Recently I have read the following Book. A book summary is as follows:
Book title: Oguma, Eiji. 2002. A Genealogy of ‘Japanese’ Self-images. Translation by |David Askew. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
-the formation of a national self-image was linked to a great extent to relationships with the Other (xviii).
-Japan could not be understood simply with the framework of Orientalism i.e. the representation of the East created by the West (xix).
-Japan nativist scholars lauded the ancient myths of Japan, and this romanticism viewed China, not the West, as the Other. (xix).
-the national polity theory and the ideology that idealized the monarchy centered on the Emperor as a system that was unique to Japan.
-the book argues that the mixed nation theory lent itself to the claim that the Japanese nation embodied the unification of the Asian; the neighboring regions could be assimilate into the Japanese nation to become a great Japanese empire (xx).
-this book discusses how Japanese politicians used ancient Japanese history and myth to justify the policies of the day.
-the book was a case study of universal issues, such as nationalism and the reconstruction of texts shared in common by members of a nation.
-the book would establish two facts: 1. the prewar great Japanese empire was a multi-national empire, including Taiwan and Korea. 2. On the myth of ethnic homogeneity there had been very little research on how and when it emerged.
-the book would examine historically when and how the myth of homogeneous nation emerged, and provide a sociological analysis of the myth’s function (xxviii).
-The theme of this work was a genealogy of the consciousness of identity held by the Japanese, and how did this self-image changed as circumstance changed (xxviii).
-the research requires both a sociological approach and a history of ideas approach. Using one of Max Weber’s books as an example on doing research into the consciousness of the majority people, the author describes the difference between the sociological and historical approaches (xxxi). One important work of Weber was his argument on the important of the ethics of puritanism, which while was antagonistic the pursuit of profit, contributed it to the birth of modern capitalism. He made this argument by examination the ideas of Calvinism, and compared it with Indian and Chinese thoughts. This approach was well known in sociology but not in historiography (xxxi).
-historical research emphasized on limiting the focus of research, Weber by contrast placed no limits on either time or place (xxxii)
-the debate about whether society was the sum of all its parts or something greater was one that existed in all area of social sciences. The idea that society was larger than the sum of its parts was seen in the ideas of Emile Durkheim. In sociology individual phenomena was seen as ripple of the surface of great sea that was called the society (xxxiii). What was important was whether or not the abstracted model was persuasive. In history facts were seen as being of the greatest importance, whether a universal model could be established or not was of secondary importance.
-in the conclusion the author analyzes sociologically the perceptions of the self and other as seen in the various discussion on the Japanese nation (xxxv). Similar mixed approach had been done in works by Michel Foucault and Edward Said. Among Japanese scholars, those which had produced cross boundary academic work included Mita Minesuk, Yamanaka Hayato and Kano Masanao (xxxvi).
-the target of the book was the various discourses discussed by individual thinkers on the identity of the Japanese nation (xxxvi)
-Part one of the book (ch.1-6) was about the thoughts of an ‘Open Country’ (pg.1).
-Ch. 1: the first theory of the origin of the Japanese nation based on a modern scientific discourse must be dated from the excavation of the Omori shell mounds by Edward Morse (3).
-the theories of the Japanese nation had developed into two different currents by the 1880s. One was the mixed nation theory. The other was the homogeneous nation theory. Today the two currents sometimes opposed and sometimes supported one another, and reflected the international status of Japan, and the stage of Japanese nationalism in each of the major periods from the 1880s to the present (15).
-Ch.2: it was about the debate on mixed residence in the interior of Japan. For half a century after 1885, the homogeneous nation theory was pushed aside in the press, and the mixed nation theory moved into the mainstream discourse. One reason was that the people of the great Japanese empire began to define themselves as a superior nation capable of moving out into the world (29).
-Ch. 3 was about the theory of the national polity and Japanese Christianity. The author defines the national polity theory, the ruling ideology of the empire which saw the great Japanese as a large family state presided over by the imperial family. The theory re-emerged in the late 19th century as a germ for a monarch centered on the emperor (31).
-how did the national polity theorist manage to maintain their position after Korea and Taiwan was incorporated in the great Japanese empire would be discussed in this chapter (32).
-Ch.4: during the period of the annexation of Korea, most of Japanese anthropologists based their theory of the origins of the Japanese nation on the mixed nation theory. Japanese was a mixture of a continental people, the Malays from the south, and the indigenous Ainu. (53). During this period the foundation for the mixed nation theory was created. This was in opposition to the national polity theory. (53).
