2016年2月10日 星期三

The Price of Affluence: dilemmas of contemporary Japan

Recently I have read the following book. A book summary is attached:

Book title: Hidaka, Rokuro. 1984. The Price of Affluence: dilemmas of contemporary Japan. Kodanshi International Ltd.

Main points:
Chapter one: it was his reflection on the postwar period while Hidaka lectured on history of postwar thought at a college in Kyoto. One of the people he talked about was Miki Kiyoshi who was a political prisoner that died in a prison cell even when the War was already over. This incident was discovered by a foreign reporter (p.17). He also talks about the Tribunal (p.19). Some of the former prisoners of war in Japan were released and took leading position again after the War. He also talked about the Lockheed affair, a corruption scandal that shook Japan in the 1970s (p.21).
- one problem with the ‘increased comfort’ in Japan was tied to the increased in pollution and the Japanese economic expansion overseas (p.29).
- the author wonders whether or not Japan was slowly heading in the direction of another 15 August. There had been no sign that the conservative business and political leadership were re-examining their own ways (p.33).
Chapter two was about his personal experience. He was 28 years old when the War ended in 1945. He told his war time life and experience to his students and found 3 things about his student’s reaction. First they were moved by the things that he had felt strongly. Second, students came to appreciate the connection the meanings of various events. Third, their interest was aroused when he discusses the points of contact between military and political development on the global scale and the behavior of everyday life of normal people. They were interested in knowing how people spent their days during the War (pp.36-7).
- it must be admitted that ordinary people too, in their everyday life, sowed the seeds of war, and fertilized them (p.39).
Chapter 3 talks about the struggle inside the author himself. It was about his childhood spent in Qingdao in China (p.48).
- it was undeniable that presently Japan’s economic expansion in Asia and other countries contained elements of economic aggression and caused the destruction of local national industries. (p.61).
Chapter 4: the author holds the view that from 1945 to 1984, an important qualitative transformation had occurred (p.63). The change was that Japan had become one of the world’s leading economic powers, into a state of conflict and contradiction with the third world, especially with Asia (p.64).
- Japan should internationally abide by pacifism, and domestically it should build a democratic society to share the resources.
- using an opinion survey from 1930s to 1980s, the author noted in the 1958 there was a change which he called it the period of economism (p.67). It showed how deeply the desire for comfortable life had penetrated into our psyche (p.71).
- he believes that unrestrained self-indulgence would result in highly perilous state of affair (p.73). To put economic consideration before all else had three problems. It destroys relation between human and nature, it destroyed relation between human, and it created contraction between Japan and Asian countries (p.74).
Chapter 5 is about the danger of moving toward a controlled society. The discussion was about the book 1984 by George Orwell (p.79). He also used the Seventh Physical Training School in Romania to highlight the control of the country by a government (p.82).
- in Japan there was growing grounds for concern that strong feeling of nationalism might merge again in the 1980s, especially since he LDP overwhelming victory in elections (p.85).
- the book suggests ways to overcome the trend toward a controlled society: regulated administration shifting to dispersed, self-management type of socialist administration; and to change mass production into small scale production, from private automobile to public transport etc. (p.102).
Chapter 6 talks about youth. Now youth had lost all interest in correctness and wisdom and had become enslaved by gentleness. To adults, young people were no longer hostile being. Adults merely worried about their delinquency, their suicide and their neuroses (p.120).
Chapter 7 talks about the 19 April incident that happened in Korea in 1960 to overthrow President Syngman Rhee for democracy, and the 15 June incident of Security Treaty struggle happened in Japan at the same year. He asked why the 19 April incident had been passed on and survived to the present day while the 15 June had not survived (p.129).
Chapter 8 was about the Minamata incident (p.136). Later the chapter digresses to talk about schools in Japan. In Japan, the gap between schools in terms of status had reached an alarming level. High schools were considered superior to vocational high school. In higher education, there was hierarchical gap between ‘first rate’, ‘second rate’ and ‘third rate’ universities (p.150).
- in the concluding remark, the author us a story to end the discussion. He read this story in a book of German Gestalt psychology during his student years (p.163). He suggests that Japanese could be in danger again and fell into the ‘lake’ mentioned in the story book (p.167).

