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The Rise and Evolution of Meiji Japan
 9781898823957

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THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

James L.Huffman

Renaissance Books Distinguished Asian Studies Scholars – Collected Writings series. Vol. 2

The Rise and Evolution of Meiji Japan ™

By

James L. Huffman Professor Emeritus, Wittenberg University

THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

First published 2019 by RENAISANCE BOOKS PO Box 219 Folkestone Kent CT20 2WP Renaissance Books is an imprint of Global Books Ltd © James L.Huffman, 2019 ISBN 978-1-898823-94-0 [Hardback] 978-1-898823-95-7 [e-Book] All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue entry for this book is available from the British Library

Set in Garamond 11 on 12 point by Dataworks Printed and bound in England by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wilts

Contents ™

Foreword Introduction

vii xi Part I: Media History

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Managing the News: Fukuchi Gen’ichirō Attempts to Balance Two Worlds 3 Japan’s First Newspaper Law: The Emergence of the Press as an Independent Voice 27 Freedom and the Press in Meiji-Taishō Japan 40 Commercialization and the Changing World of the Mid-Meiji Press 65 The Meiji Roots and Contemporary Practice of the Japanese Press 79 In Retrospect (Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan) 98 Edward Howard House: In the Service of Meiji Japan 109 That ‘Naughty Yankee Boy,’ Edward H. House and Meiji Japan’s Struggle for Equality 128 Edward H. House: Questions of Meaning and Influence 146 Selected Writings of E.H. House: Introduction 161 Introduction (Japanese Episodes) 171 Part II: Society, Culture & Environment

12. The Faces of Meiji 181 13. Looking Both Ways: The Use of Meiji Travel Literature in the Classroom 191 14. Nation v. People: Ashio and Japan’s First Environmental Crisis 202 v

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15. 16. 17. 18.

THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

Introduction (Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan) Poverty in Late Meiji Japan: It Mattered Where You Lived The Idioms of Contemporary Japan XI: Kinmyaku-Jinmyaku Japanese Society in the Twentieth Century

211 240 250 262

Part III: Democracy, Government & Nationalism 19. 20. 21. 22.

Restoration and Revolution Meiji 1–10: Takeoff Time for Modern Japan The Popular Rights Debate: Political or Ideological? Nationalism and the Taming of Japan’s Early Twentieth Century Press 23. Yasukuni Shrine on the Silver Screen: Spirits of the State

275 294 302 309 331

Part IV: Selected Reviews 24. Alistar Swale, The Meiji Restoration: Monarchism, Mass Communication and Conservative Revolution 25. Eiko Siniawer, Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists: The Violent Politics of Modern Japan 26. David L. Howell, Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan 27. Sarah Thal, Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573–1912 28. Alexis Dudden, Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power 29. Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World 30. Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World 31. Marius B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan 32. Joseph Henning, Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations 33. Yoshitake Oka, Five Political Leaders of Modern Japan: Itō Hirobumi, Ōkuma Shigenobu, Hara Takashi, Inukai Tsuyoshi, and Saionji Kimmochi Notes Index

337 343 346 348 356 359 362 364 367 370 375 415

Foreword ™

For Many People in Japanese Studies, Jim Huffman is probably best known as a scholar of Meiji journalism, and deservedly so. The Meiji press and its journalists serve as a thread connecting many of his books, from his 1980 monograph on Fukuchi Gen’ichirō to his most recent book, Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan, which uses media sources to examine the history of urban poverty in Tokyo. I developed a special appreciation for Jim’s work on the Meiji press while grappling with Meiji-era sumo coverage for my dissertation. His groundbreaking 1997 study, Creating a Public proved invaluable in several respects. The thoroughness and clarity of the work were inspiring, all the more so when I realized that the fine-grained research pre-dated the digitization that was making sources so much more accessible for me. As richly detailed as the study was, it was much more than just a survey with encyclopedic coverage. The arguments were straightforward, yet nuanced, and they provided new understandings of the press, the journalists, and perhaps most importantly, the people of Meiji Japan. This focus on the people represents another thread in Jim’s work that has enriched the field. His studies often seek to uncover the stories of the outsiders or the overlooked. A good number of his journalists in Creating a Public are muckrakers of the best sort, stirring up (much deserved) trouble for those in power. Journalist and educator Edward House, the focus of A Yankee in Meiji Japan is an outsider of a different sort. Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan, Jim’s newest book is the culmination of this element of his scholarship. By bringing attention to the lived experiences of the urban poor in Japan, Jim is not only rewriting our understandings of late Meiji society and protest, but also providing a much needed reminder that poverty – past and present – does not make people any less human. These people and their stories matter. As a professor teaching at a liberal arts college, I am particularly pleased to see that this collection includes multiple examples of a vii

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third thread in Jim’s scholarship: his pedagogically-oriented works. Throughout his career, Jim has exemplified the teacher-scholar ideal. In that sense, it is no accident that three of his seven books have been geared towards the classroom. Jim thinks – and often writes – like the excellent teacher he is, and he has been all too aware of the lack of English-language resources for teaching on Japan and East Asia at all levels. His document collection on modern Japan and his involvement with the Japan Society’s K-12 teacher resource collection demonstrate his commitment to addressing these gaps. The inclusion here of several essays from Education About Asia and other teaching-related pieces provides a glimpse into this critically important aspect of Jim’s contribution. It was only as I initiated my own graduate studies of Japanese history that I came to realize how much James Huffman’s reputation extended beyond our small college community at Wittenberg University. Jim was far too humble to assign his own scholarship to his students or to brag about his connections; consequently, many of us students did not fully appreciate his excellence as a scholar during our time on campus. However, throughout my years of postgraduate study, I became accustomed to encountering faculty, graduate students, librarians, editors, and countless others who had worked with Jim or were familiar with his scholarship. A glance at the table of contents for this volume suggests why: he has not only been remarkably prolific throughout his career, but has also published in diverse venues and collaborated on multiple edited projects. He has long been well known and respected in the field. What cannot fully be captured in this list of works is Jim’s broader service to the field. It did not take me long at graduate school to realize that Jim is so well known in part because he often takes it upon himself to help others, especially rising scholars. During my first weeks at Columbia, I was treated to coffee and conversation by one of my sempai, who told me he was paying forward the support and advice he had received from Jim in the past. In addition to the sorts of published reviews included in this collection, Jim has served repeatedly on editorial boards and grant evaluation committees, the kind of behind the scenes, time-consuming, uncompensated labor that keeps the field moving forward, but does not produce personal publications. In recognition of such commitments, Jim received the 2017 AAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies, a well-deserved acknowledgement from his academic peers. While I count myself

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particularly fortunate to have benefited from Jim’s ongoing mentorship for more than 20 years now, I know that I am not alone. The field as a whole is undoubtedly richer for Jim’s active involvement in it. I am delighted to see his efforts and scholarship receiving the attention they truly deserve. Dennis J. Frost Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences, Kalamazoo College, January 2019

Introduction

A Path Unexpected James L. Huffman ™

In The Normal way of things, I would not have become a student of Japan. Reared on a small Indiana farm in the 1950s, I focused as a youth on the things immediately around me: attending church, going to school, grumbling during the hours of hoeing strawberries under the hot sun, feeling abused when Miss Wilma put me under her desk in first grade because I had interrupted her reading group with a question about how to write the letter “a.” Education mattered in my family; when Mother and Dad were not farming they were administering or teaching in local elementary schools. But the news we followed was largely local, and travel meant fishing in northern Wisconsin’s Big Lake Chetak or visiting Grandma and Grandpa Huffman’s Florida home. Except for one or two missionaries who spoke at our Wesleyan Methodist church, East Asia was not part of my consciousness – until a Sunday night when I was perhaps ten, and a visiting preacher invited people to “come to the altar and ask God’s leadership for life.” My response laid the groundwork for this volume, for reasons I today make no effort to understand or explain. Kneeling at the front of the church, I thought I heard a one-word whisper: “Japan.” Nothing more. Only that single word. I regard myself as a rational person, a skeptic about things mystical, and the decades have made me an agnostic about what happened that evening, but that whisper was, in the theology of my childhood, a “call.” From that moment, “Japan” became the subject of school papers and the lens through which I saw the future, even when the original idea of being a missionary faded. As a biographer, I am aware that people’s views change across time, making the identification of an intellectual core a challenge, but I also xi

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know that central threads do exist and that they usually grow out of the subject’s lived experiences. If that is true of the people I have studied, I know it to be true too of my own writing. When I reflect casually on what I have produced, I admit to some confusion, even surprise, about its variety and occasional scatter shot nature. When I look more carefully, however, I am struck by consistent themes that appear and reappear. And I am equally taken by the correlation between what I have written and my milieu. John Donne was right: I am not an island. The things I have articulated across the years have been rooted in the people and institutions with which I have interacted, whether on the farm, in several Tokyo neighborhoods, in front of a classroom, or in the aftershock of career-changing personal episodes. Ferreting out those relationships and the evolving themes is the goal of this essay. A quartet shaped my early years: family, farm, school, and church. Before school each day, I watered and fed turkeys and chickens, and on Friday mornings Dad and I “dressed” (i.e., defeathered) 200 chickens to take to Saturday market. After school, I might pick corn, mend fences, or clean out the chicken waterers. In the summer, it was baling hay, studying the skies, picking melons and tomatoes, going to market four days a week, and occasionally swimming – in my case, splashing around – in a nearby lake. Thanksgiving week, I’d skip school for two days, to help get a thousand turkeys ready for market. Farm work taught discipline but not Japan. At Tyner High School, which had 120 students, I took part in everything except sports: band, choir, drama, vegetable judging, Future Farmers of America. And we all went to church three times a week. We had limited material means, but life was rich in books, ambition, love, and family fun. One of my favorite times was riding in Grandpa’s panel truck to church each Sunday morning, eight or nine of us sitting on crates, discussing vigorously whether God or Moses physically transcribed the Ten Commandments. Things changed only slightly when I left home in 1959 for Marion College, a small Indiana liberal arts school on which Dad was a board member. There, with the “call” still in my mind, I wrote a poorly sourced paper on Japanese literature, edited the campus newspaper, sang on the “varsity” male quartet, and did an independent study of Japanese religions, arguing in a reflection of my environment that the central feature of Japanese religions was a willingness “to change as necessary to promote a nationalistic spirit.” If Christian faith had my soul, however, journalism won my spirit in these years, and weeks after graduation I entered an M.S.J. program at Northwestern University’s

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Medill School of Journalism, where I encountered a world more expansive than anything I had known. The professor who influenced me most was Richard Gray, a thin-faced idealist who talked passionately, if quietly, about the press’s responsibility for providing the information necessary to make democracy work. The gruff, bombastic Curtis MacDougall convinced me that in a democracy government was an extension (not an enemy) of the people. And my major reporting professor did what he could to make my writing dull. It was at Northwestern that I began thinking seriously of journalism as a career, with the result that I headed off in the fall of 1964, newly married to my spiritual and intellectual soulmate Judith Smith, to join the staff of the Minneapolis Tribune, a paper whose editors helped bring my writing back to life. Nothing had more impact on my intellectual development in Minneapolis than observing colleagues who balanced old style, often profane journalism with the most intense commitment to honesty and social justice I ever had seen. Although I loved reporting, Japan remained my “call,” and at the beginning of my second year at the Tribune, I applied for graduate programs in Japanese studies, telling myself a specialty would improve my chances of landing a foreign correspondent’s job in Tokyo. The upshot was that Judith and I headed to Ann Arbor in 1966, where we would spend four years, sandwiched around two years in Tokyo – years that would bring both of us a deep affection for the country that had been introduced to me on that pivotal Sunday evening. The Japan to which we went in 1969 seethed with tensions and transformation. I demonstrated against the Vietnam War (wearing a suit and tie!) in front of the U.S. embassy. My first stroll on the University of Tokyo’s central walkway ended at the charred hull of Yasuda Auditorium, which had been torched by student protesters early that year. The affluence of our Higashi-fushimi neighborhood shocked me. The food, including bean paste (anko) in hamburger buns, charmed me. One day when I was reading a Newsweek account of the My Lai massacre, a young Japanese man tapped me on the shoulder and asked sharply: “What do you think of that?” I told him I was embarrassed. In almost every way, the Higashi-fushimi years (plus a year in Kichijoji as a translator for the Japan Interpreter, following a brief teaching stint at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) were transformative. Our family increased to four, when Kristen, born in an Ogikubo hospital, joined James who had been born in Ann Arbor. We debated “Vietnam” and lost our certainties about America’s superiority. We visited the world

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fair in Osaka, where the sentimental children’s art in the Soviet exhibition undercut Cold War narratives about “brutish” Russians. Salonlike conversations at the home of Asahi Shimbun editorialist Nagai Michio and his energetic wife Michiko fed our intellectual hunger, as did weekly cooking lessons and Japanese-language sessions with our friends the Manabes. Riding the train one day after a conversation with an earnest Buddhist, I wrote in my journal that I no longer thought that people who did not believe in Jesus were damned. What seems obvious, even mundane, to me now felt cataclysmic. Japanese culture and ideas had had an impact on me. By the time our family returned from Kichijoji in 1975 to take up a two-year teaching stint at Indiana Wesleyan University, four themes had become foundational in my life. First, Japan would be my focus, not as a missionary since I no longer wanted to convert anyone, but as the frame of my intellectual pursuits. And within that frame, my concentration would be on the Meiji era (1868–1912), a time when change came even faster than it had for Judith and me in Tokyo. Second, journalism would be my window into Meiji; if I did not practice the reporter’s profession, I would study it. Third, education would be my medium. The kind of education I cherished most was humanistic: broad, multidisciplinary, concerned with meaning and the human spirit; economics and institutional history mattered but they did not excite me the way the more philosophical aspects of the human story did. Fourth, my writing must align with my commitment to social justice, with my conviction that a healthy world cannot exist without equality and fairness. The writings in Section One, which make up half of this volume, concentrate on the first two foundations: the nature of Meiji and the growth of its early newspapers. A 1971 visit to a used bookstore in Tokyo’s Kanda neighborhood captured one of the reasons I fell in love with Japan’s early modern history. The darkish shop was packed so tightly with worm-eaten volumes that I had trouble walking down the aisles. When I asked the owner if he had books by Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, the father of Japan’s modern press, he said he sold only old books. I explained rather smugly that Fukuchi wrote in the 1870s, to which he replied: “I told you, we only have old books.” There it was: an era that seemed long ago to me felt recent to someone immersed in Japan’s past. It was more than its near-past antiquity that drew me to it, however. The Meiji years exuded a complex dynamism that I wanted to understand. As the works in this volume illustrate, the late nineteenth

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century bubbled over with paradoxical themes that were as challenging to the intellect as they were interesting. I wanted to understand how a nation could move in four decades from semi-isolation to world power status. I desired to get at the genius of Japan’s leadership then: men (almost all young when they assumed power) capable of stitching together a land of rival domains and meager resources even while Western imperialist powers threatened them with gunboats, men able to make Japan into a powerful constitutional monarchy within mere decades. A major focus of the writings in this volume is the nation-focused, often cold-blooded pragmatism of this Meiji leadership clique. Some policies were astute, as when they decided to secretly subsidize the American journalist Edward H. House without interfering with what he wrote, expecting that his love of Japan would result in sympathetic coverage and garner favorable treatment by the imperialist powers. Some policies were chillingly devoid of ideology, like those described in the review of Sarah Thal’s Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods, when officials pressured Buddhist temples to turn themselves into Shintō shrines for the sake of national unity. My study of journalism revealed how complex this pragmatism could be: a leadership aware, on the one hand, of the need for lively public discussion and determined, on the other, to suppress writings that might threaten their control. Nothing illustrated the nation-first pragmatism better than Japan’s relentless move onto the international scene. In short order, Japan developed a national army and a produced a brilliant diplomatic corps; its officials encouraged emigration to the mines of Peru and sugar plantations of Hawaii, and the nation launched a colonial empire in the wake of victorious wars with China and Russia. The most interesting facet of this pragmatism, for me, was the different impact it had on diverse peoples. While scholarship has focused on the elites and national “success,” my research has drawn me to those who suffered from the Meiji transformation: Asians oppressed by Japanese imperialism, journalists jailed for speaking freely, miners sickened by copper effluvium, and above all, the slum-dwellers paid puny wages to pull the rickshaws and build the structures that made the Meiji transformation possible. Every era has its own spirit. Meiji’s aura, for me, was often aromatic, sometimes putrid – and always intoxicating. With the encouragement of my graduate school mentor Roger Hackett, himself a student of the Meiji elites, I decided to do a dissertation on the world I had deserted for teaching and went looking

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for those “old” works of pioneer editor Fukuchi. For the next quarter century, most of my writing dealt with Meiji newspapers, with three topics particularly drawing my attention. My fundamental theme was that the press was crucial in shaping modern Japanese society, turning the people into citizens. Fukuchi had called newspapers “the eyes and ears of the world,” the foremost tool for “controlling the fundamental political thought of the public.”1 Whether or not I fully agreed with him early on, by the time I wrote Creating a Public in 1997, I was ready to argue that “no single institution did more to create a modern citizenry than the Meiji newspaper press.”2 One indicator of the press’s influence, I argued, was the way officials kept issuing ever fiercer laws to counter the press’s growing impact on that expanding citizenry. A second theme was the role Western journalism played in Meiji Japan. This theme makes me uncomfortable, because I resist the dreary eagerness of some scholars (and most of my undergraduate students) to talk endlessly about American and European influences in nineteenth century Japan. While I do not deny that Western examples inspired early Japanese forays into journalism, my emphasis is different. Required in 1969, before I could read Japanese, to use primary sources for a college research paper, I happened on House, one of the most interesting, least studied men ever to practice journalism – and, with him, a mother lode of unused documents. Thus began my lifelong love affair with the mercurial Bostonian, a reporter who accompanied the abolitionist John Brown to the scaffold and popularized Mark Twain in the East before launching a career in Tokyo. House demonstrated for me the complicated dance Westerners and Japanese carried out in negotiating Japan’s evolving international role. One of my favorite (and perhaps least known) essays on House, “Questions of Meaning and Influence” (Japan Forum, 2001), discussed both the influence reporters had on attitudes toward Meiji Japan and the difficulty of changing entrenched narratives. The third journalistic theme was the symbiosis between papers and readers. I trod within the mainstream in discussing the press’s role in shaping a citizenry but I wandered from the path when I examined the impact the people, or minshū, had on the press. Even the most patrician editors had to worry about financial bottom lines, which necessitated paying attention to what readers wanted. As a result, newspapers grew increasingly plebeian across the Meiji years, often to the disgust of the elitist founders. When cheap, easy-to-read papers appeared in the 1890s, the old editors sneered that they were coarse; when the new papers’ circulations soared, the ōshinbun (prestige

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papers) began to emulate them, and by the early 1900s, the distinctions between elite and coarse papers had faded. The essays in the other sections of this anthology are more diverse than those in part one, reflecting the third theme of my scholarly life: that inclination toward broad, humanistic approaches that sometimes drove me outside my comfort zone. When Japanese friends bemoaned America’s paucity of public intellectuals in the 1970s and 1980s, I was shaken. While I never became a public intellectual, my instincts led me to direct my teaching and a good deal of my writing toward the undergraduate and the generalist. During thirty years at Wittenberg University, an Ohio liberal arts college, I taught as many as six different courses a year, each with separate content: not just the standard East Asia and Japan surveys but courses on historiography, imperialism, “literature and history in Japan,” nationalism in East (and Southeast) Asia, protest and dissent, the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No teaching energized me more than an interdisciplinary course called Common Learning that forced me to learn about topics wholly outside my domain, including Martha Graham’s approach to dance and Napoleon Chagnon’s misogynistic studies of the Yanomama. After retirement, I taught in the Semester at Sea program about revolution in Namibia, Gandhi’s and Mandela’s views of nonviolence, and imperialism in Morocco, all of them themes that energized me intellectually while making me prepare crazily. Perhaps I never stopped being a journalist. The taste for new things and for communicating broadly pushed me to write rather often on the fringes of my expertise too: a series of newspaper articles to accompany a TV series on Japan, occasional blogs and op ed pieces for local and national papers, an encyclopedia about Japanese nationalism, translations with Judith of several Japanese children’s books, and three textbooks (Japan in World History, Modern Japan: A History in Documents, Japan and Imperialism3). The truth is that I enjoyed this kind of writing. The first foray into it in this collection was the “kinmyaku-jinmyaku” essay in Section Two. Working as a translator at the Japan Interpreter, I shuddered when Editor Kano Tsutomu asked me to put my hand to the journal’s popular “contemporary idioms” feature. I felt insecure about my Japanese (a feeling I’ve never overcome) and inadequate in my grasp of contemporary idioms. Stubborn pride refused to let me say no, however, and by the time I finished, I had experienced the same exhilaration as teaching outside my specialty brings me. I had learned new material, honed my communication skills – and been paid for it!

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The writings here that most directly reflect my commitment to general education are those from the teaching journal Education About Asia. The first of them, in response to Editor Lucien Ellington’s request for something to help teachers understand modern Japan’s social history, made me as nervous as the kinmyaku-jinmyaku piece did. My specialty was Meiji intellectual and institutional history. Would readers discover how little expertise I really had? But the topic was a challenge, and I soon realized that I knew more than I had thought. The same thing happened when I agreed to write something about Japan’s Ashio environmental crisis and the irascible activist Tanaka Shōzō who has become one of my favorite historical figures (though I might not have enjoyed having him, or his lice, in my own life). And Ellington’s request that I do something about travel literature allowed me to explore aspects of Edward House’s life that I had not thought about in writing his biography. To put it succinctly as I can, writing and teaching that focus on central human questions appeal to me even when the material is a stretch. They force me to articulate without jargon; they confront me with fundamental issues; they put humanity at the center. One affirmation of this focus came early in the 1990s when Nagai Michio spent a week at Wittenberg. By now, he had moved beyond the editorialist’s salons into several public roles, including a term as Japan’s education minister. Driving to the airport before he left, I asked what he would focus on if he were to start life over. Barely pausing, he responded, “I would create liberal arts colleges in Japan.” I worry, early in the twenty first century, about the move of higher education away from the humanistic approach Nagai Sensei had in mind, particularly about the capitulation of curriculum builders to careerist pressures and big donors’ demands. My study of the complexity of Meiji disabused me of the idea that liberal education is a panacea. Broadly educated leaders were capable of draconian policies. But it was clear that the most progressive, most democratic Meiji developments sprang from the immersion of many leaders in humanistic studies of the world. Without education of that sort, students will not experience life at its deepest levels; nor will they be equipped to defend society against tyranny. In the mid-1980s, Judith and I had lunch one day at an over-priced French restaurant in Tokyo’s Hiroo district. Typically, we talked first about our children, James and Kristen, both of whom had by then developed their own special relationships with Japan – James on afterschool explorations of Shibuya’s nooks and crannies, Kristen on a

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magical school trip to volcanic Miyake island, among other things. Then we got philosophical. That day’s issue: If someone looked at our public work, what would they know about our personal values? It was an unsettling conversation. I had left evangelical Christianity, but faith still played a key role in my life and I saw the struggle for justice and compassion as life’s central imperative. (So did Judith, who felt strongly enough to make two covert trips to South Korea that year on human rights work.) But would anyone know that from my writing? There was a disconnect between who I thought myself to be and what I wrote. Over the next months, I resolved that my work henceforth would more explicitly take issues of human justice into account. I would not slack off in scholarly rigor or honest analysis, but I would be self-conscious and open about aligning my ideals and my writing. The British historian Edward Hallett Carr said that every good historian has “bees. . . . in his bonnet . . . . If you can detect none, either you are tone deaf or your historian is a dull dog.”4 My bees swarmed around social justice; I owed it to my readers to make that clear. This new consciousness influenced the emphases of Creating a Public, which was already well underway when we had that conversation, and it reignited my enthusiasm for House, a journalist whose passion for fair treatment of Japan (and of underdogs generally) made him odious in the nostrils of imperialist journalists. An immediate result of the Hiroo lunch was a New York Times opinion piece, “Patriotism Descending into Chauvinism,” which called American patriotism “childish and insecure,” as well as “sinister,” sparking the angriest attacks of anything I ever wrote.5 The writing driven most explicitly by the justice focus was Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan, the introduction to which is included in this volume. After Judith died of cancer in 1996, I felt compelled to take up a topic that had engaged both of us: the lives of what the journalist Yokoyama Gennosuke called “people without names,” in particular the slum-dwellers or hinmin of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Studying these people for a dozen years, I found a trove of materials and truths that I had not dreamed existed. The hinmin engaged me, disturbed me, and inspired me. And they taught me new ways of understanding the past, ways so provocative that I wished I had discovered them decades earlier. Across the years, editors occasionally have asked me to relate my material to the present – another move that pushes me beyond my comfort zone. I usually have complied while grumbling beneath my breath, “But I’m writing about the past.” I knew that that these

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requests were fair, however, because, in Carr’s words, history is “an unending dialogue between the present and the past.”6 That being the case, it makes sense to conclude this introduction with a few thoughts about what my study of Meiji says to me about contemporary Japan – a place to which I return at least yearly, a place in which my son now has had a three-decade professional career, a place where I speak Japanese, not English, to my own grandchildren. The first springs from my continuing interest in press freedom as a pillar of democracy. One of history’s ironies is that the press in Japan today is tamer than it was in the late 1800s even though it is legally freer. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the 1947 constitution and despite worrisome moves by recent governments, press freedom is an established norm, in contrast to the earlier era when papers were shut down and editors were fined or jailed for offenses as vague as “disturbing public morals.” Despite those constraints, the Meiji journalists were a lively lot, fighting official policies to the bitter end, in contrast to today’s writers who can at best be called bland. Asked why, I would blame structural and attitudinal changes: the fading of the idea that press and government are necessarily in opposition, the pervasiveness of reporters’ clubs that tie journalists to political benefactors, and the affluence of modern media companies, which undermines journalists’ self-identification as outsiders. The most important thing about the contrast may be its reminder that press freedom depends on something deeper than mere legal systems. My second “thought” is a question: What would Edward House – whose personal papers went up in flames during America’s wartime firebombing – have had to say about his adopted land today? There is little doubt that he would have taken pleasure in Japan’s affluence, as well as its safety and the general health of civic life. Because nothing roused his ire like foreign disrespect of Japan, however, he would have seethed about the essentializing, dismissive way Japan is portrayed today in the international press, when it is noticed at all. He would have found plenty of things to attack within Japan too. His harsh criticisms about the way Meiji men treated women (he called marriage a “long disease” for wives7) likely would not have diminished. If he thought women were not accorded the equality they merited in Meiji society, he would have found the widespread exclusion of women from top positions in business and public life a continuing disgrace. The area where his views are hardest to calculate is Japan’s international role. He despised Western imperialism but supported Japan’s development of a powerful military and wrote sympathetic reports on its efforts in the

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1894–95 Sino-Japanese War. While he would have deplored Japan’s aggression in World War II, he surely would have frowned on the country’s inward turn since the 1990s. He argued in the 1890s that Japan’s diplomats were more adroit than their American counterparts; one suspects he would have found those today too timid and Japan’s quiet response to China’s rise disappointing. A final lesson from Meiji lies in the danger of painting any era with a single stroke. Decades of studying that period showed me that, despite the simple story of progress that often is told, Japan of the late nineteenth century had a thousand faces: some beautiful, some ugly, most true. So it is with all periods: the narrative-creators’ “bright” eras have a darker side, just as their “dark” times actually may be quite vibrant. Doom mongers are right when they groan today about a struggling economy, demographic disaster, and a tone-deaf government, but they miss larger forces that both complicate and brighten the picture. The “broken” economy remains one of the most vital in the world, the Japanese people among the richest. Japan defies “normal” countries by continuing to spend only limited amounts on its military (a fact that some condemn but I admire). The lack of violence arguably makes Japan freer than the United States and Europe, since the standard freedoms of speech, press, and religion are complemented by freedom from personal fear. And while relative poverty has increased in recent decades, even the poorest have access today to education and basic welfare, in contrast to their Meiji counterparts. Moreover, as the second decade of the twenty-first century closes, Japan has defied the inward turns of the United States and Europe by significantly increasing its acceptance of immigrant laborers. Like every other nation, contemporary Japan is complex and flawed. But as in Meiji, it follows a path of its own and continues to be a dynamo, offering lessons in how to sustain political and economic vitality in the face of daunting challenges. A NOTE ABOUT STYLE Japanese names are given in the Japanese order with family name first, except when the Western order has been used by the author of the book or article. Long vowels are marked with a macron, except for common words found in standard Englishlanguage dictionaries (e.g., daimyo) and place names that have become common in English (e.g., Tokyo, Hokkaido). It also bears note that the essays in this volume follow the style of the journal or book in which they originally appeared. Some publishers, for example, Romanize the Japanese word for newspaper as shimbun, others as shinbun. As a result, spelling and punctuation vary slightly from chapter to chapter.

PART I

Media History

Source: Hilary Conroy, et al, eds., Japan in Transition: Thought and Action in the Meiji Era. Toronto: Associated University Press, 1984, pp. 50–72.

1

Managing the News: Fukuchi Gen’ichirō Attempts to Balance Two Worlds ™

It is hardly new to suggest that one of the more distinctive features of Meiji Japan was the highly pragmatic efforts of its leaders to adapt foreign methods and institutions to Japanese society, to balance, as it were, the uniquely Japanese with a number of typically universal features of civilization. Nor was such balancing and adaptation new to Meiji Japan. Similar efforts had occurred at least as far back as the fourth- and fifth-century tomb period, again in Nara and yet again in the days of the Ashikaga. But never before had the determination to balance been carried out with such intensity; never had it been compacted so massively into such a brief period of time. To read the history of these years is to study a constant series of clashes, sometimes dynamic and sometimes disruptive, sometimes conscious and sometimes less so, between the traditional and the modern, the particular and the universal, the Japanese and the Western. It was a struggle experienced in some measure by every single individual who significantly influenced the period’s history. Ōkuma Shigenobu from Hizen, for example, might well have been a strictly Japanese type, given his unwillingness ever to leave his homeland to travel abroad; yet it was this very patriot who in so many ways led the parade of economic Westernization as finance minister in the 1870s.1 Itō Hirobumi, in contrast to Ōkuma, went abroad several times, but on one of his most publicized trips, the 1882 mission to Europe to study Western constitutional systems, his primary aim was to find a means of legitimizing a distinctly Japanese form of 3

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constitutionalism. The very individuals supporting the erection of a social pavilion, the Rokumeikan, for Western-style dances and entertainment in the early 1880s would in those same years help prepare an important set of “Imperial Precepts to Soldiers and Sailors” aimed at reinforcing such traditional values as loyalty and valor. Whether consciously or unconsciously the Meiji leaders always seemed to be struggling to incorporate both the Japanese and the universal into a single new way of national life. Sometimes their efforts were cautious, begrudging, or petty, as when Tokyo newspapers suggested that rickshaw men no longer strip to their loin cloths and that proprietors of bath houses put screens before the entrances, so that the Japanese will “not be laughed at by foreigners.”2 At other times the balancing was more dynamic, a fact emphasized by the way in which traditional codes of loyalty provided the primary reservoir of talent and support required for carrying out the Meiji political and social changes.3 But always the two poles were evident. “Eastern ethics and Western methods” was more than a neat phrase. The ethics employed by Meiji figures may not always have been truly Eastern; nor were the methods wholly Western. But the interaction of the two was unceasing. As one of the figures of the day wrote: “I felt a constant ebb and flow, a constant collision within myself, of both extreme conservatism and extreme progressivism.”4 A particularly fascinating characteristic of this struggle to balance East and West was the evolutionary manner in which it unfolded. At first glance, the Meiji era sometimes seems a cacophony of simultaneously blaring sounds, a continuous clashing of things Japanese, American, Chinese, Russian, British, Egyptian, and what have you. But as a number of scholars have noted, the cacophony was patterned; though each of the divergent sounds was ever-present, the major motif changed from period to period. Thus we find the pre-Meiji years dominated by antiforeignism, the 1870s by faddish and uncritical Westernization, the early 1880s by increasing skepticism about the West and the period from the late 1880s onward by a relatively conscious effort genuinely to balance the two worlds. One of the more illuminating examples of this evolution (and, thus, the focus of this study) is Fukuchi Gen’ichirō (1841–1906), the iconoclastic father of Japan’s modern press and the most influential, popular exponent of many government policies in the 1870s and 1880s. Born in Nagasaki, his family’s first male child in three generations,5 Fukuchi was a man of diverse talents. (No less a figure

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than Iwakura Tomomi called him one of the most versatile, talented men of the age.6) For that reason one might justifiably analyze his life in terms of its contributions to fields as varied as economics, politics, journalism, history, literature, and drama. But taken in its entirety, his career casts perhaps its brightest light on the nationwide struggle to fit the uniqueness of Japanese traditions into the universal frame of reference forced on Japan by encounters with the new world. It is from that perspective that his life will be viewed here. Until the age of twenty, Fukuchi Gen’ichirō’s world view, like the general intellectual mood of the early Meiji some two decades later, amounted in practical terms to a repudiation of Japanese traditions and a feverish, almost intoxicated pursuit of Western ideas and ways. Like most other samurai born before the advent of Perry, Fukuchi’s early education included rote memorization of Confucian classics, drill in calligraphy, and composition of Chinese literary forms. He also was a child of Nagasaki, about the only spot in Japan of the 1840s where a samurai lad might snatch glimpses of the exciting vistas of barbarian learning or, perhaps, even see a few Dutch barbarians themselves on their way to a supervised evening in the town’s entertainment district. After his father decided in 1855 that his son, then age fourteen, should begin studying Dutch, Fukuchi largely rejected the old-world, classical learning in favor of the excitement and promise of the new. He even went so far, temporarily, as to agree to adoption into the household of Namura Hachiemon, his Dutch teacher7 – rather a drastic step for the oldest son in a Tokugawa era family, but nevertheless a striking illustration of Fukuchi’s attitudes toward both the old and the new. At the age of eighteen, Fukuchi carried the break with tradition even further and left his hometown altogether to journey to the Tokugawa capital in Edo, where his ability as a translator seemed more likely to be fully utilized. It was a pivotal move, intellectually as well as physically. No sooner had he arrived there than he began to see the utter incompatability, for himself at least, of Eastern and Western orientations in that city’s bakumatsu society. Since a number of his father’s Edo acquaintances were Confucian scholars, he considered continuing classical studies for a time, more or less as a cushion in case the trend toward Westernization should lose force. However, those same scholars made it clear to the naïve youth that he would be welcome in their circles only if he turned away from Western learning. Faced with that choice, he at once opted to discard Eastern learning instead, to devote all his energies to the study of Dutch and English. The tra-

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THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

ditionalists denounced him, calling him an “alien barbarian,” but he retorted that “not one” of them “was pursuing anything worthwhile.” He would not “waste life by advancing with them.”8 Instead, he went to live with the English interpreter Moriyama Takichirō and within six months had become a bakufu retainer as a foreign office (gaikoku bugyō) interpreter. It was not the choice that most young samurai in Edo of the late 1850s would have made; antiforeign (jōi) zeal charged the city’s atmosphere and involvement with things Western invited ostracism if not bodily harm. Fukuchi’s decision seems to have been based on a specific goal orientation, not unlike that of the leaders of the new Meiji government a decade later.9 He was not anti-Tokugawa and never would be. He was, rather, a young pragmatist convinced that Confucian axioms held no hope for Japan in its confrontation with the modern world. In Nagasaki he had shuddered at the size of Western ships, pondered over the detailed descriptions of world events found in Western newspapers, stirred to the potential of moving Japan in new directions. Now, as a relatively private man unburdened yet by the responsibilities of power, the claims of powerful friends, or the tempering effect of public recognition, he could – and would – pursue his ideals with unquestioned, unhindered zeal. He saw Western methods as essential to national survival and strength. Free of traditional structures, somewhat as the new government would itself be after the demise of the Tokugawa in 1868, he would approach the study of the West with an abandon approaching religious conviction. He read Shakespeare and Gibbon in these years, advocated full-fledged democracy, longed for a chance to travel abroad, and he talked about his ideas without inhibition. The Enlightenment of the early Meiji years has been referred to by Japanese scholars as an “invasion of Western culture.”10 Even so, Fukuchi’s own approach to the West during the late-adolescent years was one of sailing blithely with the storm. The winds, to him, were not threatening, only exhilarating. The all-out pursuit of Western ways and attitudes did not, however, last long. On June 26, 1859, the very day that the first full-fledged Western minister arrived to take up residence in Japan, Fukuchi went to work for the gaikoku bugyō and in the process entered a new stage in his intellectual evolution – the stage of “critical Westernization.” Almost from that very day, one begins to notice a change in his attitudes toward the West, a change barely perceptible at first, then increasingly obvious as the years passed. In this second stage, he became more

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and more sensitive to the uniqueness, or at least the centrality, of Japan itself and determined as time passed that Western offerings would have to be evaluated in terms of their relevance to the achievement of certain goals he harbored for his own country. The Western world would continue to be dominant, almost normative on occasion. He would pursue its knowledge with little-abated vigor, but no longer, from mid-1859 on, would Western ways and attitudes exercise an exclusive hold. He would look at them in the light of how they related to Japan’s own patterns. His thoughts may not have reached the stage of sophistication of Hashimoto Sanai, who declared late in the 1850s that “we shall take the machines and techniques from [the West], but we have our own ethics and morals.”11 Never, after 1860, would he assert uncritical faith in Western ideals. The years from then until 1874 would be typified, for Fukuchi, by a spirit of Western dominance modified by Japanese traditions. Superficially, it may seem paradoxical that the onset of this new stage coincided with the beginning of Fukuchi’s period of greatest contact with the West, the years in which he read most widely, traveled abroad four times, and opened two different foreign-language schools. However, the paradox is more apparent than real, for direct contact with a fantacized ideal almost always stimulates some disillusionment. Hirata Atsutane’s early-nineteenth-century claim, for example, that “people all over the world refer to Japan as the Land of the Gods”12 could only have been made by a man who had never been “all over the world.” Likewise, the early- nineteenth-century writer Kayahara Kazan’s adulation of American philosophy and practice turned to scorn once he had journeyed across the Pacific and encountered racial prejudice.13 Similar attitudinal changes could be cited in the lives of such diverse intellectuals as Tokutomi Sohō, Uemura Masahisa and Nagai Ryūtarō. Ideals tested by reality only seldom maintain all of their original luster. So it was with Fukuchi. Once he had begun encountering tactless Western merchants in the customs house at Yokohama or intractable diplomats in negotiating sessions, never again would he be willing to accept Western ideas or proposals without question. Merchants ranked at the bottom of the Tokugawa social scale and, hence, owed submission and respect to officials; yet, Western businessmen in Yokohama flaunted Japanese traditions with a hearty brashness bom of ignorance and contempt. They refused to learn Dutch, the official commercial language at the time. They proved totally incapable of suppressing outward displays of emotion, whether anger or hilarity; and, worst of

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THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

all, they allowed even their dogs to wander about in areas designed for officials only. “They made us furious,” noted Fukuchi. “They were proud, rude, antagonizing barbarians.”14 Not that such “outrages” sapped much of Fukuchi’s general preoccupation with Western ways and thoughts. Much to the contrary, the West remained central in his life during these years, even if it was now to be scrutinized more carefully. In 1861, for example, he traveled to Europe with the Takenouchi diplomatic mission, immersed himself in such novelties as Western theaters, electricity, politics, and hotels containing “thousands of rooms,” then came home convinced that he would henceforth be consulted “in intimate conversation” by officials of the highest rank.15 Again in 1865, 1871, and 1872–73, he traveled to Europe and America, the last time as a first secretary for the noted Iwakura mission. While abroad, he was always known for the intense zeal with which he pursued new things. Indeed, the major pitfall to his bureai cratic advancement lay in this very fascination with the West, for he loved to talk unreservedly and about all that he knew. After each mission he tended to describe his new encounters to anyone who would listen, not hesitating even to ridicule the “backwardness” of more conservative leaders of the entourages. Unfortunately, he lived in a hierarchical society still dominated in the early 1860s by antiforeign sentiments. It was not an atmosphere in which loquacity made superiors feel comfortable; so Fukuchi often was encouraged to work at home, or even left without work when a diplomatic mission or crisis did not demand his considerable skills. Nor, it should be noted, was the danger implicit in such uninhibited conversation merely a figment of official imaginations. On three separate occasions durmg the 1860s antiforeign zealots planned or attempted attacks on Fukuchi’s life, so obnoxious were his ideas to jōi factions. He was, in other words, obsessed in these years with Western ideas and places. When the bakufu fell in 1868, Fukuchi, ever a loyal defender of the Tokugawa family, though not of its “anachronistic” policies, gave further evidence of this tendency by launching one of Japan’s earliest attempts at a modern-style newspaper,16 the Kōko shimbun, in order to attack the new government. Several years before, in Paris, he had begun to think about developing Western-style journalism in Japan, and with his old work as a bakufu retainer gone, he decided now to fight the Meiji “insurgents” through a newspaper. The paper lasted less than three months, but its influence on Japanese press history was significant as was its dedication to ideas encountered in the West. Like

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European papers, it attempted a style understandable even to “women and children.”17 Like the Parisian press, it attempted to cover all sorts of news; and Fukuchi’s writings bore frequent evidence to the influence of Western political theory. The most influential of his editorials, Kyōjaku ron (“On Strength and Weakness”), published on June 24, 1868, for example, not only reviewed the history of Japanese military campaigns, but advocated such innovations as parliamentary government and world-oriented approach to trade.18 It landed Fukuchi in jail and brought him face to face with possible execution, but it also made him a place in press history and showed clearly the heavy influence of the West on his thoughts. Fukuchi never was to be a systematic, careful student of Western treatises; he followed no particular school; nor did he ever work out a careful, logical approach to Western thought. He read voraciously and the breadth and enthusiasm of his ideas tended to affect readers of the paper with the force of a geyser. Nevertheless, the decade and a half after Fukuchi’s entry into the gaikoku bugyō also bore evidence to a growing skepticism about the total applicability of all Western patterns to Japan. Even while his basic approach remained the same, the tone began undergoing a change. While his pursuit had at first been all-consuming and essentially uncritical, it now became more selective, more specifically directed to the perceived needs of Japan. Two decades later, in the middle 1880s, a great number of Japanese intellectuals, men such as Kuga Katsunan and Tokutomi Sohō would begin to question seriously the “Western craze” of Meiji’s first decade, worrying that “if the culture of one country is so influenced by another that it completely loses its own unique character, that country will surely lose its independent footing.”19 For Fukuchi, one of the most zealous early pioneers of Westernization, the questioning began somewhat earlier. For one thing, Fukuchi’s approach to the West became more pragmatic after entering the Tokugawa bureaucracy. Partially because he now was involved in the actual day-to-day operations of the foreign office, he stopped simply imbibing and began analyzing: How did Western proposals apply to Japan? Which should be accepted, which rejected? It was in this frame of mind that he advocated an immediate switch in the summer of 1859 to English as the language of diplomacy, despite treaty provisions that only Dutch and Japanese would be allowed until 1864. Western merchants could not use Dutch, he observed, so “stubborn insistence on the treaty would create clear problems for both sides.”20 Even while siding with Westerners on that issue, he would mark a

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personal departure the same month by arguing against them on the question of where the “Kanagawa treaty port” should be located. The first commercial treaty had called for a port at Kanagawa; but Japanese officials decided instead to open it that summer at a small community several miles away known as Yokohama; and when American and British ministers arrived, they were faced with a fait accompli. Marsh land had been filled, wharves built, merchant shops opened, and an entire new community constructed. Though the foreign diplomats protested vigorously, fearing that the new port site, isolated as it was from major throughfares, would allow the Japanese to maintain too close a watch on foreign development, the gaikoku bugyō persisted; and within a year the issue had died a natural death, thanks to the unwillingness of the practical-minded Western merchants to join their diplomatic representatives in quibbling over the matter of location. They simply moved in force to Yokohama, and the diplomats found themselves arguing a moot point. Fukuchi, though not directly involved in decision making, pronounced himself fully sympathetic with Japan’s position. He admitted that the primary reason for the choice of Yokohama was political, just as the foreigners suspected. At the same time he feared “much trouble in foreign intercourse” if trade were not carefully controlled and, thus, pledged support to the policies of Foreign Commissioner Mizuno Tadanori, the man responsible for the selection of Yokohama.21 One reason for this stance undoubtedly lay in the fact that Mizuno was Fukuchi’s chief mentor. However, that does not alter the fact that with the Yokohama issue Fukuchi’s support for the West had entered a new and more pragmatic stage. A second facet of this changing stance was a new impatience with specific Western practices and individuals. Increasingly, he began separating men and their actions from the general body of Western thought, even though the men and practices did not always fare well in the separation. His contempt for American and European merchants already has been cited. He was equally perturbed by the Western exploitation of Japan’s gold reserves and the resultant “gold drain” of 1859. His descriptions of the Western diplomats, though generally charitable, were realistic to the point of occasional sarcasm. Duchesne de Bellecourt of France, for example, was a “nobleman who loved dignity ... an unsteady person whose feelings fluctuated wildly between joy and rage.” Rutherford B. Alcock of Great Britain had “planned to use a policy of bluff and menace toward Japan when he first arrived but had gradually become more conciliatory,”22 and Minister Polsbroek of

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the Netherlands “knew Japan’s situation well but. . . always followed a threatening policy in collusion with Great Britian and France.”23 Indeed, it was partially to seek redress against what he saw as the highhandedness and unfairness of these diplomats that Fukuchi went to Europe with the Shibata Gōchū mission in 1865. Though ostensibly planning to assist mission leaders in laying the groundwork for a naval yard at Yokosuka, his real motive seems to have been the study of international law. His reasons are best described in his own words: “I intended to study international law so that on my return I could devise some eloquent and superior theses that would confound the foreign ambassadors. ... I hoped to crush the arrogance of the foreigners, to rob them of their cocky self-assurance and cool them off.”24 It was a vain hope because his French was not adequate to the detailed pursuit of international law, but the rather poignant statement of goals illustrates a marked change in the perspective from which he had come to evaluate Western ways. Perhaps the most noticeable and, in the long range, most significant aspect of this new, more critical pursuit was Fukuchi’s growing identification with Japan and its own traditions during the late 1860s and early 1870s. Until then, Fukuchi’s writings showed little awareness of Japan as a country with unique and viable traditions of its own. Even as an official, he fought for its causes but showed little concern with the idea of “Japaneseness” or “particularistic traditions” that would later occupy his attention. As he passed his middle twenties, however, he changed and discussions regarding the maintenance of national traditions began increasingly to rise to the level of consciousness in his thought. This was a significant development; for while the disillusionment with certain aspects of Western culture was almost bound to occur as he fought diplomatic battles, it was the concomitant reassertion of concern for Japanese traditions that would, in the end, most fully undergird and shape Fukuchi’s mature efforts to balance the East and the West, the particular and the universal. It seems clear that the man who most stimulated Fukuchi’s growing concern with “Japan and Japaneseness” in the 1860s was his gaikoku bugyō mentor, Mizuno. As foreign commissioner at Kanagawa when Fukuchi entered the bureaucracy, and later as an influential man of affairs in Edo, Mizuno became somewhat of an idol to Fukuchi. It was he who had provided lodging during Fukuchi’s first days in Edo and who brought Fukuchi into the government. It was Mizuno who, above all others, tutored him in the arts of diplomacy and politics, spending endless off-hours

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THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

discussing the intricacies of bakumatsu officialdom. Though Mizuno was a thoroughgoing pragmatist, a man who believed wholeheartedly in cooperating with the West since that seemed the only viable option at the time, he also was a genuine traditionalist in the more enlightened, historically rich sense of that word. As Fukuchi described him, “though he advocated the abolition of the bakufu system and called for reforms, his nature was one of despising radicalism and rejoicing in gradualism, honoring order. . . . He was rich in conservative coloration.”25 Long hours with Mizuno made Fukuchi into a man proud of being a Japanese by the summer of 1868. Thus, at Kōko shimbun, he based his most bitter denunciations of the new Meiji government not on the idea of “imperial restoration” nor on a “modern” view of politics, but on a reading of Japanese history that pictured the Satsuma-Chōshū forces as usurpers out of step with traditional challengers to power and thus predestined to failure.26 My philosophy, he said of his Kōko shimbun efforts, “included not a particle of objection to revering the emperor, nor was I opposed to a restoration of government to the emperor by the shogun. It was simply that power had in fact been returned not to the court but to Satsuma and Chōshū.”27 This rising concern for traditional patterns set precedents in Fukuchi’s thinking. Resentment over the Tokugawa overthrow may have caused him to devise anti-Satchō theories of this nature, but it was not a temporary line of reasoning. Concern with national traditions grew increasingly important in his thought, heralding more difficult times for him philosophically, a period when he could not ignore the West; its influence was becoming too pervasive for that. With the growth of a new conviction about Japan’s own cultural validity and undeniability, Fukuchi was forced into the tortuous process of actually balancing the two worlds. As long as Western thought had seemed normative or even dominant, the two had lived, for Fukuchi, in easy co-existence: the West teaching, the East learning and adapting. Once sensitivity to Japan’s own past pushed the homeland to a position approaching equality, it became necessary for Fukuchi to make both worlds “fit” into a balanced framework, an agonizing process. Change in that direction had become clearly perceptible by 1873, when the thirty-one-year-old interpreter began growing weary of the long travels of the Iwakura embassy. It was his fourth trip to the West, his second as an official in the Meiji government,28 and it had to be counted among the highlights of his life. Unlike former trips, when his zeal always amazed colleagues, the travels this time gradually lost their

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luster, so much so that he was dispatched home ahead of the rest of the embassy in the spring of that year.29 Just over a year later, in mid-1874, he left the official world to become editor of the newspaper Tokyo nichi nichi, a post that would not only earn him a reputation as Japan’s foremost journalist but allow him to give full expression to the third stage in the evolution of his inner struggle with universality and particularism. The years at Nichi nichi (1874–88) would see the maturation of his conscious, even if sometimes tortured, efforts to balance East and West in his own mind. A decade and a half later, near the end of the first Sino-Japanese war, an editorialist for the magazine Kokumin no tomo described his own generation’s awakening conviction that the Japanese must “believe in themselves” with the comment: “If someone stood on London Bridge and shouted that England’s independence was in danger, . . . how would Englishmen treat him? . . . No one would take him seriously, because the English have complete confidence in their country’s independence. The reason the English are a great nation is not only that they are a great people, but that they believe they are a great people.”30 Yet, already in 1875, Fukuchi had reached a similar evaluation, asserting that Japan possessed intrinsic superiority over England because its emperor had “voluntarily” agreed to set the nation upon the path of popular rights while Englishmen earlier had found it necessary to wrest similar concessions from their monarch by force.31 Fukuchi, the writer, constantly would urge colleagues to “Know Japan.” During his early years, Japanese ways had often embarrassed Fukuchi. Required by Shibata to wear Japanese kimono during the trip to France in 1865, Fukuchi had “secretly felt stubborn” and ridiculed Shibata’s insensitivity to Western customs32; yet, by the time he had gained full stature at Nichi nichi he would reverse himself, defending his leader’s rules as “sensible” and commenting that a nation’s “manners should not be changed without good reason.” It was an evolution that evinced both a growing maturity and an awakening sense of confidence in his own homeland, a country he had once looked down on. Fukuchi’s Nichi nichi years were his best, years in which perceptive editorials and myriad public activities influenced nearly every aspect of Japan’s political and economic development. In those years, both his public activities and newspaper writings gave constant evidence of a searching, spirited desire to blend alien ways still seen as necessary for modernization into a domestic tradition newly rediscovered as essential for national strength and order.

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This balancing – sometimes evidencing itself more precisely as ambivalence – revealed itself at first in a host of peripheral facets of Fukuchi’s personal life-style. His attitudes toward friends, for example, illustrated it: while, on the one hand, he often and bitterly castigated government officials for showing favoritism or falling short of objectivity in making appointments,33 at the same time he ever remained incapable of acting himself with cool-headed or objective calculation toward fellow human beings or even of countenancing acquaintances who did so. He was accused of being “feudal” in his insistence on maintaining and rewarding personal loyalties. Itō Hirobumi once told him in this regard: “If you would just quit acting so much like a loyal retainer, Fukuchi, you might be named to a post like foreign minister!”34 The Nichi nichi editor’s daily habits also highlighted this ambiguity, perhaps, in even more colorful fashion. He was known primarily as a Westernizer, the champion of Westem-style editorials and news reporting, the proponent of Western-style banking of stock exchanges, and the advocate of selective adaptation of Western habits. He began wearing Western haircuts very early; and a famous woodblock print shows him in Kyushu in 1873, war correspondent’s notebook in hand, nattily outfitted in a plaid suit, black boots, trench coat, and wide-brimmed hat. With a walking cane under his arm, he was very much the Western dandy. Yet Fukuchi was equally well known for preferring Japanese customs and manners in numerous areas of his private life. He owned no fewer than thirty-five, fine-patterned kimonos, which he wore almost nightly to Yoshiwara tea houses; he detested Westem-style homes; he spent lavishly to have a custom-made tea house constructed at his Ike no Hata residence.35 It was not a difficult blend. After all, twentieth- century men do not find it difficult to integrate Italian pizza, Nehru jackets, Japanese rock gardens, and “Southern style” chicken into a single life pattern. As a symbol, however, the contrasts were significant. On a deeper, more substantial level, the same contrasting traditions again and again shaped or contorted the nature of Fukuchi’s public contributions. One observes the contrast especially in his manner of editing Nichi nichi. When scholars speak of him as the “father of Japan’s modern press,” they refer primarily to his introduction of Western concepts. He was one of the first influential Japanese, for example, to see the press’s potential as a shaper of public opinion and government policies. Early in the 1870s, most Meiji intellectuals and officials still regarded the press simply as a diversion, a form of entertainment hardly worthy of sustained attention from men of influence; indeed,

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when Fukuchi announced his intention to enter Nichi nichi in 1874, official friends remonstrated that he was throwing his life away, foolishly plunging from a plateau of power to a canyon of obscurity. But he persisted, commenting that, short of being a cabinet minister, he could see no better way to “see my ideas realized in society.”36 “Newspapers,” he wrote a year later, “are the eyes and ears of the world, the movers of mankind.”37 His views proved perceptive; by the end of the decade nearly all Meiji leaders had come around to a similar position, partially at least as a result of Fukuchi’s influence at Nichi nichi. Fukuchi also proved himself modern in tendency, at least, in his attitudes toward the place of news in a newspaper. Here again, he innovated by insisting that news reporting was itself a valid function of self- respecting journalists. Through the 1870s, all of Japan’s newspapers followed the practice of hiring two kinds of staffers, kisha, or “writers” who composed highly literate, polished prose, and tambōsha, or illiterate “gatherers of news items,” whose labors provided the details for the kisha’s words. The despised, often poorly motivated tambōsha committed frequent errors and resultant stories tended often to be more elegant than reliable. News, as a consequence, was relegated to a secondary role by the editors of Tokyo’s major papers and given a position far below that of the political editorials that came to wield such influence after 1875. Fukuchi, on the other hand, led the way in illustrating the fact that objective reporting was indeed a valid function of the respectable press.38 Unlike most editors, he insisted that news be accurate, he sought scoops, and he made kisha themselves go into the streets and government offices seeking news. In fact, he himself went to Kyushu in 1877 to cover the Satsuma Rebellion, thus becoming one of the country’s first “war correspondents” and thoroughly scooping all of Japan’s other newspapers in the process. Further, he led the way in instituting such other informational devices as the hiring of foreign correspondents and the publication of book reviews and medical news.39 Space prohibits consideration of his numerous other Western-style contributions at Nichi nichi, such as the introduction of daily editorial columns, the unification of management procedures, the articulation of innovative theories of journalistic independence, and the attempt to write for all classes of people. However, the Western orientation of Fukuchi’s journalistic philosophy was all-pervasive and thoroughly influential in Japan of the 1870s and 1880s. Yet, non-Western, traditional Japanese customs constantly modified or impinged on these Western-inspired innovations. Fukuchi provided

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a new awareness of the press’s social, informational, and political potential; but his own interpretation of that potential retained traditional elements that prevented him from keeping abreast of further innovations introduced by others in the middle 1880s, thus, causing a distinct decline in his journalistic career at that time. When he entered Nichi nichi, Japan’s newspaper world was divided into two camps, daishimbun, or “major papers,” which dealt mainly with political issues, and koshimbun, or “minor papers,” generally viewed as scandal sheets because they printed so much of a sensational or erotic nature. The persistence of Tokugawa moral and social norms demanded that “respectable” papers avoid even the appearance of being influenced by the koshimbun, and Fukuchi remained “respectable” to the end. Even in the 1880s, when the koshimbun began to contribute new ideas to the established press, stimulating new practices such as serializing novels, diversifying the types of news covered, branching out into entertainment news, Fukuchi attacked most of the innovations as “uncultured,.” He refused even to consider the idea of serializing novels,40 sneering contemptuously at those well-known journalists who indulged in “the gossip of low class housewives, the crudities of quarreling students.” He added: “I always insisted on the high-level conversation of the bushi class.”41 His view of news reporting, though innovative, showed the pull of tradition in much the same way. Though he made kisha themselves go out and gather news, he nevertheless continued to employ tambōsha for lesser newsgathering jobs, thus insuring the continuation of office class distinctions. He also maintained Tokugawa-nurtured views regarding the kinds of news proper in a paper. Sensational stories about sex or love suicides were as much taboo as the publication of novels. Seeing his paper first of all as a political instrument, he never transcended the tendency to subordinate the news column to editorial opinion. This was a reflection, one might argue, of the fact that he was reared in a country and era where public service was defined not in terms of aiding society, but of assisting the bureaucracy or government. If service were defined in terms of institutions rather than people, it followed that political opinion must take precedence over mere “news,” which might be interesting but was not essential to the success of the government.42 Thus it was that Fukuchi’s Nichi nichi devoted most of the first page and often part of the second to editorials. Even when public interest in politics waned sharply after 1883 and a new breed of journalists, men such as Fukuzawa Yukichi at Jiji shimpō and Murayama Ryōhei at

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Osaka asahi shimbun, began developing successful nonpartisan, newsoriented papers, Fukuchi refused to change. Locked into traditional Japanese values regarding property and standards of public service, he was unable to alter direction. Nichi nichi’s political focus continued; its approach to news, innovative for the 1870s, fell behind the times; and as a result, the paper’s circulation declined so drastically that in 1888 Fukuchi was forced out of the newspaper world, a bitter and disappointed man. Politics, a second pivot of Fukuchi’s best years, also illustrated this constant pull between West and East, perhaps with even greater clarity. If Nichi nichi served Fukuchi partly as a medium for political expression, it also gave him a platform from which to plunge directly and actively into the political maelstrom itself. He served, for example, as a secretary in the government’s first Conference of Local Officials (Chihōkan kaigi) in 1875, presided over Tokyo’s first prefectural assembly (fukai), and organized the Rikken Teiseitō, Japan’s first conservative political party, in 1882. In each of these arenas, the blend of traditional and modern elements lurked constantly beneath the surface, often breaking through in either dynamic or turbulent forms. His service in the prefectural assembly illustrates this fact particularly well. Organized by the central government in 1878 as a cautious step toward some sort of nationwide representative government, the first assembly included a number of Tokyo’s most illustrious citizens, men such as Fukuzawa Yukichi and the industrialist Ōkura Kihachirō, with Fukuchi serving as president from 1879 to 1884. The assembly was, in Fukuchi’s mind, a distinct move in the direction of administrative modernization, a major turning point on the road toward constitutional government. As a proponent of both, Fukuchi remained for a decade one of the body’s most wholehearted supporters. Yet, if the assembly represented a step toward democracy, it was a most timid, one might say distinctly Meiji kind of step. The local governor, a central-government appointee, decided what the body would discuss and retained veto power over its decisions; its main business was to consult on “the means of raising the local taxes” and on ways to spend tax revenues43 and it met for only thirty days a year. A Westerner might have concluded that this was hardly a genuine step toward representative government. Yet the timidity of the approach did not seem to concern Fukuchi; on the contrary, he approved of it. As an advocate of modernization and national strength, he supported representative and constitutional forms; yet as a child of the Tokugawa era’s bureaucratism and hierarchical structures,

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he never seems to have envisioned thoroughgoing, participatory, or direct democracy. The fukai instituted a new and Western form, yet maintained the essence of Japan’s traditional hierarchical centralization. It was, for him, a most satisfactory blend. An important question raised by such a mixture of Western and Japanese forms is whether the blending was conscious or simply the result of an inability fully to understand Western concepts, whether Fukuchi actually intended for Japan to adapt Western ways in nonWestern fashions or just lost his receptivity to innovation with the advance of years. Obviously, various factors were involved. But it would seem, on balance, that the preponderant numbers of balancing acts were carried out consciously by a man quite aware, indeed acutely aware, of what was traditionally Japanese and what was being either borrowed or adapted from foreign cultures. The best evidence of this fact – and perhaps the most deeply significant area in which this struggle shows up – lies in his writings themselves. Fortunately, there are many available, since Fukuchi wrote over 3,000 editorials at Nichi nichi between 1874 and 1888 in addition to a host of other articles and books. For the purposes of this essay, it should be sufficient to glance at three of the products of his brush: the first, an editorial campaign during the nationwide popular-rights debate in the middle 1870s; the second, a series of editorials written during the general discussion of constitutionalism early in the 1880s; and the third, an important imperial document promulgated in 1882. As noted earlier, Fukuchi’s attitude toward Western knowledge was just moving into a balancing stage when he assumed the Nichi nichi editorship late in 1874. His first editorial battle, fought over the issue of popular sovereignty, makes that fact amply clear. Although his concern with Japanese traditions had obviously not yet matured, those traditions seem nevertheless to have taken on increasing importance as the debate progressed. Likewise Western models, though far more important for Fukuchi than they would be a decade later, showed a diminishing hold on his thought. The popular-sovereignty debate was sparked partly by a memorial to the throne by Itagaki Taisuke and his followers early in 1874 calling for the immediate opening of a popular assembly. Throughout 1874 and 1875, most of Tokyo’s press became involved in an intellectual war over the advantages and disadvantages of that proposal, with most writers favoring immediate steps toward a parliamentary system and Fukuchi leading the opposition. Labeling his position “gradualism”

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(zenshinshugi), Fukuchi argued that the national transformation since 1868 had perhaps been too rapid and should, as a result, be curbed lest further acceleration endanger either tradition or tranquility. His basic policy, outlined in over three dozen editorials late in 1874 and throughout 1875, was rather correctly regarded by opponents as a popular justification and rationalization of the existing government’s policies, particularly of the ideas of his close ally, Kido Kōin. He agreed with popular rightists’ demands for representative government: to meet these would be to fulfill the recognized responsibility of “redeeming the basic natural rights of all the people.”44 However, he felt that steps in that direction should be deliberate, that prior to the opening of a national parliament, people should be trained to manage their own affairs through the creation of local and then prefectural assemblies. Undue rapidity, he asserted, would be a vice. “The farmers, artisans and merchants have lived under oppression for many years. ... To hurriedly establish a national assembly for such people, weak as they are in the spirit of self government, would not be advantageous.”45 He maintained, moreover, that “popular” government should be defined more broadly than Itagaki and his supporters were wont to interpret it. While the “popular-rights” camp would have included only the old Tokugawa elite (shizoku and kazoku), Fukuchi proposed suffrage for the nation’s thirty-two million commoners (heimin) as well. The latter was a policy, he maintained, designed to modernize without endangering “national tranquility.” To his opponents, Fukuchi’s arguments seemed a neat rationale devised primarily to consolidate the power of the existing regime, a charge heatedly and rather effectively denied by Fukuchi himself.46 But the key concern here must be with the method and rationale that undergirded his arguments and the way they illustrated his growing concern with both Western and Japanese ideas. That he was still concerned with a kind of progress acceptable by Western standards seemed clear in every editorial. He used Western examples as proof that “no country which follows radical policies can maintain national tranquility forever.”47 His defense of broad suffrage and parliamentary assemblies grew from ideas encountered on trips abroad, and he sought Western sources whose ideas would buttress his position. Yet the debate bore evidence of deep concern about Japan’s own traditions, a concern far greater in quantity and depth than evidenced in any of his earlier works. He wrote with special force about “national tranquility,” a major shift from a few years earlier when he had argued with Itō in an

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American hotel that Japan must democratize regardless of the cost. He worried that overly rapid change would violate the essential “Japaneseness” of Japan, a concern that foreshadowed later Nichi nichi writings.48 He talked in new and proud ways, some of them already noted, about the superior benevolence inherent in Japan’s unique brand of imperial rule. This editorial crusade, in short, marked an important personal departure. Western philosophy might have much to offer, but no longer would Fukuchi view the countries from which Occidental ideas sprang as necessarily superior. Rather, he increasingly would attempt to graft specific aspects of Western thought onto a Japanese tradition and culture ever more openly evaluated as being superior. This tendency seemed to grow apace during each succeeding year at Nichi nichi; and by the time Fukuchi’s influence had reached its zenith in the early 1880s, it seemed that two powerful, nearly equal rivers had come to rush along almost side by side in his thought. His dedication to incorporating facets of Western law, government, economics, and culture really never waned. At the same time, the assertion and reassertion of Japan’s own traditions had become uppermost. Two projects in which he was involved almost simultaneously during 1880 and 1881 illustrate this fact with particular force. First was the editorial series on constitutional government.49 Early in 1881, Japan’s leading newspapers became involved in a heated debate over a whole range of questions related to sovereignty and constitutionalism, with Fukuchi’s major contribution coming during March and April in a fourteen-part draft (with commentary) on the kind of constitution he felt Japan needed. Though adamant in its emotional insistence on imperial sovereignty, most other features of the draft reflected relatively liberal elements of Western political thought. The articles insisted, for example, on popular rights, comparatively broad suffrage, a free and independent judiciary, limited civil liberties, and the creation of an executive responsible to the legislature. It became clear, indeed, on reading the editorials that Fukuchi’s commitment to Western political theory was more than a kind of window dressing intended simply to secure respectability among Western powers. His constitution, had it been enacted, would quite likely have assured the spread of genuine parliamentary democracy (though it is unclear whether Fukuchi himself foresaw it as going quite that far). Yet, as was apparent in his concomitant, if seemingly paradoxical, defense of the idea of imperial sovereignty, another side also had grown large in Fukuchi’s thought, a side vividly illustrated by his role that

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same year in helping draft the Imperial Precepts to Soldiers and Sailors (Gunjin chokuyü), a document often credited with helping propel Meiji Japan down the road to resurgent nationalism.50 The rescript, prepared at the urging of Yamagata Aritomo, was a call for military men to recognize the absolute and eternal supremacy of the emperor and to practice the five basic precepts of loyalty, propriety, valor, righteousness, and simplicity. Though directed ostensibly at the military, it was in truth a document designed to arouse national sentiments generally in the direction of expressing vigorous support for an imperial institution divine and inviolate from ages eternal. It was Fukuchi’s brush that gave the document a polished literary, strongly pro-imperial tone replete with images of national superiority and Japanese uniqueness.51 Drafting such a document during the very year that he had called for a constitution guaranteeing a strong legislature and relatively broad suffrage would seem, on the surface, a paradox; and in some ways it was. The imperial sovereignty envisioned by Fukuchi sprang from a uniquely Japanese tradition conducive to autocratic or oligarchic rule, while ideas of strong legislatures and independent judiciaries rested on Western concepts of popular control. These two strands, it would seem, could hardly coexist in harmony. Thus some have wondered whether men such as Fukuchi could have been sincere in supporting both. The answer to the paradox seems to lie, however, in Fukuchi’s view of the nature of the imperial institution, a view that represented the final stage in his efforts at balancing East and West. He had, by 1881, become fully and unequivocally convinced of the supremacy of Japan’s own culture and of the essential role the imperial institution had always played in that culture. This conviction did not entail a concomitant rejection of Western theory. Rather, for him, the two traditions could be brought together by the particularistic, unique nature of Japan’s own emperor. He wrote that Japan’s imperial sovereignty differed from that of European nations. There, in the world of the Caesars, the Henrys, and the Napoleons, emperors often had been tyrants; but Japan’s experience had been different. Here, in the land of Jimmu, Kammu, and Meiji, imperial rule had always been benevolent, truly divine in nature. How could a genuinely benevolent ruler abrogate, indeed even threaten, the best interests of his beloved subjects? The answer, to Fukuchi, was simple: he could not. In the benevolence of the emperor lay the needed balance, the cement supporting the bridge between Japanese uniqueness and Western universalism. To argue otherwise, he asserted, would be to violate Japanese history.52

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By the time Fukuchi resigned from Nichi nichi in 1888, bitter and disillusioned over reverses in both his journalistic and political careers, his philosophical evolution had reached a point of completion where the sense of Japanese uniqueness had come to overshadow faintly, but never to obscure, the belief in Western-oriented reforms. It was not an easy coexistence. Logic all too often had to be twisted, stretched, or even ignored in the acts of balancing and bridging. False premises sometimes overlooked historical fact. Fukuchi always, like so many others in the world of Meiji thought, did find it necessary to make the balancing effort. All of which leads to a final question: why was such a balance so important to him? It is not, of course, a new question. Scholars have approached the “universal- particular,” “EastWest,” “modern-traditional” problem from diverse and varied angles.53 However, Fukuchi’s case does seem to suggest a few hypotheses worth noting. First, there is the view that the evolution simply evidenced an opportunistic personality. As Fukuchi grew older and identified more fully with the establishment, his opponents often charged, he became less interested in reform, more concerned with preservation. Since he had been an early friend of men such as Kido Kōin, Yamagata Aritomo, and Itō Hirobumi, competitors sometimes saw him as a pawn or lackey seeking historical justifications for the oligarchy’s increasingly autocratic form of rule.54 Such an argument, though not totally without substance, seems, however, entirely too simplistic. Even though Fukuchi did support most government policies during the bulk of his journalistic career, his concerns as often foreshadowed official views as followed them. Moreover, his support of the balanced “popular rightsimperial sovereignty” position held solid to the end of life, even after he had broken completely with the government. The opportunistic theory fails totally to account for the blending in so many other areas – personal habits, theories of the press, business practices, and the like. Other reasons must be sought. More to the point is the evolutionary nature of events themselves and the psychological need to account and compensate. Given the pragmatic, ambitious nature of Fukuchi’s father, Fukuchi’s blind zeal in pursuit of things Western as a youth should hardly come as a surprise. Living in Nagasaki and translating Dutch in the early 1850s was an overwhelming experience, not unlike that of the bright Midwestern farm youth entering the cosmopolitan world of the state university. Confronted by vast and tantalizing new experiences and ideas, he soon

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rejects the staid conservatism of home and starts almost drunkenly to chase after each new school of thought or strand of experience. Unlike China, where Western knowledge had seeped in gradually across the centuries, it came to Fukuchi’s Japan with the suddenness of the farm youth’s transfer to the university. Fukuchi’s reaction was not unnatural. Unlike the farm lad, Fukuchi stayed home and the new world came to him. While the new ideas continued to challenge him, the surrounding environment and its native traditions also remained ever-present, constantly reminding him of the world of his forebears. Thus it should seem not at all unusual that in time, as the novelty of Western ways wore off, he would begin to evaluate Western offerings more in the light of traditional values. His earliest teachings, after all, had included the nationalistic concepts of Rai Sanyō; his early employment had been under the deep-rooted traditionalist, Mizuno Tadanori. Thus, as time revealed the fallibility of Western thought, the inapplicability of many of its strands, and the arrogant imperialism of many Westerners themselves, traditional values began to look much better by contrast. Had Fukuchi spent his adult years away in Europe, these early, national traditions might have been washed away by time. But he had stayed home, except to travel, and as a result they persisted. No nation ever sees the full and rapid eradication of centuries-old traditions, regardless of the intensity of efforts to wipe them out. If, as in Japan’s case, that nation is dramatically confronted by a wave of alien influence, stunningly embarrassed by the onslaught of foreign ways, the need to reassert old values once the initial attack has subsided is likely to be all the stronger. So, it seems to have been with Fukuchi. A third important motive for the balancing, in Fukuchi’s case, was his personal embodiment of what others have called the achievement or goal orientation of the Japanese.55 Unlike the nineteenth-century Chinese who so often seemed self-satisfied and confident that theirs already was the world’s supreme civilization, a civilization not to be tarnished by the corruptible machines of an industrializing West, Fukuchi’s Japan may be characterized as having felt an apparent need to prove itself, to cope with Western barbarians either by driving them out or by playing their own game. Later, Japan sought to enter the community of nations as a first-rate power possessed of “national wealth and a strong army” (fukoku kyōhei). In this approach, Fukuchi was typical. As soon as he entered the foreign office, he began talking about besting foreign diplomats; on trips abroad, he longed for national respectability. At Kōko shimbun he wrote about achieving national wealth through

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trade, and rarely a week passed at Nichi nichi that he did not discuss his basic goals for Japan: order and progress. It is beyond the scope of this essay to analyze the reasons for this goal orientation. However, such an orientation necessarily meant that, once Fukuchi had entered the government, he would begin evaluating Western offerings in terms of national interests. Moreover, as his homeland’s successes mounted, he would grow proud, increasingly convinced that Japan was inherently superior and decreasingly concerned with the need to emulate the West. A fourth cause of this resurgent particularism may well have come from Fukuchi’s lifelong interest in history. At the age of seven his father had sent him to the Osagawa family of Nagasaki for tutelage in Japanese history. Near the end of life, he wrote Bakufu suibō ron (On the Decline and Fall of the Bakufu), a book widely heralded as the first historical account sympathetic to the Tokugawa family. He constantly spoke of himself as “an historian first of all.”56 One important result of this proclivity for studying the past was that, once the initial intoxication with Western elixirs had lost the aura of superreality, Fukuchi found it exceedingly natural to return to the area of scholarship with which he felt most comfortable and conversant. When he did so, he found in the writings of men such as Rai Sanyō and Hirata Atsutane an imperial tradition and an emphasis on Japanese virtues ready-made for revitalization as an antidote to the ills produced by the gluttonous consumption of Western ways. It has been noted that nearly all members of Japan’s “loyalist tradition” across the centuries were “in one way or another avid students of history.”57 So it was with Fukuchi; one could hardly have called him a full-fledged scholar of history during his years of public life, but he was at least a layman widely read and deeply concerned with the past, a fact that made an eventual rebirth of interest in Japanese traditions almost a foregone conclusion from the beginning. Finally, as years passed and national changes sparked occasional domestic resistance, both violent and nonviolent, it seems to have become apparent to Fukuchi that reassertion of traditional values would provide a certain social cement. It is important to remember that when he first invoked the argument of orderly, gradual change in 1874, national tranquility was indeed under threat from both samurai revolts in western Japan and burgeoning political clubs in the southern and central prefectures. The foundations of the new Meiji order, which appear so skillfully and firmly constructed from the twentieth-century

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vantage point, seemed shaky at best to Fukuchi and his peers. Threats were real. What better answer could be given the agitators, he reasoned, than the lessons of Japan’s own past, the necessity of revering the imperial institution. Such an approach, one might argue, was therefore expedient, a calculating choice of philosophical systems devised simply to insure support for the existing order. In a certain sense, that argument holds weight. It does not, however, argue against the genuineness of the support men such as Fukuchi felt when they reasserted national traditions. Support of national order and tradition had been the chief preoccupation of Fukuchi’s friend and mentor, Mizuno. As early as 1868, writing in opposition to the Meiji government, he had proclaimed a convincing brand of allegiance to the centrality of the imperial institution. Thus, to begin reasserting that belief as an answer to the problems of the 1870s was hardly a surprising development. Faith in national traditions already was well rooted; the obvious need for a social balm merely caused him to turn to this faith. Many other possible reasons for this reassertion of Japanese tradition might be considered: the hierarchical nature of Japan’s social structure, which lent itself readily to identification with the emperor and the nation, the sense of separateness and ethnocentricity fostered over the centuries by both Tokugawa isolation and the island nature of Japan, the myth of divine origins and divine protection dating back at least to the Mongols’ attempted invasions in the thirteenth century, and the psychological reaction against millenia of frustration in the role of cultural receiver from China and Korea. While the list could continue to great length, most such reasons lie beyond Fukuchi’s specific situation. On July 10, 1888 a Nichi nichi advertisement noted that Fukuchi Gen’ichirō had been discharged “due to a nervous disorder.” It was a terse announcement, marking the disillusioned end of a newspaper career that had for a decade “dominated society.”58 Nichi nichi’s circulation had been on the decline of late, Fukuchi’s influence had waned somewhat in public circles, and he had become increasingly cantankerous. Subordinates had launched an office revolt, with Fukuchi coming out the loser. It was a surprisingly rapid demise. Yet, in a sense, the dismissal was not unlike the paradoxical public career of the man dismissed. It highlighted again the tension and constant contrast between universal and particular, modern and traditional. From the rational or modernistic perspective, Fukuchi’s firing was a sensible act. Having failed lately as editor, he had become a liability to Nichi nichi and deserved to be let go; dismissal was to be expected. Yet, according

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to a more Japanese, humane, and traditional way of thought, severance represented an act of tyranny. Fukuchi had made Nichi nichi the paper that it was; as an editor he had tutored many of the very journalists who turned against him: he had given too much to be treated in so cavalier a fashion. But time had passed and traditions now were being balanced by the modern ways of a universal age. The balancing was not easy for anyone. Particularistic traditions persisted, sometimes modifying or eradicating the universal, sometimes merely lending an aroma of poignancy to modern alterations by highlighting the contrast. The latter was the case in Fukuchi’s journalistic demise, but still the balancing was there. Such had been his life, such the Meiji world in which he lived.

Source: American Asian Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter 1989, pp. 29–46.

2

Japan’s First Newspaper Law: The Emergence of the Press as an Independent Voice ™

Japan’s daily press came into being as a progovernment, insider institution. Determined to use the miraculous speed and scope of newspapers as a means for spreading enlightenment, numerous officials exerted their influence early in the 1870s to secure official support for a press that had only seen the light of day a decade before. Indeed, every daily newspaper formed prior to 1873 got its start with the assistance, or under the sponsorship, of some government office or official.1 And nothing gave those early papers more prestige than the slogan “goyō shimbun” or “patronage paper,” used by Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun at the top of Page One in 1874 to publicize its own insider status.2 But the cozy government-press relationship did not last long. In 1973, just as the government’s press-sponsorship patterns were becoming fully developed, a budgetary dispute in the Finance Ministry prompted the losing faction to air its grievances in public, through the press. Half a year later, in the wake of Saigō Takamori’s departure from official life over the Korean episode, papers such as Nichi Nichi and Yūbin Hōchi Shimbun led an acrimonious, public debate over the creation of a popular assembly, with the majority of the journalists attacking the government’s “gradualist” position vigorously. As a result, most government offices began severing their journalistic ties with the haste of offended lovers, and the day when all papers were part of the government batsu quickly became a bitter memory. This did not mean, however, that Japan’s journalistic establishment would now adopt the stance of the outsider, at least in any conscious or 27

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simplistic sense of that word. On the surface it often might seem that way during the decades that followed – with Japan’s press damned by more than a few officials for “irresponsible” pandering to the people and with hundreds of journalists jailed or fined for opposing official policies. Indeed, more than a few scholars have painted the Meiji press in just such a light – as an opposition medium engaged in unrelenting combat with the official world on behalf of “the people.”3 The truth, however, is more complex, the meaning of the press’s split with the government more ambiguous. The best known early-Meiji journalist, Fūkuchi Gen’ichirō, for example, supported the government most of the time, while violently opposing it on a few occasions – all the while maintaining close personal ties to such leading officials as Itō Hirobumi and Kido Takayoshi. A host of “liberal” opposition journalists – Hoshi Tōru, Komatsubara Eitarō and Tokutomi Sohō, among others – eventually found their way into the most conservative corners of the government. Studies of specific periods and episodes find a great deal of fluidity in the makeup of the press’s fighting factions. Many of the editors who lambasted the government during the Taishō Crisis of 1912–1913 – a time often cited as a prime example of the press’s oppositional nature – were among its leading supporters in subsequent periods of tumult, while the semiofficial Kokumin Shimbun found itself among the government’s vocal assailants in 1914, during the Siemens crisis.4 The point here is that while the Meiji press was indeed an “outsider” institution, the meaning of the word “outsider” was complex. While members of a coalescing oligarchy often might have regarded the press as a “loathsome opponent,” the journalists themselves more often would have been ambivalent. They might not have been part of the government, but neither were they part of the heimin or commoner class. Theirs was, after all, a Confucian society, where eslablishment/ nonestablishment, adversarial/nonadversarial labels held a content quite different from that found in Jefferson’s America or Mill’s England. To understand more fully what that content was, few time spans are more useful than the last half of 1875 and the first half of 1876. During those twelve months, the government issued its first comprehensive press law, the newspapers responded with a mixture of timidity and defiance, and the authorities refined their enforcement techniques. By the fall of 1876, the major contours of the complex press-government relationship had largely been worked out. That working out reflected what might be called a uniquely- Meiji balance between the private and

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public spheres – a balance that found most journalists drawing on their own Confucian traditions for inspiration both in their determination to speak as self- proclaimed members of the established elite and in their insistence on the right to fight against the views of the official component of that elite. Its study is thus crucial to the development of an understanding of Meiji Japan’s evolving political system. It is quite clear that the immediate impetus for the 1875 Press Law was the debate that journalists had carried on across the previous months about the creation of a popular assembly. Stung by the intensity of that debate, and convinced that the press system of a “modern” nation should be regulated by clear legal statutes, officials began issuing minor laws and decrees every month or two during 1874, calling, among other things, for newspapers “to pay attention to the government’s directions and to evidence an understanding of its purposes.”5 The culmination of this series of orders came on June 28, 1875, when the Dajōkan issued its first comprehensive set of press regulations, the shimbunshi jōrei (newspaper law) and zanbōritsu (libel law).6 In sixteen articles and an appendix, the newspaper law created the most comprehensive set of publishing regulations Japan ever had known. In keeping with Tokugawa-era traditions and codes, it required prior approval, now by the Home Ministry or Naimushō, for the publication of any paper. It restricted ownership of vernacular papers to Japanese citizens (a move aimed openly at removing the outspoken Scotsman, John Reddie Black, from the world of journalism).7 Editors, who now were charged with prime responsibility for any violations of the law, were required to print their names, along with those of the printers, at the end of each issue of a paper, and writers were instructed to sign their articles “in every case where the discussion turns upon foreign or domestic politics, finance, the feelings of the nation, the aspect of the times, learning or religion, or matters affecting the rights of officials and people.”8 Moreover, papers were required to print “any explanation or correction” requested by any public office or individual “mentioned by name” in an article. To some, the most dramatic aspect of the new law was the list of proscribed materials. Papers were not allowed to publish judicial deliberations or preliminary criminal proceedings prior to the issuance of a sentence; unauthorized petitions to the government; or criticisms of laws. They were instructed not to advocate revolution, not to revile “existing laws,” not to confuse “the sense of duty of the people to observe” those laws and not to “justify offenses plainly contrary to the

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criminal law.” (Articles XIII, XIV) Any writer deemed guilty of inciting people to commit crime, or inspiring them to riot or to carry out a “violent attack upon the authorities,” was to be considered “equally guilty with the person who has been caused to commit it.” (Article XII) Moreover these regulations had teeth. No longer willing to depend merely on Confucian-style admonitions, as had previous Meiji press rules, the authorities attached specific – and severe – penalties to each offence. Editors or proprietors whose names were not printed were to be assessed a fine of 100 yen. Writers who signed “feigned names” were to be fined ten yen and jailed for thirty days, while those who signed someone else’s name would spend seventy days in prison. Papers failing to name an editor would be suspended. Those who ran material likely to incite crimes (even if the crime were not committed) were to be jailed as much as three years and fined up to 500 yen. The government, said one observer, had decided to treat reporters “like swindlers and thieves of the night.”9 Despite the fact that the journalistic world was widely aware that a new legal code was being written,10 the expressed reaction of journalists to the law was shock and dismay. Suehiro Tetchō, editor of Tokyo Akebono Shimbun, for example, said the laws suddenly made him feel “like a wild horse that had been tamed.” He said the relative freedom of the first Meiji years made the new restrictions especially unnerving: “People had come to regard newspapers as necessary to the reform of social and political evils, as a kind of scolding drum.” As a result, “the shock was extraordinary.”11 Most papers let a bit of time pass before commenting publicly on the new codes. Unable to get the new law set in type for their Tuesday, June 29, editions, the Tokyo papers printed the regulations in their entirety, beginning on Page One, on Wednesday. Most of them waited, however, to comment editorially, apparently wanting time to ascertain government intentions before articulating company positions.12 When the reactions did come, they ranged from caution to hostility. Yūbin Hōchi, for example, significantly backed off from the opinionated approach that had characterized its earlier discussions of public affairs. In late-August, one of its columnists, Minoura Katsundo, wrote that while the old journalistic spirit “had not been crushed,” reporters no longer spoke with their former directness. “Important matters that should be discussed are ignored,” he said. “Or those who discuss things do so through allegory or fantasy. Sometimes they write vaguely or in a circuitous fashion, diluting their impact on readers as a result.”13

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A Nichi Nichi editorial in September took a rather sycophantic tone, defending the law with the assertion that it “was not created to suppress just and fair arguments . . . but merely to prevent the destruction of social peace.”14 A particularly striking example of the cautious reaction was provided by Meiroku Zasshi, one of the most influential journals of opinion at the time. On September 1, 1875, the members of the influential Meirokusha voted to discontinue publication of their journal and though the journal was not technically a “newspaper,” the debate that surrounded its demise sheds important light on how many journalists felt about the new law. The motion to disband the journal was made by Mitsukuri Shūhei, a leading educator. He was opposed by Meirokusha founder, Mori Arinori, who maintained that the publication should merely avoid the overt, direct treatment of politics. In the ensuing discussion, the arguments of Fukuzawa Yukichi carried the day. He supported suspension, maintaining that the avoidance of political issues would violate the spirit of the journal. Mori, according to his biographer, may himself have been arguing more from inside knowledge than courage, since he apparently was privy to the fact that officials did not intend to punish so erudite a group of writers as those represented in the Meiroku Zasshi,15 But whatever the case, the society voted, nine to four, to suspend publication, and the Meirokusha itself faded away half a year later.16 The reasons behind the closing of the journal may have been more complex than the mere cowardice ascribed to Meirokusha members by quite a number of press historians. Fukuzawa certainly would have defended himself as an advocate of free expression who wanted to save Meiroku Zasshi writers – and the journal itself – from wallowing in the slough of circumlocution and compromise. It also has been suggested that some members were growing weary of the heavy time commitments demanded by the society and were ready for an excuse to turn their intellectual energies in other directions. But the fact remains that the press law was the focal point of their decision to stop publishing. As Fukuzawa said in a Yūbin Hōchi editorial, “Free scholarly expression is not compatible with last June’s press and slander laws.”17 At the least, the Meirokusha decision showed the caution inspired in many writers’ hearts by the new statute. There was, however, another reaction: open criticism and even defiance. Just three days after the announcement of the new shimbun jōrei, several leading editors met to discuss an innovative, joint response.

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Led by Fukuchi and Kishida Ginkō at Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Narushima Ryūhoku at Chōya Shimbun and Suehiro at Akebono, they decided to draft a series of hypothetical essays on sensitive topics, then to submit those to the authorities for an interpretation of whether they constituted violations of the new law. The government’s response was that it had “neither a responsibility to make regulations . . . nor any instructions to give.”18 When the editors decided not to pursue the issue, their cooperative challenge withered away. But the inclusion of even the most pro-government editors in the group suggested a growing psychological drift – a sharpening wedge, if one will – between the press and the official world.19 On the personal level, several editors attacked the new codes directly, weighing in not only with open challenges to the law but with calls for others to oppose it too. In July, for example, Hyōron Shimbun warned that the law would turn Japan into a land of “deaf mutes,” forcing people to “close their lips and shut their mouths.” Fearing people would become servile, “like our Chinese brethren,” the paper urged people to defy the law “with all their might.”20 Narushima at Chōya came out with a sarcastic editorial, suggesting that it was incomprehensible, even after repeated incantations and burnings of incense before it. “Are we so stupid!” he sneered, calling for his colleagues to ignore it.21 In the months that followed, Narushima and his soulmate at Akebono, Suehiro, took the lead in attacks of this sort. On July 20, Suehiro ran an editorial, “On the Press Law” (Shimbun jōrei o ronzu), criticizing the code as a restriction on discussion, launching what he himself recalled as a time when “we gathered our courage and published sharp attacks each day.”22 Less than three weeks later, he was sentenced to two months in jail for confusing “the sense of the duty of the people to observe the existing laws” (Article XIV),23 and when he was released on October 7, he took a new post at Chōya and resumed his attacks on the government, unabated. In particular, he wrote a pugnacious editorial on December 20, openly defying the law’s restrictions with a derisive discussion of two “tricky little men” whose despotism was so severe that their notoriety was sure to precede them to hell. Though Suehiro tried to protect himself by using fabricated names for the “tricky men,” it was clear to nearly all readers that he was referring to Inoue Kowashi and Ozaki Saburō, both of whom had been heavily involved in the application of the press law.24 Narushima at Chōya was a dozen years older that Suehiro but only slightly more circumspect. He asserted his right to analyze the law on

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July 23, then on August 9 lauded Suehiro, in the paper, for the courage that had landed him in jail, concluding that “we, along with our thirtyfive million brethren, want to congratulate his act as an auspicious omen of the age of enlightenment.” On August 15, he praised the “folly and stubbornness” of writers willing to be punished for what they wrote, adding: “Why do people continue to violate the law, even after they are punished for their crimes? Can they not help themselves? Or is it just that their integrity is unshakable? Maybe they simply are determined to see our government become enlightened. I really do not know.”25 Nor were the fiery Suehiro and Narushima alone in taking on the new law, even if their attacks were more direct than most. Even the cautious Fukuchi, for example, ran a mildly critical essay at Tokyo Nichi Nichi on July 24, asserting that he understood the intent of the law to be “the prohibition of incitement, the prevention of agitations and the stoppage of slander,” not the “hindrance of discussion.” He said that if the law were to “cause servility or . . . cowardice,” it would mark a “severe retreat” for Japan.26 During the remainder of 1875, reporters as varied as Hokiyama Kageo of Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Oka Keikō and Minoura of Yūbin Hōchi, Tsukahara Yasushi of Yokohama Mainichi Shimbun and Sakai Kisaburō of Akebono ran afoul of the authorities for articles questioning or violating the press laws. One of the more prominent incidents involved Yūbin Hōchi and Akebono exposés in November, 1875 of the “scandalous behavior” – sexual and otherwise – of Mishima Michitsune, then governor of Tsuruoka. Accused by the authorities of publishing “groundless rumors,” one of the writers, Hasegawa Giko of Akebono, argued that one “cannot discuss morality in the abstract” and that the educated elite could not be expected to lead society if they could not discuss official immorality.27 Along with many others, Hasegawa paid a price for his intransigence, eventually ending up in house arrest, but not before he had demonstrated that, Confucian breeding notwithstanding, many of Japan’s journalists were ready to defy harsh laws with which they disagreed. Indeed, by January, 1876, a few of the more extreme among the influential papers had carried their criticism to the point of questioning even the rightful existence of the government itself. As Hyōron Shimbun asserted in an editorial on the “overthrow of tyrannical governments” (assei seifu tempuku), the main duty of a government is “to safeguard the people to protect their natural freedoms.” To “wholeheartedly resist” governments that undermine such freedoms, it maintained, “is the people’s highest, most important responsibility.”28 Whether inspired by

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Western ideas of freedom or – more likely – by a Tokugawa-era Confucian tradition that encouraged members of the educated elite to speak out, they kept right on talking, and criticizing, even when the authorities hovered over them with threats and penalties. Making this pugnacity all the more impressive was the fact that the government’s threats quickly moved beyond the level of rhetoric. Across the entire Meiji half century, officials seemed to harbor a special fear of press criticism, and as a result, from 1875 on, they used every available means – including the new press law – to quiet their opponents. Inoue Kaoru, for example, made an autumn jail visit to the 25-year-old Suehiro, attempting unsuccessfully to persuade him to write more moderately.29 Similarly, officials frequently turned to cooption, a method that had more than a little success among ambitious men whose involvement in journalism often sprang primarily from a desire to “lead the nation.” When offered places in the bureaucracy, writers as diverse as Ōi Kentarō of Akebono, Inukai Tsuyoshi and Yano Fumio of Yūbin Hōchi and Furusawa Shigeru of the Nisshin Shinjishi accepted, leaving the world of journalism, at least for a time. Far and away the most serious direct control mechanism, however, was the application of the new law’s provisions for fines and jail terms. So active were the officials in enforcing this law, indeed, that Black said it would be no exaggeration to call this a time of “persecution – for really, in some instances, it . . . amounted to this.”30 He added: “ ‘Uneasy is the head of him who’ wields an editorial pen,” referring to the large numbers of writers who went to jail or paid fines for insisting on the right to speak. Suehiro was jailed twice, the second time for eight months. The better-known Narushima also went to jail twice, for five days in the autumn following his early criticisms of the press law and, again, for four months the following year. Their punishments were just a beginning. In all, says Nishida Taketoshi, probably the most meticulous chronicler of this era’s press, some eleven journalists were jailed in 1875, eighty-six in 1876 and forty-seven in 1877. Their ranks included such prominent men as Oka Keiko, Minoura Katsundo, Ueki Emori and Yokose Fumihiko. The papers from which they came constituted a gallery of the most influential publications – Yūbin Hōchi, Chōya and Tokyo Nichi Nichi – along with such smaller papers as Saifū Shimbun, Sōmō Zasshi and Hyōron.31 Their prison terms, moreover, often were lengthy. While some got off with a few weeks or a month in jail, others spent upwards of a year. Katō Kurō of Saifū was imprisoned for three full years.

