the Russo-Japanese War is Volume 20: 山田朗, 『世界史の中の日露戦争』, 2009, 吉川引文館.
As for the radical ultra-nationalists discussed by Storry and Skya, there is very little on Hozumi Yatsuka in Japanese and he is even less accessible in English. There is only one full-length study: Richard H. Minear, Japanese Tradition and Western Law: Emperor, State, and Law in the Thought of Hozumi Yatsuka
, 1970, Harvard U P. For this column the texts I have used, apart from Minear, are a collection of extracts by Hozumi, put together and edited by a Japanese scholar: Ryuichi Nagao, Hozumi Yatsuka Shuu
(長尾龍 一,『穂積八束集』), 2001, 信山社. The selection takes up about half the volume and is complemented by an essay written by Nagao himself, entitled, 「八束の髄から明治史覗く」. I have also used the Google Books
text of 『愛国心：国民教育』, Hozumi's manual of education ‘best practice', published in 1898. Nagao has also written a more general study of the Japanese state: 長尾龍一,『日本国家思想史研究』, 1982, 創文社.
Minobe's organ theory has generated much discussion in Japanese, notably by Ryuichi Nagao, mentioned above, but the only work in English is a massive and detailed work by Miller: Frank O Miller, Minobe Tatsukichi: Interpreter of Constitutionalism in Japan
, 1965, University of California P.
Kita Ikki's works are in print, in three volumes: 『北一輝著作集』. There are also two works on Kita in English: George M Wilson, Radical Nationalist in Japan: Kita Ikki 1883 -- 1937
, 1969, Harvard U P; Brij Tankha, Kita Ikki and the Making of Modern Japan: A Vision of Empire
, 2006, Global Oriental. Skya appears not to know of Tankha's research.
There is virtually nothing in English on Uesugi Shinkichi, beyond short references in Bergamini and a brief discussion in Brij Tankha's book on Kita Ikki (cited above). The Japanese scholar who has studied Uesugi is Ida Terutoshi, who has written an analysis of Uesugi's thinking about the emperor system: 井田輝敏,『上杉慎吉 天皇制国家の弁証』, 1959, 三嶺書房.
There is even less in English on Kakehi Katsuhiko. There are no full-length books, or even shorter monographs, and for Kakehi, the serious student is reduced to Wikipedia
(the Japanese-language site) for a place to start. Kakehi's writings can be obtained after some searching, those I have consulted for this column being the following: 筧克彦 , 『大日本帝国憲法の根本儀』, 1937, 岩波書店; 『古神道大義』, There is some discussion on Kakehi in the book on the Japanese state by Nagao Ryuichi, mentioned above, and in a book by Suzuki Sadami: 鈴木貞美,『日本の文化ナショナリズム』, 2000, 平凡社. Those who can read Kakehi in Japanese will find that he meanders between the absorbing and the turgid.
Lack of space has prevented a discussion of the Kyoto School in this column. There has been some recent discussion about the philosophers of the Kyoto School and their conduct during World War II and a number of books produced in English: Michiko Yusa, Zen & Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitaro
, 2002, Hawai‘i U P; Robert E Carter, The Nothingness Beyond Good: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Nishida Kitaro
, Second Edition, 1997, Paragon House; James W Heisig, Philosophers of Nothingness: An Essay on the Kyoto School
, 2001, Hawai‘i U P; James W Heisig & John C Maraldo (Eds.), Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School and the Question of Nationalism
, 1994, Hawai‘i U P; David Williams, Defending Japan's Pacific War: The Kyoto School philosophers and post-white power
, 2004, Routledge-Curzon.
Nishida was a friend of D T Suzuki and Suzuki also met and discussed some issues with Morihei Ueshiba (though Suzuki is reported to have doubted whether Shinto as interpreted by Omoto was quite the best vehicle for propagating Ueshiba's ideas, in preference to Zen). Suzuki has written many works, of which the most relevant are those on Zen, Japanese culture and the martial arts: D T Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture. Suzuki's work needs to be balanced by that of Brian Victoria, especially for the topics covered in this column: Brian (Daizen) A Victoria, Zen at War
, 1997, Weatherhill; Zen War Stories
, 2003, Routledge Curzon; Brian Daizen Victoria, Zen at War
, Second Edition, 2006, Rowan & Littlefield.
These works also need to be read in conjunction with a spirited response, written by Kenmyo Taira Sato, entitled ‘Suzuki and the Question of War,' available online in the Zen Buddhism WWW Virtual Library: http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVL-Zen.html
Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 7th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.