2016年2月9日 星期二

A Cultural History of Postwar Japan 1945-1980

Recently I have read the following book. A book summary is attached:

Book title: Tsurumi, Shunsuke. 1987. A Cultural History of Postwar Japan 1945-1980. Kegan Paul International.

Main points:
Chapter 1: talks about the occupation of Japan by the US since August 1945. The early phase of the occupation perpetuated the original spirit of the New Deal as it had existed in the US. (p.2)
-  the Japanese government had constructed an elaborate message to the Japanese people that they had acted wisely in bringing the long war to an honorable close (in avoiding using the word surrender) (p.5).
- the occupation authority allowed the Japanese to use the term ‘termination of war’ and ‘stationing of forces’ in lieu of ‘defeat’ and ‘occupation’ (6).
- for the people at large, the most durable influence of the Occupation was on the Japanese life style, especially with respect to relationships between women and man.
Chapter 2: was on the sense of justice as seen from the War Tribunal. The view of Japanese on the tribunal during the period of existence was different from that of 30 years later (p.13). On 9th August 1945, Ministry of Foreign Office stated that the term ‘war criminal’ would refer only to those who had violated international laws by action such as ill-treating prisoner of war. The war leaders did not consider the possibility of being prosecuted by the international court in front of the Japanese people (p.13).
- according to Keenan the main purpose of the trial was to defend peace and international law, and the punishment of the accused was only a subsidiary purpose. The Japanese felt that those seven had died as scapegoats; some though that they had died for the emperor. Seeing the trial as a modern legal cover of a primitive form of retaliation, the Japanese accepted the justice imposed by the conquerors as a physical necessity (pp.14-15).
- the absence of the Emperor at the trial was a relief to most Japanese, it was universally understood throughout the War that all orders were given in the name of the Emperor (p.16).
- in 1952 the Occupation was over, in response to the Korean war, the US began to support the return of wartime leaders, the Japanese economy was able to achieve a recovery (p.21).
- in the wake of the prosperity since 1960 there had been a surge of compassion for the victims of the War Crime Trials, expressed in a play by Takeda Taijuin published in 1954, with an English version performed in 1967 (p.23).
- the last testament of General Tojo was a 31-sylable poem. Tojo fought courageously in the trial for his belief that the war was inevitable and just, he could meet his death unburdened by regrets. (p.24).
- 30 years after the War, the Emperor in a press interview on TV said that he was not aware of any such thing as responsibility for war, showing disregard to the sentiment of people and the victims of War. Since the surrender, Japanese had retained affection and respect for the Emperor as was shown in polls and surveys (p.26).
Chapter 3 – talks about comics in post war Japan. In addition to picture-card shows and the lending library, a third factor contributed to the unique character of modern Japanese comics was the emergence of women cartoonists (p.41). Therefore its path of development was different from that of the US.
Chapter 4 – it was about vaudeville acts. The continuing stream of common culture was a basic reason why more than 90 per cent of Japanese today label themselves as middle class. Standard of living, measured in terms of automobiles, washing machines and color TV could not alone account of the middle-class consciousness. It had its roots in the mid-Tokugawa city culture (p.49).
- according a folklorist, linguistic arts in Japan had their origin in banquet amusement. It was the manzai performance. The heart of the performance was a simple dialogue between the serious character and the nitwit.
- manzai differed from the rakugo, the art of telling droll stories, another vaudeville art fostered in the Edo period (p.53).
Chapter 5 talks about legends of common culture, mainly focuses on TV.
- national feeling had to be expressed in postwar Japan with means other than the national flag, the national anthem, and the imperial edicts. After Japan entered its period of economic growth, the TV broadcasting of a song congest by NHK TV at the close of the year seemed to have been a major national symbol (p.64). Other popular programmes were the NHK serialized drama broadcast each morning, and the Great River Drama seen on Sunday evenings.
- in a highly developed capitalist society, the art form most accessible to the general populace was advertising. (74)
- another literary pole was journalism. This form of literature had a prehistory in Japanese detective novel, which became highly popular after 1960s (p.77). After his early success as a mystery writer, Matsumoto went on to write a social history series: mysteries of the occupation period, mysteries of the prewar Japanese government etc. (p.78). His Black Fog Series had contributed an invaluable service in reporting social activities (p.78).
Chapter 6. It was about trends in popular songs since the 1960s. Three groups of songs could be identified. The first group was song in the pre-Meiji tradition of Japanese music. The second group was the early Western-style melodies composed in Japan. The third group were from the postwar period after the close contact with American culture during the Occupation that formed a new stream (pp.94-98).
Chapter 7: the magazine World Culture and the weekly paper Saturday were not bound by ideology; they were issue-oriented and were the forerunners of the citizen’s movement after 1960s.
- After the bloody May Day of 1952, factional fighting within the Communist party caused them to loosen their grip on the “circles”. By 1960, the word ‘circle’ had come to mean any small group of amateurs pursing some cultural activity (p.106).
- when the industrialization of Japan introduced new disease and created more victims of pollution, a citizens’ movement emerged (p.107).
- as a theorist of the citizen’s movement, and former member of the ‘World culture’ circle during the War, Taketani Mitsuo talked about public issues (p.107).
- the most famous incident in the anti-pollution movement was the protest against Minamata disease (p.108).
- of all the postwar Japanese cartoons, ‘Sazaesan’ by Hasegawa Machiko had enjoyed the longest life, from 1946 up to the present (p.111). This ‘Sazaesan’ reflected the social outlook of some 15 to 20 million ordinary Japanese (p.113).
Chapter 8: It was about patterns of life. A society for the study of contemporary customs beginning in 1976 asked its 500 members about their breakfast habits. Only 6 percent ate the traditional Japanese breakfast of boiled rice, bean-paste soup, and fermented soy beans etc. (p.117).
- the government policy of high industrialization at the cost of agriculture had so far made Japan a prosperous country. It had urbanized Japan and turned the majority of Japanese into city dwellers. (p.120).
- since the 1960s, the majority of Japanese men and women had worn western clothes, even when they were at home (p.122).
- according to an estimate by a population institute in 1979, the Japanese population had stabilized, and would reach zero growth after 50 years (p.123).