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Far and away the most-often punished was Hyōron, founded in March, 1875 by Ebihara Boku of Aichi Prefecture and edited by the feisty Komatsubara Eitarō. Supporting the followers of Saigō and other ex-samurai leaders disgruntled over the government’s new directions, the Hyōron editors flailed away, issue after issue, at the “despotic government” (sensei seifu), calling for popular initiatives and expounding on the democratic ideas of Rousseau.32 The result was a constant succession of jailings and fines. On September 4, 1875, for example, Yokose was fined five yen for violating the press laws; on January 29, 1876, Komatsubara received a two-year jail sentence; on March 2, Yokose was convicted again, this lime receiving three months and a fifty-yen fine. That conviction unleashed an avalanche, as Hyōron editors were fined or jailed no fewer than nine times in March and five times more in April and May. As Midoro Masaichi says, when one editor was convicted, the paper would merely hire another and keep publishing. “If one person was struck down, a second would rise from his corpse, grieving over his predecessor’s loss even while he continued his bitter attacks on the government.”33 One result of these writers’ persistence was an addition in mid-1876 to the government’s arsenal of press-control weapons. Apparently with Hyōron in mind, the Dajōkan issued a new order at the beginning of July, giving the Home Ministry authority to temporarily suspend (hakkō teishi) or permanently ban (hakkō kinshi) papers that injured public morals or incited people to “violate public order” (kokuan o bōgai suru). On July 5, Hyoron reacted with its usual contempt, asking the question: “What does it mean to violate the so-called public order?” Answered the writer: Does it mean calling for an expansion of the people’s rights? Or arguing that freedom should be honored? We believe not. But the authorities think it does. We pledge to number ourselves among those reporters who take care not to violate public order, rightly understood. To support public order is, for a newspaper reporter, synonymous with expanding freedom and popular rights. National tranquility, seen from the longer view, is not what the officials think it to be.34

This analysis was no sharper than Hyōron’s previous editorial attacks, but it spoke directly to the new Dajōkan order, and as a result, the Home Ministry immediately invoked that order and, on July 11, shut the paper down permanently – giving no explanation, since the order

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did not require it to do so. With that journalistic death, the wedge between press and government was sharpened again, and an era of even more intense struggle began.35 Before evaluating the meaning of the growing gap, a word should be added about prison conditions at this time, since those conditions well may have played their own indirect role in stimulating the growing division between the government and the press. On the whole, the treatment of jailed journalists was relatively moderate. Indeed, during the first months after the issuance of the new law, jail usually meant simple house arrest, because the government did not yet have sufficient prison space for such rarefied offenders as writers. Suehiro recalled that one court official even expressed sympathy with his plight, commenting that “it is disgraceful to imprison newspaper writers.” In addition, the terms of his confinement allowed him to receive visitors and write freely.36 By the time of his second arraignment, on November 11, however, officials had begun to clamp down, delivering him bound with a rope, to a cold and smelly cell.37 By the time he and Narushima were sentenced two months later, the government had a new jail ready for them, in Kajibashi. As Narushima told it in his now-famous Goku nai banashi (Prison talks): We nervously shouted a mutual banzai and recited the nembutsu, whereupon the judge suddenly raised his voice and gave Suehiro and me a total of one year in jail and 250 yen in fines. . . . The jailer took us to prison and shut me up in Cell 22 in the northeast section; then he put Suehiro in Cell 24. The northeast section held only regular prisoners (kingokunin) who were treated a bit more lightly than those under preventive custody (kōryūjin). . . . The jail, which had been completed at the end of the previous year, was copied after Western-style prisons and was in the shape of a cross.

He said the prison was divided into eight 10-room sections, with an area for prison officers in the center. In his own area were a number of other journalists, including Yokose, Komatsubara and Saifū’s Katō. Life, he said, often was hard. Rope-bound prisoners frequently had to go barefoot, even in the snow and ice of winter, and the opportunities for bathing and personal grooming were limited (though slovenly ways hardly were new for the bohemian Narushima). Still, the prisoners generally were not treated harshly; nor were they prevented from seeing people or writing. Indeed, given an abundance of free time, Narushima was able to do some of his most effective writing while in jail, including the publication of what must have been Japan’s first prison newspaper, the

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Kingoku Eiri Toto Ichi Shimbun. One result of his prison writings was a significant increase in Chōya’s popularity, as its readership increased to an unrivaled 18,000 while he was in jail.38 The government was either unable or (more likely) unwilling to clamp down completely on imprisoned writers – and the majority of readers made it clear that spirited, unfettered articles were what they still wanted. As a result, the late 1870s jailings appear actually to have fired the wills of aggressive journalists, thereby widening the new gap between press and government. This is not to suggest that the press was completely uninhibited in these years, or that all journalists participated in anti-government campaigns. As one attempts to evaluate the press- government struggle, it becomes clear that the press, though outside the official inner circle, clearly saw itself as a part of the broader establishment. Thus, only a few papers flailed away unabashedly at the government, while a number, as we have seen, sharply curbed the tone of their editorial discussions and others attacked the specifics of the press code but not the right of the government to make such a law. The editors of this era were, after all, born and bred Confucian, imbued with what Irokawa Daikichi calls the “conventional morality” that posits the good of the state above that of the individual and focuses above all on “communal conformity and . . . family centered” attitudes.39 Their language had not even contained such phrases as “rights,” “civil liberties” and “political freedom” prior to the invasion of Western culture.40 A student of the outspoken Suehiro concludes that even his “consuming political interest” was an “amalgamation of divergent elements for the common good,” based on “the Confucian ideal of a harmonious, unified society.”41 Similarly, the aggressive Narushima wrote in a strikingly Confucian tone during the spring of 1877 that while press freedom was the norm in a fully civilized society, a “backward” country such as Japan might be forced on occasion to accept curbs on that freedom: If the government finds it necessary at times to interfere with the freedom of the press, to suit the emergencies of a partial civilization, it is but taking care for the true public interest. ... [In Japan,] on account of the degree of ignorance still existing among the people, the government finds it necessary at times to modify the tone of the press so as to suit the condition of the public mood.42

Even the radical, virulently “democratic” Hyōron Shimbun couched its calls for popular initiatives and its attacks on tyrannical government in terms of what was “acceptable to the emperor.”43

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In other words, while the press may have persisted in its determination to express critical views, nearly all journalists did so in a distinctly Japanese manner. Their rhetoric grew from Confucian, Tokugawa ideas – with but an overlay of Western political thought. While editors kept right on writing, articulating their own views with the persistence of men who saw themselves as members of the educated establishment, none of the major writers (except perhaps those at Hyōron) ever challenged the basic right of the government to regulate press freedom. It was, in other words, as self-conscious members of the Confucian establishment, not as representatives of the masses, that these early-Meiji writers articulated their views. They wanted to participate in the political debate from the top, and the commoners of the Tokyo alleys and Morioka fishing villages came into their consciousness only secondarily, if at all. It may be argued that a few journalists came to identify with the jinmin or people in the last Meiji decade – but, quite clearly, none did now. It should thus be clear by now that the press-government relationship following the 1875 press law quickly evolved into a two-sided – sometimes almost schizophrenic – phenomenon. On the one hand, the press was loathe (by training, unable) to drop its self-identification as a part of the educated leadership elite. Recipients of the blessings of a Confucian education, Meiji journalists felt compelled to struggle on behalf of the larger whole – the nation. But on the other hand, one of the major results of the 1875 press-law controversy was a widening of the schism between the government and the press. Prodded by the inflexible reality of the law, journalists who in the previous two years had focused their editorials primarily on specific issues, now began to see the nature of the government itself – and of the ruling elite – as an issue. While still imbued with the Confucian sense of an educated elite, they began now to distinguish more openly between insider and outsider components of that elite. In the words of Fukuzawa, journalists such as Narushima now became exemplars of the “middle-class spirit of independence that created Western civilization,” men with the capacity to “modernize Japan.”44 It was that fact that Black had in mind two years after the issuance of the press law when he commented: “They will write; and regardless of all consequences they refuse to avoid criticism of the Government and the officials. It has never once been found that when one writer or editor has been incarcerated, there were no men of ability to step at once into his place, and run the same risks.”45 Most journalists’ motives may have been more Confucian than democratic. Some writers may have opposed the government because

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they saw its leaders as having disrupted the harmony of society by cutting off the flow of opinion between subjects and rulers. Others may have felt called upon by their education simply to lead society and advise the ministers. Few apparently thought of freedom as an end in itself; indeed, many a journalist saw himself, in the words of Shimada Saburō, as a “minister without portfolio.”46 But the undeniable fact was that, with the issuance of the 1875 law, the press began to see itself clearly as a private segment of the intellectual elite, a segment endowed with the responsibility of making its views heard from the outside. And it was the combination of these two motivating forces – the Confucian compulsion to use one’s knowledge for the benefit of the greater whole, balanced by the growing institutional sense of alienation from the inner, official circles of power – that had the greatest impact on Meiji political development. Put simply, Confucian ideas may have prevented these journalists from saying or doing anything that would seriously threaten national tranquility, but a Confucian sense of noblesse oblige also prevented them from knuckling under to an increasingly autocratic government. And that, one might suggest, assured Meiji Japan of its peculiar brand of “progress” – government dominance, moderated by a persistent, private, yet-elitist voice.

Source: Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Third Series, Vol. 19, June 1984, pp. 137–171.

3

Freedom and the Press in Meiji-Taishō Japan ™

George Akita asserted in a 1972 address to the Asiatic Society of Japan that “the relationship between governors and the governed in modern Japan . . . is one that stimulates not only the academic interest of scholars but their adrenal glands as well.”1 He was right, because few topics are more crucial to Japan’s prewar history; few speak more directly to the social and political arrangements that give that era its particular character. Akita also suggested that the press is one of the best tools for evaluating the ruler-ruled relationship. And he was right again. From the last days of the bakufu until the dark years of the 1930s, no other institution stood more directly, or more consciously, astride the gulf between the government and the people, channeling opinions upward from the populace, publicizing and critiquing directives aimed downward from the authorities, debating public issues, and serving as a focus of both struggles and settlements between government and people. The development of a far clearer picture of the relationship between the press and the government thus is essential to our ongoing effort to understand how out-of-power groups in general interacted with the official world – and what role they played in shaping that entity we call Prewar Japan. For while journalists may not have been as singlemindedly political or as doctrinaire as those in some institutions in the non-governmental world, they more than any other group represented all shades of opinion and encompassed the varied means of private, nongovernmental struggle for power and influence. As a result, their study casts helpful light on both the development of a popular will and the government’s attempts to lead, serve, and control that will. 40

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The pages that follow will examine the unfolding, complex relationship between the government and the press through the Taishō era. Owing to space limitations, it will be necessary to focus on the culmination of the process – the late-Meiji and Taishō years in which the press-government relationship reached relative maturity. The focus also will be on the newspaper press, which reached the broadest masses of people (although it is important to note that journals and magazines also became significant vehicles for public debate in these years). And the lens through which the examination will be conducted will be that of “freedom” and independence. We will ask such questions as: how free the press was, how the press managed to remain lively despite attempted controls, whether there was a “winner” in the press-government struggle – and why. Underlying the discussion will be the broader question of what all of this meant in the context of national political development. Although antecedents stretch back to the early-Tokugawa days, there is justification for locating the actual beginnings of Japan’s modern press in a host of shimbunshi, or news sheets, that sprang up in Edo in the spring of 1868 to fight the new Meiji government.2 None of these lasted more than a few months, but they provided Japan’s first example of the regular, commercial printing of news, as well as the first sharp, sustained clash between press and government, a clash that ended with the July jailing of Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, edItōr of the Kōko Shimbun, and the discontinuation of the papers.3 Newspaper publication commenced again at the beginning of the 1870s, particularly with the launching of Japan’s first daily, the Yokohama Mainichi Shimbun, in 1871. For two and a half decades, Japan’s newspaper world was highly political and thoroughly elitist in orientation. Several papers did aim at the less-educated townsmen, concentrating on the willow world, social news, and sensationalism, but they were referred to as koshimbun, or minor papers, and their circulations and influence generally reflected their label. All of the prestigious papers through the 1880s were known as ōshimbun, or major newspapers, and they, by contrast, focused on politics and sought readers among the elite – government officials and scholars in particular. They generally had more readers, as well as higher prestige, because the compulsory education system had not yet matured sufficiently to produce a very large pool of lowbrow or middle-class readers. The relationship between these papers and government varied according to national political trends. From the establishment of

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Yokohama Mainichi to the end of 1873, the press was essentially an arm of the government, all of the early papers being founded with government assistance as tools for disseminating information and encouraging bummei kaika. As a Yūbin Hōchi Shimbun editorial put it in May 1873, “The sole aim of newspapers is to encourage people along the forward path of development, down the shortest route to culture.”4 This close press-government relationship did not last long, however. The government itself was not unified, and as soon as factional differences surfaced inside the ministries, newspapers began to reflect those differences on the outside, the result being the eruption of intense political debate in the press after Saigō Takamori’s departure from office in the autumn of 1873. From the issuance of a memorial by Itagaki Taisuke and others in January 1874 calling for a popular assembly until well after the promulgation of the constitution in 1889, the ōshimbun press thus served as the primary vehicle through which public policy and politics were discussed outside the official channels. The newspapers’ heated sovereignty debate in 1881–1882, for example, served as the hub of constitutional discussion at that time. All the parties used newspapers as organs in the political struggles of 1882–1883 and again in the early years of the Diet. Indeed, no political issue arose but that the press assumed the right – and responsibility – to debate it at length. It should not surprise us, then, that these years were marked by a fierce, if not always equal, struggle between the press and the government, as well as a continual groping on the part of officials to find a satisfactory way to handle the press. Major press laws and revisions were issued in 1869, 1873, 1883, and 1887, and minor modifications were announced every year or so, resulting in jail terms and fines for offending editors, as well as suspensions of papers that “disturbed public order” or “injured public morals”.5 Enforcement of the laws varied, depending on the political tenor of the times and the nature of reporting, but in tense periods, when elections were underway, treaties were being discussed or wars were threatening, officials used numerous methods to control debate: creating government gazettes, giving “subsidies” to sympathetic papers, luring leading critics into the government, and, of course, enforcing the laws. For the heated year of 1882, for example, Saitō Shōzō lists no fewer than 142 cases of journalists being punished by the government, and Uchikawa Yoshimi notes that 70 papers had publication suspended (hakkō teishi) and twelve actually were banned completely (hakkō kinshi) that year.6 Press historian Yamamoto Fumio’s claim that “the manipulation of the press” was the

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Meiji cabinet’s “most important work”7 seems only slightly an exaggeration – as does Sasaki Takashi’s contention, after a careful study of the first Matsukata cabinet, that press-control issues “quickly became the hambatsu [clique] government’s main problem” in 1891–1892.8 It was not an easy problem to solve, for the early-Meiji press refused to be silenced. But the government’s desire for control is indisputable, as is the increasing stringency of legal and extra-legal measures. Only the persistence and tenacity of a vocal, capable corps in the press itself, as well as the factional pluralism of opinions and methods inside the government, kept the ōshimbun from being muzzled. The 1890s saw the emergence of major changes, however – changes that would significantly transform press-government relations in the late-Meiji and Taishō eras. The ōshimbun already had begun to diversify, expanding coverage to include social, literary, and other news, as well as running serialized novels, drama reviews, and the like, while the koshimbun were now including articles on politics and economics in their columns. Thus, by the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the distinction between major and minor papers had largely vanished. The political tone of the press also changed in the late 1890s, as press laws were slightly relaxed and Japan began to flex its muscles internationally. And the press made major strides technologically, moving rapidly in the direction of a modern, mass medium. At the heart of all the changes were three particularly important developments, two outside the press and one inside. First, there was war. Each Meiji military struggle exerted a powerful impact on the press. The Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 sparked the first explosion of news repoting among the ōshimbun, as well as the first big jump in readership, to circulations as high as 10,000, with reporters going to the front and readers taking out subscriptions to read their reports.9 A far greater impact was felt from the Sino-Japanese War. Already, commercial instincts were growing, fueled by Fukuzawa Yukichi’s efforts at Jiji Shimpō and Murayama Ryōhei’s success in making profits off the Ōsaka Asahi Shimbun. Moreover, even the ōshimbun had begun focusing on a wider audience and all the major papers had accumulated at least modest capital reserves. As a result, the war and the public demand for news stimulated a vast expansion of the reportorial and promotional side of journalism. Art and headlines engaged more of the editors’ attention. Cylinder presses, introduced in 1892, made it possible to produce bigger papers more quickly. National economic expansion, especially after the war, created demands for new

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kinds of advertising. And above all, the gathering of news from continental battlefields and even Western capitals became a new preoccupation of Japan’s press lords. The Russo-Japanese War, a decade later, simply intensified this modernizing process, spawning photo-journalism, a proliferation of editions and specialized news departments, the worldwide stationing of foreign correspondents, linkage to international news agencies such as Reuters and United Press, wider use of display advertising, and the vast outlay of capital to obtain news quickly. War, in other words, expanded both reportorial opportunities and readership potential. And in each case Japanese editors responded with the zest of risk-taking entrepreneurs. The second external factor stimulating a transformation of the lateMeiji press was the changing nature of Japanese society. Compulsory education had been decreed in 1872. By 1878, 41 percent of the school-aged children were attending primary schools; by 1885 nearly 60 percent were doing so, and in 1903 the attendance ratio passed 90 percent.10 This meant that by the 1890s a significant number of persons from the commoner classes had become sufficiently literate and publicminded to be interested in newspapers. Indeed, school attendance figures from the 1880s and 1890s uniformly show increasing numbers of children from the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and even laboring classes completing primary school and moving into middle and higher schools.11 This, coupled with an influx of laborers into the cities, led to the growth of a new, transitional class in the latter years of Meiji, and the result, for the press, was dramatic. Clearly, one reason the old ōshimbun had focused on politics alone was that literate, potentially interested readers were confined largely to the surviving Tokugawa-era intelligensia. Now, hundreds of thousands of new, potential readers were emerging – people who had little of the erudition of the old subscribers and even less of a sense of identification with the establishment, but people who were nonetheless capable of reading – and who saw themselves as having a stake in public decisions. It was these readers whom Hōchi Shimbun had in mind when, in the spring of 1894, it announced a change in style and format with the statement: Hōchi Shimbun has become a high-class eiri [illustrated] newspaper. In the past, the label ōshimbun connoted adherence to a partisan philosophy and the use of characters that were hard to read. The label koshimbun, by contrast, referred to papers with a boorish philosophy

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and vulgar writing. The former were hard for the masses to read, the latter inappropriate for the homes of the refined. Today, too few papers hew a middle path. Hōchi intends now to take that middle road. It will be the simplest and the most lofty, the fairest and the most ordinary.12

By the late 1890s, says Ariyama Teruo, a new city class, made up of alienated but educated young adults who saw little chance of climbing the “ladder of success”, provided a large reservoir of potential new readers.13 As a result, the old ōshimbun and koshimbun joined with middleroad papers such as Jiji and Asahi and with new populist papers such as Yorozu Chōhō and Niroku Shimpō to develop a style of journalism that was easier to read, more sensational, more varied in content and format – and highly political. Their success is seen in a number of newspaper readership surveys conducted late in the 1890s, which indicated that up to half of the readers of some papers came from shop-clerk and merchant classes, with fifteen percent of Yorozu’s coming from the laboring class and fewer than ten percent from the official world.14 A third – and prime – reason for the rapid change in the press after the Sino-Japanese War lay in the Commercial instincts of leading editors and publishers. Unlike the early journalists who edited merely to find a platform for political views, late-Meiji editors were, more and more, innovative businessmen. Inspired by Murayama and Fukuzawa, new editors such as Hara Kei at Ōsaka Mainichi Shimbun, Kuroiwa Shūroku at Yorozu, and Akiyama Teisuke at Niroku began now to add profit to the list of their motives. Full-scale commercialism did not occur until the Taishō years, but from the days of the Sino-Japanese War onward, profit became increasingly important. One impact of this fact was a change in the nature of reporting. As a Kokumin Zasshi article commented in April 1911: “Newspaper reporters have descended – gone from being reporter-teachers [kisha sensei] who led society to being mere employees, purchased with money. Both those who read papers and those who put them out regard reporters merely as agents for collecting and writing news.”15 The change also resulted in numerous schemes to earn money: a mushrooming of advertising and advertising agencies, the creation of news agencies, the use of brighter and more appealing formats. Of special interest here was the use of salespromotion gimmicks. Yorozu held contests, encouraging subscribers to compose songs or sayings. Hōchi ran photo supplements. Niroku staged lotteries and sponsored “friendship meetings” (daikonkai). Hara’s Ōsaka Mainichi held beauty contests. And Minsei Shimbun offered fire insur-

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ance certificates to new subscribers.16 Papers also began to engage in campaigns – crusades against prostitution, exposés of the hidden lives of the Tōkyō elite, calls for improvements in labor conditions, cries for a more expansive foreign policy. Indeed, Ariyama has gone so far as to label the early 1900s “an era of campaign journalism”, arguing that editors were not so much concerned with the issues as they were determined to capitalize on a new, discontented class to gain subscribers and increase profits.17 The results of these three developments – war, rising education, and commercialism – were especially striking in the circulation of late Meiji and early Shōwa. Statistics were not compiled by a single source, so precision is lacking, but even allowing for some inaccuracy, the figures tell a story of remarkable growth. While Japan’s largest paper in 1887 (Hōchi) had a daily circulation of about 13,000, by the end of the Sino-Japanese War the largest (now Yorozu) had some 50,000 daily subscribers, and four newspapers had circulations above 15,000. Early in the Russo-Japanese War, Yorozu reached the 160,000 mark, while the leading Osaka papers had circulations of 200,000 each. And at the end of World War I, Tōkyō Nichi Nichi Shimbun (by that time Tōkyō’s largest) had 335,000 subscribers and the two Osaka leaders had half a million each. In thirty years, in other words, newspaper circulation had increased thirty-three-fold. And within seven more years it would double again. By the end of Taishō the number of subscriptions to Tōkyō-area dailies exceeded the number of homes in the city. The press had indeed become a mass medium.18 The change from an elite, politically dominated press to a massoriented, more broadly based commercial press obviously had important implications for the relationship between the press and the government – implications that make simple analysis impossible. Richard Mitchell argues convincingly that the government’s determination to shape the thought process increased steadily throughout the prewar era, even if press-control guises varied.19 It is equally clear that the press continued, at least into the 1920s, to debate public policy and to insist on its own right to publish critiques of the government. But the freedom dance became more and more complicated as the years progressed, with both government and press involved in a tortuous, often unpredictable series of thrusts and jabs, moves and countermoves, twists and twirls. When press comments became heated or provocative, authorities would step in, although preferably in a manner designed to control without appearing to destroy. When government policies displeased the press,

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editors would launch vigorous campaigns, even calling mass protest meetings; but almost always they would back off before incurring official wrath sufficient to seriously affect company profits. By the end of Taishō, the government had come to dominate this dance, but until the early 1920s, the struggle was lively – and very much two-sided. It is this struggle to which we will now turn. The first thing to be said about government-press relations in the early twentieth century is that the press maintained its virility. To read Mitchell, or some of Okudaira Yasuhiro’s discussions of press laws, is to receive the impression that the press succumbed in these years to heavy-handed official applications of mean-spirited laws.20 And, indeed, there was a shift after the Sino-Japanese War, as papers became less single-mindedly political and less constantly aggressive. A Hansei Zasshi article in the late 1890s, for example, accused editorialists of having become “apologetic” (moshiwaketeki), of having lost their earlier role as agitators who “moved people whenever they took up the brush”.21 But such pictures can be overdrawn, ignoring the impressive vitality of the newspaper world right up to the end of Taishō. At the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War, for example, the press reacted with an outburst of indignation when the government complied with the Russian-German-French demand that the Liaotung Peninsula be returned to China. On 15 May 1895, Osaka Asahi declared that “the whole nation is in mourning”, and on 27 May, after a ten-day suspension, Nihon deplored “the officials’ rash behavior”. So fierce was the gale that papers were suspended more than 200 times for criticism of the government and agitation of the public mood.22 Late in the 1890s, Niroku and Yorozu began running series bitterly criticizing, even ridiculing, the decadence of the established elite. The early 1900s saw all of the leading papers, except Yorozu, Tokyo Nichi Nichi, and Tokyo Mainichi, calling for more aggressive action against Russian movements in Manchuria, often chiding the vacillating government. Akiyama at Niroku launched a vigorous campaign in 1903–1904 to topple the Katsura cabinet, although the campaign finally hurt Niroku more than Katsura.23 Once the Russo-Japanese War was over, the papers again denounced the peace settlement, even more vigorously than they had the Triple Intervention a decade earlier. Yorozu, for example, called for Japan’s returning negotiators to be greeted “with flags at halfmast”.24 And for the next twenty years, this pattern continued. The issues varied, ranging from press reform to military-versus-civilian control of the government, from postwar inflation to universal suffrage. But again

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and again during these years, the newspapers attacked the government with a vigor seldom seen in the free-press era of the 1980s. The Siemens affair of 1914 was typical. From the fall of the Katsura cabinet early in 1913, papers had been generally critical of the government, regarding Prime Minister Yamamoto Gonnohyōe as a mere Satsuma representation of the very hambatsu politics that the press had deplored under Katsura. Then, on 23 January 1914, Reuters reported that a German company named Siemens had given bribes to officials in the Yamamoto government in order to secure naval contracts; an uproar ensued, with calls in the Diet for the impeachment of the cabinet. On 9 February, a national reporters’ rally (zenkoku kisha taikai), held in Tsukiji to protest the episode, adopted a resolution calling constitutional government “the foundation of national morality” and deploring the cabinet’s handling of the affair as “flowing with private injustice and selfishness and making the people’s hearts corrupt”. The end result, the rally leaders declared, would be to “undermine our national destiny”.25 The following day, during the commotion of a mass rally staged by some 40,000 demonstrators in Hibiya, two reporters from Tōkyō Nichi Nichi were stabbed by police officers trying to control the crowd and, as a result, what had been a relatively moderate press movement turned into a crusade, supported by all of the Tōkyō papers except those with direct ties to Yamamoto’s Rikken Seiyūkai. Some 24 representatives of the leading papers met again on 14 February and passed a resolution calling the police action a “threat to our profession” and demanding an apology from Home Minister (and former journalist) Hara Kei. When Hara responded simply by allowing one of his henchmen to assault a Tōkyō Asahi reporter physically, the press representatives met again, on 18 February, and increased their demands, calling now for Hara’s resignation. On the twenty-third the papers sponsored yet another kisha taikai, attended this time by over 200 journalists, and in the following days reporters in Osaka, Nagoya, Fukushima, and Fukuoka held similar meetings, while movements to censure the government intensified in both houses of the Diet. The struggle continued for more than two weeks, with most of the papers being forced to forgo sales and distribution at one time or another for inflammatory articles and editorials. The press hit especially hard at the fact that Naimushō (Home Ministry) authorities frequently would ban not only an offending edition of a paper but all subsequent editions that day, even if the paper indicated a willingness to revise or delete offending material. Enforcement procedures, a general reporters’

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meeting claimed in mid-March, were “completely illegal”, as well as economically disastrous for the papers. A 22 March meeting adopted a resolution accusing the Yamamoto cabinet – and especially its chief offender, Hara – of “eradicating honor and integrity, imprisoning the truth, being devoid of political merit, choking the people’s aspirations, supporting scandal, and defiling the vocation of service.” Then the reporters called again for the cabinet’s resignation.26 In mid-April the Yamamoto administration fell, a victim of both the public clamor over the Siemens and stabbing affairs and the cabinet’s inability to produce a budget. Reporters and press historians have hailed the fall as a press “victory”, a sign of the influence of Japan’s fourth estate. Although some may overstate the press’s case, there is little doubt that the newspaper world did indeed play a significant role in undermining the Yamamoto cabinet. More important to us here, however, is the simple, undeniable fact that the “debating press” was not dead in Japan of the 1910s. In this episode, as in others like it across the next dozen years, it showed itself a healthy survivor, unwilling to be forced into quietude or conformity. But that does not mean that the government had not tried. Nor does it mean that official efforts had been ineffective. To the contrary, the government was exceedingly active in the area of press control during this era and the effect was profound. The government’s first line of attack was legal. In 1897, after years of pressure from journalists opposed to the arbitrary enforcement of hakkō teishi (suspension) and hakkō kinshi (prohibition) regulations and to the large security deposits that newspapers were required to pay to the government in order to publish, the tenth Diet finally revised Japan’s press code (shimbunshi jōrei), abolishing the Home Minister’s right to suspend or ban papers administratively and transferring suspension and prohibition matters to the courts. The new law did maintain, however, the security-deposit system, as well as the government’s right to ban the sales and distribution of specific issues of a paper. It also gave the Foreign Minister the new right to prohibit sensitive articles in the foreign-affairs realm, and added “desecration of the dignity of the Imperial House” to the list of punishable offenses.27 The laws were thus liberalized in some ways, particularly in taking away the Home Minister’s right to suspend and prohibit publications without due process, a right that often had been used without so much as an explanation of what was considered offensive. But they remained extremely restrictive, for the right of prohibition remained intact. It

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now simply had to be carried out through the courts. And in a number of areas, the arena of government control had widened.28 Moreover, in 1909, at least partly out of official concern about the growing socialist movement, a new law (shimbunshi hō) was passed, giving Japan its final prewar press code. Although the leading newspapers had been lobbying for a softening of press laws, the new ordinance was more oppressive than its predecessor. It maintained the judicial prerogative in the actual banning of papers but made it possible for the Home Minister to act more arbitrarily in forbidding sales and distribution, a right in some ways even more onerous than the old pre-publication prohibition since it deprived papers of revenue for issues already produced. It also increased the amount of the security deposits required of papers, extended the despised prohibition on publishing anything that “disturbed public order” (annei chitsujo binran) and added new areas about which papers were not allowed to publish.29 Uchikawa Yoshimi calls the law a “revival of the absolutism found in the revised newspaper law of 1883.”30 If passage of laws was the first line of attack, enforcement of these laws was the second. As already noted, when the press launched its 1895 attacks on the government for capitulating to the Triple Intervention, nearly all of the leading papers fell under the suspender’s ax, and that outburst of government activity was typical. For the next thirty years, both before and after the “liberalized” law of 1897, the primary tool of the government was the suspension of newspapers – sometimes prior to publication, usually after publication but prior to sales and distribution. Kiyoura Keigo, several times Minister of Justice in the Meiji 30s and later Prime Minister (1924), recalled that in mid-Meiji, when he was head of the Home Ministry’s Bureau of Police Protection, even the Prime Minister himself had “evidenced extreme concern” about the “handling of newspapers”. He said that the bureau’s investigative division would await the predawn delivery of newspapers each day. After a careful inspection, troubling or important items would be circled and submitted to the bureau chief for evaluation. He added that cabinet ministers also had their own designated assistants or private secretaries who would check articles. “If something had appeared which was related to our domestic or foreign interests, we would discuss it [with the editors], indicating our approval or disapproval.”31 This was the normal practice in ordinary times. At times of tension or emergency the legal efforts to suppress news went further. During both the Sino- and Russo-Japanese wars, for example, emergency

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decrees and military laws were issued to further regulate the press, as they also were after the conclusion of the Portsmouth Treaty in 1905 and during the rice riots in the autumn of 1918. And when Japanese troops entered Siberia during World War I, the Terauchi cabinet closed down several Tokyo papers for a time to prevent the disclosure of sensitive information.32 The result of these law enforcement procedures was an imposing number of suspensions of papers and/or disciplining of writers in the first twenty-five years of this century. Figures vary, depending on sources, but every year saw scores of papers suspended or prohibited from selling for at least one issue, and, in times of crisis such as 1905, the number of such cases would run into the thousands. A conservative estimate suggests, for example, that from 1903 to 1917 there were nearly 10,000 cases of suspension or prohibition – over 650 a year.33 In the last year of Taishō, 1926, government statistics reported 1,048 cases in which papers either were warned to avoid publication of certain materials or actually had sales and distribution prohibited.34 Nor did the officials always stop with suspension or prohibition of sales and distribution. In March 1904, for example, the government, angry at several years of antiestablishment campaigns by Akiyama’s Niroku Shimpō, reacted to an emotional drive to impeach the Katsura cabinet by banning the paper altogether. Akiyama appealed in the courts but lost.35 A similar fate befell Heimin Shimbun, the socialist paper formed when Kōtoku Shūsui and Sakai Toshio left Yorozu (which had just switched to a prowar position) in mid-1903. During much of the war, the paper was a lone voice of dissent, allowed to exist partly because it was small and partly because of the independence of the courts. Several times Heimin was disciplined for articles calling government policies into question. But after publication of the Communist Manifesto in its anniversary issue on 13 November 1904 it was closed altogether. The editors fought the order but finally gave up on 29 January 1905. It should be noted too that the government was equally willing to send reporters and editors to jail when sufficiently provoked; indeed, it did so on a fairly regular basis in these years. Formal enforcement of the law was not, however, the government’s only means of controlling the press. Katsura reported to his patron, Yamagata Aritomo, in the fall of 1905 that the “confused mixing of society and politics” (seiji to shakai to kondō) represented in the agitation of the masses against the Portsmouth Treaty was intolerable. “We absolutely must control this situation,” he wrote. “The boisterous condition is spreading.”36 At this time, and again many times thereafter,

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the extra-legal means of ensuring that control were as numerous as the bureaucrats’ minds were creative. A few examples should suffice to make the point. They include: – Finding allies in the press. In the 1890s, an official, probably Itō Miyoji, who was then president of Tōkyō Nichi Nichi and a member of the cabinet, drafted a proposal encouraging the government to win public support by “getting more than half the newspapers and magazines under control”. He wrote: “A strong inner citadel must be formed among the newspaper companies . . . There is no weapon more national, more constitutional, more orderly or more progressive.”37 Similarly, Tokutomi Sohō wrote to Yamagata on 13 October 1916: “As regards the Terauchi cabinet’s manipulation of newspapers, I, of course, will make certain that all the newspapers over which I have influence will be cooperative.”38 – Assisting loyal papers and journalists. It was with a similar aim that Itō Hirobumi during the 1890s drew up a proposal for “unifying government policy in regard to secret agreements by which reporters, newspapers or magazines will become government agents.” Such arrangements were to be controlled directly by the Prime Minister’s office, through the Chief Cabinet Secretary. And “the Prime Minister alone should decide on the giving of financial assistance to a reporter, newspaper or magazine, or increasing, decreasing or discontinuing the amount of such assistance.” Although the proposal never became policy, subsidies had been granted to sympathetic papers from time to time since the first days of Meiji.39 Another method of assisting loyal papers was through the political parties, since numerous newspapers were induced to serve as organs of government-related parties during this era. – Encouraging self-censorship. Self-censorship, although harder to document, clearly had become a normal occurrence by the Taishō years. Ōsaka Asahi, for example, changed to a self-consciously cautious approach after the 1918 White Rainbow Affair (to be discussed below) – just as it had thirty-six years earlier after receiving its first suspension under profit-conscious Murayama. And after the Morito Tatsuo incident of 1920, in which a Tokyo University professor was fined and jailed for publication of a scholarly article on Kropotkin, many publishers – particularly the publishers of magazines – began submitting their articles to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for prior evaluation.40 – Harassing troublesome writers and editors. The government also used indirect pressures, spreading rumors about opponents, sending

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out henchmen to bully independent reporters, pressuring businessmen to make life difficult economically for offending papers. In 1903, when the Katsura cabinet banned a laborers’ meeting that Niroku had called, editor Akiyama Teisuke wrote that the meeting would be postponed “until the Katsura cabinet is overthrown”. In response to his continued attacks, both in the paper and in the Diet (of which he then was a member), officials began circulating rumors that Akiyama was a Russian spy. The ensuing uproar resulted in a Diet investigation, which cleared Akiyama’s name. But his reputation never fully recovered.41 It goes without saying, perhaps, that this list could be extended almost indefinitely. The point, however, is that press control was one of the major concerns of late-Meiji and Taishō administrations. Sometimes the methods were legal, sometimes extra-legal; sometimes they were open, sometimes secret; sometimes they were effective, sometimes not. But of the government’s attitude there was little doubt: the demands of the state in an era of seemingly endless crises required a submissive, unified populace, and every means was to be employed to secure that unity. In education, that meant carefully scrutinized and revised textbooks. In religion, it meant shrine mergers. And in the world of writing it meant unending vigilance to prevent the rise of seditious or dangerous thoughts that might disturb national peace. All of this leads, however, to a problem – an apparent contradiction pressing to be resolved. On the one hand, we have seen a lively, often virulent, frequently excessive press, which to the end of Taishō wielded enough clout to play pivotal roles in toppling cabinets and stimulating the passage of important measures such as universal male suffrage. On the other hand, we also have seen a government – a powerful government – determined to keep that press within limits, a government willing to go to the extremes of imprisonment, prohibition, and fines to keep the press in line. What does this mean? Where did the balance of power lie – with the press or with the government? And what difference do such questions make in the broader context of Japanese politics and society? Obviously, the answers are not simple, because the situation was not simple. But three questions may help to direct our analysis. How free was the late-Meiji, Taishō press? Obviously, the newspaper press had a good deal of freedom, especially in times when Japan was not involved in military actions. There were many areas in which it was completely free: to advertise, to compete in sales, to move into commercial enterprises, to publish almost any kind of articles about society, sports, the entertainment world, and

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education. Indeed, it was free to write about anything not specifically forbidden in the press laws, as long as the articles did not “disturb public order” or “injure public morals”. One irritated, establishment-oriented Westerner, in fact, sighed in exasperation in the 1920s that “no newspaper ever appears to have got in trouble for assuming the guilt of an accused person while the case was still sub judice.”42 In other words, the press operated within relatively broad and flexible boundaries. But the other side of the coin is that there were boundaries – and those boundaries had two particularly troublesome features. First, they circumscribed material about politics and public values, areas in which the press was vitally interested, and, second, they were vague, subject to broad and unpredictable interpretation by the authorities. To assert with precision what the papers were not free to publish is impossible for that was one of the main problems of the laws: vague definitions make for unpredictable enforcement procedures. Thus much more analysis is needed to determine precisely when and why laws were enforced. A few conclusions do, however, seem warranted. Viewed across the decades, it appears that the authorities were particularly harsh on five kinds of articles.43 First, they seldom allowed direct attacks on the government. Almost without exception, when papers began calling for the downfall of a cabinet suspensions were forthcoming. It did not matter whether the articles came from isolated, individual papers, as in the case of Niroku in 1903, or from coordinated multi-paper drives, as in the denunciations of the Portsmouth Treaty; direct attacks on the viability or legitimacy of the administration were simply not allowed to go unpunished. Second, military and diplomatic issues made policy-making and law-enforcement bodies especially sensitive. It is typical for nations to strengthen control measures in time of war, and Japan was no exception. But anything likely to create difficulties in the diplomatic sphere also drew the censors’ wrath, regardless of whether the times were peaceful or warlike. Even the erstwhile press champion Ōkuma was guilty rather frequently in this area. During 1915, for example, his government suppressed and censured Asahi for running stories on the Twenty-One Demands, despite the fact that Asahi essentially supported the presentation of the demands. When thousands of Koreans were massacred following the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923, authorities forbade any mention of the rampages either in the local papers or in cables sent abroad – just as they suppressed all news about the murder of

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Ōsugi Sakae for several days. And during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and the Washington Conference two years later, the Japanese government operated in such secrecy that Japanese reporters had to rely largely on Western diplomats and journalists for their material. A third reason for invoking the press laws was the occurrence of widespread social disorder. Few things seem to have frightened the ruling establishment more than the disruption of public tranquility. As a result, although officials might occasionally ignore the excesses of smaller, less influential organs, especially if they represented intellectuals talking to other intellectuals, they never ignored the large dailies that reached the masses in both the cities and the countryside. Once an “incident” began to grow into a “movement”, it was inevitably accompanied by scores or hundreds of administrative and judicial actions against the press. Social unrest simply was not tolerated. A fourth area of sensitivity was the imperial family; any article even hinting at an insult was quickly banned. One of the best-known cases was the prohibition of the sale and distribution of some fifty papers in 1921 for reporting on a secret dispute about the selection of the crown princess. The final taboo was socialism, or anything that even appeared to advocate it. In many ways this area was special. In other fields authorities might show moderation but not in this one. From the beginning of the century, when the Shakai Minshutō (Social Democratic Party) was outlawed hours after its formation, socialist and Marxist thought represented a special, emotional threat to statesmen such as Yamagata Aritomo and Katsura, and again and again they came down forcefully on the side of wiping it out. All of the papers that ran the Shakai Minshutō manifesto, for example, were confiscated and charged with violating the press laws. In 1908 Prime Minister Katsura ordered the “arrest of anyone who publicly espoused socialism” and the destruction of all “subversive literature”.44 Every publication with even a hint of socialist or Marxist ties in these years felt the impact of that directive. We already have noted the cases of Heimin Shimbun and Morito Tatsuo. At least three other Tokyo-area socialist papers – Nihon Heimin Shimbun, Tokyo Shakai Shimbun, and Chokugen – were founded between 1905 and 1910, and not one lasted much more than a year; the authorities simply would not countenance them.45 To sum up the answer to our first question, the press was free to publish articles and opinions that the government could not – or would not choose to – charge with being “beyond the limits of the law”. And this gave newspapers leeway to operate in most of the ways that charac-

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terize a mass, modern press. But the law was vague and malleable, with crucial statements about “disturbing public order” and “injuring public morals”, and most authorities were nervous about Japan’s domestic tranquility as well as about their own personal security in office. So any efforts of the press to challenge the authorities directly, discuss or report sensitive military or diplomatic issues, incite social activism, question the valor of the imperial family or smile on socialism, were sure to invoke official suppression. How did the press manage to remain so aggressive in this atmosphere? As we have demonstrated, the late-Meiji and Taishō press was nevertheless a lively one. How, given the government’s legal arsenal and willingness to use that arsenal, could it have remained so? Akita, writing about this question from the vantage point of the government, suggests that there were at least ten reasons for the Meiji government’s lack of a “thoroughgoing, consistent policy of ‘suppressing’ the opposition in general and the press in particular” – including the government’s belief that suppression was inefficient, concern about Japan’s image abroad, the faction-ridden nature of the bureaucracy, and the officials’ preference, when possible, for cooption over coercion.46 His points are cogent. When the whole of society – press as well as government – is considered, however, it would seem that three factors are particularly important. First, the government was far from unified, meaning that consistent, unrelenting pressure on the press was simply not possible. Early in Meiji, turf disputes between the Home Ministry and the Legislative Bureau (Hōseikyoku) of the Legislative Council (Sei-in) apparently kept the government from closing loopholes in the 1875 press law for eight long years.47 As numerous studies have shown, powerful and jealous officials often went so far as to encourage “their” papers to attack other officials. And some rulers, the chief example being Ōkuma, seem to have been genuinely uncomfortable with rigid press control, the result being a relaxation (even if only slight) of press restrictions during their regimes. In other words, not being unified, the government could not be consistently repressive. Second, Japan of the early 1900s clearly was not totalitarian. Its rulers may have been paternalistic and they certainly were authoritarian, but they also were committed to constitutional, legal means of governance. Two generations had passed since the Charter Oath, one since the Meiji Constitution. And the concept of operating according to legally prescribed norms had become thoroughly embedded in the

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national soil. Until the press-law revision in 1897, the Home Minister had been able to suspend or prohibit papers arbitrarily, but from that time on such action had to go through the courts. The authorities might intimidate journalists, search their home files, warn subscribers that certain papers were “dangerous”, harass sales agents, but they could not shut down a paper or send an editor to jail without going through the courts. And that fact alone clearly made officials more cautious in bringing charges against papers, for the courts were insistently independent. When the government first sought to shut down Heimin Shimbun in 1904, for example, its charges were disallowed by the Tokyo Higher Court on appeal and Heimin won what amounted to a ten-month stay of execution.48 During those ten months, the paper was able to operate a little more freely, knowing that the victory in the courts would protect it until the government could build an even stronger case. Even Kōtoku during his Heimin years saw Japan as a nation in “the enlightened stage of constitutional rule”, a land where violence in behalf of ideals was rendered unnecessary by the rule of law.49 The laws might be abused or stretched, but even the most benighted Meiji-Taishō officials had to live by their rule. And that meant that papers could devise means to express even critical viewpoints, as long as their expressions could not be proved “illegal”. A third, crucial reason for the continuation of dissent throughout this era lay in the simple fact that total suppression of any press is impossible as long as intelligent, committed, articulate people are determined to pay the price for expressing dissenting views. Certainly that has been the case in Marxist-Communist societies of the twentieth century. Ferdinand Marcos has found it true in the Philippines of the 1980s, as have apartheid administrations in South Africa. And it was undoubtedly the case in early-twentieth-century Japan. The modern education system had combined with both Western ideas and Japan’s own intellectual traditions to produce a pluralistic society in which the “outs” were not only articulate but committed. Society was dynamic, change endemic; indeed, there was a certain seething quality to the period, created in large part by the modernizing policies of Meiji. And an important ingredient in that seething mood was the role of the journalists who, out of allegiance to both ideals and profits, insisted again and again on being heard. Peter Duus has written about the impossible task that “bureaucrats had set for themselves” in attempting to force “private interests into the iron cage of bureaucratic control”. He says:

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“The iron cage was small and rigid, and society a restless managerie, too large and motley to be contained. It would have been more plausible to build an ark where the animals trooped in two by two to live in miraculous harmony.”50 That was why, perhaps, editors who were determined to be heard could not be totally silenced – no matter how vague and manipulable the laws. Was there a “winner” in the press-government struggle? And, if so, what were the roots of victory? Nearly all observers of the Meiji-Taishō press agree that if there was such a thing as victory, it went to the government. Somehow, by the end of Taishō and the beginning of Shōwa, the press’s insistence on independence had become muted, if not inaudible. We already have seen that even at the beginning of the twentieth century the insistence on the right to be heard was often doomed, that again and again editors were thwarted in their attempts to discuss the issues that mattered to them most – sometimes because their papers were shut down, sometimes because specific issues could not be distributed, most often perhaps because they were forced to compromise before their concerns had been fully aired. Nevertheless, most of them persevered in rather remarkable fashion. That changed rather rapidly, however, after the achievement of universal male suffrage in 1925; the newspaper world seemed to run out of steam. Or, as most scholars would conclude, the newspaper press in the early Shōwa years lost its role as an independent, free voice of the public will, as well as its ability to seriously critique the government. The reasons for this capitulation to authority are complex. But their roots are clearly discernible in the Meiji-Taishō years that we have been examining. First, the mere mass of press laws and constancy of their enforcement was bound to take an increasing toll as the years passed – and as officials worked more and more diligently to control thought. Japan’s modern leaders may not have been despotic; they may not have been more authoritarian than others would have been in a similar milieu. But that is not the point under consideration. The relevant point is that they were determined to control the press – from the jailing of Fukuchi in 1868, through the destruction of Niroku Shimpō in 1904, to the smashing of Asahi’s independence in 1918, official policy never moved away from the determination to control the expression of opinion, to assure that nothing be written that might undermine national consensus and tranquility. And no analysis of what happened to the early-Shōwa press can fairly ignore that fact. It is not, however, the entire explanation.

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Although press apologists sometimes paint the government in despotic black and the beleaguered press in innocent white, it seems clear that the responsibility for the shift of the late-1920s lies equally in certain attitudes and developments within the press itself. For one thing, most of Japan’s journalists, from early Meiji through early Shōwa, had a view of the state that precluded final, bitter-end resistance. Albert Altman has made the point forcefully that the Meiji journalists, especially those in the early years, were all products of a Confucian training that made them feel a part of – not adversaries of – the state establishment.51 They were not Jeffersonian democrats; they were Confucian paternalists. Thus, although they might complain about specific policies and personnel, although they might despise the harshness of press laws and scream for the heads of specific leaders, none but the most extreme, fringe elements ever denied the right of the state to control and regulate the press. As Tokutomi once put it, the journalist was the “leader of the masses” – a part of the leadership elite whose role it was simultaneously to take part in the debates of the educated and to bring education to the people. Always, his orientation, his frame of reference, was the state. Accordingly, even the most liberal members of the Meirokusha (some of whom were journalists) debated “civil rights, parliamentary government, and freedom of the press . . . in the context of what would make the nation stronger.”52 And although most Tokugawa-reared writers and editors were gone from the world of journalism by the end of Taishō, their state-oriented legacy still wielded influence. During the Russo-Japanese War, for example, many editors lambasted Kōtoku’s Heimin not just in rebuttal of his views but in opposition to the paper’s very right to exist. Kōtoku wrote in November 1904: “It is not the government alone this time that persecutes us, but many papers and magazines . . . One of them . . . goes so far as to say that it would have socialists beheaded if it only had the power of executing them.”53 In other words, for Kōtoku’s journalistic adversaries the demands of the state took precedence over those of the free press. Indeed six years later when Kōtoku went on trial for treason, only Niroku (which had been revived after the war) protested the government’s decision to keep the trial secret. The Japan Weekly Mail commented: “We cannot find any Japanese newspaper now advocating a public trial . . . The conviction in journalistic circles is that they should be dealt with secretly and conclusively.”54 The general view was that disclosure of the motives of

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those who had attempted to kill the emperor would unwisely agitate the public mind and provide a platform for subversive views. Similarly, when the policeman-murderer of Ōsugi went on trial by court martial after the Great Kantō Earthquake, much of the press focused on his patriotism, turning him into a hero.55 Loyalty to the state thus took precedence, even for editors, over abstract qualities such as press freedom, human rights, and the “public right to know”. Closely related to this Confucian-inspired identification with the state was the press’s tendency across these years to espouse a nationalistic, aggressive brand of patriotism. In the mid-1890s, editors suspended their attacks on the oligarchs to hail the war with China in a binge of patriotism that left even the later-pacifist Uchimura Kanzō unsure whether he loved Japan or Jesus more intensely. At the end of that war and again a decade later they clubbed their government unmercifully for the realistic moderation and conciliation of its diplomatic approach. Even the press inspired rioters at Hibiya in 1905, says Okamoto Shumpei, were simply manifesting an “uncritical belief in a state orthodoxy of personal imperial rule that they had been taught.” The current bureaucrats had failed in their duty to uphold the emperor’s rule and thus deserved, out of patriotism, to be chastised.56 And although editors followed the jisei or tenor of the times in supporting worldwide cooperation after World War I, the nation-centered devotion to the “good of the nation” never waned. To espouse liberalism at home and aggressiveness abroad is not unique; indeed, it has characterized many a national press in all areas and eras. But implicit in this kind of patriotism was a fundamental, if unstated, belief that the “nation” was the concept most worth elevating to a position of supreme value. And that in turn meant that, particularly in times of crisis, it would be necessary to submit to whatever policies were necessary to assure the strength of the nation, that in such times bitter-end opposition would be rendered difficult if not impossible once the sacred name of “polity” or “national welfare” had been invoked. In other words, when love of country conflicted seriously with the more abstract, universal issues involved in social reform and press freedom, love of country usually prevailed. And that fact would make resistance to government policies difficult in the crisis-ridden years of early Shōwa. A final cause of the press’s decreasing political independence in the Taishō years was commercialization. As we have seen, the press inevitably became more and more committed to the profit concept after the

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Sino-Japanese War, and it can be argued that, while the profit-drive made it more combative for a time, it finally made it more cautious. Profit, the anathema of Confucian ideology, had been last on the list of motives for the early-Meiji editors. Echoing Fukuchi’s declaration that journalists were the “uncrowned kings” of the society and the nation’s most influential leaders outside the Prime Minister’s office itself, young men turned to editing for the pure – and Confucian – purpose of expressing their views and influencing the course of events, with the result that early debates tended to be fought single-mindedly. Issues were raised for issues’ sakes. If the blood-letting resulted in some journalistic suicides, that was unfortunate but not enough so to temper the debate. Hence the large numbers of short-lived opinion papers in the 1880s. But with the growth of sizable budgets and increasing profits, all that changed. The papers might continue to fight, but they no longer could ignore the balance sheet.57 At first, the commercialization made some papers more aggressive. We already have seen how both Yorozu and Niroku, founded in the 1890s by sharp-minded businessmen, used sensational, anti-government campaigns to propel their publications to the top of Tokyo’s circulation lists at the turn of the century. They then, along with fellow editors throughout Japan, began something new in Japanese journalism: creating anti-government movements, then covering these movements in their papers. Typical was the Niroku sponsorship of a “friendship” meeting of laborers on 3 April 1901. Some 30,000 showed up, in what has been called Japan’s first labor assembly. Equally typical was the press’s direct involvement in sponsoring the Hibiya rally, which turned into the Hibiya Riot on 5 September 1905. Ariyama notes that while these campaigns may or may not have reflected the honest, anti-government views of the editors, their first purpose was the cultivation of subscribers among the new urban classes – and, thus, the increasing of profits.58 One historian has described Yorozu’s Kuroiwa as a “complex man whose humanitarianism was second only to his shrewd business sense.”59 By the end of the Meiji era, however, this commercialism had become a two-edged sword. While campaigns might stimulate sales, they had to be controlled carefully lest they also invite overly harsh government reprisals and thus undermine the paper’s financial health. After the Russo-Japanese War, news reporting had come to cost hundreds of thousands of yen yearly. By the Taishō era, papers were investing in large concrete buildings, cylinder presses, telephone and

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telegraph systems, and worldwide correspondent networks. Circulations were rising toward a million, and firms were turning themselves into joint-stock companies. As a result, the financial implications of any crusade could no longer be ignored. Maruyama Chūjiro of Asahi made this point in 1914 when he saw Kuroiwa leading the attack on the government over the Siemens affair. Noting that Kuroiwa had boasted that he “would be willing to sacrifice his newspaper for the sake of the movement,” the more straightforward Maruyama responded: “Since I am entrusted with a paper managed by other people, I cannot afford that much conviction.”60 A key example of the working of this complex and increasingly difficult balancing act can be seen in the 1918 White Rainbow Affair, which Uchikawa calls the “last Meiji-style incident” in Japan’s press history.61 This incident is too well known to call for a detailed retelling. Suffice it to say that the press came to life in typically angry fashion when the government forbade all coverage of the nationwide riots that accompanied the sharp rise in rice prices early that August. Although the total ban on news accounts lasted but briefly, the government’s controls remained severe and the press resorted to intense pressure for a relaxation of restrictions. On 17 August the Osaka papers sponsored a reporters’ rally, attended by representatives from 53 Kansai newspapers, which led to a call for the impeachment of the Terauchi cabinet. A similar meeting in Tokyo two days earlier had labeled the press-control methods “the most improper acts ever seen”.62 On 18 August, reporters in Yokohama, Fukui, and Ishikawa also held rallies. And on the twentyfifth the Osaka group met again, while 25 Kyushu papers sponsored a kisha taikai on that day in Fukuoka. The Ōsaka Asahi report on the 25 August meeting brought the crisis to a head as far as the press was concerned. “Could it be that the Japanese Empire, a land so proud of its perfection, is approaching that fearful day of final judgment?” the writer asked. Then he quoted a proverb that Chinese of old supposedly had muttered when contemplating an uprising: “A white rainbow pierced the sun.” The reference was obvious and the government struck back, charging Ōsaka Asahi with violating the press laws by disturbing public order and advocating revolution. The trial began on 25 September, with the government calling for six-month sentences for the publisher, Yamaguchi Nobuo, and the writer of the article, Ōnishi Toshio, and for a prohibition of all future Asahi publication – in other words, the end of the paper. This action

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was followed by conservative demonstrations against the paper and a physical assault on Murayama Ryōhei, the paper’s president and leading light for almost forty years. The Terauchi cabinet fell on 21 September, but the government’s attack continued, with Hara, the new Prime Minister, rumored ready to pursue the paper to its bitter end (although he apparently favored compromise). The conclusion of the affair came on 15 October when Murayama took responsibility for the entire episode by turning the Asahi presidency over to Ueno Riichi. The chief editor, Torii Sosen, also resigned and, on 1 December, the paper ran an editorial, widely regarded as a “surrender document”, apologizing for its partisanship and agitation of the public and pledging to correct its excesses. The courts, on 4 December, ignored (and thus dropped) the request for a prohibition of the paper and sentenced Yamaguchi and Ōnishi to just one and two months in jail respectively.63 This incident, says Ariyama, proved that the press’s power – indeed, its freedom – had been illusory, and brought a halt to its “campaigns to mobilize the people”.64 His evaluation may be slightly overdrawn; after all, the press was still effective in the movement for universal male suffrage and it took the lead in criticizing government moderation at the time of the Manchurian Incident thirteen years later. But Ariyama is not far off the mark. As the incident made dramatically clear to the entire press world, mass circulations and huge budgets that brought influence and power also increased the newspapers’ vulnerability. The fall of small papers, such as Saionji’s Tōyō Jiyū Shimbun in 1881 and the radical Sōmō Zasshi in 1876, always was lamented by hundreds or thousands, and cited by press historians as one more “terrible sacrifice”. But the capital loss was minor, the numbers of individuals affected small, and nearly everyone involved could rather quickly shift to another enterprise, often another small and spirited paper. Running afoul of the government was a different matter for a paper with half a million subscribers. The collapse of Ōsaka Asahi would not merely have sent shock waves through the world of reporters and press scholars; it would have ruined hundreds of careers, rocked the financial world, and shaken the whole Kansai region. Thus, in a world of severe press laws and more than a few paranoid officials, independence may have brought popular respect, but its expressions had to be tempered with economic realities. This fact might have had fewer long-range implications if even some of the influential Taishō papers had been able to retain their earlier non-

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commercial (or at least less commercial) orientation. But the urbanized, crisis-ridden Taishō milieu made that impossible. The last holdout was Tokutomi’s Kokumin Shimbun. As late as January 1923 he wrote in Chūō Kōron that he thought it was still possible for papers truly committed to ideals to hold the torch for debate-centered journalism. “No matter how fully capitalism sweeps the world of the press,” he argued, “I expect that there will still be a place for non-capitalistic journalism. At the very least, I am determined that, as long as I have energy, Kokumin will continue to strive for its original aims. Not being a god, I cannot know what will happen after that.”65 Only nine months later, the Great Kantō Earthquake destroyed the Kokumin offices, along with those of most other Tokyo papers. As a result, Tokutomi’s paper too had to look outside the company for major capital assistance. By 1925 it was engaging in sales and promotion gimmicks like other papers; by 1926 it had become a joint-stock company, funded at three million yen. And by 1929 the same Tokutomi was writing that whereas “once, the dominant figure in the world of journalism was the newspaperman who wielded the pen, today it is the businessman who fingers the abacus . . . . The newspaperman was once the leader of the masses; today, he provides them with one more source of amusement.”66 Commercialism had triumphed, and while decrying that fact may be about as meaningful as cursing the arrival of dusk (or dawn, for that matter), its victory illustrated an important fact. The joining of Confucian loyalty to the state and capitalist commitment to profit created a potent – and dangerous – brew. In the Meiji-Taishō context, it was this combination that finally undermined the newspaper’s role as an independent public advocate and government critic.

Source: Helen Hardacre, ed., New Directions in the Study of Meiji Japan. Leiden: Brill, 1997, pp. 562–580.

4

Commercialization and the Changing World of the Mid-Meiji Press ™

Japan’s early-Meiji press exuded elitism. Founded in the wake of the Meiji Restoration, its leading lights saw themselves, in the words of a Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun editorial, as instruments to “awaken people from their foolish dreams . . . and assist in governance.”1 The result was that from the launching of Japan’s first daily in 1871 until well after the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution nearly twenty years later, all of the country’s leading papers were gray, weighty, and dull. The Confucian-bred editors felt themselves responsible for “leading the people to enlightenment.”2 This meant using their papers to shape political policv with lengthy Page One essays, while avoiding most fiction, news, advertising and entertainment, that is, anything that smacked of the popular or vulgar. It also meant that the papers focused overwhelmingly on political issues and attracted many of Japan’s future government leaders to their staffs. And it meant that circulations remained tiny (typically under ten thousand per paper into the mid-1880s), staffs small, and equipment rudimentary. Newspapers could be launched for a mere four thousand yen in these years, and several leading papers used hand-operated presses until almost the end of the second Meiji decade.3 Readers may have been sophisticated and influential, but the papers never could have been called “popular.”4 This elitism began to change in the 1880s, partly because of the decline in popular political interest in the middle of the decade and partly because of the determination of a new generation of editors such as Fukuzawa Yukichi of Jiji shinpō and Murayama Ryōhei of Asahi 65

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shinbun to eschew partisan politics and pay more attention to balance sheets. But the overriding characteristic of the major papers until the latter part of the decade was a continuing preoccupation with politics. Even Jiji used a gray, headline-less format, and Asahi gave more ink to political issues than to anything else. As Kojima Kazuo, a writer for Nihon (founded in 1889) notes: “In our concern for guiding society, our paper emphasized editorials and slighted news. Everything focused on discussion . . . We scorned third-page news articles [sanmen kiji].”5 Even news sections typically had few headlines, only groups of paragraphs lumped together in a zappō (miscellany) section. By the mid-1890s, however, all this had changed. In the years surrounding the 1889 promulgation of the Meiji Constitution, the leading papers began to concern themselves more and more with news, readers, and profits. Editors launched new papers – influential and respected papers – with the avowed intent of disseminating news and securing profits. Some of them started circulation wars, while others gravitated toward the sensationalism, or “red journalism”6 of the despised “minor papers” (koshinbun). Even the once-staid, always gray Yūbin hōchi shinbun announced in bold type on December 20, 1894 that it was turning popular, and began filling its pages with lively news stories about the Sino-Japanese War illustrated by artists’ sketches and a trend-setting colloquial writing style, with Chinese characters accompanied by furigana (phonetic guides).7 Something obviously had happened, both in the press and in the life of the nation. Different groups had begun reading the leading papers, even as the editors had started redefining their newspapering goals. Technology and values had combined to blur the distinction between the prestige papers (ōshinbun) and their sensational, “minor” rivals. Journalists everywhere were changing their self-definitions, as well as the image they tried to convey to readers. And, whether the press was a mirror or a shaper, readers could not but conclude that Japanese society itself was changing – changing in ways that cry for fuller description and analysis. It is the intent of this paper to begin the study of that change: first, to examine the ways in which the press itself developed in the late 1880s and 1890s; then, to look at the broader social transformation that was both a cause and a result of the press’s evolution. While there is insufficient space here to detail all the changes in the press during these years, a look at the leading papers’ contents, formats, and business approaches should suggest the general nature of what was happening. Clearly, one of the most remarkable departures

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was the new orientation of the 1890s editors toward news. Once the neglected orphan of the profession, the news story now approached the throne as the crown prince of the press. To use Uchikawa Yoshimi’s metaphor, while the early-Meiji journalists had been the “star players” of the political world, “engaging in the sport of battle through political essays,” by the mid-1890s they had become spectators, “standing on the sidelines” and reporting the news.8 Among the areas in which this shift showed up most clearly was the development by Yūbin hōchi and Yorozu chōhō of the third-page (sanmen kiji) news department. Hōchi announced in its revolutionary, December 10, 1894 issue that it was becoming a “high class profit (eiri) newspaper,” explaining that the old ōshinbun had been too hard for commoners to read, while the koshinbun had been too “coarse” and “obscene” for the homes of the refined. The need, it said, was for a middle-road paper that emphasized news and entertainment yet maintained high moral standards. Its approach was emulated by the other major Tokyo and Osaka papers, and for the next two decades the sanmen kiji was a staple of the influential press.9 The trend toward publishing more news actually had begun late in the 1880s, as some of the more entrepreneurial editors began to run articles on unusual human exploits and even scandalous behavior. Tokyo asahi reporters, for example, went to herculean lengths to give readers quick coverage of the July 15, 1888 eruption of Mount Bandai. Tokyo nichi nichi and Osaka asahi joined others in sending reporters to cover the sensational, seventeen-month-long horseback ride of a Lieutenant Colonel Fukushima Yasumasa from Berlin to Vladivostok in 1892–93. And by the mid-1890s, all the papers were emphasizing news. The year 1896 saw a rash of stories, in papers across the country, on tidal waves, fires, floods, and earthquakes. And the April 24, 1897 evening edition of Tokyo asahi carried reports on a “major fire in Hachioji” – the first time news had been sped to press offices by carrier pigeon.10 Papers also began devoting considerable space to economic news, especially as the economy soared with the switch to the gold standard after the SinoJapanese War. The Osaka papers were especially aggressive in this area, focusing on commercial development in the Kansai region. Above all, papers covered war. The interest in war news had surfaced first in the Tokyo nichi nichi’s coverage of the Taiwan Expedition back in 1874 and of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877, sparking that paper’s first significant circulation jumps. In the middle 1890s, with a new attitude toward news already rising, the Sino-Japanese War evoked a degree of

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coverage that was revolutionary in its impact. That impact will be discussed below, but it must be noted here that the war set off Japan’s first true reportorial frenzy, with sixty-six papers sending reporters, artists and photographers to cover the hostilities.11 A Page One cartoon in the February 15, 1895 (the Chinese New Year) issue of Jiji shinpō captured the enthusiasm of much of the war coverage by depicting four distraught Chinese faces topped by queues forming the numerical figures 1895.12 So acceptable had news of foreign affairs become, in fact, that by the end of the decade stories about the Boxer Rebellion were running regularly on Page One. One result of the growing emphasis on news was an expansion of reportorial staffs. By 1902, Osaka asahi, the nation’s largest paper, claimed a staff of 410 full and part-time employees, with 177 of them handling reportorial and editorial responsibilities. There were separate divisions of the paper’s editorial department for politics, society, economics, the arts, and general news.13 This decade also saw the hiring of the nation’s first women reporters at Yūbin hōchi, Jiji, Chūō shinbun, Osaka asahi, and others.14 The forerunner of today’s reporters’ clubs began then too, with the establishment in 1890 of the Diet Reporters’ Association (Gikai shutsunyū kisha dan), which attempted to assist reporters from three dozen regional newspapers in covering the legislature.15 And the use of poorly educated interviewers (tanbōsha) to gather tidbits at government offices and bring information in from the streets began now to decline sharply.16 News, in other words, had become too important to be left to unreliable menials. Even the most traditional, the most political of the old papers found it impossible after the 1890s to avoid the news focus. “After the SinoJapanese War,” said Nihon’s Kojima, the news orientation “grew severe; even our paper was pressured by this force. You could not make it if you did not run news.”17 A decade later, following Japan’s next great war, the esteemed Tokutomi Sohō turned editorial writing at his Kokumin shinbun largely over to subordinates – not because he had lost interest in the essay form, but because newspaper editorials had lost their clout, their impact undermined by the popularity of news.18 Not surprisingly, the growing news orientation was accompanied by changes in the style and format of the papers too. During the first two Meiji decades, newspapers had been characterized by unrelieved masses of small, black type, broken only by occasional division headings (such as “government notices,” “editorials,” or “miscellany”) in slightly bolder, larger typeface. Back pages carried some ads, often highlighted

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by artists’ sketches, and special occasions such as the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution brought out typographical flourishes. But the typical paper, well into the 1890s, defied readers to plough through dense columns with Confucian-bred diligence. Nor did this serious style evaporate overnight, even after the SinoJapanese War. While Yūbin hōchi may have proclaimed its determination to provide more lively fare for readers in December 1894, the changes occurred rather gradually across the next decade. Even popular newcomers to Tokyo journalism, such as Kuroiwa Shūroku’s Yorozu chōhō and Akiyama Teisuke’s Niroku shinpō, at first added just a few sketches and slightly enlarged headlines to unrelieved columns or type. Nonetheless, with each year after the middle 1890s, newspaper formats grew a bit livelier. Yamamoto Fumio calls the use of large headlines and “flashy editing” to herald major events (and “garner readers”) one of the important innovations of the Sino-Japanese War period.19 By the Russo-Japanese War years, large headlines, artists’ illustrations, editorial cartoons, and front page ads had become the norm, while editorials had moved inside and become shorter. One of the more interesting format experiments around this time was Kuroiwa’s decision in 1897 to lure readers by printing Yorozu chōhō on red paper. He continued the practice only a short while, because the color made the type unclear, but the experiment itself showed just how innovative 1890s editors had become.20 The competition for readers also caused editors to begin bringing out multiple editions of papers during these years, in addition to publishing extras with a frequency bordering on extravagance during times of crisis. By the beginning of the century, Yorozu chōhō, Jiji shinpō and Tokyo asahi, for example, all were publishing three times daily: a 4:00 P.M. edition for readers in Kyushu and Tōhoku, a 9:00 P.M. edition for the Kantō region and nearby prefectures, and a midnight edition for Tokyo. During the Russo-Japanese War, extras hit the streets so frequently that some predicted a shortage of newsprint; instead of cutting back, however, profit-conscious editors simply began importing newsprint (from Wisconsin, among other places) and went right on publishing.21 These years also saw the use of new display devises, made possible by technological innovations. In January 1902, Yūbin hōchi began three-color printing, and two years later it initiated the practice of New Year newspaper photographs, with a portrait of the imperial family. By the end of 1904, the once-staid Nihon shinbun was publishing twice-

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monthly photo supplements, and by the spring of 1905, all of the Tokyo papers had taken to attracting readers through photographs.22 The early Meiji editors, convinced that the only proper purpose of journalism lay in shaping national policy through public debate, decried the loss of “seriousness,” but their complaints were shouts against the gale. A new class of readers wanted livelier papers, and that is what they received. Nowhere was the new journalism more apparent than in the quest for profits that motivated the publishers and editors of the 1890s. The Fukuchis and Kurimotos of earlier years may have disdained moneygrubbing, but not so their mid-Meiji successors. The new approach was pioneered by Murayama and Fukuzawa at Asahi and Jiji, who spoke openly in the early 1880s about the necessity of creating a sound financial base for any newspaper. But it took the arrival of a new breed around 1890 to make profit-seeking wholly (or at least almost wholly) respectable. One press historian has labeled the early 1890s the “era of personal journalism,”23 because of the rather dramatic arrival on the scene of several new editors, all of them highly vocal, individualistic sorts unafraid to promote themselves along with profits. Some of these new editors – particularly Tokutomi Sohō of Kokumin shinbun and Kuga Katsunan of Nihon – continued to focus on opinion more than on news; but most, including Akiyama, Kuroiwa, and Osaka mainichi’s Motoyama Hikoichi, made no apologies about editing for commercial purposes. The longest shadow probably was cast by Kuroiwa, a Tosa native who had been advised by a doctor that his nerves were too weak for newspaper work. After an itinerant early career that saw him writing and translating popular novels for half a dozen newspapers, as well as spending sixteen days in jail for attacking the government, he founded Yorozu chōhō on November 1, 1892, determined to publish readable news for a rising class of literate city-folk. In his first issue, he promised his readers: dependable and detailed articles and opinions; a paper that can be read with utmost trust in all matters; more than 360 issues a year; a daily dose of endless zest; an inexhaustible supply of interesting, profitable material; and a solid journalistic meal! [shinbunshi naka no kome no meshi].

He also promised to “know neither political connections nor government ties”24 and declared that the paper’s articles would be “simple, clear and incisive,” because “long articles are a waste of time and simply tire one’s mind and eyes.”25

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One result of this approach, which included exposés as well as lively essays by some of the era’s best writers, was that Kuroiwa won the enmity of both his rival editors and most officials during the next few years.26 Some called him “Shūroku the pit viper.” Others labeled Yorozu chōhō the “blackmail newspaper” (yusuri shinbun), and sneered at “red newspapering” as a symbol of cheap unreliability. Subscribers, on the other hand, loved him and talked affectionately about the edokko shinbun – the newspaper of Tokyo’s lower-class townspeople. And everybody, officials included, read Kuroiwa’s paper – so much so that within six years its readership had passed the eighty-five thousand mark, twice the circulation of Tokyo asahi and quadruple that of Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun and Yūbin hōchi.27 The paper’s combination of lively news coverage, lower class independence, and articulate editorial essays went far in bridging the old worlds of ōshinbun and koshinbun. And it made Kuroiwa one of his country’s richest editors. A soul-mate in Osaka was Motoyama, a Kumamoto native who joined Osaka mainichi shinbun as a consultant in 1889 and turned that paper, within a decade, into a national powerhouse with more than one hundred thousand subscribers.28 He was the country’s most outspoken advocate of newspaper-as-commodity-ism (shinbun shōhin shugi), arguing with an openness that would have been unthinkable only years before that management was as important as editing in the success of any paper.29 As he put it: “The essence of Osaka mainichi shinbun is business; newspaper publishing is a business enterprise.”30 As a result, he became well known for personally calling on newspaper sales shops throughout Osaka to encourage sales. And he spent lavishly on whatever he thought would increase his paper’s profits. By the time he become company president in 1903, Mainichi had become one of the country’s most powerful papers; like Yorozu, Jiji and Asahi, it had bridged the “prestige-popular paper” chasm, making profit respectable, even essential, in the process. This new commercialism transformed the press in numerous ways. We have already noted the increasing emphasis on news. We also have seen the rising concern about appealing formats and attention to management styles. But the impact did not stop in the offices or on the pages of the papers themselves; it changed the whole relationship between journalists and readers. Indeed, it changed the very kinds of people the journalists saw themselves as being. Beyond paying closer attention to readable prose, it prompted editors to begin promoting their papers, with a close eye to what their

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readers wanted. There always had been some concern about sales; Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, for example, had promised to push Tokyo nichi nichi’s circulation to three hundred or take a fifty-yen salary cutback in 1874.31 But overt promotion made the early editors highly uncomfortable. Kuroiwa, Akiyama and Murayama, by contrast, had become unabashed promoters by the early 1890s. When Fukuzawa’s second second son, Sutejirō, took control of Jiji in 1891, he began not only cartoons and sports news but all kinds of promotional campaigns aimed at increasing circulation, even sponsoring a sixty-five mile marathon race and holding a beauty contest.32 Tokyo nichi nichi hired a sales person to distribute daily issues at a Shinbunshi bus stop, thus initiating the now time-honored practice of station newspaper stands. Papers also took to holding popularity contests, offering gifts or fire insurance policies to new subscribers, even giving the public free rides on horse-drawn carts – all to increase sales.33 Nor were the circulation schemes always positive, or civil. When Murayama decided to create his Tokyo asahi in 1888, for example, the sixteen existing Tokyo papers tried to lock him out by prohibiting the city’s five major newspaper sales dealers from selling his paper. They were unsuccessful because the shrewd Murayama persuaded four of the five to ignore the prohibition. But the enmity made quite clear just what had happened to the old, noncommercial elitism.34 Across the next decades fights for sales and market share would grow even more acrimonious. Not surprisingly, the press growth that resulted from the new commercialism was dramatic. In 1887, at the dawning of this new era, Japan’s largest paper was Yūbin hōchi, with a circulation of 13,059. By 1894, it was Osaka asahi, with 93,758. And in 1907, a Dentsū survey showed Yūbin hōchi and Osaka asahi with three hundred thousand each and four other papers – Osaka mainichi, Yorozu chōhō, Tokyo asahi, and Niroku shinpō – with more than one hundred thousand each.35 The largest papers, in other words, had increased more than twenty-fold in just two decades. The number of newspapers and journals had grown too, from 745 just after the Sino-Japanese War to 2,290 in 1907.36 It is hard to imagine the thoughts that must have gone through the mind of Fukuchi, who was proud of boosting circulation to three hundred just a generation earlier. The papers also began to make advertising revenues a priority in this new era. Advertising per se was not new; the very first papers had run ads. But it was only after the late 1880s that the typical editor began

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to see advertising revenue as a fundamental part of his paper’s total revenue scheme. Jiji shinpō was the early leader in this area, giving all of Page One to ads after the middle of 1886 – purportedly because it was better to have ads than editorial content damaged by bad weather, but really (one suspects) because Page One ads sold well – and starting Sanseisha, the country’s first newspaper advertising agency, the same year.37’ Large display ads became common in most papers after the Sino-Japanese War, and by the early 1900s advertisements for everything from tobacco and banks to toiletries and medicines had come to dominate the papers. Multiple-page display ads by companies such as Maruzen Bookstore also became common after 1905.38 The long and short of all this is that the small political sheets that made Japan’s public life so lively during the first two Meiji decades either died or evolved into large, commercial newspapers during the 1890s. Joined by aggressive newcomers such as Osaka mainichi, Tokyo asahi, Yorozu chōhō and Niroku shinpō, they published stories about war and scandal, fought for subscribers and scoops, and maneuvered for yen and influence in a manner not unlike that of Lord Northcliffe in London and Joseph Pulitzer in New York. And the change was as remarkable as the transformation of the overall Meiji society. Indeed, although the story of the press’s evolution is fascinating in and of itself, its greatest significance probably lies in the clues it holds to understanding that broader national transformation, for the light it sheds on the social forces driving the entire modernization process as the nineteenth century neared an end. It is to the question of why the press made such a rapid shift in these years that we now must turn. Several of the reasons, while important and suggestive, lie outside the scope of this study. Some scholars have suggested, for example, that a key to the change lies in the government’s increasingly stringent press-control measures throughout the 1880s – that editors, having had so much of their political writing censored, grew wary, and decided to shift their energies to news coverage, which was less vulnerable to censorship. This analysis raises difficult questions, since the editors of the 1890s continued to feel the censors’ wrath just as much as their forebears had, but it does suggest important issues for further consideration.39 Other scholars talk about the competition of the Osaka papers, Asahi and Mainichi, with each other as well as with the Tokyo papers after the two of them brought their aggressive style to Kantō.40 The personalities of the new editors, all of whom reached adulthood after the Meiji Restoration, clearly had an important influence. And

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still other analysts have pointed out the signal role technology played in triggering change, how rapid collection and dissemination of news was made possible by the telegraph, the telephone, the rapid Marinoni press, even photography.41 While all of these merit analysis, I want to focus here on two other areas, each of which calls for further research, and each of which raises important questions about the more general nature of Japan’s modernizing experience. The first is the impact of war, specifically the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, in both propelling and solidifying the press’s transition to commercialism. As we have observed, war already had been a major player in Japan’s press development. The military struggles that followed the Meiji Restoration provided much of the grist for the era’s very first “newspapers,” pamphlet-like publications that appeared every three or four days (as often as woodblocks could be carved) in the spring and summer of 1868. Coverage of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 brought Tokyo nichi nichi a record ten thousand subscribers and prompted the Emperor Meiji to grant the paper’s editor Fukuchi a personal interview about the hostilities.42 Similarly, threats of war in Korea had provided impetus for increased news coverage at several points in the 1880s. After each of these episodes, however, news quickly returned to its subordinate role, overwhelmed by the politically-oriented editorialists. The mid-1890s war with China was different, larger in scale and more far reaching in its impact on the press. Popularizing, commercializing changes, already underway, now were given full play by a war long and large enough to make those changes permanent. Victories in battle provided an arena for hard reportage hitherto unknown in modern Japan. The national consensus behind the war undermined many of the editorialists’ penchant for debate. And the public appetite for speedy information reinforced the importance of new technology. By the spring of 1895, it could be argued, the mindset of Japanese journalists and readers had undergone a sea change. At the heart of this development, obviously, was an expanding public enthusiasm for military adventure and the resultant demand for more and more information about what was going on in Korea and China. One London observer remarked seven weeks after hostilities commenced: The enthusiasm in Japan continues, and the spectacle of this Eastern nation fighting and maneuvering and organizing with a verve and intelligence worthy of a first-class European war has sent a thrill of admiring wonder through the military world.43

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Similarly, the novelist Kunikida Doppo told the troops, in a talk published in Kokumin shinbun: “People of our great Japanese Empire are proud that they have military men brave and loyal as you! . . . Behind you are your 40 million compatriots, all but burning with emotion.”44 Responding to this public demand to know what was happening, the papers bent every effort to cover the war promptly and fully. Nearly one hundred and thirty reporters and artists were dispatched to cover the war. Asahi alone assigned twenty men to war correspondence, and altogether more than three hundred journalists helped one way or another to handle war stories.45 In addition to filling the pages of regular editions with their accounts, the leading papers put out frequent extras with the latest battlefield news, often trying as hard to get attention for the papers’ own herculean efforts as to communicate anything new. One writer at Jiji commented as the war was about to break out: “[The extras] never stop coming out. They come out in the morning; they come out at noon; they come out in the evening . . . It has reached the point of creating salespersons who specialize in extras.”46 Not surprisingly, the stories ran from the purely descriptive to the emotional and maudlin. Papers that once had prized typographical dignity now combined large, heavy headlines with vivid sketches and cartoons depicting sensational victories or acts of heroism. More than 10 percent of the war correspondents were artists and photographers determined to please a seemingly insatiable public taste for graphic suggestions of what was happening.47’ Even the highbrow Nihon filled its columns with numerous (albeit rather dull) sketches. And, in addition to running factual accounts of war development and voluminous pieces of war fiction by well known authors, the papers heralded the fighting with war song competitions designed to “arouse feelings of hatred against our national enemy” and endless eulogies to wartime heroes.48 As victory approached, Yūbin hōchi wrote enthusiastically about the Japanese army’s “pride in facing the world,” based on “expressions of admiration by a German war correspondent.”49 And when Li Hongzhang arrived in Shimonoseki in March 1895 to negotiate for a humiliated China, the headlines were huge and chauvinistic.’50 Perhaps the most significant result of the heavy war coverage was the new persona the press developed. If the leading papers had entered the news-oriented popularization process rather cautiously in the late 1880s, they had come to accept news dissemination as their central function by mid-1895. Kido Mataichi calls the Sino-Japanese War the event that “made reporting important to Japan’s press.”51 Yamamoto Fumio says

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the war, more than anything else, spurred the first dramatic increases in circulation, which in turn caused editors to adopt news policies designed to keep those new readers.52 And Nishida Taketoshi, perhaps the most meticulous historian of the Meiji press, argues that this war created the need for a fresh, capital-intensive approach to news gathering, which in turn “determined the fate of the newspaper company.”53 Another reason for the press’s transition – a reason crying for more consideration – is the changing nature of the Tokyo and Osaka “public” in these years. Press historians talk a good deal about the people’s clamor for news of the war; at least as important is the fact that there was a larger literate public now, ready to purchase more than six hundred thousand daily subscriptions in Tokyo and Osaka alone by the end of the Sino-Japanese War.54 Civil war might have spurred newspaper sales in Meiji’s tenth year, but the number of people capable of, or interested in, reading could not then have supported anything approaching a mass press. By the 1890s, that clearly had changed. One of the factors seriously in need of more attention is the growing urban class sufficiently interested in “public” events to purchase newspapers. It was their demand, it can be argued, that in the long run did more than anything else to propel the journalistic revolution. When Kuroiwa proclaimed his intent in 1892 to publish Yorozu chōhō “to help the average masses [futsū ippan no tasū minjin] know the times thoroughly at a glance,”55 whom did he have in mind? It would appear that he was onto the fact that Japan’s “average masses” were something of a different breed than those of previous decades. For one thing, far more of them were sufficiently educated to read simply-written newspapers. If it took until the mid-1880s before much more than half of Japan’s school-aged children began attending primary school, it took only another decade and a half until more than 90 percent were doing so.56 By all accounts, school attendance increased rapidly after 1890, especially in the cities; by the end of the decade, Tokyo alone had more than fifty thousand preuniversity students in its schools.57 The result for the press, says Uchikawa, was “dramatic.” School graduates were “beginning to read newspapers,” not the Chinese-influenced prose of the old papers but the vernacular writing of the new dailies.58 This spreading literacy also meant that very different kinds of people were reading papers than before. If the politically-sophisticated establishment remained elitist, small and tight-knit, it was increasingly balanced by a rapidly growing “city class” made up of students, small merchants, and workers. The populations of Tokyo and Osaka were

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growing rapidly, increasing by a combined one-hundred-thousand a year in the latter years of the decade.59 Railway traffic, which multiplied twelve times from 1885 to 1895, was combining with the telegraph and (to a lesser degree) the telephone to give people a sense of connectedness with other parts of Japan.60 A tripling of electric lights in Tokyo homes between the Sino-and Russo-Japanese wars, from 4,176 to 14,969, suggests increasing numbers of people with the means both to buy papers and to read at night.61 And the seven-fold increase in factory workers from 1882 to 1900 indicated that even if Japan’s economy had not “taken off” by today’s standards, urban populations were shifting significantly.62 These trends, says Yamamoto Taketoshi, the historian who has paid the most attention to such things, account most significantly for the rise in the number of “lower class readers” at the time.63 And these were the classes to which the press had to respond if it wished to remain viable after mid-Meiji, the readers to whom Kuroiwa was referring in his famous opening salvo at Yorozu chōhō: We seek to lower prices, to reduce the paper in size, to simplify our writing . . . People are busy. They work in the day and struggle to pay their oil bills in the evening. So they need reading that is simple.64

As he put it later in life, “My original feeling was that I would not be satisfied unless Chōhō reached all classes of Japanese society, in all places, and had the confidence of everyone in the entire nation.”65 It was this goal that drove his editorial policy, this goal that reflected an astute understanding of the deep changes underway in Japan’s newspaper reading public. As Yamamoto Taketoshi’s readership studies have shown us, by the end of the Sino-Japanese War decade, a large segment of the readers of the nation’s largest papers were shop clerks, merchants, students, and even factory workers. Of Tokyo asahi’s 519,000 daily readers in 1898, for example, 134,000 were merchants, 77,000 students, 26,000 “lower class,” and none were officials. At Yorozu chōhō, a full 45 percent were soldiers, farmers, and “lower class.” Of six leading Tokyo papers examined by Yamamoto, in fact, only at Nihon did educators and officials make up more than 10 percent of the readers.66 The old readership class simply had become too small, proportionately, to sustain the kinds of circulations needed for financial viability by this time. John Morley, the elitist British Viscount of Blackburn, complained in 1882 that although the “great papers” were meant to “teach the con-

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ventional prejudices” of their subscribers, the tone of the British press had descended until “the press is more and more taking the tone of a man speaking to a man.” By the 1890s, adds press historian Stephen Koss, London’s journalists were speaking “to office-boys in the tones of office-boys.”67 It was the kind of complaint Tokutomi or Fukuchi would have understood (or might have made), because the same thing had happened – in the very same years – in Tokyo and Osaka, where a greatly changed urban population would accept no other kind of paper. And what does all of this tell us about Meiji society, or about where we ought to go in our efforts to understand Japan’s late-nineteenth century? As so often is the case, it leaves us with more questions than answers. For one thing, the study suggests that we must look more closely at the decade of the 1890s, a time when Japan’s urban society was exploding. The pluralizing, privatizing, popularizing impact of modernization may have become obvious in the early twentieth century, but the Yorozu chōhō and Niroku shinpō experiences tell us that the roots of those changes had taken firm hold by Meiji’s third decade. For another, it is clear that we need to pay more attention to war as an agent of change. The Sino-Japanese War (a minor skirmish by the standards of later conflicts) exerted a profound impact on Japan’s evolving press, combining with new technologies, new leadership, and new social forces to change the face of that medium completely. The war also helped, through a willing, even enthusiastic press, to speed along a new style of nationalism, a kind that Midoro Masaichi says unified support for “a vigorous foreign policy that praised militarism and inspired patriotism.”68 Finally, one of ’ the clearest lessons of this study seems to be that elite institutions cannot be understood apart from their relationships with people at lower levels of society. It is not enough to study wars, constitutions, and educational policies from the top; while national policy makers – or political essayists – may be easier to study, while they are articulate enough to convince us of their own significance, a look at the press makes it clear that popular forces played a central role in shaping even the national, elitist institutions. With the progression of modernization, it became impossible for an institution such as the press to flourish, or even survive, without reference to the needs and interests of an expanding public. And that should compel those of us seeking to understand change in any area to look more seriously at the impact of the “average masses” (futsū ippan no tasū minjin).

Source: The Japan Interpreter, Vol. 11, No. 4, Spring 1977, pp. 448–66.

5

The Meiji Roots and Contemporary Practice of the Japanese Press ™

The Japanese press has come under increasing fire from critics on both right and left in recent years, especially since the unfolding of the story of the U.S. press and Watergate. Disgruntled by the coverage in Japan of democratic-minded citizens’ movements, unhappy with the doctrinaire 1972 support of mainland China at the expense of Taiwan, disappointed with its lack of vigor in chasing Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei from office in 1974 and with inadequate investigative reporting during the Lockheed scandals of 1976, critics have produced a barrage of literature unfavorably comparing the Japanese and American versions of the free press. Perhaps because “democracy” is so strongly associated with the United States, Japanese most frequently compare their press with that of the United States. Thus, some of the more outspoken critics have suggested that what press differences really indicate is a basic dissimilarity between the Japanese and American forms of democracy, hinting darkly that unless the press changes, democracy may not last.1 These writers do not deny the numerous similarities between the United States and Japanese press establishments: relative freedom in which they work; saturation news coverage to provide for a national reading public; the immense impact both exert on public opinion; and the great diversity of papers, ranging from the elite Asahi shinbun and New York Times, to sports papers such as Supōtsu Nippon and National Sporting News; from economic giants (Wall Street Journal, Nihon Keizai shinbun), to yellow scandal sheets. 79

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The similarities, however, have not been the focus of the critics, who tend to take them for granted. Of much greater concern have been the points of divergence, which some think are increasing. And, regardless of their philosophical significance as indicators of the nature of Japanese democracy, these contrasts are probably more than just figments of the imagination; the more carefully one looks at the two press systems, the more convinced one becomes that superficial similarities in truth mask very basic differences. How Do They Differ?