Ch. 5: it talks about the theory that the Japanese and Korean shared a common ancestor. This was viewed as one of the most odious ideologies that justified the aggression acts of the great Japanese empire (64).
-The mixed nation theory in anthropology began with Tsuboi, the common ancestor theory was further developed by Hoshino and Kume. Meanwhile all the arguments of the Christian intellectual were formed from the opposition to the national polity theorist and the nativist scholars (80).
-Ch.6: it is about the Japanese annexation of Korea. In august 1910, at the time of the Japanese annexation of Korea, mixed nation theories praised the annexation. Articles advocating the pure blood theory were not seen in leading Japanese newspapers (81). One event that symbolized the turnaround in the current of thought was the conversion of Inoue Tstsujiro to the mixed nation theory. (91) He said that through the annexation “the Japanese have accomplished a new development that will enable them in future to move out on to the great stage of continent and thus the world”. The door was now fully open. After this, this course in the great Japanese empire run along the lines laid down during this period until Japanese expansionism reached its limits and imploded (92).
Part 2 (ch.7-ch.11) was about the thought of ‘Empire’.
-Ch.7 was about history and the ‘abolition of discrimination’. Later assessment on the historian Kita Sadakichi had split into two camps. One praised him for the idea that the Japanese nation was a mixed one; the other camp criticized him using history to justify colonial rules. The author asserts that Kita was the most important ideologues of the mixed nation theory in the great Japanese empire. Kita tried to use the mixed nation theory to fight racial discrimination (95).
-Ch.8 was about the reformation of the national polity theory. If Hozumi Yatsuka, Kato Hiroyuki and Inoue Tegtsujiro were the first generation national polity theorist, the idea of the second generation of the national polity theory said that “what is urgently required is to develop a national polity theory based on the facts of today’s national polity, which has come to encompass various peoples, both inside and outside Japan, as nationals of the one country”. National polity theorist had reformed their theory by incorporating the mixed nation theory. They abandoned the image of a homogeneous and pure blooded Japan, in response to the new needs of the expanding empire (110).
-by about 1920s, the mixed nation theory was thus already being utilized by national polity theorist.
-how were the alien nations within the empire explained, after the denial both of the theory that the Japanese and Koreans shared common ancestor and of rule through power? Of course, it was possible to accept them as adopted children or foster children. This was the logic decided that would enlarge the national polity, while maintain the idea of family state; at the same time include alien nations (119).
-Ch.9: it talks about the re-writing of textbooks in japan.
-Ch. 10 talks about a strange theory that the Japanese were in fact Caucasian (143).
-Ch.11 talks about Gakamure Itsue who was known as an anarchist, a poet, and a path-breaking feminist historian.
Part 3 (ch.12-17)
Part 3 (ch.12-17)
-Ch. 12 talks about the birth of an Island Nation’s folklore. The chapter talks about Yanagita Kunio in order to shed light on the analyses of the national consciousness of Japan as a whole. He was one of the few writers shifted from the mixed nation theory to the homogeneous nation (175). Folklore was used a means of integrating the nation (189).
- Rice was seen as the only folklore that could be relied on to unite the whole country from below. As long as rice remained the staple crop of Japan, Yanagita could use it as a folklore common throughout the archipelago. Japanese were people came from the south islands with rice and settled in the archipelago, a place without an indigenous people (199). The schema of an island nation with a homogeneous folklore based on rice cultivation had a decisive influence on the later self-image of Japan. This duality of exclusivism and peace was to become a fundamental character of the postwar myth of the homogeneous nation (202).
-Ch.13 asserts that it was true that Kiyono and Hesebe had departed from the conventional interpretation of the Kiki myth. The chapter concluded that after the defeat in WWII when the empire was cut down to its original size, both the theory that Japanese and Korean shared a common ancestor, and the theory of mixed nation lost their influence, the idea of these two anthropologist on the origin of the Japanese nation came to be accepted as the new paradigm (236).
Ch.14 - Following the annexation of Korea, the theory of homogeneous nation seemed to have been relegated to the sidelines of the Japanese press. However it had not disappeared. The views of |Shiratori Kurakichi and Tsuda Sokichi embodied the major antithesis to the mainstream discourse in the Empire of the day – the mixed nation theory – and their theories played a large role in the formation of the postwar myth of the homogeneous nation (237).
-Shiratori claimed that Kiki myth were not historical facts but stories (243). Tsuda adopted the mixed nation theory in a history textbook he edited in 1902. However, like Shiratori, Tsuda converted to the homogeneous nation theory following the Russo-Japanese war and the annexation of Korea (244).