Chapter 9: the misconception of British schoolchildren regarding Japan was often duplicated in western guidebooks (p.129). Among the many issues, the author pointed out 3 areas that the guidebooks had overlooked. 

2016年2月8日 星期一

Labour and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan

Recently I have read the following book. Its details are:

Book title: Gordon, Andrew. Labour and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan. Berkeley: University of Californian Press, 1991.

Thesis: labour movement was social factor for unrest. The unrest gave good reasons for the regime/rulers in Japan to tighten social control.

Goal/Objective: to understand the political role that working men and women had played in the 20th century Japan (p.3). There were two types of behaviour (and idea): rioting crowds and the non-union labour disputes, the focus was on the labour working in the east side of Tokyo called Nankatsu (p.3).

Book structure: three parts: part one explores how the wage labourers and urban poor responded to the political world and the world of work (often using court records for research). Part 2 was about the working-class movement under the imperial democratic structure of rules. By the late 1920s it appeared that bureaucrats and party leaders were implementing a liberal version of imperial democracy. Part 3 examines the crisis of depression and the retreat of both unions and the proletarian parties during the 1930s (p.25).

Key points:
- talks about the labour movement in pre-war Japan under Imperial democracy (1905-1932); the movement was started before the beginning of the Taisho period (1912-1925).
- less than 8% of prewar workers joined unions at the peak of the movement and that the leftist did poorly in the early elections (p.4).
- proposes the notion of a trajectory from imperial bureaucracy to imperial democracy then to fascism as a framework to account for the labour history (p.9).
- suggests that those western historians who saw ‘militarism’ primarily as a response of the bureaucratic  and military elites in Japan to international crisis had overlooked both the obsessive fear of these leaders, and the deep belief that their democratic society was collapsing. They would subsequently decide to reorder the society (p.10).
- suggests that ‘Taisho democracy’ was chronologically inaccurate and analytically empty (p.5)
- imperial democracy had two incarnations: it began as a political movement, later it became a system of rule (p.13). As party rule became a routine, many people sought further reform as a means to control worker, poor farmer and intellectual radical movement (p.14). In the 1930s, the parties eclipsed and democratic ideas repudiated, a new regime came into being (p.14).
- the ideology of imperial democracy was that a strong modern nation required the active participation of a prosperous popular. This belief was the glue that held together the diverse issues that had motivated the leaders and drew the crowds: threats of imperialism abroad, lower taxes and economic relief at home etc. (p.50).
- the rice riot in 1918 differed from earlier incidents because of the absence of preliminary agitation by bourgeois political leaders. In 1919, the Yuaikai, renamed Sodomei, began to handle labour disputes. The rice riot propelled Hara Kei into the prime minister’s office and the ascendancy of imperial democracy as a structure of rule (p.108).
- the 1914 riot was the last in which all elements in the chemistry of the crowd reacted together. The next 2 Tokyo disturbances in 1918 was the turning point in two respects: the separation of elements of the crowd, and the transformation of the imperial democracy from a movement into a structure of rule (p.59).
- the formation of the Hara cabinet was a milestone in the transformation of imperial democracy into a structure of rule (p.61).