One such difference lies in the national nature of the readership in Japan. It has often been noted that Japan has the highest per capita newspaper circulation in the world – 541 copies sold daily for every thousand inhabitants – which is nearly two hundred above that of the United States.2 But more significant than their numbers is the nature of the readers. Unlike the United States, Japan can be said to have a truly national press. Whereas none of the United States’ most influential papers can boast a circulation list approaching even one percent of the population,3 each of Japan’s three largest dailies – Asahi, Mainichi shinbun, Yomiuri shinbun – reaches more than five percent, and Asahi’s total circulation is ten million, reaching over nine percent. If one figures that three or four persons look at each copy, it is safe to conclude that more than one-third the total populace reads the Asahi – a staggering figure. Moreover, Japan’s three leading papers all publish separate editions in each of the nation’s major cities, thus assuring a total geographical influence throughout the nation, a feat accomplished by no American paper. The potential for inducing and conveying uniform interpretations of news across the entire nation becomes nearly as great in Japan as that of the television networks in the United States. And the potential for individual papers to influence and shape national opinion is incomparably stronger than that of any American paper. As Satō Seizaburō of Tokyo University noted in 1975, “When the major Japanese newspapers with their combined circulation in the millions began their concerted reporting of Tanaka’s financial connections, the political world was rocked and the Tanaka Cabinet fell in less than a month” – an illustration, he said, of “the tremendous influence of the Japanese press,” particularly when compared to the two years it took to topple the Nixon administration in the United States.4

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A second basic difference lies in the group-oriented structure of the Japanese press. Walls between news sections, politics, sports, economics, science, courts, city desk, tend to be higher and more rigidly fixed than in the United States, while personal relationships within those sections are closer. Seniority plays a far greater role in the promotion of a Japanese newsperson than it does in the career of the Western counterpart: nearly all reporters start in a regional branch office and few, if any, ever receive a significant editorial or administrative position before the mature age of forty.5 Rather than writing stories, reporters usually feed raw information and ideas to a “desk” in the office, where editors determine how the story will be written, thus increasing intraoffice dependency. Moreover, competition among Japanese reporters is anathema, and dismissal for incompetence nonexistent. The Japanese press machine is, in short, more throughly and finely integrated, and thus less subject to radical change over time, or to the disruptive strains of intense individualism and competition. In a sense it might be seen as a reflection of Japanese society itself.6 One of the best examples of the clubbish group orientation of the Japanese newsmaking structure is the ubiquitous press club (kisha kurabu), which has been described as “the most distinctive feature of Japanese group journalism.”7 Each of perhaps one thousand different agencies of the government has a “club” of anywhere from 10 to 270 reporters responsible for covering that agency for their own individual newspapers or news organizations. These reporters work out of a joint office at the government bureau; they discuss news together, almost invariably adopting a “group line” for the handling of stories. They drink together, often into the evening, play games, and socialize together. They adopt formal club rules and effectively exclude all nonmembers (including foreign correspondents, who have not been allowed to join) from the major sources of their particular news beat. So exclusive is the system that members often maintain closer ties to the club than to their own newspaper, and when a member violates rules, as NHK did several years ago by gaining an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Satō Eisaku, the result is punishment or ostracism. For NHK, it meant several weeks’ suspension from all club activities, including briefings and news conferences. The result of this practice, not surprisingly, is a gray sameness in the nature and interpretation of most news that appears in the nation’s press, a clubbish sameness stark enough to make American coverage appear brightly variegated.8

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If the press club structure suggests a close relationship between government officials and reporters, that suggestion may have substance. Indeed, the third significant difference between the Japanese and American presses lies in the overpowering establishment orientation of Japan’s newspapers, which reflects the intimate interlocking interests and activities of the press and the nation’s other major power-wielding institutions. The American press has long prided itself on maintaining an adversary relationship with the powers-that-be, and that relationship through the years has prompted both Joseph Pulitzer’s promise to “serve no party but the people”9 and Richard Nixon’s pledge to “screw the press.” But the Japanese press neither invites nor desires any such deep-rooted antagonism. It is seen rather as part of the consensusshaping establishment. Richard Halloran of the New York Times calls the press the “fourth power in the Establishment that governs Japan,” after the bureaucracy, the Liberal Democratic party and big business, and he quotes one Japanese scholar as saying newspapers are “like productions of the Government or the Establishment.”10 Even more blunt is Kyōgoku Jun’ichi of Tokyo University, who says the national newspapers also serve as “trade journals for the political establishment,” their political correspondents frequently functioning as advisors and even secretaries to leading politicians.11 This intimacy is evident at every level. It is reflected in part in the educational background of members of the press. A full eighty-five percent of Japanese newspersons are university graduates or higher, most of them coming from prestigious schools such as Waseda and Tokyo University, and that tends to reinforce in the press as a whole the hierarchical, institutionalized values of traditional society.12 The same intimacy also appears in the huge financial empires run by each of the leading papers. These empires include book publishing, amusement parks, travel agencies, baseball clubs and medical clinics, all of them large enterprises that reportedly involve newspaper companies in intricate financial arrangements with the government itself. It shows up in club-style ties to political leaders that often make the press, despite its complete constitutional freedom, a conduit for the opinions of Cabinet ministers and party members, a “transmission belt of government ideas to the people.”13 The result has been a dearth of Washington Post-style attacks on the Establishment. This does not mean that writers never criticize; they are active critics. But most observers agree that criticism tends to be petty

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rather than basic, that “criticism is only part of consensus-making – an aspect of a family fight that goes on in the open.”14 When it appears that criticism might seriously rend the establishment fabric itself, or sully the national honor, however, the press often backs off. One of the most vivid examples in recent years of hesitation to pursue sensitive areas was dramatized at the time of the collapse of the Tanaka government amid charges of financial corruption, at the end of 1974. The Tanaka faction was at the heart of the LDP (translate: Establishment Party) power nexus, and the national press largely ignored the swirling rumors until an article by a freelancer appeared in the magazine Bungei shunjū. Even then, the newspapers reported only timidly on the issues, refusing to confront the prime minister until nearly a month later when members of the foreign correspondents’ club did so at a Tokyo press luncheon. Said Kyōgoku of the incident: “The established press ignored the Bungei shunjū attack because it consisted of questions raised by amateurs outside the industry and thus represented the mere noise of outsiders.”15 For an establishment institution, such noise need not be recognized. Closely tied to the establishment orientation is a fourth basic difference between the worlds of American and Japanese newspapers. The Japanese press tends toward a much more doctrinaire party-line approach. Each paper, as well as the press as a whole, is known for its basic philosophical position; neither editorials nor news articles are allowed to deviate significantly from that position. As Shiraishi Kokyō, president of the Japanese Publishers Association (Nihon Shinbun Kyōkai), told his association’s convention in 1975: One “basic problem is the fact that newspapers . . . resort to reporting and editorials that give the impression newspapers are always taking a specific political or ideological stand – an impression that tends to alienate the reader.”16 The reason for this tendency – which, by the way, has drawn penetrating criticism in recent years – seems to lie not only in the establishment ties but, more basically, in a conception of the press’ role in society that differs decidedly from that found in the United States. Columnist Jack Anderson might write that “newsmen are out of their element when they share with the governors the view from the mountaintop upon the governed below.”17 But such a statement could hardly be expected from most Japanese reporters. Much more typical is the attitude of Hirooka Tomo, president of Asahi shinbun, who recently listed what he saw as the three key elements necessary to developing a responsible press: dedication to the creation of a democratic society, the construction of

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a strong managerial and financial basis, and the hiring of a staff “who can convince and lead people.” It seems significant that his list did not include a commitment to the unbiased, balanced and full reporting of news.18 The press, in other words, is a leader of society, a shaper of opinion, more than a window to what is going on. One result of that approach is that papers tend to freely include what American journalists would call “opinion” in the news columns, especially opinion that opposes communism and favors the LDP, business and national progress. Another is that differences of opinion are frequently muted, if not choked off, in the Japanese press. Among the most outspoken critics of the tendency of papers to take a “party line” approach to most issues has been Hayashi Saburō, a former reporter at the Mainichi. In a 1974 bestseller, Shinbun o dō yomu ka (How to Read Newspapers), he charged that the press’s refusal to publish diverse opinions was turning Japan into a “totalitarian society” (zettaishugi no shakai).19 He compared the American practice of running letters and editorial columns giving various points-of-view to his own inability in 1971 to secure publication of a pro-Taiwan column, once the Japanese press had decided on a pro-Peking stance. “I thought the readers should have a choice,” he said. “But the views in my column ran counter to the editorial policy of the paper (Mainichi), so they refused to run it. This was typical. Japanese papers almost always refuse to run any articles that do not support their own editorial position. They engage in self-censorship, expurgating all opposing views. They hate diversity of opinion, refusing to make it clear to their readers that different people do think differently on different issues. They refuse the public the right of deciding for itself, by denying a free choice among many opinions.”20 The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and choice, he said, means freedom of access to the full range of opinion; therefore, in a society where the number of mass-circulation newspapers was limited, each paper had a legal responsibility to make all opinions available to its readers so that they could make up their minds on the basis of adequate knowledge. But the Japanese press, he said, has become a “totalitarian institution in which each paper imitates the views of the others.”21 Hayashi’s criticisms may be a bit extreme, perhaps sour at times. It was his own viewpoint, after all, that was suppressed, so one can hardly blame him for being indignant. Nonetheless, the tendency of papers to imitate each other and exclude materials inconsistent with

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the “party line” has been generally conceded, even by defenders of the press. The fact that Hayashi’s book became a bestseller suggests that he had touched a point of public sensitivity. One could write volumes about the question of why the press in democratic, postwar Japan differs so fundamentally from the American press in the areas of national circulation, group-oriented structure, establishment bias and the tendency to adopt a doctrinaire party line. Social anthropology certainly offers some way to find answers: newspaper organizations, characterized by clubbishness, promotion by seniority and lack of mobility, seem to epitomize Nakane Chie’s vertical society22 and Thomas Rohlen’s “company as community.”23 Social history also offers insights. The lack of traditionally democratic institutions, the longstanding tendency of multiple elites to dominate society from the top, the autocratic nature of rule by landlords and village headmen, and the ethnocentricity and particularism that has influenced so many events in the past century, have all played a role in shaping today’s press. So has the nature of the educational system, nurturing a nation of readers and inculcating collective values that support both hierarchical tendencies and unquestioning allegiance to established institutions. Finally, economic theory and structure have also played a part. To fully analyze the full range of causes is beyond the scope of this study. Its purpose is rather to examine the institutional, historic roots of the press and to determine whether the uniqueness and apparent divergence from Western-style libertarianism is of recent or distant origin. The old addage may turn out to be valid: the more things change, the more they remain the same. At the same time an examination of the press may reveal more about the unique and amazingly creative ways in which early Meiji modernizers carefully adapted Western institutions to fit the peculiarly Japanese situation, and the effect those adaptations have had on the subsequent evolution of Japan’s own paternalistically democratic system. The Roots of the Differences

Before looking at the nature of the early Meiji press, a brief glance at its history should lend perspective to this study. The first news published for sale in Japan was the single-sheet broadside variously called kawaraban [slate impression], sekiban [stone impression] or yomiuri [“read and sell”] that enterprising persons often printed during the

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Tokugawa era (1600–1868) to describe such major or sensational incidents as earthquakes, love suicides and fires. Nothing approaching a true newspaper was published, however, until 1862 when the bakufu’s Office for the Study of Western Writings (Yōsho Shirabe Dokoro) began putting out the Kanhan batabia shinbun, an irregular compilation of translations from a Dutch paper in Java. The first true flowering of the press did not come until the spring of 1868, when the Restoration wars between the new Meiji government and diehard samurai defenders of the defeated Tokugawa provided both the material and the stimulus for the publication of more than twenty papers. The crude “Restoration papers,” as they were called, were printed by woodblock and lasted but a few months before the Meiji leaders clamped down, throwing one of the leading editors in jail for his opposition to the new regime and suppressing all the other papers. They lighted a spark, however, indicating to the leaders of a society in transition just how powerful printed news and opinion could be in influencing a nation. As a result, within a decade the newspaper had become a driving force in Japanese political life. The first daily paper was published in Yokohama in 1871, and during the next few years scores of papers sprang up, attracting as writers some of the nation’s brightest young westernizers and modernizers. As Fukuchi Gen’ichirō said on assuming the editorship of Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun in 1874: “If one cannot become prime minister one should become a journalist.”24 Nor was Fukuchi off the track. Japan of the 1870s and 1880s was a cauldron of ideas that were both the fuel and the broth. Feudal traditions were being confronted by “modern” methods. A new government was struggling for legitimacy and stability. The economy was in a state of flux, and totally new educational institutions were being devised. Political structures and personalities were changing rapidly, while Western ideas were penetrating every area of life. In this milieu, the newspaper was able to provide a forum for the rapid and ready interchange of views on the directions in which the nation was going. As a result, Japan’s press came to adolescence largely as a political medium. In the 1890s it would develop into a genuinely commercial enterprise marked by mass circulation, modern technology and huge profits. In its formative years, 1871–85, however, it was dominated by ideas, by papers such as Tōkyō nichi nichi, Yūbin hōchi and Chōya, which devoted page one to editorials, remained content with small circulations and came out with four-and eight-page editions. As the writer-

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politician Yano Fumio remarked of this period: “I have not in all my life seen a time that a newspaper’s editorials have so guided society.”25 These years deserve attention as the period of adolescence, the troubled era from which Japan’s mature commercial press would eventually emerge. While present-day observers may assume that the postwar features of the press are unique, the truth is that most of them were already taking shape at least in a rudimentary way by 1885. To understand the fundamental molding that took place then, as well as the pivotal role of the formative period, let us turn to the press of a hundred years ago, in terms of the four areas noted above: readership, structure, establishment relationships and adherence to party-line opinions. Readership. We originally noted three distinctive traits of the modern press readership in Japan: it is large, national in scope and as a result highly amenable to influence by the press. In the first of these areas, the early Meiji press differed distinctly from today’s press. The circulation of each paper was small then. Nichi nichi, the largest paper of the early years, boasted a circulation of eight thousand in 1874, “skyrocketed” to ten thousand in 1877 and declined to five thousand in 1883. Other major papers followed similar patterns, though their decline was not as sharp in the 1880s.26 Allowing even for a fourfold increase in the population from 1876 to 1976, their size in terms of circulation was less than one two-hundred-fiftieth of each of today’s giant “big three.” Modernity was still the wave of the future; newspaper reading habits were in the process of developing, and circulation reflected that fact. In the other two areas of readership, the nineteenth-century precedents are striking. Perhaps because Japan was a small and compact land, perhaps because it had an aged tradition of centralized structures, the very earliest papers took on national, rather than local, characteristics. There were, of course, regional papers influential only in their own locales, just as there are today. But towering over these in influence and power were such national papers as Yokohama mainichi, Hōchi and Nichi nichi whose readership included most opinion leaders in every prefecture. This stemmed partly from the fact that the government saw the press as a tool for educating the populace in the ways of the modern world, and thus lent its support to the nationwide dissemination of certain favored papers. As Kido Kōin, one of the three leading architects of the early Meiji state, wrote in 1871: “It is my plan to open a news office which will publish all the news – both domestic and foreign – for the

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edification of our people in every province and fief. I feel that it will contribute to their enlightenment.”27 Following through (though without establishing any official paper), he and other early officials saw to it that the key Tokyo-Yokohama newspapers were disseminated broadly. In April of 1872, the Ministry of Finance went so far as to order every prefectural and major city government to buy at least three copies each of the Yokohama mainichi, Nichi nichi and Shinbun zasshi.28 The result is that by the middle 1870s, these papers were being read in both public reading rooms and private homes throughout the entire country. Letters to the editor came from rural as well as urban areas; news reports covered the entirety of Japan, and the political debates in these papers provoked discussion everywhere. One colorful illustration of how widely these papers were read is the recollection by the noted journalist Tokutomi Sohō of how, as a lad in the rural southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, he copied the editorials of Nichi nichi every day – “to learn how to write.”29 Not only were the early papers widely disseminated, they were also unusually influential. Indeed, one of the more amazing stories of the first decade of Meiji was the soaring influence of the national papers. Despite the fact that daily papers got their start only in 1871, by 1875 they had become the pivot of national modernization discussions, serving (in the proud evaluation of one Meiji period editor) as “the eyes and ears of the world, the movers of mankind.”30 So convinced was the government of the accuracy, or at least the potential accuracy, of this claim that in mid-1875 it issued a long series of highly restrictive, though only partly effective, press controls. Ambitious youths apparently were equally convinced, for during the 1870s many of the brightest, most talented young men in the nation had become reporters. Four of these youths, Inukai Tsuyoshi, Katō Kōmei, Saionji Kinmochi and Hara Satoshi, eventually became prime ministers. One of the most dramatic, concrete examples of that influence at work was demonstrated during the unraveling of the notorious Hokkaido Land Scandal during the fall of 1881, when news leaked to the press that the government was planning to sell its newly developed Hokkaido lands for a pittance to several government insiders. The press raised an outcry, claiming that the sales were an example of the pitfalls of autocratic, nonconstitutional government. Journalists and pressconnected politicians editorialized emotionally and organized lectures throughout the country. Within a few weeks the government had backed down, revoked the sale, ousted Ōkuma Shigenobu, the man

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rumored responsible for the leak, and set a timetable for the adoption of a constitution. It was more than a coincidence that in the next six months the government attempted, with limited success, to “buy off” all the leading papers with ill-concealed monetary gifts, for newspapers by then had generally been recognized as absolutely crucial in “guiding society.”31 Newspapers in contemporary Japan may be credited with exerting unusual influence but, as the foregoing descriptions make clear, that characteristic is hardly new. Structures. Evidence regarding the early Meiji roots of today’s structural peculiarities seems on the surface less abundant than evidence on the nature of the press’ early readership. What there is, however, suggests both differences from and significant similarities to the picture of the press portrayed at the outset of this essay. The remarkable devotion to group-oriented, noncompetitive methods in Tokyo’s news media has been noted, in the form of press clubs, the tendency of reporters from rival papers to discuss and cooperate in newsgathering, the resultant lack of scoops, and individuality. On this last point the early press differed markedly. There were, as we shall see, areas of cooperation, but one of the most notable characteristics of the 1870s was the intense competition that fueled the very growth of the press. The press first burst into power in the 1870s as a vehicle for discussion of political ideas, and the result was an acrimonious exchange worthy of the bloodletting of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer in New York two decades later. The issue that sparked the editorial wars was the creation of a popular assembly to advise the government, a cause first advocated by Itagaki Taisuke in a memorial to the government in 1874. On one side, Yūbin hōchi and Chōya argued heatedly for the immediate creation of a representative assembly composed of elite former samurai. On the other side, Nichi nichi called for “gradualism” [zenshinshugi], in which the people (including commoners) would be educated gradually in the methods of self-government before the eventual creation of a national assembly. The rhetoric was often extreme. A few papers (though admittedly not the most influential ones) went so far as to advocate the “purchase of freedom with blood,”32 and many of them, including Yūbin hōchi, described commoners, whom Nichi nichi wanted included in the assembly, as “unlearned, powerless fools.”33 Nichi nichi responded in kind, its editor lambasting the elite and influential patrons of the

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opposition as “parasites on society” because of the samurai stipends they received annually from the government.34 The result of this approach was a lively, frequently acerbic journalism, so often found in an adolescent press. Scoops and extras were emphasized, often at the sacrifice of facts and cool analysis. Personal vilification was not unknown. In fact, in 1879, Numa Morikazu gave up a post in the Ministry of Justice and joined the Yokohama mainichi staff, reportedly with the sole motive of gaining a platform to attack the Nichi nichi editor, Fukuchi.35 The third decade of Meiji would change all this, ushering in a new, modern brand of commercial journalism that would in turn emphasize mass circulations, economic profits and greater harmony and cooperation. The heady editorial wars of the 1870s and 1880s nevertheless served a major purpose, nourishing a growing national appetite for political debate, stimulating nationalism and shaping the propensity to forge close ties with the political world. Despite this marked difference from the gray similarity of contemporary papers, there were other, less visible but even more basic, structural areas in which the early Meiji press did indeed set the standards for its twentieth-century grandchild. The seniority system was not fully developed (how could it have been in an institution only ten years old?), but its roots are visible in the immense deference paid to the “old” writers of the day, Kishida Ginkō, Kurimoto Joun and others. Group-orientation was apparent in the intimacy of the newsroom, particularly in the vivid picture that emerges in accounts of editors nurturing young writers to the point of shaping their life-styles and drinking habits, and painstakingly teaching them the intricacies of writing. Job specialization, illustrated by the tendency of reporters to phone in the contents of stories and leave the actual writing to desk men, saw its origins in the existence of two distinct classes of writers in the early Meiji press: tanbōsha, menials whose job was to collect news items, and highly-paid writers or kisha, who worked those items into polished prose. Most significant of the structural similarities, however, was a growing, if paradoxical, clubbishness among most journalists. Despite the heated and even personal arguments carried on through editorial columns, Japanese journalists were much quicker than their Western counterparts to develop a certain esprit de corps and create mutually beneficial organizations as fellow-members of a common profession. America’s daily press was more than 140 years old in 1848 when David Hale of the New York Journal of Commerce convened half a dozen New

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York editors for the country’s first cooperative meeting of journalists. By contrast, Tokyo’s editors held their first formal joint meeting in June of 1875, just four years after the launching of Japan’s first daily, to formulate a united response to growing legal pressures on the press. A year later they met with even greater fanfare at Tokyo’s Asakusa Kannon temple to demonstrate, again jointly, the powerful role the press had come to play in society.36 When Nichi nichi moved into impressive new offices in the heart of the Ginza in 1878, its bitter rival, Chōya, publicly described the new edifice as “amazing in its grandeur and splendor,” “the new home of our comrade, Nippōsha.” This was a sign that the press had come of age.37 Editors might fight like rival brothers, but the brothers were family members, mutually proud and exclusive in a manner unknown to America’s Hearsts, Danas, Raymonds and Bennetts. Out of that spirit, competitive though it often was in the age of journalistic adolescence and political debate, would evolve the grouporiented structures and cooperative practices of the twentieth century. Establishment Biases. If the early press saw the beginnings of groupcenteredness, it also saw the full development of a pro-establishment bias. Conceived in a hierarchical, authority-conscious nation-womb, the press seemed to grow overnight into an institution whose primary concern was integration into, rather than alienation from, the national establishment. So marked was this tendency, that observers today might justifiably spend more time discussing why contemporary newspapers are even as mildly distrustful of the establishment as they are, rather than constantly (and sometimes mindlessly) castigating them for too much coziness. Despite a great deal of conflict between the press and the government during the 1870s and 1880s, careful analysis reveals a newspaper world fully dedicated to the overall growth of the national establishment. To understand this orientation, one needs to look at two institutional factors that gave rise to the first important newspapers. The early papers were founded, first of all, by former samurai – men who had been at the top levels of society in the class-conscious Tokugawa era. As a result, they could hardly have been expected to seek the overthrow of the ruling establishment per se. In contrast to rebels like James Franklin and immigrants like Pulitzer, they were part of that establishment by birth, and hence incapable of pronounced antiestablishment biases. Second, nearly every significant daily in the earliest years depended on government support for its very existence. Government directives urged the populace to read papers and ordered prefectural officials to subscribe

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to the leading dailies. Nisshin shinjishi, Nichi nichi, Yokohama mainichi, Shinbun zasshi and Hōchi were all subsidized by specific government bureaus or officials. Even the English-language Tokio Times, probably the most literate foreign paper of the 1870s, existed only because of a secret financial arrangement between Finance Minister Ōkuma and its editor, Edward H. House.38 The significance of the close relationships between the press and the ruling elite becomes especially apparent when they are compared to the seventeenth-century British struggles between iconoclastic publishers and the infamous Star Chamber court, or to the angry and rebellious climate that helped produce America’s first papers. The early Japanese press might fight the government on specific policies, such as constitutionalism and the timing of representative government, but those fights were never long sustained. Furthermore, with only a few exceptions, none of the major papers ever opposed the established power structure per se. The Japanese tradition eschewed the rugged individualism that Americans valued so highly. It called above all for respect for authority, and once the Restoration battles of 1868 were over, the press generally followed that tradition. That pattern can be partly explained by the particular view of government that most leading Japanese journalists held in the 1870s. The inherent need for an independent “watchdog” institution outside the government was a Western concept, alien to the Japanese. Therefore, even the attacks on the government that proved so important in stoking the early editorial wars were more properly the power ploys of individuals who saw themselves as establishment insiders than they were illustrations of surveillance by outside agents. When the government gave in on a specific issue, such as the calling of the Conference of Local Officials [Chihōkan Kaigi] in 1875, the editorial warriors quit the battle and their hero, Itagaki, entered the government, content that representative government, the specific issue for which they had been fighting, was now on the way. None of their editorials even raised the possibility that the government might be using the conference as a facade to mask maintenance of the status quo, a possibility that history would have proved well founded. It is not enough, however, to suggest that the early journalists simply assumed passively or unconsciously that they were more active than that in seeking to secure ties to the national power structure. To most individuals, ties to the government or to other influential institutions connoted power, and only when they were unable to develop such ties

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did they take to the attack. Perhaps the best single example lies in the emergence of Nichi nichi as Japan’s leading newspaper late in 1874 – largely by scoring a coup in securing the right to call itself a goyōshinbun or “patronage paper” of the government. On 2 December, the paper announced that it had “in name and reality been appointed to the service of printing Dajōkan [Council of State] articles.” That fact alone earned Nichi nichi new respect throughout the country. As one scholar of the early press has written, “Tokyo nichi nichi got a jump on the other newspapers by claiming Dajōkan patronage, so the other papers then had to attack it in order to keep their own readers.”39 Nor was it only the government to which the press maintained ties during its first decade. It was the entire establishment, the entire power structure of the nation, whether economic, political or intellectual. Nearly every leading newspaper editor and writer eschewed reportorial independence whenever it threatened to deprive him of the influence that came from deep involvement in other areas of life. The early journalists ran for public office, moved back and forth between the bureaucracy and the press, helped establish and run the stock exchange, formed their own political parties and founded educational institutions. They were power brokers whose influence was felt everywhere within the establishment. Even Fukuzawa Yukichi, the so-called independent who established Jiji shimpō in 1882 allegedly to bring apolitical fairness and balance to the press, consented readily when asked early in the 1880s to edit a new paper that would serve as a mouthpiece for the government. The project fell through, but the important point here is that even a man who championed independence saw no incongruity in close cooperation with government officials, no need for thoroughgoing separation of press and state.40 After the maturation of Fukuzawa’s Jiji in the latter 1880s and the growth of the commercial press in the 1890s, this view of the press as an integral, internal part of the establishment changed somewhat, but only slightly. For the journalist, in the mind of many Japanese writers, was “the uncrowned king” of society.41 Party-line proclivities. The distinctive feature of the contemporary press dealt with Hayashi’s contention that Japanese newspapers “hate any diversity of opinion.” We have noted the boisterous clashes between most early Meiji newspapers, but the basic tendency Hayashi decries – unwillingness to print either news or opinion not consistent with its own political or philosophical position – began to emerge late in 1874 and by 1875 had become a fixed characteristic of Japan’s major newspapers.

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Prior to the middle of 1874, newspapers frequently published columns by persons of differing opinions. One day an editorialist might support military expansion into Korea; the next another might oppose it. One writer might call government officials “autocrats” on Tuesday when another had labeled them “fairminded progressives” on Monday. But by early 1875, several papers had instituted a regular editorial column, running it daily on page one. With that innovation, as well as with the eruption of the intense political debates over representative government, came a new tendency for each paper to harden its party line in concrete – to the point of composing agreeable lettersto-the-editor over pseudonyms. And from that time on, the party-line approach has dominated the press, showing itself in at least three different ways. First, it appeared in the lopsided commitment of most early newspapers to one specific political party or position. Seeking to mold national opinion more than to inform it, they never hesitated to become mouthpieces for the Itagaki faction, the Chōshū faction, or the Ōkuma faction. Fukuchi at Nichi nichi put the case most clearly when he declared openly that he desired his paper to be “an organ through which I would express the Cabinet’s policies”42 despite the fact that he vigorously opposed any government-initiated efforts to control what editors wrote. In 1882 this attitude showed itself again when nearly every major paper in the country jumped into the political furor then raging over constitutional government and announced that it was becoming a mouthpiece for a given political party: Chōya and Tokyo keizai zasshi for Itagaki’s Liberal party (Jiyūtō): Hōchi and Mainichi for Ōkuma’s Progressive party (Kaishintō), and Nichi nichi and Meiji nippō for the pro-government Constitutional Imperial party (Teiseitō). Even the major distinction between newspaper types early in the Meiji era emphasized the preference opinion leaders gave to papers that took a specific political point of view. Newspapers then were divided into two broad categories, daishinbun or “major newspapers,” and koshinbun, or “minor newspapers.” The main distinction between them was the emphasis by daishinbun on political news and doctrinaire, opinion-leading discussions of government policy, as opposed to the allegedly inferior koshinbun treatment of a miscellany of news, including a good deal that was sensational and scandalous. It should come as little surprise that editors of the daishinbun have been described as “ministers without portfolios,”43 or as “organs of groups or individuals with their own political or cultural views to advance,”44

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The emphasis on doctrinaire party lines showed up, second, in a deemphasis on straight news coverage in the leading early Meiji papers. Page one was almost always given over entirely to an editorial, as was part of page two. The assignment of newsgathering responsibilities to poorly educated menials resulted in frequent inaccuracies. Few reporters ever engaged in investigative reporting. Feature news was largely regarded as taboo until the middle 1880s. When civil war broke out in Satsuma in 1877, only one paper thought of sending a correspondent to the scene until many weeks after the war had begun, and that thought came by way of a suggestion from the nonjournalist oligarch Itō Hirobumi. Said one observer of the press at that time in obvious understatement: “News was lightly treated.”45 A third characteristic of the philosophical, party-line orientation was an impressive early Meiji commitment, regardless of ideology or political party, to the overriding cause of national progress. That commitment is related to several important intellectual themes of the times: the basically pro-establishment motivation that caused men to found papers and write; the same pragmatic and hierarchical attitudes that centuries before had spurred Ogyū Sorai to sanctify “government that works” as the “way of the gods,” and an undergirding pride-ofcountry born of two centuries of international isolation and two decades of Western pressure and interaction. But the dedication to national progress is so singular, so important in stimulating the tendency to grapple with philosophical problems and, hence, to adopt a doctrinaire position, that it deserves separate mention. Nearly every argument in the press of the time posited as its basic value the “good of the nation,” a phrase that referred more to the State at the top than to the citizen at the bottom. Matsushita Keiichi of Hōsei University has written that even when zealots of the Meiji era opposed the government, they did so “not so much from a concrete sense of responsibility for the people as from nationalistic indignation.”46 That observation would seem as valid for the press as for any segment of society then. We have noted that the press’ first political struggle was over a representative assembly; but while the one side asked that representation be limited to the few elite at the top, the other side argued for gradual evolution in that direction so as not to disturb the parallels of “national progress and order.”47 Even clearer evidence of this concern for national causes came in an editorial war over the concept of sovereignty between the “liberal” Mainichi and the nationalistic Nichi nichi early in 1882. Although it maintained that sover-

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eignty rested at least partly in the people, the Mainichi still saw the advance of the state-as-a-whole as the prime value to be guarded. As the paper wrote: “The assembly discusses and agrees upon the bills, the king approves. By this cooperation of power laws are enacted, and society is kept in order.”48 And Fukuzawa, who founded Jiji in 1882 to give people a more “independent” voice, (“there were not many beside myself who . . . had worthwhile ideas in their heads, and who were still really free from political and business interests”)49 seems never to have considered “love of country” a political view. As a result, he lived and wrote as an unabashed advocate of anything he saw as good for the nation, whether it meant education for women or military expansion into Korea. Though the common man evoked his concern, few would dispute the fact that his key focus was on “the nation.” The papers might disagree on policy; but they were all engaged in a single overall task. That task was to propel an increasingly proud and expanding fatherland into a position where it could play a significant role in international affairs. Unquestioning belief in this cause probably kept them from ever seriously challenging the proclivity for doctrinaire, party-line positions in the 1870s and 1880s. At the same time it helped pave the way toward full-fledged (and eventually pernicious) nationalism with the onset of Japanese involvement in major international conflicts in the 1890s. Harry S. Truman gained a certain amount of pop notoriety for his quip that “there is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”50 He may have overstated the historian’s case, but as the foregoing discussion points out, he had at the very least touched upon an element of truth. Contemporary observers may look long at today’s press and puzzle over why it resembles the Western press on the surface yet remains so “inscrutably Japanese” at its core. They may evoke ready explanations, most of them significant and at least partially true, about a frame-oriented society, elitism, the lack of democratic roots and “inherent national traits.” Despite the value of these explanations, it remains impossible to understand fully the nature of today’s press without looking at the wellspring itself, the first decade and a half that gave birth to the outpouring of Japanese journalism and, in the process, largely shaped the basic course it would follow. To understand in turn why that era produced the kind of press it did – why the early press became so national in its orientation, so clubbish in its structure, so establishmentarian and dogmatic in its biases – calls the reader even farther back, into the ancient warp and woof

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that formed the basic fabric of Japanese society. It also causes one to think about the nature of Western ideas that wove themselves, if ever so intricately, into the national patterns of the middle 1800s. For the time, let it be said that when post-Restoration Japanese imported the peculiarly Western institution of the press, they did so in a creative and adaptive way, developing a new institution that was neither traditionally Japanese nor Western. So it has remained to this day.

Source: Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1977, pp. 370–380.

6

In Retrospect (Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan) ™

MIDDLE

SCHOOLERS IN the late Meiji years found this idyllic bit of verse in their authorized language textbook:

Newspapers City affairs, country affairs, Affairs in far away lands, We understand them at a glance: Newspaper, ah, cherished newspaper! Making me aware That fires are many, as are thieves, That fearful illnesses now are spreading: Newspaper, ah, kind newspaper! Conveying good deeds, otherwise unknown, As well as hidden evils, Just like a mirror: Newspaper, ah, bright newspaper!1

The sentiments were sanitized, the prose more palatable than the targets of Shimada’s or Onishi’s invective might have thought accurate. The poem suggested nonetheless much of what the Meiji papers actually had become: a conveyor of information from regions both foreign and familiar, a packager of reality-at-a-glance, an educational tool, a 98

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publicist for the good and the interesting, a spotlight on the murky backrooms of corruption. To say that this institution, non-existent half a century earlier, had helped to change the world of the average city dweller is to understate the case many times. To explain just how it stimulated change is more difficult. But a few observations about several press characteristics that persisted, and several that underwent a transformation, may prove useful in concluding this analysis. Let us begin with the press’ self-identity, the way Japan’s leading journalists perceived their own profession. On one point – the journalists’ sense of the press as a defender of the public interest – there never was much wavering. The earliest editors took up the brush as a cudgel, to defend the nation, as they saw it, against the usurping Meiji “rebels.” By early Meiji, they were talking about themselves as society’s “uncrowned kings,” not so much because they sought personal power as because they saw newspapers as tools for shaping political policy. “Newspapers are teachers,” wrote Chōya’s Narushima Ryūhoku, “the new kings of the imperial court and the friends of all people. They make trouble for the former samurai (shizoku) and make light of the nobility (kazoku).”2 And the press’ leaders kept on saying such things, with obvious conviction, to the end of the era. The old Confucian types often lamented the onset of vulgarity and commercialization, but no one, not even the most commercial of editors, stopped insisting that journalists must guard the public trust. That is what Kuroiwa had in mind when he told his readers in 1901 that “a newspaper has the power to save the people from confusion, to point out clearly the difference between good and evil in society, between right and wrong . . . purity and corruption,”3 and it is what Tokutomi meant when he called for journalists to be “the script writers of real politics.”4 Whether demanding a popular assembly in 1874, agitating for war in 1903, or promoting rallies to block city ownership of streetcars in 1911, the editors consistently wrapped themselves in the mantle of defenders of the public interest against self-interested politicians and bureaucrats. On several other points, however, the press’ view of itself changed noticeably across the years. A monumental evolution occurred, for example, in the journalists’ view of what a newspaper’s fundamental purpose should be. There was no question in the minds of the first editors; newspapers were political instruments, no more, no less. That was why intellectual debates over assemblies and constitutions provided most of the press’ energy in its early years; it was why Nisshin Shinjishi announced in its first issue that it intended to “bring knowledge to

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the people, assist in spreading enlightenment, and work in everything for the profit of the nation”;5 it was why Fukuchi Gen’ichirō told colleagues that an ambitious public servant who could not become prime minister should become a journalist. It also was why the early editors would have been aghast to hear Motoyama proclaim at the end of this era that “a newspaper is a commercial product” – and why Tokutomi grimaced when noting that journalism had become the domain of the “businessman who fingers the abacus.” Such a shift was inevitable, in a modernizing, increasingly literate world that demanded both larger circulations and greater amounts of capital. But it meant that the daily picture of the world that the editors painted would change dramatically over the Meiji decades, from that of a government-dominated society ruled by nuanced, heated debates about political ideas to a hurly-burly world of murders, citizen protest, and international conflict, with political debate thrown in. The Confucian order, in other words, would give way by mid-Meiji to the commercialized world of mass journalism. Closely related was a shift in the material editors deemed appropriate for newspapers. In the early years, the editorial was front and center in every prestigious paper; editors, educated in the public service rhetoric of Tokugawa Confucianism, saw themselves as “teachers of society,” responsible for debating with the elite and enlightening their inferiors. That meant placing government decrees and editorials on page one, relegating news to the miscellany section inside, and publishing only “proper” news that would encourage civilization. That approach was challenged in the 1880s by new-style editors such as Fukuzawa, who once had described a newspaper as simply “a company that investigates new things, records them, and proclaims them to the world.”6 And it was blown to bits in the 1890s by populist editors such as Kuroiwa and Akiyama Teisuke, and by the wars that sandwiched the new century’s arrival, until by the Taishō era the Mainichi president would be telling his staff, “The newspaper is a vessel for reporting facts, not a teacher of society or a leadership organ.”7 Reporters still used the paper as a political lever sometimes, but the mainstream dailies had become thoroughgoing newspapers by the end of Meiji, sheets dominated by sanmen kiji at the front, hard news and advertisements throughout, and editorials somewhere inside. A second area that revealed both changes and continuities was the press’ relationship to the authorities. Here, the most obvious continuity was unending conflict. On the one side stood the government, which, in Midoro Masaichi’s slight exaggeration, “had only one policy

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for keeping the political situation peaceful: suppression of discussion” – and thus issued no fewer than eighty-three different press decrees and regulations in the first sixteen Meiji years.8 “The essence of the Meiji state’s peace and order system,” agrees Okudaira Yasuhiro, was “to suppress antisystem activity (hantaisei katsudō) by administrative or police measures.”9 On the other side stood the journalists, government critics who, in the popular mind, were true to their profession only when they were “registering dissent, decrying abuse, and awakening the people to alternative, and generally more liberal, policies and programs for modernization” than those of the officials.10 The fight between the two sides was unending. Fukuchi launched it by going to jail for his sharp attacks on the new Meiji government at Kōko Shimbun; Suehiro Tetchō followed him a few years later with biting Chōya articles about “little men” who “toadied to authorities”;11 Nihon lost 131 days of publication during the Sino-Japanese War period because of its bitter attacks on what it considered wishy-washy national leadership, and almost all of the leading papers were confiscated repeatedly in the lateMeiji, early-Taishō years for demanding the impeachment of a cabinet or printing something salacious. When Fukuzawa died, Fukuchi wrote rather plaintively: “In 1874, when I was editing Tōkyō Nichi Nichi, he said to me, ‘You have taken up the newspaper business; that is wonderful. Be careful though not to get tied too much to the government. If you become too closely tied, they will mislead you.’ In the end, they did . . . . Ah, you were a good friend, a trustworthy friend. You did not let me down; I let you down.”12 He was not alone in making that mistake, but he was in the minority, at least until mid-Meiji. No matter the day or the issue, the independent, antigovernment papers were the most popular. The reverse side of the press-government conflict (and our second point of continuity) was that the editors always were part of the establishment, which meant that the reasons for their antigovernment pose were not always as clear-cut as they appeared. The establishment orientation showed up everywhere: in Chūgai Shimbun’s declaration just after the Meiji Restoration that “all the people must follow the government,” even as editor Yanagawa Shunsan was railing against the men who were leading it;13 in editors’ constant references to themselves as “teachers” and “managers of the people”; in the large numbers of journalists elected to each Diet; in Tokutomi’s participation in the Katsura government and Ikebe Kichitarō’s secret 1903 visits with Itō Hirobumi and Yamagata Aritomo to urge war with Russia. Obviously,

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identification with the elite did not mean that editors would refrain from fighting with the authorities. What it did mean was that editors always would remain close to their own favorite officials, factions, and business leaders; so their positions rarely would range far from the broad center. That was why neither the socialists nor free speech per se ever won much support. The early Meiji writers were Japanese first, Confucian second – and then journalists. By the turn of the century, the categories had changed but not the order; now it was Japanesebusinessmen-journalists. One aspect of the press-government relationship that did change significantly was the nature of the laws under which the press had to operate. Lawrence Beer observes that the harsh, 1930s-style control of “the recesses of the mind . . . did not come about suddenly or in a legally simple manner.”14 And the press’ own experience bears him out. The first full-fledged newspaper law was issued in 1875, and for several years after that the primary means of punishment lay in fines and jail terms, which meant that at least 144 journalists went to jail between 1875 and 1877.15 In 1876, the Council of State added the proviso granting Home Ministers the administrative right to suspend (hakkō teishi) or ban (hakkō kinshi) any paper that “violated public order” or injured public morals. Then, in 1883, a new press law attempted to squeeze out small, radical papers by requiring that all owners pay a substantial “security deposit” when launching a paper. There was a positive shift in 1891 and 1892, when the Diet refused to allow prepublication censorship except in times of emergency, followed by a major change in 1897 that replaced the government’s right to suspend and ban papers administratively with the more limited, though sometimes more expensive, right to prohibit sales and distribution on a given day. And in 1909 the security deposit amount was doubled. Thus, while the right of officials to control speech never was questioned, the acceptable means for doing so underwent a distinct evolution. And the overall impact was a slight liberalization in the last decade and a half of Meiji, at least for the mainstream papers for whom the increased security deposit was no problem. Closely related to the evolving laws was a significant change, particularly in late Meiji, in the reasons for which journalists were punished. In the first half of the era, punishments typically were political: the jailings of Ueki Emori and Minoura Katsundo for demanding popular rights, a ten-day suspension of Chōya in 1878 for publishing the apologia of Ōkubo Toshimichi’s assassins, removal

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from the Tokyo area in 1887 of treaty revision advocates Ozaki Yukio and Nakae Chōmin, the issuance of more than two hundred hakkō teishi orders to papers that denounced Japan’s “weak” diplomacy in May 1895. By the last Meiji years, however, the pattern had changed. Now that it was no longer possible to suspend papers without recourse to the courts, political punishments had become unusual for any but the socialist papers. In their place had come crackdowns on anything perceived to undermine “public morals.” As we saw in the last chapter, these penalties tended generally to be less costly, sometimes involving the confiscation of a day’s issues but more often requiring only the payment of a fine, and usually a fairly light one at that. The result was a relatively freer press in the last Meiji decade, a press still subject to harsh penalties in times of emergency like the 1905 Hibiya riots but otherwise constricted as much by its own nationalist, establishment views as by the authoritarian officials. The third characteristic of the press that demands analysis is the tension in the writers’ dual roles as journalists and as Japanese. Hanazono Kanesada began his little 1926 study of pioneer journalists with the observation that “the two salient features of the Japanese press are that it has been struggling for the extension of the people’s rights and has always been nationalistic.”16 There is little doubt that he is right, especially about the nationalism. From the day that Yanagawa Shunsan began compiling his Rich Thicket of News (Shimbun Kaisō) at the Kaiseijo in 1865, one is hard-pressed to find a single prominent journalist who did not profess to write at least in part out of a deep desire to serve Japan. The writers made a sharp distinction between their beloved nation and its emperor, on the one hand, and the all-too-human politicians and officials, on the other. They also expressed their patriotism in many different ways. But they always expressed it. Even the radically democratic Hyōron Shimbun couched its 1876 attacks on the system in terms of what “the emperor would accept.”17 Every paper in the country covered the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution with an unrestrained pride that would have embarrassed journalists in more cynical regions and eras. The most vicious struggles between journalists and the cabinet in the era’s last two decades sprang from editors’ and writers’ assessments that the country’s diplomats and oligarchs were weak on backbone and patriotism. The antigovernment demonstrators invariably joined reporters in banzais to the emperor just before they left to smash police boxes. Even the novelist-journalist Futabatei Shimei would comment, “My life is torn between two opposite poles:

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my innate passion for imperialistic patriotism and my socialist ideals. I alternate constantly between the two.”18 The impact of this deep-seated patriotism on the press’ behavior was complex. There is no question that it undergirded the early journalists’ efforts to help their leaders create a nation, “to make the times intelligible even to children,” as one put it.19 It also fueled their debates about the locus of sovereignty, about constitutions, about how the treaties could (and should) be reformed, and it made both the policies and the quality of intellectual life better as a result. And the journalists’ deep sense of loyalty touched a chord in the provinces, where a young Tokutomi in Kumamoto would be inspired by Fukuchi’s prose to serve his nation, or a school teacher in Gifu would decide to assault the “disloyal” Itagaki Taisuke after reading the Tokyo papers. As the latter incident suggests, however, the nationalism also had a darker side, leading to an uncritical expansionism that led journalists to accept draconian censorship policies during the Russo-Japanese War and prodded them to exult in the war’s riotous aftermath. Moreover, it made it easy to ignore universal journalistic principles such as freedom of speech, the people’s “right to know,” and the need for open trials when officials trampled on those ideals in the name of the kokutai. When the populist Yorozu declared that Kōtoku’s clearly unconstitutional secret trial proceedings contained “nothing . . . worthy of criticism,”20 the time had come to ask whether the paper’s love of the “nation” had blinded it to the need for free discussion. As all of this suggests, there was one way in which patriotic writing changed significantly across the Meiji years; a distinct evolution took place in the journalists’ modes of expressing their nationalism. Essays about love for the country in the early years tended to be less direct. One never could have doubted the commitment of men such as Kurimoto Joun and Yano Fumio to their country. They talked ceaselessly about what would make Japan strong, how it could stand up to the West, the meaning of citizenship, the inviolability of the imperial institution; some grounded their arguments in Japan’s special kokutai.21 But patriotism was assumed; it did not need to be exhibited. The struggle over treaty revision and Japan’s expanding struggles on the continent led to a change in the rhetoric during the latter 1880s, however, and with the arrival of assertively nationalist papers such as Nihon at decade’s end, followed by war with China five years later, the tone often turned strident. No longer were mainstream journalists willing to accept as loyal someone who advocated diplomatic moderation or internationalism.

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If an Uchimura, a Kōtoku, or (for a time) a Kuroiwa were not aggressively expansionist, he was a coward or an opportunist. A cabinet that compromised with the defeated Russians was not only mistaken but traitorous; even torching a fellow editor’s offices was acceptable in the name of patriotism. The change in style may have been understandable, given Japan’s experiences with the imperialistic world. But it compromised the journalists’ capacity for making independent judgments. It also made the writers hypersensitive to unjust treatments from abroad, even as it deadened them to abuses their own fellow citizens inflicted on the Taiwanese and the Koreans. And it clearly restricted the range of acceptable public discourse in Japan at the very time when the writers themselves were demanding a greater voice for the people.22 The fourth area that must be reviewed is the press’ relationship with the “people,” or minshū, who have played such a central role in this study. The main point of continuity here was the unending interaction between journalists and the commoners. In every decade, in so many ways, writers indicated their eagerness to meet the needs of the broad populace. The first papers were created in the 1870s to “foster people’s knowledge” or because “people need to know the affairs of the world.”23 Minken journalists like Nakae, who gave the press so much of its vitality in the early 1880s, were said “never for a moment” to have “doubted that the people were sovereign.”24 By the 1890s Kuroiwa was insisting on low prices and simple prose “to make it convenient for average people to understand the times well – at a glance.”25 And by the Taishō years Baba Tsunego’s insistence that a true reporter “recognizes the public as master (kōshū o shūjin to mitomeru)” had become a professional cliche.26 What was more, the phenomenon of commoners responding strongly to the press was equally consistent: 20,000 of them buying up Tōkyō Nichi Nichi’s special explanation of the new calendar in 1872, Okayama villagers passing the Tokyo papers from household to household when Inukai Tsuyoshi was a lad, rickshaw pullers hurling stones at the Kokumin offices in 1905 because of its support for the Katsura government, Kunikida Doppo talking to strangers on a Tokyo sidewalk about the latest “extra” news from the Manchurian battlefront. Clearly, nothing was closer to the core of Meiji journalism than the symbiotic, ever more intimate relations between journalists and their fellow citizens. That said, the nature of Meiji journalism is even more fully revealed in the constant evolution that this press-people relationship underwent. Both the press and its commoner readers changed radically across

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the Meiji decades; the readers grew more educated, more numerous, and more sophisticated politically, while the press became less elitist, more news-oriented, and more influential politically. Looking at these changes from the perspective of the press, two shifts stand out with special clarity, one in the way the journalists viewed the commoners, the other in the impact journalism had on the people’s lives. The transformation in the journalists’ assessment of the “people” showed up on one level in an evolution in the very language they used in talking about commoners. In the early Meiji years, the general populace most often was described simply as “people” (hito, min, or jinmin), while direct references to those not in the former samurai or noble strata typically employed words with a dismissive quality, such as heimin (commoner) or yōdō fujo (small children and women).27 By the 1890s, commoner-oriented editors talked increasingly about the working classes, with relatively neutral labels on the order of Kuroiwa’s futsū ippan no minjin (common, ordinary people), Tokutomi’s tokai no hito (city folk), and Akiyama’s ippan kōshū (general public), or with concrete class designations such as “laborers” (rōdōsha) and “poor” (saimin).28 And from the onset of the new century, the terms of choice became kokumin or shimin (both normally translated “citizen”), with frequent references to the “public community” (shakai kōkyō) or just “the public” (kōshū).29 Distinctions of this sort are subjective, since individual writers’ usage varied considerably in every decade. But my own reading suggests a shift in dominant vocabulary across the Meiji years, from relatively pejorative words that identified the less-educated readers as an undifferentiated mass to respectful terms designating them as fellow actors on the public stage. That shifting view of the public shows up even more clearly in the content of the articles that typified each period. No one saw it as unusual in the early years when Yūbin Hōchi called the heimin “powerless fools who live in the realm of servitude” or when Tōkyō Nichi Nichi condescendingly urged people to wear clothes in public so foreigners would not laugh.30 But Kuga Katsunan’s haughty dismissal of “people who cannot read without kana”31 had become anachronistic by midMeiji. More typical now was Niroku Shimpō’s sponsorship of labor rallies to attract them, journalist-activist Tanaka Shōzō’s declaration that “to kill the people is to kill the nation,”32 Hōchi’s initiation of family pages, Motoyama’s declaration that “newspapers must earn society’s sympathy and the readers’ resonance,”33 and the many efforts to lead the urban working classes into the streets after the Russo-Japanese War.

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As a Yomiuri writer said in 1901, “This is a world in which even rickshaw pullers take newspapers.”34 Even an old elitist such as Tokutomi no longer could fail to do the commoners homage by the end of the era. The other major evolution in the press-people relationship lay in the dramatic impact journalism had on Japan’s minshū. This impact can be traced in the shifting content of articles, as reader tastes moved from the political to the technological, literary, and entertaining. It can be seen too in expanding readerships, in Hōchi’s efforts to help readers get jobs, in women readers who decided that they would like to become reporters themselves, in late-Meiji readers’ passion for stories of success and personal achievement. Above all, it can be seen in the changing political messages the papers directed at readers over these years. The era’s first people-oriented campaign was the debate over a popular assembly in 1874, in which the commoners were topics of discussion but not objects of persuasion. Nichi Nichi argued that the heimin should be included in an assembly; Yūbin Hōchi and Chōya said they should not, and none of them showed an iota of interest in what the commoners themselves thought. The sense of public had expanded somewhat by the 1880s, when minken journalists took up popular rights and treaty revision, but even they thought little of “people” outside the circle of property owners and rural leadership classes. The trigger for change, in the late 1880s and early 1890s, was squeezed first by the urban working classes themselves rather than by the journalists. As more and more people poured out of the schools and into the cities, they became, in the parlance of the papers’ increasingly respectable business departments, “circulation targets.” And as a result, the newspapers’ political activities from the fourth Meiji decade onward were devised, without exception, with an eye on the minshū. For editors like Shimada and Akiyama, these masses were the victims of “social problems” that genuinely needed solving; for Hōchi’s Miki Zenpachi and Jiji’s Fukuzawa Sutejirō, they were potential subscribers; and for everyone they represented a political and economic force too big to be ignored. As a result, by the last years of Meiji, nearly every major paper in the country was talking about the “constitutional” necessity of acting in accordance with the “people’s will” and, more than that, the papers were enlisting the working kokumin in loud, sometimes riotous, street rallies to demand that officials follow the popular will. Modernization, market forces, and ideology, in other words, had brought the people and the press together. As that autocratic onetime journalist Hara Kei

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wrote in his diary just two years and a day before Meiji fell into his final coma: “Not only in elections but in other matters as well . . . those who stir up the masses will always win.”35 Much is made, in the day of postmodernism, of narratives and story lines; so it would be inappropriate to conclude without noting that it was the press that provided the Meiji masses with their daily story, the press more than any other institution that shaped their understanding of what public life was all about. The writers and editors did not, however, create their story line in a vacuum. Their perceptions of reality were shaped by a host of influences: early on by Confucianism and isolationism, later on by challenges and opportunities from the imperialist West, by the political and economic options devised by their own rulers, by stories and values learned at home in Kumamoto, in Tosa, in Niigata – and, as time passed, by the interests and demands of their own readers, the once despised minshū, now kokumin. It would be safe to say that the journalists’ story (at least its political chapters) was dominated by three themes as the Meiji era drew to an end: the inviolability of Japan, the venality of officials, and the people’s right to responsive government. It also would be safe to say that this story line was shaped almost as fully by what the kokumin readers wanted to hear as it was by the journalists’ own worldviews. This, after all, was the era of the customer. The press may have created a public, but it was that public, by 1912, that gave the press its sense of direction.

Source: Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, May 1987, pp. 231–58.

7

Edward Howard House: In the Service of Meiji Japan ™

The phrase, “men of Meiji,” carries a great deal of emotional weight for many Japanese. Hearing it they envision images of men larger than life, men whose dedication to the national good was matched by ambition, decisiveness, and drive. Most people are unaware that the Meiji spirit was not limited to Japanese nationals. Thousands of Westerners serving in Meiji Japan (1868–1912) equalled their hosts, not only in pride and ambition, but in their commitment to the cause of Japanese nation-building. Although several useful studies of their contributions have appeared in recent years,1 a great deal more investigation of these foreigners is needed in the ongoing quest to understand Japan’s late nineteenth-century development. A particularly intriguing example of a Meiji Westerner is Edward H. House (1836–1901), an acerbic Bostonian whose reportorial work brought him into contact with Japan’s first mission abroad in 1860 and then propelled him into decades of work as America’s first fullfledged foreign correspondent in Japan. From 1869 until his death a third of a century later, House spent all but eight years in Japan, teaching English, writing for leading American papers and journals, promoting reforms in music and in the treatment of women, publishing an English-language newspaper, corresponding with powerful friends, and crusading for treaty reform and better American diplomats. His life, filled with alternating moments of triumph and tragedy and of influence and isolation, is worthy of study merely for its inherent drama, but it also illustrates three crucial roles played by many Westerners living in Meiji Japan. It shows, first, the much discussed role 109

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so many foreigners played in helping to create a new Japan through the fresh ideas and expertise they brought to a changing land. It also highlights two other, but less discussed, features of foreign life in Meiji Japan – first, the lively, often contentious interactions of the foreign community and, second, the role these foreigners played in portraying Japan abroad. They served as the primary lens through which many Western leaders developed their own particular view of Japan. Before we look directly at House’s participation in each of these areas, a brief summary of his life is needed. Born in the home of the Boston engraver Timothy House on October 5, 1836, he developed an early propensity for his mother’s profession as a pianist. By the onset of his teenage years, he had gained local prominence as a musician. One of his compositions was performed by a Boston orchestra when he was a lad of fourteen, and at age eighteen he became music and drama critic for the Boston Courier.2 His love of music never ceased, but the associations with newspapers proved more lasting. At age twenty-two, he took employment with the New York Tribune, and during the late 1850s and early 1860s gained national attention for articles on John Brown’s abolitionist activities and execution, as well as on the Civil War. One scholar includes him among a “galaxy of brilliant journalists” whose coverage set new standards in American journalism.3 It was not only the Civil War, however, that claimed House’s attention as a New York writer. Fascinated by Mathew Perry’s mission to Japan in 1853 and 1854 and intrigued by an 1860 assignment to cover the New York arrival of the bakufu’s first Western embassy, he set out to prepare for Atlantic Monthly what seems to have been America’s first detailed, popular history of Japan’s Western relations.4 The Japan assignment opened new vistas more important than House could have dreamed, and nine years later, even as the young Meiji leaders were struggling to gain a grip on Japan’s new governmental structures, House, now thirty-three, won an assignment from Horace Greeley to go to Tokyo as the Tribune’s first Japan correspondent. The blush of House’s first infatuation with the Japanese never faded. While most Westerners in Japan were given to grumbling about the “backwardness” of East Asian ways, or maneuvering for economic gains, House spent twenty-three years in Tokyo as an unswerving supporter of “things Japanese.” During his first half decade, in addition to writing for the Tribune, New York Times, Atlantic, and Harpers, he taught English literature at Daigaku Nankō, a forerunner of the University of Tokyo.5 In 1874, he was the only Western journalist

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to accompany Japan’s military expedition to Taiwan.6 And in 1877, just days before the followers of Saigō Takamori rose in rebellion in Satsuma, he launched the most ambitious journalistic effort of his life, the Tokio Times. The newspaper, which received a government subsidy through the offices of Ōkuma Shigenobu, lasted only three and a half years because House had to return to America on family business in 1880.7 But more than perhaps any other English-language paper in Japan, the Times served as a hub of foreign debate about Japanese affairs, garnering more subscribers than any other foreign-language newspaper. In format and general content, the Times differed little from other English-language papers. Fourteen-page issues came out each Saturday and subscriptions cost twelve dollars a year. Advertisements filled the first and last pages of each issue; typography was neat and clear; most issues included personal items, such as unclaimed mail and letters. The editorials gave the paper its flavor, calling for better fire prevention methods, admiring Japanese holiday pageantry, excoriating “inhuman” treatment of women, and berating foreign arrogance in Yokohama. The last half was given over to miscellaneous articles: translations of Japanese short stories and dramas, English-language versions of laws and budgets, articles on the theater, letters, birth and death notices, and excerpts from Japanese papers. And, always, articles and editorials alike represented the personal views of House. As he put it, the Times was the “vehicle of expression for the views of a single person . . . the direct manifestation of his thought and feeling.”8 That fact set the tone for the paper, and it provided much of the incisive, controversial editorial content that serves as the focus of my subsequent analysis. From 1882 to 1885, while the Meiji leaders turned to preparation for constitutional government, House gave his literary efforts to Frank Brinkley’s Mail 9 and, for a time, taught at the University of Tokyo. Then he returned home again in 1885, to seek relief from the gout, a chronic alcohol-related disease that causes high temperatures, heartburn, and acute pain in the joints. Some blamed his troubled health on the rigors of the Taiwan expedition in 1874, and some on the drinking habits he had formed as a member of the Pfaffe literary gang in New York in the early 1860s.10 But whatever the reason, by 1884 the pain was so severe that he wrote to a friend that it had been over two years since “I have been able to walk in the streets, . . . to consult a library, to get inside or outside of any vital current question, to live, in fact.”11 But New York provided no relief. The next eight years instead found

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him wracked continually with pain, often confined to a wheelchair, yet issuing forth a volume of books, articles, and letters, most of them on Japan. The pain, with its “awful loneliness that nothing can dispel,”12 had one particularly unfortunate effect on House’s career: it made him more irascible than ever. He always had been highly opinionated. But in these years he developed a sour, testy bitterness that alienated even some of his closest friends. Probably the richest personal relationship of his life – an intimate, dynamic friendship with Samuel Clemens – disintegrated into an ugly brawl when the two men argued in 1889–1890 over dramatization rights for The Prince and the Pauper. And his closeness to William Elliott Griffis dissipated over an article that Griffis wrote criticizing Japan in the New York Evening Post in 1888.13 In 1893, his fifty-seventh year and Japan’s fourth year of constitutional rule, House returned to Tokyo, hoping it might ease the pain of his illness. The move was no more efficacious than the return to New York; but at least he felt more “at home.” He had no living relatives except Koto-san, a girl he had adopted in Tokyo, and the citizenship of his spirit had in many ways shifted to Japan. Though gout continued to inhibit him, allowing him to leave his Kōjimachi home only rarely, he continued to engage in his two loves – writing and music. The writings were more occasional now: columns for the Japan Mail, and with a burst of energy, covering the Sino-Japanese War for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. The interest in music dominated his later years. He wrote about Western-style performances for the Mail, composed, taught Western music to Japanese music teachers, and, above all, founded the Meiji Ongakukai, a group that performed, under his direction, Japan’s first orchestra concert. Indeed, the journalist W. B. Mason called him “one of the few aliens who . . . had faith in the capacity of the Japanese for progress in Western music,”14 and just hours before his death on December 18, 1901, the Emperor Meiji bestowed on him the Second Class Order of the Sacred Treasure (zuihōshō) for his musical efforts. It was fitting that the Meiji Ongakukai played at his funeral. The service was attended by such noteworthies as Minister of Education Kikuchi Dairoku, Viscount Terauchi Masatake, several Tokyo University professors, Ōkuma’s personal secretary, and Mail editor Frank Brinkley. Members of the processional carried branches of flowering plums, his favorite flower, and his ashes were deposited at the Dairyūji in Northern Tokyo.15

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House was in many ways quite different from most oyatoi gaijin or foreign employees of the Japanese government. His stay was longer than the average; his affection for Japan more all-encompassing; his advocacy of her causes more insistent. But he was also typical, or at least representative. Like many other Westerners, he was a genuine “man of Meiji” – forceful, cause-oriented, and adventurous. Like other prominent foreigners, he was a visionary, committed to shaping a brave new land even while, almost unconsciously, finding himself ever more fully shaped by that land. And like most, the best years of his life were consumed by the enervating, invigorating, unsettling, and satisfying process of working in an alien culture. It is these points of commonality – the ways in which House’s life illuminates the general foreign experience – to which I now turn. The most frequently discussed feature of yatoi existence to which House’s life speaks was that he, like most expatriates, was consummately devoted to helping Japan modernize. Basil Hall Chamberlain exaggerated when he said, “the foreign employee is the creator of the new Japan.” But his view is an accurate reflection of the way most yatoi saw themselves.16 House was no exception. He may have gone to Japan as a reporter, but he stayed as a teacher and advocate, filling his writings with the zeal of a reformer and patron. Basic to this approach was the fact that House loved his new homeland. Passion always had propelled his journalistic efforts, from the early music criticism to the spirited accounts of John Brown’s execution, and after 1869 it filled his vision of Japan too, rendering detached or “objective” journalism impossible. He wrote at the Tokio Times that the paper’s purpose was to show “a spirit of warm sympathy with the growth of Japan.”17 A Japan Punch cartoon in October 1877 showed House carrying an American flag with Japan’s rising sun in the center of it.18 The journalist Tokutomi Sohō noted some years after his death that House had loved Japan “so much that it was embarrassing” (kimari ga waru hodo).19 Sometimes he praised the natural landscapes, as in this recollection of a trip to Mt. Fuji: I have no words to convey a sense of the beauty of the landscape, as we proceeded farther among the hills. The old means of comparison fail entirely in Japan . . . . There are towering crags, gloomy abysses, shining valleys, bleak heaths, and fertile meadows, all following each other in such close succession as to seem almost a defiance of the common law of nature.20

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More often he focused on the people of Japan – their “extravagantly affectionate and considerate” discipline, their gracious and elegant hospitality,21 and their “relative vigor, thrift and intelligence.”22 Harry Emerson Wildes was not far off target in describing House as a “publicity agent for the Japanese.”23 His accounts teem with admiration. The crucial point here, however, is that this affection grew from and was stimulated by a desire to “help” in changing Japan. House was not above being patronizing. As much as he hated missionaries, he was one himself, not only spreading the message of Japan abroad but seeking always to improve the people he so admired. That passion – plus an unquenchable, lifelong identification with the condition of the “underdog” – was at the heart of his English teaching, his undying efforts to see the treaties revised, and his Times editorials urging better fire departments and economic pragmatism. But most of all it showed up in two personal crusades: one to “liberate” Japanese women and the other to bring Western music to Japan. We have already noted his love of classical western music and the concerted effort in his last decade to bring that tradition to the Japanese elite. Even more conviction went into his efforts on behalf of women. The source of his concern about the role of women may have come from his own household. He never married, but before leaving for the United States in 1880 he adopted Aoki Koto, a former student who had been driven almost to suicide by a broken marriage. Throughout his life, the mutual affection he and Aoki shared for each other was as constant as it was touching. She nursed him in his physical afflictions, even when his barbs had alienated others; she learned English fluently; she shared his friendships, translated for him, traveled with him to Europe, Africa, and America, and provided a home in the 1890s after marriage created a family of her own. At the same time, under his tutelage, she became an opinionated, articulate individualist – a highly competent dancer, horseback rider, painter, translator, and writer in her own right. She has been described, in fact, as Japan’s first female painter in Western oil styles.24 Clearly, she was the inspiration for many of House’s ideas about Japanese womanhood. But his actions were not limited to life with Koto. He taught at Tokyo’s only girls’ school, Takehasi Onna Gakkō in Ochanomizu, during his first years in Japan, and scattered references in his letters indicate that at least once, and probably twice or thrice, he personally established and administered his own schools for Japanese girls. When Ambassador John Russell Young visited Japan on his way to

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China in 1882, House wrote one day that he had a “little duty to perform” tomorrow: attendance at the “examination” of “my little school for poor girls.” He had started the school at least two years earlier, he explained, as a “very humble” experiment and an “opening wedge in a direction where a great deal of solid work must be done by and bye: – for Japan will be in a wretched mess if more attention is not given to the education of women.” The forty girls at the school ranged from five to thirteen years of age and all received from House, free of charge, clothing, “food when their poor frozen stomachs need it,” and enough education “to enable them to rise one or two or possibly three grades in their social lives.” House underwrote the project personally, expressing disappointment that he could not do more, since “cheap as everything is in Japan, school houses, teachers, garments and the rest cost something” 25 Unfortunately, the school eventually was destroyed by fire and could not be revived due to lack of insurance. Scattered references leave unclear whether House was able to initiate other such projects. He also wrote about the “nobility,” potential, and “cruel existence” of Japanese women. In “The Little Fountain of Sakanoshita,” for example, the central role is a Japanese girl, apparently uneducated, but charming, clever, and (most significantly) intelligent.26 The novel Yone Santo focuses on a young woman (modeled on Koto), noble of birth but poor, who manages to attend a school and outperform her classmates, yet maintains the naive purity of a traditional upbringing. When she marries an ignorant boatmaker, her education serves as both a frustration and a means of occasional, deeper pleasure. But throughout her entire life one theme recurs: more education and greater opportunities for Japanese women. House was still more explicit in the Times, where he labeled marriage for Japanese women a “long disease”; he deplored the practices of Japanese men who treated women well when traveling abroad and then, on returning home, “lapsed without resistance into habits of injustice and tyranny.” He declared: “It must be known and felt that the man who defiles the purity of his home, debases his wife, or imposes infamy on his daughter, smites his own honor with a blow from which it can never recover.”27 In the last issue of the Times, House wrote that an “improvement in the position of women” was Japan’s most urgent reform.28 At another point he even criticized the enlightenment champion, Fukuzawa Yukichi, for treating women as subordinates. “A sort of unwholesome dread exists in regard to admitting women to new rights of education or domestic equality,” he editorialized, and

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it sprang from “cowardice on the part of the stronger sex.” He added: “The standard of female intelligence in Japan is . . . relatively much above that of women in most Western countries . . . . Qualified as they are by nature, it is a cruel injustice to deprive them of the chances of fulfilling their instinctive aspirations.”29 House was thus typical in his effort to bring “enlightenment” to a new Japan. His causes might have differed from those of others, but not his desire to shape the nation’s transformation. His other two areas of contribution – active participation in the dynamic process of building a set of values for the foreign community and service as a conduit for images of Japan in the West – also typified the lives of most yatoi. But far less has been written about these aspects, making their consideration here even more important. The dynamics of the Kantō foreign community deserve more attention than they have received. Every society develops its own unique character, its leaders and followers, its set of shared values, and its styles of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If that fact is true of human societies in general, it is even more true of small, compact foreign communities such as existed in the treaty settlements of Meiji Japan. Hundreds of outsiders were joined together both by a sense of racial and cultural affinity and by their shared feeling of separateness from the host society. They bickered and fought with each other, supported one another, and talked together endlessly. They created, in the process, a community whose shared patterns shaped the way these foreigners carried out their “nation-building” roles. House’s place in this community was that of an outsider, the outspoken iconoclast who was seen by many as too friendly to the Japanese. But, if anything, that status enhanced his contributions to the process of creating a community, because his arguments stimulated so many of the debates that helped other foreign leaders crystallize their own views and because his critiques illuminate the values and behavior patterns of the foreign communities. Basic to House’s participation in the yatoi community, of course, was his personality. On the one hand, he was, by all accounts, sophisticated, charming, and witty – an intelligent man of letters whose experiences in journalism, theater, and literature had made him erudite in every sense of the word. His friends in the West included not only Clemens but Ulysses S. Grant, Charles Dickens, John Jay, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, William Dean Howells, Georges Clemenceau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Jack London; in Asia they included Guido Verbeck, William Elliot Griffis, Frank Brinkley, Ōkuma Shigenobu,

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Mutsu Munemitsu, Tokutomi Sohō, and Yoshida Kiyonari.30 House, said Mason, “was tall in stature, inclined to corpulency, and of sallow complexion. When you had the good fortune to find him at home an intellectual treat awaited you. The suave manner, the caustic wit, the voice musical and well modulated, the ready repartee – all revealed the man of the world.”31 But House also had another side. If his friend Clemens could be sarcastic and petty, so could he. As a youth, his headstrong ways won him expulsion from school.32 From his earliest days, he had been a passionate believer in causes. And years of writing provided the mature House with a capacity for expressing his thoughts sharply and forcefully. The result of this mix, especially when stimulated by the yeast of physical pain, was explosive. It made him the most controversial member of the Tsukiji community in the late 1870s and early 1880s. His barbs were sharp enough to cause one reader to seek his murder and another to dispatch someone to horsewhip him.33 One of the most perceptive, and poignant, evaluations of this character trait was made by Brinkley at the time of House’s death. He wrote: It may be said with truth that the great effect which Mr. House’s brilliancy and dogged persistency would have produced in the natural order of things was much narrowed by . . . a fervor of controversial zeal which betrayed him into dissipating his strength on non-essentials and substituting success in a side issue for victory in the main cause.34

Tokutomi said his style lacked subtlety; it was like someone “murdering tōfu with a kitchen knife.”35 Not surprisingly then, the predominant trait illustrated by House’s experience in the foreign community was struggle. As his participation makes clear, the foreigners were an articulate, intellectual, and opinionated lot, who spent nearly as much time fighting with each other as they did serving their Japanese hosts. This shows up most vividly in House’s editorials and articles at the Tokio Times, although it also appears in letters and magazine articles. Indeed, to read the pages of the Times is to observe a warrior in battle. Sometimes House’s issues were petty, smacking more of pique than principle. He loved to tweak his English-language competitors, accusing them of plagiarism, lying, and pettiness. During the Satsuma Rebellion, for example, House pointed out an error in the Japan Herald and sneered: “Of course, this omission is accidental, since, as all its readers are aware, an act of injustice has only to be pointed out to the

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Herald to send it flying with electric speed to make atonement.”36 And when the Mail quipped that Eve, being perfect, must have had pretty teeth, House could not restrain himself: Possibly it will tell us whether Eve played lawn tennis. If she did, she probably played it extremely well, not being encumbered by “pullbacks” to the extent which in modern days impedes agility. Our information as to the musical attainments of the first lady in society is also limited. We know that she did not play upon the serpent, because the serpent played upon her . . . . But The Mail will tell us all about it in due time.37

In mid-1877, a single issue contained no fewer than seven articles attacking (or sniffing at) the Mail and the Japan Gazette.38 Not surprisingly, House’s “victims” responded in kind. The foreign community was like that. The editor of the Mail wrote: “The name Tokio Times stinks in the nostrils of British residents.” And again: the Times is a “pharisaical print whose weekly task is to poison, so far as its feeble powers permit, the minds of the people against foreign intercourse.”39 The Gazette called him a “literary toady.”40 And even after House’s death, the Herald accused his Times of being a mere government pawn. Not surprisingly, when Grant and Twain pushed for House’s appointment as consul-general of Yokohama in 1881, the horrified Gazette launched a vitriolic campaign that finally sabotaged his selection. Indeed, a Japanese writer suggested that he had made so many gaijin enemies that he was, “for a time, almost banished from the foreign community.”41 But it was not merely petty or personal differences that drew blood from House’s pen. He also attacked his fellow Westerners at more fundamental levels – for their views on diplomacy and treaty reform, for arrogance and insensitivity toward Japan, for mercantilism and rowdiness, and for incompetence. Particularly strong was his contempt for the missionary. Agnostic though he was, House never attacked religion per se; faith was fine as long as it made men more gracious and compassionate. The trouble he found with most missionaries was a “disgusting narrowness,” and that he could not countenance. As Tokutomi exclaimed: “My gracious, he was a good hater (guddo hēta) . . . [He saw missionaries] as lazy people who received money from their homeland, yet did nothing but live by selfish pretence.”42 Nowhere did his contempt show up so clearly as in Yone Santo, a novel about missionaries and Japanese women. The missionary comes through as selfish, narrow-minded, compassionless, and downright

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silly. One of the heroines, a Miss Jackman, features herself the recipient of a divine call to “reclaim” backsliders. As soon as she scents the hint of evil, her eyes gleam and her spine straightens, and she marches off to reprove the offender. Another character sees her own cooking as tastier than that of any unredeemed chef, because she prays over it. The Buddhist Yone Santo, the only genuine exemplar of love, is heartlessly used and abused by the missionaries because she will not become a convert. Lest anyone should think he referred to exceptional cases, House declared midway through the book that his doctor-protagonist had searched long but vainly to find a missionary who was truly noble. “Do you mean that no single one of the missionaries equaled your hopes and wishes?” the doctor was asked. He replied: Not one. If I sometimes thought I had encountered a simple, upright, well-meaning soul, I soon learned that it was steeped in ignorance . . . . There were many who came plainly in pursuit of gain . . . . Once or twice, indeed, I have believed myself approaching a point of contact with individuals who seemed fashioned in a nobler mould; but . . . their falling masks revealed the selfishness, or cowardice, or conceit which pervaded and dominated them.43

It was a strong statement, especially in light of the remarkable contributions of many Meiji missionaries and of House’s own expressed admiration for such Christian leaders as James C. Hepburn and Griffis. But even under severe pressure from his publisher, he refused to excise the sweeping indictment. The missionary community fought back too, and just as forcefully. When they got word that Houghton Mifflin had agreed to publish Yone Santo, following its serialization in Atlantic Monthly, they reacted with the raw fury of injured lions. The American denominations brought so much pressure (and implied economic threat) to bear on the publisher that, in 1888, Houghton Mifflin cancelled its publishing contract. House eventually found another publisher, the less-known but more-liberal Belford, Clarke and Company in New York. But he died convinced that the book had been robbed of its potential sales and influence by the missionary attacks.44 And he doubtless was right. As his experiences had made graphically clear, the foreign community in Meiji Japan was not always peaceful or benign. Nor was it merely a collection of solitary individuals engaged in personal efforts to help Japan, make a profit, or win fame. These individuals made up a mutual society; people supported each other, fought with each other, and influ-

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enced each other. At the very least they created an interacting, dynamic community of opinion, which, in turn, had its own impact on Japan’s development process. A final way in which House illustrated the impact and importance of the yatoi community was in his communication with the Western world. Much more has been said about the role Westerners played in Japan than about their impact back home. But as House’s experiences suggest, the yatoi’s role as an interpreter of Japan abroad was at times crucially important. Payson Treat has noted that in this era “the relations between the United States and Japan were marked by friendship and mutual relations.”45 One reason for this status obviously lies in the kinds of information Americans received about Japan, since it was on the basis of this information that opinion leaders formed their policies. Certainly some information came from other sources, for example, from the politicians’ own trips abroad, from diplomatic reports, and from direct contact with Japanese studying and working in the West. But no communicators of images and attitudes were more insistent or reached a larger segment of the public than the foreign residents who wrote constantly for American and European consumption. Among these, none fought more continually, or more vociferously, to create a favorable image of Japan in the West than House. He was, after all, a journalist by trade, a merchant of words whose mission in life was “to keep the facts of Japan’s condition before the public of America.”46 To accomplish that aim, House used every medium available. There were, of course, articles and books. He wrote for nearly all of America’s most influential Eastern publications: New York Herald, New York Times, New York Tribune, New York World, Harpers, Atlantic Monthly, New Princeton Review, Scribners, and others. There also were letters – and he wrote thousands of them – to people as varied as Young, Twain, Griffis, John Hay, and Thomas Bailey Aldrich. And there was travel. Until felled by gout, House was among the era’s more peripatetic individuals, living for extended periods in both England and Japan, as well as in his American homeland. And on many trips, he labored hard to win friends for Japanese policies. A particularly interesting travel episode came in 1881, when he traveled to Europe, with secret support from Ōkuma, to lobby for Japanese diplomatic interests. He traveled first to England and then to France, meeting with such diverse men as Parliamentarian E. J. Reed and novelist Charles Dickens in England and Premier Leon Gambetta and opposition leader Georges Clemenceau in France. His success in winning greater sympathy for Japan’s

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diplomatic positions seems to have been limited. But the trip itself says much about the role of yatoi as conduits for Japanese views abroad.47 In the media, what were House’s messages? One is struck first by the large number of mood pieces published in his early years in Japan. Like a twentieth-century foreign correspondent responding to an editor concerned about “what will sell,” he wrote an abundance of general, feature-type stories in the 1870s: descriptions of the theater, natural settings, village life, medical practices, Japanese ways of entertaining guests. After the mid-1870s, however, as he moved more deeply into Japanese life and developed an attachment to individuals in the government, his focus shifted to politics and diplomacy. In 1875, he published two short books – one on the Taiwanese expedition and the other a discussion of the Richardson affair of 1862 and the subsequent Western bombardment of Kagoshima. In the latter, he argued that the indemnity secured by the Western powers had been illegally and unfairly obtained and should be returned. He repeated this theme continually in public and in private until the U.S. Congress voted to return the American share of $785,000 in 1883.48 At the Tokio Times he wrote on current issues as diverse as Japanese journalism, the changing role of the imperial family, and the vicissitudes of the ex-samurai class, including volumes on Saigō’s defection and the resultant Satsuma Rebellion. After 1881, however, with the demise of the Times and the resultant shift in audience (to foreigners living abroad rather than those living in Japan), he came to focus on how the Western world should treat Japan. He became consumed by two issues: the kinds of diplomats being sent to Japan and the reform of the unequal treaties. His first articles on the quality of Western diplomats dealt with Sir Harry Parkes, the British minister from 1865 to 1883. For a time House treated Parkes kindly, writing in 1877, for example, that his time in Japan had “been full of real work and some excitement, and his report, when the time for it comes, will have been more laboriously earned than that of many public servants.”49 But Parkes, though effective in fighting for British interests, had a brusque manner and was known by admirers and detractors alike for the “outbursts of wrath and excited action” about which Japanese officials “never tired of dilating.”50 J. P. Hennessy, the governor of Hong Kong (and not a Parkes partisan), wrote home in 1879 that Parkes’s policies hurt England more than they helped; his “bullying” had “enabled the Russian and U.S. Ministers to gain a position in the Empire that they are not – according to Board of Trade returns – entitled to hold.”51

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And House, with his genuine affection for Japan, came eventually to detest the Parkes manner, especially after Parkes responded to some early criticisms by canceling his Tokio Times subscription. Beginning in the autumn of 1877, House launched an anti-Parkes drive so bitter and unending that some sniped – incorrectly – that he had launched the Times solely “to write Sir Harry Parkes out of Japan.”52 A typical barrage came in 1881 in the Atlantic Monthly. There, he accused Parkes of following “a course of relentless persecution” against Japan, of total arrogance in dealing with Japanese officials, of doing his best to prevent Japan from gaining justice internationally, and of losing his temper and acting in a manner unbecoming for the representative of a civilized nation. In support of the last accusation he cited as evidence an alleged incident in which Parkes had knocked down a Japanese official “who is now one of the highest ministers of state.”53 Parkes was responsible, House said, for trying to deny Japan equality of postal rights and, even more serious, for irrationally blocking the road to treaty reform. His attacks were extreme; according to journalist Tokutomi Sohō, they “smashed” the British minister “to smithereens.”54 But they evidenced a keen sense of indignation. So it was not particularly surprising that he rather expansively claimed credit for Parkes’s transfer to China in 1883.55 House likely had several reasons for resenting Parkes so deeply. The minister’s personality genuinely offended his own sensibilities and House had a general tendency to criticize most British policies in Japan.56 But most important, perhaps, was his basic belief that Western nations in general were not sending adequate diplomatic representatives to Japan. For with even greater consistency, though less rancor, he also played the role of watchguard over America’s diplomats in Japan. The majority of the U.S. representatives were, in his opinion, poorly qualified, accomplishing little or, what was worse, damaging JapaneseAmerican relations. Accordingly, his delight was obvious when he related in the Times a “story of going the rounds”: At a social dinner party . . . when light discourse was floating about, the chief of a certain Department affected to condole with another on the recent retirement of a (foreign) attaché. “What will now become of the – Sho?” he asked; “will it not fall into inextricable confusion?” “Not so,” answered another, “ – Kio has caused the portrait of the foreign sage to be hung in a retired apartment and when perplexing questions arise, the clerk and other subordinates will go in and look at it, and receive inspiration.” “And a fine stroke of policy,” added a third; “for the portrait

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will be just as active and efficacious as the original ever was, and will cost nothing beyond the first outlay.”57

House’s first major diplomatic row came in the early 1870s when C. E. DeLong was American minister. House wrote a “scathing criticism” in the New York Tribune of DeLong’s efforts to secure employment for American civilians in Japan, labeling him a “quasi-commercial agent” whose aim was merely to improve U.S. trade.58 He accused the minister of insensitivity to the feelings of Japanese officials, particularly when DeLong refused to support Japanese actions against the foreign coolie trade. While back in America briefly, in 1873, House repeated these views in several articles, and when DeLong was replaced shortly thereafter, many blamed (or credited) House for helping to effect the change – having “pricked the bubble of American snobbishness at the unsophisticated court of the Mikado.”59 His treatment of J. A. Bingham, who served as minister from 1873 until 1885, was mixed. He defended him at first for trying to secure Japanese tariff autonomy, then quarreled with him over the minister’s opposition to the Taiwan expedition and later called his first four years in Japan an “utter failure.”60 He charged in 1882 that Bingham was guilty of nepotism and that he wished the minister would leave Japan, though “I fear he will never go while he is permitted to stay.”61 Yet he wrote Secretary of State John Hay in 1897 that Bingham was one of only two ministers to Japan who had ever “realized in any reasonable degree the importance of their functions, or were clear-sighted enough to foresee the immense possibilities of our future relations with Eastern Asia.”62 Actually, this letter to Hay, written less than four years before his death, provides a remarkably clear and mature rationale for House’s lifelong concern about the ministers Washington had sent to Tokyo. After complaining that “Tokio has mostly been looked upon as a sort of ‘consolation prize’ for politicians who have been thrown out of the running” and that most envoys had been “fourth or fifth rate men” who did not catch “the faintest glimpse of what Japan will and must mean to America,” he proceeded to give a lengthy, brilliant account of why better men were needed. No part of the world, he argued, required “keener intellects, sounder judgments, or shrewder diplomatic intelligence.” He detailed Grant’s belief in the “importance of our Eastern diplomatic posts,” and argued that England, Russia, Germany, and France were “filling their Legations with picked men” to outmaneuver America in the race for Japan’s

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loyalty. Though the United States held the advantage since it had “no hidden schemes of conquest,” the nation had better begin sending better representatives, lest it soon find “the gates of Asia closed to us as they are now invitingly open.” What was more, he said, Japanese negotiators were out-maneuvering the current crop of American diplomats. Her statesmen were “so adroit, so tactful, so resolute and courageous that they could beat most of their European adversaries at any game of wit.” Moreover, “they mean to get the better of the whole world – in their particular corner of it – if they can.” Japan, he said, “is the lever by which Asia is to be lifted out of stagnation,” and unless the next ambassadors from America were sufficiently skillful, there would be “a season of disagreement and altercation more than likely to end in a prolonged estrangement.” Japan was too important to be insulted with mediocre or insensitive diplomats; any nation that did not recognize this fact would pay a bitter price. The final, and most crucial, crusade to which House lent his energies was treaty revision. Even weak envoys failed to provoke the intensity of the unjust treaties, with their provisions for extraterritoriality and stringent limits on tariffs. Already in the mid-1870s, when the overwhelming majority of Japan’s foreign residents opposed major treaty concessions, he had begun calling for tariff autonomy and an end to extraterritoriality. Brinkley called his position “heretical and dangerous” for the time.63 During the first two months of publication, for example, the Tokio Times ran no fewer than thirteen articles on tariff autonomy. In the first six months of 1878, at least twenty Times editorials dealt primarily with treaty reform. In the summer of 1879, the paper sponsored a contest for the best essays on treaty revision. And back in the United States, House wrote a number of articles on the topic for influential journals. House’s discussions of treaty revision were, as a rule, divided into two parts: first, the need for tariff autonomy and, second, the evils of extraterritoriality. He usually based the tariff argument on Townsend Harris’s own reservations about the severe limits initially placed on Japan. “I constantly told the Japanese commissioners,” Harris had written to House, “that before the time came around for revision of the Treaty they would have gained such experience as would enable them intelligently to deal with this matter themselves.”64 If the original treaty signers had intended temporary tariff limits, then diplomats had no right to make them permanent, House maintained.

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The real Western aim in maintaining the rigid tariff limits, he avowed, was threefold: to enhance merchants’ profits, to prevent the Japanese from becoming competitive abroad, and to make it difficult for Japan to develop its own domestic industries. Great Britain, the chief culprit, was trying to make Japan into another India, forcing goods into Japan in a manner “familiar to all who have studied the processes of English market-building.”65 The result, according to House, was that Japan had been impoverished almost beyond the ability to recover. Whereas the United States earned all the revenue necessary to run the government through customs receipts and England financed half its governmental costs that way, the stringent limits provided Japan with only one-seventeenth of its government expenses. While many Americans thought of Japan as a rich nation, her inhabitants actually were “suffering very bitterly from positive want,” in part, at least, because the overwhelming share of government support had to come from the tax on farmers. “In the plainest words, the nation is destitute of money, – as nearly penniless as a nation can be and yet presume the outward decencies of existence.”66 The solution, he concluded, lay with the United States and with the Japanese themselves. The British were too selfish to change their policies, and the other European powers merely followed England’s lead. Only the United States, the country that “compelled her in the first place to emerge from seclusion,” might be expected to take a lead in providing relief. “Pleasant words have been abundant,” he said: “No executive message appears without a complimentary reference to the enterprising empire of the Pacific, and an assurance that the republic is ever watchful of its aspiring neighbor’s advancement. But the one thing needful is not vouchsafed. Until the United States formally and frankly releases Japan from the cruel impositions of the treaty, these meaningless proffers of sympathy are an affliction and not a solace.”67 And if the United States did not do its duty? The answer then lay in Japanese firmness; she should renounce the old treaties unilaterally and set about negotiating new ones on an equal footing with Western nations. As he wrote Ōkuma in 1887: “I feel perfectly safe in averring that not one of the Western powers would seriously resist Japan’s determination to take control of the tariff and the Judiciary. I know this to be the fact.”68 Equally forceful were his demands that Western nations lift the yoke of extraterritoriality. Again, he often began by quoting the Harris letter:

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The provision of the Treaty giving the right of extraterritoriality to all Americans in Japan was against my conscience. In a conversation with . . . the Secretary of State, in 1855, he strongly condemned it as an unjust interference with the municipal law of a country which no Western nation would tolerate for a moment; but he said that it would be impossible to have a treaty with any Oriental nation until it contained the provision . . . . I fear that I shall not live to see this unjust provision struck out of our Treaties, but I fondly hope that others may.69

Extraterritoriality, he argued, had been used to “safeguard” early travelers to Japan from “a race of whose social and political institutions nothing was distinctly known.”70 Since the people were now known and certainly could be trusted, such safeguards were no longer necessary. Most incisive were his descriptions of treaty-induced injustices. Extraterritoriality was an insult to the Japanese government, House said, impairing its standing at home and its credibility abroad. Many foreign judges were merely selfish merchants or political hucksters. The Prussians had illegally used firearms near the imperial court without punishment. Foreign counterfeiting of Japanese currency was widely ignored by consular courts. Western soldiers were notorious for breaches of the peace. And, most outrageous of all, a cholera-infested German ship had ignored a Japanese quarantine in 1879 and, as a result, was the direct source of six months of raging plague for which the foreign community showed little sympathy until it too was victimized. “To say that the Japanese stood aghast at this exhibition of malevolence is faintly to describe their emotions.”71 Finally, House warned again and again that extraterritoriality was simply unjust – a word that to him seemed sufficient to win any argument. “The idea that German, French or Russian courts of law could be empowered to deny the Sovereignty of England over any piece of land or water which she held to be her legitimate property would be simply monstrous in any Englishman’s eyes,” he wrote in 1893, when the British proposed to settle a dispute about whether Japan controlled the Inland Sea. Likewise, “It is monstrous to the Japanese understanding – and not alone to theirs, I may add – that a British tribunal should be regarded by anybody as qualified to determine whether the Inland Sea is or is not subject solely to Japanese control.” He warned that such arrogance could lead to serious international problems once Japan gained the military strength to assert herself.72 House’s arguments tended to rely more on moral logic than on political pragmatism. Even Fukuchi Gen’ichirō of Tokyo Nichi Nichi

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Shimbun wrote early in 1888 that, while treaty revision was desperately needed, House’s approach was “out-of-date” and too moralistic, depending on a kind of logical persuasion to which Western powers had all too often proved themselves impervious.73 But House was a moralistic man, baptized into journalism in the flames of John Brown’s abolitionism, and it probably would never have occurred seriously to him that moralistic arguments alone were inadequate in the self-seeking world of politics and commerce; even if it had, he probably would have used them anyway. A few months after the last of his treaty revision articles, Great Britain signed a treaty ending extraterritoriality and paving the way toward tariff autonomy. House’s articles about treaty revision were needed no longer; Japan was at last on the way to acceptance as an equal power in the international community. But his indignation never ceased. For him, the beginning of acceptance had come too late by at least two decades. When House died in 1901, Brinkley wrote that although he had “devoted his ability and energies to combatting the racial prejudices which are the disgrace of the twentieth century,” the highest accolade he had earned was the simple right to be called “the friend of Japan.”74 It was an epitaph on which House himself would have smiled, given the nature of his lifelong goal. And, for us, it says a great deal about the significant segment of the yatoi who looked upon the Japanese cause sympathetically. Like so many of the more sensitive yatoi, he saw himself as a “maker of the new Japan” – offering advice about women’s rights, music, journalism, fire fighting, and the danger of losing cultural moorings. But what many of those foreigners (House included) did not realize – and what his life suggests – is the equally important effect they were having on each other. They failed to comprehend how their own struggles were shaping a set of community values and approaches that, in turn, significantly influenced the national transformation process. What might have pleased House most was evidence that his views had an impact back home, in America. One reader of his articles, the writer J. P. Twichell, wrote House in 1879, “you have made a good deal of a [Japanese] patriot out of me.”75 That one of the most prolific interpreters of this emerging Pacific nation was a man who “loved Japan” was fortuitous indeed for the new leader of Asia.

Source: Nanzan Review of American Studies, Vol. 22, 2000, pp. 39–54.

8

That ‘Naughty Yankee Boy,’ Edward H. House and Meiji Japan’s Struggle for Equality ™

America’s first regular correspondent in Japan was Edward H. House (1836 – 1901), who went to Tokyo in the third year of Meiji for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. A native Bostonian, House had gained early prominence in two ways: through his devil-may-care lifestyle as a member of the New York Pfaff beer cellar’s bohemian gang, which included the likes of Walt Whitman and Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and through his graphic reports for the Tribune on John Brown’s execution at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. He also wrote a muchdiscussed series of articles for the Tribune in the spring of 1860 on the first Japanese embassy to the United States. In the next decade, House created a sensation with his coverage of the Civil War, helped to launch Mark Twain’s eastern seaboard career, accompanied the humorist Artemus Ward on his British debut, and managed the London theater where the Shakespearean actor Henry Irving won some of his earliest enthusiastic notices. Not satisfied merely with journalistic prominence, the restless House sailed to Japan in 1870, as the Tribune’s first regular Tokyo reporter, and within weeks he had begun to irritate many of the profit-seeking foreigners with his enthusiastic essays on Japanese customs and progress. By the end of that year, he had literally adopted the Pacific archipelago as a new homeland, and by the middle of the decade a Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun writer would say, on hearing that he was about to launch his own newspaper: “Mr. House . . . neither sneers at Japan nor scorns the Japanese. That makes him unusual among foreigners.”1 128

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House’s life merits scrutiny for many reasons. His articles and lobbying efforts with opinion leaders helped shaped early American attitudes and policies toward Japan; indeed, when the United States returned its share of the Shimonoseki indemnity to Japan in 1883, House was given the lion’s share of the credit. His editorials in support of issues like treaty revision and better treatment of women provide a lucid summary of many key features of Japan’s public discourse in the 1870s and 1880s. And his role in several diplomatic crises sheds a powerful light on the imperialist environment that shaped Meiji Japan’s struggle toward modernity. This article, however, will focus more narrowly – on House’s three-and-a-half-year stewardship of the Tokio Times (1877–80), where his experiences have much to tell us about the manner in which early-Meiji Japanese officials ordered their relations with the Western powers, as well as the complicated ways in which the Tokyo-Yokohama foreign community of that era related to Japan’s struggle with modernity. Although the Tribune described House as its “regular” correspondent when he arrived on 26 August 1870, the title did not mean “full time.” In addition to writing a major newspaper piece once every three weeks, he also took a well-paid job ($3,000 a year) in January 1871 as an English teacher at the newly established Daigaku Nanko, joining William Elliot Griffis and Guido Verbeck in teaching an amazing group of boys that included a future prime minister (Takahashi Korekiyo), a foreign-minister-to-be (Komura Jutaro), a lad who would dominate Japan’s intellectual world (Sugiura Shigetake), and his favorite, Mitsukuri Kikuchi, who would become the country’s first professor of zoology, after studying for several years in the United States with House’s financial support.2 He also taught occasional classes at Tokyo’s first public school for girls, Takebashi Jogakko, and eventually adopted one of his brightest students, Aoki Koto, after learning that she was contemplating suicide over a failed marriage.3 But teaching always remained second among House’s priorities; his passion was reporting. In the summer of 1872, he played a major role in publicizing the Maria Luz incident, an episode in which the Japanese released 130 Chinese coolies trapped in slave-ship conditions on a boat bound for Peru. He personally visited the ship and described a “reeking and sweltering . . . atmosphere which would extinguish the life of an American or European in half a day,” and he lambasted the American minister Charles DeLong for showing sympathy for the ship’s Peruvian captain.4 Two years later, he gave up teaching altogether to take on the

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biggest reporting experience of his Asian life to that time, a war correspondent’s assignment with the Japanese expedition to punish Taiwanese tribesmen who had massacred fifty-four shipwrecked Ryukyu islanders over whom Japan claimed sovereignty. House’s articles on the soldiers’ dramatic military encounters filled the pages of his new paper, the New York Herald, in the summer of 1874, and his book on the episode, The Japanese Expedition to Formosa, became the standard account. House never made a secret of his sympathies for Japan. Shortly after his arrival, he wrote to his Tribune editor that “existence here is a perpetual delight. . . . The climate is lovely; the people (natives, I mean) are kind . . . ; the language is easy to attain . . . ; the scenery is inexhaustably attractive.”5 And his articles adopted the same tone, praising Japan’s progress, advocating revision of the unequal treaties, and sneering at foreigners who thought Japan backward. He was never simplistic in his commendations; indeed, he criticized the new Meiji government almost as often as he lauded it. But his general acceptance of the Japanese as competent and intelligent equals set him apart from other foreigners in the treaty ports and made him a favorite of several Japanese officials, particularly Okuma Shigenobu, the young secretary general of the Taiwan Aborigines Office, who had become a power in the finance and foreign ministries by the mid-1870s. As a result, about midway through the Taiwan expedition, several officials began talking about how valuable it might be if House were to begin a paper of his own, arguing that a voice like his – influential as he was in America, and sympathetic as he was to Japan – would be useful in securing better treatment for Japan in the United States and Great Britain. The nature of those talks, as well as the paper that eventuated from them, tell us a great deal about Japan’s approach to international diplomacy in the early Meiji years. The idea of using journalism to improve Japan’s international image was not new to Japanese officials. The government already had begun to counter its domestic opposition by giving sympathetic Japanese editors special access to news sources and by purchasing large lots of their papers for circulation in the provinces. And the Finance Ministry had lubricated the relationship with the friendliest (or at any rate, the least antagonistic) of the foreign papers in 1873 by paying W. G. Howell, the owner and editor of The Japan Mail, 5,000 yen a year to have 500 copies of each issue sent to opinion leaders abroad – quite a deal in a world where circulations rarely ranged above 300. Howell had proved an obstreperous ally, however, in part because he kept asking for more

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money and in part because his views were erratic; so by 1874 Okuma and his colleague Okubo Toshimichi had begun looking elsewhere. They were encouraged in this approach by Charles LeGendre, an American advisor on Taiwan who wrote a fifteen-page memo to Okuma on 8 July 1874 urging the creation of a new, government-supported, English-language newspaper. No developing state could make genuine progress without the confidence of the imperialist powers, LeGendre wrote, and the anti-Japanese approach of the British-owned Englishlanguage newspapers in Yokohama made such confidence hard to win. For that reason, Japan should create “an organ of its own,” to be edited by “a man of experience, who has been brought up to the profession, and has learned it in the best journals of England and America.” Such a project, he projected, would cost about $4,000 in start-up costs, plus a thousand dollars a month in salaries, contributors’ fees, “and other expenses.” In December, LeGendre repeated his arguments in a massive memo to Okuma on Japan’s relations with other countries, declaring that the government needed to create an organ that “shall, by sufficient distribution in the capitals of Europe, . . . create a new interest in, and a more complete comprehension of, the Japanese situation.” He wanted this journal to have two parts: an official section, for which the government would be directly responsible, and an unofficial section in which divergent opinions would be expressed freely.6 By early 1875, he was suggesting House as the editor of such a paper, proposing at one point an annual salary of $11,000 to get him to publish a paper, at another that House and Tokyo Nichi Nichi editor Fukuchi Gen’ichiro put out a joint English/Japanese weekly at an annual cost of $14,280, and in still a third memo that the government buy the Japan Mail for $15,000 from Howell and put it under an investment company, with House as editor. Okuma apparently liked this last proposal, but House demurred after learning that the Mail was not making a profit.7 House’s interest in the project might have seemed surprising by twenty-first century standards. He had, after all, been quite an independent spirit, notorious for his fights with his editors, never willing to bend a knee to anyone with whom he did not agree. How could he accept a contract that would make him, in effect, an agent of the Japanese government? What about his journalistic independence? His insistence over the past two decades on the right, always, to say just what he thought, even when it was controversial or unpopular? We have no records of his reaction, but if the proposed arrangement gave him pause, he hid that fact to his dying [day]. What we do know is that

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the idea of close ties between journalists and governments was not the issue, or the taboo, then that it has become in more recent years. We also know that House despised the anti-Japan tirades that appeared regularly in the Yokohama papers. And we know that he had a history of fighting for underdog causes. So it probably should not surprise us that, once terms were settled, he agreed with alacrity to sign Okuma’s contract and launch a new paper called the Tokio Times. A confidential agreement (naimitsu gian) was inked between House, Okuma, Okubo, and Iwakura Tomomi on 11 October 1876, providing the Bostonian with 15,000 yen over a twenty-eight month period, or nearly 6,500 yen a year, to publish a weekly newspaper. The restrictions on what he could include in the paper were two-fold: he agreed to publish any materials sent to him specifically by Okuma and Okubo, and he agreed that “all essays and editorials on Japan will be written truthfully and impartially, with the well being of the government in mind.” The contract also stipulated that the government would send 500 copies of each issue to opinion leaders in Japan and abroad and that if House were to become ill or die, the subsidy would continue only at the government’s discretion. A separate agreement provided that the Times would be printed by Fukuchi’s company, the Nipposha. The contract was renewed at its expiration in 1878, with a 1,000 yen increase in postal and printing fees, after Okuma’s colleague Hirai Kisho reported that the Times was “commanding great respect abroad” and assisting in the treaty revision struggle.8 The first issue of the paper came out on 6 January 1877, and there was no question for anyone who saw that day’s issue what kind of paper it would be. First, it would be an intellectual journal, with essays – both those written by House and reprints of domestic and foreign editorials – consuming nearly half of the space. It also would have a good deal of news, a full complement of ads, shipping reports, and the best writing in Japan. Both friends and rivals commented on its professionalism and erudition. The missionary educator Guido Verbeck called the Times “a most excellent journal conducted by a trained journalist.” The British journalist W. B. Mason described “the sure touch of the accomplished man of letters, the polished diction, the apt phrase and allusion.” The competitor Mail said the Times’s writing was “smooth and easy, and of excellent texture.” And years later the journalist Tokutomi Soho would remark: “Not many people today could put out that intelligent a journal.” House’s prose tended toward overkill at times; Tokutomi likened it to “murdering tofu with a kitchen

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knife.” But it always was clear, always intelligent, always filled with the colorful phrases that would attract 350 weekly subscribers by 1878, not an impressive number by Western standards, but the highest readership of any of Japan’s English-language papers.9 The fact that the English teacher House wrote nearly all of the paper’s essays personally meant that lucidity was consistent across the columns. Even the short new reports from government bureaus as often as not glistened with colorful metaphors or acerbic asides. And the editorial essays typically were gems of logic and fountains of literary allusion. House’s touch also provided the Times with endless witticisms. When the editor heard, for example, that a government bureau had hung a portrait of a recently departed, unpopular foreign attaché, he quoted a clerk to the effect that the hanging was “a fine stroke of policy,” because “the portrait will be just as active and efficacious as the original ever was, and will cost nothing beyond the first outlay.”10 House informed his readers on one occasion that Eve must have played tennis well in the Garden of Eden, because she was unencumbered by clothes. Even more important than the Times’s lucid prose were the broad scope of its coverage and the vigor of its editorial comment. The paper was especially strong on travel stories, because House himself had traveled widely during his first months in Japan (he had climbed Mt. Fuji, for example, in September 1870, less than two weeks after his arrival) and loved its landscapes and people. The paper also provided exceptionally detailed reports on diplomatic appointments and bureaucratic developments, along with columns of trade statistics and endless discussions of government budgets. Typically, accounts of a personnel shift at a ministry or of some impending new ordinance would appear first in the columns of the insider House. The Times also excelled in theater and music coverage, primarily because House was himself an expert in the arts, having been a composer, a critic, a theater manager, and an accomplished pianist before leaving the West. And above all, the paper excelled in comment, with many of its editorials sparking tantrums among the Yokohama editors, who had been irritated enough by House’s pro-Japanese stance when he was merely a reporter and now found his polemics intolerable. The Times’s columns also nettled many Western diplomats, whose favor he curried only if he respected them. And they even stirred the ire of Japanese officials more often than one might have predicted, because House never hesitated to criticize the things that he disliked in Japan.

