2016年9月12日 星期一

In the Realm of a Dying Emperor

Recently I have read the following book. Its main points are:

Book title: Norma Field. 1991. In the Realm of a Dying Emperor. NY: Pantheon Books.

Main points:

Part III. In December 7, 1988 during the Nagasaki city assembly, a communist party representative asked the city’s mayor to comment on the registry of imperial well-wishes and the question of the emperor’s war guilt. The 67 years old Motoshima Hitoshi was the mayor. The mayor replied that the Emperor did have the responsibility for the war. Yet he was released from taking such responsibility and became the symbol of the new constitution. (178)

- soon right-wing sound trucks sounded out demands for Motoshima’s death.(179) Meanwhile conservative organizations demanded that the mayor should withdraw his statement.(180) The Rising Sun Society added its denunciation (181). Due to the deafening threats of the extreme right, the mayor and his family had to be placed under 24 hours police protection. (181)

- the newspaper account after Hirohito’s death uniformly portrayed him as a peace-loving constitutional monarch from the beginning, The question of war guilt festered at the heart of ‘self-restrain’. (183)

- the mayor, in the face of calls for retraction, apology and resignation; he surprised the nation not only by standing firm but by elaborating upon his words: I was not saying that the Emperor alone was responsible for the war. There were many who should be responsible, myself included. (184)

- perhaps the most eloquent and certainly the most enduring testimony that support mayor Motoshima’s statement was to be found in the more than 7,300 letters, postcards, and telegrams received by the mayor from the whole country and overseas during a period of 3 months.(189)

- the mayor sought to have them published. The choice fell rather quickly to Komichi Shobo, a Tokyo company with Harada Nao as the company president. In 1945 Harada was confused by the adults who only yesterday had said they were going to die for the emperor and, soon after the war ended, proclaimed themselves believers in democracy. (190)

- the project to publish had received unusual publicity form the start. In April, NHK aired a one-hour documentary in which some of the letters were read and several of their writers interviewed. (192)

- for Harada, the shock of the transformation of the Japan society after 1945 was shared by Yano Toshio, a 61 years old physician. What surprised him more than anything was that the Emperor, who, in military uniform, had declared to us, ‘I am the commander in chief’ who issued the rescripts could transform himself overnight into a suited and hatted figured, attempting to appeal to the people and to the occupation authorities. If that transformation from deity to human were to be allowed, then every evil would be condoned. (193-4)

- another letter was from Mizusawa Makoto who said that when he considered the question of the Emperor’s war guilt, he could not help seeing it not only in the Emperor's acts during the war, but in his words and deeds thereafter as well.(195)

- Norma’s aunt in Nagasaki was a woman of passionate who had never spoken out. (220) Norma's uncle, a hero of her adolescence, had been a left wing youth. (225) Uncle married aunt in 1954. (226)

- 17 years had passed since Norma last visited Nagasaki, but it was not unrecognizably changed. (230)  The beginning of the “Nagasaki citizens’ committee to seek free speech” could be traced to a drinking session the night after mayor Motoshima’s statement was made known. This committee was built on the recognition of a need to do something visible, something public, not to let Motoshima stand alone. (233)

- Norma's aunt and uncle’s reception given to Norma in Nagasaki had exceeded the latter's expectation. When originally Norma wrote to say that she would be visiting Nagasaki because she wanted to meet the mayor and planned to stay at a hotel, her aunt ordered her to report to her house. (237)

- in the interview with the mayor, Norma asked about situating the A-bombs in the context of Japanese aggression. The mayor said that he had been working on that for a while. The bomb had its roots in problems going back to the Meiji era, he meant the problems of Japanese aggression. (254)

Epilogue: Mayor Motoshima’s quest for a renaissance began with the dying emperor, and all but inevitable brought him to the brink of his own death (in deed he was later assassinated but survived). It was a lonely renaissance, spurred by the recognition that he could do very little. The fact of death made daring reflection possible. Surely emperor Showa made his great, unwilling contribution in the form of his slow dying.  Chong Chuwol, a Korean-Japanese women borrowed the words ‘thou needst not die’ from a 1904 poet, twisted them slightly to urge the Emperor to prolong his dying so that he might achieve the humanity denied by this identity either as prewar deity, or as postwar symbol.(272)

2016年9月7日 星期三

In the Realm of a Dying Emperor

Recently I have read the following book. Its main points are:

Book title: Norma Field. 1991. In the Realm of a Dying Emperor. NY: Pantheon Books.