- Gordon’s objective was to explain labour’s political performance and to assess it significance, not to label it as a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’. To describe the labour offensive of union-building, the disputes and electoral politics was a relatively straightforward task, although historians had not often recognize the extent to which disputes became an integral part of urban culture of Japan in the 1920s (p.203).
- after the 1923 earthquake, the ‘dispute culture’ spread to smaller places. Working men and women began to demand precisely those standards assumed to prevail in large factories (p.218).
- discerning the goals of the men and women who organized the unions and engaged in disputes was difficult because of the expectation imposed  upon rank and file by organizers, and by historians of later generation (p.219).
- Gordon believes that the relationship between labour and social problems, and the ‘big story’ of the ascendancy of the military and fascism in the 1930s had been insufficiently studied and its significance was under-appreciated (p.238). A range of evidence from diaries and memoirs to newspaper etc. suggested that a relationship did exit (p.239). The military men and bureaucrats, among others, truly feared that the social order might collapse. This fear propelled a wide range of new domestic and foreign policy (p.239). It is the thesis of the book.

- the retreat of labour and the leftist had political reasons basically. The crisis of imperial democracy led various ruling groups to make 3 critical initiatives: the army decided to take Manchuria, the Home Ministry retreated from its relatively liberal social policy in the 1920s; the military and bureaucrats promoted the right-wing forces at the grass roots (p.275).

2016年2月6日 星期六

Postwar Japan as History

Recently I have read the following book. A summary is attached.

Book title: Gordon, Andrew ed. 1993. Postwar Japan as History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- one goal of this book was to clarify the varied senses on postwar eras held by people when they defined the boundaries of postwar restrictively or extensively.
- it tries to delineate several contexts for the consideration of postwar history, to seek to place the history of Japan in broader historical, international and comparative context; to identify longer trends that have shaped postwar changes.

Chapters summary:
Ch. 1: It talks about the two systems: 1955 system and the San Francisco system. These two phrases remain suggestive to recreate postwar Japan as history; they reflect a worldviews, looking both outward and inwards. (5) 1955 system was a sequence of political and socioeconomic development in 1955, including the establishment of the LDP. It signified a domestic political structure characterize an internally completive but hegemonic conservative establishment. (4) Peace and democracy in postwar Japan began with the allied occupation, evolved into the San Francisco system. The peace treaty was signed in San Francisco in 1951. The general policy of incorporating Japan into the US cold-war policy was clear. Both had its genesis in the occupation-period reverse course (14).

Ch.2: It shows the interdependence of US and Japan. Their relationship will survive current and future storms only if economic interdependent and strategic dependence continued (61).

Ch.3:  The essay identifies four categories of the past: a. the progressive intellectuals, b. the conservative intellectuals, c. the purveyors of the popular past which included the television, comics, films, newspapers and d. the individual memories (pp.72-76). Gluck concluded that there were at least three sengo: a. the real sengo which was the period of reform and recovery, b. the penumbral sengo of dramatic economic rise, and third c. the sengo, the international postwar which finally end in 1989. (92-94). The myth of a new beginning, itself a radical ahistorical notion, not only prevented seeing the 20th century whole, but also elided the prewar and wartime and perpetuated the notion of a long postwar. 50 years after WWII, it is not a matter of ‘postwar Japan as history’: but postwar Japan is history.