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One of the first things that strikes the reader of the paper is the seriousness with which House took Japanese policies. This country was not just a site for making a profit or for converting the heathen – or even for demonstrating the superiority of Western civilization. It was a place where intelligent, rational people were grappling with nationbuilding tasks, and House looked on their efforts with respect, sometimes greater respect even than Japanese intellectuals did. Frequently that attitude yielded editorials praising Japan’s rapid progress – from a position of “frail decrepitude” in the 1860s to “friendly and respected intercourse with the powers of the earth” a decade later.11 Other times it produced essays about the success of specific reforms: the efficiency of Japan’s post office, the arrival of the first ship bearing a Japanese flag in London, the rapidity with which Japan was opening new national banks, the vitality of Japanese art. But at other times, more often than one might have predicted, House’s respect led to editorials criticizing Japanese customs and government policies. Indeed, few things illustrated the seriousness with which he took the Japanese better than his willingness to engage them in debate and to criticize things he disliked. No sycophant, he discussed the issues of the day with the vigor of one to whom the alternatives mattered. Often his criticisms dealt with specific, onetime incidents: the “economic absurdity” of some merchants’ scheme to sell silkworms to Italy, the bad example set by officials who built extravagant residences, the harsh enforcement of press laws with neither “sufficient reason nor necessity.” In June 1877, for example, he gave nearly a column to the firing of the Kaisei Gakko teacher Horace Wilson, who had introduced baseball to Japan, to make way for a Japanese employee. He sympathized with the desire to hire Japanese nationals “as speedily as possible,” but questioned why officials would dismiss people “who know their work and do it zealously and well” while retaining “others who are . . . destitute of zeal.”12 Just as often, House’s criticisms were ongoing. For months Times editorials raged over the government’s failure to regulate the charges of rickshaw pullers, while other essays expressed repeated bafflement at Tokyo’s outdated firefighting methods. After a December 1879 fire that destroyed his own home, House’s pen was withering; he called the fire fighting department “useless,” hopelessly conservative, and “utterly dishonest and corrupt,” and concluded that three things were needed: less flammable construction materials, better fire fighting equipment, and a sound insurance system.13 The Times also criticized broader social

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practices regularly, particularly the way women were treated by their husbands and families. His first lengthy treatment of this particular topic appeared on 2 March 1878, in response to an essay in which Fukuzawa Yukichi had suggested that Japanese not put their daughters in Westerners’ schools lest too much emphasis on nonessential learning make them poor marriage candidates. House said Fukuzawa’s view implied that women had no purpose other than to be “assistants in their husbands’ households,” an attitude he found contemptuous. The real reason for Fukuzawa’s caution, he suggested, was that Japanese men feared that broadly educated women “will presently become intractable and insubordinate, and resolve themselves into an element hostile to the welfare of the state.” He found such fears “ludicrous,” but added that if men could not do as well as women in an equal system, then “the interests of the nation would be best served by as speedy a transfer as possible of all sorts of control to those who may prove themselves better entitled to leadership.” The implicit premise of Fukuzawa’s argument, he added, was that if women were educated broadly they might “perchance lose some of their value as menial drudges.” Space precludes summarizing House’s subsequent editorials on women; suffice it to say that they were numerous and equally hard hitting. And they made it clear that he respected Japanese officials too much to patronize them with either silence or insincere approval of practices he thought wrong. More to the liking of his Japanese supporters – and more distasteful to his rival foreign editors – was the greatest of House’s crusades: his attacks on the evils of Western imperialism. No issue so thoroughly aroused him during the Times years as the way the European powers had appointed themselves world arbiters, speaking the language of justice while devising rules that benefited themselves alone. In the eighth issue of his paper, House reprinted a Tokyo Nichi Nichi analysis of the imperialist system, which argued: “We cannot arrive at an equality with foreign powers, because they maintain their conduct not by reason or on moral principles, but depend upon force.” And he wrote his own variations on that theme almost weekly. The attacks went in many directions. Frequently, it was trade that angered House, the fact that the diplomats tailored their policies to the merchants’ appetite for profit. Nearly as often, he wrote about the incompetence of Western diplomats serving in Japan. Sometimes he talked about the Europeans’ and Americans’ ignorance of Asia, and their willingness to use derogatory stereotypes or epithets such as “Japs.” And in almost every issue, he discussed what he saw as imperialism’s chief villain: the British trade

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system, backed up by its military might. He was so relentless, in fact, in his attacks on the British that a respected twentieth-century ambassador, Hugh Cortazzi, would write (without apparent evidence) that House had been “employed to write anti-British propaganda.”14 House’s feelings about imperialism were revealed most forcefully in scores of editorials on treaty revision. Indeed, he ran more than a hundred editorials and articles on the treaties during his years at the Times, and he discussed revision at least that many times more as a side issue in articles with another focus. His underlying principle was that Japan had been forced by ignorance and military weakness in the 1850s to sign treaties that robbed her of sovereignty, dignity, and economic opportunity – and that even though she had become a strong, civilized nation since then, the treaty powers continued to deny her justice. To regain dignity and achieve prosperity, Japan must find a means, a forceful means if necessary, to throw off the old treaties. She must find a way to end the extraterritorial system under which foreigners committing crimes in Japan were tried by their own consular courts, and she must be given (or seize, if need be) autonomy in the setting of tariff rates. House was not naive about what it would take to accomplish treaty revision; he agreed with Fukuzawa that “foreign relations are governed, not by reason, but by passion,” and he never held out much hope that the British would give up the advantages of the unequal system without a great deal of pressure. But none of the obstacles daunted him much. He had no doubt about the justice of his position, and he felt sure that means were available for bringing treaty equality to fruition, particularly after the Japanese government decided in the fall of 1877 to negotiate directly with officials back in America and Europe rather than in Tokyo, where the foreign representatives usually acted as a bloc.15 The largest number of House’s treaty articles concentrated on trade and tariffs. He raised that topic first in a 17 March 1877 editorial on Japan’s 1876 trade statistics, arguing that “a higher duty” would improve the country’s commercial position. Then, on 31 March he launched a series of eight long letters by the Philadelphia economist Henry C. Carey, advocating protectionism as a source of prosperity. And on 21 April he ran the first major Times editorial on tariffs, showing how British Minister Harry Parkes’s interpretation of the treaties enabled British steamers to transport 2.5 million piculs of coal duty free to Japan each year, at a loss of more than $21,000 in tariffs, or a full fifth of the customs house’s annual revenues.

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One point that House pounded home, again and again, was that Japan badly needed the lost revenue. He noted that British merchants had to pay less duty when they sent goods to Japan than when they exported items to Europe, and that even Great Britain, the “declared exponent and advocate” of free trade, took in more customs revenue than Japan did. And he endlessly lauded the value of protectionism in building native industries – anywhere. Bismarck’s Germany was committed to protective tariffs; protectionists were in the majority in France now; even Switzerland, “the free trade country of Europe,” was putting high tariffs on goods from countries that excluded Swiss products. House called the move to protection a “sweeping wave.” He also argued that America’s growing silk industry had been helped by sixtypercent tariffs, while the absence of duties in England had enabled the French to invade the British silk market. “There were upwards of 14,000 looms going . . . at Bedford Leigh” before the British signed a treaty with the French to eliminate the duties, he said, “but the treaty swept them all away . . . . Destitution followed wherever silk was manufactured.”16 Equally important to the Times was the question of fairness. Tariff autonomy was a matter of national right; if strong nations denied that right to weaker ones, they were acting unjustly. When the Japan Mail called on Japan to exhibit “a fair and liberal spirit” in treaty negotiations in 1877, House huffed that the Japanese would of course be fair and liberal – but that they were not “bound” to negotiate “in any spirit excepting that which pleases them. . The truth should never be lost sight of, that the regulation of a customs tariff is a national right.” He said the “fetters” of tariff limits were “imposed in her hours of extremest weakness,” and now that Japan was a healthy participant in international affairs they should be removed. His trump card on this argument came in another long essay that quoted Townsend Harris, the American negotiator of the first commercial treaty with Japan, as personally opposing the continued imposition of the tariff limits. House had written Harris in 1875, asking for a comment on the limits, since the diplomat’s name often was “quoted in a sort of defence of the claims made by the present envoys.” Harris replied quickly, saying he had intended the tariff limits to be only a temporary measure until the Japanese understood international affairs well enough to revise them. He admitted to writing the treaty and fixing the limits, because of “the ignorance of the Japanese of a tariff of duties on imports and of the manner in which customs should be

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collected.” But he had made sure that the treaty specifically stipulated that rates could be revised in a few years, at Japan’s initiative. He wrote: I constantly told the Japanese commissioners that before the time came around for revising the Treaty they would have gained such experience as would enable them intelligently to deal with this matter themselves, remarking that while ten years was an important part of a man’s life it was as nothing in the life of a nation. I never, for a moment, claimed a right to interfere in matters which purely belong to the municipal affairs of every nation. Such interference is the result of absolute conquest, and not of any international right.

Now, House said, we “see what the motives that influenced Mr. Harris really were.” The Harris letter created quite a furor; it was reprinted quickly in Tokyo Nichi Nichi for Japanese consumption; American minister John Bingham was upset by what he saw as Harris’s attempt “to steal my thunder” in the treaty reform campaign; and Harris’s thoughts kept rippling through the journalistic and diplomatic communities for years to come.17 During 1878 the Times expressed optimism about the prospects of changing the tariff system, thanks especially to the support Bingham and the U.S. State Department now had thrown behind revision. House began proposing alternatives to the present system, even if the British would not go along. In the summer of 1878, he raised the idea of Japan simply renouncing the treaties and setting tariffs as it pleased. No one would go to war over that, he asserted. All of the negotiations, “the endless iterations of conference, negotiation, correspondence,” had “brought forth nothing – not even a mouse.” It was time for Japan to take a bold initiative. “One sturdy breath of independence, and the swollen bubble so long blown by diplomatic arrogance and assumption tumbles back into the froth of which it was composed.” A more realistic kind of “diplomatic ingenuity,” he suggested later, would be for Japan to form an alliance with one of the great powers – preferably the United States, or if that were not possible, France, Germany, or Russia – in which each would grant the other major concessions, such as the elimination of all duties on each other’s goods. He did not see this as a permanent arrangement (after all, it contradicted his protectionist theories), but as a temporary measure to break the log jam. Trade between the two countries would soar, and the other treaty powers would be forced to negotiate new treaties. “To gain ‘a great right,’ it might be

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necessary to sanction ‘a little wrong’.” He also held out great hope for the unilateral negotiations being conducted that year between Japan and the United States. And when agreement actually was reached on a bilateral treaty that gave Japan tariff autonomy, he was elated. House’s optimism turned to disappointment, however, when the Japanese, acting under a misperception of American demands, added a clause making the bilateral treaty effective only when the other treaty powers had agreed to similar changes. The impact of that clause was to render the new treaty meaningless. House called it “the most deplorable diplomatic blunder committed by Japanese agents since the original surrender of sovereign rights, twenty years ago.” To ratify the treaty with the new clause “would be just as useful” as “to submit the document to flames and ratify the ashes.” He said the draft had been excellent otherwise; it restored to Japan the right of “regulating customs duties and controlling foreign commerce”; it also gave her the right to protect “the coasting trade.” But with the added stipulation, the treaty had become hostage to Great Britain. “A whole agreement is carefully put together, like a child’s toy structure, only to be knocked into fragments by the final touch.” The work on treaty revision would have to start again – this time with more baggage, since the bilateral negotiations had created new resentments and the blunder had taken away the Japanese government’s leverage. In an early 1879 editorial, he would conclude: “When Japan is prepared to say, ‘This I want and this I will have,’ – she will get it, and not before.” He no longer expected that soon.18 The other treaty revision that drew major comment from House was extraterritoriality, and here too he cited Harris, who said, first, that the jurisdictional clause of the treaty “was against my conscience”; second, that the secretary of state at the time had regarded extraterritoriality as an “unjust interference” with national sovereignty that had to be included to satisfy Congress; and third, that “I fear that I shall not live to see this unjust provision struck out of our treaties.”19 But justice was not the sole issue, House said. At least as galling were the specific abuses the system engendered. He gave issue after issue to reports (with an abundance of comment, of course) on iniquitous decisions that issued from the consular courts, all the while building a powerful argument against the system as a whole. Among the first of the episodes that attracted House’s pen was a pair of parallel, nearly identical, cases in 1877 that produced opposite judgments in two different consular courts. Two residents of the Tsukiji

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foreign quarters, one a Briton, the other an American, had refused for months to pay rent to their Japanese landlords. When the Japanese government sued, the British court ordered the offender to pay the back rent, while the American court ruled for the defendant. Noting that the cases illustrated the “absurdity of the ex-territorial system,” House ran a piece from Hochi Shimbun, which asked: “How are foreigners justified in saying that their methods of dispensing justice are the only trustworthy ones?” A month later, he ran a paragraph from the journal Celestial Empire calling the two cases “splendid illustrations of the vaunted impartiality of Justice as administered in foreign law courts.” The following May, House talked about the “growing scandal” of Yokohama sailors – “a notoriously ignorant, irresponsible, and, when vinously excited, quarrelsome class” – who got involved in violent scrapes and went away with little or no punishment. And an 1880 case, in which a British seaman named Ross murdered the officer of an American ship, drew a lengthy list of the extraterritoriality system’s abuses: inadequate policing of the treaty ports, a woefully weak licensing system for bars and saloons, and jurisdictional disputes of every kind. The system increased the likelihood of violent crimes such as this, House wrote; even though Ross had been sentenced to death, the jurisdictional controversies made it unclear whether he ever would be punished – “all because of that ever patent absurdity which still grows a luxuriant perennial crop of abuses, – the distorted phenomenon of extra-territoriality.”20 The episode that drew House’s most fearsome attack followed the arrival of the German ship Hesperia in Yokohama’s outer harbor in July 1879. Since the vessel had spent most of the previous month loading and unloading cargo and passengers in Kobe, where a cholera epidemic had broken out, the Japanese ordered it under quarantine, whereupon the German minister von Eisendecher objected, saying the treaties gave the Japanese no jurisdiction over German ships. After having the boat inspected by a German doctor and by Germany’s consul general, von Eisendecher permitted the ship to unload its passengers and cargo on 14 July, over the objections of a Japanese officer who “absolutely forbade the captain to leave the station.” Former U.S. President Ulysses Grant, on tour in Tokyo at the time, suggested that Japan fire at the German ship, and U.S. Minister Bingham wrote home that the death toll from the cholera epidemic “would not have been nearly so great if the Government of Japan had been aided and not resisted, as she was by certain foreign powers.” House published numerous articles on the

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episode, using phrases such as “outrage,” “diplomatic law-breaking,” and the “utter poverty” of the Germans’ defense of their actions. In December, House wrote that the Hesperia episode had touched off a debate in Germany and England that betokened an end to the extraterritorial system, perhaps even within a decade: “The doors of debate have at length been thrown open, and . . . we may now look for that publicity which, in England, heralds the death blow of any system of unprincipled oppression and arrogant injustice.” He predicted that Harry Parkes, the man he held responsible for inspiring von Eisendecher, would be recalled, if only the Japanese government would suggest it.21 Rumors were rife when House shut down the Times on 26 June 1880. The rival Yokohama editors proclaimed that its readership was small (though theirs was smaller) and that the paper no longer was viable (an inaccurate assumption), due to House’s alienation from mainstream foreign thought. Some said dissension in government circles had undermined Japanese support for the paper’s subsidy, while others suggested that House had offended his supporters by insisting on the right to attack official policies. The truth actually was more complex than they could have imagined. First, House did indeed – as he had claimed publicly – have to return to America to handle family financial affairs, because his uncle and business agent had died unexpectedly the previous winter, leaving House without close relatives and plunging his financial affairs into “a serious confusion.” Second, he was suffering by now from a case of the gout so serious that he would have to be carried aboard the ship bound for America; he hoped that doctors in New York might be able to give him relief. And third, Okuma had decided to send him on a quiet trip to Europe and America, to lobby politicians and officials for a more sympathetic ear in the treaty revision talks, an assignment House liked very much, since it combined two of his passions, fair treatment for Japan and the political/cultural swirl of Paris and London. He said in the last issue that some people had urged him temporarily to turn the paper over to a surrogate, but he had rejected that because the Times had been “the vehicle of expression for the views of a single person”; to give control to someone else would destroy “the efficacy of the publication.”22 The years that followed would take House’s odyssey with Japan in tortuous and dynamic new directions: continued magazine campaigns against the unequal treaties, unsuccessful lobbying efforts to be named American consul-general in Yokohama, endless correspondence with

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American intimates like Grant, John Hay, and John Russell Young about Japanese affairs, a tumultuous and eventually quite public relationship with Mark Twain, a return to war reporting (from a wheel chair) during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, even directorship of the first Western symphony by the Emperor Meiji’s court musicians, to whom he taught Western-style music on Western instruments, at the request of the empress. But the Tokio Times years tell us more than any of those later experiences about the complex ways in which sympathetic foreigners and the early Meiji government worked together in Japan’s march toward modernity. They also provide intriguing insights into questions about Japan’s overseas lobbying efforts and source disclosure that even today trigger heated discussions. And they illustrate how complicated the relationships among the expatriates themselves were – and always will be. One of the most disheartening, yet at times most charming, characteristics of the Tokio Times was this last feature: its struggles with the Herald, Gazette, and Mail in Yokohama. John Russell Young wrote in 1879: “If you take sides with the eastern nations, in this far east, you bring upon you the rancor of the foreigners. . . . You are bribed, bought, corrupted. You are possessed of the devil.”23 House stirred strong responses and a good deal of opposition. Sometimes the attacks were humorous, as when the Japan Punch printed a cartoon of him carrying an American flag with a rising sun in the middle of it, under the caption, “The new flag of Japan – a la Tokio Times & Co.,” or when it labeled him “the naughty Yankee boy who would throw coals at the British Lion.”24 At other times, they could be vicious. In 1879, for example, after House had criticized Parkes, the Gazette wrote about the Times’s “‘damnable iteration’ of insult, its simulated indignation for wrong never inflicted, its venomous malice.”25 And while House averred that he wanted to maintain a civil tone, he saw no choice but to respond in kind. “Gentle persuasion or moderate debate would be a senseless affectation,” he wrote. “As well seek to extinguish the blaze of a furnace with perfumed oil . . . . Courtesy and soft speech . . . would be mistaken for timidity.”26 As a result, he sneered often at his rivals’ journalistic sloppiness, at their mistakes, at their “all-embracing ignorance,” at the Gazette’s “shrill, unnatural voice,”27 and he tore apart their arguments with a zest that suggested more than unavoidable self-defense. It was little wonder that when the Times announced its own demise, the Herald sniped that the paper “has gone out with a stink, and society is well rid of a weekly and nasty

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nuisance.”28 The animosity between the pro-and anti-Japanese foreigners was not just a pose; it was deep and real. The editors’ goals differed as much as their personalities. The Yokohama journalists sought British profit above all and regarded the Japanese as inferior, while those of House’s ilk sought a world order that treated the Japanese as equals and granted treaty sovereignty to any nation capable of exercising it. Less obvious but even more important were the things the Times experience has to tell us about the methods the Meiji government used in its drive to win a place in the imperialist system. A great deal has been written about that government’s public treaty revision efforts: the diplomatic negotiations in Tokyo and in foreign capitals, the conference approaches, the suggestions of novel, sometimes halfway measures toward equal treatment. House’s story shows that the public activities were, however, only a part of the narrative. Although space limitations preclude a detailed analysis, it is important to note that the subtler, behind-the-scenes attempts at creating a climate conducive to international acceptance consumed as much of the Meiji officials’ energy as the better-known up-front activities. At least four points need to be made in this regard. First, the handling of House and the Times illustrates just how sensitive officials were to the fact that international success depended as much on creating a milieu as it did on building a military, developing an economy, or engaging in direct negotiations. It did not take LeGendre’s memos to tell them that Japan needed the confidence of European nations if it was to get their cooperation; nor did it take his advice to make them aware that this quest for confidence demanded public relations almost as much as it did specific policies. In a world in which the Yokohama papers daily lambasted Japan as inept, greedy, and backward, the need for a friendly voice – for an organ that explained Japanese policies sympathetically, in a language that foreign leaders could read – was self-evident. That was the reason the government would find it important to send 500 copies a week to opinion leaders in the Western world. Second, the treatment of House showed the early leaders’ understanding that soft gloves worked better than bare fists in securing friends. The secret contract establishing the Times contained only two clauses (out of nine) that restricted what the Times could publish. The first required House to publish anything that Okuma and Okubo specifically requested; the second (Article Five) stipulated that “all essays and editorials on Japan will be written truthfully and impartially, with

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the well being of the government in mind.”29 Such clauses could, of course, have been used to regulate the paper’s contents quite severely, but the reality was that House was given almost total freedom. As we have seen, he criticized Japan as vociferously as he praised it, and his attacks on practices like the treatment of wives and lavish spending hit at the very people who supported his subsidies. That he looked out for the government’s (and Japan’s) interests is undeniable, but he had been doing that since the day he stepped ashore at Yokohama, indeed since the day he covered the Japanese ambassadors to Washington in 1860. The Times columns thus make it clear that the officials to whom he answered gave him as much latitude as his own inclinations demanded. They seem to have understood that the best censorship is self-censorship. House probably would not have accepted any other arrangement, and though his independence surely caused men like Okuma to squirm at times, they were savvy enough to give him the space that he demanded, knowing that his essential, pro-Japanese message would come through most effectively when he spoke from conviction rather than from fetters. Third, the Times experience highlights the lack of unity within Japanese government circles. Not everyone was as astute as Okuma and Okubo when it came to shaping opinion. Nor did everyone see quite so clearly how important it was to shape foreign opinion. Thus, when House returned to Tokyo in 1882, planning to revive the paper, he was blocked – not by journalistic rivals but by the fact that his sponsors were no longer around. Okubo had been assassinated before the Times shut down, and Okuma had been forced from the government a few months after House left for Europe. For years, the Bostonian would write about the “tragedy” for Japan of that ouster. It is clear in hindsight that it also was a misfortune for House, because without Okuma to patronize him, he was not able to secure sufficient funds to revive the paper. Finally, House’s efforts add new dimensions to our understanding of the nature and role of the oyatoi gaikokujin, or foreign employees, who helped Meiji Japan along the path to modernity. They make it clear that in the field of journalism, just as in most other areas, there were foreigners who gave themselves to the Japanese cause not out of greed, or because they were power seekers, but because they were committed quite genuinely to the progress of a land that they had come to love. From his first days in Tokyo, House was infatuated with this “fantastic and delightful country.”30 And his espousal of its causes never wavered,

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regardless of who was paying his checks. As he wrote midway through his Times career, he had kept up “an unchanging front throughout half a dozen years of tolerably active controversy.” Surely, he added, that “counts for something.”31 Not everyone was convinced by his arguments (though one Hartford clergyman wrote that “you have made a good deal of a Japanese patriot of me”32), but even his opponents would have agreed that he represented an important group of foreigners who served the Japanese cause not primarily from avarice or ambition, but because they had come to love and respect Japan itself. Working both beside and beneath an enlightened group of officials who were as good at public relations as they were at nation building, those foreigners played a significant role in shaping the direction Japan took as it entered a wholly new international sphere.

Source: Japan Forum, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2001, pp. 15–25.

9

Edward H. House: Questions of Meaning and Influence ™

The Bostonian Edward H. House (1836–1901) was the first in a long, thin line of Western journalists who devoted much of their career to interpreting Japan sympathetically to foreign audiences. Like his successors in that line, Frank Brinkley of the Japan Mail (1841–1912) and John Russell Kennedy (1861–1928) of the Kokusai News Agency and the Japan Times, House edited his own newspaper and wrote countless essays to give Japan a ‘fair’ hearing in the West. Unlike them, however, he rarely modulated his voice. For three decades, beginning in 1870, House championed Japanese causes, arguing for treaty equality, better diplomats and Japanese progress with the gusto of a street fighter. His style, said the doyen of Meiji journalists Tokutomi Soho, was ‘to start fast, knock you down, and give you a thrashing’ (Tokutomi 1929: 117). A prominent US Civil War reporter and drama critic for The New York Tribune, House came to Japan soon after the 1868 Meiji Restoration, as a correspondent and English teacher. In 1872, when the Japanese government freed 231 Chinese coolies from slaveship conditions on the Peruvian vessel Maria Luz, which had fled to Yokohama harbor after being damaged in a storm at sea, House defended the action in the American press, and decided to start writing about politics on a full-time basis. Until his death in Tokyo in 1901, House made Japan’s international reputation a personal cause. He demanded tariff autonomy for Japan in America’s leading journals and papers, and called for an end to extraterritoriality in his own newspaper, the Tokio Times. In 1874, he accompanied Saigō Tsugumichi to Taiwan on the era’s first military campaign; in 1881, he made a secret diplomatic trip to 146

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Washington, London and Paris at the behest of his friend, the state councillor and finance minister Ōkuma Shigenobu; and, in 1894, he wrote articles for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, describing Japan’s Sino-Japanese War victories. He also composed endless letters to opinion leaders on both sides of the Pacific, arguing that Japan merited better treatment. On one level, House was an imperialist. Trained by Chauncy Hall School teachers to believe in ‘true manliness’, he never doubted the superiority of American values, or the idea that ‘men’ should lead the world. Yet, he would have cringed at being called an imperialist, for his lifelong crusades sprang from his school’s other ideals: ‘the Beauty of Virtue’ and ‘the Meliorating nature of Love’ (Annual Catalogue 1849: 17–18). House fought endlessly against the machismo of arrogant diplomats, self-interested trade policies and the idea that ‘might makes right’. He argued so viciously that Japan Punch called him the ‘naughty Yankee boy who would throw coals at the British lion’, while his enemies in the Yokohama press labeled him ‘mad’, ungentlemanly and full of ‘venomous malice’ (Japan Punch February 1878: 165; Japan Gazette 4 January 1879). This paper will focus on two issues that House’s crusades raise for anyone trying to understand the role of Japan’s early Western interpreters. First, his essays should make us cautious, slow to reach conclusions about what these writers were saying, because House’s messages were more complex than a superficial reading suggests. If his language exuded bravado, his content demanded civility. Conversely, even when he opposed the dogmatism of missionaries and diplomats, his arguments reflected Judaeo-Christian ideals. Second, his writings suggest that questions of influence are even more elusive than the content of messages. While House demonstrates that the early interpreters were influential, he also shows how hard it is to assess influence. House may have been the first Western journalist ‘to make the public reflect about Japan’ (Japan Weekly Mail 21 December 1901), but determining the results of that reflection is difficult.1 The interpreter’s character

Before examining House’s writings, we must glance at the features of his career that made him the kind of interpreter he was. Born to a pianist mother and engraver father, House exhibited an early propensity for defending ‘justice’. After quitting school when a teacher ques-

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tioned his authorship of an essay, House became an arts critic for the Boston Courier in 1854, at age 18, and a reporter for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune in 1858. There, he gained local renown as one of the boys at Pfaffe’s beer cellar and a national reputation for covering abolitionism and the Civil War. When John Brown was hanged, House got the story by disguising himself and mounting the scaffold, and when fellow reporters returned to Washington after the Union defeat at Bull Run in 1861, he declared that it ‘would be unseemly for a Tribune reporter to join the retreat. Greeley would not like it’ (Crozier 1956: 120). He also was said to have drunk himself into a stupor after more than one battle. It was in this war, and at Pfaffe’s, that he made the friends whose influence he later would use in arguing Japan’s causes: journalist Edmund Clarence Stedman; editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich; diplomats John Russell Young and John Hay; the humorist Samuel Clemens. House’s initial contact with Japan came in May 1860, when Greeley assigned him to cover Japan’s first mission to America. He prepared by studying Richard Hildreth’s Japan as it Was and Is, and wrote a survey of Japanese history for the June 1860 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. House was captivated by the Japanese, and, when an opportunity to go to Japan arose in 1870, he took it, arriving in Tokyo on 26 August to begin a dual career as journalist and English teacher at the Daigaku Nankō (later Tokyo Imperial University), where he worked alongside Guido Verbeck and William Elliot Griffis. Though single, he adopted one of his students, Aoki Koto, a brilliant young girl contemplating suicide after a failed marriage. House’s first articles were on Japanese culture: a September trip up Mt Fuji, the intricacies of Japanese theater, the curiosities of Japanese cooking. But the plight of the coolies on the Maria Luz and, particularly, Japan’s courage in releasing them over the opposition of Yokohama and Tokyo diplomats appealed to his love of the underdog, and, from mid-1872, he began focusing on political issues rather than ambience. He wrote about the ‘illegality’ of Western attacks on Shimonoseki and Kagoshima in 1863 and 1864, the ‘justice’ of Japan’s military expedition to Taiwan in 1874 and the ‘arrogant chauvinism’ of British Minister Harry Parkes. The only foreign journalist allowed to accompany the Taiwan mission, House spent two and a half months with the troops in the island’s humid southern regions, where ‘the hard, stony paths were so heated that the glow could literally be felt through the soles of thick shoes’, and wrote a 231-page book lauding the perfor-

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mance of this ‘brave little state’ (House 1875: 117, 228). His advocacy of the Japanese position gained him the appreciation of several Japanese officials, including Ōkuma, whose friendship and patronage became one of the constants of House’s life. A concrete expression of that friendship, in the form of a government subsidy, enabled House, early in 1877, to launch the Tokio Times, a weekly that provided the hub for the region’s English-language journalism in the late 1870s. By his own testimony, the Times was ‘the vehicle of expression for the voice of a single person’ (26 June 1880). House drafted the news stories, wrote the editorials, decided what to translate from the Japanese press, chose the newsprint and wrote many of the advertisements. He attracted attention for two things: lucid prose and a pro-Japan crusading approach. ‘From a literary standpoint,’ said Brinkley, he had ‘few, if any equals in the East’ (Japan Weekly Mail 10 March 1883: 154). The Times’ news brew was rich, but the editorials gave it its flavor. Every issue began with a long essay and several shorter ones, all of them hard hitting. Sometimes House called for better treatment of women, sometimes for moderation in Japan’s policies toward Korea, sometimes for victory over the Satsuma rebels. More often, he advocated fairer treatment of Japan by the Western nations. He campaigned endlessly for the recall of Parkes, whom he saw as a slave of British commerce. He made regular demands that extraterritoriality be ended, railing in 1879 against the Hesperia, a German ship that refused to accept a Japanese quarantine, even though there was cholera aboard. And he argued that foreigners had no ‘right’ to limit Japan’s import duties, treaty provisions notwithstanding. ‘The truth should never be lost sight of,’ he demanded, ‘that the regulation of a customs tariff is a national right’ (Tokio Times 28 July 1877: 49). The degree to which the interpreter’s role had become central to House’s persona was illustrated in 1880, when he agreed to shut down the Times temporarily, ostensibly to care for family matters in Boston, but more fundamentally to make a diplomatic mission at Ōkuma’s behest. In Washington, he argued effectively, as we shall see below, for a return of America’s portion of the indemnity that had followed the 1864 Shimonoseki bombardment. He was less successful in London and Paris, where he lobbied friends and officials for flexibility in treaty negotiations. He attempted to revive the paper on his return to Tokyo in 1882, but his patron Ōkuma had been purged from power, and renewed government aid was not forthcoming. He did not retire

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from the interpreter’s role, however. Instead, he spent his days writing for American journals, editing The Japan Weekly Mail when its editor, Frank Brinkley, was away – and fighting the gout, a disease that had troubled him occasionally since the 1870s, and now left him bedridden for weeks at a time. After Brinkley chided him for irritability in one letter, House scribbled in the margin: ‘No doubt I was in error – but Good God, how I was strained by pain and worry in those days’ (Clemens Collection, Brinkley to House, 8 September 1884). This illness drove him back to the United States in 1885, where he remained for six and a half tempestuous years, living mostly in New York City, but spending many months in Hartford with Mark Twain. He was never free of pain, but his literary output remained prodigious, and more varied, as he worked to balance his literary and journalistic roles. He wrote children’s stories; published a novel; wrote drama; and continued his attacks on the unequal treaties. He signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin for his novel, Yone Santo: A Child of Japan, but, when church groups protested its anti-missionary tone, Houghton broke the contract, and House published in 1888 with a lesser company. Still seething, the next year he acceded to Twain’s request that he dramatize The Prince and the Pauper. Unfortunately, the forgetful Twain also had asked another writer, Abby Richardson, to dramatize it, and, when Twain sanctioned her version, House sued for breach of contract, won in court – and thereby destroyed the closest friendship of his life. Now 56, House returned to Tokyo in 1892, hoping for respite. He settled in Yotsuya, near the palace moat; his adopted daughter Koto married and gave birth to a child; and, while he never walked again, he resumed old friendships. House remained at home most of the time now, using a wheelchair that Ōkuma had given him, and his grandson, Kuroda Masao, recollected that only two things continued to interest him: ‘whiskey and the piano’ (Tsuchida 1942: 51). Kuroda exaggerated the lassitude, however. House continued to interpret Japan for American papers and journals, and in 1894–5 covered the Sino-Japanese War from Tokyo for Pulitzer’s World. He also returned to his first journalistic love, the arts, writing criticism for The Japan Weekly Mail and teaching Western music to the Meiji court musicians. Days before his death on 21 December 1901, the emperor awarded House the Second Order of Merit of the Sacred Treasure. At the memorial service, Brinkley called him ‘the most brilliant writer ever connected with journalism in the Far East’ (Japan Weekly Mail 21 December 1901). Years

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later, Tokutomi recollected fondly: ‘My god! Mr. House was a good hater’ (Tokutomi 1929: 124). House, Japan’s first long-term Western interpreter, would have liked both statements. Analyzing Japanese women: an exercise in complexity

House’s interpretations of Japan were sharply focused. On the one hand, he despised imperialism, unequal treaties and Sir Harry Parkes, along with incompetent American diplomats and intolerant missionaries; on the other hand, he championed international equality, Japanese competence and American ‘goodness’. Among all of his crusades, two particularly illustrate the issues with which this study is concerned. His analysis of the role of women in Meiji society sheds light on the complex nature of writers’ views. And his efforts to secure the return of America’s share of the Shimonoseki indemnity illustrate how hard it is to assess a communicator’s influence. Jean-Pierre Lehmann has noted that, during the Meiji years, ‘no aspect of Japan captivated the Western male imagination as much as Japanese woman’ (Lehmann 1978: 68). Surely that was true of House. His initial interest in the social role of women developed in the early 1870s, when he taught at Takebashi Onna Gakkō, Tokyo’s first school for girls. Impressed by both the potential and the poverty of his students, he set up his own House School (Hausu Gakkō) as ‘an opening wedge – in a direction where a good deal of solid work must be done’ (Young Papers, Young to House, 18 June 1882), providing teachers and sustenance for thirty girls, ages 5 to 13.2 The source of most of his concern about women’s roles, however, lay closer to home, in his relationship with his adopted daughter Koto.3 Koto was more than a daughter to House. She was his companion and alter ego, both in America and in Japan. She interpreted for him, nursed him, turned his letters into Japanese, translated articles for his Tokio Times. An accomplished dancer and painter, she brought him the intellectual companionship that he had sought on three continents. Even after she disappointed him in 1896 by marrying Kuroda Takuma, a French specialist whom House considered beneath her, House continued to live with Koto for most of his remaining life. Theirs was as equal and reciprocal a relationship as the 1890s allowed an adoptive father and daughter. Drawing on these and other experiences, he wrote frequently about the role of women in Meiji society. Many of the writings were fictional,

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and, in his stories and novel, the female characters appear, on one level, as the idealized types described by other Western males: ‘prejudiced in favor of the quaint’ (Wordell 1998: 86). In ‘The sacred flame of Torin Ji’, for example, a young woman nurses, and falls in love with, an American male traveller who has collapsed from the heat. Her sweetness and goodness overwhelm the story. In Yone Santo, the heroine suffers from both an essentialized purity and a heavy dose of victimization: she is abused by everyone (her family, her husband, American missionaries), yet unfailing in her goodness. What sets House’s descriptions off from those of other Western writers, however, is his insistence on the intelligence of female characters. They invariably get the better of their male counterparts, both Western and Japanese, in games of wit. The characters may lack complexity, and House’s rhetoric – filled with words like ‘patient’, ‘tender’, ‘humble’, ‘softer and better half– reflects nineteenth-century gender stereotypes. But his respect for women’s minds fills every page. House’s clearest statements on women are found in his Tokio Times essays. Two, written on consecutive Saturdays in 1879, outline his views explicitly. The first, dated 22 November, begins with an assertion that no nation treats women in a civilized way. House then suggests a hierarchy of treatment, with the United States treating women best, Japan and Europe next best and Africa worst. It is not enough, however, for Japan to justify its errors by pointing to other offenders; it must take the lead in ‘breaking down this last and worst and meanest relic of human barbarism’, the tendency of husbands to treat their wives with ‘cold and selfish disregard’. In a follow-up article on 29 November, House focused on the difficulties faced by women who had returned to Japan after experiencing the greater freedom available in America. ‘Marriage, for them,’ he says, ‘means a weary and hopeless sorrow, a “long disease”, the crushing out of all brightness from their hearts.’ He laid the blame on many social forces: husbands, in-laws, extended families, a milieu in which fair or equal treatment of women brings social censure. Everything conspires against the returning bride to ‘grind her spirit away by menial degradations, and crowd excesses of vulgar toil upon her’, to eradicate any ‘recollection of her little scholarly attainments’. If intimacy makes the husband want to treat the wife more respectfully, House warned, relatives will ‘nullify’ that influence ‘by introducing concubines into the home’. He estimated that Japan contained no more than ‘a score’ of homes, primarily those of middle-ranking, ‘courageous, young

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officials’, where a returning woman would find life congenial. And he ended with several real-life examples: girls’ school graduates abused by prominent families, young women in whom ‘the bright ambition and mental activity of . . . youth are dead, if not forgotten’. The solution for these injustices, House concluded, had ‘two branches,–one social, the other educational’. He demanded an end to degrading practices ‘in palace and hovel alike’ and called for the creation of girls’ schools, where female students would be taught, not just the domestic arts but everything that young minds, of both genders, needed to know. The schools for the weaker – but by no means the less intelligent – sex must be reopened and multiplied. It must be known and felt that the man who defiles the purity of his home, debases his wife, or imposes infamy on his daughter, smites his own honor with a blow from which it can never recover. (Tokio Times 29 November 1879)

Japan would not be civilized, he insisted, until ‘mothers as well as fathers . . . enjoyed the utmost benefits of broad and catholic education’. One of the most interesting features of these essays was their contradictory nature, the way they perpetuated certain traditional values, while advocating radical change. As noted above, both the rhetoric and the message were insistently sexist at one level. House seemed unaware of his use of patronizing terms; women were the weaker sex; they were forbearing and passive, the objects of male abuse with limited ability to resist; they made life better for men. His analyses were also infused with an imperialist, pro-American quality. The enlightened male figures in his stories were Americans; the positive foreign education of Japanese ‘girls’ occurred in the United States. His patriotism, sown at Chauncy Hall School, had ripened under the blazing sun of the Civil War, and it never seemed to occur to him that any land came closer than his own to what he called the ‘republican faith’ (House 1879: 297). We would be mistaken, however, to let the era’s discourse boundaries blind us to the fact that House was demanding a significant departure, that in his imperialist tone were couched ideas that were inimical to such central tenets of imperialism as male ascendancy and natural hierarchy. His was not the love affair with gentility that marked other Western analyses. Nor was it the missionary community’s indignation over concubinage, prostitution or the use of marriage gobetweens. House saw solutions not in Christian values but in equality

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of intellectual opportunity. In his view, Yone Santo’s trials sprang from two factors: a family that blocked her education and missionaries who ignored her intellectual abilities. In an earlier Tokio Times essay, House suggested that Japanese women might be more intelligent than their male counterparts (or than their Western counterparts), and that men held them back partly because of ‘a sort of unwholesome dread’ that women might get the better of them in a struggle between genders (Tokio Times 2 March 1878). It is easy to argue that his views were inconsistent. The insistence on equality was compromised by the unconscious acceptance of language (i.e. ideas) about stronger and weaker sexes. House’s approval of different domains – public for men, domestic for women – undermined the equality he demanded. But to see the inconsistency is to begin the process of understanding Meiji (and all) analysts. No matter how new some of their ideas were, they were as much trapped in the rhetoric, and the underlying mindset, of their era as we are in ours. Without taking into account this unavoidable ambiguity, we can never begin to grapple with the richness of contemporary accounts like those of House. Influence and the indemnity

But what kind of influence did these writers exert? Did the Englishlanguage interpreters of Meiji Japan really speak to anyone, except to other Japanophiles? Did their messages matter in the world of public policy? In trying to answer this question, House’s crusade to make the English-speaking world understand the 1864 Shimonoseki Incident is instructive. According to standard accounts, the bombardment of Shimonoseki was provoked a year earlier, when Chōshū soldiers fired on Western ships passing through the straits between Honshū and Kyūshū, allegedly because the Westerners had ignored an expulsion decree in June 1863. When Chōshū officials remained unrepentant and the bakufu failed to punish them for the attack, the Americans, British, French and Dutch, prodded by British minister Rutherford B. Alcock, sent seventeen ships (nine of them British) to the Straits and bombarded Shimonoseki for four days. Negotiations ensued, and Japan agreed to pay an indemnity of 3 million Mexican dollars. House devoted more of his energies in the late 1870s and early 1880s to this incident than to any other issue, except treaty revision.

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He published a booklet on it (House 1875), wrote repeated essays in papers around the globe and made a trip to Washington, DC, to lobby for return of the indemnity. Though known for overblown prose, he was meticulous in garnering facts and shaping arguments. The result, in this instance, was the construction of a powerful case that showed both the potential and the limitations of Meiji writers intent on shaping policy and opinion. One of House’s aims was to correct all the misinformation that had been published about the incident. In 1883, when Jiji Shinpō and Brinkley’s Japan Weekly Mail repeated the common, imperialist narrative of the event, House responded sharply with a series of Mail essays, explaining how important it was ‘that no errors of statement be allowed to obscure the debate’ (House 10 February 1883), and detailing mistakes that had appeared in recent articles. First, the American ship Pembroke, which had been fired on first, in 1863, was not simply ‘passing the Strait’ on ‘an innocent voyage’. On the contrary, she had dropped anchor, in an apparent effort to open trade discussions, ‘in direct defiance of Treaty provisions’, and thus had taken the ‘risks consequent upon intrusion into a forbidden port’. Second, the French and Dutch ships, attacked several days later, were not merchantmen, as reported, but gunboats and warships. Third, although the 1864 bombardments were described as a retaliatory response to Japan’s ‘murderous attacks’ and treaty violations, there had not been any murderous attacks or treaty transgressions. No English ship had been attacked, and the assaults on the French and Dutch were on military ships, not merchantmen. The only commercial ship fired on was American – and it had not been damaged. ‘The truth is,’ he contended, ‘one American merchant ship was driven away from a place where she had no right to anchor; and one French gunboat and one Dutch ship of war were assailed while passing through the Strait. That is the whole.’ His fourth point was that redress was unnecessary in 1864, because it already had been secured, immediately after the 1863 attacks, ‘two or three times over’. He detailed how the commander of the American ship Wyoming had ‘smashed all the Choshiu vessels he could get at, sinking one, blowing up another, and, presumably, killing a number of men’. The French retaliation had left ‘dismantled forts, ruined property, a village burned, and no inconsiderable destruction of Japanese life’. And the Dutch, too, had wreaked havoc. This meant, he emphasized in his fifth correction, that the 1864 bombardment was nothing

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but a ‘scheme of unjust vengeance’ instigated by ‘Great Britain . . . the one nation whose ships had never suffered’, in order to create new Western trade opportunities in Japan. He quoted US diplomatic correspondence to corroborate his final point: that the indemnity was set unfairly high, at 3 million Mexican dollars, simply to pressure Japan into opening new ports as a substitute for payment. Mail editor Brinkley and House engaged in a civilized editorial argument over the next couple of issues, and in the end Brinkley capitulated, accepting House’s account and admitting that Japan had every right, according to international law, to close the straits. Your ‘new arguments’, he wrote to House, ‘prove conclusively that as a point of international law the Treaty Powers had no right to force the passage of the Strait, and what is even more interesting, that the British Government . . . explicitly interdicted’ the use of force. He insisted that House went too far in impugning the motives of Alcock, an honorable man, who had not received his government’s interdiction directive in time to stop the attack, and who operated in an era when ‘bullets and bayonets were . . . they [sic] only trustworthy propagandists of Western civilization’. House’s arguments, Brinkley wrote in a 24 February 1883 Japan Mail editorial, ‘seem to prove conclusively’ that the 1864 attackers were indeed ‘agents of Lynch law’ and that the history of Japan’s foreign relations had no ‘more disgraceful incident than this’. House’s other goal related to Shimonoseki, to get America to return the indemnity, was realized a few weeks later, when Congress voted to return the original US share of $785,000.4 House was disappointed that this figure did not include the accrued interest, but expressed satisfaction that his homeland had acted justly. In an earlier Tokio Times editorial, House wrote: ‘We shall never congratulate Japan, for the reason that we regard the restoration of that money simply as an act of justice, and its repayment as the fair settlement of an honest debt’ (24 January 1877). The first thing that strikes one in assessing House’s influence in this case is the fact that so many people give him credit for the repayment. Ebihara Hachirō, pioneer historian of Japan’s English-language press, concluded that ‘his pen alone was responsible for the return’ (Ebihara 1936: 124). W.B. Mason, a Meiji-period editor, concurred, adding that House had more influence than anyone else in persuading American officials (Mason 1918: 243). House himself reminded Ōkuma in 1887 of his Washington trip to lobby for a return of the monies, expressing regret that Ōkuma’s fall from office had made it

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impolitic to write publicly about the details of the trip, and adding: ‘I worked very carefully in Washington and elsewhere, and it is a fact that the money was restored to Japan within six months after my return’ (Ōkuma Monjo, House letter 7 October 1887). As Ōkuma said, when House died, ‘to his representation was largely due the restoration of the United States share of the indemnity’ (Japan Weekly Mail, 28 December 1901). While one should not give House sole credit for the indemnity decision, there is no question that he played a central role in engineering its return. Not only had he written articles, he had lobbied endlessly among a circle of friends that included powerful opinion makers. No one in American public life showed more active concern for the indemnity issue than House did. If nothing else, he kept it alive for a decade after it might have expired, and the Congressional action did indeed follow closely on his lobbying activities in Washington. Ebihara’s other claim, that House ‘greatly stirred up American opinion’ (Ebihara 1936: 134), is harder to assess. That House exerted an influence on the attitudes of other opinion makers is a given. If nothing else, the Mail’s turn around during the debate showed that. It can also be argued that the comparatively generous nature of US attitudes toward Japan during the Meiji years was influenced, to some degree, by House’s strenuous advocacy in so many prominent American publications. But the longer look of history suggests caution about taking this analysis very far. The voices that House failed to change are as numerous as those he influenced. Yokohama’s foreign journalists, for example, never budged. They continued to consider House a ‘hired partisan and mercenary writer in support of every iniquitous aggression upon treaty rights’ (Japan Gazette 16 December 1881). Moreover, once Brinkley had been won over on the Shimonoseki story, the Yokohama papers attacked him too. On issues like treaty revision, even America’s sympathy for Japan resulted in only limited policy achievements. Not until the mid-1890s, when all of the Western powers had finally come around, did the United States actually sign a revised treaty. Perhaps the most disturbing sign, for those who want to credit House with great influence, shows up in today’s historical narratives. English-language histories still reinforce the imperialist interpretations that upset House so much: Chōshū fired on ships that were just passing through; the 1864 bombardment was planned in retaliation; the attack was regarded by participants as ‘legal’. Missing from almost all accounts

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are the strong and immediate Western military responses to Chōshū’s initial provocation, and the British Foreign Office’s written admission that Japan had been legally justified in closing the straits. Even the authoritative Cambridge History of Japan begins its lengthy discussion of the episode with the conventional assertion: ‘Chōshū . . . opened fire on an American vessel passing through the Shimonoseki Straits’ (Jansen 1989: 293–5). House surely would have fired off a letter to author W.G. Beasley, because the details of the truth, as he understood them, have been lost in the master narratives of imperialism and modernity. This episode would seem, then, to suggest two principles about influence. First, House was most influential when he had a concrete objective and a sympathetic, influential constituency, as in the Shimonoseki crusade where he could draw on the assistance of friends like John Hay, Mark Twain, and John Russell Young. House kept the indemnity issue alive when it might otherwise have died from inattention and made it intellectually respectable for a group of supportive leaders who, lacking his arguments, might not have had the courage to back it. The fact that Grant had become a Japan partisan during his 1879 visit to Tokyo,5 and that House had engaged Twain and Young in years of friendly correspondence, obviously intensified the impact of his arguments. Thus was influence rendered. The second principle flows from House’s inability to revise the standard view of Shimonoseki. His experience suggests that public narratives are community properties, constructed by establishment figures, and difficult to change in fundamental ways. The one who attempts essential revisions is likely to be regarded the way House sometimes was: as ‘heretical and dangerous’ (Japan Weekly Mail 21 December 1901). Merely to be accurate, or even to convince an individual reader, is not usually enough to change accepted wisdom. To alter a community’s story significantly requires something more fundamental. It demands arousing the sympathy of large numbers of scholars and writers, gaining support from new power holders – and it usually takes a great deal of time. House had neither the establishment’s support nor the time. Individual readers may have been convinced by his arguments, but those in the era’s opinion-shaping institutions typically found his points too nuanced, or too galling, to incorporate them in their own narratives. As a result, the conventional story continued as it had been, largely unchallenged. Must we then conclude that this inability to change the master narrative rendered House uninfluential, or unimportant? Hardly.

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His impact on concrete policies was, as we have seen, considerable. He helped shape the day’s debates; he gave voice to its key issues; he illustrated its major forces. And, as with all things written, the final accounting even of his impact on the communal story remains unfinished. House’s arguments had become a part of the ineradicable record when he died in 1901; they formed a powerful narrative, available for resuscitation by other interpreters in a later era, when topics like colonialism and imperialism would draw fresh interest. His views on the world order may have been consigned to the iconoclast’s bin by his own era’s power élite. However, it is far from certain that they will remain there in a later day. Wittenberg University References Annual Catalogue of the Teachers and Pupils of Chauncy Hall School, Boston (1849) Boston, MA: Dutton & Wentworth. Brinkley, Frank (1883a) ‘A few words about the Shimonoseki indemnity’, The Japan Weekly Mail 10 March. — (1883b) ‘Mr. E. H. House and the Shimonoseki indemnity’, The Japan Weekly Mail 17 February. Clemens, Samuel Langhome Collection, Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia. Crozier, Emmet (1956) Yankee Reporters, 1861–67, New York: Oxford University Press. Ebihara Hachirō (1936) Nihon Ōji Shinbun Zasshi-shi (A history of Japan’s Western language newspapers and magazines), Tokyo: Taiseidō. Falt, Olavi K. (1990) The Clash of Interests: The Transformation of Japan in 1861–1881 in the Eyes of the Local Anglo-Saxon Press, Rovaniemi: Historical Association of Northern Finland. Hoare, James E. (1994) Japan’s Treaty Ports and Foreign Settlements, Folkestone: Japan Library. House, Edward H. (1875) The Japanese Expedition to Formosa, Tokyo. — (1875) The Simonoseki Affair: A Chapter of Japanese History, Tokyo. — (1879) ‘The women of Japan’, The Tokio Times 22, 29 November. — (1883) ‘The Shimonoseki indemnity’, The Japan Weekly Mail 10 February. — (1883) ‘Mr E. H. House and the Shimonoseki indemnity’, The Japan Weekly Mail 24 February. — (1887) ‘The sacred flame of Torin Ji’, Scribner’s Magazine 2(September): 332–45; (October): 420–35. — (1887) ‘The thraldom of Japan’, Atlantic Monthly December: 721–34. — (1888) ‘The tariff in Japan’, New Princeton Review June: 66–77. — (1888) Yone Santo: A Child of Japan, New York: Belford, Clarke. Huffman, James L. (1997) Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

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Jansen, Marius B. (ed.) (1989) The Cambridge History of Japan: The Nineteenth Century, Vol. 5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The Japan Weekly Mail (various). Kasahara Hidehiko (1984) ‘Rujiyandoru to seifu-kei Eiji shinbun’ (LeGendre and government-related English newspapers), Shinbun Gaku Hyōron 33: 205–14. Lehmann, Jean-Pierre (1978) The Image of Japan: From Feudal Isolation to World Power, 1850–1905, London: Allen & Unwin. Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, The University of Califomia-Berkeley. Mason, W.B. (1918) ‘The foreign colony: early Meiji days III – Edward H. House, editor of the first English journal in Tokyo’, The New East March: 243–4. The Tokio Times (various). Tokutomi Sohō (1929) ‘Hausu-sensei no omoide’ (Recollections of Mr House), Shinbun Kisha to Shinbun (Journalists and newspapers), Tokyo: Min’yūsha, pp. 105–26. Treat, Payson, Jr. (1921) Japan and the United States, 1853–1921, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Tsuchida Mieko (1942) ‘Edward H. House’, Gakugei September: 39–52. Wordell, Charles B. (1998) Japan’s Image in America: Popular Writing About Japan, 1800–1941. Kyoto: Yamaguchi. Young, John Russell, Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Source: Peter O’Connor, ed., Japanese Propaganda: Selected Readings, Vol. 1. Kent, UK: Global Oriental, 2004, pp. 37–44.

10

Selected Writings of E.H. House: Introduction ™

Charles Le Gendre, a crusty American adviser to Japan’s foreign ministry, told the ministry’s leading light, Ōkuma Shigenobu, in 1874 that Japan should create a news organ to amplify its voice abroad, a government-subsidized paper that ‘shall, by sufficient distribution in the capitals of Europe and the various political and intellectual centres, tend to create a new interest in, and a more complete comprehension of, the Japanese situation’. The need for such a publication, he said, sprang from the damage done by ‘the malicious efforts of the foreign newspapers of Yokohama,’ which had poisoned international images of Japan in order to promote British commercial interests.1 He made it clear that he had a specific man in mind to edit the paper: Edward H. House, a Bostonian who had come to Japan in 1870 as a reporter for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. House was a respected journalist; he had influential friends in Japan, Europe and the United States; he was also a known crusader for idealistic causes. Indeed, House, who had been a celebrity in American reporting circles, had made his name as an advocate. For example, he publicized John Brown’s abolitionism at the end of the 1850s and pushed the New York press to give a sympathetic ear to the little known Mark Twain at the beginning of the 1860s. After coming to Japan as one of America’s first regular Tokyo correspondents, he had defended Japan vigorously in 1872 when it freed 130 Chinese workers from the Peruvian barque Maria Luz; he had excoriated British journalists in Yokohama 161

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for their condescending reports on Japanese affairs; and he had written an influential book praising Japan’s handling of a military expedition to Taiwan in the spring and summer of 1874.2 When House accepted an offer from the government in 1876 to establish the Tokio Times as the country’s first pro-government, English-language newspaper, his life pattern was set. Until his death in 1901, he would agitate endlessly for his adopted land: as a paid journalist at the Times in the late 1870s, as a sympathetic lobbyist in Paris, London, and Washington in 1881, as the recipient of an annual ‘pension’ from the Japanese government after 1884, as a novelist who depicted Western missionaries as hypocrites and Japanese women as noble, and as a defender of Japan’s aggressive war against China during the middle 1890s. One of his greatest triumphs was helping to persuade his own US government to return the $750,000 indemnity that it had received after military conflict in Shimonoseki, the western tip of Japan’s main island, in 1864. And he revelled in Japanese officials who credited him as ‘the one who laid the groundwork’ for Japan’s final success, in the 1890s, in revising its unequal treaties with the Western powers.3 The British journalist Frank Brinkley would call him ‘Japan’s pioneer friend,’4 while later scholars would recognize him as one of the country’s earliest, and most effective, foreign propagandists. House would not have liked the latter designation, however. While he proclaimed his sympathy for Japanese causes openly and constantly, he never regarded himself as a lobbyist, or paid agent. In part, this was because of his view of journalism. From the first, even as a teenage arts reporter in Boston, he had seen journalism as a platform, a forum in which writers used facts and ‘truth’ to shape people’s opinions. Reader confidence was won not through some pretended neutrality but through the journalist’s ability to use facts and rhetoric honestly and skillfully. When Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, the father of Japan’s modern press, called journalism a medium through which ‘I might eventually see my ideals realized in society,’ he was expressing the very sentiment that motivated House from his teenage years until his death.5 One of House’s early assignments at the Tribune, a series of stories on the 1860 visit of England’s Crown Prince Albert to the United States, brimmed with partiality towards democracy. He called the price an ‘intense democratic presence’ and said the unruly crowds that clamoured after him illustrated ‘the capacities of the people for a self-government founded on the immutable laws of human sympathy.’6 Similarly, when he reported on a famous London boxing match between John Heenan

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and Tom King in 1863, he informed readers that boxing fans showed ‘no mercy for the defeated. Fair or foul, there is yet only one morality with them – success’.7 Dry objectivity was not House’s goal. Like most of his nineteenth-century peers, he found in journalism a medium for saying what he thought, as well as what he observed. Brinkley said he was imbued with ‘a fervour of controversial zeal’, a zeal that caused him, for an entire lifetime, to give ‘his ability and his energy to combatting the racial prejudices which are the disgrace of this twentieth century’.8 For that reason, House was an advocate from the first, a spokesperson for Japanese causes long before anyone would have thought of calling him a propagandist. His coverage of the first Japanese mission to the United States, in 1860, brimmed with favourable evaluations: their ‘courtly and gentle manners,’ their ‘gorgeous . . . robes of blue and purple crape’, their boundless intellectual curiosity, the rationality of their thought, their ‘dignity serener than the calm of your own Pacific!’9 His Atlantic Monthly article that same year, entitled simply ‘Japan’, summarized Japan’s history with similar approval, referring to the ‘present moment’, when ‘all seems favourable for the development of the long hidden resources of the Empire’.10 And as soon as he arrived in Tokyo in August 1870, his Tribune articles exuded a respectful, positive tone that contrasted markedly with the condescension and criticism of other Western journalists. He praised the Meiji government’s efforts to bring modernity to the country, described the country’s most beautiful spots, and declared in a letter: ‘Existence here is a perpetual delight.’11 Japan was a place that House found congenial from the start, long before he had any formal connections with the government, and he told his readers that often. Defending himself against charges in the mid-1870s that his views had been bought, he argued that ‘an unchanging front through half a dozen years of tolerably active controversy counts for something’.12 It was a telling point. His support for Japan had been fulsome from the day he met that country’s first ambassadors at the Washington naval yards – because he admired the Japanese, not because he was paid by them. The other reason House would have objected to being called a propagandist lay in the free way he criticized Japan and its officials, even when he was on the government’s payroll. The respectfulness of his general tone never prevented him from taking on policies or programmes that he disliked. During his early years in Japan, he wrote often about the shaky position of the Meiji government and criticized it for taking on too many projects too quickly. During his

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years at the Tokio Times he attacked official extravagance, the ricksha system, Tokyo’s erratic fire-fighting organization (which resulted in the destruction of his own house and a school he had started for poor girls). No issue drew his ire more fiercely than the unequal treatment of Japanese women. Drawing on the experiences of Aoki Koto, a brilliant student whom the unmarried House had adopted in the mid-1870s, he wrote numerous editorials on the ‘long disease’ of Japanese marriage and the way in which the elite confined daughters and wives to lives as ‘assistants in their husbands’ households.’ ‘To our mind,’ he wrote in one Times editorial about leading officials, ‘the profoundest lesson of foreign culture remains untaught until the sentiment of cold and selfish disregard for the rights’ of women ‘has been burnt out of their souls.’13 If being a propagandist meant hewing the party line, House would have protested quite rightly that he merited no such label. To life’s end, he was an independent spirit, praising Japan much of the time but criticizing it freely when he disagreed with official policies. The truth is, however, that House’s protests would not have been wholly supportable. While the evidence argues strongly that he remained true to himself, that he never stopped writing from conviction, he nonetheless served the Japanese government aggressively for a quarter of a century. By today’s standards, he must be called a propagandist. The first reason for this already has been addressed: House spent much of his life persuading, devising arguments to convince Americans and Europeans that Japan should be treated as a modern, sovereign state. His campaign to get the US Congress to return the Shimonoseki indemnity was indefatigable, carried out in the columns of the Tokio Times and Japan Weekly Mail, in interviews with New York papers, in Alantic Monthly and Harpers essays, at smoke-filled dinners with congressmen. When the clergyman-educator William Elliot Griffis used the columns of the New York Evening Post to accuse Japanese officials in 1887 of quieting enemies through assassination and despotism, an apoplectic House wrote a series of stinging rebukes, calling Griffis’s charges ‘the wildest rhapsodies of a distorted imagination’.14 No abuse of Japan was slight enough to be ignored by Japan’s public friend. Nor was he above putting a pro-Japanese spin on the news. While I have found no evidence of House reporting a falsehood, he often focused on facts that put the Japanese establishment in the best light. In his exchange with Griffis, for example, he labelled the Meiji government’s efforts to stifle dissent as necessary ‘for the preservation of social order’ but ignored several draconian features of the measures.15

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His attempts in the late 1870s to get Harry Parkes removed as Great Britain’s minister to Japan made much of the diplomat’s volatile personality and single-minded pursuit of British commercial interests but said nothing about the high respect in which most Western officials held him. Most striking of all, perhaps, were his articles for the New York World during the Sino-Japanese War late in 1894, during his final stint as a journalist. When reports about a Japanese massacre of civilians in Port Arthur in Manchuria began to appear, House countered with reports from the Japanese Foreign Ministry, downplaying the extent of the outrages and relaying the government’s statement that the incident ‘shocks and grieves both the civil and military authorities.’ The World editors expressed pleasure with House’s reports. But his emphasis on the official line, whether out of ignorance (he was reporting from Tokyo, not Manchuria) or by intent, downplayed the darker side of the story. While tailoring of this sort was typical of most reporters, then even as now, it leaves House subject to the label propagandist. Even more telling was House’s non-journalistic work on Japan’s behalf. Wherever he went, he lobbied people to buy Japanese goods, to respect Japan as a modern country, to support equal treaties for the Japanese. The most dramatic work of this sort came in 1881, when he travelled to England and France on a quiet diplomatic mission, at the behest of Ōkuma, to talk with opinion leaders and officials about Western treatment of Japan. He also tried, in Great Britain, ‘to weaken or destroy the influence of Sir H. Parkes’.16 Although he returned saddened by how hard it was ‘to get the Europeans and Americans to take Japan seriously,’ he told Ōkuma in a series of letters that he was pleased by American responses to his call for return of the Shimonoseki indemnity. He also wrote endless letters across the years, urging influential men to to support Japan’s causes. Among the most impressive was a set of lengthy epistles in 1897 to his old friend, the US diplomat John Hay, insisting that better American diplomats be sent to Asia, particularly to Japan, which he called the ‘brains’ of Asia, ‘the lever by which Asia is to be lifted out of stagnation.’ He said Japan’s own statesmen were ‘so adroit, so tactful, so resolute and courageous that they could beat most of their European adversaries at any game of wits’; if America did not send better representatives, it might find itself, at length, on the victim’s end of conflict with Japan.17 The letters showed that House’s interests were not limited to Japan; they also included his native land. In addition, they demonstrated how central advocacy was in his life.

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The most direct evidence that House was a propagandist lay in his financial relationship with the land whose causes he advocated. While the records do not tell us whether he was compensated for several proJapanese booklets, such as The Simonoseki Affair, which he wrote in the early part of the 1870s, they do describe how much he was paid, and what he was expected to do, from 1877 to 1880 as the editor of the Tokio Times. The government provided him with ¥6,500 a year and gave him relative freedom, with the stipulation that he print anything demanded by Ōkuma or the powerful Ōkubo Toshimichi and that ‘editorials on Japan be written truthfully and impartially, with the well being of the government in mind’.18 When House returned from the European diplomatic trip in 1882, he was prevented by domestic politics from reviving the Times. Not coincidentally, however, he was granted an annual pension of ¥2,500 eighteen months later – a pension that continued, with occasional modifications in amount, for the rest of his life – with a requirement that he ‘promote the interests of Japan whenever a suitable opportunity presents itself, in the same satisfactory manner as you have done hitherto’.19 Though nothing in these documents required that House tailor his writings, the quid pro quo – financial support in exchange for advocacy – is obvious. The writings selected for this volume also make clear just how consistently House played the propagandist’s role. The New York Tribune article dealing with the Maria Luz ‘coolie trade’, for example, goes to great lengths to illustrate not just that the dispute over the confinement of the Chinese ‘coolies’ has been settled to the workers’ advantage, but that Japan has acted more nobly than have diplomats from House’s own native America, while the article on the Japanese statesman, Hirosawa Saneomi, shows a man at once intelligent, high minded, and sophisticated. One of the most influential – and certainly the longest – of House’s works, The Japanese Expedition to Formosa, argues that Japanese troops were both courageous and skillful during their brief 1874 sojourn in Taiwan. It sees their effort to punish the aborigines of Taiwan for killing fifty-four Okinawans three years earlier as wholly justified, both morally and diplomatically; it refutes the widespread view that Japan wanted to colonize southern Taiwan; and it praises Japan for making the sea routes around Taiwan safe for international ships. Like any good publicist, House tells a riveting story in this work – and while some of his analyses and emphases have been questioned by later historians, his facts are solid and the account has set the parameters of most narratives of the event, right down to the present.

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The Simonoseki Affair and The Kagosima Affair, most likely commissioned by the Japanese government,20 are highly polemical documents. In both, the Bostonian uses rich source materials to correct what he sees as a mistaken narrative. In the former, he argues that Western nations were not justified in bombarding the western port of Japan’s main island in 1864 and that the real reason for the attack was the British-inspired desire to force Japan to open more treaties for trade. In the latter, he contends that the 1862 murder of Charles Richardson by Satsuma troops, which precipitated the later bombardment of Kagoshima (Satsuma’s capital), was a more complex affair than traditional accounts had suggested. At the core of the entire episode, he argued, was the ‘perpetual cry’ of the British for ‘money, more money, forever money’.21 In both booklets, House writes as a man on a mission. His prose in the Kagoshima analysis is turgid and legal, while the essay on Shimonoseki is livelier, but in both he piles fact on fact, drawing heavily on diplomatic documents, to convince readers that Japan was wronged by avaricious foreigners. The depth of his conviction was shown by the way he continued to reiterate the booklets’ themes’across the succeeding decades – to the point of writing a letter to the Japan Weekly Mail editor in the spring of his final year, urging Japanese to teach their children how principled their leaders had been during the Shimonoseki episode. ‘The foreign world . . . has yet a good many revolutions to make, before it reaches the point of fair equilibrium,’ he wrote.22 The issue for which House fought most consistently across the years was treaty revision. Angry that the early treaties had robbed Japan of the right to set its own tariffs and to try foreigners in its own courts, he wrote endless articles at the Tokio Times and in American journals calling for change. ‘The Hesperia Outrage’ described for Tokio Times readers a cholera-infested German ship that ignored a Japanese quarantine and allowed crew members to disembark at Yokohama, thereby causing an epidemic. The Japanese courts, deprived of jurisdiction, were helpless to do anything. In ‘Martyrdom of an Empire,’ House told Atlantic Monthly readers that tariff restrictions had placed Japan in ‘desperate’ financial straits because it could not collect the same duties that Americans and Europeans did; he then showed how Parkes’s harsh tactics had kept Japan from getting a fair international hearing in recent years. The treaty court, or extraterritoriality, system was a focus of ‘Thraldom of Japan,’ as was a list of the many ways in which Japan had achieved excellence since the Meiji Restoration: everything from military skills

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to railway safety, from postal efficiency to legal integrity. The refusal to grant Japan treaty equality, he argued, was a refusal to act fairly. In each of these works, and scores more, House played the role of journalist-advocate. He was a bona fide journalist: he wrote for newspapers and magazines; he rooted his arguments in factual description; he wrote about contemporary events, with the general public as his audience. But he also was an advocate, because his chief goal was to influence the public on behalf of an agenda, to secure ‘justice’ for Japan in the world of international politics. That payments from the Japanese government were a prerequisite to this goal was, to House, a simple matter of necessity. He was not a rich man; he could not have fought without financial support. The question of whether money affected his influence was moot. For us, however, the question of money may not be so easily dismissed. Did it undermine his impact? Corrupt him? Affect his role as a journalist? It is to such questions – the broader issues raised by House’s balancing of journalistic and propaganda roles – that we must finally turn. It seems clear, in the first place, that House’s effectiveness was indeed influenced by his receipt of financial support from the Japanese government and his open adoption of the advocate’s role. He was attacked constantly by most of the other foreigners in Japan, particularly the Yokohama papers, whose writers labelled him a toady, ‘pharisaical’, and a ‘naughty American boy’.23 They would have opposed him anyway, given his views. Indeed, when his name was raised as a possible American consul general in Yokohama in 1881, those papers’ editors responded with invective that approached apoplexy. But their attacks were rendered more effective by the fact that he received government monies. The Japan Gazette called him an ‘unconscientious writer who prostituted his intellect’, in a reference to the monetary arrangements of the Times. The financial support that underwrote his efforts made it easy for opponents to dismiss a viewpoint that needed to be articulated – and considered seriously. At the same time, House’s experience also calls attention to two aspects of early-Meiji propaganda that are less negative, and arguably more interesting. It shows, first, the government’s astuteness about public relations. Japan’s rulers had long been sensitive to the crucial role of public information in governing; indeed, Tokugawa officials had worked hard to control the kinds of information that reached their people. The quickness with which men such as Ōkuma and Ōkubo grasped the need to

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publicize Japan’s cause at home and abroad was, nonetheless, impressive. They did not need LeGendre to tell them that perceptions were as important as policies in getting people at home to follow them and foreigners to respect them – that the ‘malicious’ reports of the Yokohama papers (as ‘the only channels through which intelligence concerning Japan has reached Europe for many years’24) were undermining Japan’s ability to secure fair treatment. That was the reason House’s contracts included clauses requiring him to present Japan in a favourable light. They knew that they would not get him to change his own views; that was the kind of man he was. But they also knew that without assistance his Japanophile views never would gain a hearing abroad, and Japan’s cause would suffer. Much has been written about the skills of the early Meiji leaders in creating educational, military, and economic institutions. More thought needs to be given to their understanding of how important it was to create popular support, at home and abroad, for those policies. A point needs to be made too about the complicated connection between journalism and propaganda, today even as in House’s time. We already have noted that all journalists are, at some level, advocates. They construct narratives designed to persuade, to convince readers, at the least, that their stories are authentic. Certainly, the Yokohama journalists who daily decried Japan as backward and House as a sycophant were themselves advocates of the unadorned variety, crusaders for a ‘free trade’ system designed to increase imperial profits. And even they had no particular trouble with House when he was advocating his earlier ideals: Americanism, fair play, Republicanism. So the question raised by House’s role as a propagandist is not whether good journalists may be advocates. Of course they may. The question, rather, is what impact advocacy will have on the writer’s integrity and influence as a journalist. And here, once again, the issues of money and partisanship are crucial. House’s life makes it clear that it is possible to be an advocate, even a paid advocate, without giving up a commitment to the fair handling of facts. His attention to research, his careful marshalling of data, his efforts to ‘set the record straight’, all bespoke a determination to write accurately. So did his willingness to advocate unpopular views. Ulysses Grant’s secretary (and later minister to Beijing) John Russell Young said, after visiting House at the Tokio Times: ‘If you take sides with the eastern nations, in this far east, you bring upon you the rancor of the foreigners . . . . You are possessed of the devil.’25 That House kept advocating Japan’s cause in the face of

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crushing opposition says something powerful not only about his personality but about the journalist’s ability to maintain integrity even as a paid advocate. At the same time, it cannot be denied that partisanship and financial support undermined House’s impact on several levels. The former made his writings predictable and thus less effective over time, while the latter made him vulnerable to the attacks on his integrity noted above. One may contend, of course, that without the monetary support or the partisan conviction, he would have had less influence, because he would not have had the financial or spiritual resources to write about Japan at all. But the truth is that the government’s largesse robbed him of the moral high ground, making his enemies’ attacks more effective than they otherwise might have been. The results was that, while House won more victories that most – the return of the Shimonoseki indemnity, success in the treaty revision struggle, the shaping of the Taiwan expedition narrative – he came to the end of life plagued by the ambiguities that necessarily mark the careers of most propagandists. He was passionate and courageous in the telling of his friends, purchased and compromised in the accounts of detractors. At best, the propagandist’s ambiguities made him an interesting man. At worst, they rendered him a disappointment, a man with a cause whose compromises too often undermined both the cause and his influence.

Source: E. H. House, Japanese Episodes, reprint edition. Kent, UK: Global Oriental, 2006, pp. v-xii.

11

Introduction (Japanese Episodes) JAMES L. HUFFMAN ™

Browsing through magazines at a Japanese flea market late in the nineteenth century, Lafcadio Hearn found a decades-old copy of Atlantic Monthly with an article entided ‘Japan,’ alongside pieces by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Walt Whitman. Hearn plunked down half a yen, read the piece – by a Mr. House – and pronounced himself impressed by the writer’s grasp of Japanese history. Well he should have been. The 1860 article was one of America’s earliest journalistic treatments of Japanese history, and its author, New York Tribune reporter Edward H. House, had helped to shape a generation of American attitudes toward the Asian archipelago, just as Hearn would do with his ghostiy tales and exotic narratives at the turn of the century. When Hearn happened upon the Atlantic piece, House was in Tokyo, nearing the end of a thirty-year career as a pioneer of American journalism in East Asia, a career that had placed his writings in most of the New York newspapers, as well as in almost every significant American journal. At his death in 1901, the British journalist Frank Brinkley called him ‘the most brilliant writer ever connected with journalism in the Far East,’ while the private secretary of political giant Ōkuma Shigenobu said his writings had laid Japan ‘under a deep obligation.’1 A key to House’s influence – and a primary reason for his midcareer move to Tokyo in 1870 – lay in the diverse nature of his interests and ambitions. As a Boston teenager, he had been a musical prodigy, copying out Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser note-by-note and producing a symphony of his own. As a member of Horace Greeley’s New York 171

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Tribune reportorial staff, he helped make John Brown and Mark Twain famous and gained note for his coverage of early Civil War battles. He also wrote endless essays, plays, and short stories, many of the latter featuring a forbidden romance between an aristocrat and a commoner, with the protagonist’s inherent goodness trumping the pretensions of some high bred snob. Beyond all that, he tried his hand at theater management, climbed mountains, took balloon rides, and performed daredevil feats on three continents. The Tribune assignment that eventually landed House in Japan came in 1860, when he was sent to Washington to cover Japan’s first diplomatic mission to the Western world. He spent a full month with the ambassadors and came away a Japanophile – stunned by the dignity, intelligence, and exoticism of the Asians. ‘Of the courtly and gentle manners of the Japanese Embassadors,’ he told his readers, ‘it is impossible to speak in too high terms.’2 A decade later, he sailed for Tokyo as Greeley’s Japan correspondent. And from the date of his arrival, less than three years after a group of young samurai had seized power in the Meiji Restoration, he began turning out the voluminous, detail-laden reports that would make him, for a generation, one of America’s leading interpreters of Japan. House’s work in Tokyo was as multifaceted as it had been in New York. At the start, he supplemented his income by engaging in that time-honored vocation of the new arrival: teaching English, primarily at the government school for potential leaders, the Kaisei Gakkō. Never married, he adopted one of his female students, Aoki Koto, whose failed marriage had left her contemplating suicide. And he cultivated journalistic sources assiduously, with daily visits to the offices of Japan’s leading officials and tireless treks through the narrow streets of every part of Tokyo. The result was a spate of early articles on Japanese cultural life: temple architecture, child-rearing techniques, dress patterns, culinary triumphs, natural vistas. As the 1870s progressed, House gradually shifted his focus, from culture to politics. In contrast to other Western journalists, mostly British citizens who lived in the Yokohama treaty port, he had settled in Tokyo, where he was privy to the governmental maneuver-ings that were transforming Japan into a ‘modern’ state. After writing extensively about Japan’s 1872 decision to release 231 Chinese laborers from hellish conditions aboard a Peruvian ‘coolie’ ship, he began balancing his cultural reportage with policy stories. In 1874, as the only foreign reporter accompanying Japan’s first modern foreign military expedition,

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he wrote a spate of stories for the New York Herald and his first book, Japan’s Expedition to Taiwan. In 1877, with support from the Japanese government, he launched Tokyo’s first English-language newspaper, the Tokio Times. And for the next twenty years, he wrote scores of essays on the necessity of fairer treaties, the inadequacy of Tokyo’s fire prevention policies, the impertinence of British minister Harry Parkes, and the need for America to return the indemnity it received after Western nations bombarded Shimonoseki in 1864. One of his few forays into literature in the 1880s was a controversial novel, Yone Santo: A Child of Japan, about a young Japanese woman victimized by chauvinistic Japanese men and self-righteous American missionaries. The 1890s saw a resurrection of the versatile House. As his journalistic career declined – in large part due to gout, which wracked his body with pain and confined him to a wheelchair – he took up several of his earlier interests. In a last journalistic fling at mid-decade, he used a houseboat on Tokyo’s Sumida River (where the gentle water eased the pain from gout) as a base for reporting on Japanese policies during the Sino-Japanese War. He also wrote lengthy letters to America’s opinion leaders, arguing Japan’s causes; he wrote children’s stories, including ‘The Midnight Warning,’ the tale of a Southern farmer who fought for the Union in the Civil War; and he played the piano endlessly. During his last years, he directed the imperial court musicians in public concerts of Western music. So complete was House’s return to the cultural sphere that his Tokyo descendants, contacted a century after his death, described him simply as a man of the arts, a piano-playing, whiskey-drinking grandfather who received an elegant jewelry box from the Meiji Empress; family legend had omitted his life as a journalist. This cultural side provided the material for Japanese Episodes, an early example of the travel genre that was to become so popular in the writings of Isabella Bird, Percival Lowell, Edward Morse, and Hearn. Drawing on the meticulous notes that always had marked his reportage, House composed four lengthy essays for the 1881 volume, describing life in Japan with the enthusiasm of a newcomer. If the pieces sometimes belied an imperialist’s condescension, they always showcased the infatuation of an observer captivated by Japanese intelligence, graciousness, dignity, and efficiency. The historian Joseph Henning says House was ‘among the first to decry American ignorance on Japanese topics.’3 In Japanese Episodes, he worked to dispel that ignorance with a combination of elegant (if wordy) prose and sharp observation.

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The first of the works, ‘Little Fountain of Sakanoshita,’ is a piece of reality-based fiction, which describes a foreigner (probably House himself ) who helped an inn assistant and a rickshaw puller surmount obstacles of class and poverty on their path toward marriage. The mountain village setting is idyllic; the couple are virtuous and intelligent; the foreign traveler is magnanimous. Only a local rival for the protagonist’s heart is mean spirited. The second work, ‘To Fuziyama and Back,’ describes House’s ascent of Japan’s most famous peak soon after his arrival in 1870. It describes not only beautiful terrains, but porters who challenge rapids and slopes with unfailing cheer, and village craftsmen whose ‘nimble fingers’ (140) transform piles of rice straw into sandals. ‘A Japanese Statesman at Home’ takes the reader into the home of Foreign Minister Hirosawa Saneomi for thirteen courses of soups, seaweed, exotic herbs, and endless beers and wines. Eating raw fish, House says, required more courage than spending ‘a night on a peak in Formosa, surrounded by hostile cannibals.’ (188) The final piece, ‘A Day in a Japanese Theatre,’ displays House’s expertise as a playwright, manager, and drama critic. Joining friends on a day-long excursion to the Asakusa theater district, he revels in acting that is ‘on a level with . . . any Western nation’ (234) and quips about musicians who produce ‘acoustic anguish.’ (215) Scholars have remarked often about the closeness of the JapaneseAmerican relationship in the nineteenth century. One reason for the special ties between the two Pacific nations surely lay in the fact that the Americans were the first to pressure Japan into signing an international treaty, another in the relatively friendly approach of America’s early diplomats in Japan, a third in the fact that American imperialism was in its infancy when the Japan encounter began. But an equally important cause clearly lay in the work of journalists like House. While the nineteenth century British journalists saw themselves as agents of the imperialist endeavor, businessmen called to improve British power and profits through the printed word, House came to Tokyo as a Japanophile, a reporter interested simply in telling the story of a fascinating new place to his fellow Westerners. The British editors in Yokohama might deride the Japanese as uncivilized; the French satirist Georges F. Bigot might poke fun at Japanese pretensions to modernity; even a relatively sympathetic Brit, Frank Brinkley, would call bullets and bayonets the ‘only trustworthy propagandists of Western Civilization.’4 But House would tell a different story. As the newspaper Tokyo Nichi Nichi put it on December 18, 1876,

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the fact House ‘neither sneers at Japan nor scorns the Japanese . . . makes him unusual among foreigners.’ His eagerness to persuade the readers of America’s leading newspapers and journals that Japan should be treated with respect surely played a significant role in nurturing the special Japanese-American relationship. The fact that fellow American interpreters such as Griffis and Morse also produced sympathetic (if more equivocal) works obviously multiplied House’s effect. The essays and stories in Japanese Episodes provide quite a clear – and representative – snapshot of House’s early understanding of Japanese culture. Ignoring the world of politics that eventually would fill his vision, they explain lifestyles, customs, and values with the precision of the trained journalist, even as they display the sympathy for underdogs that had marked his reportage from its earliest days. One of the more important characteristics of these writings is House’s descriptive skills. We see here the attention to detail of a man who years before had stolen onto John Brown’s scaffolding, disguised as a surgeon, so as to get the abolitionist’s last words. On the way to Mt. Fuji, we travel the ancient highway, the Tokaidō, watching the double rows of ‘majestic pines’ and plunging down its ‘precipitous’ drops. At Hirosawa’s home, we cross a vestibule floor that is ‘polished like mirrors,’ (175) then learn how to use chopsticks prone to ‘darting themselves anywhere but in the direction aimed at by their holder.’ (186) At the theater, we go behind the scenes, to learn the ins and outs of the actors’ preparation, and we enjoy the intricate details of an umbrella dance that enthralled House. ‘We really have seen nothing like it on any of the continents,’ he comments. (241) House was not always thrilled by what he saw; nor was he free of the typical Westerner’s snobbery. Indeed, one suspects that one thing that made his writing popular was that, even though he admired Japan immensely, he still regarded Euro-American culture as superior. Sometimes this condescension reveals itself in critical quips: a comment that ‘punctuality’ exists ‘only in imagination among the Japanese’ (160) or a complaint that kabuki stage settings are ludicrous. At other times, a patronizing spirit permeates the narrative, as in ‘Little Fountain of Sakanoshita,’ where the Japanese are charming, quaint, poor, and simple, while the American traveler is wealthy, worldly wise, and knowing. When the traveler uses his money to solve village problems, the civilization metaphor seems complete. To criticize House for imbibing the imperialist atmosphere, however, is like criticizing an urbanite for surviving on polluted air. The quality

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that makes his writings distinctive is the continual joy he found in life in Japan. When he had been in Tokyo just a few weeks, he wrote to his editors back home that ‘existence here is a perpetual delight.’5 That view – which never faded – underlies every page of Japanese Episodes. He found beauty wherever he looked. First, there were the natural settings. ‘The old measures of comparison fail entirely in Japan,’ he wrote of the region around Mt. Fuji. The combination of crags, valleys, heaths, meadows, and abysses was ‘bewildering and amazing, but inexpressively lovely.’ (89) Then there were Japanese bodies. One might think, on first glance, that he had a chauvinist’s eye for women, since he commented often on female shapeliness or attire. But then one notices that he is equally taken with the male body. The rickshaw puller at the center of ‘Little Fountain,’ for example is a ‘very fair Apollo,’ clad only in a ‘waist-cloth’ but nonetheless ‘the glass of fashion.’ (9–10) House also found beauty in the bodies of Japanese children (‘models of symmetry,’ 21), in the construction of Japanese buildings, in table settings, food presentations, and delicately-crafted garden spaces. Even more important to House were people’s customs and practices, which displayed high intelligence and lofty values. On the descent from Mt. Fuji, he used those imperialist traveler’s eyes to compare the assistance rendered by guides in different countries: the Swiss aide was patronizing, the South American cringing, the Egyptian greedy – and the Japanese selfless and helpful. Beside that, he added, ‘he is clean.’ (120) At the theater, actors gave ‘proof of close study and of genuine culture in all their performances.’ (234) The Japanese language was always moderate; indeed, ‘the language contains nothing in the way of violence.’ (56) And the ’white-haired old’ ladies of Sakanoshita were ‘happy,’ because the older woman in Japan ‘is almost always sure to suggest an idea of ancient nobility’ – and thus to be universally ‘respected and cherished.’ (21–22) Nothing evoked House’s admiration more than the way adults treated children. During his visit to Hirosawa’s home, he commented that ‘throughout all classes, high and low alike, the treatment of the young is almost extravagantly affectionate and considerate.’ He never had seen a child ‘punished with violence.’ He saw no ‘system of discipline or training.’ And the result? ‘The early admission of children to intimate and confidential association with their parents, and the frank interchange of ideas and feelings in which they are encouraged, give an ease and an early development which act with equal good for all.’ He considered the Japanese the world’s best child rearers. (181)

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The point of all this is that House constantly saw Japan through sympathetic eyes, honing in perhaps on the new and the unusual, yet resisting the impulse to equate strangeness with inferiority. He did not like everything he saw; he even hated some things; but he liked Japan deeply – and he consistently cloaked his descriptions in a spirit of good will. Much of House’s prose, like that of Hearn a generation later, will sound sentimental to the twenty first century ear. It tends to verbosity; it is flowery; its subjects lack nuance and subtlety. Yet the prose style was typical of the travel literature of its own time, as was the confidence in Western superiority. The two qualities that set it apart – and beckoned a generation of American Japanophiles – were his attention to the tiniest details of society and the joy he conveyed in guiding his readers through Japanese life. As a reviewer of Japanese Episodes for The Nation observed, he cast everything ‘under the spell of moonlight.’6 That spell resonated with a generation of early Japan lovers, and it continues to capture important features of the Japanese soul even today.

Source: Presented at the conference, Japan Past and Present. Society, Thought and Religion in Meiji Japan, March 5, 2018, sponsored by the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, University of San Francisco, and the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden. It will appear in 2019 in Japan – Past and Present.