-by defining the descriptions of alien nations in the Kiki myths as wild fantasies, Tsuda dismantled the foundations of the mixed nation theory (246).
-roughly speaking, Tsuda’s thought was an expanded version of that part of the national polity theory which argued that imperial rule was not rule through power, but a union created by the natural affection that joined the Emperor and people (251).
-Ch.15: in this chapter the author locates the theory of Professor Watsuji Tetsuro (1889-1960) on the Japanese nation within the discourse of his time. Together with Yanagita and Tsuda, his influence on the postwar theory of Japanese culture was enormous (260).
-Watsuji’s view could be summarized as that Japanese nation emerged through a mixture of an Indian and a Tungus people (270). He argued that culture was closely related to climate, and divided the world’s civilization into three types, the monsoon type, the desert type and the pastoral type (272). Watsuji’s theory of the homogeneous nation was formed before the war ended and included elements of peace and culture that were warmly embraced in postwar Japan (283). He was a leading figure who supported the Symbolic Emperor system (appeared in postwar) (284).
-Ch. 16 asserts that from 1931 to 1943 there was a large number of mixed nation theorist active in the press, apart from those mentioned earlier. At the same time, there was also a backlash against the mixed nation theory. One cause of the backlash was a growing anxiety about intermarriage and the mixing of blood (289).
-Ch.17: In August 1945 Japan surrendered. As a result of the defeat, Japanese intellectual could no longer call upon the logic of the past. They lost the framework with which they could discuss alien ethnic groups. Everything that had previously been thought to be correct was turned upside down (298). It was a moment theorists emerged. The self-image of Japan as an island nation that contained no aliens was therefore peaceful and tranquil was very attractive to a people tired of a war (299).
-what was new in Tsuda’s argument was its heart-searching reflection on the war, and his response to the emerging concept of the emperor’s responsibility for the war. Tsuda’s conclusion was that the imperial household was the center of national unity and the living symbol of the national spirit in the homogeneous nation-stage. If democracy was a system where the people became the master of the state, then it was natural that the emperor should become the symbol of the state. The new constitution of 1946 defined the Emperor as a symbol, the postwar system was therefore known as the Symbolic Emperor System (301).
-the Marxist scientific rule of history was the development of productivity and the class struggle (314).
-with the collapse of the prewar mixed nation theory, there was nothing left to prevent the myth of ethnic homogeneity form taking root. There was roughly speaking two ways by which the myth of a homogeneous nation was established. One was through a conservative discourse that argued for the unity of the nation with the state and the Emperor. On the other hand, the homogeneous nation theory was also used by critics of Japan. According to them the problem of Japan was its lack of an international sense because Japan was a unique homogeneous nation-state (317)
-in the 1970s, trade friction and high yen forced the Japanese to recognize Japan’s position n the international economy. As Japan’s status in international society rose, self-consciousness about how the Japanese were viewed overseas increased; there was an unprecedented boom in theories about the Japanese (319). Much of the nihonjinron discourse stressed in concert the extent to which the Japanese were unique and had been homogeneous since time immemorial (319).
Book's Conclusion (pp.321-349)
-this book attempts to shed light on the transition in the discourse on the Japanese nation from the era of great Japanese empire throughout the postwar years. A sociological analysis allows us to pigeonhole the prewar mixed nation theory and the postwar homogeneous nation theory (321).
-in summary, the transition in the discourse on the Japanese constituted a movement to use the theory of ethnic homogeneity for protection when Japan was weak, and to use the mixed nation theory to interact with outside world when it was strong (323).
-there was an important different between the great Japanese Empire and Western power. When facing the West, the people of modern Japan felt inferior, perceiving themselves as colored people threaten by the Western powers. When facing the people of their own colonies, they saw themselves as superior members (331).
-the search for the identity of a nation almost always emerged as a reaction to a challenge generated by a preconception caused by an encounter with an alien existence. The history of the nation was invented as a storehouse of knowledge from which the inventor as a member of the nation could draw guides to behavior. This creativity was not necessary an intentional distortion of history, it was a form of the Rorschach test in psychology. The person being tested was shown a meaningless stain of ink on a sheet of paper and was asked what it represents. Various answers would be given. The theory of the Japanese nation oscillated whenever Japanese relation with the outside world changed (347).
-the essence of mythologizing the past was to escape from the trouble of fear involved in facing up to the other (384). It was the gap between overconfidence and physical weakness that allowed myth to emerge (349).