Ch. 6: This chapter was about social contract.  First it focuses on small business (148). It asserts that by comparative standards, it was clear that Japan’s small business effectively gained and maintained a position within the ruling coalition (154). About the organized labour, like the small-business sector, they could claim a number of gains in forcing government and big business to consider the welfare of its members in economic re-structuring (163). In conclusion, the essay revises a prevailing view on the attribute of LDP’s remarkable persistence to ‘creative conservatism”, i.e.  the seemingly unfailing ability of the ruling party, bureaucrats and big business to promote popular polices from above. A revised view was that: to see the small business and labour organization at work. (165). The social contract became a central feature in the Japanese conception of democracy in the postwar era. The public accepted the hegemony of the conservative coalition only as long as it seriously negotiated to accommodate the interest of various social organizations.

Ch. 7: The article argues that at first in Japan there was the consensus that economic recovery and growth were the over-riding national objective, but clashes between the cost and benefits of rapid growth produced a solution that included new regulations for businessman, compensations for damages, and improved social security (169).

Ch. 8: The goal of the chapter was to formulate analytically the transformation that had both standardized and differentiated postwar Japan (192). The thesis of the essay was that the postwar transformation must be traced on 3 levels: 1. Ideological process, 2. Institutional pattern, and 3. the everyday routine of individuals. The essay uses the families to support its argument. The three Itos and the three Kimuras. The book concludes that through their stories, one can find ample evidence of how the ideologies and institutions of the postwar decades had shaped both the convergences and divergence of their life ways. From tenancy to modern mechanized agriculture, from an old middle-class to new middle-class corporate employment (215). Neither elite coercion nor negotiated consensus could characterize the social order of middle and late Showa. Its order was better described as co-optive, complicit, and contested (216). It was interesting to note the introduction of this essay by William Kelly which pointed out that while one the surface was a homogeneous society, there was strong culture, class difference in the society.

Ch. 9. Marilyn Ivy talks about mass culture. The goal of the essay was concerned with tracing a critical genealogy of postwar mass cultural formation (240). Comic provide a point of continuity with prewar form, although large-format comic books were not widespread until after the war. Manga also become a point of critique of mass culture in the 1960s. (248). TV rapidly outstripped the movies as he prime source of entertainment. Throughout the period, Japanese development had paralleled those in the other advanced capitalistic countries. (257)

Ch.11.The goal was to trace the influence of “good wife, wise mother” in postwar state politics and society, in the context of ideological and social changes taking place in the 19th century. It argues that  although overt attempts by the state to dictate womanhood had decreased in intensity since 1945, a vision of women as homebound wives and mother continued to influence state policies toward welfare, education, employment until the late 1980s.(295).

Book's Conclusion:
- Postwar Japan could be divided into 3 periods: first was from 1950-1955 (political confrontation, starvation, socialism) second from mid-1950s to early 1970s (LDP, high economic growth). The third period from early 1970s to 1990s (difficult to characterize, yet internationally there was the uncomfortable American ally; domestically the peace constitution and the emperor system). (449-451)
- this book tries to understand the history of “postwar Japan” as part of a longer process: one observation was the defeat and occupation had not brought a total rupture with the past. Legacy from the 1930s and the war era shaped the postwar political economy, international domestic (452). There were strong links between pre-war, war, and postwar eras embodied in the ‘passage-through’ of the old guards’ that wanted to rearm and revised the constitution. The political thought and organization of this old guard was rooted in the imperial order.
- about US hegemony, the global power of the US had not always shaped Japan’s development in a straightforward or intentional fashion (454). The landscape of postwar history was littered with irony of intended results, e.g. in economic policy due to the oil and yen shocks.
- locating the argument in this book in the context of existing perspective on postwar history was complicated by 3 fact: historian was slow in seeing it as history, postwar history discussion between Japanese and the West constituted two streams, and that the essays in this book did not speak in a uniform voice. They argued that the political or social system was continually reformulated or renegotiated (457).
- the book challenges the attempts to simply equate economic growth in the postwar decades with ‘success’. Taira in chapter 7 criticizes works that identified economic growth with national success. (458)
- the essays in this book stress uncertainty, ambivalence, or surprise that people felt about the ‘outcomes’ seen during the postwar era. Japan’s rise as an economic superpower looked smooth, but many who lived through it experienced it as an astonishing transformation (459). Both the authors of this book and the Japanese lived in this period remain divided in their reading of the ‘balance sheet’ of postwar history (460).

-the notion of Japan as a middle-class society emerged in the wake of the oil shock seemed to threaten social cohesiveness (463).