12

The Faces of Meiji ™

The question “What Was Meiji?” can be answered, at the superficial level, in three statements. First, Meiji was the reign name of Mutsuhito, the teenager who came to Japan’s throne in 1867. Second, it was the label applied to an 1868 coup – the Meiji Restoration – in which the Tokugawa family was overthrown after 268 years in power. Third, it connotes the era (1868–1912) over which Meiji reigned, a time that began with leaders saying “everywhere there is confusion” and ended with a Beijing newspaper praising the emperor as a “hero of a generation” who had changed the Japanese “dragonfly” into a “dragon or tiger,”1 At the core of each of these statements was a single characteristic, transformation, meaning that “Meiji” may be characterized quite simply and accurately as the era, presided over by the Emperor Meiji, when Japan changed so rapidly that, in the words of the expatriate Basil Hall Chamberlain, “to have lived through the transition stage of modern Japan makes a man feel preternaturally old.”2 None of these characterizations is, however, as simple as it sounds. Meiji the Man was simultaneously phlegmatic and forceful, assertive and passive. Meiji the “Restoration” may have been a simple coup d’état or it may have been the start of a revolution; historians still have not reached agreement. And while everyone agrees that Meiji the Era involved dramatic change, the nature and meaning of that change varied from day to day and place to place. Sometimes it brought progress; sometimes its effects were cruel; sometimes it made life better, 181

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sometimes worse; sometimes the path tended toward democracy, often toward autocracy. If the aim of this essay is to seek as clear an understanding of the nature of Meiji as possible, the best approach may be to examine the ways it affected four major actors of the late nineteenth century world: the domestic elites, for whom everything was about national power; the Western imperialists, for whom Meiji Japan posed unprecedented challenges; the nations of Asia, who found both inspiration and threat in the Meiji evolution; and Japanese commoners – a massive group usually overlooked by scholars – for whom the era was all about jobs, income, and a changing sense of self. If change was the coin of Meiji, the educated elites were the ones who consciously guided and propelled that change, with a goal of keeping their land secure from Western intrusion by making it strong and rich. One of the era’s most striking characteristics was the leaders’ insistence that all their work was done not for individuals but “for the sake of the country” (kuni no tame). In the political sphere, conservatives like education minister Inoue Kowashi maintained that national prosperity required an authoritative state, while popular rights activists like Nakae Chōmin said it demanded radical democracy. Said Inoue: “Kokutai (the national polity) based on the imperial line unbroken for ages eternal” must be “the first principle of our education . . . . If the Japanese people are not imbued with patriotic spirit, the nation cannot be strong.” Countered Nakae: “Absolute monarchy is stupid . . . . Democracy, though, is open and frank, without a speck of impurity.” Both, however, put the nation at the center of their arguments.3 Even the lateMeiji anarchist Kanno Suga employed the nation-language, recounting in her diary two days before she was hanged for treason that a dream about the sun and moon coming together portended “a great calamity . . . about to befall the nation.”4 Such rhetoric may not be surprising for political activists, but nation-centeredness characterized the worldview of the elites in every other line of work too. In the fledgling press of the early 1870s, the brash young samurai Fukuchi Gen’ichirō called the reporter the “uncrowned king” of a modern nation, boasted that his paper was a goyō shinbun (government patronage paper), and said that the key to writing, whether in journalism or in his later field of drama, was: “Know Japan! Know Japan!” while two decades later the mass-oriented editor Kuroiwa Shūroku demanded that even slum dwellers come into the streets to change national policies. When General Nogi Maresuke committed ritual suicide to honor the Meiji emperor on his death in

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1912, Kuroiwa pronounced that this medieval style of self-sacrifice “will inspire us to the end of time.”5 Everything, for the popular journalists as well as the establishment editors, was about the nation. In the world of literature too writers focused on nation-centered transformation. When a naturalist literary movement began to grow in the late Meiji years, an essayist in the intellectual journal Taiyō criticized it in terms of what it meant for the nation, saying overly realistic literature was “driving the youthful blood to moral recklessness” and “undermining the national strength.” “Do they know why Japan . . . got to the position of a first class Power?” he asked. “It was due to the rigorous discipline and militant spirit of the nation.”6 No field displayed this nation-centered rhetoric more tellingly than business, the sphere that had been denigrated (though far from ignored) in the pre-Meiji, Confucian world. Freed in the mid-1800s to engage in international trade yet restricted by unequal treaties that gave great advantage to European and American industries, Japan’s entrepreneurs proved nothing if not innovative and aggressive in the Meiji years. Men like the young bureaucrat Shibusawa Eiichi, declaring that “I would rather be in the business world, where I have better hopes for the future,” imported Western technology and management skills (including a capitalist’s commitment to profit over everything else) and turned Japan in a major world trading partner, first in silk, then in cotton and woolens.7 Other entrepreneurs built 2,000 miles of railway tracks and launched a massive shipping industry in the first twenty Meiji years, even as they linked the country by telegraph lines. Perhaps no one more fully typified the Japanese aggressiveness than Shimizu Makoto, who went to France in his early twenties to study Western technology, then came back to start a match factory in 1875. Four years later, he went to Sweden to study the match business further. By the 1890s, his industry was producing three billion matches a year in some 200 factories and by the end of Meiji, matches were bringing in a whopping 33 million yen a year in foreign sales.8 The important point here is that, like their peers in other fields, Shimizu and his fellow entrepreneurs spoke the language of national progress and welfare, even as they profited personally. Shibusawa put it most explicitly, arguing continuously that the purpose of strong business was “building a strong country.” That was why, he said, business success required that “I began studying and practicing the teachings of the Analects of Confucius,” which provided “the ultimate in practical ethics for all us to follow in our daily living.”9 Whether in politics, journalism, literature,

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or industry, the elites defined Meiji as a national program intended to make Japan strong. For the Western imperialist powers, by contrast, Meiji represented primarily a challenge, not only to their military and economic might but to the philosophies and theologies that shaped their worldview. That was true from the start of Meiji in the world of diplomacy, where the Japanese negotiated with an unexpected skill. When, for example, a Chinese detainee jumped overboard from Peruvian barque Maria Luz in Yokoyama harbor in 1872 to complain about the slave-like conditions in which 230 workers were being transported to the mines and plantations of South America, Japanese officials did the unexpected. They released all the “coolies,” announcing Japan’s decision “that no laborers . . . shall be taken beyond its jurisdiction against their free and voluntary consent.”10 Asked to arbitrate when Peru protested, Western diplomats supported Japan’s action, although they expressed alarm privately, worried that an Asian nation had so quickly mastered the details and rhetoric of international law. They were right to be concerned, because the forceful action was a foretaste of the challenge Japanese diplomats would pose in the coming decades – in their bitter debates over treaty revision and trade disagreements. In 1897, the Tokyo-based journalist Edward H. House wrote an impassioned letter to the American diplomat John Hay, urging that the United States send more capable ambassadors to Tokyo lest it be out-flanked by Japan’s statesmen who were “so adroit, so tactful, so resolute and courageous that they could beat most of their European adversaries at any game of wit.” He warned that if America did not send better representatives, “there will be a season of disagreement and altercation more than likely to end in a prolonged estrangement.” Japanese diplomacy had become more than a mere threat, he thought; it was besting the Americans.11 Nothing dramatized the threat more clearly than Japan’s own turn down the imperialist path in the 1890s. By the 1880s, opinion leaders had begun talking about the need for Japan to be more assertive, and in 1891 the young essayist Miyake Setsurei set out on an unsuccessful, six-month trip around the Pacific to find an “unclaimed” island because “we felt Japan had to acquire territory.”12 When Japan defeated China in 1895 in the Sino-Japanese War, it took its first colony, Taiwan. By the time Meiji died in 1912, it had established additional colonies in Korea and Sakhalin and had begun expansion into northeastern China. The audience likely was charmed when the young bureaucrat Itō Hirobumi said in San Francisco in 1872 that “the red disc in the center of our

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national flag shall no longer appear like a wafer over a sealed empire, but henceforth be in fact what it is designed to be, the noble emblem of the rising sun, moving onward and upward amid the enlightened nations of the world.”13 Had he made that same comment in 1900, the response would have been more complex, because Japan had become a rival in the empire game. Indeed, when U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt decided to send America’s Great White Fleet around the world in 1907, one aim was to demonstrate American strength to Japan, which had recently beaten Russia in war. “The Japanese are a formidable military power,” he wrote to one friend; to another he wrote that “the best information is that we shall have a war with Japan and that we shall be beaten.”14 Even as the Meiji successes in developing a modern army impressed the world, they threatened the imperialist status quo. An important element in that status quo was the assumption of innate Caucasian superiority. It hardly is surprising that early Western visitors to Meiji Japan exhibited what Edward Said later called Orientalism. Steeped in beliefs about the superiority of Christianity and Euro-American culture, even enlightened visitors and expatriates frequently painted the Japanese as strange and backward. The traveler Isabella Bird, for example, described the people she saw on landing: “small, ugly, kindly-looking, shriveled, bandy-legged, round-shouldered, concave-chested, poor-looking beings in the streets.” Moving to the countryside, she said “the houses were all poor, and the people dirty both in their clothing and persons . . . . Soap is not used.”15 The businessman/traveler Percival Lowell said the country was “topsyturvy,” a place where they “speak backwards, write backwards, read backwards.”16 Even those who loved the country emphasized the exotic and the bizarre. By era’s end, however, the imperialists were struggling to explain how such an “exotic” country could have become a world power. The Japanese were neither Christian nor Anglo-Saxon; yet they had been able in 1904–05 to defeat the Western giant Russia militarily. “Many saw Japan as an intellectual and a strategic challenge,” says the intellectual historian Joseph Henning. “How could they reconcile Japan’s allegedly inferior racial and religious characteristics with its emergence as a modern power?” One of the most contorted, yet widespread, responses to this question was to turn the Japanese into quasi-Westerners, into people who operated by Christian principles and might even have Caucasian blood. One writer proclaimed in 1904 that Japanese diplomacy was “two centuries more Christian” than Russia’s was. The influential

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minister and scholar William Elliot Griffis advertised his 1907 book, The Japanese Nation in Evolution, as a groundbreaking work that would show “The White Blood in the Japanese,” arguing the that original Japanese were Ainu with Western ancestors. It was easier to redefine the Japanese and twist facts than to give up on ideas of racial and religious superiority.17 That did not make Meiji less of an economic or military threat, but it carved out a space in which racism and religious exclusivity could persist despite the threat. Meiji’s face for a third group – the peoples of continental Asia – was Janus-like, both ferocious and inspirational. Timing was the key here. For two millenniums China had dominated Asia. Both the Chinese and the Japanese names for it – Zhongguo and Chūgoku – meant “middle country,” a word with philosophical as well as geographical connotations. From the early 1800s, however, China’s ruling Qing dynasty had been in decline, and by the last third of the century it was reeling from attacks by foreign armies and domestic rebels, even as Japan was marching forward. In 1885, the educator and journalist Fukuzawa Yukichi published an influential essay saying the Chinese were “deep in their hocus pocus of nonscientific behavior” and calling for Japan “to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West.”18 When Japan defeated China in war a decade later, then began taking its own Asian colonies, most of the continent felt under threat. China’s most prominent diplomat, Li Hongzhang, articulated the fear when he said to Itō, Japan’s representative at the war-ending negotiations, “Surely you cannot expect to exterminate my nation!”19 A decade later, Korea’s Confucian scholar Ch’oe Ikhyo˘n captured the anger and apprehension of his fellow countrymen as they watched Japan taking control of the peninsula. Declaring that no people “deserved to be destroyed,” he said defiantly: “To die defending the king and the nation is preferable to living the life of a slave.”20 Fear and resentment was, however, only half of the Meiji story in Asia. For every person who hated the Japanese, there was one who found inspiration, even hope, in its modernizing model. When, for example, the Meiji Constitution was promulgated in 1889, editorialists across the continent praised Japan for demonstrating that Asian nations were capable of creating modern governmental structures, and when Japan defeated Russia in war, says the Yale University historian Jonathan Spence, “the admiration of these Chinese students was unbounded.”21 The Meiji modernity project provided evidence, first, that Asian-based cultures could hold their own against Western ideas

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and, second, that crusty old regimes could be reformed or replaced. India’s poet scholar Rabindranath Tagore was inspired by what he saw as an Asian alternative to European materialism. Speaking in Tokyo four years after Meiji died, he described Japan as the most human of modern countries: “Never in my travels did I feel the presence of the human so distinctly as in this land . . . . In Japan, . . . you see everywhere emblems of love and admiration, and not mostly of ambition and greed.” Not all would have agreed with him, certainly not many of those in Japan’s colonies. But he was convinced that spirituality grounded Japan’s material advancement in a way that it did not in Western countries.22 For most Chinese, it was the second image, the model for reform, that was most enticing. The reform advocate Kang Youwei wrote a book for the Chinese emperor in the mid-1890s outlining the changes that had propelled Japan to greatness and suggesting that the same was possible at home. In the next few years, Chinese students flocked to Japan by the thousands to study reform, prompting the Marxist scholar Kuo Mo-jo’s observation that “modern Chinese literature has for the most part been created by Chinese students returned from Japan.”23 (Chow 32) Among them was the young revolutionary Qiu Jin who in 1904 sold her jewelry, deserted her husband and two children, and headed for study in Tokyo, writing in a poem: Cut off from my family I leave my native land . . . . Alas, this delicate kerchief here Is half stained with blood, and half with tears.

And it was in Japan that revolutionary groups such as Sun Yatsen’s Revolutionary Alliance were born, counting hot blooded students like Qiu among their members. “Look at Japan,” wrote Sun. “She opened her country for Western trade later than we did, and her imitation of the West also came later. Yet only in a short period her success in strengthening itself has been enormously impressive.”24 Lu Xun too, generally considered the greatest fiction writer of early twentieth century China, gained his revolutionary fervor while studying in Japan. That did not mean he loved Japan. Like most Asians, he found Meiji complex: a source of oppression and a cause for anger, yet a model of modern transformation to be emulated by other Asians. A fourth group, the poor commoners of Japan itself, also found complexity in the Meiji visage, but in a more practical, less theoretical way. Commoners, of course, made up the vast majority of the Meiji population: the farmers and fishermen, the school teachers and petty

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officials, the Hokkaido miners, and even tens of thousands of workers on Hawaii’s sugar plantations. In this essay, the focus will be on a specific commoner group: the very poor city dwellers, or hinmin, who made up between ten and twenty percent of the urban population in the late Meiji years, a group that drew special attention from journalists and reformers after the 1890s as part of the cities’ exploding “shakai mondai” (social problem). The first thing Meiji meant to this group was displacement and economic hardship. When the reporter Hita Ikaru looked at blocks on blocks of their houses in 1898, each with “walls crumbling, a decaying threshold whose doors will not shut, and a worn roof that does not keep out the rain and dew, . . . a place like a pigsty,”25 he was seeing the abodes of people who had moved from rural villages to the urban slums as a direct result of official Meiji policies. The national government’s deflationary programs in the 1880s caused massive depression in the countryside, where hundreds of thousands of farmers lost their land and bankruptcies soared. As a result, that decade gave birth to a huge migration of job seekers to the cities that challenged city planners – and prompted the rise of “poor people’s caverns” (hinminkutsu) or slums. Asked what “Meiji” meant, slum dwellers likely would have had three answers: new jobs, impoverishment, and fresh ideas about “public” life. One of the most important aspects of Meiji modernity – indeed, a key reason for the great migration – was a mushrooming of jobs required for the country to become rich and modern. Factories were producing textiles and cigarettes for export. Inventions such as trains and telephones required thousands of workers. As populations grew, new eating places required young women to serve and clean. Because everyone had to get around, the Japanese invented a new form of transportation – the rickshaw, which in 1890s Tokyo provided work for more than 40,000 pullers (shafu), men who were notorious for their colorful behavior as well as for the foul-smelling food they ate on the run. An official index late in the 1890s listed 358 different job categories, including people who made saw teeth and those who wove fabrics.26 The fundamental fact of “Meiji” for most poor urbanites was simple: if modern life required it, poor people would do it. The second fundamental fact was that they would be paid poorly. Few stories are less adequately told in the standard accounts of Meiji than the heavy toll exacted on hinmin for the construction and operation of a modern country. Every worker group one looks at screams hardship. Surveys of wages show repeatedly that the typical household

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head’s income rarely amounted to more than half of what was needed to put a barebones, un-nutritious meal on the table – which meant that wives and children had to work too. And they lived in tiny rowhouse apartments along dirty alleys where their laundry was soiled by factory smoke. Rents frequently were paid by the day, because there was no money for biweekly or monthly payment. One survey showed that at Meiji’s end, nearly three quarters of families (with as many as five or six people) in Tokyo’s Sumida River slum regions lived in one-room apartments of about a hundred square feet.27 If illness or crisis came, there were no margins to pay for treatment or aid. Indeed, it was common for poor neighborhoods to be quarantined when an infectious disease hit, so outsiders would not be infected. Nothing spoke more clearly to the poverty of the hinmin than child labor, which made it impossible for children to get the education that modern life required. Three of every five match and matchbox makers in one Osaka survey were under the age of sixteen; factories hired girls under ten. This was not because parents did not value education. They simply had no choice: children brought in an income or the family did not eat. Although national laws made education compulsory, Meiji cities exempted hinmin children, colluding with industrialists determined to maintain a cheap labor supply. As one journalist wrote in 1902: “the poor as a whole never have an education” because “they never have any leeway in matters of food and clothing.”28 When the journalist Matsubara Iwagorō called charity a “cloak for former robbery,” he was referring to the crime of not paying living wages for hinmin labor. When he wrote that the poor “lay themselves down at night, some to sleep and some to die,”29 he was talking about the impoverishment that made life itself uncertain for many. Fortunately, Meiji’s meaning did not stop with economic despair for most hinimin. Asked to describe the period, they likely would have talked about kindaika or “modernization,” an idea that encapsulated something most had not known back in the village: a feeling of connectedness to the broader public arena. It is hardly surprising that commoners participated in the chaotic street life that surrounded their slums: the markets on major bridges, the temple festivals with cheap food, the cherry blossom celebrations. What is more surprising is that they also took part in politics. In part, this was because they read newspapers. Kuroiwa’s ambition of publishing a paper that was accessible to the “common average (futsū ippan) person” was realized beyond what he surely expected. An 1898 survey showed that a third

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of his 105,000 subscribers lived in the regions of the poor, and when newspapers began soliciting reader correspondence near the turn of the century, a “chief characteristic,” says the press historian Yamamoto Taketoshi, “was the fact that this correspondence came from the lower classes.”30 Of equal importance, when protesters took to the streets by the thousands in the late Meiji years to demand lower prices and criticize government corruption, hinmin were at the forefront. When, for example, Tokyo was rocked in 1905 by three days of demonstrations and violence over Japan’s supposedly inadequate settlement at the end of the Russo-Japanese War, as many as seventy percent of those arrested were from hinmin occupations such as factory workers and rickshaw pullers.31 And the hinmin demonstrators framed their demands with shouts that “the constitutional system belongs rightfully to us.”32 They may have lived in subhuman conditions; they may have felt powerless in the work place; but along with hardship, urban modernity had given them a belief that the governmental system owed them something. Even as the Meiji era impoverished them, it also made them citizens. Every era in every place changes the world, but few do so as rapidly or as radically as Meiji did. In the mid-Meiji words of Chamberlain: “Feudalism has gone, isolation has gone, beliefs have been shattered, new idols have been set up, new and pressing needs have risen . . . . Japan is transported ten thousand miles away from her former moorings.” Nothing gives more striking proof of the impact of the era than the varied yet equally fundamental effects it had on each of the actors this paper has examined. For the much-studied elites, the word Meiji signified a national transformation that catapulted their land to the ranks of world power. For what Chamberlain called the “hugely ignorant foreign public,” the word connoted challenge, the rise as early as the 1890s of the term “yellow peril,” and growing doubts about Anglo-Saxon superiority.33 Asians looked at Meiji Japan with fear, sometimes with loathing, but just as often they were inspired by the remarkable progress of a nonWestern people, particularly when Japan stopped the encroachment of Russia into eastern Asia. And for the vast majority of ordinary Japanese, Meiji meant primarily a change in daily life: new jobs that paid too little, alongside a growing sense that they belonged to an entity bigger than their own families, a nation state called Japan. Near or far, small or large, powerful or weak: every part of the turn-of-the-century world found itself changed by the Meiji advance, but always in highly diverse ways.

Source: Education About Asia, Vol. 11, No. 3, Winter 2006, pp. 34–38. Reprinted with permission of the Association for Asian Studies, Inc., www.asian-studies.org/EAA.

13

Looking Both Ways: The Use of Meiji Travel Literature in the Classroom By James L. Huffman ™

Although thirty-seven years have passed since my initial visit to Japan, the memories of my first twenty-four hours in Tokyo remain sharply etched in my memory. I still can see – and feel – it all: the dark rain of the first night, the customs officials’ rigidity, the hard bed at the Asia Center, the spaghetti lunch that came when I thought I had ordered a hot dog, the embarrassment of wearing my shoes into the living room of my new apartment, the lovely sour/sweet taste of the Calpis drink my landlord served, the musty aroma of the apartment, my 22-month-old son imitating the cab driver’s sounds: ba-bi-ka-kado-ku, the surprising affluence of my Higashi-fushimi neighborhood, the ping-pinging of the train crossing signal. I realize that some of the memories may be inaccurate, and that my interpretations of what things meant have changed through the years. But that does not rob the memories of their vividness; nor does it alter the fact that those first impressions created a powerful base for many of the understandings of Japan that I carry with me to this day. That vividness, I suspect, explains why travel writings make such appealing classroom tools. The best of these accounts have a directness – and thus a powder – that scholarly, seasoned analyses often lack. They reveal the outsider’s unvarnished responses to a place that is new and different. They catch the traveler when things still are surprising and interesting, when “a faint air of the exotic clings to the project.”1 And that makes them gripping. And fun. Whether it is the British glo191

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betrotter Isabella Bird telling us in 1878 that she has “now ridden, or rather sat, upon seventy-six horses, all horrible,”2 or the teacher Howard Swan proclaiming in 1902 that Japan’s street vendors “are all artists, often unconsciously so,”3 the immediacy of the observations draws us in as readers and brings learning to life. Before examining some of the best of the Meiji-era (1868–1912) travel accounts, a word is needed about the overall use of travel writings in the classroom. Vividness notwithstanding, these accounts are not perfect teaching tools. Indeed, teachers need to be aware of several potential pitfalls when bringing travel writings into the classroom. One of the most important of these lies in the fact that few travelers are experts in the country they are visiting, at least when they write their early reports. That makes them prone to errors, of both fact and interpretation. The nineteenth-century traveler-teacher William Elliot Griffis, for example, misled Americans into thinking Japanese commonly referred to their emperor as the mikado by titling his influential 1876 book on Japan The Mikado’s Empire, while the traveler Bayard Taylor sentimentally, but inaccurately, told his readers that the legendary Tokyo rickshaw puller was “always cheerful, always, in my experience, honest, and easily satisfied,” the most “temperate class” in all the world – this, despite the fact that rickshaw pullers were among the poorest, most often-abused residents of Tokyo’s flop houses, a group whose crime rates were vastly higher than those of average city dwellers.4 One reason for such mistakes lies in the visitor’s lack of expertise. People tend to “believe” their own eyes, as well as comments of local residents, and if they do not have access to authoritative information, they may pass on inaccuracies. Even more frequently, the mistakes spring from inborn prejudices and attitudes that travelers bring with them to a place as distinctive as Japan. People who go “knowing” that Mt. Fuji is the world’s highest mountain (it is not), that all Japanese are polite (they are not), and that geisha are prostitutes (none are, by definition), all too often find what they are looking for, and those “findings” make their way into the travel accounts. As literary analysts like Joseph Henning and Charles Wordell have made clear (following the Orientalist theories of Edward Said), popular American waiters often revealed more about American prejudices than about the actual nature of Meiji society. They created what Wordell calls a “‘Japan passive, America active’ scenario.”5 Henning shows that many of the travelers to Japan in that era brought with them deeply ingrained notions about

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the superiority of both Christianity and the Anglo-Saxon race. When Japanese actions or attitudes did not fit their categories, they altered their reporting, with some going so far as to prove Anglo-Saxon racial superiority by describing the obviously-talented Japanese of the lateMeiji years as people with “white blood” or “Aryans to all intents and purposes.”6 The most worrisome aspect of such errors, particularly for teachers, probably lies in the fact that travelers sound so accurate. We tend to believe eyewitnesses. Few statements carry more weight than the assertion, “I was there.” So we want to believe them. As the historians Conal Furay and Michael Salevouris warn (and Henning and Wordell illustrate), however, “primary sources are notoriously fickle,”7 with the result that teachers and scholars need to use them with great caution, remaining alert for biases, distortions, and errors. None of that negates the fact that travel accounts remain one of the most effective tools for teaching Japan’s Meiji era. As Richard Marius and Melvin Page note, such accounts “give us a sense of intimacy with bygone times and people we have not known.”8 They include vivid images – as in Swan’s description of Tokyo streets as a “sea of low grey roofs intermingled with green shrubs and trees; dusty streets of toiling shopkeepers, all slowly active in the broling [sic] sun.”9 They are personal: Bird engaging in spats with her bright, arrogant Japanese guide, or German physician Edwin Baelz telling an ailing Prince Iwakura Tomomi that “your condition is hopeless.”10 And they have a special eye for the unique and the human. It is one thing to hear a scholarly discussion of the impact of cholera on Meiji society; it is another – far more effective – to hear the zoologist Edward Morse describe his little traveling party sitting in “our boat for an hour with hungry stomachs and tired bodies” because the innkeeper at their destination has just died of cholera, or to hear Morse’s pronouncement: “here was a city of a hundred thousand people – apparently dead, as the cholera was raging.”11 These readings may need context, which the teacher must provide, but they do not require much stimulation of interest. And they tell us far more about life and customs than we find in more academic accounts. Taught well, most of them have rich things to say about values too: about how both the Japanese and the visitors saw the world – and why they saw it that way. One of the most important reasons for using travel literature to teach about the Meiji era is that so much of it is available. This was a remarkable period in Japan’s modern development: a time when the nation

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was moving at breakneck speed from premodern isolation to national power and international engagement, when new inventions and institutions appeared, particularly in the cities, almost weekly. It was also a time when Westerners came by the thousands to witness (and assist in) the changes. There were diplomats; there were journalists; there were missionaries, teachers, painters, eccentrics, authors, scientists, actors, sailors, actresses, and just-plain-wanderers. While some – like Bird – came purely to observe and report, others – like Griffis, Morse, and Swan – came to teach but ended up writing about the new world they were finding. The result was a plethora of first-hand accounts, hundreds of books and articles by writers both famous and obscure, all attempting to explain and interpret the Meiji experience. While it would burden this article unduly to review the travel literature in detail, a few standouts need to be noted. Even before the start of the era, the American businessman-journalist Francis Hall kept a lively, opinionated, and insightful journal, available as Japan Through American Eyes, with excellent notes prepared by F. G. Notehelfer.12 The best of the pure travel accounts probably is Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, based on letters to her sister during a seven-month sojourn in 1878; the work stands out for its focus on the rural regions (especially in the north) little visited by foreigners. More scholarly in tone but no less personal and vivid is Morse’s two-volume Japan Day by Day, which covers his observations and experiences in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Once one reaches the 1890s, there is no work like that of Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo, in Japanese), the man who more than any other turned generations of Americans toward the Japanese archipelago with his endless “glimpses of an unfamiliar Japan.”13 Others who left important observations include Griffis, Baelz, the historian Henry Adams, educators Alice Mabel Bacon and Basil Hall Chamberlain, the painter John La Farge, astronomer Percival Lowell, railroad engineer Edmund Holtham, and diplomats such as Rutherford B. Alcock and Ernest Satow.14 Another group of works, less voluminous and less known in the West, but at least as fruitful for classroom use, consists of Japanese travelers’ reports on their visits to the United States and Europe, These people came eastward (and sometimes westward) by the hundreds in the late 1800s. Beginning with Fukuzawa Yukichi’s three volume Conditions in the West (Seiyō jijō), publications in this genre were as popular in Japan then as they are useful today in helping us understand those Eastern visitors who often thought the Westerners exotic and

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so odd. Among the most useful writings are the meticulous, opinionated diaries kept by official scribes on government missions, as we shall see below. But the memoirs and accounts of individuals who traveled on their own – Etsubo Sugimoto’s Daughter of the Samurai, Tsuga Umeko’s Attic Letters, Uchimura Kanzō’s How I Became a Christian – provide some of the richest accounts of this era. And Peter Duus’s short and wonderfully accessible Japanese Discovery of America pulls together much of the best of early-Meiji (and late-Tokugawa era) writings by Japanese travelers.15 What, then, does one do with literature of this sort? What does it teach, and how does one use it with students? To answer these questions, it is helpful to turn to two sets of early-Meiji writings, one by an early American journalist in Tokyo, the other by members of the pivotal Iwakura Mission, which traveled throughout the Western world in the early 1870s. The journalist was Edward H. House, one of America’s most colorful nineteenth-century journalists. Following an early career at the New York Tribune, which gave him a central role in creating the national reputations of both John Brown and Mark Twain, he made his way to Japan in the summer of 1870, little more than two years after the new Meiji government had taken power from the centuries-old Tokugawa regime.Within weeks of arrival, he had climbed Mt. Fuji, commenced the study of language, begun sending off articles to the Tribune, and fallen in love with a people who had fascinated him for a decade. The next decade immersed him deeply in the dual worlds of journalism and politics, sending him to Taiwan as a member of modem Japan’s first foreign military expedition, making him editor of the Tokio Times, Tokyo’s first English-language newspaper, and turning him into an outspoken proponent of Japanese issues. When he died in 1901, he had lived for the better part of three decades in Tokyo, producing endless articles and books demanding fairer treatment of Japan by the imperialist world. He spent most of that time in bed, or in a wheelchair, stricken by a debilitating, excruciating case of gout. House also helped introduce Western-style orchestral music to Japan’s court musicians.16 The writings that matter most to us here were published in House’s early Japan years, when he was writing less about politics (his later passion) and more about the varied features of Japanese life that tend to interest visitors early in a stay. His inadequate Tribune wages forced him during his initial Tokyo years to supplement his salary by teaching English and to write pieces on Japanese culture for journals like Harp-

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er’s and Atlantic Monthly. In 1881, some of his writings were combined to produce Japanese Episodes, one of the earliest travel books from Japan.17 Reading them, one finds a Japan that is far more alive, far more varied, and far more human than that of the textbooks. Two of the pieces, “To Fuziyama and Back” and “A Japanese Statesman at Home,” illustrate what travel writings can offer students. The first, reflecting the English-language spelling of Mt. Fuji used widely in the 1870s, takes eighty-five pages to describe House’s participation in a small, all-male excursion up Japan’s most famous peak just “a few days after my arrival in that land” (70). In prose always witty and sometimes wordy. House gives us three things not found in most secondary works. First, the piece is full of the interest-inspiring freshness described above; it is rich with human insights and experiences: his irritation at having to get up before sunrise to see dawn on the mountainside when “the very mountain-top seemed floated from its foundation” (112), his envy of the “elastic endurance” (101) of female climbers who were better fit than anyone in his party, a mountain-side breakfast of “rice, eggs, potatoes, potted ham and beef, green corn, tea, and beer” (119), and his terror when porters used a single-rope suspension bridge to transport him across a deep chasm: “From the rope a straw basket was swung, in which we were separately hauled across, with a speed that showed long experience on the part of the natives, and a complete disregard for our want of familiarity with the process . . . . It was more entertaining to remember than it was to go through” (88). Second. “To Fuziyama” describes Japan’s natural settings with a precision that transports students to the very scene. Third, and most important, it provides insights into the dynamics of Japanese society in ways that are unusually concrete and provocative. When House’s company reached a village frequented by Westerners, he discussed his conviction that “when foreigners plant themselves, or circulate, upon the soil of Japan, demoralization and disaster spring up.” It was a Saturday evening, and he found the European and American tourists “thwacking” Japanese workers, “flinging the female servants about, and handling them with revolting grossness” (149–51). Professing himself disgusted, he shows a side of imperialism all too often overlooked in standard accounts. By contrast, his portrait of skillful, compassionate craftsmen and porters goes far to undercut stereotypes of “backward” Japanese being assisted by “progressive” Westerners. Describing the guides on the descent from the peak, he recalls his experience with

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mountain-climbing guides on four continents, portraying some as patronizing, some as cringing, some as greedy – whereas “a Japanese wants to help you because you are tired . . . . Therefore, it is a satisfaction to cling to him. Especially as he is clean” (120). The evening with a “Japanese Statesman at Home” affords a different set of lessons – and pedagogical strengths. It narrates the evening House and a friend spent dining at the home of Hirosawa Saneomi, a imperial councilor who would be assassinated by political extremists only three months later. This piece excels at describing the lifestyle and physical surroundings of Japan’s elite: their attire, geisha dances, stone floors “polished like mirrors” (175), small gardens, old paintings, and pottery scattered throughout the mansion, chopsticks joined at one end, and the formal meals, which this evening consisted of thirteen courses of chowder-like soups, raw fish (which House did not like), vegetables, sweet jellies, seaweed, chicken and prawns, exotic herbs, and endless beers and wines. One of the most interesting – and provocative – features of the “Statesman” piece is its reflection on several Meiji customs, in particular the Japanese approach to child-rearing. House found Japanese parents “extravagantly affectionate and considerate,” given to “tender indulgence” and “reciprocal respect.” Never, he said, had he seen a child “punished with violence.” And he liked what he saw. “It has seemed to me that the early admission of children to intimate ant confidential association with their parents, and the frank interchange of ideas and feelings in which they are encouraged, give an ease and an early development which act with equal good for all” (181). It is an approach to child-rearing that will challenge many students’ attitudes about discipline, as well as their images of Japanese customs. The discussions that result should make not only for greater understanding of Japan, but for livelier classrooms. Then there are the Japanese observations of the nineteenth-century West, which are likely to raise a different set of issues for students. Like the Westerners’ observations, they will provide a great deal of concrete material about material life, customs, and practices. But since the Japanese travelers were encountering our culture, they are likely to provoke thought about values as often as they present pictures of practices. While writers such as House and Morse approached Japan from an outsider’s – and thus a thought-provoking – perspective, they made roughly the same value assumptions as student readers will. But the Japanese brought different core values with them on their journeys;

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they saw Americans and Europeans through Japanese eyes. The results can be startling. That certainly is the case when one reads the observations of members of the 1871–73 Iwakura mission, in which the prince led four dozen men on an eighteen-month excursion through the United States and Europe. The mission itself was remarkable. Deciding they needed to know more about the West and to make Western leaders aware of Japanese progress, the fledgling Meiji government selected its highest officials to go on the trip and had the emperor himself deliver the mission’s charge. The travelers spoke to the California legislature, got snowbound in Salt Lake City, negotiated unsuccessfully for better treaties in Washington, studied the parliament in London, had dinner with Bismarck in Berlin, and visited places as far-flung as Jerusalem and Cairo. All the while, a caretaker government kept order back in Tokyo. Fortunately, the mission had a meticulous record-keeper in Kume Kunitake, Iwakura’s private secretary. He wrote down not just what people saw, but what they thought: what was strange, what was remarkable, what was worth emulating, and what might be dangerous to Japan’s value system. While the English translation of his entire five-volume diary may be too costly for most schools or teachers, a set of excerpts from this diary and Kume’s later memories of the mission – prepared and annotated by Peter Duus of Stanford University – make clear just how useful such records can be in the classroom.18 First, there are the curiosities, ordinary things that take on wholly new meanings in the viewing of outsiders. The travelers were not as often amazed as their predecessors had been a dozen years earlier, when members of an earlier mission commented on the oddity of ballroom dancing, “reddish hair” that “reminds us of canine eyes,” the strangeness of congressmen “gesticulating wildly” when speaking in Congress, and the “barbarian” custom of displaying dead human bodies (mummies) in museums (156–59). Nonetheless, they still found much that was curious and unusual in America of the 1870s. They decided that Americans cared little about lineage and breeding, since they accepted immigrants who “generally come from the ignorant and lazy masses of various countries.” They were puzzled by legal penalties and taxes for smoking or drinking. It amazed them that most shops were closed on Sundays (a practice that may surprise today’s students too). And they were surprised that Americans were so eager to export their political system abroad (169–72).

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Even more important – and more useful for classroom discussions – were the ambassadors’ discussions of big issues such as government, religion, and gender. They were struck by the poor quality of decision-making in Congress, a fact that they attributed to a democratic system in which “not all the gentlemen elected . . . are endowed with the highest intelligence and talent” (173). Their analysis of the weaknesses of democracy, as well as the Americans’ blindness to those weaknesses, should provoke lively discussion, particularly in a time in which democracy and the American role in the world are subject to so much debate. The comments on religion are provocative too. Coming from a system in which the upper reaches of society were dominated by Confucian rationalism. the ambassadors found many aspects of Christianity surprising, even puzzling. They were impressed by the zeal with which people pursued their faith: the way many carried a Bible (Kume called it a “sutra”) in public, the “earnestness of practice,” and the way Christians gave money “for the translation of the scriptures” (175–78). The Americans’ theological beliefs – “tales from Heaven and criminals raised from the dead” – on the other hand, seemed like “the delirious ravings of madness . . . . In all European and American cities, pictures of crucified criminals, profuse and with ruby-red blood, are hung everywhere on building walls and rooms . . . . If this is not bizarre, then what is?” (176). And even more puzzling was the way American women acted. They entered official buildings; they danced publicly with men and spoke openly in their presence. Moreover, husbands “served” their wives, offering them seats at tables, walking arm-in-arm with them on the street, carrying their things, and dusting off their clothes (174). Kume made no secret of how he regarded such behavior. Of course it was different (“Orient and . . . Occident differ from one another, as though they are the opposite of one another” 170), but it was more: it was immoral. He describes male politeness toward women with words and phrases such as “henpecked,” “extremely indecent.” “vulgar,” and “unseemly and disgraceful” (181–82). He quotes one of the mission leaders, Kido Takayoshi, as fearing that Western gender practices would undermine Confucian morality: “The Way of Loyalty and Filial Piety will be in peril as civilization advances” (183). Reading these accounts may cause discomfort for students of the sort who once told me, “I don’t want to think; I just want to regurgitate.” But the discomfort will be valuable. When one reads an astute

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American traveler such as House, one discovers Japanese society in a new and fresh light: its natural beauty, its daily customs, and its major modernizing policies. When one reads the Japanese travelers, on the other hand, one also learns about one’s self. Reading the work of someone who questions the efficacy of democracy raises issues that move us beyond political platitudes. Hearing an observer describe Christian practices with the very phrases American missionaries have often used to portray “heathen superstitions” forces us to reexamine both our own religious attitudes and the nature of Japanese belief systems. And reading Japanese questions about gender roles gives us new understandings of what Confucianism meant by the “natural way.” At the same time, hearing Japanese draw harsh or simplistic conclusions about Americans ought to help students see how important it is for them to read the Westerners’ accounts of Japan more carefully than they otherwise might have. When American visitors described Japanese society as violent, or pagan, or given to general nudity, were they being any less biased or unfair than Japanese who saw Christianity as bizarre and American women as immoral? Might these American observers have been telling us (as Wordell and Henning have suggested) more about their own stereotypes and prejudices than about Meiji Japan’s complex reality? Getting students to make this kind of correlation will be challenging, but it can be exciting. Travel accounts need, in a word, to be handled carefully and sensitively, even as they are presented with verve and gusto. They, more than other written educational materials, have the potential to make the students forget they are doing something “worthwhile,” even as they increase knowledge and understanding – not a bad combination.

James Huffman’s Favorite Readings on Meiji Travel Japanese Travelers to America Peter Duus, The Japanese Discovery of America: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford Books. 1997), ISBN 0312116810. Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, A Daughter of the Samurai (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1990), ISBN 0804816557.

LOOKING BOTH WAYS

Western Travelers to Japan Isabella Bird. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987), ISBN 0807070157. Edward S. Morse, Japan Day by Day II (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917), LCCN 17028348. Lafcadio Hearn, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1976), ISBN 0804811458. About American Travelers to Japan Christopher Benfey, The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan (New York: Random House, 2003), ISBN 0375754555. Joseph Henning, Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations (New York: New York University Press, 2000), ISBN 081473605X.

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Source: Education About Asia, Vol. 15, No. 3, Winter 2010, pp. 34–37. Reprinted with permission of the Association for Asian Studies, Inc., www.asian-studies.org/EAA.

14

Nation v. People: Ashio and Japan’s First Environmental Crisis ™

Farmers along the Watarase River sixty miles northwest of Tokyo had never worried much about the spring and summer floods, even the occasional big ones, because the waters brought rich top soil from the north and, with it, better harvests. The floods of 1890 were different, however. New seeds refused to sprout once the waters evaporated; fish in the river died; silkworms ate mulberry leaves along the shore and shriveled up; sores broke out on field workers’ feet. And when even bigger floods came six years later, the devastation was massive: nearly 84,000 acres of land ruined, more than 7,000 fishermen without jobs, 16,470 homes laid waste. The source of the new grimness was clear to anyone who gave the scene an honest look: wastes and smoke from the huge mines around Ashio, the city at the river’s source, which were producing nearly a third of Japan’s copper by the mid-1890s.1 Heavy foresting to build mines and workers’ homes had denuded the surrounding mountainsides, transforming lush vistas into moonscapes and allowing mountainside soil to gush downstream when the rains came – soil saturated with a “chemistry textbook table of nasty elements and compounds, ranging from arsenic to zinc.”2 Once the 1896 floods had worked their evil, Ashio and its famous mine owner, Fukukawa Ichibei, became national bywords for pollution and industrial greed. Viewed through the disinterested lenses of history, the Ashio struggles were fairly typical as modern pollution episodes go. Ongoing environmental degradation produced spasmodic fits of public atten202

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tion, which led to reluctant and inconsistent responses by officials and industrialists, resulting in continuing profits for the businesses that polluted the environment but only modest improvements in pollution control. In certain ways, however, the Watarase disaster stands alone in the annals of Japan’s environmental development. Not only did it trigger the country’s first major environmental protest movement, it clarified with unprecedented force the struggles that almost always inhere in the move toward modernity, struggles between the appetites of the industrial/military state and the needs of the people who live in that state. It is the unfolding of this struggle that this essay will narrate. The Ashio region’s copper, discovered in the mid-1500s, was a key element in Japan’s thriving seventeenth century foreign trade, providing employment for thousands of men who worked in dirty, dark, dangerous conditions and usually died young, even as they enjoyed relatively high social status and good wages. By the early 1800s, however, the mines had become largely inactive, with some historians attributing their near shutdown to a depletion of the known copper veins, others to the Tokugawa shogunate’s environmentally sensitive response when peasants complained that river pollution was damaging their crops and killing their fish.3 Modernity brought the mine – which consisted of a “beehive” of individual holes bored into the mountainsides – back to life after it was purchased by Furukawa in 1877. The son of a village headman who had made money in Yokohama silk sales, Furukawa poured massive resources into the creation of an up-to-date mine complex: ferreting out new veins of ore, improving drainage and lighting, replacing human carriers with trams, then in the early 1890s installing Japan’s first hydro-electric plant and its first electric railroad. He brought in air drills, fans, and electric lights, and by the 1890s had turned Ashio into one of the world’s largest copper mines, and himself into a financial tycoon. The most visible impact on Ashio itself was to turn a sleepy village into Tochigi prefecture’s second largest city, populated in the early 1900s by 11,500 full-time miners and more than 20,000 others, nearly all of whom had connections to the mines.4 In the telling of the Meijiera novelist Natsume Sōseki, a visitor arriving then would rub his eyes, shocked by the boomtown energy: “Everything was brand new – new banks, new post office, new restaurants, even new women with makeup on their faces . . . . The only thing old and peeling was the mountain itself.”5 Most of the miners and their families lived in dormitories, con-

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trolled by “lodge bosses” who did the hiring, provided the housing and meals, assigned jobs, and handed out wages on payday. Ashio was a company town. It brimmed with life. The residents produced 8,000 tons of copper a year by the late 1890s, earning decent wages but suffering hard and dangerous work conditions. Some drilled holes; some collected ore; others blasted tunnels; and others still pulled ore to the surface, cut stone, or maintained the tunnels, pumps and winches. On the surface, where 575 women worked alongside the men, the jobs ranged from getting rid of crushed rocks to running refineries, from operating the power plant to transporting the refined copper. For the thousands who worked below ground, conditions were not only dark but stifling. Drawing on one worker’s diary, Natsume described the mine as a “mass of narrow passages and dark holes – probably something like an ants’ nest,” a cavernous hell known by old miners as “a place where human beings are buried alive.”6 The workers suffered from endless problems: collapsed mine shafts, explosions, fires, suffocation, and respiratory diseases. Hundreds typically died each year in Japan’s mines; tens of thousands became ill. Said one journalist, writing in 1908 about Japan’s 400,000 miners: “Their lot is worst of all.”7 As long as the difficulties remained within the mining community, no one paid much attention. Miners, after all, knew when they took their jobs that life would be harsh. But after the 1890s, the public began to take note. As modern techniques released ever more toxins into the air and river, the thousands of farmers who lived in the river valley began to publicize their difficulties. And then the environmental problems began moving further south, into the northern reaches of the great Kantō plain that supplied Tokyo with its rice, fruit, and vegetables. The result was that Ashio turned from a mine site into a national symbol. Portents of these problems had showed up almost as soon as Furukawa restarted the mine, when the color of the Watarase began changing and people who ate its fish began experiencing diarrhea. But it was the 1890s that gave Japan its first thoroughgoing lesson in environmental tragedy. First came the 1890 flood, which spread destruction into the prefectures south of Tochigi. Then the still bigger floods of 1896 inundated more than 100,000 acres “in a monstrous concoction of mine poisons” (made more deadly by the miners’ practice of shoveling pulverized mine rocks into the Watarase when rains were heavy enough to wash them downstream).8 More than 300 died this time,

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as the waters inundated 13,000 homes in almost 90 villages. Reporters and officials who came from Tokyo to survey the damage were stunned by what they found: dead trees along the river, an eerie silence produced by the loss of birds and insects, mothers unable to produce milk for their infants. There was a flurry of national interest after the 1890 crisis, with politicians assuring the public that they were dealing with the problems, but doing little. After the 1896 floods, however, the establishment began to take the situation seriously, prodded by journalists’ reports and protesting farmers’ demands – made at the offices of Dietmen, government agencies, and Tokyo’s leading newspapers – that pollution be curbed or the mines closed. Neither reporters nor officials were universally sympathetic, but the majority echoed the plebeian newspaper Yorozu Chōhō’s declaration that Furukawa had gotten rich by “pouring gold into his pocket and poison into the fields round about the mountain.”9 The government, headed now by the sympathetic Ōkuma Shigenobu, ordered Furukawa to carry out a set of prescribed pollution controls or have his mine shut down. And he, in response, became serious for the first time about curbing pollution. The pollution was too entrenched and too extensive to be ended quickly, and toxins continued to wreak havoc for years, but the official approach to Ashio was more serious from this point on, even though public interest soon waned again. The farmers, for their part, continued demanding compensation and protection, and when a February 1900 march toward Tokyo resulted in a violent clash with the authorities, the journalists took an interest once more. This episode, involving more than 2,000 activists and 200 police, left multiple injuries on both sides, and the trials that followed the arrest of sixty-eight marchers heightened the readers’ interest. Nearly a thousand Tokyo students now made journeys to Ashio, to see the devastation for themselves. And Mainichi Shimbun, the paper of Dietman Shimada Saburō, launched a furious anti-pollution crusade, running scores of articles by the popular socialist Kinoshita Naoe and one of Japan’s first female reporters, Matsumoto Eiko. Shimada accused the government of “laziness” in fighting the problems and wrote: “The victims are the children of the emperor; so the government insults the emperor when it insults the victims.”10 At the center of the environmental campaign all along was the acerbic, often eccentric village headman’s son, Tanaka Shōzō. Known for his rough tactics and crumpled look, he was equally at ease in the

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homes of officials, farmers, and Tokyo students – with whom he loved to drink and sing. Dietman Ozaki Yukio said that when Tanaka stayed with prominent friends, “he left a trail of lice behind him,” retorting when criticized: “Don’t you know lice are the decoration of a man with a cause?”11 A Diet member himself, he was relentless across the 1890s in haranguing fellow legislators and cabinet ministers about the pollution problems. Three episodes in the early 1900s encapsulated Tanaka’s style and illustrated the complexity of the environmental struggle, even as they brought the Ashio campaign to an end. In the first, on March 23, 1901, he was thrown out of the Diet chambers for calling officials “traitors”; they deserved the label, he said, for their willingness to “decorate Furukawa while allowing him to ravage the fields that gave the nation its very life.”12 In the second, he attempted to present an anti-pollution petition directly to the Meiji Emperor as his majesty was making his way from the Diet on December 10, 1901. Though he was arrested for harassing the emperor, he was released without charge the next day, as newsboys hawked screaming headlines about his “direct appeal.” In the third, in 1904, he took up residence in Yanaka village when officials announced that they were going to destroy the small community in order to create a flood-prevention basin. The old crusader was no more able to prevent Yanaka’s demise than the officials were able to stop the floods, but his act of solidarity inspired villagers to continue resisting even when police came to tear down their homes in the summer of 1907. “Old age will not make me retire,” he declared. “I must go forward till I drop, or until age simply withers me away.”13 A reported 30,000 people attended his funeral in 1913. While environmental problems continued to plague those living along the Watarase River, Ashio largely disappeared from the national conversation after the mid-1900s, as Japan became increasingly preoccupied with war with Russia (1904–05), and then with expansion onto the Asian continent. New events occasionally piqued the journalists’ memories of the environmental crusades: the destruction of Yanaka, violent labor strikes at the Ashio mine in 1907, and Tanaka’s death in 1913. But pollution became yesterday’s issue. Ashio never lost its interest for historians though, partly because of its role as a trigger for the country’s first environmental crusade and partly because it dramatized so vividly the fundamental tensions that confront every modern (and modernizing) society. Three of those issues call for discussion here.

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First, the Ashio struggles highlighted the conflicting interests of two groups of commoners who inhabited the same space and should, by rights, have been working together: the miners and the farmers. Observers often assumed that everyone in Ashio except the mine owners opposed pollution, but they were mistaken. In actuality, most miners avoided – often even despised – the protest movement, partly because their own employment structure mitigated against opposition, but primarily because pollution controls threatened their livelihood. On the one hand, long hours and the lodge system of hiring, paying, and controlling workers made protest difficult even for those who wanted change. On the other hand, money spent on pollution-control measures meant less available for salaries. Indeed, wages, which had been quite good into the 1890s, stopped rising after the government forced Furukawa to get serious about curbing contaminants. Miners worried particularly about demands that the mines be shut down altogether if pollution were not curbed. As a result, they were largely absent in the pollution fight. Farmers, on the other hand, overwhelmingly supported it, because they felt the impact of pollution most directly. While some accepted paltry financial inducements to remain quiet, most took part in the protests or backed activist friends. As one old village woman told a group of investigators: “We used to be quite comfortable, as farming folk go, but since the poison came we’ve had no harvest, no money coming in . . . . Ever since the bad floods started, ten years back, eyesickness has spread in these parts, till now there’s hardly a soul in the village has the proper use of his eyes.”14 That was why she and her fellows supported the marches and presentations to the Diet, why they refused to accept Furukawa’s glib promises of change. One of the episode’s most poignant tragedies was the fact that miners and farmers – natural allies who belonged together in what historian F. G. Notehelfer calls “the mass of unsung men and women who paid dearly for national greatness with the forced sacrifice of their personal well-being”15 – were pitted against each by Ashio’s complexities. A second tension lay in the conflict between industry and the environment. Japan’s rulers had not been bent on national wealth, not committed to modernity or industrialization, in the late 1700s when, in the traditional narrative, pollution led to a cutback in mining. During the Furukawa years, by contrast, the ruling elites needed copper wires to transmit thousands of miles of electricity; they demanded ore to make ammunition for wars with China and Russia; they coveted

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copper (Japan’s second largest export at the turn of the century) to improve the foreign trade balance.16 Recognizing all of this, Furukawa fostered close ties to Japan’s political and business elites, going so far as to have his daughter marry a son of Agriculture and Commerce Minister Mutsu Munemitsu, then adopting that son-in-law as his own child. And the authorities showed their preference for industrial progress over environmental purity when they repeatedly explained away, or just ignored, 30,000 acres of denuded mountainsides and thousands of acres of poisonous farmland in the early 1890s. Kinoshita had these conflicting demands in mind when he raged that the long-awaited golden age had indeed come, but that it had turned out to be “an age of almighty gold in which the peaceful wars of industry and trade would replace the wars of aggression characteristic of the barbaric age.”17 The activists were mistaken when they suggested that the Ashio struggle was a portrait in simple black and white, pitting evil industrialists against good farmers. The picture was more complex; for industrialization brought a great deal of good, making Japan a major player in world trade and politics, and raising living standards for large numbers. But the activists were right about the incompatibility of industrial and environmental interests. They were right too in pointing out that the natural world usually lost in this struggle. Kinoshita’s complaint also highlighted a third tension inherent in the Ashio struggle: the question of whose priorities take precedence in a modern society, the people’s or the state’s. Like the environment, the people most often placed second, but not without a struggle and not without forcing officials to take into account a public will that they would have preferred to ignore. Indeed, few of Ashio’s lessons were more heartening to many commoners than the evidence that the march to modernity in Meiji Japan always would entail debates and compromises between those who claimed power and the people they purported to serve, debates that revealed a genuine balance, even if the preponderance of power lay with the establishment. Undergirding the people-state debate was the time-honored Confucian orthodoxy that made rulers responsible for the well-being of those over whom they ruled. The shogunal advisor Ogyū Sorai had asserted in the eighteenth century that society performed well only when rulers acted as “father and mother of the people” and “each class performs its own duties, each assists the others,” adding that “if any one class were lacking, the country would be the worse for it.”18 That idea was applied by farmers and officials alike in their debates over Ashio pollution.

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Tanaka coined the word kōgai (literally, “public harm”) to connote not pollution (its standard translation today) but government transgression against the people, arguing repeatedly that farmers were the emperor’s children. “To kill the people is to kill the nation,” he said in the Diet in 1898; “to despise the law is to despise the nation. This is the end of the nation.”19 Government leaders used similar rhetoric, describing Japan as a family where the emperor and officials cared for the people, a place governed by a Confucian agreement that people would be loyal and rulers would provide a decent life for everyone. The effort to actualize that contract became more complex in the post-Tokugawa world, as both the power-holders and the “people” gained new levers for exercising power and influence. On the one side stood the state, where officials and capitalists committed themselves to a massive program of national progress (i.e., industrialization and militarization). There was no question where their priorities lay. Economic prosperity and military muscle underlay the drive toward world power status; the commoner’s welfare was secondary. If some people – like those farmers along the Watarase – had to suffer for the national project, that was unfortunate but unavoidable. As a Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun writer put it in 1892, “the public benefits that accrue to the country from the Ashio mine far outweigh any losses suffered in the affected areas”; people hurt by mine pollution could be “taken care of by compensation.”20 On the other side stood those Watarase farmers, to whom modernity had brought a host of fresh tools for fighting popular battles: commoner-oriented newspapers, a legislature, new labor and student organizations. The impact of these populist institutions was inescapable. While the state officials and the industrialists might not be induced to change their preference for “progress” over “people,” neither could they any longer act monolithically. A preponderance of power certainly remained with the state; the Furukawas continued to hold more clout than the Tanakas. But when the popular voices grew loud in this modern era, as they did at Ashio, officials simply could not ignore them. Ashio today reveals the region’s troubled experiences only to those who look carefully. Getting there by rail takes time, as one rides a onecar train slowly upward, winding along the rock-filled Watarase and through endless tunnels, one of which takes a full nine minutes to traverse. In the town itself, where the depleted mine finally shut down in 1972, two years before area farmers won a $7 million settlement from Japan’s Environmental Disputes Coordination Commission, the main

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street is sleepy – almost empty. Most mountainsides are green again; the mine is remembered by a small library and a museum that takes one down where supposedly happy miners dug out the ore; monkeys frolic on the hillsides and in backyards. One of the few reminders of Ashio’s complex and bustling past is the iron bridge in the center of town, where a sign proudly proclaims that it was Japan’s first such structure. Another is a faded roadside map, diagramming the location of a cluster of lodges. All that remains here are the crumbled concrete residue of a communal bath and the shattered timbers of what may have been an office. Looking at the ruins, one recalls the old fighter Tanaka’s lament: “No men love mountains and rivers now. When trees are planted on the hillsides, it is not done from love, but from greed, for what the timber will fetch. Even when trees are planted where they should be, where rivers rise, if it is not done with love, it is not the Way of forestry.”21 Industry has vanished today, and with it pollution. Unfortunately, so have most of the people – both the thousands who slaved in the mines and the other thousands downstream whose livelihoods were destroyed by the mining toxins.

Source: Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2018, pp. 1–24.

15

Introduction (Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan) ™

“Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be a hero” – Anonymous, Ghana slave castle1

The Journalist Yokoyama Gennosuke found it curious that “even though society invariably is propelled by nameless people, social commentators focus on people with names. They leave out those who have no names.”2 He made his observation in 1910, after years of studying the nameless people: first as one of them, a teenaged student sleeping in flophouses and temples, and then as a reporter eager to understand what he called the kasō shakai,3 or underclass (literally: society of the lower classes). For nearly two decades after becoming a reporter for the paper Mainichi Shinbun in 1894 at age twenty-four, he roamed the slums of Osaka and Tokyo; he also journeyed to the mountains of Ashio, where miners sucked in ore dust and died young; he walked the aisles of Kiryū textile factories, where teenaged girls cowered before lecherous supervisors; and he crossed the sea to find out how emigrants to Korea lived. Some of the people he saw were dullards, he concluded, “staring silently at the skies and sitting dejectedly around empty hibachi”; many were “intelligent and clever.”4 But all of them evoked a new Japan, an explosion of “modern” energy during the 1890s and 1900s that led to the growth of both wealth and poverty. While his peers chronicled the successes of the wealthy, he gave his attention to the have nots. It is my intention to do likewise, to tell the story of how the poor – particularly those in the cities – experienced life in the late-Meiji years. 211

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Between 1888 and 1903, Tokyo’s population grew by more than 1,000 people every week, skyrocketing from 1.4 million to 2.3 million, while Osaka increased at half that rate, from 1.2 million to 1.7 million.5 And the changes in urban life were phenomenal. In the decade sandwiching the turn of the century, Japan won two major foreign wars and became an imperial power. School attendance rates nearly doubled, according to official statistics, to more than 95 percent. The old elitist newspapers turned into mass mediums, read by slum dwellers as well as officials. Trade exports tripled to 300 million yen in the decade before 1902; foreign imports quadrupled; and the number of factories quintupled, providing work for thousands on thousands of those new city dwellers. And new train lines tied far flung regions to the cities.6 Newspaper anecdotes compiled by the historian Aoyagi Junrō suggest the energy of the decade: 1896 gave Japan its first luxury toilet, a lacquered contraption that played music; 1897 brought electric fans and the first moving picture exhibition; 1899 introduced beer halls and long distance telephone. Railway sleeper cars came in 1900, artificial rain in 1901, the first automobile ride and first railroad dining car in 1902. Not everyone understood or embraced the changes. When an electrical short burned down the Diet Building in 1891, the kerosene industry launched an ad campaign about the dangers of electricity. And when telephone service began to spread, people bombarded officials with questions about whether cholera could spread over the phone lines. But the changes were massive, and their impact was revolutionary.7 This study starts from the premise that all city residents, poor or rich, saw and felt the changes, whether they enjoyed the benefits or not. The urban historian Yazaki Takeo said that people in the “lower stratum of society . . . experienced little change in their daily lives, despite the remarkable changes taking place at higher levels.”8 He was wrong. Even the poorest of the poor were profoundly affected by Japan’s modernization. Industrialization brought hundreds of thousands into the cities, where they performed the tasks that made affluent life possible. They may not have been affected in the same way that their wealthier neighbors were. Indeed, as the social historian Sally Hastings observes, within their abodes “the furnishings, the clothing, and the food remained much as they had been for centuries”9 and many of them watched with longing or resentment when they could not afford the new-fangled things that they were making. But the changes all around influenced the poor every day: in the work they did, in the way they saw the world, and in the way they saw themselves.

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The goal of this study is to determine how Yokoyama’s urban kasō shakai responded to the changes: to understand how, for them, it felt to live the hinmin or poor person’s life. Before addressing that subject, however, we must answer several background questions regarding the nature and usefulness of the sources available for such a study, the kinds of images that underlay and shaped early accounts of the hinmin, and the interpretive and methodological approaches that will undergird this examination. Only after finding answers to those questions will it be possible to deal fully and fairly with the work’s fundamental questions: how Japan’s urban poor lived in the last half of the Meiji era (roughly the late 1880s to the mid-1910s) and how they understood the world that surrounded them. Kasō Shakai: How We Know About Them

The first issue is sources. If the poor were “nameless,” were they also voiceless – and thus incomprehensible? It is true that very few of the late-Meiji poor wrote anything for others to see. However, four major sources of information, taken together, make such a study more than merely feasible. First, several late-Meiji newspaper reporters gave significant portions of their careers to studying and describing the people who lived in the hinminkutsu or “caverns of the poor or destitute” (usually translated as slums), which began to grow in Osaka and Tokyo after the 1880s. Second, officials concerned about the connection between the state’s modernizing policies and urban poverty began in the midMeiji years to conduct extensive surveys of slum-dwellers, factory workers, and general urban populations that provided a balance to the anecdotal approach that many journalists took. Third, intellectuals and opinion leaders wrote voluminously about the “lower classes” and the hinmin in an outpouring of essays and literary works, some of which were empathetic and careful about facts, others of which repeated long-held prejudices about the poor. And fourth, a small number of post-Meiji social scientists and historians have used the late-Meiji writings and surveys to construct analyses of the broad social systems and structures that framed the kasō shakai experience. Taken together, these materials provide a great deal more information than I expected when I began this study. The reporters’ accounts merit special consideration, since they formed the base line for most of the other work and serve as the central focus of my own study. When legions of people began moving into

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the cities and settling together in slum-like areas in the late 1880s, Japan’s opinion-making community took note, and newspaper journalists began to write about what they called the new “shakai mondai,” or “social problem.” Yokoyama is the best known of a group that I call the “poverty journalists,”10 but he was neither the first nor the last. In the late 1880s, Suzuki Umeshirō reported extensively on the slums in Osaka’s Nago-chō for the newspaper Jiji Shinpō, and Chōya Shinbun ran stories on poverty in Tokyo. Then in November 1892, Matsubara Iwagorō began a ten-month series of colorful and emotive articles in Kokumin Shinbun on the hard life in Tokyo’s poorest areas, drawing on his own difficulties as an orphan; he later published the articles in the book Saiankoku no Tokyo (Darkest Tokyo). In 1893, Sakurada Taiga (aka Taiga Koji) of Nihon Shinbun published Hintenchi kikankutsu tankenki (Exploring the hungry and cold realms of the poor), based on time he spent in the slums disguised as an ordinary resident. And in the late 1890s, Jiji ran successive articles on “Tokyo’s poor” (Tokyo no hinmin), while Hōchi Shinbun did a three-week series on the notorious Shin’ami-chō slum in Tokyo’s Shiba ward.11 In addition, most papers reported almost daily on the darker sides of hinminkutsu life in their Page Three Stories (sanmen kiji) where human interest materials were featured: the crimes, the epidemics, the suicides, the sensational and salacious. These works were hardly uniform. Many reporters stood aloof from their subjects, treating poor people as inferiors and oddities. The best of the poverty journalists, however, brought empathy and professionalism to their investigations. Matsubara and Yokoyama, in particular, put on the tight-fitting pants and jackets of workers and spent weeks on end in flop houses and back alleys, sometimes handing out candy to children to encourage them to talk.12 Matsubara wrote primarily from the observations of his eyes and the feelings of his heart and produced what some have called an “antecedent of the fact-based novel,” while Yokoyama – who had studied under the pioneer novelist Futabatei Shimei, an advocate of greater empathy in the treatment of all social groups – wrote in a more clinical fashion, backing up his observations with copious data, using government surveys and interviews to test his conclusions.13 The economic historian Nakagawa Kiyoshi argues that the poverty journalists’ interpretations evolved quickly, from late1880s images of the poor as wholly other people who led “unimaginable” lives worthy only of fear and pity, to later depictions of people who were fully human if still pitiable.14 By Yokoyama’s time in the middle

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and late 1890s, Nakagawa says, the view had changed even more: “He did not see hinmin society as a different, outside world but as a part of the broader society,” albeit a part whose problems demanded rigorous analysis in order to make society more equal and fair.15 The writings of these reporters were voluminous, detailed, and, in Yokoyama’s case, data-driven – enough so to lend confidence to a twenty-first century writer trying to understand hinmin life. Late-Meiji: The Popular View

Late-Meiji images of the hinmin were propagated primarily by popular writers who applied their own perceptions and preconceptions to the reporters’ findings and came up with a simplistic image that blamed poor people for their own plight and doubted that they had the capacity to surmount it. They gave us a portrait filled with despair and inferiority, a picture, in a prominent novelist’s words, of “savages who were more machine than human, more animal than machine.”16 A slightly more nuanced, more sympathetic image was articulated by a few surveyors and reformers, but their works amounted to a whisper within the day’s general discourse. One reason for this was that the stereotypes of the popular writers played into widely held presuppositions in a society where differences of class and status seemed natural and normal. The Tokugawa-era status groups had been abolished legally at the beginning of the Meiji era, but society remained divided officially into heimin (commoners), shizoku (former samurai), and kazoku (nobility), and the sense of fate-ordained divisions, of better and worse, higher and lower, persisted among adults who had grown up under the earlier system. The novelist Tanizaki Jun’ichirō talked about how his mother, despite being relatively poor, loved to be “able to sit in a comfortable seat on a train, . . . carefully dressed like any prosperous middle-class matron” – and, less cheerfully, about the humiliation he felt when he had to enter the home of his samurai-descended boyhood friend by a “narrow service door used by the greengrocer and fishmonger.” Friends or not, poverty meant inferiority and had to be kept hidden. That experience, he said, impressed on him “keenly how very disagreeable a thing it was to be poor.”17 Western academic approaches reinforced such attitudes, with the emergence after the 1890s of what David Ambaras calls a new middle class that saw education and wealth as the marks of virtue and ability. Influenced by both the old Confucian morality and a new “Anglo-American, Protestant-inflected moral vision,” the new middle

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class used “Western social scientific categories” to make the kasō shakai into “objects of ethnographic inquiry, pacification, and enlightenment for assimilation.”18 The result was what Nakagawa calls an “it’s-a-pity” portrait of hinmin society filled with characteristics and categories still familiar to readers today.19 Matsubara, a one-time social Darwinist who argued that reality belied theories of progress and “the well-being of people,”20 set the tone for the popular writings by titling his classic work Darkest Tokyo, a phrase that evoked what the literary critic Maeda Ai calls a world of “dark energy” where “the boundary between life and death itself seems to dissolve.”21 The title drew on two Western works: Henry Morton Stanley’s In Darkest Africa and Salvation Army founder William Booth’s Darkest England, and the Way Out, which said that “without some kind of extraordinary help,” the poor “must hunger and sin, and sin and hunger, until . . . the gaunt fingers of death will . . . terminate their wretchedness.”22 The features of Matsubara’s night-black place included a litany of hinmin characteristics that were repeated endlessly in late-Meiji accounts of the urban poverty pockets – and that continue to be applied to poor families in popular accounts even today. Understanding them should help us to assess the stereotypes that informed most of the Meiji writers and to confront our own instinctive way of seeing the poor. “Poverty and vulgarity”

All observers agreed that the most important feature of hinmin life was economic deprivation. Hinmin were poor – desperately so. For the popular journalists, that meant more than a mere lack of means, however; it was a qualitative thing, captured in Shiga Naoya’s sniffing comment about his grandfather’s home: “Everything smelled of poverty and vulgarity.”23 Almost always, popular pictures of poverty highlighted squalor, dirtiness, or eyesores. Matsubara talked about “the lice, the fleas, the mosquitoes, the offensive odors, the drunkenness, the stifling heat,” and about the old man in a lodging house, popping tiny bugs into his mouth, a sight that “made it hard for me to remain seated.”24 Tanizaki likened the Asakusa amusement region’s slums to “an over-turned trash bin.”25 And the painter Kaburagi Kiyokata rued a storyteller’s toilet outside the windows of a bean porridge shop, where the “offensive odors . . . drove patrons to insanity.”26 Squalor was accompanied by crime. Because they were poor, most writers suggested, members of the kasō shakai stole and murdered.

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Ambaras argues that in an effort to “establish their own superiority,” the middle class reformers “defined particular types of deviance” as coming from class deficiencies.27 Dramatic support for this view showed up daily in the Page Three Stories that became standard fare in most newspapers after the 1890s. On January 4, 1900, a typical news day, Tokyo’s largest newspaper, the inexpensive Yorozu Chōhō, reported in great detail on a near-murder that had occurred two evenings earlier in a park in Asakusa’s slum area after “a group of merrymakers began to quarrel.” A drunken man in his mid-thirties got involved in a quarrel, went off to buy a knife at a nearby a street stall, then came back and started a fight. Blood was spilled and the man ran, bleeding heavily, to a nursing center, which sent him to a hospital, where he was in a precarious condition. Stories on the same page included two head slashings, one murder, and sundry police reports. Another Page Three, selected at random from April of the same year, included reports on the suffocation of a baby, a burglary, and gambling arrests.28 And a scan of the third page of Tokyo’s other major commoner paper, Niroku Shinpō, during the first five months of 1900 shows the same pattern. Violence of middle-class students received some attention; so did immorality among the rich and famous. But articles on hinmin crimes dominated: a young woman stabbed to death in the neck; a blind man stealing beef, onions, and beer; a priest-turned-extortionist; the pickpocketing of someone in a rickshaw; a series on “the true state of affairs among low class prostitutes” (katō baiin no jikkyō) – and a graphic report about a musician who set himself on fire out of financial desperation.29 The message implied by these stories was consistent: if you don’t have money, you run amok.30 “He is Poor Because He Wants to be Poor”

Another set of popular images grew from the widespread conviction that poverty resulted from bad behavior and unfortunate choices. Few generalizations had wider currency than the idea that there was a direct relationship between moral behavior and having money. As a result, the shakai mondai writings brimmed with comments about work ethic, sexual promiscuity, eating practices, and frugality. Laziness headed the list. The poor might slave into the night pulling rickshaws; they might serve tables with knuckles raw from washing dishes in cold water; construction workers might die of exhaustion while rich young men lived lives of ease. No matter. The truism persisted: those who prosper are

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hard workers; those who starve are loafers. As a mid-Meiji journalist said of rickshaw pullers: “They will work no more than they absolutely must, and . . . they spend all they earn, knowing no other than mere animal wants.”31 No one put it more baldly than the Meiji Restoration leader Iwakura Tomomi who said the poor “do not work because they are lazy; they bring about their own impoverishment.”32 When another reporter said that he had heard some carters say, “We will not do such a foolish thing as working regularly,”33 readers nodded knowingly: that was how poor folks thought. The hinmin of these accounts were dissolute and morally loose too: heavy drinkers, philanderers, gamblers, thieves, wife-beaters. The pioneer social worker Adachi Kenchū clearly saw things that way. “A major cause of juvenile delinquency,” he said, “was the ease with which members of the lower class married and separated”; he added that the urban poor “know only lust, and their marriages and divorces are quick, easy affairs.” Another moralist said, without evidence, that a tendency to unbridled sex made the slum-dwellers like “lower animals.”34 Even the sympathetic founders of Futaba Nursery School on the edge of Samegahashi slum west of the palace moaned that children failed to thrive because “their families are bad. . . . They are only here at the kindergarten for six hours. After that they are free to absorb bad influences [at home].”35 And the press echoed them with repeated tales about the immoral poor: the “troublesome son” in a Honjo sweets shop who was supposed to take 150 yen to the bank but spent it all in an Asakusa liquor store, or three carpenters who murdered a fellow merely because he humiliated them.36 Yokoyama’s writings were particularly full of moral judgments. He quoted a poor woman in Samegahashi district: “My husband drinks sake daily, never works, and idles away his time. So, I tell him all the time that he is poor because he wants to be poor. Then he talks back and argues for argument’s sake. . . . He idles away his time.” Women who did side work, the journalist said, “secretly waste it on food and drink.” The rickshaw pullers? “They squander their monthly income on food and drink and when they have spent all their money, they rely on their more resourceful fellow yado to support them.” And textile workers? A factory manager in the Kiryū-Gifu region said: Factory girls . . . are hopeless. After we have given a present to a girl who worked hard, others bear a grudge against her boss and are oblivious to their own uselessness. Even when it is obvious that hard work will benefit them in the future, the girls merely count the days before each

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holiday . . . and pay no attention to their work. If we are not vigilant, girls make unacceptable goods, yet are unconcerned about their inferior workmanship.37

Yokoyama occasionally praised the poor, but comments about irresponsibility and laxity dominated. As Hastings has noted, the 1874 act that governed relief policies in the Meiji era was based on the view “that poverty was largely the fault of the poor individual.”38 Most middleclass citizens took that view as obvious reality. “Society of the Lower Stratum”

A third set of images was rooted in the belief that the naturalness of hierarchy meant that the poor were inferior. The very phrases usually used to describe urban poor articulated the equation: “kasō shakai” or “kasō kaikyū,” both of which meant the “society of the lower stratum,” the “underclass,” the “bottom layer.” Being in the middle class meant being superior: having a better education, greater economic stability, more “civilization” – in contrast to the lowliness of the poor. The women’s rights pioneer Oku Mumeo recalled that when she quipped as a child that it might be fun to work as a weaver, her mother, “who was usually very gentle,” rebuked her: “Absolutely not! That is something poor people do. I never want to hear you say that you want to become a factory girl again! I have never even set eyes on a factory loom.” The harshness of the response “always remained at the bottom of my heart,” Oku said, even after she had grown up and become an advocate of equality.39 Sometimes this condescension took the form of pity. The Youth Club of the middle brow journal Seinen: The Rising Generation included this comment in a report on a famine in the Tōhoku region, “We must think of these poor people whenever we sit at our meal and put on our warm clothing, and must do whatever in our power to give them relief.”40 Even the socialist champion of the working poor, Shūkan Heimin Shinbun, exuded pity when it demanded justice, with endless lists of parents who abandoned their children, paupers who tried to drown themselves, and ill-tempered rickshaw pullers who attacked passengers – usually because they were “pressed by poverty.”41 The compassion was genuine; so was the condescending pity. Often, the pity took the form of an assumption that poor people were simple minded. When a “poor widow” ran back and forth trying to get a glimpse of the Emperor Meiji during an imperial procession in the summer of 1906, she was a

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“helpless rustic.”42 When a child in Higuchi Ichiyō’s novelette Child’s Play (Takekurabe) acted like a “buffoon,” he was nicknamed “Mannenchō,” after the nearby slum by that name. Was that not how poor people acted?43 As Yokoyama summed it up: “Poor people lack economic resources and are exceedingly deficient in their intellectual faculties.”44 That was why educators often placed poor youths into classes for the “feeble-minded” when they misbehaved.45 Attitudes such as this are not, of course, limited to Meiji Japan. The social worker and educator Paolo Freire argues that “from the point of view of the dominators in any epoch, correct thinking presupposes the non-thinking of the people.” He could have added “any region” to “any epoch,” because his principle squared as well with Meiji Japan as it did with late twentieth century Brazilians.46 “Almost without consciousness”

A fourth set of images – which persisted to the end of the era, despite Nakagawa’s hopeful analysis of changing perceptions – placed important elements of the kasō shakai beyond the pale of normal society. It was a short step from “simple” to “barely human.” The journalist Harada Tōfū wrote in a 1902 report on hinmin generally: “They do not know the joys (kōfuku) of the world. They do not know the world’s sources of pleasure (omoshiromi). They live their days almost without consciousness (muishiki).”47 Yokoyama put it even more baldly in a discussion of rag-pickers who, he claimed, “seem to be an almost subhuman species only slightly related to other human beings on this earth.”48 And the novelist Natsume Sōseki had the protagonist of his novel Kōfu (The Miner) comment that “I knew full well that the miner ranked only above the ox and the horse among beasts of burden and that it was no honor for me to become one.”49 One of the most damning features of this otherness was the widespread assumption that poor people lacked agency and hope. They were automatons who went through life’s daily motions with neither the ability nor the inclination to control their own destinies; they were Fukuzawa Yukichi’s commoners who, “when told to stand, they stand; when told to dance, they dance,” people who “truly are spiritless and wear faces of brass.”50 They were, in the words of the humor magazine Tokyo Puck, the victims of faith healers and fortune tellers who “trade on the gullibleness of brainless folks.” 51 All of this was when they were visible at all. For most people in the middle class, most of the time, the hinmin simply did not merit

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observation. “The poor,” says the economic historian Koji Taira, “existed somewhere in silence and darkness” because “Meiji Japan was too busy with the tasks of modernization and industrialization to pay serious attention to them.”52 Shoppers closed their eyes to the rag-pickers on the street beside them, while guests of the rich Iwasaki Yatarō strolled in his walled Kiyosumi gardens in Fukagawa, oblivious to the slum that spread on all sides. Tanizaki’s memoir, Childhood Years, is filled with rickshaw rides in which he is “jounced about on my mother’s lap,” but it has almost no pullers; the rickshaw men are backdrops.53 The influential Yorozu Chōhō editorialist Uchimura Kanzō commented once that Japanese intellectuals had much to say about the “sweet cry of the geisha playing,” but “no professor has yet described the thin bitter cry of the Japanese poor pulling jinrikishas or spinning cotton in Osaka factories.”54 That was why Osaka officials could carry out a “removal of the poor” policy during the city’s 1903 industrial exposition, pushing out the people who lived in the area, with neither comment nor concern about where they would go. The lack of public outcry about their removal sprang less from callousness than from the fact that the poor were not objects of interest.55 “College of the Poor”

The popular writings did not, however, focus exclusively on negative stereotypes. Empathetic images may have been harder to find, but they were there if one looked for them. Sometimes the brighter view showed up in simple expressions of respect or empathy: in the novelist Shimazaki Tōson’s descriptions of turn-of-the-century Komoro as a place “poor on the surface but rich underneath,”56 or in an enka singer’s soulful descriptions of the impoverished workers among whom he lived: Of course, his dreams are boldly ambitious When hungry he goes to a tavern Where instead of chairs there are soy sauce barrels . . . One cannot hear the tale without tears falling.57

Sometimes, the empathetic nuance came in discussions of poverty’s causes. As early as 1880, the journalist and future political leader Hara Kei had written in the newspaper Yūbin Hōchi that “despite hard work and careful management,” many people were forced into destitution by government policies and social forces.58 Drawing heavily on Marxist thought, which provided explanations for both poverty and inequality,

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the Osaka reformer Seki Hajime argued that responsibility for the hinmin plight lay not in personal failures of the “guiltless poor” but in “the system of capitalist enterprise” and the “cold-blooded industrialists who use machines as weapons to control their pitiful workers.”59 And Matsubara, who also was influenced by Marxism, observed in a set of writings on homelessness that most workers were paid only a tenth of what their labor actually was worth to society, adding in a pitying, yet empathetic tone: “Should we not think about that fact when we see them bent over beside the road, freezing in rags, starving on food scraps?”60 Most often, the empathetic view appeared as an undermelody, sometimes a counter-melody, in works that majored on the standard stereotypes. Yokoyama talked with admiration about the way the poor helped each other, even when he blamed them for not providing their children with an education. Matsubara balanced his criticism of workers’ “sloth” and heavy drinking with discussions of what he called the “college of the poor” (hindaigaku), which taught anyone who would listen how to make do on very little and how to “bear, in an almost comedic way, whatever difficulty comes their way.”61 Even Tokyo Puck ran occasional cartoons about hinmin cleverness in outwitting creditors or tormentors. All but the glibbest of the writers admitted to certain redeeming features when they wrote about the kasō shakai. On the whole, however, the positive images got lost in the popular writing: thin threads in dark tapestries. Facts, after all, are rarely sufficient to revise popular narratives. Certainly they were not in this case. To the vast majority of late-Meiji readers, the poor remained a static and undesirable segment of society, lacking not only the means to live comfortably but the intelligence and values that a satisfying life required. They were vulgar; they were lazy, depraved, or self-indulgent; they lived on society’s shadowy margins, inhabiting an inferior social plain; the lowest of them were barely human. Most important, they were responsible for their own plight. When an industrialist said that his employees were “more like bears or wolves than anything else,” he would have drawn little negative response from most late-Meiji observers.62 Later Years: The Academic Portrait

The generations after the Emperor Meiji died in 1912 gradually produced another set of lenses for viewing the kasō shakai, as a number of academics began to look at the poor in a more systematic way, often as

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proponents for relief programs. The background for their work was laid by a few late-Meiji intellectuals who made the rise of urban poverty or hinkon a subject of broader academic and official concern, regarding it as “an integral part of Japan’s modernization process.”63 The early sociologist Tongo Takebe, for example, commented in 1904 on the increasing numbers of believers in “the distributive justice theory” who saw “the relief of extreme poverty as the most vital project to be accomplished.”64 The German-trained economist Kanai Noburu took up the question of how poverty could be relieved. And the young Gotō Shimpei, who would go on to become one of Japan’s most powerful colonial administrators, argued (with limited impact at the time) that poverty undercut Japan’s ability to be a strong nation and thus called for statesponsored relief programs. These men were outliers, but they set the stage for scholars such as Kagawa Toyohiko, the Christian social activist who, despite strong ideological biases, began to apply social science approaches to broader questions of poverty in the Taishō years, and the ethnographer Yanagita Kunio who gave us monumental, deeply empathetic studies of folk life, particularly in the villages. By the late twentieth century, impoverished groups and individuals had caught the attention of a number of scholars, both Japanese and Western. Patricia Tsurumi, for example, did pioneering work on factory girls; Mikiso Hane detailed the travails of those in the “the underside of modern Japan”; Nimura Kazuo applied the social scientist’s skills to the 1907 miners’ riots in Ashio; Sally Hastings showed us the interactions between bureaucrats and the urban poor in Tokyo’s Honjo Ward, particularly in the decades right after the Meiji era; Michael Lewis’s lively translation of the enka singer Azembō’s memoirs shed light on life at the street level; and Irokawa Daikichi’s examination of political consciousness in Meiji villages challenged stereotypes about farmers as disconnected and unsophisticated.65 It is perhaps ironic that few of the studies of the Meiji poor seldom were carried out by economists, whose work tended to focus on national wealth, industrial growth, and state policy.66 But they made it clear that the denizens of poverty led lives that were as complex and nuanced as those of the middle and upper classes. The scholar who focused most systematically and extensively on the hinmin is the economic historian Nakagawa Kiyoshi who has spent decades analyzing everything from government data collections to journalistic accounts in an effort to understand the social and economic structures that defined life for the late-Meiji kasō

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shakai.67 In concert with several other scholars, he has developed broad analyses of the society-level frameworks within which hinmin life took place, based on meticulous study of the quantifiable features of the kasō shakai experience: wage structures, family sizes, patterns of crime and health. The picture that Nakagawa and his peers have constructed differs, often dramatically, from what we saw in the popular portraits. While it largely ignores the specifics of daily life, it lays out the broad conditions that underlay those specifics. If an understanding of the popular middle-class images will help us confront our own preconceptions, a grasp of the scholars’ picture should provide a framework for interpreting more clearly just how the poor themselves experienced daily life. A summary of their major points is thus in order. How many hinmin were there and where did they live?

Precise figures are impossible to come by, in part because Meiji writers did not generally make the kinds of distinctions about levels of poverty that Europeans such as Booth and Karl Marx did.68 It is thought, however, that the very poor, generally referred to as hinmin (paupers) or kyūmin (destitute people),69 constituted between 275,000 and 400,000 Tokyoites in the early 1900s, or 12 to 20 percent of the population; in Osaka, they likely made up between 200,000 and 340,000. Some scholars suggest that when all of the nation’s poor are counted – the farmers, the petty merchants, poor school teachers and lower civil servants, the jobless, the rickshaw pullers, the carpenters, the outcastes, the boatmen, the miners, the fishermen – they made up between 50 and 60 percent of Japan’s total population and a good half of its urban citizens.70 One reason the hinmin in particular drew so much journalistic attention was that by the 1890s, they lived in increasingly concentrated areas, in the hinminkutsu or “caverns of the destitute” noted above. In Osaka, that meant the southern parts of the city, especially Naga-chō, in the 1890s, then after a slum-clearance project there, in Namba and Imamiya.71 In Tokyo, where poverty had been dispersed across the metropolitan area during the early Meiji years, hinmin began congregating after the mid-1880s in once-empty lands east of the Sumida River, a region popularly known as the “low city” or shitamachi. The neighborhoods of Mannen-chō in Shitaya, Shin’ami-chō to its south, and Samegahashi just west of the palace had come by the 1890s to be known as the city’s “three great slums.”72

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Where did they come from?

The urban poor were a people on the move, geographically and economically. Some of their families had been in the cities for decades, working as night-soil collectors, porters, and cleaning people, or doing the leather work reserved for the outcastes known as eta or burakumin. Kagawa claimed in 1915 that slum-dwellers were “all of the eta race”: either families who had long lived in the cities or immigrants from burakumin villages in the countryside.73 The truth, however, was that while most slum residents were indeed from the countryside they came from regular farming and fishing villages, not from outcaste enclaves. Drastic economic policies intended to help urbanites and elites by combating inflation and the spiraling national debt hit rural Japan like a tsunami in the early 1880s. Rising taxes and tight currency policies sent rice and tea prices plummeting, forcing farmers in all parts of the country to sell off their property to wealthy landlords and sending children to bed hungry. One result was the nation’s first sizeable immigration abroad, particularly to Hawai`i where tens of thousands of Japanese took jobs on sugar plantations. Another was an even larger migration, predominantly though not exclusively of males, to the cities where the move to modernity was creating new jobs. In the last half of the Meiji era, city surveys showed as much as four times the growth in the shitamachi regions, where the poor domestic immigrants congregated, as in the rest of the city. Fueling that growth was hunger and desperation: masses of young men and women, typically single, whose families decided it was better for everyone for them to leave home and seek work in the city. What did they do?

The short answer is that the urban immigrants did just about everything necessary to support life in a modern city. Although their occupations were weighted toward the physical and the menial, the variety of what they did was too rich and nuanced to be captured by the standard job classification categories. A survey of the very poorest in Osaka at the end of the 1880s, for example, divided those who “live in extreme difficulty” into more than fifteen categories, from pulling carts to making matches, from entertaining to running pawn shops, with the largest percentages classified as rag-pickers or jobless.74 A quick look at one analytical scheme – the regularly employed, the irregularly employed, and the self-employed – demonstrates just how varied hinmin work was.

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The preponderance of those with regular employment – nearly half by the last Meiji decade – worked in industry, with great numbers in construction, textile factories, and the metal industries. Commerce, large and small, also provided regular incomes for many, in jobs as diverse as typesetting, waiting tables, selling clams or scrap metals, working as shop clerks, and providing towels in public baths. A majority of the irregularly employed were the day laborers who gathered each morning in specified locations to seek low-paying jobs, often in building projects. Families who took consignment work – rolling cigarettes or making match boxes, for example – also made up an important segment of the irregulars, as did the cart pullers who were called tachinbō (loafers) even though they did what was probably the heaviest work for the lowest pay. The most colorful individuals occupied the self-employed category.75 Street and temple entertainers, for example, filled the public spaces with magic, dancing, samisen-playing, and acrobatic tricks – smiling in public but “staring silently at the skies and sitting dejectedly around empty hibachi” when weather kept them inside.76 And Tokyo’s 50,000 rickshaw pullers, most of whom worked independently, did more than any other group to give poverty a human face. It bears note, as an aside, that those with no work at all formed only a small group in the late-Meiji years, with their numbers rarely rising above the 1 or 2 percent level.77 Why were they poor?

The answers to this question are as diverse as the theoretical approaches of the people who write about it, but two points come through consistently in academic analyses. First, poverty had many causes. Some studies found the origins in educational levels, illness, and happenstance; some found it in transience or in the desperate conditions that parents passed on; and a late-Meiji questionnaire given to the hinmin themselves placed blame on more than twenty causes, with economic factors such as unemployment and low wages topping the list, followed by everything from illness to poor money management to acts of God such as floods and fire.78 There was, in other words, no single cause of poverty. A second point, which has received less attention than it deserves, was the arithmetic explanation: low wages. It is true that some people drank or gambled away their income, but they were the minority. The simple fact was that neither the coins that commuters handed over for rickshaw rides nor the wages that factories paid pro-

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vided enough money for the average family to live on. In November 1901, the journal Taiyō detailed the bare-bones monthly expenses of the four-member family of an unnamed but typical shop worker (kozukai). They came to 19.19 yen. His salary, by contrast, was less than half of that: a mere 8 yen. The family eked by because both children and the wife also worked. Even their combined income was “barely sufficient to keep body and soul together.”79 The refusal of a capitalist society to pay workers enough to survive gets only brief mention in most late-Meiji explanations for poverty,80 but the truth is that unjust wages were the major cause of hinmin poverty. What was daily life like?

Although the scholars have not paid much attention to the way the urban poor experienced life day-in-day-out – to people’s emotional ups and downs, to their personal interactions, to family tragedies and joys – their studies nonetheless suggest some of the key features of daily life that will frame the chapters that follow. Among them: Family size. The late-Meiji cartoonists and essayists pictured poor families as large; even the poor themselves sometimes blamed large families for their fellows’ plight.81 The reality was that the majority of hinmin had relatively small families. Several surveys in the 1880s, particularly in Osaka’s Nago-chō, found that average family size ranged between three and four, while an 1898 study of poor regions in Tokyo’s Yotsuya and Shitaya found averages of 3.6 and 4.5 respectively. A lateMeiji survey that excluded single-resident abodes, showed the average family in poor Tokyo regions with 3.9 members, in contrast to 4.2 for the city overall.82 One reason the poor families remained small was high mortality rates, with one scholar estimating that fewer than a third of poor children lived to adulthood.83 Another reason likely lay in the fact that, as Fabian Drixler has shown, most hinminkutsu residents had come from rural regions where a “culture of low fertility” – an “heir and a spare” philosophy – had kept family sizes low well into the mid-Meiji years.84 Whatever the reason, poor families remained small on average, across the entire period. Housing. Hinmin abodes took many forms, but they always were cramped. To the end of the 1800s, large numbers lived in the flophouses (kichin’yado) and tenement row houses (nagaya) that crowded urban slums. At the beginning of the 1890s, Matsubara found three to five families living together in a single room in many flophouses,

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with only screens to divide them. He described a night in a flophouse as “disgusting.” “Think about it,” he said: “. . . doing day labor with a will and a body like iron, . . . not getting your three meals a day, unable to buy the clothes you want, then paying three sen each night for this lodging.”85 The nagaya were only slightly better: whole families living in one room of three or four mats, with no kitchen, toilet or running water. Things improved as the years passed, and a few families began to have homes of their own. But as late as 1912, nearly three quarters of the hinmin in Tokyo’s Sumida river wards still lived in single-room rentals of six or fewer mats (about 108 square feet); not a single family in the Shitaya and Asakusa slums owned a house. A quarter of those in the kasō shakai had begun to share bathrooms with other families by then, and most had secured cooking facilities.86 If adequate personal space is a sign of modernity, Japan’s urban poor still had a long way to go. Food. Food consumed two thirds of the average hinmin family budget at the end of the Meiji era – and even so, meals were meager and boring. Many of Matsubara’s most vivid accounts dealt with filling the stomach. He describes rickshaw pullers gulping down cheap bowls of soba, rice balls, and the “horsemeat that is eaten especially by the lower classes.” He notes that on the rare occasion when there was a bit of money to waste, poor workers might visit a tavern to “have one drink, take one puff, eat a bit of vegetable, and leave.” And he devotes many pages to left-over food stores, where surplus rice, fish, and greens from military schools or rich families were sold cheaply to long lines of people whose “crowded scuffles presented a fantastic spectacle.” The household staple was rice of the “lowest quality,” with a third of the shop worker’s monthly budget – at least twice what was paid for rent – going to that. Other foods included miso, pickled vegetables, and shaved bonito flakes, which were “sold by the piece in the slums.” And there was alcohol, which Yokoyama said was an important part of the food consumption in three quarters of the kasō shakai homes. “These people may have become poor because of drinking,” he said, “or it may be that because they are poor, these slum dwellers seek solace in drink.”87 He failed to add that they may have drunk alcohol because that was what people did, regardless of class. Work patterns. Nearly everyone in the hinmin community worked for pay – and for very long hours. In 1886, Chōya Shinbun reported that when children in poor families reached age seven or eight “it was customary for boys to work for merchants in Tokyo and for girls to go

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to Gunma Prefecture to work at weaving. . . . It was rare for children above seven or eight to be at home.”88 Nor did the situation improve much over time. One study of Osaka’s Nago-chō estimated that more than 80 percent of females over age fifteen worked for pay, meaning that the vast majority of wives engaged in at least part-time work, even when their children were infants. At the end of the era, six of every seven Tokyo boys between the ages of fifteen and twenty were working to supplement the family’s expenses.89 And they worked long hours. A survey in 1910 showed the average hinmin household head working twenty-five or twenty-six days a month. Only three groups – ragpickers, day laborers, and construction workers – worked fewer than twenty-three days each month.90 And the days were long. Streetcar conductors had their workday cut to fifteen hours (from sixteen) late in 1903, prompting a commentator to complain that these key railway attendants were treated like “cows and horses.”91 Taiyō, hardly a bastion of social activism, likened shop employees to “birds in a cage” in its 1901 report that clerks typically worked sixteen-hour days, with time off forbidden for anything except calamities such as the death of a parent.92 How did the situation change over time?

The kasō shakai class, taken as a whole, was surprisingly dynamic, across time. Certain things remained constant across the late Meiji years: poverty itself continued, as it still does; the hinmin continued to be concentrated in certain geographical areas; life was still grippingly hard at era’s end for huge numbers of people; and jobs never stopped paying badly. But for many individuals and families, life was filled with change, usually slow and frequently for the better. While many people stayed in poverty, most saw life gradually (even if glacially) improve, as they used meager savings to secure better living quarters, then pushed their children into jobs at least minimally superior to their own. One of the stock themes of the day’s journalism was the poor child who, through hard work and filial behavior, got an education and moved “upward.” Sometimes that theme merely reflected middle-class fantasies and values, but it had a ring of truth for many. Kokumin’s Matsubara estimated that four of every five young men who came to the city saw life get better over time.93 And Nakagawa has found evidence that by the last Meiji decade a “new middle class” (shin chūkansō) had emerged in the hinminkutsu regions, typified by cohesive families with high levels of

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ambition and an expanding ability to spend more on non-essentials. While large numbers continued to fuel a “poor class” (kasō kaikyū), he argues, personal drive and the rising industrial economy produced increasing differentiation within hinmin society. Even factory workers, whose apartments still were tiny, were now paying rents by the month (rather than daily or weekly), putting in their own toilets, and installing tatami flooring.94 An unfortunate result of progress, he notes, was that by era’s end, “the city’s poorest classes (toshi kasō) no longer felt a sense of mutuality with industrial workers.”95 These economic improvements were accompanied (and spurred) by educational changes, as school increasingly became available to poor children. The grimness of the mid-Meiji situation had been captured by the governor of Osaka in 1894 when he said of poor children: “If we were to force them to attend school, their families simply could not make ends meet.” Even the inflated official statistics found more than half of Tokyo’s children unschooled early in that decade – meaning that a miniscule portion of hinmin were attending classes.96 In the early 1900s that changed significantly, however, thanks in part to the gradual elimination of school fees, in part to official efforts to get all children into the schools, and in part to the creation of some special schools for the poor.97 Most historians are skeptical about official claims that 97 percent of all children in the Tokyo were attending the six years of school that were required from 1907 on,98 but none doubt that there was progress. Nakagawa, for example, argues that even among the poorest families, three quarters of children were in school by the end of Meiji, and Richard Torrance’s painstaking work on popular reading in Osaka convinces him that “by the end of the Meiji period, . . . tens of thousands of men and women of working class backgrounds were forming the core of a mass readership.”99 Taken as a whole, the scholars’ portrait of the urban kasō shakai reveals hundreds of thousands of hinmin, living in tiny apartments, shanties, and flophouses in the slums and poverty pockets of Tokyo and Osaka. Their work, though most often physical in nature, was as varied as life itself, and many led colorful lives while others subsisted in gray obscurity. Although their poverty sprang from multitudinous causes, two precipitants stood out: the fact that so many had migrated, yen-less, to the city, where they had neither roots nor social networks, and the abysmally low wages they received. Life was framed for most poor families by desperately cramped living quarters (often shared with other families in the 1890s); subsistence-level diets heavy on low-grade

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rice and light on protein, vegetables, and alcohol; the impossibility of making do unless everyone, including the children, worked; and the weariness caused by twelve-to sixteen-hour workdays and twenty-five day work months. The grimness of this picture continued until well after the end of the Meiji period. It was not, however, a static or unidimensional situation. Hope, as we shall see, was surprisingly tenacious even in the poorest hinminkutsu, sustained by enough real improvements to make life bearable, on some days even pleasurable. One More Portrait: Ours

We have seen the two major views of the kasō shakai. The Meiji era’s popular writers fashioned a narrative that resonated with centuries-old stereotypes, giving us vivid, sometimes lurid descriptions of people mired in poverty caused either by fate or by their own personal failings. The later scholars described a more dynamic set of social and economic structures that held hundreds of thousands of urbanites in uninviting slum regions, providing an analysis that was less colorful but richer in nuance and less prone to judgments about character. This study will draw on the portraits of both groups, as well as on writings that they largely ignored, to render still another view: one that, while grounded in the social science data, focuses on the nuances and the human side of daily life. It will address the question of how the hinmin experienced the everyday: not just where they lived or what they ate but how they felt and how they coped. It will look at the many kinds of work that consumed their waking hours, at the assiduous efforts they put into staying healthy, at the challenges and tragedies that sent some of them to despair and suicide, and at the many ways in which they celebrated life and asserted their own agency. There will be no lengthy or explicit discussions of theory, even though the works of several highly theoretical writers have informed the study,100 because such discussions would run counter to the goal of understanding how the hinmin themselves experienced life. This study will attempt, in short, to see the world not as the officials and scholars understood it but as the hinmin felt and lived it. A few words, then, about methods and approach.