Main points:

Part II. In June 1988 the supreme court of Japan overturned the decision of two lower courts to announce the termination in failure of a legal case regarding a window’s 15 year fight with a Shinto organization that had enshrined her deceased husband. Norma read about this case in the New York Times. (108) The significance of the suit lay beyond the merely legal: it reflected the incommensurateness of judicial capability. (108)

- in consultation with her church minister, Mrs. Nakaya filed a law suit in 1973 against the Yamaguchi prefectural branch of the SDF and the Veteran’s Association for violating the constitutional provision for the separation of religion and state, as well as for violating  her religious rights. (110) The vicissitudes of Japanese Christian could be extended back to the favorable reception in the 16th century accorded to the Jesuit. (115)

-Yamaguchi, the place where Mrs. Nakaya returned to after her husband’s death, was a prefecture on the west side of the island of Honshu. (117) Mr. Urabe, the husband of a close friend of Mrs. Nakaya, was asked to meet Norma at the station. Mrs. Nakaya lived in Yuda at the outskirts of Yamaguchi city. Yuda was an old hot-spring town. (119)

- Urabes and Mrs. Nakaya belonged to different church in the same district; they became acquainted through church activities. (120)

- Japanese interest in reviving the official character of Yasukuni shrine was already apparent by the mid-fifties. In the late 1960s, LDP sponsored a series of legislations that aimed to establish government funding for the shrine. This in turn prompted opposition by progressive and religious groups, including churches in Yamaguchi. (120)

- Mrs. Nakaya’s son Takaharu was a sixth-grader when charges were filed in court against the SDF and the Veteran’s association. That unleashed a barrage of threat and vituperation by mail and by telephone toward Mrs. Nakaya. (134)

- in 1985, the Prime Minster of Japan offered flowers to Yasukuni shrine purchased with public funds and bowed once. This new style of worship was presumably designed to circumvent objections based on Section 3 of Article 20 that was forbidding religious activity.(140) The insistent gesture of cabinet members paying tribute at Yasukuni shrine mighty seem quaint, if not baffling. (140) During such time the presence of courageous minority becomes especially precious.(140)

- people’s rights become invisible without testing. In a society such as Japan where the overwhelming majority believed they were the mainstream, the burden of the minority to struggle for the rights of all was but an unbearably onerous. The minorities did battle for themselves and for majorities. (141)

- Mrs. Nakaya herself was under no coercion to participate in any aspect of her husband’s enshrinement. That portion of his husband’s remains which she took from his (in-law) father’s home was deposited in a memorial vault at her church. This was a distracting point for many. If the widow had access to part of the remains, why should she object if some other part of him were enshrined elsewhere? In fact, enshrinement in Shinto never involves the remains, but only the names of the dead. (141)

What then were the grounds of Mrs. Nakaya’s suit? (141) First, the Yamaguchi prefectural branch of the SDF, by cooperating with the Veteran’s Association in seeking the enshrinement, violated Article 20, section 3 of the Constitution which barred the state from religious activity. (142)

- the elaborate denial of the religious nature of SDF activity had showed a way to read the legal terms of a postwar version in that Shinto was not so much about religion but folk custom. It was important to point out that it was a strategy of dismissing quibbles over the relationship of state and religion. The ‘new form’ of worship demonstrated by PM Nakasone at Yasukuni was an example. The Supreme Court decision was a revealing confirmation of the social and political truisms of contemporary Japan:  don’t be different; don’t waste energy fighting the courts against politics strategies masquerading as common sense; understand that the religion of Japan had its Japanese-ness. (147)

- according to a Shinto priest, Shinto is not really a religion. Therefore discussion about separation of church and state were beside the point. Shinto was something else, perhaps folk custom. The Japanese had long tolerated and adopted multiple religions. (151)

- Nakaya Takafumi continued to be enshrined at the Yamaguchi prefectural Defense-of-the-nation shrine. Mrs. Nakaya said it didn’t bother her anymore. She had come to summarize the trial as protest against the state’s use of her husband’s death.(152)

(to be continued)

2016年9月3日 星期六

In the Realm of a Dying Emperor

Recently I have read the following book. Its main points are:

Book title: Norma Field. 1991. In the Realm of a Dying Emperor. NY: Pantheon Books.