The first thing that needs to be emphasized is that this is a study of the urban poor, particularly in Tokyo and to a lesser degree in Osaka

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and other cities, between the 1880s and the mid-1910s, a period when writers were deeply concerned about the soaring shakai mondai. After an initial examination of the neighborhoods in which they lived, two chapters will describe the kinds of jobs they did, with one chapter on those who built, working particularly in factories and in construction, and another on those who served more directly, in everything from street performances to bath houses, from pulling rickshaws to providing sex. Then, the study will shift to the non-work hours, with a chapter on how hinmin families and individuals shaped their experiences into life, followed by a chapter on the harsh or darker sides of life – the crime, the illness, the fight with despondency – and another on the things that softened the impact of poverty: the assertion of agency and engagement in activism, as well as the festivals, street fairs, and holidays that demonstrated hinmin exuberance and spontaneity. The book will conclude with two chapters on the non-urban poor, designed to put the urban experience in comparative perspective.101 One of these chapters will provide an overview of the villages from which the urban immigrants came, with a focus on how rural poverty differed qualitatively from urban poverty. Another will look at Japanese workers who emigrated abroad, particularly more than 80,000 who left their villages to work in Hawai`i’s sugar plantations. While both of those groups shared much with their Tokyo and Osaka counterparts, their experiences also differed in ways that should help us understand more clearly what made the urban hinmin’s life unique. Certain themes will emerge repeatedly. The first, the grim nature of poverty, needs no further explication here. The second is resilience. Poverty was not the whole of the hinmin experience. When the British writer James Lasdun tried his hand at natural farming in the 1990s, he complained of humiliating bosses and back-breaking work, but then added: “The strange thing, though, was that later I felt only satisfaction with the way I had spent my day, mindless and monotonous as it had been.” He said his pay seemed “more honest . . . than any other pay I had ever earned.”102 Sentimentality aside, he was onto something that shows up often in hinmin stories: a balancing of hardship with a determination to make life meaningful and satisfying, which made most days more complex, more varied, and more complete than the popular writers realized. Even in the depressing world of the flophouses, people formed communities where they cooked together, reared children together, and laughed, “helping each other in times of affliction and rejoicing together in times of joy.”103 Even the poorest of families

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strategized and dreamed of better times when external circumstances suggested only darkness. Hardship may have appeared dominant to the onlooker; it blighted the lives of hinmin much of the time. But for most slum dwellers, the world was more complex than that. Difficulty and determination balanced each other; resilience was a central ingredient in the hinmin life recipe. Agency provides a third theme. Simon Partner, a historian of Japan’s rural communities, has questioned the impact of elite efforts to impose new social norms on commoners early in the 1900s. “I am left with many doubts,” he says. “Can desire in fact be manufactured? Are ordinary people really so lacking in agency and initiative?”104 The hinmin materials suggest that they were not. Scholars and activists too often have dismissed Japan’s hinmin as a “lumpenproletariat,” what even Karl Marx called “social scum” with little sense of agency and limited revolutionary potential. This study will argue that they were wrong in at least two respects. In the non-political sphere, it will highlight endless expressions of conscious selfhood and agency: in the decision of young men to move to the city, in the widespread refusal of hinmin to accept what Irokawa Daikichi calls establishment’s new “conventional morality,”105 in housewives who swallowed their embarrassment and did evening sex work when they saw no other way to avoid starvation. Even in the political arena, there will be accounts of activism and agency. Matsubara argued that rickshaw pullers never would engage in organized activism, but he was wrong about that too. By the early 1900s, the pullers and thousands of their hinmin peers were taking to the streets in a string of popular protests that kept streetcar fares affordable and toppled cabinets. The poor took charge of their own lives with as much initiative as their peers in the middle classes. They may have had fewer resources to help them get what they wanted, but that did not prevent their active engagement in every phase of life, both private and public. The most unexpected theme probably is joy. Neither “joy” nor its synonyms appear much in standard portraits of the urban poor. Like the nineteenth-century British explorers who wrote about “bacchanalian orgies” by women “of the lowest class” when they saw handclapping Trinidadians dancing at a Christmas mass,106 Japan’s popular writers saw expressions of hinmin pleasure through the lens of classdriven condescension: slum dwellers might seek relief in alcohol or sex, but they were too poor, too burdened by misfortune to know real joy. A serious look at the records, however, suggests that a different set of lenses might have revealed something else. Matsubara’s overriding nar-

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rative line is one of misery, but when he sees a group of hinmin outside a left-over food shop, holding “their bamboo baskets, or their little buckets, or their miso strainers, and squatting on the ground, . . . or sitting down, or standing for several hours” to chat – “to hold a salon (danwakai),” as it were, he cannot help but exclaim, “What rich conversation material they had!”107 It is an energized scene that suggests anything but dull depression. Similarly, when the newspaper Niroku Shinpō said in the spring of 1901 that it would sponsor a workers’ friendship rally (konshinkai) for “the poor,” more than 20,000 people showed up for a day of dancing, music, comedy, and labor speeches, despite a government edict limiting the crowd to 5,000.108 This was not an isolated happening. Celebrations did not make poverty noble; nor did they remove its grimness. But they made it clear that joyous festivities were more than mere distractions. They were central to hinmin life. The Influences Behind this Study

My efforts to understand slum life as the hinmin themselves experienced it often have been exhilarating; they also have pushed me beyond my comfort zone. Many days have left me feeling like Shimazaki after an evening of eating stew in a farmer’s home in the early 1900s: “I still have the feeling that I really cannot see things their way.”109 Seeing things “their way” has remained my goal, nonetheless. When the effort has seemed daunting, four voices have been particularly important in providing models and approaches for my work. The first is Edward Fowler, whose study of Tokyo’s late-twentieth century day laborers in San’ya Blues is a model when it comes to giving voice to a population that, in an earlier era, would have numbered among the kasō shakai. Fowler immersed himself in the day laborers’ world: living with them, drinking and eating with them, working alongside them. As he wrote: “It should be remembered that there is far more to life in the San’ya doyagai [lodging-house district] than that seen on the streets.” He said one had to go into the living quarters and the bars and shops, and to go there at all times of the day and night, if one were “to grasp its economic raison d’être and the vital and mutually dependent relationship between marginal and mainstream society.”110 Although his specific methodology is unavailable to me, it is that kind of immersion, at least in the sources, to which I have aspired. I also have been influenced by Yale University’s James C. Scott, who has labored determinedly to see the rural populations of Southeast Asia through fresh eyes. In Domina-

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tion and the Arts of Resistance, Scott argues that peasants consciously construct double discourses: a public transcript and a hidden transcript, with the former employed in interchanges with those in power and the latter used when officials and power-holders are not around. He postulates that “the greater the disparity in power between dominant and subordinate and the more arbitrarily it is exercised, the more the public transcript of subordinates will take on a stereotyped, ritualistic cast. In other words, the more menacing the power, the thicker the mask.” He adds that the public transcript tends to follow “in close conformity with how the dominant group would wish to have things appear.” Thus, the Ethiopian axiom: “When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.”111 Scott’s focus is more explicitly political than mine, but his insistence on reading against the grain, on ferreting out the more nuanced, often cunning, meanings of statements and actions, is crucial to my study. A third guiding spirit is Freire, who, like Scott, wrote primarily from a political stance in his classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed, describing class as “an important factor in our understanding of multiple forms of oppression.” Although his discussions of politics and class struggle are important, my greater interest lies in his emphasis on the humanity and subjectivity of the poor among whom he worked, the people he called “the oppressed.” The members of that class, he insists, have been systematically subjected to a “culture of silence,” in contradiction of “man’s ontological vocation,” which is “to be a Subject who acts up and transforms his world.” If the poor refuse to be subjected, he says, the dominant culture labels them “‘inferior,’ because they are ‘ingrates,’ ‘shiftless,’ ‘diseased,’ or of ‘mixed blood.’”112 It is this silencing, this dehumanization, that Freire rejects most forcefully. Like Scott, he demands that the poor be seen as fully human, labeling “the problem of humanization . . . humankind’s central problem” and calling for the poor to see themselves not as failures in a normative system, but as creators and masters of a new world that enshrines humanity and compassion as its chief values. Freire ends the preface to his work with the declaration: “From these pages, I hope at least the following will endure: my trust in the people, and my faith in men and women, and in the creation of a world in which it will be easier to love.”113 The important feature of this argument, for this study, is his assertion that the “oppressed” – by extension, the hinmin – must be understood as fully bodied human beings, worthy of as much respect as Yokoyama’s “people with names.” I disagree with Freire when he describes the poor as

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“unauthentic” when they allow the system to curb and restrict them;114 that label reflects too political an understanding of authenticity. As this work will show, the great majority of the Meiji found ways to experience wholeness and authenticity, whether they engaged in politics or not. They found ways to live as full human beings within an unsympathetic system. They were – using Freire’s words – “not ‘marginal’” and “not people living ‘outside’ society,”115 but full-bodied humans, as diverse and vibrant as any others. My fourth inspiration is one of the nameless people: someone whose insight arose, for me, when I visited the Elmina slave “castle” in Ghana in 2011. The place is a fortress, a whitewashed structure on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which served for two centuries as a depot for holding and shipping off Africans to slavery in Europe and the Americas. On the second floor, the officials – first Portuguese, then Dutch – occupied breezy quarters with a sweeping view of the ocean beyond, and a grim view of sweating, imprisoned Africans in the courtyard below. Often, the downward look was to choose, by whim, a woman or girl with whom to sleep that night or someone else, still by whim, to send to the dungeon. Nearly everyone in the courtyard eventually would pass through the “Door of No Return” to begin the Atlantic Passage. Nearing the end of my visit, my own view was upward, onto the walls of a room where artifacts were displayed. The epigram that heads this introduction, written by an anonymous inmate, caught my eye: “Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be a hero.” Its relevance to this study needs no discussion. One final issue has dogged me throughout this study: What right do I have, as a middle-class white American more than a century removed from the late-Meiji world, to try to explain how the kasō shakai experienced daily life? What right, in other words, do I have to do this study? By many standards, I have little. At the same time, it could be argued that no one has more right than I do. So I have pushed ahead, and I need to explain why. One explanation lies in the simple fact that the topic compels me. Having spent most of my career studying the Meiji press, I have found myself pulled increasingly to the commoners who are, in my view, the soul of Japanese genius. In every generation, Japan’s governments have been criticized for being ineffective and inefficient,116 but the country’s energy rarely has lagged. Why? I suspect that one source of that energy lies in the way ordinary Japanese approach life. Studying the kasō shakai seemed one way to test that suspicion. A second reason lies

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in the paucity of historical work on the hinmin, particularly on the way they experienced life. The situation has improved only marginally in the last two generations. Even in an era when social history encourages studies of excluded groups, when the quotidian has become a mainstream topic, studies of “ordinary” people still focus heavily on middleclass and elite issues and writings: how people related to social and political systems, what the intellectuals and officials had to say about the commoners, what impact those commoners had on mainstream society. Understanding the lives of commoners as important in and of themselves, for their inherent worth, continues to be slighted – and thus draws me. Finally, while I have spent my adult life as a middle class journalist (briefly) and academic, I began it as a peasant – a fact that has both pulled me toward this study and influenced my interpretations. There is no question: the way I view society springs in profound ways from the rural, American, kasō shakai milieu in which I was reared. Born seven weeks before Pearl Harbor on a northern Indiana farm at the edge of a village of 206 people, with parents who spent sixteen-hour days teaching and farming in order to clothe us and put food on the table, I admit to a lifelong sympathy for poor outsiders and a chip on my shoulder toward what we called “rich snobbishness.” We owned our farm, but when I began elementary school, we had no indoor bathroom. Nor did we have central heating until I was nearly finished with high school. If we left a glass of water out on winter nights, it froze. We never were destitute; indeed, we were no poorer than our peers. Education was central in our family, and we had solid social networks, of the kind that characterized rural Japan. Nonetheless, we were poor farmers. That fact has had an important impact on my understanding of the kasō shakai, particularly on my view of the “salient characteristics” listed above. When I hear the word poverty, for example, I remember carrying 800 chickens out of our chicken house on a blazing, 100-degree Sunday afternoon, all of them dead from heat suffocation because we could not afford a cooling system. I remember resentments toward certain “rich city cousins” whose visits left me feeling patronized. And I remember cringing when Dad told us at supper one night that he had cried in front of the elevator owner who had come to demand payment for bills that we did not have the money to pay. Dad was as gentle and strong a man as I ever knew; the idea of his crying shook me; that the “elevator man” might have been having trouble paying his own bills never entered my mind. Our “poverty” was never bad enough to make

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us go hungry; it did not make me feel less human; nor did it take away my pride. But it acquainted me with anxiety over where life’s basics would come from, and it left me touchy about the pretentiousness of people who had more means than we did. Even more than that, those early years showed me that being poor should not be equated with an absence of those other three summary characteristics: resiliency, agency, and joy. Forced to be resilient, I must admit to finding a sometimes perverse satisfaction in knowing that we could make do without many resources. Having no bathroom, we would bring a chicken cleaning tub into the living room every Saturday night, which made the weekly bath both more communal and more fun. When I had to go to a band contest with my hands emitting the inerasable odors of a morning spent castrating pigs, I was embarrassed but I also remember the faintly conspiratorial, even smug, satisfaction of knowing that smelly residues made me no less proficient a trombonist than “those city kids” who might patronize me. When the poultry house burned to the ground with its 13,000 chickens on a wildly windy winter night, I never doubted that Dad would find new ways, no matter how hard, to put food on the table. Resilience was a fact, not a choice. Knowing that has affected the way I understand the Meiji hinmin. Agency? We would have chuckled at the “highfalutin word,” then laughed at any suggestion that we lacked it. We never had any question about being in control of our destinies, even when we complained that a lack of money would make it harder for us to get ahead. Had outsiders called me a victim, I would have been puzzled. Partly, this was because, like my peers, I was steeped in American shibboleths about equality and freedom; mostly it was because of the behaviors I saw around me each day. When Ira stood on a desk and challenged the second grade teacher, he may have been disruptive – but he was asserting agency. When several of us fourth graders produced our own roughhewn plays for the second and third graders, we were taking initiative. When Dad decided to quit teaching one year and gambled everything on spending life solely as a farmer, that spoke to me of being in charge of one’s own destiny, and when he went back to teaching after a year of farm disasters, that seemed like an agent making the best of what life meted out. If agency meant making “free” choices within the limits of the structures that enfolded us, those who peopled my world were agents. Knowing that would make me forever skeptical of people who question the selfhood and agency of poor people anywhere.

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So too with joy, which was only slightly affected by being poor. I may have hated the hard work and economic challenges: the spooky midnight walks to the outhouse, putting groceries “on the bill” because there was no cash to pay, having no kitchen table in my early years, going to bed in my freezing room. But those things had nothing to do with life’s pleasures. Church life provided one source of joy, a joy not all that different qualitatively from the temple festivals in Meiji Japan. There were potlucks; there were youth parties; there were teenage trysts after Wednesday night prayer meetings; there was Bible quiz competition. School provided a similar range of sociable gatherings: basketball games, vegetable judging trips, junior and senior plays. So did family times – everything from listening to the state basketball tournament on a radio in the barnyard (no reception in the house) to swimming at a nearby lake. An outsider might have looked at us freezing in winter and sweating in summer, at our tears over bills we could not pay, at the failed crops and dying animals, and pronounced our lives harsh. And they would have been right. But I knew as a child, and I know now, that the judgment would have been simplistic. Life’s hardships were simply the dark shadows in a life that, taken as a whole, was joyful. It is this knowledge that forces itself into my consciousness whenever I start to take difficulties as the whole of the hinmin picture. This is not meant to equate life in mid-twentieth century rural Indiana with that of the kasō shakai in late-Meiji Osaka and Tokyo. It is meant, rather, to explain that growing up poor has influenced the way I read and interpret materials. It has given me, perhaps, an access to certain features of the kasō shakai experience that otherwise might be unavailable to me. The farm years have made me skeptical of observers who see the poor only through economic, political, or class lenses. Above all, they have left me convinced that every part of hinmin life is important and worthy of study, in all of its variety and complexity.

Source: Education About Asia, Vol. 23, No. 2, Fall 2018, pp. 25–30. Reprinted with permission of the Association for Asian Studies, Inc., www.asian-studies.org/EAA.

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Poverty in Late Meiji Japan: It Mattered Where You Lived ™

We know only a few things about the coal collector who eked out an existence in Osaka’s slum neighborhoods early in the 1900s. He had a twenty-four-year-old wife, a three-year-old son, and wages of twelve or thirteen yen a month – about half of what a railway conductor made, and a third as much as an ironworker. We know too that these wages barely covered food, housing, and rented bedding, leaving the family dependent for everything else on the two yen his wife took each month making straw sandals.1 The government records tell us nothing about the man’s name, his social life, nor how he survived on so little. They do, however, provide one additional scrap of information, and it is important. He was a migrant to the city: born on a farm on Japan’s Kii Peninsula, then taken to Osaka after his mother died in the 1880s. The importance of that additional fact lies in the evidence it presents of something that became increasingly obvious to me across the last dozen years, as I pored over material on the daily lives of hinmin or poor people during the last half of Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912). Setting out on the study, I thought of poverty simply as poverty. Impoverished people were poor; they had trouble putting food on the table; life was cruel. As I read the accounts of journalists, statisticians, and poor people themselves, however, I discovered something I should have known: poverty is as nuanced and variegated as the people who experience it, and one of the biggest factors in determining its nuances was whether people lived in the city or in the village. 240

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Before looking at the differences between urban and rural hardship in the late Meiji years, it is essential to note two or three general features of poverty then. The first was that being poor was not unusual. Scholars have determined that as many as sixty percent of all Japanese – more than 25 million people – were poor in the late 1800s and that one of every six or seven city-dwellers was desperately poor.2 The second feature – illustrated by our young coal collector’s move to Osaka – was that the general understanding of poverty then was different from what it had been in the late Tokugawa years, mainly because of the way in which Japan was modernizing. Although economic hardship was widespread in the Tokugawa period (1600–1868), the country was still preindustrial and, in the public view, poverty was primarily rural, a result of farmers’ unfortunate personal choices or of fate. Even when commercial farming spread across the country in the late Tokugawa years, spawning proto-industrial businesses such as a network of Hokkaido enterprises that marketed herring meal fertilizer, the general understanding of poverty changed only marginally, because there were no capitalist industries to fundamentally alter the urban/rural balance.3 But two things changed that in the early Meiji years. First, the government’s pro-industry policies spawned factories in the cities. Second, a deflation-induced national depression swept Japan’s rural regions like a typhoon in the 1880s, causing hundreds of thousands of farmers to lose their land and prompting food-starved villagers to send their children to the cities for work, just as the coal collector’s family did. The result was a massive domestic migration from farms to cities and an explosion of urban populations, with Tokyo nearly tripling in size by the early 1900s, Osaka and Kyoto nearly doubling. In the cities, these newcomers settled in ugly, crowded areas that journalists labeled “caverns of the poor” (hinminkutsu, usually translated as slums) and commentators began worrying about an urban “social problem” (shakai mondai). As a result, hinkon or poverty came to be seen more and more as an urban phenomenon: one of “the social consequences of industrial development.”4 A third general feature that bears note before the essay takes up the differences between urban and rural poverty is that poor people everywhere shared many things, including that most obvious universal: an often-desperate lack of money. In villages and cities alike, poor people had only enough means to put skimpy food on the table even in the best of times; they had to take out loans (usually at exorbitant rates) or pawn clothing in harder periods. Regarding city dwellers generally, the

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pioneering poverty journalist Matsubara Iwagorō (1866–1935) wrote in the 1890s that the most important lesson in the “college of the poor” (hindaigaku) was “how to make do for so many on so little.” Poverty, he observed, “keeps a terrible school; one must graduate with honors from it or die.”5 About impoverished villagers, the novelist-farmer Nagatsuka Takashi (1879–1915) said it was common for food to become so scarce in winter that the residents “ate anything, however unsavory it looked or smelled, just to fill the gaping void they felt inside them.”6 Impoverished people everywhere also shared the characteristic of working harder than most other people. Middle class pundits sneered that the poor “will work no more than they absolutely must” or that most poor people “do not work because they are lazy,”7 but evidence argued otherwise. Take working hours. A 1903 government survey of factory workers found twelve-hour shifts to be the norm, while a 1904 study of varied occupations showed that most hinmin had tenor twelve-hour days (train conductors worked sixteen-hour days!), and they worked six days a week.8 Employers also required overtime work frequently, usually without higher pay. Nothing provided more dramatic evidence of how hard they worked than the fact that everyone in the slum family, including children as young as ten, had to work for pay if the family was to survive. Wives did piecework at home or, in more cases than officials acknowledged, sex work in the evening; boys served as shop assistants; daughters toiled in textile factories or waited tables. And the pattern repeated itself in every poor village household. While the winter months provided some respite, the other seasons found everyone in the fields from early morning until nightfall. Harvest time was worst; as one Hiroshima native recalled: “Usually we worked until twelve o-clock, one o-clock, or two o-clock in the morning. By the time we went to take a bath, the water would be cold . . . We’d have to start again early in the morning.”9 And women worked even harder than men, spending hours in the fields each day in addition to rearing children, tending house, cooking, and engaging in side jobs to earn additional money. Mothers carried infants on their backs as they weeded rice fields. The hard work and inadequate income also rendered both village and urban poor vulnerable to crises. Tired and under nourished bodies were prone to illness, and when sickness came, the hinmin lacked resources to fight it off. In the villages, a lack of educated doctors was a problem, while in the cities, slum-dwellers were treated as dispensable when epidemics hit. If the problem was cholera, officials regularly

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sent the poor to quarantine hospitals, popularly called “dump sites,” where they were left to die, and impoverished workers who contracted tuberculosis often were fired so that they would not infect other laborers. Stories abounded of fired laborers who had no choice but to return to the village, where they infected relatives and friends; one returnee reportedly caused the deaths of thirty people in a single village of 200. According to a popular saying: “The rich recover from tuberculosis but the poor do not.”10 So too with natural disasters. Slums were located in lowlands especially vulnerable to flooding and the shabby housing there was prone to fires, while poor villagers lacked buffers against the ravages of droughts and floods. And the vulnerability was intensified by the discrimination that hinmin everywhere suffered. Hearing themselves described constantly as ignorant rustics, or as “exceedingly deficient in their intellectual faculties,” poor people found it hard not to internalize the condescension. Among those who suffered most from this kind of dehumanization were the burakumin or outcastes who for centuries had had to live in segregated enclaves, doing “impure” work such as leather tanning and butchering. The outcaste category was officially eliminated early in the Meiji era, but in cities and countryside alike, former burakumin had no option but to continue living in their own villages or neighborhoods, where they were despised even by other hinmin, often called “dog eaters” or “savages.”11 That such discrimination affected people’s self-images and ate away at their spiritual resilience is indisputable. Late Meiji newspapers ran endless accounts of people pushed over the precipice by their economic and spiritual vulnerability – like the 42-yearold musician Miyata Genjirō who set himself afire in 1900 after rising prices and illness made life unbearable. The story’s caption: “Pressed by poverty, he set his body on fire.”12 A final thing that nearly all poor people shared was somewhat counterintuitive. Wherever one looks, in fishing villages or Osaka rowhouses, the poor attacked life with gusto and ambition. Their public image may have been of downtrodden masses, people who “do not know the joys (kōfuku) of the world,”13 but anyone who actually looked found hinmin throwing themselves into life with as much energy as affluent peers did. Village accounts were full of cheap noodle places where, in the words of school teacher Shimazaki Tōson (1872–1943), “the lowliest laborers, the teamsters, and the poor farmers round about come to have their saké warmed,”14 of families intermingling with rich neighbors at shrine festivals, and of housewives laughing heartily at bawdy jokes.

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Life was hard, not dull. So too in the city. Hinmin neighborhoods were a cacophony of street life, markets, festival goers, and entertainment quarters, with the slum-dwellers participating as actively as anyone – putting away their “oil-stained clothes” of the shop to “stroll through the park in top hat and frockcoat on Sundays.”15 They were politically active too. They read newspapers in surprisingly high numbers, and they made up the majority of the huge throngs who took to the streets during the last Meiji decade to protest government corruption and rising streetcar fares. Despite all of the things impoverished people shared, however, the evidence makes it clear that poverty did not treat urbanites and villagers alike. The late Meiji accounts reveal striking differences between the way farmers and city dwellers actually experienced hardship, not because they were inherently different kinds of people (indeed, they often were the same people, merely transplanted) but because systemic and demographic conditions rendered the daily experience of impoverishment in the city distinct from what it was in the village. For one thing, urbanites and villagers did different kinds of work. While rural life supported an array of occupations, the vast majority of people farmed or fished, usually working together as they did it. They cooperated in mending nets, in filling rice paddies with water, in sorting silkworms, in haggling for better rice prices. In the cities, by contrast, modernity created a breathtaking panoply of job types, many of them new in the modern era and just as many of them individualistic in nature. An official list of city jobs in 1898 included no fewer than 358 categories.16 The better known included factory workers, entertainers, craftsmen, construction workers, and rickshaw pullers (shafu). But the variety was spectacular: night soil collectors, rag pickers, wig makers, day laborers, restaurant waiters, cigarette rollers. The tens of thousands of rickshaw pullers, whose clickety clack sounds ricocheted off city streets, sometimes were called the quintessential representatives of modern urban work, not just because they were ever-present but because their jobs were so individualistic, taking them down unknown streets and fostering a rules-be-damned approach to life that would have been anathema in the village. Diversity and individualism showed up even within single households – like the one described in a 1901 issue of the journal Taiyō, where the father was an errand man (kozukai) in Tokyo’s commercial district, the fifteen-year-old son a print shop assistant, the thirteen-year-old daughter a factory girl, and the mother a home-based pieceworker.17 Diverse jobs took family members to dif-

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ferent locales each day, rendering impossible the solidarity of village households. A second difference lay in people’s lodging places. The urban hinmin lived either in one-or two-room rowhouse (nagaya) apartments, usually with less than 100 square feet for a family of three to five; the very poorest stayed in flea-infested flophouses called kichin’yado. Even at era’s end, in 1912, three quarters of Tokyo’s poor families lived in single-room apartments.18 And their housing stock was grim: flimsy, flammable wooden structures, poorly maintained by unregulated landlords, with the alley behind for washing or cooking. The novelist Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916) described hinmin dwellings, which multiplied “like fleas in the rainy season,” as “monuments to this version of survival-of-the fittest, in which bottom-feeling capitalists” got rich on “jerry-built housing.”19 In the countryside, by contrast, while tumbledown huts were not unknown, even poor peasants typically had comparatively spacious homes with at least four rooms, including a kitchen, a living room, and two bedrooms. The shoji paper on the petitions dividing rooms might be dirty and holey, and the main quarters likely were dark and smoky from a lack of windows or chimneys, with outdoor toilet smells mingling with the aromas of flowers and trees. Animals often occupied their own quarters at the front of the house, striking Tōson with “the way in which the lives of human beings and of cattle are all blended together.”20 But spacious rural settings allowed even the poorest families to live in houses big enough to haunt the memories of their cousins in the slums. And those landscapes pointed to a third difference: the impact of nature on the way people experienced hardship. Nature could be cruel in both city and village. Floods, for example, hit hard everywhere, with the great flood of 1910 destroying more than 150,000 buildings in Tokyo’s poorest neighborhoods, while an 1889 flood in the Nara prefectural village of Totsukawa wiped out a third of the homes and forced 2,500 residents to migrate to Hokkaido. Nonetheless, nature generally affected city dwellers and farmers differently, shaping village life with an intensity unknown in Osaka and Tokyo. If the skies withheld their rains or let too much fall, farmers suffered crop failures, while urbanites merely complained about inconvenience. When winter went on too long, poor farmers’ stocks of buried potatoes and apples gave out and hunger threatened, with a ferocity rarely known in the city. In the worst of times, like the Tōhoku famine of 1905, large numbers of farm families (280,000 in Miyagi Prefecture alone) starved or were left destitute.

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At the same time, nature provided succor and sustenance in the countryside in a way that was denied to city dwellers. During spring, summer, and autumn, even the poorest farmers could eat wild fruits and mountain plants or fish that swam in their rivers. In all but the coldest times, rural children had natural places to play and swim. Even when hunger struck – when, to quote the ancient Man’yōshū poet, “in the cauldron, a spider spins its web, with not a grain to cook,” – natural settings provided spiritual buffers. As the destitute protagonist Seizō lay dying in the novel Country Teacher by Tayama Katai (1872–1930), he still could write in his journal about how “at night unknown insects would sing their noisy songs, as the frogs also did,” while naming fifty odd flowers that he observed in the fields around him. Even when pantries became bare in winter, the white vistas gave shivering teacher Tōson an “almost piercing sense of joy.”21 Nature never made poverty easy, but it moderated its pangs. A fourth variant that affected the feel of poverty lay in the quality of rural and urban human interactions. It can be argued that nothing made economic hardship harder to bear in the slums than the absence of the hamlet’s womb-like community life. Villages were ancient organisms, bound together by customs and connections nurtured across generations. Rice was planted communally; water was shared; abalone divers along the Inland Sea swam together, breast-fed their babies together, and chatted like members of a family.22 Like their city cousins, villagers flocked to the temples and shrines for festival merrymaking, but unlike those cousins, they knew the other revelers personally. The norms that governed villages were confining and sexist, dictating who could bathe where and when, what one should wear, which sex practices were acceptable for boys and which for girls. If one defied the rules, punishment was harsh; individualism was forbidden. But the shared traditions and communal interactions made the village a place of succor when trouble came. Poor farmers without their own baths usually used the ofuro of a richer villager. If a family lacked implements to till its own fields, it was common for neighbors to prepare the land for them – probably at night, so the family would not be embarrassed. Hardship bore less of a stigma in the village, because it was so widely shared. The urban setting, by contrast, lacked human networks. Although some slums began to develop a sense of internal community near the end of Meiji, during the high growth period under discussion here most people felt disconnected from any larger whole. Single men dominated in the hinminkutsu of the 1890s, and it was not unusual

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for apartments to be inhabited by half a dozen people who had not known each other before. Because official regulations were a threat or a nuisance, urban migrants tended to flout legal requirements for registration or education, and the social isolation meant that mothers had no one to care for their children when they had to work. When urban hinmin fell sick, they had neither competent doctors nor public assistance to turn to. Indeed, the late Meiji government provided virtually no aid of any kind for the poor, except in times of some great disaster. One study found that between 1895 and 1910, an average of just 128 people a year received any official assistance in Tokyo.23 The sense of human isolation tore at the heart of the journalist Yokoyama Gennosuke (1871–1915) when he saw a klatch of teenage girls outside a factory at New Year, talking about how they missed their families; he pronounced them “pathetic.”24 Poverty made life difficult no matter where one lived, but the absence of community in the city often turned difficulty into desolation. Closely tied to the difference in human networks was a fifth contrast: the possibility of escape routes in the rural areas. While most slum-dwellers hoped for gradual improvement over the years, short term escape was beyond imagination; even the idea of returning to the village was closed off except in the most extreme situations. In the countryside, however, geographical options were a real possibility for most families: sending “extra” children to factories or brothels, or pushing them into the great migration to the cities. The most widely discussed escape route in southern and western Japan was by sea, to the plantations and mines of South America and Hawaii. Hawaii’s sugar plantation owners, in particular, began aggressively seeking Japanese workers in the 1880s, and by the end of the Meiji era, more than 80,000 people had moved from Japanese farms to the mid-Pacific islands, where they soon would make up forty percent of the population – and from where they would send millions of yen in remittances back to their home villages. As one emigre explained when poverty made life impossible on his Yamaguchi farm, “I had been born poor, and there was nothing I could do about that”; so he embraced the option of many peers and sailed to Hawaii. City hinimin, unfortunately, had no similar choices, partially because of the transportation costs of going abroad but mostly because officials refused to allow the recruitment of urbanites for foreign farm work.25 A final difference lay in educational opportunity. The onrush of modernity made education a priority for the early Meiji leaders, and in 1872 Japan adopted the world’s first universal compulsory education

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system, requiring that boys and girls receive four years of school. Later, the requirement was increased to six years. The financing of a national system was difficult, but the results were impressive, and by the early 1900s, close to ninety percent of Japanese could read.26 Unfortunately, many of those who remained illiterate were urban hinmin. Although many farmers initially resisted a mandate that took their children out of the fields, they gradually grew used to it and by the 1890s, most village children went to school. In the cities, by contrast, schools remained unavailable to vast numbers of hinmin children, no matter how much their parents valued education. Poverty dictated that children had to bring in income if the family were to survive. And that left no time for school. The few reformers who fought to change things were opposed by industrialists who wanted a cheap labor pool and by colluding officials who exempted the poor from compulsory education regulations, with the result that urban illiteracy remained high until the last Meiji years. Observed the reporter Harada Tōfū: “The poor as a whole never have an education.”27 Another reporter commented in 1902 on the psychological toll this difficulty took on rickshaw pullers who “shed tears” because they had to keep “the children they loved” out of school “due to the difficulty of making a living.”28 Hinminkutsu parents were more aware than their rural relatives of how much modern children needed education – and that fact made poverty’s burden harder still. The economic historian Nakagawa Kiyoshi argues that late Meiji villagers had “no sense of hinkon (poverty). You could be cold or hungry, but it was not conceptualized as poverty, only as a lack.” In the city, by contrast, hinmin were intensely aware of how poverty set them apart from other urbanites.29 Location, in other words, made economic deprivation feel different. In both village and city, impoverished families shared a special vulnerability to oppressive forces and a determination to make life better; they also shared a willingness to work harder than many of their more affluent peers. But the differences in the way they understood life were significant. The variety of jobs framed impoverishment for them differently. Slum-dwellers perspired (or shivered) at night in cramped alley-side shacks, while villagers confronted their troubles in relatively spacious homes. Nature provided lush environments in the village that softened (at least sometimes) the pain of having too little, while the tradition-bound, communal nature of rural life provided supports that largely were absent among urban strangers. And, somewhat surprisingly, schools opened new vistas for village children even as they heightened the sense of exclusion for urban families.

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All of this meant that while poverty was cruel and unforgiving everywhere, while it too often pushed villagers and city dwellers alike over the precipice of destitution, it tended to feel even harsher in the late Meiji slums than it did in the countryside. That was a major reason it was the urban journalists who began, in the 1890s, to take up what was then a relatively new concept: “hinkon.”

Source: The Japan Interpreter, Vol. 9, No. 4, Spring 1975, pp. 505–515.

17

The Idioms of Contemporary Japan XI: Kinmyaku-Jinmyaku ™

Kinmyaku 㔠⬦ Jinmyaku ே⬦

Language is alive and changing, especially in Japan. New words appear; unnecessary ones die; some phrases flourish briefly, vanish, and reappear after years or decades, with fresh vigor and a different nuance. But the language as a whole is always thriving – growing, stretching, yet remaining the same at heart. So, too, with Japan’s political traditions. Democracy may languish or luxuriate. Surface styles may be as evanescent as fashion fads. But somehow the thing itself, the essential nature of Japan’s political life, seems to always remain constant. Seldom does evidence to support these two facts converge more clearly than it did late last year when the words kinmyaku and jinmyaku came into popular use in connection with the political style of Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei. Taken literally, kinmyaku means “gold deposit” or “money vein,” while jinmyaku, though not found in most dictionaries, means “human vein.” Translated into everyday English, the two words sometimes appear in print as financial-human “webs,” “connections,” “relationships,” or sometimes simply as Tanaka’s “money and men.” No brief translation, however, can be quite adequate, for the two words refer to the entire subsurface network of human and financial affairs that give life and vigor to the body of Japanese politics. Myaku, the second half of both of these words, means vein, or, in more limited usage, blood vessel, while kin connotes money or gold and jin means people. 250

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Just as blood circulates through a profusion of vessels too numerous and intricate to trace, so money and acts of human endearment (or enslavement) flow from agent to agent, group to group and man to man in the behind-the-scenes world of Japanese politics. At least that is what the phrase-coiners seem to have in mind. As blood vessels support the stuff of life, so traditional politics depends on kinmyaku and jinmyaku for its very existence. As veins carry blood both to and from the heart, so political favors and fortunes, debts and duties benefit both giver and receiver. As blood vessels become an object of concern only when they rupture, cease to function properly, or when a clinician begins dissecting the human body, so too with kinmyaku and jinmyaku. Only when the networks fail to perform as expected, when they perform overmuch, or when a nasty press does some dissecting, does the general public really give them more than passing notice. And just as blood supports the lives of both good and evil, so do the kinmyaku-jinmyaku networks – though one doubts that the proportion is quite the same in both cases. (I have never, for example, heard men curse properly functioning blood vessels, but I have often heard them decry highly efficient political networks.) The similarities between the human and political circulatory systems are, in other words, both timehonored and extremely numerous. So why all the fuss this past autumn? Mainly, the cynic would say, because the kinmyaku and jinmyaku of the political world grew too healthy under the force-feeding imposed by Japan’s first postwar shomin saishō (man-on-the-street prime minister). And in a year when the general economy had grown unhealthy, when the rest of Japan’s shomin and shōnin (shopkeepers) were finding their personal financial flow watered down by the onrush of inflation, such blatant robustness in the political world grew oppressive and unacceptable. Businessmen were coerced by Tanaka and his fellows to direct more money than usual into the Liberal Democratic party; LDP politicians and businessmen alike resented the inadequate returns their money brought in the July 1974 elections; a normally docile press began to dissect (though quite delicately) Japan’s political and financial circulatory system; the public began to cry foul. Evidence of a surplus of money and favors flowing through the kinmyaku-jinmyaku network finally destroyed the Tanaka regime at the beginning of December. Before discussing that episode, however, it should be pointed out that the use of kinmyaku and jinmyaku (the emphasis is usually on kinmyaku, though one can hardly imagine separating the two words)

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is not unique to Japan; it reflects the universality of human nature much more than the particularity of Japanese tradition. It is difficult, for example, to study the history of East Asia in general without coming face-to-face with innumerable kinmyaku-jinmyaku practices in nineteenth-century China. Official ranks were purchased, examinations were passed by means other than mental acumen, dikes were left unrepaired so that human benefactors and relatives could be paid off. Nor did corruption cease with the coming of the Republic in 1912. In other parts of the world, we have been constantly amazed at the wealth so “innocently” and quietly amassed by Caribbean rulers, such as Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Even the United States, that supposed bastion of democratic idealism, has experienced an occasional flap, such as the recent Nixon ruckus, known in Japan as uōtāgēto (Watergate), though it should be fairly noted that corruption in America, once discovered, is (of course!) quickly rooted out – a fact illustrated by the April reelection of Chicago’s longtime “boss,” Richard Daley, as mayor. Even in Mother Europe, men have on occasion proved unable to resist the dollar, franc or mark. Nor is kinmyaku-jinmyaku a recent development in Japan. The priest Dōkyō, well-versed in human relationships back in the eighth century, almost succeeded in leaping from Empress Shōtoku’s couch to her throne. The Fujiwara family played “marriage politics” in order to gain national ascendancy in the ninth and tenth centuries. Bamboku, the red-nosed merchant in the Heike monogatari, practiced kinken seiji (money politics) so well that his ruddy proboscis won its way into the lofty chambers surrounding the Heian court. During the much-praised Meiji era, statesmen as somber and stalwart as Yamagata Aritomo and Inoue Kaoru used money and human connections easily, effectively and sometimes questionably, with hardly a raised brow to disturb their patriotic poses. Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi expressed concern about the private economics of politics as he lay in the hospital dying of an assassin’s bullet. And since the war, Occupation purification and reform notwithstanding, gold has joined often with the polite, deferential bow to dominate the political world. Why did the powerful Yoshida Shigeru tell his successor, Prime Minister Hatoyama Ichirō, “not to think at all about money matters”? It seems to have been simply because the bitter Yoshida had seen his own administration felled by party factionalism and the charge of sukyandaru seiken, corrupt administration, after top-rank-

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ing cabinet members and party leaders were accused of taking bribes from the shipbuilding industry. Such practices have not been limited to a few exceptional individuals. In some ways the entire Japanese system seems to encourage and feed kinmyaku-jinmyaku. Basic human concepts like on and giri make the return of favors more than a polite convention; reciprocity is an ethical obligation. A strongly embedded sense of hierarchy often values loyalty to one’s superiors and benefactors above commitment to abstract moral principles. Indeed, one of the most salient features of social life is the centrality of the group, the absolute faithfulness one expresses to his own colleagues (jinmyaku), whether in a neighborhood, a political faction, a scholarly clique or a company. Meiji politics were thus dominated by loyalty to certain hanbatsu, cliques based on geographical origin. Prewar political styles reflected connections to the right universities, the more powerful zaibatsu, the most influential bureaucratic or party factions. And while there is obviously a great deal of good in such traditional structures and patterns, they are distorted with particular facility when kinmyaku is added to the jinmyaku equation. “When there’s a will there’s a way,” says a Western cliché. In Japanese politics, the ways and structures are always there, hewed out by centuries of social tradition. The will, as in all lands, often follows easily. In the Meiji era, indeed right up to World War II, political influence and control flowed largely through the landlord (jinushi) class of rural Japan. In exchange for political, official, social and economic favors, the local landholding elite could be trusted to deliver the village vote on election day. Postwar land reform destroyed jinushi power, but not the underlying system. Instead of landlords, according to political scientists like Matsushita Keiichi (in his book Gendai Nihon no seijiteki kōsei), there is now a similar class of yakushokusha or officials – individuals strategically located to do favors both for local patrons and for lawmakers and bureaucrats on the prefectural and national level. Such favors, of course, always carry a certain human or financial price tag. The yakushokusha also serve frequently as leaders and officers in the kōenkai, or supporters’ organizations, which today constitute one of the major arteries for the flow of political capital (seiji shikiri). A postwar phenomenon, nearly all Diet members seek to bring as broad a segment of the populace as possible into their camp by creating kōenkai (See Gerald Curtis, “The Kōenkai and the Liberal Democratic Party,” The Japan Interpreter, Vol. VI, No. 2, Summer 1970), whose membership can run as high as 100,000. Though the creation and

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functions of such bodies can be perfectly legal and ethical (funds and support are, after all, essential to modern politics – it being estimated that the average LDP dietman needs over 80,000 dollars a year beyond salary just to maintain his political existence), they not infrequently skirt the edges of legality, though not the bounds of accepted practice. Usually called bunka dantai (cultural organizations) rather than seiji dantai (political organizations) in order to avoid the necessity of registering and submitting financial accounts, they provide such favors as excursions to the capital or to hot spring resorts, finding jobs for constitutents’ children and donating saké for parties. Local kōenkai offices have been described as a combination of employment agency, school placement service, counseling center and social club – rather like America’s urban party machine in the days of Boss Tweed. Political loyalty and help in recruiting new supporters is all that is expected in return for the favors bestowed on each member. And the annual membership fee for this largess rarely exceeds a hundred yen or so. Kōenkai veins, in other words, carry money to the people, then channel popular support back to the politicians. Yet this does not render the politicians paupers. For other veins carry gold to them from behindthe-scenes business, labor and political allies, through the structural labyrinth of the kōenkai and similar organizations. If nearly all politicians are supported by jinmyaku and kinmyaku, if kōenkai-style channels for the covert or quiet transfer of funds and influence are so extensive, one is tempted to sigh, “Poor Tanaka.” Why the special fuss, the harsh emphasis on these particular words in connection with his practices last fall? The answer seems to lie primarily in the fact that his practice of kinken seiji, money politics, was more blatant and more clearly devious than normal, and that he displayed this blatancy at a particularly sensitive time. The excessive nature of Tanaka’s brand of kinmyaku-jinmyaku was first detailed in the bunshun jiken, or Bungei shunjū incident (all major developments in Japan seem to eventuate in at least one būmu [boom] or jiken !), that dominated Japan’s magazine stands, television news and train advertisements throughout October and November 1974. In perhaps one of the best case studies of the potential use and ramifications of kinmyaku-jinmyaku to date, the journalist Tachibana Takashi detailed in a lengthy November Bungei shunjū article the special miracles and horrors Kaku-san (as Tanaka’s name is often abbreviated in the press) had wrought through his political ability at kanezukuri, money making. The weekly press then followed up on the Tachibana disclo-

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sures, hardly with a muckraking or Watergate-style exposé, but with at least enough tantalizing detail to suggest just how extensive kanezukuri and kinken seiji had become in public life. The articles recalled, for one thing, the extravagant use of LDP funds to assure victories in recent elections. In the July 1972 election for party president, candidates were said to have spent as much as 16 million dollars (at 300 yen to the dollar). LDP expenditures for candidates in the 1974 House of Councilors election totaled somewhere between 160 million and 300 million dollars (a popular summer expression was gotō-yonraku: for 500 million yen – victory; for 400 million – defeat), and Tanaka was pictured as having spent upwards of 3.5 million dollars just to assure the success of his own postelection struggles last summer with intraparty rival Fukuda Takeo. Zenikane seiji, money grubbing politics, as the articles recalled, had dominated the summer, fired the opposition and the press, then backfired and nearly cost the LDP its Diet majority. (The second highest number of votes in the entire 1974 election, it might be noted in contrast, was garnered by the grand dame of Japan’s League of Women Voters, Ichikawa Fusae, who spent only 20,000 dollars, compared to the more than 3 million dollars spent by some individual LDP candidates. Perhaps she has not learned to play kinken seiji yet?) Tanaka’s personal finances made even more interesting reading in the disclosures late last fall. A poorly educated commoner from Niigata, Tanaka created his financial empire long before becoming prime minister. By choosing a rich wife eight years his senior (Sakamoto Hana, daughter of a wealthy building and lumber operator in Niigata), investing shrewdly, cultivating ties with the industrialist Osano Kenji and using the levers and veins of politics with unprecedented skill and verve, he had by the end of the 1960s become one of Japan’s wealthier individuals. A bulldozer, they called him. Other politicians might receive large amounts from big business through carefully nurtured human ties, but Tanaka had gone further than perhaps any politician in recent times in actually making new money through such funds, in using kinmyaku to invest, speculate in land and generally practice the art of kanezukuri. On becoming prime minister, the kinmyaku-jinmyaku techniques proliferated. He controlled the heart of Japan’s political organizations now, and money began to flow even more freely – or at any rate more rapidly. Kaku-san used his control over the LDP’s money-raising organization, the Kokumin Kyōkai, to pressure big business into

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donating funds. He passed out money to members of his own political faction lavishly, on one day, according to Bungei shunjū, giving nearly 3,500 dollars each to five particular members. He and his allies bought land, then sold it to the government. And Tanaka purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal property in Karuizawa. When he left office, his Tokyo residence (occupying an area of over 2,000 tsubo) was valued at 8 million dollars; his Karuizawa villas (over 9,000 tsubo) at 1.5 million dollars. As the Bungei shunjū article put it, “Tanaka has become the embodiment of kinken seiji.” Despite all this, most observers think the nation might have yawned through the revelations had the Tachibana article come at a different time. (I must admit seeing the Bungei shunjū advertisements for the first time on a rush hour train out of Kichijōji one day and thinking glibly: “Sounds interesting; I’ll have to buy that one.” Just another exposé, I assumed.) First there were the summer elections. The LDP maintained its House of Councilors majority – ever so barely – but money politics became a public issue. Big businessmen, moreover, resented being pressured by Tanaka, especially when the election results approximated disaster. There was also the continuing onslaught of national economic woes: spiraling prices, the highest inflation rate of any major economic power, a drop in the economic growth rate to sub-zero levels. Many who had secretly admired, even envied, Tanaka’s ability to make money as long as they were enjoying the personal benefits of keizai seiehō. or economic growth, now became resentful and bitter. Thus the bunshun jiken was fatal. Without the political-economic problems, Tanaka might have weathered the article’s revelations. And without the revelations themselves, he might have survived the economic-political challenges. But the two combined to cause him insurmountable troubles. Tanaka strove valiantly to maintain his political position, engaging in what was widely called a senban ni ichiban no kaneai, a balancing act with a one-in-a-thousand chance of success. But bulldozers fare badly on tightropes. Kaku-san fell. One additional, if somewhat ironic, factor in the Tanaka fall, according to some observers, was his inadequacy (through no fault of his own) in one key area of traditional jinmyaku. His ties to modern businessmen, though rather newly developed, were admittedly numerous, and his money gave him leverage over many politicians. But, as a total newcomer to the national limelight, he had not had classmates at the right universities (indeed, he had not even finished elementary school), had developed no familial ties to the national business elite,

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could boast of no links to the old, established political and imperial families. The “self-made-man” image had given him a certain mystique when all was going well. But political victors had always before counted on long nurtured, carefully welded links to prestigious families and institutions for ultimate success. The Tanaka family had no such ties – and that made his eventual demise even more understandable. The fall did not occur, however, until after Japan’s political vocabulary had been enriched with fresh meanings and new emphases. The whole world of seiji shikin (political funds or capital), for example, was discussed in broader, more concrete terms than it had been for perhaps a decade. The weeklies pointed out that hardly anyone was totally free from questionable kinmyaku-jinmyaku ties; every member of the cabinet was somehow involved in acquiring uragane (undercover finances) through kōenkai, personal liaisons and other means. Tanaka might be bad, but they were not sure how much better his probable successors would be. His own fund-channeling organs had handled more than 6 million dollars during 1972 and 1973, and as head of the LDP he controlled even larger sums of money through partywide organizations. But the major contenders for the soon-tobe-vacant office of prime minister, though not so directly involved in personal money making, had also handled massive amounts: Nakasone Yasuhiro, for example, had spent more than 5 million dollars, Ōhira Masayoshi more than 7.5 million dollars and Fukuda over 9.5 million. Widespread cynicism about politicians in general – and those in the LDP in particular – soon become apparent. As a Sandē mainichi writer commented on December 15: “Agitate and spin it as you will, all the water in the tub is equally dirty.” Indeed, Fukuda, Ōhira and Nakasone all were passed over in the race for the office of prime minister in large part because of that very cynicism. A second series of words given new emphasis by the kinmyakujinmyaku crisis dealt with the shady area between legality and illegality in the world of political finance. What the politicians did might be legal, writers asserted, but only barely so. The LDP crowd had become “hō suresure aruku hito,” men who stay just on the inside edges of the law. One of the more questionable practices was the creation by politicians of yūrei gaisha, ghost companies that exist largely on paper to hide and transfer questionable sources of personal income. Tanaka was discovered to have set up three such companies in recent years, two of them actually sharing the same phone. Ōhira had created a similar company in the Marunouchi district. When asked in the Diet if it was

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a ghost company, he replied: “No, because one of its employees has a telephone.” Such companies pass money back and forth “like playing catch ball in the family,” as one writer complained. Such organizations usually stayed within the law – but only suresure. Even more profuse were the discussions of misleading, often downright unethical, though technically legal, organs created on the broader party level. Tonneru kikan (tunnel organizations) were shown to be one of the staple, and less honorable, features of political practice. The general custom of labeling kōenkai as bunka dantai in order to hide funds already has been noted. Widely discussed in 1974 were the “social clubs” (konwa-kai), “economic study groups” (keizai kenkyūkai); “social research societies” (shakai kenkyūkai); and “information gathering associations” (chōsakai) used by faction (habatsu) leaders to hide fund distributions. Housed in elaborate, plush Tokyo hotel suites, most of them engaged less in research and fact-finding than in distributing covert funds to slander election opponents, to help out political friends, and to carry out jobs best not seen in public. The largest of these tonneru kikan proved to be the LDP’s general fund-raising body, the Kokumin Kyōkai, an organization designed to render donations at the party level colorless (i.e., anonymous). Sometimes, of course, this anonymity protects political integrity by shielding recipients from attempts at bribery or blackmail by major contributors; but it also has the effect of keeping the public from knowing who gives how much to whom. The public reports of these organizations, according to numerous articles published last fall, usually reveal the identity of less than five percent of the donors and recipients. They foster, in other words, a climate conducive to a massive proliferation of complex kinmyaku-jinmyaku undergrowth. Said Bungei shunjū: “Kokumin Kyōkai is the largest tunnel organization on earth.” But wait, one might say, Japan has a free press. How can politicians get away with such secrecy? Why does the public allow it? And that indeed was another problem highlighted by the kinmyaku-jinmyaku affair. Even the reporters, though critics of petty practices and ideological differences, showed themselves less than fervent in pursuing or ferreting out the deeper ramifications of kinmyaku-jinmyaku. The article that sparked the whole affair was written not by an established member of the nation’s press corps but by a freelancer, a furi jānārisuto. Once his revelations hit the headlines, the rest of the press took up the cause with an eagerness best described as mild curiosity. They reported on the affair – but in an insipid manner. The first persons to

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actually confront Tanaka himself with the charges were members of the foreign correspondents’ club, at a press luncheon on October 22. And even after that pivotal press conference, no establishment paper or reporter ever probed deeply into the substantial, subsurface details of kinmyaku-jinmyaku, kinken seiji matters. The weeklies discussed the issue at length, sermonized at even greater length, but scratched the hard surface rather gently. The reason, according to observers, was that a form of jinmyaku had invaded the press itself. Reporters for major newspapers are organized into various kisha kurabu, journalists’ clubs attached to separate ministries or bureaucratic offices, with those attached to the Prime Minister’s Office and the foreign ministry being perhaps the most prestigious. Members of each club tend to become intimate with their sources, eating and drinking with them, receiving occasional gifts and favors, developing a definite camaraderie. The result is a flow not so much of money as of inside tips, making Japanese reporters the envy of their foreign counterparts for the ease and detail with which they uncover stories. But vessels carry blood in both directions, so the system also results in a great deal of good will and protection for the politicians. Hence, the Tanaka.-ban, or Tanaka-guard as it was known, was loathe to besmirch or turn on its benefactor lest a friendship be violated and subsequent favors and sources dry up. More sinister rumors of press vulnerability, of unethical kinmyaku-style money dealings at the corporate level, also surfaced in the last days of Tanaka’s reign, but regardless of the truth of such rumors it seems clear that the kurabu and clubbishness alone would have remained sufficient to stifle any impulse to probe too deeply. A reporter should have no friends, Joseph Pulitzer often said; the kisha kurabu collusion with Tanaka’s kinmyaku-jinmyaku illustrates what he meant. One further question asked by many is, What will happen now that the storm has passed? Tanaka, the kinmyaku premier, has fallen from his tightrope. Miki Takeo, the “clean man” of the LDP, has assumed the prime minister’s chair with promises of change. Talk of kinmyakujinmyaku has largely, though not completely, faded from the news pages. The new prime minister appears sincere in his demands for reform of the seiji shikin kisei hō, the political funds control law; he has been quoted, in fact, as saying that “if one thinks that money can solve everything, that will mean an end to democratic politics.” So is a change likely? Will kinmyaku-jinmyaku dry up or wither away from lack of use, depriving old-style politics of its lifeblood? Will the ves-

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sels of politics be transfused with a more transparent, more genuinely democratic substance? Perhaps the greatest indication of possible change is the fact that Miki seems to mean business about election reform. Attempts to make the Kokumin Kyōkai over into a popular organization supported by smaller gifts from hundreds of thousands of citizens have been announced. And the LDP seemed by early March to be moving toward an election funds control law that would, among other things, limit corporate contributions by political organs to 100 million yen ($333,333) and individual gifts to 20 million yen ($66,667). These limits are not very restrictive; nor is there any guarantee that the rules for reporting donations received will be stiff enough to assure compliance or close loopholes and so prevent a recurrence of last year’s kinken senkyo (money elections). Such a law could very well become mere show – a puff of cotton candy. But, skeptics notwithstanding, the mere fact that the LDP agreed to such a bill shows moods and tendencies little known a year and a half ago. There are not many, however, who expect genuine reform. In fact, cynicism about Japan’s entire political system seems to be the mood of the day. (In February, for example, I asked a young university graduate why he was so skeptical of Minobe Ryōkichi’s real intentions when he decided temporarily not to run again for the Tokyo governorship. Was Minobe, the man whose early popularity had been based so much on his image as a nonpolitical man, not still regarded widely as a reformer, an idealist? My friend’s answer was simply, “seijika desu yo: he’s a politician.”) There is, for one thing, the strong suspicion already noted that Tanaka’s fall stemmed more from his political mistakes, his personal abrasiveness and the nation’s economic slowdown, than from his questionable ethics. There is also the universal conviction that “everyone does it,” that the kinmyaku-jinmyaku system sends its favors and benefits into every corpuscle of Japan’s political life, not just into mainline LDP structures. The vocally conservative Seirankai branch of the party, an outspoken opponent of jinmyaku-kinmyaku evils, has been rumored to receive funds from the business community or, indirectly, from the South Korean government. Opposition parties are generally considered “better” than the LDP only in degree, not in substance or in general attitudes toward a style of politics that benefits supporters in special ways. And the weeklies have revealed that even the deposed Tanaka continues dispersing his seiji shikin to faction members. All of them are reported to have received a year-end bonus

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from Kaku-san of 10,000 dollars, compared to the 1,000 dollar bonus received by members of other factions. No wonder he has been able to continue holding his habatsu together, commented the Sandē mainichi of February 8. In October of 1974, Fukuda described the outrage at Tanaka’s kinmyaku-jinmyaku politics as “a historical current that cannot be turned back.” It was effective rhetoric, accurate if he referred only to Tanaka and his money-making style. Fukuda seemed to indicate, however, that he meant more: kinken seiji would be reformed, even halted. But one wonders, especially when one reads about Fukuda’s own receipt and use of political monies. Medical science has not yet devised a method to completely overhaul a circulatory system. Massive blood transfusions can be carried out only with permission, tacit at least, from the patient and donor. Japan’s political leaders hardly seem on the verge of granting such permission. A few bandages and sutures, a bit of plastic surgery – then back to business-as-usual.

Source: Education About Asia, Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall 2005, pp. 24 – 28. Reprinted with permission of the Association for Asian Studies, Inc., www.asian-studies.org/EAA.

18

Japanese Society in the Twentieth Century ™

Most American textbooks do a capable job of summarizing the political and economic facts of Japan’s modern history. The country, in their telling, modernized quickly in the late 1800s, turned militant in the 1930s, went to war in the 1940s, reemerged under American guidance in the 1950s, and became an “economic animal” in the 1960s. In the 1990s, the bubble burst. Unfortunately, most of these textbooks ignore the rich and varied lives of the Japanese people themselves: their consumption patterns, their work patterns and entertainment styles, the movements they joined, the way they lived. It is that story that will be outlined here, a story that finds in each of Japan’s evolutionary periods tension – sometimes dynamic, sometimes debilitating-between bright forces such as freedom, affluence, equality, and progress and the often darker forces of control, poverty, and class division. 1895 – 1910: A Mass Society Emerges

The years 1895 to 1904, bridging the Sino-and Russo-Japanese wars, turned Japan into a mass-oriented, urban nation. Social change had been occurring continuously since the 1868 Meiji Restoration, but the semi-feudal legacy of earlier centuries prevented modernity from reaching large masses until the 1890s, when Japan’s cities began to look much like their counterparts in Europe and America. 262

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It was jobs that brought people into Japan’s cities in these years, expanding Tokyo’s factory population by 4,000 annually and pushing its population past 2 million by 1905.1 And it was jobs that made the cities modern; for with the employees came expanding schools, rising literacy, sprawling slums, demands for services – and the rise of mass institutions. Newspapers, for example, evolved from small opinion journals into huge organs with 200,000 subscribers, edited by profit-driven men like Kuroiwa Shūroku who was accused of using sensationalism to attract the coarser classes – of acting like a “bartender who pours alcohol into his customers’ glasses to trap them.”2 A similar entrepreneurial drive caused Japan’s turn-of-the-century cities to bustle with new products and inventions. Movies were introduced to Japan in 1898. The country’s first beer hall opened in 1898. In 1900, modern waterworks began operating in central Tokyo. And the next five years saw the spread of electric fans, irons, refrigerators, and department stores, and the launching of an “exciting entertainment” for Osaka swimmers called the 40 – foot “water shoot.”3 By the end of Meiji, electric lights were widespread. Urbanization and modernity were not spread evenly; nor were they wholly good. Rural poverty persisted in these years, and the movement to the cities disrupted local communities. The 1910 novel Soil, written by a village school teacher, described a place where women died from poor medical care and children nearly starved in bad years. The factories to which many sent their daughters paid inhuman wages, provided filthy dorms, and made the girls work 12-hour shifts. At the Ashio copper mine north of Tokyo, Japan experienced its first major case of industrial pollution, even as the journalist Yokoyama Gennosuke was describing Osaka’s vast slums where “scores of children . . . whose names appear only in a policeman’s notebook” inhabited a single row house.4 For thousands of late-Meiji Japanese, the modern age brought new hopes; for educated women it provided opportunities as journalists, teachers, and doctors; for the affluent everywhere, it provided more interesting products and quicker transportation. For hundreds of thousands, however, the age brought harsher realities: separation from rural social networks, entrapment in poverty – and, in the words of novelist Natsume Sōseki, “loneliness . . . the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age.”5

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1910 – 1930: Contradictions

The Meiji Emperor’s successor was Taishō (r. 1912 – 26), a weak man known for his mental instability. The difference between father and son symbolized the contrast in eras: strength followed by weakness, purposefulness by ambiguity. The cities particularly reflected that ambiguity. On the one hand, the frenetic turn-of-the-century changes continued unabated, producing a society full of fresh ideas and new entertainment venues. On the other, those very changes prompted a backlash, as worried traditionalists sought to restore old values and strengthen the state. If the 1923 Kantō earthquake, which resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, gave physical representation to the new era’s conflicts, the clash between new and old represented its spiritual and intellectual tensions. The progressives spawned an intellectual explosion, with writers espousing everything from anarchism to democracy, from Marxism to capitalism. And women entered the debates, as radicals went to prison for preaching anarchy while moderates launched journals such as Seitō (Bluestockings), which proclaimed: “In the beginning, truly, woman was the sun . . . . Today, woman is the moon.”6 One goal of the progressives was to call public attention to the difficulties of the still-growing poor classes: the continuing inhumanity of the textile factories, where females made up four-fifths of the workforce as late as 1930; the brutal coal mines of Kyushu, where child labor remained the norm;7 the 5,000-plus burakumin (outcaste) communities located at the desperate, filthy edges of urban centers – on the wrong side of what locals sometimes called the “Bridge of Hell.”8 And these same writers promoted the rights of workers to unionize and of commoners to march in the streets for lower street car fares and reduced rice prices – prompting historians to label the 1910s an age of urban riots. One of the most interesting features of the Taishō cities was the emergence of a hedonistic café culture, made possible by the new automobiles, radios, silent movies, and a growing middle class. Moralists had complained for years about “modern” couples holding hands in public; now they despaired over the popularity of dancing, Western fashions, and movies. Magazine publishers made fortunes on gossip about stars and articles about getting rich, with titles such as “The Single Man and the Spirit of Independence” and “How to Start a Billiards Business.”9 At the same time, novelists like Tanizaki Jun’ichirō described young men who gushed to their beaux: “I worship you . . . . I’ll buy anything

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that’ll make you beautiful.”10 Words like jazu (jazz), moga (modern girl), mobo (modern boy), and ero (eros) entered the hip vocabulary, and actress Matsui Sumako scandalized avid readers with her sex affairs and eventual suicide (following a production of Carmen).11 Not surprisingly, this vitality upset traditionalists more than did the plight of the poor. If officials reveled in the patriotism that accompanied the Russo-Japanese War – the first victory by an Asian nation over a Western power – they experienced premonitions of social breakdown as they watched the hedonism and social activism of the 1910s. Although these conservatives countered the trends most actively in the political sphere, creating patriotic organizations and rewriting textbooks to foster loyalty to the emperor, they also took on the world of thought and culture, the world that most affected everyday society. After 1925, when it was made illegal to to advocate communism or criticize Japan’s national polity (kokutai), thought police began to hound liberal-minded students and activists. Novelists particularly felt the enforcers’ strong hand now, as officials actively censored any writing that encouraged “depravity and decadence.”12 The feminist Ishimoto Shidzue described in her mid-1930s memoir the tensions people felt, portraying a “liberal” husband who first encouraged her to become “modern,” then began to fear her new persona. “He who once had undertaken to educate his wife with a view to making her . . . active and independent . . . was now gloating over Japanese dolls in the old prints as types to emulate!” The result was divorce. 1930 – 1945: The Dark Valley

By the late 1920s, Japan’s social dynamism was fading. The government’s efforts to stimulate nationalism bore a morbid harvest in the early 1930s, especially after Japan established a colony in Manchuria in 1932. Both the officials and bourgeoning right-wing groups worked hard now to create a populace committed to nationalism at home and expansion abroad. In the main, they were successful. It bears note that modernity continued apace and Japan remained relatively tranquil throughout the 1930s, recovering fairly rapidly from the Great Depression. Radios reached nearly half of Japan’s homes by the end of the decade. Jazz continued to be popular. Magazines still promoted consumerism and poked fun at hypocrisy. And visiting Western stars Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth drew massive crowds. Even – or perhaps especially – in rural Japan, a gutsy, apolitical reality ruled

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throughout the 1930s, as anthropologist Ella Lury Wiswell found in a Kyushu village, where women consistently ignored government directives: “They took their pleasure in tobacco, drink, and sex . . . . Their humor was earthy.”13 During the second half of the decade, however, the urban mood grew darker – and more uniform – as officials succeeded in creating a national defense state. Following Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, suffrage-oriented women’s groups began to shift their focus to frugal living and support for the emperor. The radio waves included more martial music. And the covers of magazines like Children’s Club (Shōnen Kurabu) displayed smiling, rifle-toting children in military garb. A few writers defied the mood, but their numbers had diminished by the time jazz and dance halls were banned in October 1940. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, daily life for most Japanese turned grim and dull; no longer was there either the means or space to do anything more than support the war effort and find enough food to eat. Despite propaganda-induced images of the Japanese people as fanatic supporters of the emperor and the military, war diaries show a people more resigned than enthusiastic. Even the resisters grew silent, some, like a band of holiness Christian ministers, sitting in jail for refusing to reverence the emperors, others, like the novelist Tanizaki, writing silently in a mountain home. But most sent their sons off to war, worked long hours in the nation’s shops and factories, stretched their budgets by wearing tattered clothes and eating ever slimmer rations, and generally ignored the officials’ injunctions to have more babies. The last months of the war brought dramatic shortages. While there was no starvation, Japan’s adults typically lost a full 20 pounds in the latter part of the war. “At each meal,” recalled one boy, “our grandmother wound a sash tightly around my brother’s stomach so that my brother wouldn’t eat too much.”14 A home economist wrote in his diary early in 1945: People say “they’re being driven to their wit’s end and no longer think it’s worth it, that there’s no reason for winning.” They kept their complaints quiet, he added, out of fear of the authorities.15 1945 – 1964: Return to Normal

Things did not improve much in the first post-war years. Nearly a hundred cities had been bombed; troops were returning to a decimated economy; the infrastructure was in shambles. Said one GI, on arriving

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in Tokyo: “Tokyo . . . is a devastated, immodest mess, but the silence is what gets me most; no honks, yells, clangs . . . . Everybody is still staring in that god-awful silence.”16 In October 1945, a school teacher died of starvation; in November, a newspaper printed the letter of a father intending to commit suicide so there would be more food for his children. While profiteers got rich and many resorted to the black market, most lived “like animal-people made of mud,” with people dying of starvation or exposure a full three years after the war.17 Fortunately, there also was a brighter side, almost at once. With a more democratic constitution in force after 1947 and a lessening of wartime censorship, writers experienced greater freedom. When “bad books” began to appear in the stores, recalled historian Ienaga Saburō, “I experienced tremendous joy” – not because he liked bad books, but because he craved freedom.18 Women won the right to vote, and 39 were elected to the national legislature in1946. Labor unions grew. Café culture – albeit of a cheaper and more sensuous kind than in the 1920s – returned to the cities. Not that everyone was happy now. City life was disrupted by more than 600 strikes a year in the late 1940s, and Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru was greeted by an opponents’ “sea of red flags” when he took office in 1946.19 Poverty remained the norm until the 1950s; and disillusionment soared as people learned of their soldiers’ wartime atrocities. But the trend was toward recovery, and on his birthday in 1952, Emperor Hirohito wrote: “The winter wind has gone / and long-awaited spring has arrived / with double-petalled cherry blossoms.20 And once the occupiers left that spring, even material life began at last to recover, partly because of the 1950 – 53 Korean War, which created demand for Japanese goods and services, and partly because of the slowly spreading impact of Occupation reforms. By 1957, the economy had reached prewar levels, and by the 1960s, growth rates of nearly ten percent a year had turned Japan, once again, into one of the world’s largest economies. At the heart of the recovery lay consumerism. Japanese families purchased almost ninety percent of what the country’s factories and shops produced; the consumers set the values; they created the new institutions; they were the soul of postwar Japan. One thing consumers did in the 1950s was to buy millions of washing machines, refrigerators, and television sets (Japan’s “three electronic treasures,” in journalistic parlance). They frequented bars and cabarets again, creating fads for everything from hula hoops to brown dolls worn on one’s arm. They produced, in the process, a new “middle-brow

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culture,” subscribing in unprecedented numbers to weekly magazines that provided articles about the emperor’s diet and the crown prince’s romance with a commoner. The renewal of pleasure-seeking provided the story line of Ishihara Shintarō’s novel, Season of Violence, in which the protagonist declared: “What others think never bothers me! Doing only what I want – that’s all I can do!”21 For the millions who found this postwar climate empty, there were hundreds of “new religions,” which promised spiritual community and wholeness without trying to curb members’ desires for wealth. And for those who wanted a cause, there was anti-Americanism. The 1952 Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty, which ended the Occupation and made Japan dependent on the United States for defense, sparked protests through the 1950s, and at the end of the decade produced nationwide demonstrations large enough to topple a government but not to end the treaty. By 1964, when Tokyo hosted the Olympics, it was clear that Japan once more had become a nation of affluent materialists. Japanese athletes won more medals than they ever had before, and Olympic President Avery Brundage called Japan “No. 1 in all the world.”22 1964 – 1989: Affluence

If the 1950s restored Japan to affluence, the next quarter century demonstrated the travails of success. Surpassing Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato’s 1959 promise of “income doubling” within a decade, Japan had become the world’s second largest economy by 1970. Unfortunately, wealth brought ordinary people problems as well as triumphs. The late 1960s, in particular, seemed consumed by success’s shadows. Students had enough money now to go to college in unprecedented numbers, but they were not happy there. Disillusioned by archaic teaching methods, university corruption, and Japanese support for America’s war in Vietnam, they erupted in protests, shutting down scores of universities for months at a time. Consumers complained too, often in organized fashion, through thousands of citizens movements (shimin undō) that demanded lower prices and pollution-free environments. One of their most pressing issues was urban crowding, as the influx of people into the cities caused outrageously high land prices, tiny living spaces (an average Tokyo family of four in 1965 lived in a 403-square-foot apartment), and crushingly crowded rush hour trains. Another major issue was pollution. Factories may have produced the world’s best watches and automobiles, but they

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filled the skies and waters with toxic wastes. By the late 1960s, policemen were inhaling oxygen at some intersections; Osaka’s Yoda River had lost its ability to sustain life; and thousands of fishermen in the town of Minamata were suffering from mercury poisoning. Many of the Minamata victims “found their hands trembling so violently they could no longer strike a match”; others lost control of their bodily functions; and nearly forty percent died.23 The staged suicide of ultranationalist novelist Mishima Yukio in 1970 illustrated how tortured affluent life could be for the literary elite; the tens of thousands of day laborers who slept in urban flop houses or parks by night and worked temporary, benefit-less jobs by day showed how excruciating it was for the poor. “I can think of only two things that really bring these men together,” said an observer of the day laborers: “the drinking-stand and the park bench.”24 The plethora of problems did not slow Japan’s economic progress, however; nor did political challenges such as the world oil crisis of the early 1970s or the failure of successive cabinets later in the decade. As a result, the late 1970s and 1980s produced a golden age of capitalism, a time of increasing national pride. Best-selling books and articles, labeled Nihonron (“on being Japanese”), argued that success sprang from Japan’s national character: the unique language, the discipline required by rice agriculture, a group-oriented management style. When the industrialist Matsushita Kōnosuke proposed in 1976 that Japan level a fifth of its mountains and use the dirt to build a massive new island, thereby increasing usable land by forty percent, he said the project fit Japan’s character, bringing “a balance between material and spiritual needs.”25 Great numbers of Japanese lived better than ever during the 1980s, building new homes and renting technology-laden apartments on the world’s most expensive land, playing golf on courses that cost $200 for eighteen holes, traveling abroad frequently,26 and paying 10,000 yen ($100) for a drink and a slice of cake in upscale coffee shops. Large numbers continued to struggle economically, primarily because society remained divided between those who worked for the rich corporations, with high wages and lifetime employment, and those employed as shop keepers, construction workers, or employees of the smaller companies, where economic downturns resulted in pay cuts, layoffs, and firings. But the dominant feature of Japan in the late 1980s was wealth and freedom. Polls showed that a full ninety per of people considered themselves middle class.

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Paradoxically, one result of this affluence was that Japan became not only more powerful but more controversial in the international sphere – and the controversy affected the daily lives of nearly everyone. The magazines and sports papers that commuters devoured on the morning trains were filled in the 1980s with angry articles about Japan-bashing abroad, as well as the harsh criticism that Asian nations heaped on Japan when the Education Ministry revised history textbooks to deemphasize Japan’s wartime aggression. While many were impressed by the fact that 200 world rulers showed up for Hirohito’s funeral in 1989, even greater numbers complained about the restraints TV networks placed on entertainment shows when he died. Others grumbled at the increasing number of Asian and Mideastern workers who were attracted to Japan, often illegally, to take jobs in the late-1980s. Japan, it was clear, had done more than become an economic giant by 1889; it had become a thoroughly modern, middle-class society where the haves and have-nots mingled in a stew that was as dynamic as it sometimes was troubled. 1989 – 2000: Uncertainty

Japan’s public story in the 1990s was economic collapse. The capitalist boom fizzled at the beginning of the decade, as land values dropped, debt-burdened banks folded, and the stock market fell by 65 percent in just three years. With the collapse came a loss of prestige, particularly in Asia where criticism of Japan’s World War II behaviors grew ever louder. With it too came increased numbers of people who could not afford a college education, families unable to repay loans or buy homes, and a general malaise as people faced the end of growth. The government’s inept response to the 1995 Hanshin Earthquake, which killed over 5,000, followed by the Aum Supreme Truth sect’s gas attack on the Tokyo subways, seemed to symbolize a darker time. The deeper social story, however, was more complex. It revealed a nation that, while chastened, still was dynamic and surprisingly self-confident, a nation whose class differences produced energy as often as they created problems. The country’s continuing social energy revealed itself in many ways. Greater Tokyo – the world’s largest metropolitan area – had reached a population of more than 30 million, and increasing numbers of city dwellers were pursuing individualistic lifestyles by the end of the century. Some commentators talked about the shinjinrui or “new human breed,” others about “micro-masses” who read specialized magazines

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and joined groups devoted to motorboat racing, computer games, or the ancient Nō theater. Ubiquitous computers, television, and cell phones (keitai) brought Japanese youth into instant contact with peers around the globe, and helped to spawn endless new behaviors, some exciting, some disturbing: rising divorce levels (to half that of the United States), women who refused to marry, adult men who took off-beat or menial jobs and lived with their parents so as to have freer lifestyles, more teenagers engaging in premarital sex – and a large population of outsiders, including motorcycle gang members, computer geeks, and disco groupies. Said sociologist Anne Imamura: “We are seeing . . . a diversification of patterns, from a single desirable model to a range of socially acceptable choices.”27 It could be argued that Japan’s popular culture had become thoroughly international by the end of the 1990s, saturating the rest of the world even as it imbibed foreign influences at home. Cities teemed with theaters and shopping malls, while television produced endless stars, some of them as ephemeral as cherry blossoms. Architects like Tange Kenzō and fashion designers like Issey Miyake occupied a world stage. Novelist Ōe Kenzaburō won the Nobel Prize in literature. Nomo Hideo and Suzuki Ichirō dominated Japanese sports pages when they achieved success in America’s major leagues, while Americans, Hispanics, and Mongolians starred in Japan’s own sports of sumo, soccer, and baseball. And then there was anime, arguably the century’s most influential Japanese export. Producers and writers like Tezuka Osamu and Takahashi Rumiko enraptured a generation of Japanese youth, even while becoming worldwide names. Traditional culture and practices had not disappeared when the twentieth century ended. Divorce rates still remained lower than elsewhere; gender discrimination persisted, with smaller percentages of Japanese women working outside the home; minority groups continued to face prejudice – even as, on the other hand, Japan remained one of the world’s safest societies and personal savings rates continued at remarkably high levels. Modernity had done more than make Japan an economic giant. It had given it a social character as rich and varied as that in any country on earth, a society where affluence enabled increasingly individualistic women and men to live the lives they desired. If they preferred traditional family patterns, they could have them. If they wanted to try new life-styles, they had the means and the space to do that. By 2000, it could be argued, no society on earth balanced the traditional and the avant garde more easily, or more energetically.

Source: William M. Tsutsui, ed., A Companion to Japanese History. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing, 2007, pp. 139–155.

19

Restoration and Revolution ™

The nineteenth-century American journalist Edward H. House spent much of his career telling and retelling the story of the 1863–64 Shimonoseki incident, in which ships of four Western nations bombarded Chōshū domain, allegedly in retaliation against earlier Chōshū attacks on the Westerners, then forced Japan to pay a $3 million indemnity. House had two goals: to get the United States to return its share of the indemnity and to correct the standard recollection of the event, which in his view lay unjustified blame on Japan and whitewashed the Western powers’ motives. He succeeded in the former goal but failed in the latter.1 Getting a nation to return loot, he found, was easier than correcting an entrenched historical narrative. His experience bears striking resemblance to the exigencies of the last century’s mainstream tale of Japanese development in the years surrounding the Meiji Restoration. Efforts to change the narrative – both its content and its contours – have been as endless as House’s polemics on Shimonoseki. In the 1960s and 1970s, scholars on the left attacked the Western bias of modernization theory; in the 1980s and 1990s, theorists concerned with gender, sexuality, postmodernism, semiotics, deconstruction, cultural studies – and a host of others – argued for the inclusion of new narrative frameworks and ideological transparency. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the late Tokugawa/Meiji years were being examined from a host of new perspectives; hospital patients, gays and lesbians, factory workers, architectural sites, fishery owners, and local bureaucrats produced more studies than “great men” did, as did discussions on the role of time, place, and power relation275

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ships. Harvard University’s Helen Hardacre saw this “exercise of breaking down monolithic paradigms of Japan’s modern history” as the precursor to a new narrative, “a substitute for a triumphalist interpretation of Japan’s modernization.”2 That these efforts have had great impact cannot be denied, as this essay will argue below. They have complicated our understandings of the early Meiji years. They have given us new languages and concepts for explaining the era, new understandings of power relationships, new information about once-ignored actors. But like House, the heralds of new history are forced to admit that changing the overall understanding of what happened in this era is hard work. The narrative may be richer today, its contours a bit more fuzzy, but the essential story has changed less in fundamental form than in marginal details. This is perhaps most apparent in the harvest of new English-language surveys of modern Japanese history produced early in the twenty-first century – by members of the newer generation as well as by those more senior. While most of these synthetic works drew on the latest scholarship, they told a story that looked more familiar than radical, suggesting that Carol Gluck was right when she contended that “we remain . . . conceptual prisoners of Meiji.”3 The Traditional Account

The conventional story of the Meiji years was captured in a number of works between the 1950s and the 1970s, which drew heavily on establishment scholars in Japan (and all of which gave short shrift to the more Marxist interpretations of E. H. Norman’s Japan’s Emergence as a Modern State): Edwin Reischauer’s Japan Past and Present, George Sansom’s Western World and Japan, and W. G. Beasley’s Rise of Modern Japan and The Meiji Restoration. Their publication coincided with both the emergence of East Asia as a serious part of American university curriculums and a political order dominated by the rhetoric of American-style capitalism and democracy. In this milieu, Japan’s story from the 1850s through the 1880s took on an optimistic hew filled with international tension, domestic conflict, strong leadership and, above all, progress. In the telling of these writers, the Tokugawa period was peaceful and relatively isolated, yet virile culturally and economically. Its shogunal government had become inefficient and inept by the early 1800s4 and the bakuhan system was buffeted by so many challenges that, barring

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dramatic reform, eventual collapse seemed inevitable. Into that setting came the foreigners in the 1850s, touching off a decade and a half of intense maneuvering and fighting, both on the battlefield and in the world of politics. A 1868 coup d’état by samurai from the southwest put the teenaged Emperor Meiji on the throne and initiated an era of unparalleled change that brought Japan, in little more than a generation, from isolation to the center of world politics. Under the guidance of a small elite, pushed (and pulled) by rich Western nations, the Japanese set about destroying the conservative structures of the past – the samurai class, the domain system, Confucianism’s anti-merchant ideas – and creating a modern state replete with compulsory education, a military draft, and, eventually, a constitution. Inhabiting the edges of this narrative were “the people” or minshū, whose lives were changed greatly by the decisions and policies of the elite rulers. The people sometimes became engaged in the political process, and they carried out many modernizing projects themselves, but always they remained at the margins of the story. Within this traditional story, several tropes emerge repeatedly. One is Hirakawa Sukehiro’s “turn to the West.” In this era, he maintains, “Japan, a non-Western nation, adopted from the West a tremendous amount of what was fundamental and essential to modernization.” He sees the adoption process itself as crucial to Japan’s survival and self-identity, arguing that without Western “ideas and institutions, the establishment of a national identity would have been impossible, and the existence of an independent Japan . . . could not have been maintained.”5 Wherever one looks in the late-Tokugawa, early-Meiji narrative, Western-consciousness is close to the surface. Samurai terrorists kill officials because the shogun agreed to trade with Western nations. Public nudity is banned so as not to scandalize Christians. Currency reform is aimed at making Japan’s economy viable internationally. The governor of Kumamoto attempts to modernize by hiring an eccentric Ohioan to create a “Western School.” Indeed, an entire scholarly industry – led by Nobutani Noboru in Japan and Ardath Burks in the West – has grown up around the oyatoi gaikokujin or foreign employees who instructed the Japanese in railroad construction, constitutional law, and English-speaking. While even the most traditional narrators have come to admit, like Burks, that the foreigners “played only a marginal or an incremental role in the transition . . . to modernity in Meiji,”6 Westerners cast superhuman shadows in all retellings of the traditional narrative.

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The rush to modernity is the second traditional trope. Whether one looks at government structure, the growth of schools, the advent of transportation systems, or the emergence of political parties, the pace of change in the last half of Japan’s nineteenth century was remarkable – and has become a staple of the narrative. John Whitney Hall introduced a set of essays from the 1960 Hakone Conference on Modern Japan with the observation: “The modernization of Japan is a phenomenon which cannot be viewed casually by any serious observer,” whether that modernization was seen as “a new ‘peril from the East’ or, on the contrary, as a miraculous example of progress from out of an Oriental Middle Ages.”7 The Hakone modernization studies evoked enormous controversy because of the ideological way in which they used conditions in the affluent Western democracies to define “modernization,” even as they claimed to represent value-free history. But while the term “modernization” largely vanished, it had been replaced by the 1980s with “modernity.” And if the two terms differed in definition and connotation, springing as they did from different contexts, both evoked a constant in the narrative: change in the direction of something called “modern” was fundamental. In the words of Kuwabara Takeo of Kyoto University: “Japan succeeded in modernizing, and it did so with a speed unprecedented in world history.”8 The third trope is the centrality of politics and the state. Until the 1980s, any bibliography of key works on this era was sure to be dominated by studies of Edo or Tokyo government. Biographies told the lives of national political figures such as Sakamoto Ryōma, Yamagata Aritomo, Saigō Takamori, and Ōkubo Toshimichi. Specialized studies focused on domain reform and revolt, the writing of constitutions, the ideas of political thinkers, the diaries of leading officials – or, when a writer looked outside Tokyo, the reaction of local governments to centralizing policies. Not long after the Meiji Restoration, Ōkuma is said to have quipped to the young finance official (and later entrepreneur) Shibusawa Eiichi: “Those who are participating in the planning of the new government are the myriad gods. The gods have gathered together and are now in the midst of discussing how to proceed in building the new Japan.”9 This was the view the establishment passed on to the era’s narrators: state-generated politics did not merely lie at the heart of the Meiji story; they were the story. The fourth trope is Japan’s uniqueness – a theme articulated first by the Tokugawa/Meiji thinkers themselves, then repeated by a century of historians. Isolation meant specialness to Tokugawa writers. And dur-

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ing the Meiji years intellectuals commented continually on how different their land was. It was the first Asian nation to write a constitution, the first to modernize the economy, make education compulsory for all citizens, and develop an extensive railway system. That was why Fukuzawa Yukichi called on his fellow Japanese in 1885 to “leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West,” to “simply erase from our minds our bad friends in Asia.”10 Meiji writers also saw themselves as different from Westerners – tardy, perhaps, in adopting modernity but speedier in moving that direction once they got started. By the 1880s, national uniqueness had become an obsession, as a rising generation grappled with what they saw as both the positive and the negative characteristics that set them apart from other peoples. The cultural geographer Shiga Shigetaka wrote in 1888 that Japan’s natural setting had “developed in the Japanese race . . . a unique kokusui, or national essence.”11 It was an idea that infused nearly every account of Meiji for the following century. The fifth trope – progress – may be the most telling, and ideological, of all. Certainly not everyone saw the era’s changes as good. Teenagers working inhuman hours in the spinning mills did not; neither did Tokugawa samurai who lost their moorings after 1868, nor many women whose lives became more restricted by the mid-Meiji family policies. Yet, despite abundant evidence that most Japanese experienced no uplift in living conditions between the 1850s and 1880s, the traditional stories of Japanese and Western historians alike have focused overwhelmingly on progress: new buildings, more rational political structures, richer literature, spreading newspapers, the growth of capitalism. Sansom set the tone for a generation when he wrote in 1968 that “the most striking feature of the period is not its political clashes, but the alacrity with which the country as a whole seized upon the dogma of perfectibility and threw itself without misgivings into the task of self-improvement.”12 A major characteristic of the Tokugawa/Meiji studies produced in the 1990s and afterward is the continuing persistence of these old themes, particularly the Western-centrism, the idea of progress, and the preoccupation with politics. This generation of scholars may apply fresh theories to new subjects, but the idea of Western preeminence dominates a surprising number of studies, whether postcolonialists are echoing Tōyama Shigeki’s assertion that “there was a real danger that Japan would become a colony” in the 1860s, or traditionalists are agreeing with Andrew Gordon’s claim that “connectivity” is the key to

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modern Japanese history.13 Indeed, works dedicated to the Westerners’ role continue to appear with a frequency that undermines talk about a new narrative: Beasley’s writings about Japanese travelers to Europe and America; studies of French-Japanese and British-Japanese relations; depictions of American diplomats and merchants in Yokohama and Edo/Tokyo; work on Western contacts with Okinawa and the Ryūkyūs; continued monographs on yatoi as diverse as William Smith Clark, Edward House, and Francis Hall. Many of these works are more nuanced than earlier studies, focusing more on cultural interaction and less on the West-as-model idea. Peter Duus’s student-oriented Japanese Discovery of America, for example, avoids the earlier assumptions of inequality by concentrating on how Japanese and Americans saw each other, spending as much time on Japanese perceptions of American “barbarism” as on American portrayals of the Japanese as “uncivilized.” But the volume of discourse on the Western impact reveals how entrenched the idea of Western-centrism has become. So too the focus on progress. While specialized studies raise complex questions about the darker sides of Japanese life in the nineteenth century, most narratives still resort to “those overarching motives of national independence and future greatness” that prompted Itō Hirobumi to boast that Meiji had brought Japan not only “prosperity, strength, and culture,” but “an equal footing in the family of the most powerful and civilized nations of the world.”14 As careful a scholar as David Howell still comments that “no country has been so successful at implementing modernity as a matter of public policy as Meiji Japan.”15 One reason for this continuing obsession with progress lies in the insistence of most historians, even today, on viewing the state as a (often, the) central protagonist of the story. Howell may write about capitalism and the Hokkaido fishery industry, but he looks through a prism of national development. Gregory Pflugfelder may examine male-male relationships, but one of his preoccupations is their treatment in the law. Takashi Fujitani tells us how the state created a “splendid monarchy”; localists such as William Steele and Michael Lewis take the central government as a point of departure, as does Kären Wigen even when she discusses peripheries. Even people’s historians like Irokawa Daikichi focus on the interactions between the people and state institutions. Hardacre commented after the influential 1994 Conference on Meiji Studies that most participants, many of them cutting edge scholars who drew “their theoretical inspiration in large part from postmodernist theorists of power,” were concerned primarily with

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“relations of power in some form.”16 Indeed, very few writers find value in looking at farmers, housewives, prostitutes – or even politicians – from the simple perspective of daily affairs. Life, for academic elites, holds little interest if it is not connected to issues of power and politics; so the state stays at the center, and progress continues its grip. What, Then, is New?

If the broader narratives of Japanese development in the late-Tokugawa, early-Meiji years remain in the grip of old tropes, many of the era’s specialized studies, in both Japan and the West, brim with the kinds of new information and challenging perspectives that are likely, in time, to change even the traditionalists’ way of seeing nineteenth-century Japan. Inspiring these studies are two forces: the continuing maturation of Western scholarship on Japan, and the world of theory that has so deeply influenced all of academia in recent decades. The former is driven by the increasing numbers of American and European students working on Japanese history, as well as by their improved training and language skills. Gone are the days when it could justly be said that “Western writing has so far contributed relatively little to our total knowledge of Chinese and Japanese history.”17 Today, as Yoshimi Shun’ya of the University of Tokyo has noted, Western students of this era have as much influence on Japanese historians as the Japanese have long had on the Westerners.18 One reason for the maturation of the Western scholarship lies in the second force, the increasingly sophisticated way in which historians of Japan use theory. Inspired by the ideas of Hayden White, Michel Fouccault, Eric Hobsbawm, Jacques Derrida, and others, late-Tokugawa/ Meiji historians of the last two decades have produced a plethora of theoretically-sophisticated, provocative articles and monographs, asking hard questions, utilizing a diversity of sources, interrogating people’s motives and ideologies, and applying varied analytical frameworks. The new works have been particularly influenced, it seems to me, by four particular concepts: Eric Hobsbawm’s “invention of tradition,” Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities,” James Scott’s “weapons of the weak,” and Edward Said’s “orientalism.” Sometimes using these ideas consciously, sometimes unconsciously; sometimes writing clearly, sometimes obtusely; sometimes applying theory carefully and cogently, sometimes as an add-on to make the work appear up-to-date, the scholars of this era have turned their attention increasingly to issues

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of space (site), time, class, and ideology, making us ask questions that once would not even have occurred to us. The field of cultural studies has had a particularly strong impact, with writers like Naoki Sakai and Harry Harootunian (writing too often in dense, even if provocative, prose) pushing a new generation of researchers to “be alert and sensitive to the political implications of knowledge.” Under their influence, the field has begun seriously to look not just at rulers but at subjects, and going further, not just at subjects but at the impact those subjects (and the processes of creating them) have on rulers. The goal, says Sakai, is to seek “a certain reversal of the terms,” so that we can understand the politics and ideology that motivate structures and narrators.19 That process – what Dipesh Chakrabarty calls “unpacking ‘ideologies’”20 – has caused a number of historians to focus on the fact that many “familiar emblems of Japanese culture, including treasured icons, turn out to be modern.”21 And the consequence has been a significant number of studies which have not only changed the specialists’ understandings of the late-Tokugawa/ early-Meiji years but laid the groundwork for an eventual change in the broader narratives. One outgrowth of the theoretical turn has been the appearance of new groups and individuals in the pages of history: Edo townsmen aghast or bemused by Matthew Perry’s arrival in 1853–54, architects, leprosy patients, prostitutes, newspaper readers. In the old rubric, Buddhists remained silent; they were not relevant to the monolithic “modernizing” scheme; in the modernity story, they claim a meaningful place, as evidenced by James Ketelaar’s study of how Buddhist leaders adapted to a new age by attempting to create a “modern” faith.22 Similarly, other religionists, as diverse as travelers on the Iwakura mission, the Christian iconoclast Yamaji Aizan, and religious pilgrims, have been examined in recent studies, as religion comes to be seen not merely as anachronistic – or as part of government efforts to integrate the state – but as an energetic segment of the early-Meiji tapestry. The “people” – that vague category of minshū or heimin taken by various scholars to connote almost any group outside the ruling elites – constitute one of the more important categories to gain increased attention in recent years. Scholars long have been interested in peasants as rebels, or as participants in the nationalizing scheme; indeed, when Irokawa wrote about mountain political movements in the 1970s, he was expanding on a topic that had interested historians for generations; the same was true of Roger Bowen’s studies of popular rights resisters

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and Mikiso Hane’s work on peasants and rebels at the beginning of the 1980s.23 In recent decades, however, the focus has moved beyond outsiders who merely reacted to (or suffered under) an increasingly centralized system, toward commoners as agents. Oku Takenori discusses the way reportage on scandals spread modern consciousness; Stephen Vlastos shows us the complexity of motives and approaches harbored by peasant activists; Yamamoto Taketoshi shows an expanding populace making possible a profitable urban press in the 1870s and 1880s; Anne Walthall weaves the private and public together – the farming, the poetry, the activism – in the life of the “useless woman” Matsuo Taseko, arguing that her life calls into question “the distinction between public and private, male roles and females roles and the often hazy margin between conceptual categories that mesh into one another in practice.”24 An especially insightful study of commoners is Scott Schnell’s Rousing Drum, which shows a clash in Hida at the end of the 1860s between mountain culture and the advocates of centralization. His work has not gained as much attention as it merits, possibly because he is an anthropologist rather than a historian, but he represents an expanding – and highly significant – body of work on local histories. M. William Steele, one of those rare Westerners who publishes as much in Japanese as in English, introduced his Alternative Narratives in Modern Japanese History with a call for “another look (or looks) at modernity.” Local history, he says, “need not be belittled for dealing with the particular; local men and women need not be marginalized for the everyday quality of their deeds. . . . Just as one can narrate Japanese history from above, one can look from below.” In contrast to the center, he argues, there is “a plethora of peripheries,” making “the telling of stories from below . . . openended.”25 A consistent theme of those who examine localities is the variety of experiences the Meiji government had in bringing peripheral areas into the new “nation.” Michael Lewis tells a story of conflict and regional resistance, showing that even though Tokyo rulers used force and asserted a “cultural homogeneity that probably never existed,” it took decades to integrate the Toyama region on the Japan Sea coast. He sees the constant official complaints about “too much drinking, too much gift-giving, too many celebrations of local festivals” as signs that real life differed from the “idealized portraits of proper citizens of model villages.”26 Steele finds a similar situation in Kantō areas. Wigen sees the Shimoina area on the Japan’s Pacific side sinking into marginality. And James Baxter tells a different tale, contending that the Ishikawa

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area north of the Japan Alps came fairly quickly into the spreading national system.27 People have challenged Baxter’s interpretations, but all historians of the peripheries agree that the local leaders tended more to maneuver for perks or autonomy than to rebel or resist openly. They also show a much more complex picture, at least into the late 1880s, than the center-dominates-periphery storyline of earlier narratives. If the demands of theory have forced us to add new groups to our understanding, they also have excavated topics once considered taboo or irrelevant to the story of modernization and progress. Issues of space and temporality have entered the tale; the beginnings of Japanese imperialism are receiving increased attention; Peter Kornicki has done pioneering work on the history of the book;28 and material culture shows up in ways more varied and interesting than the time-honored depictions of Japanese eating meat (like Westerners), Japanese building Western-style brick buildings, Japanese women wearing Western evening gowns, and Japanese men getting Western-style haircuts. One of the new topics is the growth of communication, particularly journalism. Despite the crucial role of the printed word in creating imagined communities, in serving as agent and definer of modernity, historians until the late twentieth century largely left study of the press to scholars in journalism schools. That is changing, however, as men like Ariyama Teruo, Yoshimi Shun’ya, and Sasaki Takashi bring communication studies into the mainstream of history, even as they define communication more and more broadly. My own work has attempted to demonstrate that the newspaper press played a pivotal role in Japan’s move to modernity by drawing urbanites (and some in rural areas) into the public arena, even as it served as gatekeeper to what the public would debate. Of particular importance is the fact that the papers with the largest circulations, even in the first Meiji decade, were commoneroriented sheets such as Yomiuri Shimbun, which specialized in sensation and scandal, demonstrating the existence of a large world (and market!) beyond the respectable circles of the intellectual elites, a world that remains yet to be studied adequately by historians. The movement into mainstream history has taken press and communications studies in new directions. Giles Richter, for example, has addressed Meiji economic and political history with a study of print capitalism, showing that publishers became influential enough in the Meiji years to force officials to moderate censorship policies and allow publication of popular materials that they would have preferred to ban. The publishers did more than shape their own industries; they changed

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the state, by forcing it “into a reactive, defensive posture” and demonstrating that “the government could no longer effectively regulate the content of everything that was printed.”29 Taking a different approach to communication history, Joseph Henning represents a growing group of scholars who examine images and representations, both visual and written. His study of how nineteenth-century Americans imposed narrow concepts of race and religion on Japan argues that while several early-Meiji visitors treated Japanese culture with respect, the majority made “modernization . . . synonymous with westernization” and, in the process, provided support for demeaning American policies.30 Gender and sexuality also have made their way into the lateTokugawa/early-Meiji narrative, with women becoming ever more visible since the appearance of Sharon Sievers’s study of Meiji feminists early in the 1980s. Indeed, gender is one of the few new themes that actually has begun to penetrate even the broad Meiji surveys. The 1990s brought increased complexity to our understandings of women’s roles, with Patricia Tsurumi’s Factory Girls mining rich sources to examine both victimization and the contributions of female textile workers, describing the contrast between the respect afforded early-Meiji workers and the abuse those workers received after the 1880s. She concluded with a workers’ song that captured the dual nature of their roles: “Who dares to say that / Factory girls are weak? / Factory girls are the / Only ones who create wealth.”31 Particularly influential was Recreating Japanese Women, a 1991 collection of essays that challenged stereotypes. One of the articles told the story of the entrepreneur Tatsu’uma Kiyo, who amassed a fortune in brewing; another, by Sharon Nolte and Sally Hastings, made it clear that women’s prerogatives actually became narrower in the Meiji era, as state power spread. The essay demonstrated that the state “valued a woman’s productive power more than her ability as a mother”32 – and that the state itself was not a monolithic behemoth but a diverse set of agencies that differed and fought bitterly with each other. By the late 1990s, works on gender and sexuality represented many, varied segments of Tokugawa/Meiji life. Walthall’s study of Matsuo Taseko made “ordinary” women important. Jason Karlin analyzed the role of masculinity in the creation of Meiji nationalism. Jordan Sand looked at how the government created the sphere of the “home as a haven and the housewife as its spiritual center.”33 Pflugfelder showed how male-male sexual engagement moved from respectability in Tokugawa to condemnation in early-Meiji, as “‘barbarous,’ ‘immoral,’

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or simply ‘unspeakable.’”34 And Tsurumi and others used the pages of the U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal to discuss the gendered nature of Meiji education and politics. One of the most important works, theoretically, was Women and Class in Japanese History (1999), with chapters on the nineteenth century showing both the Tokugawa origins of phenomena once thought to have originated with the West and the growing control of the state over hygiene and the female body. The contributions of these gender studies are particularly apparent in the broader, more synthetic works on the era. The nineteenth-century volume of the Cambridge History of Japan, which appeared late in the 1980s, does not contain the word “women” in its index, and gender rarely appears in its pages; even discussions of marriage and childbirth use a neutral language that barely suggests gender as a factor. By the end of the decade, such an omission would have been unthinkable. The McClain and Gordon histories, which appeared in 2002 and 2003, weave gender into the story fairly seamlessly. Similarly, a 2002 collection of modern Japanese biographies places women at the center of all three early-Meiji chapters.35 As should be apparent, the theory-based studies bring more than new subject matter to the nineteenth-century narrative. They are helping us to conceive the period differently, to push us to think about motives, about ideology, about power relationships in more complex ways. While one groans occasionally over elitist attempts to use language in clever (and all too often inaccessible) ways, the theorists nonetheless have given us important new ways of understanding what was happening in the years around the Meiji Restoration. Fujitani’s study of how the government created old-looking-yet-new structures to foster love of the emperor is a powerful example of how the idea of “invented traditions” has changed the field. Wigen’s insistence on the conscious examination of “the interface between history and geography”36 has influenced not just the study of regional history but the entire language of Meiji studies (witness the title of Pflugfelder’s work on sexuality: Cartographies of Desire). The interest in differing kinds of spaces (and their relationship to power) leads scholars like Susan Burns of the University of Chicago and Uemori Naoyuki of Waseda University to examine how hospitals and prisons became sites for resistance and subversion. And one can credit both Said’s Orientalism and Anderson’s “imagined communities” with helping to produce Stefan Tanaka’s Japan’s Orient (California, 1993), which shows the changing way in which Meiji scholars conceptualized the relationship between Japan and China while exploring the ideological foundations of Japanese imperialism.

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At the heart of these studies lies a preoccupation with power: how it is exerted, how it affects relationships, how it shapes society – with the majority of scholars inclined to look critically at the Meiji state and to find signs of agency and resistance among the populace. Douglas Howland, for example, uses semiotic theory to show both the unevenness of Japanese/Western relationships and the efforts of the Meiji elites to use Western terms such as “rights,” “liberty,” and “society” to control people. He portrays the progressive Fukuzawa interpreting terms like ken (rights) as “state right and sovereignty” rather than as people’s rights – because of “the need to maintain Japan’s autonomy in an international situation where the Western powers were demonstrating their own willful autonomy in colonial actions against the less civilized.”37 Howell takes a similar tack in his important 2000 essay, “Visions of the Future in Meiji Japan,” arguing that while a number of visions competed – the nostalgia of Saigō Takamori’s followers, the democratic goals of freedom and popular rights supporters, the moralistic dreams of rural rebels – the statist view of Meiji officials finally won, in part because foreign threats pushed people to defer to national strength, and in part because the state offered the concept of empire to “exponents of the defeated visions.”38 Indeed, Japan’s international role – the country’s active grappling with Western definitions of modernity, its efforts to resist yet emulate the West, its changing relationship with Asia – stimulates much of the new thinking about Meiji history. The field continues to produce a few traditional works on international affairs: Michael Auslin’s and Louis Perez’s work on treaty revision, continuing studies of the yatoi, a translation of Kume Kunitake’s massive records of the Iwakura mission, and Frederik Schodt’s 2003 biography of Ranald MacDonald, a native American who made his way to Hokkaido in the late 1840s.39 Akira Iriye also has continued to produce influential works on the cultural underpinnings of Japan’s relationships with the West. While these works fill in gaps in our traditional understandings, the narrative is more likely to be stretched by several scholars who have begun asking new questions, some of them drawn from postcolonial studies. In somewhat of a counterpoint to Tanaka, Joshua Fogel’s exhaustive study of Japanese travelers to China after the late-Tokugawa years shows an “obsession with ‘understanding China’,” based partly on the archipelago’s residents’ ages-old fascination with China and partly on a propensity to use China as a way to create Japan’s own identity.40 Identity also is a concern of Tessa Morris-Suzuki in several works looking at

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how Japanese groups saw their country within the world context. And Robert Eskildsen looks at the early stirrings, in the 1870s, of Japan’s own imperialism through an examination of press coverage of the Japanese expedition to Taiwan in 1874. He uses woodblock depictions in particular to show Japanese writers exaggerating Taiwanese stereotypes and engaging in what he calls “mimetic imperialism.” “The prospect of exporting civilization to Taiwan,” he argues, “provided an attractive means of resisting Western imperialism.”41 There remains, however, a paucity of serious analyses, particularly in English, of Western imperialism in these years, works that pay as much attention to the way foreigners forced Japan into semi-colonial status as they do to the Westerners’ role as harbingers of civilization. Iriye has discussed the uneven side of the Western incursion, and I have argued elsewhere that Western imperialism made it easy for the Meiji government to rationalize a statist approach to the detriment of its own citizens. Western pressure always has formed an important part of the narrative in Japan, drawn on by scholars and textbooks alike to explain Japans’ militarist move. The controversial 2001 middle school text, Atarashii rekishi kyōkasho (New history textbook), for example, is filled with discussions of a “harsh world in which the powerful devour the weak (jakuniku shōshoku no kakoku no sekai).” Western historians, by contrast, have been quicker to look at the onset of Japanese aggression than to confront its roots in European and American imperialism in Japan. One hopes that the rising tide of postcolonial studies and the new attention to Japan’s imperialistic turn will foreshadow fuller critiques of Western imperialism in Japan.42 The relative silence about Western imperialism is not the only omission in recent studies of the Meiji Restoration years; indeed, several gaps tell as much about Meiji historiography as the new works do. One of the obvious results of the advance of theory is a decline in traditional themes; one has to look hard these days for treatments of military history, bakufu (or Meiji) institutions, diplomacy, industrialization, constitutional thought, or even the Meiji Restoration itself. Studies of Japan’s early incursions into Okinawa also are largely lacking, as are works in comparative history – a puzzling fact, given the improved language ability of younger scholars and the broad applicability of theoretical frameworks such as Orientalism and postcolonialism. Nowhere is the change more obvious than in the decline of institutional political history. Central political structures and actors are almost as widely ignored in today’s monographs as those on the periph-

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ery once were. The continuing focus on power means that elite voices still are heard, but in muted or harsh tones. Biographies of “great men” are rare, evoking a yawn from publishers (unless the writer has the name impact of a Donald Keene, whose massive 2002 biography of the Emperor Meiji reminds us that the old history still has much to offer us). While the emperor system inspires theoretical works on the invention of tradition, few write about the ins and outs of Edo/Tokyo government, except as bureaucrats respond to initiatives in the regions. Indeed, students wanting to examine the evolution of the Tokugawa/ Meiji political system still must rely on classics by Robert Scalapino, Joseph Pittau, and George Akita – all published half a century ago. Even the jiyū minken movement, which once produced the richest material about people on the margins, is largely ignored. Julia Thomas looks at jiyū minken thinkers, among others, in her influential consideration of changing concepts of nature. But aside from side-angles views such as this, the popular rights forces have lost their voice. At the same time – and with equal irony – the preoccupation of contemporary scholars with power relationships means that the narrative still has little to tell us about everyday life. Harootunian’s efforts to get Japan scholars to use the “everyday” as a rubric for studying Japan’s interwar period notwithstanding, his intellectualization of the word has not resulted in much study of genuine everyday life, or what Susan B. Hanley calls the sociocultural side of life, in the late nineteenth century. Hanley provides a provocative start, concluding her examination of Tokugawa material culture with a brief look at the Tokugawa-Meiji transition, which concludes that “it is difficult to see substantial change in the standard of living or the level of physical well-being during the Meiji period.”43 Changes in Western-inspired European trappings also have provoked some early scholarly forays into daily life: into zoos, travel, dogs, sports. But the ideologies that underlie most historical narratives have precluded serious examination of those facets of experience that do not have transparently political meaning. Whither the Narrative?

Two possibilities emerge, when one attempts to evaluate the state of late-Tokugawa/early-Meiji studies today. Hardacre articulated the first at the conclusion of the Conference on Meiji Studies when she described a “rejection of grand theory and master narrative” in favor of “portrayals of multiple actors, conflicting representations, and frac-

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tured identities, to the point that it becomes impossible to distinguish lasting centers of power and influence.”44 The second argues that there has been no significant change in the overall narrative of the time, that James McClain encapsulated the still-dominant storyline when he argued in his 2002 synthesis that “during the 1870s and 1880s new beginnings were to bring to Japan political, economic, and social changes as revolutionary as those experienced by any country in the world during the last three centuries.”45 Which is it: the loss of a grand story, or the persistence of that story in the face of endless challenge? The truth lies between the two. If one looks at the Meiji story in the sweeping syntheses, the changes seem more like modulations. More women are present; economics matter somewhat more than they once did; the Edo/Tokyo government looks less unified and dominant; the plight of commoners gets a bit more attention. But the themes discussed at the beginning of this essay – the turn to the West, the rush to modernity, the centrality of politics and the state, the uniqueness of the Japanese experience, the focus on progress – remain dominant. If, on the other hand, one looks primarily at the articles, dissertations, and monographs that have appeared since the 1990s, the picture changes significantly. Central politics, the core of traditional Meiji history, has been overshadowed by studies from the periphery. Female voices have been joined by those of farmers, rebels, and same-sex lovers. New sources – architecture, material items, cartoons, photographs, prints – combine with new ways of reading those sources to portray the nineteenth century in fresh ways. Theories regarding modernity, space, time, subjectivity, mimetic imperialism, invented traditions, and imagined communities bring new understandings even when researchers examine old topics. And scholars endlessly question the ideologies of both the narrators and the narrated. If the new themes and interpretations have not yet become central to the synthetic histories, it is hard to imagine that many decades will pass before they do. If the journalist House had difficulty changing common perceptions about the Shimonoseki affair of 1863–64, he had a different experience with the narrative of modern Japan’s first imperialistic excursion, the 1874 expedition to Taiwan when Japanese troops routed Taiwanese mountain warriors and laid the foundation for Japan’s absorption of the Ryūkyū Islands. After accompanying the Japanese expedition, House wrote a book-length report, which firmly set the narrative line for this affair. People have questioned its accuracy; Chinese and Taiwanese historians have criticized its assumptions; students of imperialism have

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attacked his analysis of Japanese intentions. But at the beginning of the twenty-first century, his story line remained dominant. Not only had his, the first, work set the outlines, his interpretations had coincided with the story that the power elites (this time, including the Japanese) wanted to believe. In time, one suspects, House’s narrative will lose its power to dominate our understanding of the Taiwan expedition – but that will happen only gradually, after years’ accumulation of new data and fresh interpretations. So too with the story of Japan’s Tokugawa/ Meiji transition. The old story still holds us in its thrall, as it will continue to do until the new studies and interpretations achieve a mass sufficient to overwhelm it. That, one suspects, will take quite some time. References Beasley, W. G. Japan Encounters the Barbarian: Japanese Travelers in America and Europe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. Bernstein, Gail Lee, ed. Recreating Japanese Women, 1600–1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Burks, Ardath W., ed. The Modernizers: Overseas Students, Foreign Employees and Meiji Japan. Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 1985. Duus, Peter. The Japanese Discovery of America: A Brief History with Documents. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1997. Ericson, Steven J. The Sound of the Whistle: Railroads and the State in Meiji Japan. Cambridge, MA: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1996. Eskildsen, Robert. “Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan’s 1874 Expedition to Taiwan,” The American Historical Review 107, no. 2 (April 2002): 388–418. Fogel, Joshua. The Literature of Travel and the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862– 1945. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996. Fu, Charles Wei-Hsun and Steven Heine, eds. Japan in Traditional and Postmodern Perspectives. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. Fujitani, Takashi. Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996. Gordon, Andrw. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Hanley, Susan B. Everyday Things in Premodern Japan: The Hidden Legacy of Material Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Hardacre, Helen, ed. New Directions in the Study of Meiji Japan. Leiden: Brill, 1997. Henning, Joseph M. Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations. New York: New York University Press, 2000. Howell, David L. Capitalism from Within: Economy, Society and the State in a Japanese Fishery. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. ________. “Visions of the Future in Meiji Japan,” in Merle Goldman and Andrew Gordon, eds. Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, 85–118.

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Howland, Douglas R. Translating the West: Language and Political Reason in NineteenthCentury Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002. Huffman, James L. Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997. ________. A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003. Irokawa Daikichi. The Culture of the Meiji Period. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Jansen, Marius B., ed. The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. 5: The Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Jansen, Marius B. and Gilbert Rozman, eds. Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986. Karlin, Jason. “The Gender of Nationalism: Competing Masculinities in Meiji Japan.” Journal of Japanese Studies 28, no. 1 (Winter 2002), 41–78. Keene, Donald. Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852–1912. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. Ketelaar, James E. Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. Kume Kunitake. The Iwakura Embassy, 1871–73: a true account of the Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary’s journeys of observation through the United States and Europe. Graham Healey and Chushichi Tsuzuki, eds. Chiba: Japan Documents, 2002. Lewis, Michael. Becoming Apart: National Power and Local Politics in Toyama, 1868– 1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2000. McClain, James L., John Merriman, and Ugawa Kaoru, eds. Edo and Paris: Urban Life & the State in the Early Modern Era. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994. McClain, James L. Japan: A Modern History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. M.E. Sharpe, 1998. Nagai Michio and Miguel Urrutia, eds. Meiji Ishin: Restoration and Revolution. Tokyo: United Nations University, 1985. Oku Takenori. Sukiyandaru no Meiji: kokumin o tsukuru tame no ressun (Meiji scandals: lessons in the creation of citizens). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1997. Pflugfelder, Gregory. Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600–1950. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Richter, Giles. Marketing the Word: Publishing Entrepreneurs in Meiji Japan, 1970– 1912. Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1999. Richter, Steffi and Anette Schad-Seifert, eds. Cultural Studies and Japan. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2001. Schnell, Scott. Rousing Drum: Ritual Practice in a Japanese Community. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999. Sievers, Sharon L. Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983. Steele, M. William. Alternative Narratives in Modern Japanese History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Thomas, Julia A. Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Tonomura, Hitomi, Anne Walthall, and Wakita Haruko, eds. Women and Class in Japanese History. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, 1999.

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Tsurumi, Patricia. Factory Girls: Women in the Thread Mills of Meiji Japan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. Vlastos, Stephen, ed. Mirror of Modernity: Invented Traditions of Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Walthall, Anne. The Weak Body of a Useless Woman: Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Walthall, Anne, ed. The Human Tradition in Modern Japan. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2002. Wigen, Kären. The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750–1920. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Yamamoto Taketoshi. Kindai no shimbun dokusha sō (Structure of newspaper readership in modern Japan). Tokyo: Hōsei Daigaku, 1981.

Further Readings A starting point for the Meiji Restoration is Meiji Ishin (1985), a collection of conference papers that addresses the event from a variety of perspectives that are diverse ideologically and theoretically. William G. Steele’s Alternative Narratives in Modern Japanese History (2003) illustrates the rich lessons that commoners, woodblock prints, foreigners, and the residents of less-known locales have to teach us regarding the Restoration years. Perhaps the most useful work theoretically is Stephen Vlastos’s Mirror of Modernity, which includes reflections by leading scholars (Kären Wigen, Dipesh Chakrabarty, H. D. Harootunian, and Carol Gluck, among others) on the implications of Hobsbawm’s “invented traditions” for Japanese history. One of the clearest, most provocative overviews of the Meiji years is David G. Howell’s chapter, “Visions of the Future in Meiji Japan,” which argues that the Meiji rulers opted for a statist vision that imposed harsh conditions on a majority of the populace. His Capitalism from Within (1995) shows that the growth of capitalism was not dependent solely on Western models and markets. An incisive examination of the negative impact of Western merchants on Meiji development is found in the attacks of journalist Edward H. House, recounted and analyzed in my Yankee in Meiji Japan (2003). For a somewhat idiosyncratic, wonderfully rich example of deep reading and imaginative source use to create a traditional biography, one should turn to Donald Keene’s Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World (2002). The best example of comparative work on this period surely is the edited volume, Edo and Paris (1994).

Source: Harry Wray, Hilary Conroy, eds., Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983, pp. 18–25.

20

Meiji 1–10: Takeoff Time for Modern Japan ™

There may never have been an era in which people did not regard their own world as modern; for the very word “modern,” at its elementary level, simply connotes what Webster refers to as new-fashioned or up to date. In ancient Babylon, for example, modernity meant hanging gardens and arbitrary rule. In first-century China, it signified civil service exams and the writing of history and poetry. Thirteenth-century Mongolia saw the modern man as one who exhibited great skill in military horsemanship. And for the Japanese, modernity might variously have been defined as harmonious government, amorous gentility, or skill in the use of guns, depending on whether one lived in the age of Shōtoku Taishi, Genji, or Oda Nobunaga. To be modern, in other words, is to be in tune with the basic themes and trends that mark one’s own period of history as distinctive. Thus one might rephrase the question by asking: When did Japanese civilization begin to take on those special characteristics that can be considered uniquely typical of this historical epoch’s more advanced societies? Before answering this question, however, we must more precisely define the term modern, seeking an understanding of which special characteristics typify an advanced society. Such a definition is not easy to formulate in a brief essay, since debates on the topic often have produced as much confusion as they have consensus. But we must attempt at least a basic – if oversimplified – definition. It seems to me that most of the writings on modernization converge in suggesting two basic features of the modern society. It is these two features that we shall take as the foundation of our discussion. 294

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First: a modern (or “modernizing”) society values secular rationality and the scientific approach to learning and order. In other words, the accumulation of knowledge and the ordering of institutions in the modern society depend on empirical observation and the exercise of rational thought rather than on uncritical acceptance of divine revelation or tradition. In such societies people generally control nature rather than the reverse. Education is basically secular, scientific, and empirical. Economic growth depends to a great extent on technological innovation and the harnessing of inanimate energy. Political styles are rationalized for the sake of accumulating and organizing power – usually in a bureaucratic form of government. Even the values of such a society are shaped by the notions of progress and change inherent in the scientific approach. Thus Everett M. Rogers has written that modernization is a process by which individuals become “psychologically nontraditional.” Second: the modern state is characterized by mass social institutions. The political-intellectual theorist S. N. Eisenstadt sees a “mass-consensual orientation” as the central characteristic of modern societies. By that he means that increasingly larger numbers of groups become actively involved in the central decision-making processes. Some scholars point out that a central educational system is essential for creating such a mass society. Others suggest the importance of a mass communications network. Economically the mass society involves an intricate and broad-based market system, as well as widespread industrialization and urbanization. Politically the development of a mass society depends on the emergence of several characteristics: a central administration or government; broad (though not necessarily democratic) participation in that government; widespread demands for services; acceptance of the nation-state concept; and interaction between that state and other states (international relations). Some scholars, it should be noted, add as a third characteristic of modernity such concepts as the growth of democracy, the spread of individualism, and the full participation of all groups and classes in a society’s social, economic, and political life. The denial of such rights and qualities to any major class, they maintain, is a sign that a society is not yet modern. Words like democracy, individualism, and equality seem to me, however, to be too value-laden to be useful in formulating our definition. They turn the term “modern” into a polemical razor with which ideologues can attack societies that fall short of their own social goals.

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Such qualities may express laudable ideals, but they do not encapsulate the objective reality of this era’s dominant societies. And thus they fail the test of being useful descriptive tools. Having thus defined the modern society as one with a mass base and a scientific-rational approach to order and learning, we must now turn to the question of just when Japan had developed those characteristics to the extent that the nation could justifiably be called modern. It is at that point that we should be able to say with some confidence that modern history had begun. The period that first draws our attention is likely to be the latter years of the Tokugawa era. This, after all, was the age in which modernizing forces were in full gale in several Western societies. It is the period most studied by scholars of the last two decades as the source of today’s Japan. And there is no denying that it was the period in which Japan first exhibited numerous of its modern characteristics. Governmental structures by late Tokugawa already had become highly bureaucratized, both within the feudal domains (han) and at the central bakufu level in Edo. The writings of Tokugawa theorists such as Ogyū Sorai and Sakuma Shōzan had emphasized the need for an administration based on social utility and a rational understanding of contemporary realities, rather than on some absolute or normative ethical standard. Several features of the mass society too had appeared by the early 1800s. Literacy rates (approximately 30 percent) were as high as in any European society. Commerce had become fairly widespread, especially on the main island of Honshu. Urbanization also was under way: Edo had a population of perhaps a million, while Osaka and Kyoto boasted 300,000 inhabitants each. And politically a number of early nineteenth-century intellectuals had begun to talk about the “nation” as a single entity, presaging the growth of genuine nation-state consciousness after the arrival of Perry in 1853. It would be too much to say, however, that modernization had become a primary or pervasive characteristic of late Tokugawa Japan. For while its seeds were beginning to send their shoots through the soil, they were in fact only that – scattered sprouts that suggested what was to come, not developed plants able to support a genuine flowering of modernization. The education received by most persons, for example, was still transmitted in tradition-bound temple schools; and it was based primarily on the premodern ethical norms of Neo-Confucianism. The

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central values underlying the social system were loyalty to superiors and achievement – values that emphasized conformity and continuity rather than individualism or change. And in the economic sphere, technology remained largely at a distinctly unmechanized, premodern level until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Indeed, even the impulse to industrialize was largely lacking until near the end of the period. As late as the 1850s the gunnery specialist Takashima Shūhan was kept in jail for supporting the use of Western technology to strengthen national defense. Though not all officials opposed the application of scientific methods or rational critical faculties, those who did were in the ascendancy throughout the late Tokugawa years. And the result was that modernizing efforts were spotty and disorganized, lacking in any unified or conscious direction from the top. Nor could late Tokugawa Japan be said to have created anything approaching a mass society. Education was not centrally controlled; rather, each of ten thousand temple schools maintained its own curriculum, as did scores of private schools in the urban centers. Mass communications were almost completely lacking: intercity telegraphic service did not start until 1869; telephones and railroads were non-existent. Modern newspapers, which by the time of Perry had a two-hundred-year history in England, had not even appeared in Japan. The lack of mass social structure was even more apparent in the political sphere. The state, far from being unified, was divided into more than two hundred semiautonomous han. Only the adult male samurai, who comprised no more than 3 percent of the population, had any say in the decision-making process – and that only at the initiative of their feudal lords. Ideals of the nation as a single entity were generally submerged in a sea of loyalty to the domain. And even the most progressive intellectuals resisted notions of thoroughgoing internationalism until the eve of the restoration. Tokugawa Japan was thus a premodern society largely devoid of either mass social structures or the scientific-rational approach to learning and order – and (perhaps even more important) equally devoid of conscious or unified governmental efforts to move forthrightly in the modernizing direction. If we want to begin a modern history by looking at the roots of modernity, we will find Tokugawa Japan a good starting point. But if we seek the onset of the modern order itself, we must move to a later period.

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That period, I would suggest, arrived during the first decade of the Meiji era: 1868 to 1878. It was then that a small group of middle-level samurai, primarily from the western domains, staged a coup d’etat in January 1868 known as the Meiji Restoration. They overturned the Tokugawa regime and established their own rule under the name of the young emperor, Meiji. Most scholars agree that, at that time, these men had little thought of replacing Tokugawa social or administrative structures. They simply wanted power. But they quickly found that if they were to succeed in consolidating their gains, a totally new system would have to be devised. Western influence had by now begun to permeate Japan. A new order had arrived. And the new day, they found, demanded solutions unavailable under the premodern social-politicaleconomic order. During the next decade these leaders engaged in a series of moves that obliterated the old, decentralized political structure (even if not all of its values) and established a new, rational, and highly centralized system of administration. In the process, they wiped out their own samurai class and abolished the time-honored feudal domain structure, replacing it in 1871 with a prefectural system. When several thousand samurai revolted against these reforms in 1877, the government crushed the revolt with a largely peasant-based army. But it was not just the eradication of traditional structures that concerned these power consolidators. They were equally eager to devise a set of institutions which would propel Japan as rapidly as possible into a place of respect in the international community. Utilizing the slogan Fukoku Kyōhei (Rich Country, Strong Army), they instituted a series of reforms which transformed nearly every aspect of national life. In 1872 they scrapped the old temple schools and created a compulsory education system administered by the state. The samurai elite was replaced the next year with a peasant army recruited through a universal conscription law. Government income was regularized through a land tax; national banking and currency systems were set up. Newspapers were encouraged, too, for the dissemination of information. By the end of the decade, moves had been launched to begin the process of shaping a constitution. The years 1868 to 1878 marked, in short, a revolutionary decade – one in which Japan began the conscious and rapid transition from the premodern to the modern era. This was the period that initiated Japan’s “modern history.” To understand just how true this was, we need to recall our definition of modernization.

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Modernization, we said, first involved a scientific-rational approach – to education, to the position of values, to economics, and to politics. In each of these areas, early Meiji Japan met the test and then some. The initial aim of the Meiji education system was eminently utilitarian; officials sought to give the populace practical skills that would be useful in modern society. The prevailing attitude was summed up by the noted modernizer Fukuzawa Yukichi: A man who can recite the Chronicles but does not know the price of food, a man who has penetrated deeply into the classics and history but cannot carry out a simple business transaction – such people . . . are nothing but rice-consuming dictionaries, of no use to their country.

Likewise the government set out to rationalize not only its own administrative structure and power base but also the economy, sending factfinding missions to the West to study American and European industrial systems, launching its own model industries, and encouraging the creation of private business. Fully modern economic growth might not be seen for another decade, but the early Meiji years witnessed the initiation of highly organized policies in that direction. A prime symbol of the rational approach of early Meiji decision-makers was the establishment in 1873 of the Meirokusha, a society of officials and scholars who met twice a month to discuss the progress of Japanese civilization. Members debated everything from legislative assemblies to women’s rights, from press freedom to church-state relations. One even suggested the abolition of the Japanese writing system. And if two features characterized their discussions more than any others, they were rationality and optimism about Japan’s potential for rapid progress. No view was too extreme for discussion; but always the talks were calmly rational. The society’s goals, said the writer of one of the Meirokusha’s first published articles, included “establishing a model for the nation” and “opening the eyes of the ignorant with . . . elevated and penetrating opinions.” One may question whether the same writer’s optimistic forecast that “immortal theories” would emerge from the discussions was not a bit rose-tinted. But the fact that the Meirokusha included several leading intellectuals and influential officials bespeaks the heavy emphasis on the no-holds-barred, investigative orientation of the early Meiji leadership. And this approach permeated every area of national life. Our second criterion for modernization was the creation of a mass society. Here again the first Meiji decade is typified by thoroughgoing, conscious movement toward that end.

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Literacy grew rapidly under the centrally administered educational policies of the new government. It would take thirty years for the literacy rate to pass 90 percent, but the movement in that direction was quite steady after 1872. Even more important than the mere spread of literacy, however, was the fact that the government used the new educational system to inculcate in the Japanese people a loyalty to the nation-state. Through the schools, the people were expected to learn that they were part of a total society. Progress in mass communication was equally striking, as we already have noted. Tokugawa Japan had no daily newspapers, no mass communication networks. That picture changed after the restoration. The first daily was launched in Yokohama in 1871, and within a few years newspapers, spurred by active government encouragement, had become a major force in national life. Indeed, by 1877 some forty-one of today’s forty-seven prefectures had their own papers. And they were influential. Numerous persons who were eventually to become national leaders (including three future prime ministers) worked for these early papers. The nation’s political debate centered in their editorial columns in the middle 1870s. As one observer then commented, they became “the eyes and ears of mankind” – creators, if one will, of a mass society. The prime mover, however, in the creation of a mass society was the government itself. Its role in stimulating industrialization has already been noted, as has its creation of a unified educational system. But the efforts did not stop there. Every possible avenue was used to make people aware of their roles as citizens of a larger state. As the first decade progressed, the administration began increasingly to resurrect the imperial institution as a symbol of national unity and strength, a symbol with which loyal citizens could easily identify. The peasant conscripts were indoctrinated in ideas of national loyalty too, with the full expectation that they would take their new patriotism back to the villages from which they had come. Prefectural administrators were instructed to place copies of national newspapers in reading rooms throughout their regions. The government was, in other words, committed to the creation of a national populace, where people gave allegiance not so much to a local or state administration as to the nationstate at the top. One offshoot of these efforts, which gave further evidence of the growing mass consciousness, was the rise in the 1870s of Japan’s first nongovernmental, protomodern political organizations. Angered by certain bureaucratic policies, a number of former samurai and wealthy farmers joined together in 1874 to form a popular rights (jiyū minken)

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movement demanding the early creation of legislative assemblies. It can be argued that they were not really democratic since they sought the franchise for only a tiny minority of the wealthiest people. And their effectiveness is open to serious question. But their very existence proves that people outside the government were increasingly coming to identify with the national authority structure. They were, perhaps, Japan’s first “interest group” – a key element in any modern society. There is no denying that full modernization would have to await Meiji’s later decades. The constitution would not come until 1889. Light industry would not take off until the Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895. Nationalism would struggle against an overwhelming tide of westernization until the latter 1880s. And international interaction on an equal basis would have to await the final abrogation of unequal treaties in 1913. But the highly conscious, unified effort of national leaders to modernize was well under way by the end of the first Meiji decade. As early as the Charter Oath of 1868, the new government had called for seeking knowledge “through the whole world” and for the utilization of “just universal principles” as the basis of government. That, I would maintain, was a modern approach to government. The fact that the leaders were able to move the nation so rapidly in that direction marks the 1868–1878 decade as the beginning of Japan’s modern history.

Source: Harry Wray, Hilary Conroy, eds., Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983, pp. 98–103.

21

The Popular Rights Debate: Political or Ideological? ™

The Meiji years mark one of history’s most dynamic eras, a time of breathtakingly rapid change in nearly all aspects of Japan’s national life. As a result, the men who guided and challenged the national transformation have become the subjects of more than an ordinary amount of scholarly attention. They are usually viewed as giants – individuals with special talents, unique vision, overarching influence, extraordinary administrative skills, even unusual sexual prowess – the stuff, in many cases, of myth and legend. While the more fantastic aspects of these myths are scorned (or, more appropriately, ignored) by scholars, there nevertheless remain several areas in which the “bigger-than-life” syndrome seems to have affected even scholarly analyses of the overall period, thus distorting our understanding of Meiji Japan. I seek, in this discussion, to challenge – or at least to bring into balance – two such areas. First, there is an unfortunate tendency to dwell on the early Meiji leaders’ special sense of nation. More than their counterparts in other lands, we are told, these men operated in an overwhelmingly national context, basing their arguments and decisions on a single question: What is best for the nation? A leading Meiji historian, Marius B. Jansen, has written in this vein: “The samurai provided Japan with singleminded, nation-directed leadership. The phrase kuni no tame (‘for the sake of the country’) was a constant in political discussions . . . . The argument was not whether the nation needed building, but how it could be built most rapidly and effectively.” 302

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This theme dominates many of the texts on the era, often to the point of excluding less idealistic motivations. A related generalization is the oft-repeated (or silently accepted) idea that the government’s critics, whether on the right or on the left, were inspired to an un-usual degree by unmitigated ideological commitment. Saigō Takamori, for example, is depicted as believing so deeply in the feudal samurai ethic that he felt compelled to resign from office when he saw the government “prostituting” that ethic in 1873. Members of the “liberal” opposition, from Ōi Kentarō to the Chichibu freedom fighters, are similarly portrayed as near-zealots, dedicated so completely to their causes that they would accept death or defeat more easily than compromise. The “liberals” of early Meiji, says Joseph S. Pittau, “were in general largeminded and optimistic seekers after freedom and progress, confident that individual freedom would result in national freedom.” There is, without question, considerable truth in both these generalizations. Meiji leaders did concern themselves consistently with questions regarding the national good, even as many of their opponents argued their causes with such consistency and fervor as to suggest genuine ideological conviction. I would suggest, however, that a scholarly preoccupation with the leaders’ nation orientation or with the ideological statements of the critics (a preoccupation, that is, with surface rhetoric that ignores subsurface motivations) has tended to obscure an equally important component of the Meiji political mix. It has ignored the more selfish interests: the struggle for personal or factional power that lay behind most Meiji political debates. Examples of calculating power politics abound in the Meiji archives – in government efforts to control the opposition by bribery and brutality, in the theoretical flip-flops of liberals as diverse as Itagaki Taisuke and Ōkuma Shigenobu, in the oligarchs’ successful attempts to pack the bureaucracy with men from their own han of Satsuma and Chōshū. But one need not rely only on actions. An analysis of rhetoric, too, even the carefully calculated rhetoric of the era’s leading debates, reveals a great deal of the self-interested side of leadership. One of the more striking examples lies in the highly ideological popular rights (jiyū minken) debate of 1874–1875, a debate sparked by the “optimistic seekers after freedom and progress” referred to above and carried on in the editorial columns of the day’s leading newspapers. It is this debate that I wish to analyze here. The popular rights discussions were sparked by the Memorial of 1874 calling for the immediate creation of a popularly elected national

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assembly. Drawn up by Itagaki and a number of other former officials who had left office with Saigō the previous autumn, it accused the government of arbitrariness and predicted that unless popular reforms were initiated soon, the state would be ruined. The memorial reportedly stunned the government, coming as it did from several of the nation’s prominent leaders, and sparked the most intense public policy discussion since the Meiji Restoration. The newspaper debate of the issue appeared in segments. An initial outburst came early in 1874, just after the publication of Itagaki’s memorial; the furor died down in the spring as national attention turned to the government’s plans to send a military expedition to Taiwan; then it flared up again during the latter part of 1874, continuing into the next spring. During the initial months, the government organ, Nisshin Shinjishi, edited by the Englishman J. R. Black, generally took the progovernment, anti-minken position whereas the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun ran articles on both sides of the issue. One interesting characteristic of this first period was that most articles were run not as editorials but in correspondence columns; newspapers, still in their infancy, had not yet developed either a consistent editorial line or a format for editorials. Another characteristic was the rancor with which both sides often took to the attack; Black described the early 1874 press as a “battleground go-between.” By the time the popular-assembly debate had resumed later in 1874, the generals leading the battle had changed, however, and so had the battle itself. During the summer and early autumn, two new voices had entered the press world – Fukuchi Gen’ichirō at Nichi Nichi and Kurimoto Joun at Yūbin Hōchi Shimbun, which until mid-1874 had been a progovernment paper. Both men had already become opinion leaders, Fukuchi as a Finance Ministry official with close ties to the government’s Chōshū faction, Kurimoto as a private spokesman with links to Fukuzawa Yukichi and his Keiō school. And both used the popular rights fight to turn their papers into highly influential voices of political opinion by running regular front-page editorials on the issue. As a result, the newspaper debate became a major focus and stimulus of national political discussion: Nichi Nichi supported the progovernment position known as gradualism (zenshinshugi) while Hōchi led the minken cause. On the surface, the positions of each camp were reasonably straightforward. The minken faction argued with a passion born of apparent conviction; (1) that current government policies amounted

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to a “continuation of official despotism, which would cause the people not to believe in official decrees or to submit to the government,” (2) that a popularly elected assembly must be created immediately to forestall disillusionment and possible chaos, and (3) that the assembly should be composed of the national elite – members of the former samurai and noble classes. (Shizoku was the term generally used to encompass both nobles and samurai.) The heart of this position lay in the second demand – that an assembly be created now. As a Hōchi editorialist declared on 29 January 1875, the only political leaders in all Japan worthy of the name “true statesman” were those “former lords and councillors who wanted to open an assembly immediately.” But if the bulk of copy was devoted to the call for an assembly, the greatest heat was generated by the minken camp’s insistence that shizoku alone make up the legislative body. Nothing, apparently, angered – or frightened – them more than several official moves afoot to dilute their strength and undermine their economic status by raising the nation’s 30 million commoners (heimin) to equal legal status by taking away the annual hereditary stipends that all samurai were used to receiving from the government. As a result, repeated articles during the early months of 1875 berated the heimin as “ignorant,” “unlearned,” “weakhearted people” or “powerless fools incapable of guiding the nation.” Moreover, these editorials added, the elite shizoku class deserved its annual stipends. As a Hōchi writer declared on 20 March 1875, the shizoku in recent years “had earned great merit, maintaining the country’s independence and honor, carrying out the restoration, bringing European and American culture to Japan, and masterminding national progress.” The merit thus attained, he argued, demanded a continuation of special privileges, both political and economic. Fukuchi at Nichi Nichi, on the other hand, defended the government’s gradualist position. He agreed that an assembly was needed but maintained that since most citizens still were unskilled in the arts of self-government, they should be educated through cooperative ventures (both economic and political) at the local and prefectural levels before a national assembly was created. To move too rapidly toward a national popular assembly, he argued on 6 December 1874, would be to invite disruptive change, thus making it “impossible to maintain national tranquility.” Did not the most perceptive Western statesmen all maintain that radical political shifts represented a “gamble, a race between national peace and national chaos”? Basic to this argument

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was his further contention that all the people – commoners as well as shizoku – should be included in the assembly. “Is it logical,” he asked in a Nichi Nichi editorial on 12 March 1875, that stipend-receiving former samurai “who are parasites sustained by the people . . . should have more rights than rich or good commoners?” On 25 March he said the only reason why many heimin were spiritless today was that in previous eras they had been forced “to live in servitude under an oppressive governmental system.” Trained in the arts of local public service, they would soon become just as capable of legislative service as the shizoku. Such training would, however, take time: “Vitality is a quality that does not develop in an instant. But as we increase the rate of the restoration of popular rights, their spirit will increase commensurately” (27 March 1875). That the debaters on both sides felt deeply about their ideological positions is indisputable, as is the fact that men on both sides were genuinely concerned about what was best for the nation. But it is equally significant that each side took only those positions most likely to enhance its own chances in the struggle for power. While the “nation’s interests” dominated the rhetoric, the faction’s interests dictated the underlying positions. And though this fact hardly sets Japan apart from other lands, it nevertheless demands notice in light of the almost exclusive emphasis placed by most scholars on the “nation-centered” concerns of Meiji leaders. Let us look at Fukuchi’s position. Not surprisingly, a careful reading of his 1874–1875 gradualist articles reveals not a single argument likely to have seriously threatened the power of the government. The assembly system that he advocated was regarded by all as necessary to the eventual rationalization of what was essentially an ad hoc regime. Deliberate movement toward the creation of that assembly would enable the oligarchs to stay in power for a time while giving them an opportunity to develop methods to control the assembly system. Even his “liberal” insistence on including commoners in the government, though probably not insincere, was replete with advantages for the Meiji establishment. It would justify postponement of the day when an assembly would be feasible; it would undermine the powerful exsamurai class, which was small enough and prestigious enough to serve as the regime’s most potent opposition; and it would lend support to government arguments that the samurai class did not deserve special privileges – especially the annual stipends that had become such a drain on the national treasury. Commoners, moreover, made up almost half

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of Nichi Nichi’s subscribers; to advocate their cause was hardly an ideological act of economic self-sacrifice. But the gradualists were not alone in tailoring logic to expediency. The opposition, which sometimes is considered to have been more thoroughly ideological in its orientation, apparently played the same game. Minken arguments that the current government was despotic, for example, carried with them the corollary that “honest” servants of the national will (that is, minken leaders) should be brought into the government to effect proper changes. And what tool could have given Itagaki and Kurimoto greater leverage than the early election of a popular assembly – an assembly to which only individuals from their own small class would be selected? Perhaps the most obviously self-serving aspect of the minken position was the sustained defense of the idea of granting governing rights only to the elite shizoku. The Hōchi editorials made it absolutely clear that when minken theorists spoke of popular rights they had in mind rights for their own social stratum and no other. Popular rights, in other words, meant elite rights – rights for the class represented by Itagaki, Kurimoto, and most of the Hōchi readers. The fact that the minken disputants suddenly abandoned the debate in mid-April of 1875, when the government announced that a “conference of local officials” (chihōkan kaigi) would be convened and that Itagaki had been asked to reenter the government, simply heightens the impression that their arguments were, to a significant degree, political. The promised conference was not to be popularly elected; nor was there assurance that it would carry any clout. But the fact that it was an assembly and that the minken clique’s leading spokesman had been invited back into the government was apparently enough to cause Hōchi to exult on 14 April: “It is splendid. It is good. ... It is for the good of the people.” One is hardly surprised to hear Fukuchi sneering some weeks later that the minken had been “swallowed whole by its god and general” Itagaki. It seems clear that, at least in the 1874–1875 debate over a popular assembly, neither side operated simply on the basis of ideological conviction. This is not to suggest that the debaters were cynics; nor is it to argue that they were less sincere than typical leaders in any other time or place. I wish merely to emphasize that while the leading spokesmen of Meiji Japan may have talked more about the nation’s good than have those of many lands, they nevertheless acted as typically human, political individuals with an abundance of ego and an

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intense craving for power. As Albert Craig has noted: “The desire for success is strong in most Japanese. Only a few can attain it. Those who do must exhibit drive to an exceptional degree.” Only as we deal with this easily accepted but little examined fact of personal ambition and factional power struggle can we expect to bring Meiji history out of the two-dimensional world of the Modernizing Hero and into the complex universe of human struggle – good, bad, and neutral.

Source: Louis Perez, ed., Mutsu Munemitsu and Identity Formation of the Individual and the State in Modern Japan. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001, pp. 236–265.

22

Nationalism and the Taming of Japan’s Early Twentieth Century Press ™

The Japanese government came close to shutting down the country’s largest newspaper, the Osaka Asahi Shimbun, in the fall of 1918, in response to the paper’s harsh criticisms of official handling of the rice riots that engulfed more than 140 communities that year. The Asahi episode, known as the White Rainbow Incident (hakkō jiken), stands today as a major turning point in the domestication of Japan’s modern press, the event that symbolized the transformation of a feisty, adversarial newspaper establishment into a relatively docile institution. The Asahi editor’s decision to capitulate to government demands rather than risk suspension or banishment is seen by Uchikawa Yoshimi, the dean of Japan’s press historians, as the beginning of a new era of press “cooperation and submission” to government policies, an era in which “the newspaper enterprise became synonymous with the capitalist enterprise.”1 The White Rainbow episode drew its name from the fiery attacks that Asahi and other papers initially made on the government’s efforts to control the widespread rioting. When press reports of women demonstrating over rising rice prices in Toyama seemed to officials to incite similar protests elsewhere, the Home Ministry on August 14 forbade all reportage on the spreading popular movement. Aghast, reporters in Tokyo called a general meeting on the fifteenth and labeled Home Minister Mizuno Rentarō’s “suppression of free discussion . . . the most improper act ever seen.”2 Mizuno responded with an announcement that the Home Ministry would issue daily summaries of the 309

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disturbances, which papers would be allowed to reprint. The press complied, but the papers in the major cities held large reporters’ rallies (kisha taikai) and a number of editors wrote stinging columns criticizing the government’s approach.3 Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun suggested on August 17, for example, that the cabinet’s “resignation is the only way.” And Yūbin Hōchi Shimbun asked in an August 22 editorial whether the Japanese people might not have “come to realize that the power of the masses is capable of destroying the wide gulf separating rich and poor and of bringing down the wall of bureaucratic secrecy.” The most ominous criticism came August 26, when Osaka Asahi. which had half a million subscribers, ran a scathing editorial raising the verboten topic of revolution. “Is our great Japan . . . approaching the fearful day of final judgement?” the writer asked. He then referred to “people of old who would say, ‘the white rainbow pierced the sun,’ wielding a meat fork as a silent but evil omen while thunderbolts flashed in their heads.” The allusion to revolution-bent peasants in ancient China was sufficiently well known to spark an immediate government response. The Home Ministry prosecuted Osaka Asahi under the press laws for disturbing the peace and advocating revolution and proposed the permanent shutdown of the paper (hakkō kinshi). Perhaps the most significant result of the prosecution was Asahi’s response. Eschewing its longtime “affection for mobilizing the masses,”4 it gave in quickly – and completely. Two of its chief editors, including Murayama Ryōhei, who had guided the paper for nearly four decades, resigned; when several of Asahi’s more liberal reporters left and tried to start their own antigovernment paper, Asahi took measures to block them, and on December 1 an Asahi editorial titled “Editorial Surrender” (Genron no kuppuku) admitted a lack of discretion and “tendency toward one-sidedness” and promised henceforth to “correct our excesses.” The charges were dropped on December 4. Almost as significant as Asahi’s quick capitulation was the response of other newspapers. A few attacked Asahi for a “lack of loyalty and patriotism,”5 while most of Japan’s press ignored the White Rainbow affair. Of those who wrote about it, only the English-language Kobe Chronicle discussed it as a free press issue or as the kind of censorship problem that might also have implications for other papers. In Uchikawa’s view, they had become more concerned about Osaka Asahi as a commercial rival than about abstract issues such as free speech or the people’s right to know.6 Indeed, from his perspective, even the

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press’s opposition to the official handling of rice riot reports probably grew more from a desire for sales and profits than from ideology or journalistic principles. What had happened? Surely, it had not always been thus. The first two decades of the Meiji era had seen the growth of a remarkably independent, adversarial press. Some of the more radical papers went so far as to call “wholehearted” resistance against restrictive government “the people’s highest, most important responsibility.7 When official corruption came to light in 1881, the progovernment editor Fukuchi Gen’ichirō took to the lecture circuit to attack the guilty parties, as well as the whole nonconstitutional system. Indeed, at any given time in the late 1870s one could expect to find up to a score of journalists in jail for their outspoken views. And even when the elite press turned away from its preoccupation with political ideas and became more news oriented after the mid-1890s, the feisty, critical stance continued. In the aftermath of the 1895 Triple Intervention that forced Japan to return to China land won in the Sino-Japanese War, for example, newspapers were suspended no fewer than 200 times for attacking the government’s conciliatory policy.8 Well into the twentieth century, direct attacks against everything from foreign treaties to officials’ personal morals, from naval corruption to streetcar fares, were common indeed. Why then did the press’s approach change after the White Rainbow Incident? Why did criticisms become muted and concerted antigovernment crusades largely die out? And what impact did this change have on Japan’s newly developing civil society?9 It is my contention that four factors combined to cause this shift in tone, two of them constants, applicable as much at the birth of Japan’s modern press as in mid-Taishō, and two of them variables, resulting from distinct changes in the nature of both the press and its Japanese setting. Further, I would argue, it was the variables that mattered most and, of these, the crucial factor was nationalism and its rising hold on the hearts and minds of Japan’s leading journalists. The most obvious constant was the government’s own efforts to control speech and prevent unacceptable ideas through the aggressive enforcement of the Meiji newspaper laws. From the imprisonment of the young editor Fukuchi in July 1868 through the censorship policies of the American Occupation eight decades later, Japan’s press experienced few periods of respite from official attempts to control news and opinion. The 1875 press law allowed for imprisonment of both

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editors and writers; the 1883 law permitted the suspension and banishment of offending publications; the 1908 (and final prewar) law provided for the post-publication prohibition of sales and distribution. And enforcement was harsh enough to give editors pause about taking up sensitive causes, particularly after the mid-Taishō years when papers had become big businesses.10 The second constant constraint on adversarial relationships can be found in the Confucian breeding of Japan’s early journalists. Though the Meiji press was lively and willing to invoke government penalties with strident political arguments, a close reading of even the earliest press reveals a striking reticence to attack the system per se. Unlike lateQing Chinese writers, many of whom found themselves outside the system and thus ready for revolutionary change, Japan’s early journalists were relative insiders who almost universally eschewed radical or systemic solutions to problems. They flailed away at policy questions, demanded constitutionalism and wider representation, even called for the impeachment of specific cabinets and advocated an expansion of the participatory public, but only a few on the fringes ever advocated revolution, abolition of the imperial institution or fundamental change in Japan’s Kokutai or national polity. To a man (in rare cases, to a woman), these writers were among the privileged, Confucianeducated elite who saw their task as creating “a harmonious, unified society” based on the “amalgamation of divergent elements for the common good.”11 Even the harshest critics generally accepted Japan’s fundamental polity; so the surprise is that they remained as vocal and critical as they did for half a century after the Meiji Restoration. What should not surprise us is that once certain conditions shifted, this Confucian orientation eased the way to a tamer, more proestablishment stance. One of these new conditions, and the third cause of the press’s capitulation, was commercialization, which became a major driving force in the establishment press just before the turn of the century. Japan’s earliest ōshimbun or “prestige papers” had circulations numbering only in the hundreds and paid most writers no more than eighty yen a month. By the late 1880s, the largest papers still had little more than 10,000 subscribers, and by the mid-1890s circulations had reached about 50,000.12 What this meant, at least in part, was that jailings and temporary suspensions of papers did not have major economic consequences. Reporters and editors saw their missions as political, not economic. Indeed, most would have echoed Fukuchi at Tokyo

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Nichi Nichi: journalists were society’s “uncrowned kings”; they wanted influence rather than money. This old-time Confucian disdain for moneymaking had vanished, however, by 1900. Following the lead of the so-called minor scandal papers (koshimbun) such as Yomiuri Shimbun and responding to an increasingly literate urban population’s demand for news, most of the papers became avowedly commercial in the late-Meiji years. Motoyama Hikoichi at Osaka Mainichi Shimbun now proclaimed unabashedly that profit should be a newspaper’s principal aim. Editors at such upstart papers as Yorozu Chōhō and Niroku Shimpō used sensational antigovernment journalism to make their papers among the largest in Japan. And by the time of the White Rainbow episode, the press had become a true mass medium. The key point here is that this shift had an overwhelming influence on the press’s capacity for fighting with a government intent on control. While antigovernment, prolabor, sometimes salacious campaigns were useful in the 1890s in attracting growing numbers of subscribers and advertisers, the increased budgets required that editors avoid overly harsh government responses, which might in turn have meant economic disaster. By 1914 when Kuroiwa Shūroku bragged that he would willingly sacrifice Yorozu for principle, his counterpart at Tokyo Asahi quipped; “I cannot afford that much conviction.”13 Similarly, when the controversy over the handling of the rice riots took Osaka Asahi to the brink of banishment in 1918, economic reality dictated capitulation rather than bombast. The rest of the press, apparently taking careful note, walked with even greater circumspection for the next two decades. While Confucian elitism and government regulations might have kept them within rather broad establishment boundaries, the threat of economic disaster brought them to heel. But there was another factor, of equal if not greater import, and that was the rise of a new kind of nationalism. A deep and growing commitment to an increasingly well-defined idea of “Japan” both changed the nature of the press and exerted a powerful impact on Japan’s rising civil society. Nishida Taketoshi, one of this century’s most careful students of the Meiji press, says that “the main trend in Japan’s press and intellectual world after 1886 was the appearance of nationalism.”14 This is not to suggest that nationalist sentiments were absent before that, but while they remained a peripheral tune in the heady days of “civilization and enlightenment,” they became the dominant melody after the

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third Meiji decade, dictating the score for editorial writers, serving as a means of attracting new readers and even stimulating the creation of new newspapers. Neither should Nishida’s observation be taken as a suggestion that nationalism was an easily-defined, simplistic idea growing out of unified impulses. One of the important characteristics of nationalism, in Japan as elsewhere, is its elusive, ever-changing nature. The very concept is rooted in a melange of different emotions and causes, taking various shapes at different times for diverse groups and individuals. Across the years of this study, the mainstream press’s discussions of nationalism accordingly went through three stages. In the early years, before 1894, journalists tended to use nationalistic issues to bring people into the public arena and expand the public sphere; in the middle years (1894–1905) a rising crescendo of imperialistic themes brought even more people into the realm of citizenry but at the same time began to threaten that diversity of ideas that is so important to the full-bodied growth of any civil realm; and in the time between 1905 and 1918, the rising acceptance of nationalistic ideas as normative served, in many ways, to remove the buffer between the state and private realm. It is to the nature and causes of these three stages that we now must turn. The first thing to be said about the pre-1894 years is that nationalistic issues came quickly to dominate Japan’s entire intellectual, political atmosphere. Beginning with an eagerness to bring the “people” (minshū) into the political process and with rising concern about Japan’s unequal status in international treaty relationships, stimulated by opposition groups that saw treaty issues as an effective lever in their struggle for power, and fanned by the 1889 promulgation of the Meiji Constitution and the 1890 issuance of the Imperial Rescript on Education, nationalism became the driving issue of public life. As Carol Gluck reminds us, “The word ‘empire’ (teikoku) became so fashionable . . . that one caricature condescendingly warned that ‘imperial rickshaw pullers’ and ‘imperial nightsoilmen’ would be next.” The prime goal of Japan’s leaders by the 1890s was “to draw all the people into the state, . . . to make kokumin of them.”15 The second point to be made is that the press served in these years as a central agent of this nationalism. After the drowning of the twentythree Japanese passengers abroad the British ship Normanton late in 1866, for example, the press gave half a decade to emotional debates over what should be done about the unequal treaties, with Yūbin Hōchi and Chōya Shimbun often leading a chorus of support for the

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government’s reform efforts, while Tokyo Asahi and Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Jiji Shimpō on the other side helped stir up a typhoon of hostile public opinion,” charging the government with ineptitude and vacillation.16 On a less controversial note, every newspaper in the country fought to outdo the others in publicizing the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution on February 11, 1889. Tokyo Nichi Nichi had a copy of the document on the streets at 10:00 a.m., just as the official ceremonies began, and Osaka Asahi had its Tokyo contacts send the draft by cable – the first time telegraph had been used in Japan for such a lengthy document. As editor Murayama noted, “Our brash use of such a long telegraph dumbfounded the world.”17 The most striking symbol of the new nationalism of this mid-Meiji press appeared in Nihon, a paper launched on the very day of the constitution’s promulgation by the conservative patriot Kuga Katsunan. Declaring that his goal was to create “nationalism from below,”18 and backed by a group of men who wanted Japan to stand up more forcefully to the Western powers, Kuga proclaimed in the first edition that he would avoid the typical newspaper’s path of being either “an organ for fighting for political power or a commercial tool for attaining personal profit.” The paper’s aim, he said, was “to restore our national spirit (kokumin seishin) which temporarily has been lost.”19 So vocal in its advocacy of stronger national policies that it invoked more than 200 days’ worth of suspensions during its first eight years, Nihon became one of Tokyo’s larger papers, what one historian called the “leader of Tokyo’s newspaper world” in the early 1890s.20 It can be argued that one of the more important results of the journalists’ growing preoccupation with Japan, “the nation,” was that large numbers of heretofore disinterested people were pulled into the national system, and thus the public sphere was expanded. When early editors like Fukuchi and Kurimoto Joun talked about the masses as minshū, they saw them as disconnected villagers with minimal political consciousness and little sense of citizenship. Clearly it was with this in mind (as well as with a desire to strengthen Japan against foreign threats) that many a journalist took up nationalist causes in the third Meiji decade. Along with those who built schools, created armies and wrote a constitution, the journalists talked often about the need for “a sound sense of nation” as a prerequisite for citizenship.”21 They complained about the lack of national spirit among the minshū and called on the people to “fulfill” the promise of the new constitution through “collective public opinion” (kokumin

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kyōdō yoron).22 Accordingly, as the circulations of Japan’s metropolitan papers began growing in the 1890s, many journalists expressed satisfaction at their success in helping to make citizens – or Japanese – out of the people.23 During our second period, 1894–1905, the tone shifted. If domestic issues such as constitutionalism, the role of the emperor and the creation of citizens dominated the first years, talk of Japan’s standing in the world dominated the second. Treaty inequities were, by then, on their way to full eradication, and discussions of “Nihon” or Japan increasingly had been replaced by talk of Dainihon teikoku or the greater Japanese empire. Concern about hikokumin (noncitizens) had given way to concern about “insufficiently patriotic” groups such as socialist and labor organizers. The ultranationalist journalist Tokutomi no longer needed to be “appalled at the mechanical response of school children discussing the emperor,” because “the emperor” had at last become “established as the center of kokutai [national polity] and the focus of elementary education.”24 As Okano Takeo notes, the 1880’s-style debates about kokuminshugi (literally, “citizenism”) and kokkashugi (“countryism”) had given way to discussions of Nihonshugi (Japanism) and kokka bōchōshugi (expansionism).25 While this evolution in attitudes was facilitated by a great deal of indoctrination in schools, in the military and in the press, it can be argued that its primary agent was war – particularly Japan’s successful campaigns against China (1894–95) and Russia (1904–05), which gave rise to a euphoric spirit of aggressive nationalism. To read Japan’s newspapers in the period from 1894 to 1905 is to find a journalistic world obsessed with international competition and Japan’s changing place in the world. It also is to find a press less and less interested in the question of whether the Japanese people have become “citizens” and more and more concerned about whether they are adequately patriotic. The new attitude showed up first with the commencement of war with China in the fall of 1894. The newspapers covered that war with an intensity and enthusiasm that made the old elitist press, which scorned an emphasis on news as plebeian, seem a century away. Foreign correspondents became commonplace, as did the use of telegraph as a means of getting the news quickly; newspapers across the country clamored for the latest war stories, and circulations soared. Japan had become an imperialist power, deserving of international respect, and

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journalists were as eager to tell that story as people were to read about it. As Tokutomi said in Kokumin Shimbun: The attack on China certainly opened a new epoch in our history, moving our focus from the life of the nation to the life of the world . . . To move from the national to the world stage is to project our own national spirit into the operations of the whole world . . . And what does this mean? It means the insertion of Greater Japan into all areas: military, commerce, politics, national as well as personal activities, the material as well as the spiritual spheres.26

The new spirit grew apace in the aftermath of the 1895 Triple Intervention, when scores of papers were suspended by the Home Ministry for voicing outrage over the government’s acquiescence to Russian, German and French demands that the Liaodong Peninsula be returned to China. Said Tokutomi: “It is no exaggeration to state that the return of the Liaodong Peninsula decided my fate. Thereafter I became a different man.”27 And the spirit of nationalistic resentment intensified even more when Russia itself used treaties with China to grab essential control of Liaodong three years later. Soon, talk of war between the two giants began to be heard, and the press became caught up in a prowar fever that illustrates most of the facets of this period’s journalistic nationalism. By the middle of 1903, the daily press was full of calls for more aggressive responses to Russian advances in Manchuria, and in October Tokyo’s largest paper, Yorozu Chōhō. responded to an increasingly chauvinistic public by coming out in favor of war.28 A few papers with close ties to the government, including Tokyo Nichi Nichi and Tokutomi’s Kokumin Shimbun. advocated caution, but most agreed with the Niroku Shimpō editorialist who, seeing a chance for national glory in Manchuria, expressed delight as Japan now “began to rouse itself from her medieval lethargy and strode forth toward the ‘Promised Land.”’29 Once war broke out in February 1904, even the more circumspect joined in the frenzy that swept the nation. With but a single exception (the small socialist paper Heimin Shimbun), the newspaper press gave itself wholly to the most detailed war coverage Japan ever had experienced. The major papers competed avidly with each other to report the war’s events most thoroughly and quickly, issuing hundreds of extras to attract ever – growing numbers of readers. They sent record numbers of reporters to the front, ran full pages of editorial cartoons and used the latest technology to achieve scoops.

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Some reporters masqueraded as coolies or soldiers to gather information, Jiji Shimpō signed a contract with The Times of London, giving it access to the news being sent by wireless from the China Sea via the Times’s ship Haimun.30 And Osaka Asahi secured scoops by chartering its own speedy ship to hurry material to the nearest telegraph station. One of the most significant aspects of the coverage was the Japanese government’s success in pioneering new kinds of censorship. Never had news been controlled so tightly in any war. While officials allowed large numbers of Japanese correspondents to go to Manchuria, they certified only fifty-six foreign reporters to cover the Japanese army, then kept those correspondents in Tokyo for weeks before letting them go to Manchuria. At the scene of battle, officials drastically limited what could be written, frequently keeping reporters from even seeing battles themselves and feeding them large doses of misinformation. An American reporter described the situation in Tokyo as “a government holding the rabid pressmen at a distance, censoring their simplest stories, yet patting them on the back, dining them, wining them, . . . and trying in every way not only to soften their bonds . . . but siren-like, to deaden their sense of duty and their desire to get into the field.”31 So effective were the censoring officials that their techniques were emulated in nearly all subsequent wars. As Columbia’s John Hohenberg notes: “In sealing off their enemies from knowledge of their military plans, the Japanese had gone far toward crushing the most romantic tradition in journalism – the heroic war correspondent.”32 While this censorship succeeded in giving the homeland Japanese an unequivocally positive view of how the war was going (and, in the process, leaving the public unprepared for the necessary realities of negotiating a peace at war’s end), it probably was superfluous overkill, particularly if the censor’s aim was to insure domestic support for the war. Few wars have evoked a more total, enthusiastic editorial support from the beginning to the very end of conflict. On February 7, 1904, as tensions between Japan and Russia neared the breaking point, a Kokumin Shimbun editorial called for war to assure “the right to national existence.” Even the socialist paper, Heimin Shimbun. which often angered officials and fellow citizens alike by expressing concern for the Russian “people,” wrote on July 3, 1904 that “the people must consider it their duty to make an ample recompense for those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their fatherland.” And at the end of the war, an Osaka Asahi editorialist wrote: “Once the Japanese people decide to go to war, even if our race becomes extinct, even if our finances are

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depleted, we can only hope that the people will continue to fight with guts and spirit until victory.”33 It was this uncritical, unabashedly chauvinistic spirit that led the Christian pacifist Uchimura Kanzō to sneer, in retrospect: “I am convinced that during the twenty months of war, there was no newspaper worthy of the name in Japan. No one reported the truth upon which we could fairly have based our judgment of the progress of the war.” Many reporters knew that government reports were biased and inaccurate, that as Uchimura put it, officials were covering “up any unfavorable news about Japan” and reporting “small events unfavorable to the enemy in the most exaggerated way.”34 But they seemed not to care. So convinced were most journalists of the rightness of Japan’s cause, so dedicated were they to total victory, that news columns and editorials alike became weapons in the military’s arsenal. One of the unfortunate results of the unreflective chauvinism of wartime reporting was the outburst it triggered at the end of the war, when the government negotiated a treaty without an indemnity from Russia. This story is too well known to merit much detail here, but it must be noted that when Kokumin and Mainichi scooped the other papers with news of the Portsmouth Treaty at the beginning of September 1905, hundreds of journalists, who had convinced themselves as well as the Japanese people of Japan’s right to claim the fruits of total victory, lambasted the government. Yorozu Chōhō called for Japan’s negotiators to “carry the flag at half mast,” noting that “they painted tears on the face of a victorious country” and calling on the people to restore national glory by “erasing” the treaty.35 Editorials of this sort sparked the Hibiya riots of September 5–8, in which street cars, churches and offices were burned, nearly 500 policemen and soldiers were injured, fifteen people were killed and upwards of 2,000 were arrested. One of the rioters’ prime targets, the pro-government Kokumin, was besieged, stoned and attacked across two days by nearly 5,000 angry citizens shouting, “Destroy the government’s newspaper!” and “Let’s get the traitor Tokutomi!”36 The press’s passionate nationalism also affected treatment of other areas of national life early in the 1900s, as journalists expressed increasing unease about liberal and leftist ideologies that were spreading among some intellectuals, growing acceptance of the state-constructed tennōsei (emperor system) ideology, and a rising sense that Japan was not being treated fairly by the European powers. But the dominant theme of nationalistic expressions in the press from 1894 to 1905 was

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war – and the desire for economic and territorial aggrandizement that war brought with it. And for that reason, patriotism and commitment to the kokutai had, for most journalists, become articles of faith. The effect of all this on the public was twofold. On the one hand, the unending war reports and discussions of Japan’s role in the world joined with spreading literacy and growing cities to pull larger and larger numbers of people into the public sphere. As people sent their sons off to war, raised contributions for the martial efforts and then bought newspapers to learn the news of those wars, they saw themselves more and more as parts of the larger Japanese community. Nationalism thus continued to assist in increasing the size of Japan’s public sphere. But passionate nationalism soon became a two-edged sword; for even as it pulled people into the public sphere, it defined that sphere ever more narrowly. Labeling as traitors those who questioned the state’s definition of what was good and acceptable, nationalistic journalists helped close the doors on the kind of open discussion of ideas that is necessary to a healthy and growing society. One of the clearest examples of this tendency was the vilification by mainstream journalists of Yosano Akiko for a 1904 poem in the journal Myōjū, urging her brother not to give up his life in a war in which the emperor himself failed to fight. Not a single writer from the leading papers defended Yosano’s right to express herself. What they did, instead, was to coin a new phrase, “dangerous thoughts,” for her ideas – foreshadowing later years when that same phrase would be used to hound and banish anyone with unorthodox ideas.37 While the ecstasies of nationalism might invite new legions into the community of the Japanese, they simultaneously limited the ideas one could express as a member of that community. Even though the limits on free expression would not become total until the 1930s, it can be argued that our third era, from 1906 to 1918, largely completed the psychological transformation in Japan’s press, bringing journalists to a place where adherence to concepts such as Dai Nihon teikoku and kokutai would become de rigueur. When Terauchi Masatake fell from the prime ministership on September 29, 1918, he was, in the words of onetime Tokyo Asahi editor Midoro Masaichi, “bearing the casket in the memorial service for the defense of free discussion.”38 This is not to suggest an absence of controversy in the press of these years On the surface at least, the newspapers remained lively, helping the Seiyūkai bring down the Katsura Tarō cabinet in 1913, taking part

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in the outcry over the Siemens Affair a year later and, of course, criticizing the government in 1918, both for its handling of the rice riots and for suppressing nearly all news of the military adventures of Japanese troops in Siberia that summer.39 Similarly, when the government attempted to influence writers by creating a Committee or Literature in 1911, Asahi in particular helped doom it by reporting extensively on the criticism of leading authors such as Natsume Sōseki. And when Admiral Nogi Maresuke committed suicide in order to follow his beloved Emperor Meiji in death in the summer of 1912, many papers deplored the act as outdated and feudal, “a major problem with regard to Japanese mores and morals,” even though they expressed admiration for the sincerity of Nogi’s motives.40 But while journalists led the opposition to specific governmental policies, a marked attitudinal shift toward compliance with the system was apparent. While the press might criticize concrete policies and specific cabinets (particularly cabinets representing a faction with which they were not aligned), it grew more and more reticent to take up discussion of Japan’s fundamental ruling system, increasingly dedicated to the “Japanese way” assumed by all to be uniquely appropriate in this, the emperor’s realm. Nationalism blended now with publishers’ worries about profit and officials’ propensity for controlling expression to take the sting out of press criticisms. This transformation showed up, first, in the continued enthusiasm for most overseas adventures. When the government announced its decision to annex Korea in 1910, for example, even editors who once had expressed doubts about the costs and potential European reaction supported it enthusiastically. Under a headline, “The Happiness of the World,” Tokyo Mainichi spoke for its colleagues in announcing on August 23 that “the world can enjoy peace only when all countries reach the same level of civilization.” The one group of journalists who might have voiced concern over the imperialism of the act – the socialists – were by now largely gone from the public scene, either in jail or underground. A search by one scholar among the period’s most liberal journalists for expressions of support for the idea that Koreans should have rights of representation now that the two nations were united found “almost complete silence on the matter.” The only liberal journalist who said anything about Korean rights took a stance against them.41 At other times, it was the press’s silence that spoke most eloquently about how widely journalists had come to accept the government’s

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right to act unilaterally in foreign affairs. When Japan issued its notorious Twenty-One Demands on China in 1915, for example, the press acquiesced in the government’s suppression of news and comment, limiting itself to broad statements of support for Japan’s aggressive policies in China and tamely publishing the final negotiated settlement between the two countries late in May, more than four months after the issue had erupted.42 Similarly, the press generally accepted without vocal complaint the government’s heavy censorship of reporting on World War I – a forced “unity of blind obedience,” Midoro calls it43 – carping when an already unpopular Terauchi suppressed information about the 1918 Siberian forays but otherwise limiting its coverage to the neutral, innocuous and favorable reports allowed by censors. Nearly twenty reporters (including seven from the two leading Osaka papers) represented Japan’s major newspapers at the Versailles Peace Conference, but when the once-liberal Prince Saionji refused so much as a single interview with the Japanese correspondents, they settled for discussions of what representatives from other countries were saying – and what they were allowed to print. One result, says Midoro, was that Japan’s diplomats had no chance to gauge likely public reactions as they negotiated; the press’s role as a conduit to and from those in authority largely had been erased in the sphere of foreign affairs – a fact that would have significant bearing on Japan’s changing civil society. If a sense of national duty had caused the press to curb its earlier penchant for speaking freely, sometime acerbically, about foreign policy, nationalism had made it even more accepting of “orthodoxy” on a host of domestic issues. Its transformation in this area represented both a reaction and response: reaction against the increasing pluralism and perceived materialism of twentieth-century society and response to government efforts to create a kokumin or citizenry loyal to Shintō, the kokutai and, above all, the emperor. Nearly all mainstream journalists had come to see themselves as “Japanese” more than as independent thinkers; support for the nation had become more important to them than universal ideas such as free speech and press. One reason for this shift clearly lay in the inherent Confucian elitism of most journalists. Observing the rise of labor movements (some of them stimulated, ironically, by reader-seeking newspapers themselves), intellectuals advocating socialism and anarchy, women’s groups ready to engage in political assassinations, naturalist novelists praising

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both individualism and sexual freedom, and, with the dawning of the Taishō era, young people obsessed with hedonistic lifestyles, many of even the more liberal journalists flinched. A conservative like Tokutomi surprised no one when he bemoaned the preoccupation of youth with “extremely vulgar goals” such as “winning fame and honor, and getting rich,” then predicted that “when the people lose interest in the state, the state has already begun its decline.”44 But when a progressive paper such as Tōyō Keizai Shimpō took a similar tack, it seemed clear that the press’s middle course had shifted in a nationalistic, less popular direction. Reviewing the impact of popular movements on politics of the previous decade, the Tōyō Keizai writer worried that the “masses” had inserted an unpredictable element into Japanese political life, an element not unlike that that preceded the French Revolution. He did not call for suppression but did urge that observers treat the movements seriously – and cautiously.45 Perhaps the key evidence of the attitudinal shift lies in the increasing numbers of late-Meiji, Taishō journalists who began to join their official counterparts in demanding visible, near-total support for the emperor system that lay at the core of Japan’s kokutai. The intensive, successful efforts of the elite then to create a tennōsei ideology have been widely studied, as have the roles of the schools, armies and navies in spreading this ideology. Just as important, though less studied, is the way in which the press made itself the government’s willing agent in this process. Little description is needed here of the extensive, reverential coverage the papers gave the imperial institution at the time of Meiji’s death other than to note that the thoroughness and tone suggested the death more of a deity than of a human. Everything was there: reports on bowel movements in the last days, condolences from dignitaries around the world, broad black borders around Meiji’s Page One visage, articles on the great accomplishments of the year, profiles of the Taishō successor, tributes from the adoring followers. Of even more importance was the way the press had come, by now, to treat the emperor on a day-to-day basis. Imperial tours were reported carefully and respectfully; comparisons with European royalty abounded; Japanese victories abroad belonged to his majesty’s wise and caring leadership, defeats at the negotiating table to his inept advisors; during the 1906 Tōhoku famine, the emperor made a beneficent donation of 40,000 yen; and when several socialists were sentenced to death in 1911 for treason, the emperor graciously gave 1.5 million yen for

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medical assistance for the poor in an effort to “use philanthropy as an antidote to socialism.”46 Typical was a lengthy discussion in the press late in 1911 of a Kyushu railway official who committed suicide to take responsibility when a metal strip became lodged in the wheels of the emperor’s train, turning a scheduled five-minute break into an hour-long delay. The Kyushu Nippō wrote on November 28 that the suicide illustrated the “brilliance of our national character, the loyalty and patriotism of bushidō.” The president of Kyushu Imperial University responded in Fukuoka Nichi Nichi on December 2 that suicide was wrong, even though the motives behind it may have been admirable, since it meant “killing a human being who is a child of the emperor.” He suggested that a better course would have been to take responsibility by “exhausting one’s self in service to the nation.” Before long the Tokyo papers took up the issue, as did Diet members in the lower house, and the consensus was that the suicide had been proper and that acts of loyalty to the emperor must be analyzed by the heart rather than by the head.47 For most journalists, as well as most people, the imperial institution had by 1911 left the realm of sober discussion and entered that of unquestioning reverence. The most striking evidence of this shift in values, this acceptance of kokutai and the tennōsei ideology by most journalists as normative, came in the press’s growing inclination to ignore free speech, free press issues when they came into conflict with nationalist principles (or, one suspects, with hard economic realities). Until the beginning of this century, Japan’s leading papers, though fiercely competitive in the commercial and political arenas, had shown a remarkable propensity to cooperate on matters that pitted the press against the government, issuing joint petitions and holding industry-wide rallies to fight highhanded officials. While that cooperation continued on certain issues during the years after the Russo-Japanese War, the press increasingly gave into competitive, nationalistic instincts and simply abandoned hard pressed colleagues in a number of instances. We already have seen, for example, how the Tokyo papers ignored the plight of Osaka Asahi at the time of the White Rainbow Incident, choosing to overlook the threat to press freedom in order to strengthen their own standings in the newspaper world. Though motives in this case probably were commercial rather than nationalistic, the rival editors were following a pattern they had established seven years earlier, and that time the motivation clearly had been nationalism.

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The episode was the trial of Kōtoku Shūsui, editor of the banned Heimin Shimbun, for participating in a plot to assassinate the emperor. None of the respectable editors had protested when Kōtoku’s socialist paper was shut down in 1905 for publishing the Communist Manifesto, and now they continued their silence when the government decided to try Kōtoku and his fellow conspirators in secret. This meant, of course, that these papers (and their readers) were deprived of important, supposedly public information; it also meant that the important right to a public trial had been denied one of Japan’s most controversial journalists. As described by the editor of the Japan Chronicle, in a letter published in England rather than in Japan: “The procedure used by the authorities in this case has been extremely unjust.” Editors were threatened with prosecution if they published anything from the defendants about “the reasons for the arrest,” and while police charges were given wide publicity, “the mouths of the accused have been shut, and any newspaper which dared to give publicity to their defense would have been prosecuted under the law.”48 The Japanese press’s response can be summed up in the phrase, quiet compliance. The foreign press protested the censorship and, in response, was given additional information about Kōtoku’s trial. But Japan’s newspapers, with the sole exception of the labor-oriented Niroku Shimpō, remained silent even about the secrecy of the trial. Fearful of the censors’ wrath and imbued with a new sense of national loyalty that placed socialists like Kōtoku beyond their pale, they had no trouble ignoring the free press, public right-to-know issues. Even liberal journalists had long subscribed to a Confucian view of the world, wherein harmony and consensus served as central pillars of the nation. Moreover, two victorious wars and an emerging tennōsei ideology had combined with effective government propaganda to make them highly suspicious of the small socialist movement, which used phrases like class conflict and dialectical materialism. Thus, in the words of an April 4, 1917 Osaka Asahi editorial, socialism had become “a kind of taboo word in Japan” and its adherents, though more varied and complex in their ideas than they often were given credit for being, contained at least some “extreme advocates of radical thought . . . [who] ought to be kept under the strictest control, like madmen, murderers, robbers.49 In the same vein, a Japan Mail editorialist said on November 8, 1913: “A patriotic press should agree to withhold whatever may be easily misunderstood to the detriment of Japan.” So when official censors challenged rights generally accepted as crucial to the operation of

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either democracy or a free press, the major newspapers by mid-Taishō would find it relatively easy to go along. Fears of lost profits made compliance with censors on these issues materially desirable; commitment to kokutai and the tennōsei made it intellectually acceptable. The press would not be taken over wholly by the guardians of rightist and ultranationalist thought until the 1930s; indeed, the journalists never would completely desist from expressing their own opinions on certain matters. But the sphere in which they asserted themselves grew ever smaller – and the 1918 White Rainbow Incident marked a pivotal moment in the shrinking of that sphere. Cowed by an aggressive government, never again would the prewar press challenge the authorities in such a public, outspoken way. And the reasons, to a considerable degree, lay in nationalism. From the mid-Meiji years, when journalists felt it their solemn duty to engage in public debate about the nature of the system and even argue the question of where sovereignty lay, they had reached a point where only specific policies would be seriously discussed – not the nature of Japan’s polity or imperial system. Capitalism had helped bring the press to this point; after all, papers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers had much to lose when sales and distribution were prohibited. But at least as important was nationalism. Spurred by the fruits and joys of wartime victories, as well as by the fears that social harmony was being undermined by pluralism, most journalists became unabashed patriots, ready to conform when the national good was evoked. The impact of this evolution was, in many ways, profound, particularly the impact on Japan’s emerging civil society, and while full analysis of that impact has yet to be made, at least three options seem clear. First, the press obviously played an important role across these years in bringing new groups into public life, helping in the process to create Jurgen Habermas’s “plebeian public,” a sphere above the purely private yet below (or outside) the state’s exclusive realm.50 When Fukuchi took up journalism in the first year of Meiji, he proclaimed his eagerness to write for women and children, as well as the established classes, and by the 1890s even the most old-fashioned papers were attracting new classes of urban laborers, students and businessmen, bringing them willy nilly into the public process. When Akiyama Teisuke’s Niroku Shimpō took to staging labor rallies, then covering them in his paper to gain subscribers early in the twentieth century, the impact of the print media was clear: it was giving people both knowledge and a sense that their opinions mattered. The late-Meiji, early-Taishō riots on the

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streets of so many Japanese cities – all covered extensively, often even promoted, by the press – seemed to prove the point. The old minshū or masses had become kokumin or citizens, at least partly because of the information and ideas provided in the press. Second, the press quite clearly helped to shape the public debate in these years, both its agenda and its outcome, by giving a voice to those outside the official world. Journalists like Tokutomi and Fukuchi had made no bones about it: they became journalists for the sole purpose of shaping opinion. So it was only natural that their discussions of the meaning of sovereignty, the kind of constitution Japan should have, and Japan’s rightful role in Asia exerted a powerful impact on the debates that gave the era its peculiar shape. Their successors may not have been as self-conscious in their desire to influence policy (indeed, that was Tokutomi’s main criticism of the Taishō press), but they probably were just as effective. Thus, the fact that a large segment of Japan’s expanding public, stimulated by an expansionistic press, “was definitely more responsive to the calls of vociferous nationalism than to the voice of caution and reason”51 in the early 1900s helped to shape the government’s own increasingly activist policies toward Russia, just as newspaper-stimulated demonstrations helped to bring down cabinets in 1913, 1914 and again in 1918. Surely too, the constant press calls for universal male suffrage, while beyond the contours of this study, played their own role in keeping that issue alive and leading toward a steadily expanding electorate. A third point is more troubling. While press evocation of Japaneseness initially may have attracted readers and thus enlarged the number of participants in the civil sphere, that same emergence of nationalism as a central focus of Japanese journalism seems quite surely to have narrowed the scope and range of public discussions. Just as scholars once talked about the “massification without citizenization” of Japan’s political process, it can be argued that the press awakened people to a new sense of national belonging yet at the same time, by its acceptance of an increasingly strident definition of what properly could be called Japanese, squelched debate over public policy. While journalists might debate the meaning of sovereignty in 1881 and roundly criticize the government for pressuring the courts to give the death sentence to a policeman who tried to assassinate the Russian crown prince at Ōtsu in 1891, they would grow silent on such issues after the end of World War I. Commoners, governors and writers alike generally had come by then to accept as normative the great pillars of

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national thought: the centrality of the imperial institution, Japan’s quest for greatness abroad, the unique nature of Japan’s kokutai. These topics were placed off limits in the new national debate. Japan’s international role might be discussed but not the question of whether it had a right to become a colonial power. The emperor could be praised and loved but not questioned. Kokutai might be described in vague and glowing terms but Japan’s uniqueness remained unchallengeable. Carol Gluck’s “minkan ideologues,” conservative writers who during our second period “formed a phalanx of defensive nationalism and attacked what was foreign as a means of staking out . . . what was Japanese” had triumphed.52 And the result was a curtailment of the proper sphere of public debate, a curtailment so severe as to diminish public society itself. Anyone who questioned how compliant the press could be needed only to read the journal Nihon oyobi Nihonjin on February 1, 1908 when a writer actually begged the government to censor manuscripts ahead of time, “in the beautiful and beloved name of liberty,” so that journalists could be spared the pains of postpublication censorship.53 When the Asahi quickly capitulated and the rest of the press stood by mutely during the White Rainbow episode a decade later it was clear just how pervasive acceptance of restrictions had become. The civil sphere might have embraced greater numbers of people, but the subjects open to discussion had narrowed markedly. For that fact, the press’s fevered nationalism was at least partly responsible. References Asahi Shimbun, September 14, 1912. Conroy, Hilary. The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868–1910. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960. Gluck, Carol. Japan’s Modem Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. Habermas, Jurgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Haga Eizō. Meiji Taishō hikka shi. Tokyo: Shikōsha Shobō, 1924. Hohenberg, John. Foreign Correspondence: The Great Reporters and Their Times. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964. Huffman, James. “Freedom and the Press in Meiji Taishō Japan.” Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. Tokyo, 1984. Hyōron Shimbun. January 1, 1876. Reprinted in Okano Takeo. Meiji genron shi. Tokyo: Hō Shuppan, 1974. Irokawa Daikichi. The Culture of the Meiji Period. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. “Jiji nisshi.” Taiyō. April 1911. Cited in Gluck.

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Jones, F. C. Extraterritoriality in Japan. New York: AMS Press, 1970. Kasza, Gregory. The State and the Mass Media in Japan, 1918–1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. “Kenpō tsui ni happō seraretari.” Seiron. February 7-March 4, 1889. Excerpted in Inada Masatsugu, Meiji kenpō seiritsu shi. II. Tokyo: Yūhikaku, 1960–62. Kido Mataichi, et al, eds. Kōza gendai jiyānarizumu. I. Rekishi. Tokyo: Jiji Tsūshinsha, 1974. Kokumin Shimbun. December 14,1894. Kokumin Shimbun series, February 18 to March 18, 1906. Quoted in Oka Mitsuo, Kindai Nihon shimbun koshi. Tokyo: Mineruba Shobō, 1969. Letter to The Times. January 6, 1911. Reprinted in F.G. Notehelfer. Kōtoku Shūsui: Portrait of a Japanese Radical. Cambridge: University Press, 1971. Midoro Masaichi, ed. Meiji Taishō shi genron hen. Tokyo: Asahi Shimbunsha, 1930. Mitchell, Richard. Censorship in Imperial Japan. Princeton University Press, 1983. Nihon. February 11, 1889. Reprinted in Uchikawa Yoshimi and Matsushima Shūzō, Meiji niyūsu jiten. IV. Tokyo: Mainichi Komiyunikeshiyon, 1986. Niroku Shimpō. June 15, 1903. Nishida Taketoshi. Meiji jidai no shimbun to zasshi. Tokyo: Shibundō, 1966. Oka Yoshitake. “Generational Conflict after the Russo-Japanese War.” Tetsuo Najita and J. Victor Koschmann, eds. Conflict in Modern Japanese History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Okudaira Yasuhiro. “Nihon shuppan keisatsu hōei no rekishiteki kenkyū josetsu.” Hōritsu Johō. April-October 1967. Ono Hideo. Shimbun no rekishi. Tokyo: Tōkyodō Shuppan, 1961. Osaka Asahi Shimbun. Gojū nen no kaisō. Quoted by Yamamoto Taketoshi (see rest of citation below). Osaka Asahi Shimbun. August 30, 1905. Quoted in Gregory Ornatowski. “Press, Politics, and Profits: The ‘Asahi Shimbun’ and the Prewar Japanese Newspaper.” Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1985. Pierson, John D. Tokutomi Sohō. 1863–1957. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. Quoted in Peter Duus. “Liberal Intellectuals and Social Conflict in Taishō Japan.” Najita-Koschmann eds. Conflict in Modem Japanese History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Rubin, Jay. Injurious to Public Morals. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984. Shimbun to minshū. Tokyo: Kinokuniya, 1973. Tokutomi Sohō. Jiden. Quoted in Okamoto Shumpei. The Japanese Oligarchy and the Russo-Japanese War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970. Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun. May 27, 1915. Uchikawa Yoshimi. Masu medeia: hōseisaku shi kenkyū. Tokyo: Yūhikaku, 1989. Uchikawa Yoshimi and Arai Naoyuki, eds. Nihon no jiyānarizumu: taishū no kokoro o tsukanda ka. Tokyo Yūhikaku, 1983. Uchikawa Yoshimi, in Chiba Yōjirō, ed. Shimbun. Tokyo: Yūhikaku, 1955. Uchikawa Yoshimi. Shimbun shi wa. Tokyo: Shakai Shisōsha, 1967. Uchimura Kanzō. Uchimura Kanzō zenshū. XIV. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1932. Yamamoto Fumio. Nihon shimbun hattatsu shi. Tokyo: Itō Shoten, 1944.

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Yamamoto Taketoshi. Kindai Nihon no shimbun dokusha sō. Tokyo: Hōsei Daigaku, 1981. Yorozu Chōhō. October 12, 1903. Yorozu Chōhō. September 2, 1905. Yorozu Chōhō. August 25,1918. Yoshio Iwamoto. “Suehiro Tetchō: A Meiji Political Novelist.” In Edmund Skrzypczak, ed. Japan’s Modern Century. Monumenta Nipponica, 1968. Young, A. Morgan. Japan in Recent Times. New York: William Morrow, 1930.

Source: Japan Focus, Vol. 4, No. 3, March 29, 2006. https://apjjf.org/-James-L.Huffman/1744/ article.html.

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Yasukuni Shrine on the Silver Screen: Spirits of the State ™

Yasukuni Shrine, home for a century and a half to the spirits of Japan’s fallen soldiers, has fueled controversy in every decade of my academic career. When I arrived in Tokyo as the 1970s were about to dawn, great numbers of students and young radicals across the nation were working in concert with writers, professors, and Christian theologians of all ages in opposition to the state’s ties to the Shinto institution. In the mid-1980s, I attended a dinner at which Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro sought (and received) the support of several prominent American scholars for his much-criticized visits to Yasukuni as prime minister. While I was visiting Beijing several years ago, Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō made one of his periodic visits to the shrine, touching off a level of anger that I could only grasp by being in China. And today, as I write this from Tokyo, the Chinese assert that they will judge Japan’s next political leader by one issue above all others: whether he visits Yasukuni. What explains the emotional power of Yasukuni, both for Japanese leaders and war veterans, and for the victims of Japan’s colonial rule and invasion more than six decades ago? Few symbols in the East Asian cornucopia have greater potential for working deviltry, both in Japan’s domestic and regional politics. Chinese and Korean hyper-sensitivity over this issue, fully matched by the insensitivity of many Japanese leaders, could undo half a century of progress toward regional cooperation. After decades of controversy, it remains the case that outside a narrow segment of internationalist circles in the West, while young 331

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people in particular may know a lot about anime, manga and Toyota, they remain sublimely ignorant of Japanese politics-particularly about something as ostensibly rarefied as the Yasukuni issue. This is regrettable, given the controversy’s potential for mischief. This makes John Nelson’s 28-minute, teaching-oriented film on Yasukuni, “Spirits of the State,” both welcome and important. The visually-attractive video makes a serious effort to present a balanced, sensitive interpretation of both the shrine’s historical development and the role it plays in Japan’s efforts to construct a viable war memory six Decades after the end of the Pacific War. It begins by introducing Yasukuni as a site where issues of historical memory collide, explaining that the twentieth century, which some have heralded as an epoch of technological and cultural progress was an era in which an estimated “188 million people died because of wars.” War memorials, it notes, raise complex memory issues in all societies. The film then moves through the historical development of Yasukuni, beginning with its creation in 1869 to memorialize soldiers who died in the civil wars surrounding the Meiji Restoration. It shows the role of the shrine in creating “religious nationalism” and supporting Japan’s march toward imperialism from the Meiji era forward. Discussing the disaster of World War II, “Spirits of the State” explains that the existence of the shrine was “comforting” to soldiers dying far from home who knew that even if their bodies were not returned to Japan, “at least their spirit would be enshrined” there. It notes the close bonds between the Emperor and the shrine, showing members of the imperial family including the Emperor visiting the shrine during the war, and officials from the Imperial Household Agency as well as military officials and prime ministers thereafter. Nelson’s expertise as a specialist on Japanese religion at the University of San Francisco is apparent in the film’s sensitive discussions of the varied motives that draw people to the shrine: bereaved relatives who still are grieving, veterans who seek respect, politicians after votes, ultra-nationalists, and protesters, among others. The narrator explains the belief of many Japanese that spirits of “the recently departed” can seek retribution on the living if they are not adequately revered-a fact that has made Yasukuni a protector of national security as much as it has been a place of solace for survivors. The second half of the film focuses on the shrine’s structures and motives of memory, particularly its Yūshūkan Museum, which glorifies the war

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dead as if they were “saints.” The museum shows the role of women supporting the war effort on the home front; it displays “haunting portraits” of kamikaze flyers; it glorifies the suicide of General Anami Korechika who, as War Minister in 1945 staunchly opposed Japan’s surrender and committed suicide immediately after the surrender. Woven through the treatment of these displays are interviews with shrine visitors who convey their ignorance of the war and express, repeatedly, how much the visit moved them. Says a young man, looking at the museum’s display on the Special Attack Forces (the kamikaze): “I don’t have that kind of courage.” Special attention is paid to the “ultra-conservative individuals and groups” whose work has been crucial in keeping the Yasukuni spirit alive. Powerful footage shows their sound trucks blaring nationalistic slogans, while their minions sell literature on the shrine grounds and others sing patriotic songs at the annual August 15 memorial service. “Spirits of the State” concludes with a discussion of the broader issues of war memory. Describing Yasukuni as “a place produced and choreographed by the state,” it argues that the “balancing act” between “myth and history” is never stable, warning viewers at the end about Yasukuni’s “seductive embrace of nationalism, religion, and selective commemoration.” We are in Nelson’s debt for taking on a project as daunting as this, a highly charged topic filled with nuances and twists as complex as Japanese society itself. His attempt to balance criticism of the political (and ahistorical) uses to which the shrine has been put with sensitivity to the human needs that motivate visitors is impressive. And the careful selection of visual materials keeps the narrative moving in a lively way that will facilitate its use in the classroom. At the same time, it is the search for balance that is most elusive. The web site promoting “Spirits of the State” promises an examination of how “the ‘invented traditions’ of this Shinto shrine have served the interests of the Japanese state from 1868 to the present day,” and the film itself begins with references to both the progress/destruction paradox and the troubling issue of Yasukuni’s role in venerating “the military dead of a state responsible for one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.” One expects, from all of this, that the treatment will be either carefully balanced or skewed toward the anti-Yasukuni positions that have been prominent among progressive intellectuals in Japan and some Western scholars of Japan. The film, however, conveys quite different messages. While the narrator refers to state control of memory, to the unconstitutionality of

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prime ministers’ visits, and to political uses of the shrine, most of the video visual and aural messages convey the views of those who find either comfort or political succor in the shrine. The one academic expert interviewed in the film, historian Yutaka Yoshida, a leading authority on the emperor system, speaks only about why so many Japanese find the shrine comforting. Other interviews follow – with veterans, a Yūshūkan official, grieving relatives and other visitors. Many of these interviews are quite moving. A veteran who criticizes schools for not teaching about the war comes through as neither a demagogue nor an extremist. Another who questions why it is all right for American politicians to visit Arlington but not acceptable for Japanese prime ministers to come to Yasukuni exudes sincerity and gentleness. A housewife who “can’t stop tears from coming” as she remembers the death of her brother in Burma evokes genuine empathy. These interviews are likely to have a powerful impact on American and international students, the intended audience. They also are appropriate in a video about Yasukuni. Indeed, they not only add a human factor that often is missing from most Western scholars’ analyses but convey strongly held Japanese ideas that may be absent in many works by international scholars. The problem is that they are not balanced by anything comparable from the victims of Japanese war and colonialism. There is no response to the veteran’s comparison of Yasukuni and Arlington, no discussion of fundamental-and crucial-differences between the two. Footage on the anti-shrine movement consumes at most 35 seconds-and is among the weakest in the film. There are no interviews with scholars, activists, politicians, or family members who explain their opposition to the uses to which the shrine has been put: none of the voices that show up in works such as Norma Fields’s Realm of a Dying Emperor. And no interviews with Chinese, Koreans or Southeast Asians, that is, those who bore the brunt of Japan’s war. The issues of war memory and political uses of the shrine are left to occasional, somewhat sketchily developed comments in the narration. There are other disappointments: particularly the unexplained use of contradictory figures about the number of Japanese who died in the war, and near-total silence about the intensity and political importance of East Asian reactions to the Yasukuni issue that have so profoundly shaped conflicts in the region in recent years. But far the greatest problem is that a film that raises hopes for a serious discussion of the issues of war and nationalism, and of the state’s control of historical memory, focuses instead on the emotional and human factors that make Yas-

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ukuni thrive. Shown without interpretation and discussion, I would expect my conservative but intelligent undergraduate students to come away from “Spirits of the State” having largely missed the reasons that make the Yasukuni issue so troubling to many observers today. Does this problem rend the film ineffective for use in the classroom? Far from it. Its strengths are many, and I intend to use it when I teach postwar Japanese history next fall. The film contains valuable material that should make it a valuable tool for classroom discussion, one that can be utilized by instructors of various views on Yasukuni and the war. The film is appealing visually, the historical material effectively presented, the music well chosen and appropriate. The shots of both the shrine and the visitors humanize a place that often seems bigger – and colder – than life, and the footage moves in ways that should keep students engaged. The division of the video into two halves, the first related to the development of the shrine, the second to war memory, makes it useful for teaching too. The narration, moreover, introduces key issues regarding state, politics, and memory, even if lightly (and if the documentary footage slights them). The controversial enshrinement of the Class-A war criminals’ spirits in 1979 is mentioned; so is the intensity with which the right-wing uses shrine-related issues to promote nationalism, as is the use of the shrine for political ends, and the contrast between the nostalgic remembrance of the war dead and the suffering those very men caused in Asia. While I would have preferred fuller treatment of those issues, the instructor is provided with a springboard for what should be a lively discussion. The film’s most impressive achievement is its nuanced, humane discussion of the varied motives of those who come to Yasukuni. Officials who use the shrine for political gain are given a limited hearing, and right wing agitators are described with the coolness they merit, but veterans, grievers, and general visitors are treated with the seriousness and respect more politicized approaches often lack. Hearing a uniformed veteran profess his desire to console his comrades who were less fortunate than he, or the sister who feels that her dead brother is at least remembered with respect here will not alter one’s views about selective memory, but such scenes do provide a new level of understanding of the complex, often deeply human, motives that propel the pro-Yasukuni movement. I frequently tell students that any historian wanting to understand another epoch must treat its people with respect-must assume that even

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people guilty of grievous and censorious deeds most likely operated out of what they themselves thought to be worthy motives. Watching the varied, earnest visitors to Yasukuni in “Spirits of the State” makes such empathetic understanding easier. It helps one understand the complex forces that drive the pro-shrine movements. It complicates the picture, even as it organizes it. To the teacher, that is a gift. “Spirits of the State: Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine” (http://www.fHms. eom/id/l1748/Spiritsofthe_StateJapans_Yasukuni_Shrine.htm), 2005, produced by John Nelson of the University of San Francisco, is available from Films for the Humanities and Sciences. Material about the video may be found through the web page of the USF Center for the Pacific Rim.