Main points:
Prologue: After her high school education Norma Field left Japan for Los Angeles where her father lived with his Scottish-immigrant mother. It was the first time for Norma to meet her American relatives.(7) In 1988 she reversed track and arrived with a daughter, a son and her husband to live in her Japanese grandmother’s house in Japan for a year. This place was where she was born. (8) During that period, Emperor Hirohito’s dying meant that questions would be asked on how many days should the stock exchange companies, or the banks, or the government offices be closed for ‘self-restrain’ reasons. (21)

- in addition to the national promotions of ‘self-restrain,’ during the Hirohito’s dying period, numerous preparations were made for the day of the unthinkable itself: movie theaters etc. asked about whether they should be closed to the convey mourning. (21)
-journalist, when reporting, were still under the spell of the ‘chrysanthemum taboo’, so called after the 1960s episode of right-wing attacking  writers who were deemed guilty of transgressing the imperial honor.(23)

- the 19th century Emperor system was hardly ancient. The new system snatched the young emperor Meiji from the Kyoto court and transformed him into a monarch in western military costume. The aim was to build an indigenous belief system. (25) The long-repressed question of war guilt had resurfaced during Hirohito’s dying. (25)

- Part I. Norma grew up in the shadow of American military base during the occupation period and the ensuing Pax American. The Olympic village of the 1964 Tokyo Games came from a site called Washington height where the author went to school for 6 years. (36) Her serious introduction to America came with school registration in Washington Height. (37) Her father was then a civilian employee of the US Armed forces. (37) After school Norma was always met by her grandmother, a native woman waiting to lead her to a native house. (37)

- author’s mother was married to her father at the American consulate in Yokohama in 1946. (38) Norma grew up in Tokyo with parents, maternal grandparents, and unmarried aunts. (39)

- in 1988 an Okinawan man was put on trial for having removed and burned a Japanese flag during the national athletic meet of 1987. He published a book to talk about it. (40) Like an unidentified seed fortuitously exposed to optimal condition of germination and growth, bits of information came to light drawing social attention during the ensuing months when people were under the conditions of ‘self-restraint”.(40)

- Norma went to Okinawa about one months after Hirohito’s funeral, in late march 1989. (40) Yomitanson, the village where the flag burner Chinbana Shoichi lived, was approximately one hour’s drive from Naha of Okinawa. (42) Norma visited Chinabana Shoichi, her new friend Toshiko severed as the driver for the trip. (42) They went to the Hanza supermarket, Chinbana Shoichi’s store. (43)

- the visiting group (Norma and Toshiko) exchanged greeting with Mr. Chinbana, the father of Shoichi. The son of Shoichi was also there, and also the wife of Shoichi- Yoko. (44) Shoichi was instantly likable, his burning of the Rising Sun flag at a national athletic event as a deliberate gesture of civil disobedience that had caused a chain of reaction: arrest, detention and trial on the one hand, death threat and village besiegement by right-wing groups on the other. (45)

- Shoichi wrote that he had no intention of being ‘judged’ by the court. Rather, he thought of it as an occasion to ‘pass judgment on the Rising Sun [flag].”(48) Okinawan felt betrayed because mainland soldiers had driven them from their shelters to certain death or killed them with their own hands during the last months of the war, and that Hirohito had chosen to prolong the war. (51)

-Shoichi on October 26, 1987 climbed the flagpole and turned his cigarettes lighter on the Rising Sun. (53) One of the goals of Shoichi and his defense team in court was to remind the nation that the Rising Sun was nowhere documented as the official flag of Japan. Major Yamauchi of the town referred the incident only as a trespassing. Yet the indictment drawn up by the state referred the flag as a national flag. (53)

- it is the memory of Okinawa’s disproportionate suffering in the war - suffering easily forgotten insofar as  they were never known by the rest of Japan in contrast to the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - that complicated the status of the flag in Okinawa.(54)

- the secret of death and suffering of the Okinawan was buried for 38 years. It was broken in 1983 by three man. The most senior of them was Higa Heishin; the second was Shimojima Tetsuro while the third was Chibana Shoichi. (60)

- in Japan not only could the education ministry dictated the use of the flag and the Anthem, but they too screen textbooks for all grades and levels in schools.(62) During the war, being an Okinawan was often a reason sufficient enough to put the civilian themselves  at risk in the hands of Japanese troops.(63)

- the atrocities on civilian perpetrated by the Japanese army and the collective suicide committed by Okinawan civilian were in separable. Ienaga Saburo and his supporters emphasized the former, while the Education ministry dramatized the latter when talking about war memory. (66)

- at present (1991), in Okinawa and in the rest of Japan, to adopt the narrative of Okinawan victimization by the Japanese, and the latter’s victimization by the American had the effect of disregarding the history of Japan’s aggression in Asia. (66) Such disregard had reinforced inattention to the far more subtle repression exercised by insisting on the model of post-war economic success in Japan. Inattention spelled the loss of critical capacity. It was the sensibility to the ways of such inattention overlapping with oblivion of the past that compelled Shoichi to resist the imposition of Rising Sun. (67)

- Okinawa today presented the disheartening yet familiar spectacle of those who had been treated as second-class citizens and who were embracing the values of their oppressor: the marvelous rate of school observance of the Rising Sun flag, the establishment of cram school to produce first-graders who could handle calculus, and the reduction of the many dialects in Okinawa. (72)

(to be continued)