Source: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 65, No. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 225–227.

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Alistar Swale, The Meiji Restoration: Monarchism, Mass Communication and Conservative Revolution ™

The Meiji Restoration has been studied, restudied, then studied again. As the New Zealander Alistair Swale admits, “there would hardly seem to be any necessity to write a new history” (p. 1) of it. So why has he done just that? The reason, he says, is that many of our ideas about the Restoration need to be revised. The Restoration was less a “great leap from traditionalism to modernity” (p. 3) than most historians assume. Its context and historical unfolding demand more nuanced examination. Above all, we need to understand the conservative nature of the event – the fact that its prime movers were neither “advocates of Radical Liberalism” nor, at core, Westernizers. Most, he argues, were “conservatives, albeit conservatives of a variety of hues” (p. 9). Swale’s goal is sweeping; it also is worthwhile. Unfortunately, his product is not always as persuasive as the title and introduction might lead one to expect. One problem lies in the use of secondary sources. More than a few of the “general interpretations” that Swale seeks to refute have already been reconsidered by historians whom he ignores or slights. His discussions of Tokugawa bakufu approaches to the West, for example, would have been improved by considering Michael Auslin’s Negotiating with Imperialism (Harvard University Press, 2004); his writing about the importance of the imperial symbol would have profited from taking account of Takashi Fujitani’s Splendid Monarchy (California University Press, 1996); and his treatment of mid-Meiji nationalists misses many 339

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of the points made by Kenneth Pyle’s New Generation in Meiji Japan (Stanford University Press, 1969). These examples could be multiplied several times. Linguistic imprecision also weakens Swale’s analyses. “Conservatism” cries for clearer definition, as does the phrase “mass media,” alluded to in the book’s title. The latter term is particularly problematic, because the mass media, as generally understood, never actually show up in the work. Meiroku zasshi, which occupies most of the chapter on this topic, had a small circulation of 3,000. And discussions of the late-1880s “popular press” treat only elitist political papers such as Nihon, which eventually reached a peak circulation of about 20,000; there is no reference to the more popular daily papers, some of which really were mass mediums. Swale is right in suggesting that political discussions spread to ever-wider audiences; he does not, however, examine what the popular papers had to say. The revisionist agenda is further undermined by the book’s gaps. To seriously confront our understanding of a topic as big as the Meiji Restoration requires an approach that is not only sweeping but exhaustive. The work is particularly disappointing in the latter regard. In his discussion of the pre-1868 years, for example, Swale dismisses the Tokugawa regime’s responses to the West with the comment that “only a few had the wit or the will” to try to create a “new intellectual outlook and a new social structure” (p. 31). The intensive, often creative, efforts of bakufu officials to construct a new order are left unexamined. Bakufu missions to the West are dismissed as ill-informed or uncurious, with no attention to the concerted attempts of numerous bakufu representatives to gain an understanding of everything from international law and Western social customs to political philosophy on their missions to Europe in the early 1860s. Even more problematic is Swale’s lack of attention to the political discussions that took place in newspapers – i.e., in the popular press – during the 1870s, the very decade with which he begins his purported discussion of the ‘‘mass media.’’ When he dates the rise of the “dynamic” form of conservatism called “gradualism” (zenshinshugi) to the early 1880s (p. 83), he misses the fact that the influential Tōkyō nichi nichi shinbun had run more than sixty editorials on zenshinshugi in 1874–1875. Similarly, the work’s assertion that “by the 1880s” the Freedom and Popular Rights movement “was increasingly contaminated by forces that were highly illiberal and anti-democratic” (p. 179) ignores the fact that the rights movement had, from its very inception,

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been disinterested in representation for anyone but the old elites. No work can be comprehensive, but such gaps occur with disappointing frequency. That said, Swale offers a great deal that is helpful and important, including an introduction, for English-language readers, to influential Japanese scholars who have continued to focus on the Meiji Restoration even while their counterparts in the West have moved away from it: people such as Itō Yukio, who has worked on the roles of Itō Hirobumi and the Meiji emperor, and Takii Kazuhiro, who has studied European trips by both Itō and Yamagata Aritomo during the preparation of the Meiji Constitution.1 Swale’s repeated discussions of the translation of terms such as “Meiji Restoration” and bunmei kaika sometimes border on the strident, but they are helpful in probing the minds of Restoration-era leaders. Swale also provides fresh retellings of the historian’s stock-in-trade: the vignettes that humanize the past. Some of the best – including a description of the last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, astride a horse during the bakufu’s final days, “his figure slumped forlornly in the saddle with a length of dark cloth entwined about his head” (p. 60) – draw on diaries and memoirs of nineteenth-century actors such as Ōkubo Toshimichi and the young diplomat A. B. Mitford. This work is most useful, not surprisingly, in pushing us to take seriously the conservative elements that played crucial roles in shaping the Restoration era. One may find Swale’s approach to conservatism overly broad; one may question his depiction of the themes that dominate Western interpretations. But there is no gainsaying his contention that conservatism was a potent force not only in the mid-Meiji years, when the revolutionaries had grown older, but from the beginning of the Restoration movement. Four characteristics of the Restorationists’ approach appear again and again throughout the book: a refusal to accept Western influences uncritically; a determination to maintain traditional Japanese values; a penchant for strong, centralized government; and an eagerness to ground Japan’s modern system in the imperial household. Swale also points out repeatedly that the conservatives he has in mind were neither hidebound nor reactionary, that they brought “a very modern solution to a modern problem” (p. 180). The critical approach toward Western ideas taken by key Restoration figures is illustrated in accounts of the 1871–1873 Iwakura Mission, which so often is held up as the epitome of Westernization. The travelers may have learned practical lessons in America and Europe, Swale

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says, but they were appalled by much that they saw and reinforced in their determination to avoid things such as radical democratization and religious superstition. Their attitudes toward the West at the end of the trip were ‘‘ambivalent and nuanced” (p. 74). Not even the most vociferous advocates of kaika (reform) were “exclusively concerned with the adaptation of Western technology and culture”; they sought rather the “clarification of an indigenous cultural reconfiguration” (p. 77). The harkening back to traditional values, while apparent in every chapter, appears most surprisingly in the discussions of the Meirokusha, where the period’s brightest minds displayed “an abiding concern to ‘touch base’ with the pre-Restoration intellectual tradition of Chinese classics” (p. 122), regardless of whether their proposals were reformist or conservative. These men wanted above all, says Swale, to create a strong Japan; they were not members of some European-style enlightenment society. Both the desire for strong government and the insistence on grounding modernity in the emperor arise in the book’s discussions of the tumultuous autumn of 1881, when scandal prompted officials to promise a legislature and constitution. Swale describes the usual actors in this much-studied episode, but focuses on a less-known memorial by a group of young military officers known as the “four generals” Destined for high positions in government and the military, these men decried the increasing power of a small clique, led by Itō Hirobumi, and demanded a constitution. Above all, they argued that Japan needed “moral” government rooted in a sovereign emperor. They were convinced, said one of their number, “that a morally benevolent ruler bound in unity with a morally and militarily educated populace was the safest foundation for Japan’s future” (p. 135). Ideas of emperorloyalty grew increasingly potent as the decades progressed. Swale concludes by labeling 1890, the year after the Meiji Constitution was promulgated, “a watershed where tradition . . . was finally transformed and integrated into a modern ideological package.” What he calls “the illiberal option” would there-after “expand into a more full expression of ultra-nationalism, ultimately fascism” (pp. 180–81). That conclusion encapsulates the strengths and weaknesses of the entire work. It is puzzling, given the positive light in which Swale has previously discussed conservatism. It is less than persuasive, since the leap from the study’s evidence to fascism and ultranationalism is huge. And yet, like the book itself, it is provocative and stimulating, designed to force the reader into a discussion of the contradictions that have energized Japan’s entire modern era.

Source: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 3, Fall 2009, pp. 528–529.

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Eiko Siniawer, Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists: The Violent Politics of Modern Japan ™

Most scholarly histories are revisionist, with some arguing for big changes in our understanding, others for modest ones. This study of violence in modern Japan’s political life belongs in the latter category, but the revision is important. Violence, says the Williams College professor, has not been episodic or peripheral, as most historians think; rather, it has been “a systemic and deeply rooted element of modern Japanese political life” (2). Marshalling an eclectic array of sources – journalistic reports and essays, memoirs and autobiographies, secondary analyses – she argues that from the 1850s through the 1950s, both left and (more often) right constantly utilized ruffians, zealots, “violence specialists” and yakuza to win elections, influencing democratic practices for both good and ill in the process. The precipitators of violence varied across time. Early on, we see idealistic shishi (“men of spirit”) challenging the Tokugawa order, while bakuto or gamblers helped officials enforce order. In the 1880s and 1890s, thuggish sōshi (ruffians) were employed by people across the political spectrum. By the early 1900s, the political parties had developed pressure groups (ingaidan) that hired their own sōshi to intimidate and corral voters. In the 1920s, the political establishment began using yakuza elements and nationalist societies in draconian ways, to suppress both the left-wing and the labour movement, and to export imperialist ideologies abroad through tairoku rōnin (continental adventurers). And in the 1950s, a complex assortment of actors, left and right, brought violence into the Diet and out onto the streets. 343

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Three themes dominate Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists. First is the enabling role played by a public that accepted violence as a natural part of politics. “The fluidity between the ruffianism of the streets and politics at the highest levels,” says Siniawer, “suggests there was little, if any, stigma or political cost to becoming . . . a violence specialist” (106). While she overlooks a number of popular condemnations of this violence – a 1914 case during a naval scandal, for example, when the press blasted Home Minister Hara Kei for sending his sōshi to beat up reporters – her argument is generally convincing, as is her observation that violence declined after the 1960s, when opinion leaders began to “hone in on violence as a way to discredit their opponents” (149). She also emphasizes the complexity of the relationship between violence and democracy. Into the Taishō era, she notes, violence was used not just by conservative officials but by people’s rights advocates, parties trying to counter oligarchic control, and suffrage activists. By the late 1920s, on the other hand, it largely had become a tool of fascists and nationalists. While recognizing that violence legitimized the activities of anti-democratic groups and undergirded prewar authoritarianism, she concludes that the messy “entanglement of violence and democracy, with its varied and ambiguous consequences” (176), renders one-sided judgments of violence as anti-democratic simplistic. A third theme is that Japan’s experience with political violence was not unique. One of the work’s strengths is its employment of comparative cases: America’s Tammany Hall and Britain’s “bullies” in the nineteenth century, Italy’s Mafiosi and Blackshirts in the twentieth. Suniawer makes it clear that differences abounded – that violence specialists were more fully integrated into Japan’s party politics, and that sōshistyle attacks continued longer in Japan. But while specifics varied, the violence was universal. Even today, she argues, “all democracies contain within them the potential for violence” (181). While the depiction of violence across time makes Siniawer’s argument compelling, the book’s chronological span often weakens the work’s impact. Put simply, the study encompasses too much, covering 110 years in 181 pages of text. The result is unevenness and frequent sketchiness. Important, relevant English-language treatments are ignored at times (e.g., Wesley Sasaki-Uemura’s Organizing the Spontaneous: Citizen Protest in Postwar Japan, University of Hawaii, 2001). Sections on the late-Tokugawa shishi and the early-Meiji sōshi fail to give us enough information to fill out the overall picture: these groups’ numbers, their organizational patterns, their places in society. And dis-

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cussions of the postwar “conservative nexus” fail adequately to explain links between conservative operators and violence. While the assertion that “money came to outstrip violence as a tool for political influence” (174) after 1960 is believable, it is backed by little evidence. Nonetheless, the work’s essential contention – that violence was a systemic, continuous feature of politics, which exerted a major impact on the nature of Japanese democracy – is demonstrated convincingly. Scholars inclined to emphasize the “brighter side” (3) of Japan’s modern history may find this work troublesome. And that is a good thing. Ruffians, Yakuza, and Nationalists should help us toward a history that is more complete, more nuanced and more interesting.

Source: The Historian Vol. 68, No. 3, 2006, pp. 610–611.

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David L. Howell, Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan ™

Few tropes have been used more widely by interpreters of early modern Japan than the “four Confucian classes” or status groups: the samurai-officials, farmers, artisans, and merchants who dominated society. Though this work will not erase images of those “four estates” from Tokugawa era [1603–1868] interpretations, it should keep serious scholars from ever again referring to them glibly. Intending to discover why modern Japanese have put such emphasis on homogeneity, David L. Howell has worked through an impressive array of Japanese scholarship and ended up constructing instead an analysis of “the way social groups were constituted and reconstituted over the course of the nineteenth century” (2). He concludes that the military Tokugawa government ensured security by creating status groups that centered in, but were not wholly identical to, the proverbial four estates, while the Meiji government [1868–1912], faced with foreign challenges, constructed a system based on subjecthood and nationalism. The dominant characteristic of the Tokugawa system, says Howell, was its universality; everyone, including reformers, accepted “the legitimacy of the status order as the basis of political economy” (49). Rooted in functionality, the system eschewed hierarchy, even as it differentiated between occupations and livelihoods, with outcastes, for example, allowed to “pursue wealth” from a variety of practical jobs, as long as they continued the status-demanded work of guarding prisons or tanning animals (61). It also meant that even despised groups, such as the blind, experienced considerable autonomy within their groups. 346

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With the coming of the Western threat and the rise of the Meiji regime after the mid-1800s, Howell argues, the utility of status groups declined and individual productivity became crucial. Status groups were eliminated; people became “subjects,” directly responsible to the state; and everyone had to become “modern,” patriotic taxpayers. The result was liberating for some but tragic for others, removed as they now were from status-group buffers. Howell’s writing is often ponderous, full of academic jargon, and nuanced to the point of occasional confusion. But if the sledding is rough, the ride is exhilarating because of the new interpretations that are provided, including both the broad analyses and the specific observations, and his contention that acceptance of the status system made it conceptually impossible for modern officials even to consider “non-Japanese [that is, uncivilized] peoples” as part of a multiethnic empire (198). A major strength of this work is Howell’s use of marginal groups to illustrate his argument. We see burakumin, or outcastes, subjected to “murderous violence” during the 1873 Mimasaka Blood-Tax Rebellion, when “the rules that had governed social relations between commoners and outcastes collapsed” (90, 104). We see the cruel treatment of northern Ainu, who served first as pawns in the Tokugawa status system, then as puppets in the modern rivalry between Japan and Russia. And we see endless behavioral rules – from Tokugawa sumptuary laws to Meiji admonitions against nudity – as markers of the boundary between core and periphery, “civilized” and “barbaric.” Howell’s study presents only a limited amount of new information. Except for the discussions of marginal peoples, most of the material is familiar. But its analyses are provocative and persuasive enough to make it a classic, a work that scholars should be debating for years to come.

Source: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies Vol. 66, No. 1, June 2006, pp. 271–280.

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Sarah Thal, Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573–1912 ™

If the devil resides in the details, then Sarah Thal’s account of the historical evolution of a popular pilgrimage site on the northern coast of the Japanese island of Shikoku is to be applauded for telling us a great deal about Japan’s early modern era, not just about how Buddhism and Shintō functioned on the island but about the interplay between political, economic, and religious forces across the nation. Most of the themes that she traces will be at least vaguely familiar to students of the Tokugawa and Meiji eras, but the way in which she explains them is likely to give readers reason to rethink, or at least to reorganize, their interpretations of modern Japan’s religious and political life. At its most basic, Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods traces the vicissitudes of the religious institutions on Zōzu, a holy mountain near the Inland Sea occupied by a miracle-working god variously named Khumbīra, Konpira, and Kotohira. Drawing on a rich array of journals, donor lists, temple records, advertisements, and scholarly treatises, Thal shows the dramatic changes the mountain’s key temple/ shrine underwent in order to remain vital even when the nation’s political and economic environment made survival difficult. Although this study makes ample use of the theoretical language of contemporary scholarship, though it refers constantly to sites, landscapes, commodified culture, and combinatory institutions, it is at heart a fairly traditional piece of scholarship, which examines a single institution’s history to illuminate the country as a whole. In the work’s 348

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telling, temples and priests typically react to rulers and powerful businesses rather than the reverse. Elites appear in sharp focus or as individuals, while commoners show up as ill-defined groups. Thal imposes a precise chronology on the narrative, even when the material resists neat division. And the story she tells is almost exclusively of the male world, devoid either of women as actors (except in the brothels outside the holy precincts) or of comment on the absence of women in the temples or shrines. Thal even employs the traditionalist’s broad, progress-oriented brush to the more distant past, arguing somewhat simplistically (and questionably) that Tokugawa people embraced “a broad public consensus that . . . accepted the importance of divine response in everyday life” (p. 291), while defining the people of Meiji as more scientific and hence more skeptical. At the same time, her careful, nuanced construction of the Mt. Zōzu experience brings perspectives to the Tokugawa/Meiji story that earlier histories have largely missed. Her narrative displays the interconnectedness of politics, economics, and religion with a clarity not found in other works, and it puts the malleability of Japan’s religious doctrines and practices in an extraordinarily dramatic light. Thal’s central thesis is that commerce and politics inevitably trumped belief or doctrine when the priests on Mt. Zōzu made institutional decisions. According to her summary of temple processes, priests first sought “the approval of rulers” in order to “ensure the survival of their god,” then acquired wealth in order to pay for buildings and worship, and finally responded to “worshippers, entrepreneurs, and entertainers” who “make the deity their own.” The result, she says, is that “the changing identities and interpretations of deities serve as barometers of political, social, and cultural change” (p. 5). Or again: “The landscape of the gods – so deceptively tranquil – thus records in its edifices the politics of humans” (p. 45). Having established the political and economic pragmatism of religious practices, she shows with repeated historical accounts how the temples and shrines on Mt. Zōzu adapted their policies repeatedly – and invariably – to fit the political tenor of the times. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the priests Yūgon and Yūsei allied their temple, Kankōin, with powerful local officials and then with the Tokugawa rulers, shrewdly playing up the magical powers of the mountain’s avatar Konpira (whom they defined as the original form of one of India’s key Buddhist deities) rather than his potentially threatening role as a source of political power. They also established the temple as a cen-

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ter of Shingon Buddhism and took control of commerce and politics in the village at the mountain’s base. As the Tokugawa era progressed and commerce spread, the temple created buildings, institutions, and doctrines to meet the needs and desires of merchants and pilgrims. It promoted Konpira’s ability to protect sailors in the nearby Inland Sea; it solicited donations (including stone lanterns) from the managers of the local Besshi copper mine’s managers; it highlighted the fact that the first character in Konpira’s name meant gold; and it actively promoted the construction and expansion of inns, drinking establishments, and even brothels in the village, in order to attract pilgrims. The subjugation of Mt. Zōzu’s activities to political and economic forces was even more dramatic in the Meiji era, when a centralizing government looked “to the priests of Japan – both in Buddhist temples and, especially, in the new state shrines – to pacify the populace” (p. 157). Local priests renamed the temple Kotohira Shrine, in response to government directives, created new ceremonies to honor state holidays, presented endless lecture series on “the Great Way of the Gods (kannagara no ōmichi) in support of the official Great Teaching Campaign, and, between 1874 and 1882, formed a society of leading supporters called The Reverence Association. In the process, says Thal, “the shrine helped to create a form of everyday, popular Shinto that supported the emerging structures of the imperial regime” (p. 178). All the while, the shrine’s head priests worked endlessly to enrich Kotohira’s coffers. During both the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5), in particular, they prayed for sailors and soldiers, sent amulets to troops, held victory ceremonies, and, above all, promoted pilgrimages, “fitting the god into the growing national, military structure of an expanding empire” (p. 276). Between the wars, they also concocted a scheme, to create a Million-Person Confraternity of worshipers who, in return for regular donations to the shrine, would be given steamship discounts and other special privileges when they came to Kotohira. Though that scheme eventually failed, it illustrated the lengths to which Kotohira priests were willing to go to assure the shrine’s financial prosperity. “The institutions of the gods,” says Thal, “remained inseparable from – and thus circumscribed by – both economic and political necessity” (p. 85). If the priests’ close attention to secular necessities strikes the reader as commonsensical, the ease with which they changed actual beliefs, even transforming their definitions and interpretations of the mountain’s god, is likely to be more surprising. Students of Japan (or of Asia

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more generally) will find nothing unusual in the eclecticism of the Zōzu worshipers’ approach to faith. Byron Earhart reminded us long ago that Japan’s “religious traditions do not have separate histories, for they are not separated in Japanese religious life”;1 and the intellectual scholar Maruyama Masao described Japan as a nation of “limitless toleration,” a place “where everything coexisted in harmony.”2 Nonetheless, the sharpness and rapidity of shifts in belief and the ease with which even temple heads made them, provide Thal’s work with some of its most dramatic moments. During the Tokugawa years, Zōzu’s god was variously seen as the Indian deity Khumbīra, the Buddhist spirit Fudō Myōō, a goblin-like mountain spirit called a tengu, and a nativist Japanese Shintō spirit (kami), depending on which priest-scholar was drafting the interpretation or which form appealed most to pilgrims or Kankōin patrons. For all supplicants, the deity had magical, miracle-working powers, including the ability to protect travelers and cause merchants to prosper, but the divine guises favored by seekers varied greatly – and the temple’s Shingon affiliation was not strong enough to keep priests from attempting to satisfy all comers. “As the popularity of Konpira grew,” says Thal, “so too did the number of ways in which people imagined the god” (p. 86). The most striking example of this flexibility came at the beginning of the Meiji era, when the new imperial government began actively to espouse the nativist Shintō religion. The government’s exclusivist, antiBuddhist approach put the Kankōin in a bind, since “the wealth of the pilgrimage relied in many ways on the ambiguity of the god” (p. 133), but head priest Yūjō concluded that the temple’s continued prestige and profit made continuation as a Buddhist institution impossible. He gave the god Konpira his new, nativist name, Kotohira, renamed the shrine Kotohiragū, and himself converted to the Shintō faith, taking on a new name, Kotooka Hirotsune. He also hired a Shintō ritualist and forced all of his priests either to become Shintō adherents or to resign. Over the next two decades, Kotohiragū would become one of the most willing among the new breed of shrines, “proactive agents of ideological persuasion, inculcating the values of reverence for the Shinto kami and obedience to the imperial state” (p. 157). The only thing that did not change in the early Meiji years was the first character in the god’s name. Though the pronunciation, “Kon,” was changed to “Koto,” the priests insisted on maintaining the same Chinese character. “Gold” was too attractive an icon to give up, even to the new government.

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If religious malleability in search of prestige and wealth is Thal’s major theme, she makes two or three other points that deserve note here. One relates to the behavior of the people who visited Mt. Zōzu to worship and revel. Politics and economics may have inspired frequent changes in officiants’ doctrines and rituals, but those same forces generally left the pilgrims’ worship practices untouched. Shrine attendance varied, rising in times of stress and falling when life was easier, but the worshipers’ actual behavior when they called on Konpira/Kotohira varied little. They prayed for safety in travel, for good health, and for wealth in business; they bought amulets to assure blessings of many kinds, and they reveled in the sociable life of gossip, restaurants, inns, and brothels at the foot of the mountain. What Thal calls the “culture of pilgrimage” (p. 98) remained constant even when the names, rituals, and sects affiliated with the god changed, because it was the religious event itself – and the god’s magical powers – that people sought, not the ritual or doctrines proclaimed by the priests. As late as 1912, after decades of priestly efforts to turn the shrine into a patriotic site for teaching national morals, “the popularity of both the miracles of the god and the prostitutes of the town still drew the vast majority of pilgrims to the shrine” (p. 297). Thal also portrays quite vividly the growing centralization of Japan’s political life in the nineteenth century. Although she sometimes makes the Tokugawa era out to be less developed or integrated than it actually was – as, for example, when she erroneously calls it an “age without libraries”3 – and although she gives the Meiji rulers credit for tighter control than they actually held in their early years, she nonetheless shows convincingly that the laissez-faire approach of the earlier government made life significantly simpler for temple priests. While the temple needed the support of powerful men for prestige and land, the Tokugawa government’s lack of interest in doctrinal affairs, or even in regulation, enabled the religionists at Mt. Zōzu to develop the eclectic, vibrant pilgrimage culture described above. With the Meiji rulers’ determination to create a strong and unified nation after 1868 came a loss of freedom at the shrine. The result was not just a change in ritual practices; it was a loss of vitality and diversity. Temple practices grew more predictable – and more boring. Except in time of war. Yet another of Thal’s emphases – one that resonates with the work of so many other Meiji scholars – is the seminal role played by the Sino-Japanese and the Russo-Japanese Wars in transforming Japanese life. Scholars of politics, education, and economics

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have shown how those wars speeded the growth of centralization, provided the impetus for industrialization, and started Japan down the road to imperialism. My own work on the history of the Meiji press has convinced me that the wars were as important as any other single factor in wedding populism to nationalism after the mid-1890s – and thus, by stimulating a patriotic orthodoxy, restricting the movement toward free speech that had characterized the early Meiji years.4 Thal shows that during these years, something more spontaneous than patriotism brought people to the shrine in droves. Driven by nationalism, and by the desire for profits that had precipitated the conversion to Shintō early in the era, the Kotohiragū priests now devised numerous techniques to gain supporters: amulets for everyone connected in any way with the fighting, services for the dead, prayers for sailors, requests for gifts from the same sailors, and celebrations for victories. And the rulers helped them in this process, turning “worship into an unquestioned civic duty. They embedded Konpira and its shrine . . . at the center of wartime thought and behavior” (p. 265). Other historians have shown us the important national role State Shintō played in nurturing Japanese militarism early in the twentieth century; Thal’s study makes that role chillingly clear at a local level. Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods is not without faults. The author has a penchant for speculation without sufficient evidence, and the work abounds in phrases such as “doubtless,” “must have,” and “seems to be” when discussing motives. The lack of economic data is at times disappointing. One of the work’s major themes is the temple officials’ desire for wealth; but despite frequent references to profit-driven schemes or to programs aimed at solving Kankōin’s economic woes, Thal never provides a systematic picture of how profitable the temple/ shrine’s operations were, even in chapters devoted to economics (for example, Chapter 11, “Public Good, Private Gain”). Hard data on shrine economics undoubtedly is scarce and erratic; it would have been helpful, however, if Thal had at least made this fact explicit. The most serious weakness lies in the author’s lack of sympathy (perhaps the word is empathy) for the Mt. Zōzu priests’ religious motivations. Thal’s analyses of economic and political motivations are powerful and persuasive, but one wonders if the heavy focus on secular pragmatism may not have blinded her to the likelihood that many priests and seekers also had deeper, less expedient reasons for their religious activities. She surely is right when commenting that “performances, prostitution, and gambling proved as integral to the growth of

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the site as amulets and worship” (p. 74); yet her story contains almost nothing about worship. We know from Japanese history more generally that Buddhism across the centuries – in all its sects and most of its guises – had a deeply spiritual side, and that Shintō was tinged with a moral quality, as was Confucianism. The Golden Light Sutra, which governed the Shingon Buddhism with which Konpira was affiliated across the Tokugawa centuries, spoke reverently of a land where people would “appreciate each other’s feelings, . . . and with all compassion and modesty increase the sources of goodness.”5 The Shingon priest Mongaku warned a shogun that “those who pray should know that Buddha and the deities accept only virtue and faith.”6 Spirituality and faith were also at the heart of Zen and the Pure Land sects. Even Thal’s own narrative reveals that worship on Mt. Zōzu was quite a serious thing for some priests and pilgrims. She shows us an early teacher’s emphasis on moral discipline; she makes occasional references to “devout” pilgrims; she comments on the priests’ apparent belief during the Great Teaching Campaign of the 1870s; and she describes a “youngish man” she saw in 2003 who had been bowing and chanting from a prayer book for hours (p. 308). Unfortunately, Thal never develops those vignettes enough to let us assess the role that devoutness and spirituality played in the religious life of Mt. Zōzu. She is convincing when she discusses the importance of power, prestige, and profit. She does a brilliant job of showing us how the commoners who dropped coins into the Konkōin’s coffers shaped temple developments almost as much as the rich patrons and conniving politicians did. But her study is diminished by its lack of attention to the more spiritual and moral motives that surely played their own role in shaping the vibrant Mt. Zōzu pilgrimage site. One could argue that a criticism of this sort is unfair, that religious motivations were not, after all, the topic that Thal chose to study. Unfortunately, however, Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods goes farther than simply to ignore the religious motives; it gives one the sense that such motives barely existed. After promising to explain “where worship fits in the structures of contemporary Japan” (p. 1), Thal argues that “economic concerns overrode all else on the mountain” after 1895 (p. 8) and, again, that the key tactic used by priests for survival was the manipulation of political and economic structures. If religiously motivated practices have anything at all to do with Japan’s contemporary religious structures, one would not know it from this study.

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The absence of attention to religious motivations does not, however, detract seriously from this work’s major contribution to our understanding of the evolution of religion in modern Japan. Thal asks fresh questions of old material; she neither fears making bold claims nor cowers before the gods when interrogating their institutions. As a result, she illuminates both the malleability of forms of faith and the cynical pragmatism of some ambitious priests. She also helps the reader to understand Japan’s religious eclecticism in new ways. As one reads Thal’s work, it becomes quite clear that what mattered most to everyday worshipers was a mystical, often magic, reality beyond names and politics and doctrines. Tokugawa and Meiji pilgrims did not worry about Konpira’s name, or about whether his mountain edifices were claimed by Shintoists or Buddhists. They simply wanted to avail themselves of the Mt. Zōzu force. If the professionals wished to label that force kami or name it after a Buddhist deity, that was fine, for naming was the experts’ problem. The god itself belonged to the people, who knew that he was not likely to worry about labels.

Source: American Historical Review, Vol. 110, No. 4, October 2005, pp. 1147–1148.

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Alexis Dudden, Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power ™

From their first days in power, the leaders of Japan’s Meiji government (1868–1912) understood the importance of capturing the minds of their Western counterparts through the use of “standard” – i.e. European – diplomatic rules and vocabulary. Indeed, says Alexis Dudden, language was nearly (although not quite) as important as actions in winning international support for Japan’s colonial takeover of Korea between 1873 and 1910. In a short work that is sometimes meandering, often polemical, and always provocative, Dudden argues not only that Japan mastered that era’s “vocabulary of power” (p. 1) and of “enlightened exploitation” (p. 8) but that the colonial nations of the West cooperated wholly – and willfully – in what was, in effect, the “legal erasure of a country” (p. 12). While Japan’s activities in Korea have been described quite fully by other scholars, most recently in Peter Duus’s The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea (1995), Dudden is the first to analyze their “discursive aspects” (p. 2). Drawing on a rich menu of diplomatic treatises (French, English, and Japanese), journalistic accounts (including Korean newspapers), missionary archives, and government documents, she discusses both the importance of rhetoric in shaping international relationships and the need to incorporate Japan’s experience into the broader theories of imperialism, most of which have either ignored Japan’s case or glibly labeled it “late” or “different” (p. 24). Dudden’s dominant point is that Japan showed a brilliant, if hypocritical and inhumane, capacity for using Western legal discourse to 356

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justify each step toward its 1910 annexation of Korea. She shows how Japanese diplomats replaced the centuries-old, Chinese-dominated “kanji order” with English-based diplomacy, insisting early on that English be used as the mediating language in negotiations with the Chinese over Korea, first at Tianjin in 1885 and then in ending the Sino-Japanese War at Shimonoseki in 1895. She also describes Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi’s astute understanding of Western rhetorical nuances when he labeled the Sino-Japanese War a “Korean War of Independence” and called Japan a “victorious liberator and benevolent protector” (p. 48). In less than two decades, Dudden shows, Japan’s officials “negated the old regional order . . . and they did so in the fully legal terms of enlightened exploitation” (p. 49). Even the era’s leading internationalist, the Quaker Nitobe Inazō, used Western legal structures early in the 1900s to develop a new Japanese academic field of colonial policy studies, which justified “planting people” (p. 133) as the proper task of a civilized nation. The thing that makes this use of Western legal discourse so important is its role in securing world support for Japan’s policies. In episode after episode, Dudden shows that the Americans and Europeans gave wholehearted approval to Japan’s colonizing steps, ignoring or denying Korean complaints about cruelty and unfairness. She argues that the powers’ approval was more complete than earlier scholars, such as Duus and Akira Iriye, have previously acknowledged. When Koreans approached the Second International Conference on Peace at The Hague in 1907 to argue the case for Korean independence, for example, the conferees refused even to listen to them, maintaining that “according to international law, without Japan, Korea no longer existed in relation to the rest of the world” (p. 8). In one of the book’s more vivid sections, Dudden portrays American diplomats and officials giving full approval to Japan’s actions in a brutal 1911–1913 roundup of Korean activists, which included jailings, torture, and even deaths – because, in the end, Japan had followed standard “civilized” trial procedures. Even brutal floggings were countenanced by the Westerners because Korea was “barbaric” and because flogging was “an ‘old Korean custom’” (p. 116). And why not, she adds, since all of the colonial powers allowed their own “useful exemptions” in the colonies to homeland legal practice? (p. 115). Dudden’s work suffers occasionally from an overly polemic tone. It also is diminished by a skimpy index that omits most concepts and

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many names. And the narrative is disjointed at times, with some topics (e.g. Nitobe’s defense of Japan’s takeover of Manchuria in the 1930s) discussed at length without a clear tie to the work’s central theme. A chapter on people who dissented from Japan’s colonial policies catalogues a wide variety of interesting and important dissidents but never shows how their views related to the “discursive aspects of Japan’s annexation of Korea” (p. 2) – or to each other. That said, this book is a welcome and important addition to a growing body of works that show not only Japan’s emergence as an imperialist power but its integration into the broader colonial system. It casts the entire imperialist enterprise – with Japan as an integral part of that enterprise – in a fresh light, even while it raises disturbing questions about the implications of Japan’s experience for contemporary America.

Source: International History Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, June 2004, pp. 383–385.

29

Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World ™

Scholars of East Asia are not supposed to write books outside their specialties. But Donald Keene does not know that, and we should be thankful for his ignorance. Once more, this authority on Japanese literature has ventured into unfamiliar territory to give us rich material on Japan’s past, this time the late nineteenth century, when Japan rushed from isolation to international power. By some standards, the book is a disappointment. Focusing on a single work, the thirteen-volume Meiji tennō ki (Chronicles of Emperor Meiji), Keene leaves us often with relatively thin historical analyses and gives scant voice to people outside the world of élite politics. One has the sense that Keene is not conversant with the secondary literature on the era, particularly that in English. Even as biography, the work falls somewhat short. Noting that ‘it is the task of the biographer to make his subject come alive again’ (p. 717), Keene admits that Meiji, who ruled from 1868 to 1912, is unusually hard to capture: a reticent man who left behind limited clues to his own thoughts and nature. While Keene gets closer than most others have, he is often forced to speculate on what the emperor might have felt, and at the end Meiji remains an enigma. That said, this is a masterly work, perhaps not Keene’s best but certainly one of his most appealing, both for its narrative style and for its rich lode of stories and materials. Though one wishes he departed more often from the narrative structure provided by Meiji tennō ki, the fact that he makes so much of that massive chronicle available is a major contribution in itself. Meiji tennō ki gives us details about court 359

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ceremonies, ministerial manoeuvring, relationships among members of the imperial line, the role of the empress, and even the emperor’s many mistresses, that are available nowhere else. Keene is one of the best storytellers of his generation, and this work overflows with tales and details of the era’s political life. He brings Meiji’s chauvinistic father, Emperor Kōmei, to life as a deeply engaged ruler, more interesting than Meiji himself. He relates the popular rights activist Ueki Emori’s sexual fantasies (‘I . . . slept with the empress and had intercourse with her,’ p. 362), the emperor’s grief on visiting the dying adviser Iwakura Tomomi (‘the emperor wept and could barely ask how he felt,’ p. 383), and the public mourning after 199 soldiers died on manoeuvres during a Japanese blizzard in January 1902. His descriptions of the way Japan imposed itself on Korea during Meiji’s last fifteen years are particularly vivid, and his explanation of why the brilliant Korean nationalist An Chung-gun assassinated former prime minister Itō Hirobumi in 1909 lends humanity and nuance to an often-stark tale. The book also tells us a great deal about Meiji the man, describing the paradoxes that made him as intriguing as he was elusive. We see Meiji as a loner who loved parties, an abuser of alcohol who showed up for official meetings even when he had been drinking too much, a man whose devotion to official duty made him cold towards family members and forced him to entertain foreign visitors even though he hated doing so, a traditionalist who accepted modern ways, a passionate horse rider and devotee of the martial arts who disliked war. We also encounter his difficulties in fathering children: only five of his fifteen children survived childhood. Scarce source materials may keep us from seeing a whole human being, but we see more than we have before. The most important contribution of the work is its picture of the role Meiji played in public life. The governmental coup of 1868 was carried out in his name and apologists called him Meiji taipei (Meiji the Great); yet we know little about his role in decision-making. While the picture remains vague, Keene clarifies it considerably, as we see Meiji silently attending daily council meetings, expressing his views to advisers fairly often after the early 1880s on issues such as war and taxation, writing to foreign dignitaries, and occasionally losing his temper over decisions he considered stupid. The man who comes through here is something of a ‘kept god’. Like a deity, he presided over endless rituals, though he rarely went to shrines. Officials used his name and pronouncements to win support

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for government policies. Foreign dignitaries came away from audiences awestruck. And when he chose to express his opinions publicly, his words had great impact. As Keene notes in a tale about a political dispute in 1893, ‘his was the only decision that everyone would have respected’ (p. 466). At the same time, the book makes it clear that Meiji was a tool more than an operator. Officials wrote his oracular pronouncements for him and ignored him when his views were unsatisfactory. They reprimanded him for behaviour that confused the image they sought to convey. Among the most poignant passages are those that show him losing his temper or refusing to attend a banquet because he is tired of being manipulated. ‘The commands that the emperor do this or that were phrased in reverential language,’ says Keene, ‘but they were commands all the same, and the emperor was greatly annoyed’ (p. 584). At the end, one understands the Meiji emperor as a man more actively engaged in the political life of his time than earlier works have suggested, yet a man whose contributions were symbolic and spiritual more than practical, a man whose ideas were peripheral to the decisionmaking process. We also see a man of rich, suggestive contradictions about whom we wish to know more. That we know as much as we do is a tribute to Keene’s abilities as sleuth and storyteller, and to his willingness to transgress the walls of scholarly specialization.

Source: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 77, No. 2, Summer 2004, pp. 306–308.

30

Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World ™

Whittier College’s historian of late imperial China, Robert Marks, does less than he promises here – and he does it so well that the reader wishes for more. Offering a “brief history of the origins of the modern world” (p. 1), he gives us an extended essay that perhaps omits too much of the human past to be called a history of origins. At the same time, he convincingly discredits the standard Eurocentric narrative of mainstream historians, replacing it with a balanced story that places Asia at the centre prior to the 1800s and Europe (then, America) at the centre thereafter. The disciplinary focus of Origins is economic history; the geographical concentrations are China and India in Asia, and England in the Western Hemisphere; chronologically, the work begins in the fifteenth century and ends at 1900. While one sometimes wishes for greater breadth – for a serious look at Japan, for example, or for more on cultural and political history generally – the very concentration makes the work effective in achieving its main goal: showing us the fallacies of the old models and providing a compelling alternative. Marks begins with a summary of the standard “rise of the West” narrative, which portrays “the West as dynamic, forward looking, progressive, and free, and Asia as stagnating, backward, and despotic” (p. 4). He then develops a five-chapter chronological narrative based on an alternative vision. And he does this in a cogent, accessible style grounded in key historical concepts such as contingency, conjuncture and accident. The book is particularly effective in portraying the economic dominance of China and India through the 1700s. It shows the Indian 362

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Ocean as the “most important crossroads for global exchanges of goods, ideas, and culture” in 1500, when Europe was “a peripheral, marginal player trying desperately to gain access to the sources of wealth generated in Asia” (p. 43). Marks backs up with rich evidence his depiction of traditional China’s technological and naval superiority, of the “well-developed market systems” in premodern Asia (during what he calls the “biological old regime”), of the superior quality of Indian cottons and the inability of British textile manufacturers to compete without government protection. In 1775, he notes, “Asia produced about 80 percent of everything in the world” (p. 81). He argues, moreover, that Western dominance after the middle1800s resulted from historical contingencies and accidents, not from inherent superiority. Quoting Fernand Braudel that the “gap between the West and the other continents appeared late in time” (p. 124), he shows how unpredictable factors such as China’s decision to “remonetize its economy using silver” (p. 156) in the 1400s, a land scarcity that helped to spark the rise of steam power in England, and the availability of markets in the (accidentally discovered) New World combined to fuel Western imperialism in the nineteenth century. A potent ingredient in this mix, he argues, was opium – which Great Britain used consciously to impoverish India, where it was cultivated, and China, where it was marketed. It is all a matter of contingency, Marks says; “there is no more mystery in it than that . . . . Those who have benefited should be humbled by the actual sources of their good fortune, and those who have not should take heart that in the future new contingencies may well favor them” (p. 151). One may – indeed, one should – argue with Marks’s views. This is, after all, an openly ideological work, a study committed both to a polycentric understanding of the world and to a belief that gaps between rich and poor regions are not inevitable. What it makes undeniably clear, however, is that the standard Eurocentric narratives are just as ideological. And its use of materials is richer and more convincing, because it takes all of the evidence seriously, that from Asia as well as that from Europe.

Source: Journal of African and Asian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2003, pp. 120–122.

31

Marius B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan ™

Marius Jansen, dean of American historians of modern Japan, liked the word “magisterial,” which is exactly what this work is. Published weeks before his death in December 2000, The Making of Modern Japan is the fruit of six decades of scholarship, chronicling Japan’s political, intellectual, and economic life from 1600 to 2000. The book treads a middle road between narrative survey and analytical essay. Drawing on the majority of English-language works on Japan, as well as many in Japanese, it approaches Japan’s past first chronologically, then topically. The long section on the Tokugawa era (1600 to 1868), for example, looks first at the political system, then, serially, at foreign relations, status groups, urbanization, mass culture, and intellectual life, before moving to the dramatic changes of the mid-nineteenth century. The Meiji era (1868 to 1912), when Japan rushed to modernity, is treated similarly, as are the periods of war and recovery in the twentieth century. As a result, differences over time sometimes get muddled, but the tapestry surrounding each topic is richly nuanced. The Making of Modern Japan is traditional history at its most essential, both good and bad. For one thing, it abounds in stories. It opens with the tale of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu giving his daughter, as a dowry present, an eight-screen painting of his battle victory at Sekigahara in 1600. Nearly two centuries later, there comes the tale of physician Sugita Genpaku arranging for the nighttime autopsy of an old woman, to see if Dutch anatomical sketches were correct (they were, and Sugita became a founder of Western studies). And 150 years after that, in 1929, we see an angry young emperor Hirohito telling Prime Minister Tanaka Gi’ichi that he should resign for mishandling a case of 364

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military insubordination in Manchuria. Jansen has few peers in using the pithy story to illustrate the larger point. A less satisfying facet of his traditionalism is the overweening focus on political and intellectual elites. Workers and women appear, but always on the margins, never speaking. The book’s assertion that by the 1800s the value of all groups within Japan’s society had become congruent (p.222), surely could not have been made if Jansen had seriously examined commoners. The work’s general optimism about Japan’s political evolution also follows traditional historical approaches. It takes Japan’s own writers seriously, argues that Japanese leaders typically acted rationally and looks respectfully on Japan’s positive reactions to imperialism in the nineteenth century and to wartime devastation in the twentieth. Jansen does not ignore Japan’s excesses and failures, but his tone is captured in the conclusion that the Japanese are gifted, resourceful, and courageous (p.765). While generally persuasive, this approach turns troubling in his treatment of Hirohito. Largely ignoring controversies about the emperor’s wartime role, Jansen pictures a benign figure forced into silence by an elaborate structure (p.590) not of his own making. When the emperor scolded Tanaka, he had been too young to understand the system. When he spoke up to demand harsh punishments after a 1936 coup attempt, the situation was exceptional. During the war itself, however, his sense of duty and reserve made him a silent presence at every major council (p.760). That the emperor might have chosen to break the silence, that his reticence might have been irresponsible, never is seriously considered. During the postwar years, an approving Jansen adds, a freer Hirohito became an astute spokesman for the Japanese conservative establishment (p.700). Beyond offering a wealth of information, the Making of Modern Japan is best when it puts gentle twists on old interpretations. There is the description of the Tokugawa seclusion policy as a bamboo blind (p.64) rather than an iron curtain; the labeling of debaters over Matthew Perry’s 1853 challenge as defense intellectuals (p.287); the suggestion that the imperialist threat that followed Perry may have been fortunate, since it eventually brought unity to a fractious political establishment; and the decision to call the immediate postwar period not the MacArthur (or Occupation) era but the Yoshida years, in deference to Japan’s prime minister. In each interpretation our standard understandings are challenged.

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One wishes Jansen told us more about the non-elite groups: farmers, comfort women, the press, the average Suzuki Taro from Sapporo. But to make too much of that omission is unfair. This is traditional history at its, yes, magisterial best: crisply written, richly detailed, authoritative, and nuanced. A distillation of the knowledge and perspectives of Jansen’s extraordinary life, it leaves the reader not only better informed but also provoked.

Source: American Historical Review, Vol. 106, No. 4, October 2001, pp. 1327–1328.

32

Joseph Henning, Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations ™

The United States’s propensity for elevating its self-image by diminishing others did not begin in the late nineteenth century. As this book by Joseph M. Henning shows, however, it assumed gale force in the writings of American observers of Japan during the sixty years after Matthew Perry’s squadron initiated contact between Japan and the United States in 1853. The book’s major contribution is to make clear how a myriad of U.S. writers used Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912) to construct an identity for their own homeland, how they endlessly analyzed the Pacific archipelago not so much to understand Japan itself (their ostensible goal) as to reaffirm long-standing preconceptions about “white, Christian superiority” (p. 4). The worldview of these observers, Henning argues, was hierarchical, with white Christians at the apex. And while Japan rapidly embraced modernity and achieved world power status without becoming Christian, or white, most writers never gave up on the religious or racial yardsticks by which they measured national worth. Following a look at the diminutive ways in which early observers described the Japanese – childlike, disposed to public nudity, licentious – Henning draws on a wide range of English-language articles and books to evaluate portraits by analysts from different walks of life. One of his more interesting chapters assesses the work of several hundred missionary women, a group that has been slighted in historical studies. 367

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Labeling them “diplomats of domesticity” (p. 61), he argues that they blended altruism and condescension when they taught English and Bible, launched girls’ schools, and wrote articles for religious journals across the United States. We see these women fighting against the abuse of Japanese womanhood and portraying a land where “ethical thought and social practice negated the possibility that women could maintain moral households” (p. 57). Two other groups – a relatively small set of secular analysts, and a larger number of artistic types – are portrayed as looking on Japan more sympathetically. The former, represented by journalists and professors like Edward H. House and Edward Morse, portrayed the Japanese as intelligent, progressive, and more tolerant in religious matters than their Western counterparts. The latter included men like the art preservationist Ernest Fenollosa, who adored traditional Japanese aesthetics, and the painter John LaFarge, who found in Japan a spiritual antidote to materialism. Even among these groups, however, the tendency to essentialize and patronize was prominent. Although Henning’s study is a rich and, at times, wonderfully insightful read, it is plagued by certain weaknesses. For one thing, several sections stray from the book’s stated focus. The chapter on diplomacy, for example, concentrates on political history, describing Japan’s tortuous efforts to secure fair treaties with only occasional glances at identity construction. Much of the chapter on artists utilizes the British writer Edwin Arnold. Even in the useful chapter on missionaries, one wonders why Henning has not mined the missionary journals for more of what the women said, rather than spending so much time on what they did. The book’s omissions also are disconcerting. The almost total reliance on English-language sources largely deprives us of the role the Japanese themselves played in identity construction, while some groups, such as the crucial business community and the majority of journalists, are ignored altogether. In a problem endemic to intellectual history, one frequently is left asking whether the book’s conclusions are too sweeping for the evidence. When, for example, Henning includes missionary author William Elliot Griffis among those who wanted to praise Japan and bring it into the “civilized nation” category by broadening concepts like “white” and “Christian,” he ignores a whole body of work in which Griffis warned fellow Christians, sometimes excitedly, that Japan was about to “Buddhaize” Christianity.

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That said, this book makes a significant contribution, joining the growing studies that help us construct the nineteenth century along new lines. Its final chapter, describing the contorted efforts to explain Japan’s “success” in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars without abandoning the religious/racial hierarchy, is particularly provocative. When one sees writers arguing that Japan “was Christian at heart” (p. 149) and that Japanese were more Caucasian than Russians were, one understands the sentimental logic of imperialism with new force. While one might wish that Henning had used a richer variety of sources and focused more consistently on the central theme, one must be thankful indeed for the insights he provides into the ways nineteenth century writers used the culture of a distant Pacific archipelago to construct their own nation’s identity, even when they thought they were writing about Japan.

Source: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 41, No. 3, Autumn 1986, pp. 369–371

33

Yoshitake Oka, Five Political Leaders of Modern Japan: Itō Hirobumi, Ōkuma Shigenobu, Hara Takashi, Inukai Tsuyoshi, and Saionji Kimmochi ™

Itō Hirobumi – a simple rustic who served coarse meals, enjoyed tippling, and fetched his own food from the kitchen? Ōkuma Shigenobu – a ‘shallow, showy, and domineering type’ who more than anything else craved grandeur and praise? Saionji Kimmochi – the kind who would decide to make a trip to Belgium simply to dally with a notorious prostitute who had murdered a Japanese diplomat? These are but three of the portraits sketched by the University of Tokyo’s venerable student of political history, Oka Yoshitake, in this chatty, human – and highly enlightening – account of five prewar prime ministers, originally published by Iwanami in 1979 under the title Kindai Nihon no Seijika. Uninterested in producing a standard biography, Oka has instead given us five ‘case studies in political leadership’ (p. vii), attempting to show each man’s character, as well as the way in which specific historical developments shaped and changed him. The result depicts Itō as a man who, while pleasure-loving and egoistical on the personal level, was impeccably honest and dedicated to the national good on the public level; Ōkuma as a lordly elitist whose reputation as a man of the people was without substance; Hara Takashi as a skillful and pragmatic realist ‘unencumbered by ideals or concern for the past or future’ (p. 109); Inukai Tsuyoshi as a highly cultured political strategist whose tactics usually failed, then unexpectedly catapulted him into the prime 370

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minister’s chair six years after retirement, and Saionji as a genuine internationalist whose liberal leanings were undercut by his aristocratic tastes and diffident personal style. The book has its weaknesses. Oka’s recounting of institutional political developments sometimes is as dry as dust and terse beyond comprehension. The index, averaging just eighteen items for each individual, is so brief as to be barely useful. Discussions of each man’s ‘human side’ totally omit references to family relationships. And, most important, Oka’s failure to include overall analysis of ‘political leadership’ robs us of the kind of insights that only someone of his detailed knowledge and rich understanding could provide. The problems, however, are relatively minor when contrasted to the book’s contributions. The fresh light shed on important individuals should, for example, make anyone who reads Five Political Leaders a better interpreter of Japanese history. The anecdotal approach occasionally gives the book an overly gossipy tone, but at the same time it enriches our understanding of these men as complex, full-blooded human beings in a manner that is long overdue. The account of Inukai’s calm confrontation with his assassins on 15 May 1932, for example, and his attempts to reason with them even while ‘bleeding profusely from the head and temples’ (p. 173), gives a dignity to the man no number of scholarly discussions ever could. Similarly, the story of Ōkuma refusing to study calligraphy merely because a single classmate excelled him provides new (if perhaps trivial) understanding of the constitutional crisis of 1881. And Hara’s derisive retort when journalist Baba Tsunego called for a ‘political system that doesn’t need financing’ (p. 120) humanizes the ‘commoner’ prime minister’s pork-barrel brand of politics. One of the more constant themes that runs through this study in leadership is the elitism – and its concomitant disdain for the masses – of all of Japan’s prewar prime ministers. Of Itō, one journalist commented: ‘To lead the people and determine the public issues of the nation hand-in-hand with them is probably too much for such a finicky elitist’ (p. 29). Hara feared universal male suffrage, lest ‘class boundaries . . . be totally confused, and the nation itself put in jeopardy’ (p. 116). And even the liberal-leaning Saionji warned that too much talk about ‘the masses’ would bring national progress to a halt. All but Saionji came from relatively common backgrounds, but their identification with commoners dissipated once they had achieved high status.

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Even more striking is Oka’s picture of these men as consummate politicians, energetically dedicated to both personal advancement and the success of their own political groups. The spirit of dedication is evident in Itō’s apparently serious claim that ‘whether I was having fun with geisha, drinking sake or joking with people, the word “nation” was always uppermost in my mind,’ (p. 21). But Oka’s portrayal makes it clear that such lofty motives did not always (or even usually) underlie the frenetic expenditures of energy. With the possible exception of Saionji, each of these men was driven, like Ōkuma, by a constant, oftrepeated desire ‘to become the greatest lord in the land’ (p. 66). For that reason, they were far more pragmatic than idealistic, willing often to shift positions, change cliques or parties, recommend prime ministers whose views they personally found despicable. Indeed, one of the most striking features of the book is the near-total lack of concern with ideology or principle on the part of political leaders. How else could one account for seventy-six-year-old Inukai’s ascension to the prime ministership as president of the Seiyūkai, the very party that he had spent most of his political life fighting? Or of Hara’s diary entry in 1918 threatening to cooperate with the rival Kenseikai, if necessary, in order to assure the victory of his own Seiyūkai, even though ‘I do not . . . think such a policy will necessarily be the best for the nation,’ (p. 103). One of the most telling examples of the overriding pragmatism, the consistent subordination of ideology to party or personal success, is Oka’s account of the use of monetary favors to assure the continued support of Hara’s followers. The author quotes him to the effect: ‘If you don’t provide honors or money, you cannot influence people,’ (p. 106). The Hara whom he depicts was an unsparing, unlimited source of financial largesse, an early example of the kinmyaku style that brought Tanaka Kakuei into disrepute in the 1970s. But the true reason for this generosity, says a sympathetic Oka, was that Hara had ‘developed a great affection for [Seiyūkai] members,’ and thus was willing to lavish ‘money on them without hesitation or regret’ (p. 105). It is a curious defense of what others might call bribery or, at best, palm-greasing. This pragmatic pursuit of partisan (or, in Itō’s case, national) success obviously had its positive side, helping turn some men into strong and effective leaders. But another underlying theme of the case studies is the decline, across time, of capable political leadership. By 1939, the decline had become so serious that Saionji refused to recommend a

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new prime minister, declaring that he had ‘absolutely no suggestions about a successor cabinet’ (p. 219). And it seems clear that the lack of a broader vision is, for Oka, one reason for this disintegration. Saionji was not, in Oka’s telling, any stronger during his years as prime minister. He was too lazy, too aloof to be an effective leader, but at the same time he did provide a sole exception to the all-consuming drive for personal eminence and party victory. It is his story, told in the last chapter, that Oka develops the most fully and cohesively – and with the greatest sense of irony. A first irony lies in Saionji’s insistently liberal philosophical leanings, which were played out against a set of aristocratic personal tastes that drove chefs to despair and servants to tears. A second lies in his continual rise in politics despite the laconic manner and an overwhelming lack of interest in power. And a third shows up in his surprising, yet tragic, bestirring of himself in the 1930s (when he was already in his ninth decade), as he struggled vainly from his retirement villa in Okitsu to damp the fires of militarism and nationalism – consoling in 1932 a ‘young emperor sick with worry’ about Japan’s increasing alienation from international society (p. 206), begging moderates to continue in office, vigorously blocking the appointment of the militarist Hiranuma Kiichirō to the presidency of the Privy Council, bemoaning Prime Minister Konoe’s willingness to become a military ‘lackey’ (p. 217). Helpless before the onslaught of extremism, the 91-year-old Saionji complained in 1931 that ‘the influence of the military today is a real nightmare,’ (p. 219), A year earlier, he had declared his profound concern for the emperor: ‘Precisely because he understands so much, my sympathy for him is unbearable,’ (p. 218). Oka’s picture here is that of a good man striving valiantly, yet belatedly and impotently, against the storm. In an underspoken way, it raises the age-old question of whether reasonable, compassionate leaders can make a difference in times of national calamity. Without ignoring institutional machinations and maneuvers, Oka shows us the human side of military Japan, just as his earlier chapters take us behind the cardboard, institutional visages of Itō, Ōkuma, Hara, and Inukai. In knowing a little more about these men’s personalities and psyches, we are enabled more fully to understand the events and trends they helped to shape.

NOTES ™

INTRODUCTION 1

2

3

4 5 6 7

Quoted in my Politics of the Meiji Press: The Life of Fukuchi Gen’ichrō (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1980), 85. See my Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), 2. The first two are from Oxford University Press (2010 and 2011), the third from the Association for Asian Studies (2017). Edward Hallett Carr, What is History? (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1961), 26. “Patriotism Descending Into Chauvinism,” New York Times, August 31, 1984, A23. Carr., 35. Tokio Times, November 29, 1879.

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See Joyce Lebra, Ōkuma Shigenobu, Statesman of Meiji Japan (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1973), pp. 135, 145. George B. Sansom, The Western World and Japan (first Vintage edition; New York: Vintage Books, 1973), p. 385. See Edwin R. Reischauer, The United States and Japan (New York: Viking Press, 1965), pp. 142–77. The point also is illustrated in Nakane Chie’s frequent reference to Japan’s vertical society. See her Japanese Society (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1970). Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, Kaiō jidan, in Yanagida Izumi, Fukuchi Ouchi shū, Meiji bungaku zenshū (100 volumes projected, 80 now in publication; Tokyo: Echima Shobō, 1966), 11:313. Following Japanese custom, the family line had been carried on in the preceding generations by the adoption of adult male heirs who had taken on the wife’s surname. Fukuchi himself was the eighth child in his own family, his birth following that of seven daughters. For early biographical data, see Yanagida Izumi, Fukuchi Ouchi (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Hiroshi Bunkan, 1965), pp. 1–17. See Yanagida Izumi, “Fukuchi Ouchi,” in Fukuchi Ouchi shū Meiji bungaku zenshū, p. 409. Iwakura credited Fukuchi with being capable of accomplishing the work of four “normal men.” Actually, the adoption was abrogated in 1858, two years after its inception, when Fukuchi became involved in an acrimonious dispute with Namura’s other students and was sent home. Yanagida Izumi, Fukuchi Ouchi, pp. 39–41. 375

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Fukuchi, Kaiō jidan, p. 278. For an evaluation of this tendency to goal orientation, see Robert N. Bellah, Tokugawa Religion (Glencoe, IL.: The Free Press, 1957), pp. 188–97. Ōkubo Toshiaki, “Bummei kaika,” in Nihon rekishi, 23 vol. (3rd edition; Tokyo Iwanami Shoten, 1967), 15:253. Quoted in George M. Wilson, “The Bakumatsu Intellectual in Action: Hashimoto Sanai in the Political Crisis of 1858,” Albert M. Craig and Donald H. Shively, eds., Personality in Japanese History (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1970), p. 238. Trans, in Ryusaku Tsunoda, William Theodore de Bary, and Donald Keene, eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), p. 544. See Akira Iriye, “Kayahara Kazan and Japanese Cosmopolitanism,” in Craig and Shively, eds., Personality in Japanese History, pp. 373–93. Fukuchi, Kaiō jidan, p. 269. Ibid., p. 293. See, for example, Ono Hideo, “‘Moshiogusa’ oyobi ‘Kōko shimbun no kaisetsu,” in Osatake Takeki, ed., Bakumatsu Meiji shimbun zenshū (Tokyo: Sekai Bunko, 1934– 35), 4:12–13. The word modern refers to the fact that the paper attempted accuracy (though not objectivity) in its reporting and aimed to write in the vernacular, both points of contrast with other papers of the time. Kōko shimbun, no. 1 (May 24, 1868), reprinted in Osatake, Shumbun zenshū, p. 3. Ibid., pp. 61–64. Kuga Katsunan in Tokyo dempō, June 12, 1888, quoted in Kenneth B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1969), p. 75. For an excellent overall analysis of Japanese intellectual development in this period, see Robert N. Bellah, “Intellectual and Society in Japan,” Daedalus, Spring 1972, pp. 89–115. Fukuchi, Kajō jidan, p. 269. See ibid., pp. 266–71, for a detailed account of the entire dispute. Ibid., pp. 283–84. Ibid., p. 284. Ibid., p. 305. Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, Bakumatsu seijika, in Bakumatsu ishin shiryō sōsho (Tokyo: Jimbutsu Ōraisha, 1968), 8:382. Kōko shimbun, June 24, 1868, in Osatake, Shimbun zenshū, 4: p. 61. Fukuchi maintained that all previous “unifiers” in Japan had risen in the East. Since Satchō forces came from the West, he argued, the weight of history would mitigate against their success. Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, Shimbunshi jitsureki, in Tsurumi Shunsuke, ed., Jiyanarizumu no shisō (Tokyo: Echima Shobō, 1965), p. 78; reprinted in its entirety in Yanagida, Fukuchi Ouchi shū, p. 326. Fukuchi had entered the Meiji government late in 1870 after almost three rather bitter years as a private citizen. Itō Hirobumi, then in the Finance Ministry, was instrumental in persuading him to join the new government, partially, it seems, through the offer of a chance to accompany him to the United States for a factfinding study of American economic institutions. See Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, “Ishin no genkun,” Taiyō 1, no. 4 (April, 1895): 31.

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Another reason for leaving early was that mission leaders wanted Fukuchi to go through Egypt in order to study the “mixed court” system there. They thought such a system, where foreign and native officials sat together on the judicial bench in cases where foreigners were being tried, might be a halfway solution toward the removal of extraterritoriality provisions from treaties with Western nations. See, for example, Inō Tentarō, Nihon gaibun shisō shi ronkō (Tokyo, 1966), 1:232–34. “Idai naru kokumin,” Kokumin no Tomo, May 23, 1891, quoted in Pyle, New Generation, p. 147. Tokyo nichi nichi shimbun, April 14, 1875 (hereafter cited as Nichi nichi; all Nichi nichi citations are found on page 1 of the paper unless otherwise indicated). Fukuchi, Kaiō jidan, p. 306. See further comments in Ozawa Ryōzō, Onnagata konseki dan (Tokyo: Echima, 1941), p. 53. One of the most incisive examples is “Satchō ron,” Nichi nichi, January 19–23, 1886. Ozawa, Onnagata, p. 50. Zushikawa Chōko, “Ouchi Koji no tsuioku,” Denki 2 (February 1935): 19. Fukuchi, Shimbunshi jitsureki, p. 328. Nichi nichi, July 28, 1875. It should be noted that news was the major focus of one segment of the early Meiji press, the koshimbun, or “minor papers.” These, however, were papers that specialized in scandals, a Japanese brand of yellow journalism. As a result, they were not included in the contemporary “respectable” press. Two of the best press histories of the period are Ono Hideo, Shimbun no rekishi (Tokyo: Tokyodo Shuppan, 1961) and Nishida Taketoshi, Meiji jidai no shimbun to zasshi (Tokyo: Shibundō, 1966). See Sugiura Tadashi, Shimbun koto hajime (Tokyo: Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1971), p. 297. Ironically, after leaving the newspaper world in 1888, Fukuchi, driven at least partly by economic necessity, began writing novels for part of his living; and during the 1890s, many of his own works were serialized in Nichi nichi and other newspapers. Quoted in Sugiura, Shimbun koto hajime, p. 277. A most concise, yet incisive analysis of the structure and concepts undergirding the Tokugawa bureaucracy is found in Tetsuo Najita, Japan (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974), p. 16–42. Quoted in Walter W. McLaren, “Japanese Government Documents,” Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 42, part 1 (1914): 272. See also Walter W. McLaren, Political History of Japan during the Meiji Era, 1867–1912 (New York: Russell and Russell, 1965. Reprint), pp. 130–141, for a discussion of the fuken kai. Nichi nichi, November 19, 1874; see also December 5, 1874, and December 28, 1875. Nichi nichi, December 28, 1875. The idea that Fukuchi’s view, as well as that of the government itself, was more “liberal” or “popular” at this time than the elitism advocated by the popularrights camp is supported by numerous scholars. See, for example, George Akita, Foundations of Constitutional Government in Modern Japan, 1868–1900 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), p. 23; Maruyama Masao, “Meiji kokka no shisō,” in Nihon shakai no shiteki kyūmei, comp, by Rekishigaku Kenkyūkai (Tokyo: Rekishigaku Kenkyūkai, 1949), p. 200. See, for example, Nichi nichi, December 6, 1874.

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55 56

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See Nichi nichi, January 6, 1875. Nichi nichi, March 30–31, April 1–16, 1881; reprinted in Meiji Bunka Kenkyūkai, ed., Seishi hen, no. 2, Meiji bunka zenshū, 16 vol. (Tokyo: Nihon Hyōronsha, 1956), 10:377–405. See, for example, the evaluation of Roger Hackett, Yamagata Aritomo in the Rise of Modern Japan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 86. The “Precepts” are translated in Arthur E. Tiedemann, Modern Japan, A Brief History (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1955), pp. 107–12. Authorship of this document was long in dispute, with most scholars attributing it solely to Nishi Amane. Actually there were five drafts, the fourth one, that which was prepared by Fukuchi, being pivotal in establishing the document’s ringing defense of the imperial system, while the fifth draft constituted a final polishing of the prose. See Umetani Noboru, Gunjin chokuyū seiritsu shi no kenkyū, Osaka Daigaku bungakubu kujō, no. 8 (1961): 112–16, 134–40. This view is articulated in numerous Nichi nichi editorials, including especially January 28, 1882, and May 16, 1886. Numerous helpful, provocative interpretations and illustrations of this theme are found in Donald H. Shively, ed., Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972). The most damning phrase attached to Nichi nichi in later years was that of goyō shimbun, or “patronage paper,” a phrase employed by the paper itself in the 1870s to indicate that it was being used by the government for reporting official transactions. At the time, the phrase connoted power; but later it was used by opponents to accuse Fukuchi, usually unjustly, of being a “kept editor.” In a related vein, a superb analysis of the role “conservative” intellectuals such as Fukuchi often play in not only creating but in carrying and legitimating established traditions is found in S.N. Eisenstadt, “Intellectuals and Traditions,” Daedalus, Spring, 1972, pp. 1–19. See, for example, Bellah, Tokugawa Religion, pp. 188–92. See Showa Joshi Daigaku Kindai Bungaku Kenkyūshitsu, ed., “Fukuchi Ouchi,” in Kindai bungaku kenkyū sōsho, (Tokyo: Showa Joshi Daigaku, 1958), 8:358. Herschel Webb, “The Development of an Orthodox Attitude toward the Imperial Institution in the Nineteenth Century,” in Marius B. Jansen, ed., Changing Japanese Attitudes Toward Modernization (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965), p. 170. Quoted in Kubota Tatsuhiko, Ni jūichi daisenkaku kisha den (Osaka: Osaka Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1930), pp. 65–66.

CHAPTER 2 1

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See discussions in such sources as Nihon Shimbun Kyōkai, ed., Chihōbetsu Nihon shimbun shi (Nihon Shimbun Kyōkai, 1956), pp. 174, 257, 413; Nishida Taketoshi, Meiji jidai no shimbun to zasshi (Shibundō, 1966), pp. 64–77; Albert Altman, “The Press and Social Cohesion During a Period of Change: The Case of Early Meiji Japan,” Modern Asian Studies, XV, 4 (1981), pp. 872–873. Nichi Nichi began to run that label on Dec. 2, 1874, under its new editor, Fukuchi Gen’ichirō. For a discussion of its meaning, see my Politics of the Meiji Press (University Press of Hawaii, 1980), pp. 93–95.

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In Japanese, this approach is typified by Midoro Masaichi ed., Meiji Taishō shi, genron hen (Asahi Shimbunsha, 1930) and Okudaira Yasuhiro, “Nihon shuppan heisatsu hōsei no rekishiteki kenkyū josetsu,” Hōritsu Jihō, April-October, 1967. In English, see Richard Mitchell, Censorship in Imperial Japan (Princeton University Press, 1983). For a similar approach to the post-Meiji years, see Gregory Kasza, The State and the Mass Media in Japan, 1918–1945 (University of California Press, 1988). A particularly useful analysis is Arase Yutaka, “Taishō seihen to jiyānarizumu,” Tokyo Daigaku Shimbun Kenkyūjo Kiyo, No. 28 (1980), pp. 1–17. Similar complexities are detailed in Tamura Norio, “Nomin undo to komiyunikeshiyon,” Tokyo Daigaku Shimbun Kenkyūjo Kiyo, No. 20 (1971), pp. 105–161. Home Ministry decree, October, 1874, cited in Yamamoto Taketoshi, Shimbun to minshū (Kiinokuniya, 1973), p. 9. All the decrees are published in Midoro, pp. 384–385. These laws are reprinted in Dajōkan Nisshi, June 28, 1875, excerpted in Uchikawa Yoshimi and Matsushima Shōzō, eds., Meiji niyusu jiten, I (1868–1877) (Mainichi Komiyunikeshiyon, 1986), pp. 195–196; hereafter cited as MNJ. They also are published in Midoro, pp. 385–389, Walter McLaren, A Political History of Japan During the Meiji Era 1867–1912 (Russell and Russell, 1965), pp. 539–543; Nishida, pp. 87–91, and Yamamoto Fumio, Nihon shimbun hattatsu shi (Ito Shoten, 1944), pp. 69–74. A subsequent law, the shuppan jōrei (publication law) was issued on September 3, 1875, dealing primarily with other types of publications. See Midoro, pp. 389–394. See, for a fascinating account of this episode, Uchikawa Yoshimi, Shimbun shi wa (Shakai Shisōsha, 1967), pp. 13–17. Article VIII, McLaren, p. 541. The following quotations also come from the McLaren translation. Ono Hideo, Shimbun no rekishi (Risōsha, 1961), p. 27. A sense of the severity of the proposed fines can be seen in the fact that even star-quality editors rarely received more than eighty or a hundred yen a month then, while reporters earned as little as five or ten yen a month. See, for example, Oka Mitsuo. Kindai Nihon shimbun koshi (Mineruba Shobō), 1969, p. 28; also Nihon Shimbun Kyōkai, Chihō betsu, p. 175. On June 26, 1875, for example, Akebono Shimbun reported on Page Three that rumors were afloat of a new press law under preparation. Suehiro Tetchō, Shimbun keirekidan, in Meiji Bunka Kenkyūkai, ed., Meiji bunka zenshū, IV (Shimbun hen) (Nihon Hyōronsha, 1968), p. 52. See, for example, Yūbin Hōchi, Chōya Shimbun, Tokyo Nichi Nichi and Akebono, all June 30, 1875. An exception to the editorial silence is found in Akebono, which ran an editorial on Page Three, criticizing the new law as an impediment to enlightenment. Yūbin Hōchi, August 30, 1875; MNJ, I, p. 196. Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Sept. 3, 1875; cited in Yamamoto Taketoshi, Shimbun to minshū (Kiinokuniya, 1973), p. 12. Ivan Hall, Mori Arinori (Harvard University Press, 1973), pp. 244–245. Fukuzawa’s rationale is spelled out in an editorial in Yūbin Hōchi on Sept. 4, 1875, and is reprinted, among other places, in MNJ, I, p. 708, and Okano Takeo, Meiji genron shi (Hō Shuppan, 1974), pp. 48–51. Also useful is William Braisted, trans.,

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Meiroku Zasshi, Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment (University of Tokyo Press, 1976), pp. xli-xliii. Yūbin Hōchi, Sept. 4, 1875. Quoted in Sugiura Tadashi, Shimbun koto hajime (Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1971), p. 292. A useful account of the joint action is found in Suehiro, “Shimbun Keireki dan,” p. 52. Akebono ran an article on July 2, 1875, in its “Zappō” section, describing the first meeting. Hyōron Shimbun, no. 16, reprinted in Miyatake Gaikotsu, “Meiji hikka shi shiryō,” no. 2, in Meiji Bunka Kenkyūkai, ed., Zasshi: Meiji Bunka Kenkyū, I, p. 21. Maeda Ai, Narushima Ryūhoku (Asahi Shimbunsha, 1976), pp. 231–232. See also Thomas Huber, “Suehiro Tetchō versus the Press Law of 1875,” unpublished paper, Durham, N.C., July, 1981, pp. 39–40. Kawabe Kisaburō, The Press and Politics in Japan (University of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 70. See Nihon Shimbun Renmei, ed., Nihon shimbun hyakunen shi (Nihon Shimbun Renmei, 1961), p. 714; Ono, p. 29. His jailing and 20-yen fine were reported in Akebono, Aug. 8, 1875; MNJ, I, p. 196. Reprinted in Maeda, p. 238. See also Haga, pp. 30–31 and Huber, pp. 47–48. For references to these editorials, see Chikamori Haruyoshi, Jinbutsu Nihon shimbun shi (Shinjinbutsu Ōraisha, 1970), p. 101; Ono, pp. 29–30. Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 24, 1875, cited in Ono Hideo, Nihon shimbun hattatsu shi (Gogatsu Shobō, 1982), pp. 75–76. Discussed in Miyatake, “Meiji hikka shi shiryō,” No. 4, pp. 31–35. Hyōron Shimbun, No. 62 (Jan 15, 1876), printed in Okano, pp. 32–33. Suehiro Yasuo, “Suehiro Tetchō,” in Sandai genronjin shū, IV (Jiji Tsūshinsha, 1962), p. 137. John K. Black, Young Japan: Yokohama and Yedo 1858–79, II (Oxford University Press), p. 448. Nishida, p. 93; Narushima Ryūhoku, “Gokuchū shirushi,” Chōya Shimbun, June 15, 1876; MNJ, I, pp. 537–538. See also Hyōron Shimbun, September, 1875, MNJ, I, p. 197. For similar lists, see Okano, pp. 226–227, Midoro, p. 57 and Chiba Yūjiro, ed., Shimbun (Yuhikaku, 1955), p. 54. Issues 62. 78, 91 and 97, all containing attacks on the government, are excerpted in Midoro, pp. 58–59. Midoro. p. 57. Hyōron Shimbun, No. 109, July 5, 1876; quoted in Midoro, p. 59. Reported in Yūbin Hōchi, July 12, 1876; MNJ, I, pp. 198–199. Also banned that day were Kōko Shimpō and Sōmō Zasshi. Quoted in Chikamori, p. 100. See also Akebono, Aug. 8, 1875; MNJ, I, p. 196. Suehiro, “Shimbun keirekidan,” pp. 58–59. Narushima Ryūhoku, Goku nai banashi, quoted in Midoro, pp. 56–57. See also Chōya. June 15. 1876; MNJ, I, p. 538. He lists 28 journalists who shared the jail at one time or another. Irokawa Daikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period (Princeton University Press, 1985). p. 119. Pp. 185–194 provide an incisive discussion of the “people’s conventional morality.” Lawrence W. Beer, Freedom of Expression in Japan (Kodansha, 1984), p.45.

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42 43 44

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Yoshio Iwamoto, “Suehiro Tetchō: A Meiji Political Novelist,” in Edmund Skrzypczak, ed., Japan’s Modern Century (Monumenta Nipponica, 1968), p. 88. Narushima Ryūhoku editorial, reprinted in Tokio Times, May 12, 1877, pp. 226–227. Hyōron Shimbun, No. 62, Jan. 15, 1876. Quoted by Irwin Sheiner, Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan (University of California Press, 1970), p. 206. Black. II, pp. 449–450. Quoted in Kawabe, p. 81.

CHAPTER 3 Presented at the Society’s general meeting on 12 December 1983. 1 George Akita, “Government and Opposition in Prewar Japan: Is Political Success an Embarrassment?”, in TASJ, Third Series, XVIII (1983), p.39. 2 Several of these are reprinted in Osatake Takeki, ed., Bakumatsu Meiji Shimbun Zenshū (Collected Newspapers of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Period), 6 vols., Taiseidō, Tokyo, 1934–1935. 3 For a description of this incident, see my Politics of the Meiji Press: The Life of Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, University Press of Hawaii, 1980, pp. 47–63. 4 Quoted in Yamamoto Taketoshi, Shimbun to Minshū (Newspapers and the People), Kinokuniya, Tokyo, 1973, p. 8. 5 For a useful discussion of these laws, see Peter Figdor, “Newspapers and Their Regulation in Early Meiji Japan, 1868–1883”, in Papers on Japan, VI (1972), Harvard University East Asian Research Center, pp. 1–44; also Okudaira Yasuhiro, “Nihon Shuppan Keisatsu Hōsei no Rekishiteki Kenkyū Josetsu” (Introduction to Historical Research on Japanese Publishing Regulations), in Hōritsu Jihō, XXXIX (April-October 1967), published in seven installments. 6 Saitō Shōzō, Meiji Taishō Hikka Dainempyō (Chronology of Slips of the Pen in the Meiji and Taishō Eras), Shisōsha, Tokyo, 1932, pp. 18–26; Chiba Yūjirō, Shimbun (Newspapers), Yūhikaku, Tokyo, 1955, p. 56; Ono Hideo, Shimbun no Rekishi (History of the Newspaper Press), Tōkyōdō Shuppan, Tokyo, 1961, p. 40; Midoro Shōichi, Meiji Taishō Shi (History of the Meiji and Taishō Eras), I, Asahi Shimbunsha, Tokyo, 1930, pp. 102–08. 7 Yamamoto Fumio, Nihon Shimbun Hattatsu Shi (The Development of the Japanese Press), Itō Shoten, Tokyo, 1944, p. 160. 8 Sasaki Takashi, “Dai Ichiji Matsukata Naikaku Ki no Sōjū Mondai” (Press Control Problems During the First Matsukata Cabinet), in Tokyo Daigaku Shimbun Kenkyūjo Kiyō, (1983), p. 13. 9 Circulation figures are inconsistent as there was no single source or method of compilation. Some say that Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun was the largest; others say that Chōya Shimbun was. At any rate, daily circulations of the largest newspapers reached about 10,000. See Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 92–93. Suehiro Tetchō claims that Chōya’s circulation reached 18,000 shortly after the war. See his Shimbun Keirekidan (Account of My Newspaper Life) in Yoshino Sakuzō, ed., Meiji Bunka Zenshū (Collected Works on Meiji Culture), Shimbun Hen (Newspaper Volume), Tokyo, 1928–1930, pp. 62–64. 10 Aso Makoto & Amano Ikuo, Education and Japan’s Modernization, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, 1972, pp. 2, 25, & 35.

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Ibid., pp. 25–31. Quoted in Yamamoto Fumio, p. 172. Ariyama Teruo, “Kiyanpein Jiyānarizumu no Jidai” (The Era of Campaign Journalism), in Uchikawa Yoshimi & Arai Naoyuki, eds., Nihon no Jiyānarizumu: Taishū no Kokoro o Tsukanda ka (Japanese Journalism: Did It Grasp the Spirit of the Masses?), Yuhikaku, 1983, p. 37. Yamamoto Taketoshi, p. 138. Quoted by Ariyama, p. 52. See Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 174–75. Ariyama, pp. 31–60, especially pp. 32–33. See Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 170, 199, 201–03, & 289–92. Also Nishida Taketoshi, Meiji Jidai no Shimbun to Zasshi (Newspapers and Magazines in the Meiji Period), Shibundō, Tokyo, 1966, p. 272; Ariyama, p. 39. Richard H. Mitchell, Censorship in Imperial Japan, Princeton U.P., 1983. Ibid.; Okudaira, op. cit. Ono, p. 62. See Uchikawa Yoshimi, Shimbunshi Wa (Anecdotes about Press History), Shakai Shisōsha, Tokyo, 1967, pp. 30–34; Ono, p.61. See Ariyama, pp.42–45. Yorozu Chōhō, 2 September 1905. Hanzawa Hiraki, Taisho Seisen Shi (History of Taisho Political Struggles), p. 200, cited by Yamamoto Fumio, p. 238. Hanzawa, pp. 291–94. Sec Chiba, pp. 58–59; Nishida, p. 230; Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 163–64. Some observers contend that there was a decline in the numbers of hikka – or “slip of the pen” – incidents; see Nishida, pp. 230 & 267; Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 163–64. Saitō, however, shows that there was little change after this. He lists 58 cases for 1895, 11 in 1896, 43 in 1897, 41 each in 1898 and 1899, and 39 in 1900; there was a sharp decline in the next four years, then a rise to more than 100 each in 1905 and 1906. Saitō, pp. 64–106. See Oka Mitsuo, Kindai Nihon Shimbun Koshi (Short History of Modern Japanese Journalism), Minerubua, Tokyo, 1969, pp. 109–10. Also Mitchell, pp. 141–42; Chiba, p. 59; & Ono, p. 74. Chiba, p. 59. Inoue Masaaki, ed., Hakushaku Kiyoura Keigo Den (Biography of Count Kiyoura Keigo), I, pp. 168–69; discussed in Yamamoto Fumio, p. 160. Kawabe Kisaburō, The Press and Politics in Japan, University of Chicago Press, 1921, pp. 153–54; also Chiba, p. 62. Mitchell, p. 156. Harry Emerson Wildes contends that late-Meiji saw at least 1,000 cases a year: The Press and Social Currents in Japan, University of Chicago Press, 1927, p. 127. Citied in Chiba, pp.64–65. Nishida, pp. 241–42. Quoted by Ariyama, p. 47. Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbunsha, ed., Tōnichi Nanajūnen Shi (Seventy-Year History of the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun), Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbunsha, 1941, p. 84.

NOTES

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Quoted in Itō Takashi & George Akita, “The Yamagata-Tokutomi Correspondence: Press and Politics in Meiji-Taishō Japan”, in Monumenta Nipponica, XXXVI, No. 4 (1980), p. 404. Yamamoto Fumio, p. 162, quoted from Naikaku no Shimbun Sōjū Hō (The Cabinets’ Newspaper-Control Laws), in Osatake Takeki, ed., Meiji Bunka (Meiji Culture), X, No. 11. See also Miyake Setsurei, Dōjidaishi (An Account of My Times), II, Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo, 1954, p. 165. An effective discussion of self-censorship is found in Mitchell, pp. 237–42. See Uchikawa, Shimbunshi Wa, pp. 55–58. A.Morgan Young, Japan in Recent Times, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1973, p.240. A sixth area was that of “injuring public morals”, but this created more problems for books and periodicals than for newspapers. Quoted in Mitchell, p. 140. Hyman Kublin argues that the authorities initially thought of the socialists as fringe elements but feared portions of their platform such as universal suffrage that might incite anti-government feelings. See his Asian Revolutionary: The Life of Sen Katayama, Princeton U.P., 1964, p. 147. See Nishida, pp. 267–68. Akita, pp. 39–69, especially p. 46. Figdor, p. 20. F. G. Notehelfer, Kōtoku Shūsui: Portrait of a Japanese Radical, Cambridge U.P., 1971, pp. 96–97. Ibid., pp. 99–100. Peter Duus, “Liberal Intellectuals and Social Conflict in Taishō Japan”, in Tetsuo Najita & J. Victor Koschmann, ed., Conflict in Modern Japanese History, Princeton U.P., 1982, pp. 438–39. See, for example, his “The Press and Social Cohesion During a Period of Change: The Case of Early Meiji Japan”, in Modern Asian Studies, XV, No. 4 (1981), pp. 865–76. Jerry Fisher, “The Meirokusha and the Building of a Strong and Prosperous Nation”, in Harry Wray & Hilary Conroy, eds., Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History, University Press of Hawaii, 1983, p. 89. Quoted in Notehelfer, p. 105. Japan Weekly Mail, 19 November 1910, quoted in Notehelfer, p. 186. Young, pp. 300–01. Shumpei Okamoto, “The Emperor and the Crowd: The Historical Significance of the Hibiya Riot”, in Najita & Koschmann, p. 272. For a fascinating account of the shift to commercial journalism at Asahi, see Albert Altman, “Proprietor versus Editor: The Case of the Osaka Asahi Shimbun in the Late Nineteenth Century”, in Asian and African Studies, XIV (1980), pp. 241–53. See Ariyama, pp. 33–34. Notehelfer, p. 92. Quoted in Ono, pp. 81–82. Interview, 14 September 1983. Midoro, p. 272. Useful accounts of this incident are found in Ariyama, pp.57–58; Ono, pp.85–87; Yamamoto Fumio, pp. 246–48; Mitchell, pp. 177–79. Ariyama, p.58.

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Chūō Kōron, January 1923; quoted in Yamamoto Fumio, p. 303. Tokutomi Sohō, Shimbun Oyobi Kisha no Hensen (The Vicissitudes of Newspapers and Journalists), in Sohō Sōsho (The Works of Tokutomo Sohō), X, Tokyo, 1929, pp. 80–85; cited in Albert Altman, “‘Shimbunshi’: The Early Meiji Adaptation of the Western-style Newspaper”, in W. G. Beasley, ed., Modern Japan: Aspects of History, Literature and Society, University of California Press, 1975, p. 66.

CHAPTER 4 1 2

3

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11 12

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18

Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun, 29 December 1876. Yomiuri shinbun, 21 April 1876; Yamamoto Fumio, Nihon shinbun hattatsu shi (Itō shoten, 1944), 8–9. See Kido Mataichi, ed., Kōza gendai jiyānarizumu, vol. 1 (Rekishi) (Jiji tsūshinsha, 1974), 1–3. It should be noted that the papers under discussion here are the ōshinbun or “prestige papers.” Several koshinbun, “minor” or “popular” newspapers, were published for profit at this time. Though they were widely read, establishment figures considered them beneath serious consideration as genuine “newspapers.” Their impact was more significant than their reputation. Quoted in Chikamori Haruyoshi, Jinbutsu Nihon shinbun shi (Shinjinbutsu oraisha, 1970), 124. Sanmen kiji was the label given to society news, which usually appeared on Page Three in the later years of Meiji. It was named this after the fact that the popular Yorozu chōhō was published on red paper for a time in the 1890s. Editor Kuroiwa Shūroku shifted back to white when the red paper proved difficult to read. See Kubota Tatsuhiko, Nijūichi dai senkaku kisha den (Osaka: Osaka mainichi shinbunsha, 1930), 310, 321. Yūbin hōchi shinbun had begun to change in the mid-1880s, following president Yano Fumio’s study tour of European newspaper plants; on his return in 1886 it lowered prices and became Tokyo’s largest daily for a short time. See Eleanor Westney, Imitation and Innovation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 177–180, and Nishida Taketoshi, Meiji jidai no shinbun to zasshi (Shibundo, 1966), 150. Uchikawa Yoshimi, “Shinbun ronsetsu no hensen,” in Gendai Nihon shisō taikei: geppō (June 1965), 3–4. For a useful discussion of the sanmen kiji, see Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 170–172. Accounts of key news stories throughout this period are found in Haruhara Akihiko, Nihon shinbun tsū shi (Niizumisha, 1987), 87–90. Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 166. The cartoon, captioned “Not Very Happy New Year,” also had run in the New York World. Discussed in Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 215. See Haruhara Akihiko, et al., Josei kisha: Shinbun ni ikita onnatachi (Sekai shisōsha, 1993), 19–26; also Haruhara, Shinbun tsū shi, 97. Jiji shim pō, 30 September 1890; Haruhara, Shinbun tsū shi, 73. The use of tanbōsha was not eliminated completely until the 1910s. Quoted in Chikamori Haruyoshi, Jinbutsu Nihon shinbun shi (Shinjinbutsu oraisha, 1970), 185. John Pierson, Tokutomi Sohō, 1863–1957: A Journalist for Modem Japan (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1980), 306.

NOTES

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32 33

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Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 172. Kuroiwa Shūroku, “Yo ga shinbun no kokorozashita doki,” in Jiyānarizumu no shisō, 12, ed. Tsurumi Shunsuke, in Gendai Nihon shisō taikei, ed. Matsumoto Sannosuke (Chikuma shobō, 1965), 119. Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 183, 205. The last paper to begin using photography was Yorozu chōhō, on May 5, 1905. See ibid., 176–177; Haruhara, Shinbun isū shi, 108; Nishida, Shinbun to zasshi, 233. See Chikamori, Jinbutsu Nihon shinbun shi, 156. Yorozu chōhō, 1 November 1892; reprinted in Okano Takeo, Meiji genron shi (Hō shuppan, 1974), 112–113. “Simple, clear,” see Ono Hideo. Shinbun kenkyū gojūnen (Mainichi shinbunsha, 1971). 25; “Long articles,” Yorozu chōhō, 1 November 1892; Ono Hideo, “Kuroiwa Shūroku.” Sandai genronjin shū 6 (Jiji tsūshinsha, 1962), 25. His best known writers in the late 1890s were Uchimura Kanzō, Kōtoku Shūsui, and Sakai Toshihiko. See Yamamoto Taketoshi, Kindai Nihon no shinbun dokusha sō (Hōsei daigaku shuppan kyoku, 1981), 406–407; also see Ukai Shin’ichi, Chōya shinbun no kenkyū (Misuzu shobō, 1984), 28–29. Kuroiwa’s influence is discussed in Iwai Hajime, Shinbun to shinbunjin (Gendai jiyānarizumu shuppankai, 1974), 197–227. Equally successful was Tokyo asahi shinbun, which Murayama had made successful from its founding in 1888; I focus here on Mainichi because of Motoyama’s more open expression of the centrality of profit. Ono Hideo, Shinbun no rekishi (Risōsha, 1961), 67. Uchikawa Yoshimi and Arai Naoyuki, eds., Nihon no jiyānarizumu taishū no kokoro o tsukanda ka (Yūhikaku, 1983), 49. Yanagida Izumi, “Fukuchi Ōchi,” in Fukuchi Ōchi shū, ed. Yanagida Izumi, vol. 11 of Meiji bungaku zenshū (Chikuma shobō, 1966), 411. Iwai, Shinbun to shinbunjin, 97. These campaigns are discussed, among other places, in Uchikawa Yoshimi and Matsushima Shōzō, eds., Meiji niyūsu jiten 8 (Mainichi komyunikēshon, 1987), 681–682, and Westney, Imitation and Innovation, 188–191. See Nihon Shinbun Hanbai Kyōkai, ed., Shinbun hanbai hyakunen shi (Nihon shinbun hanbai kyōkai, 1969), 242–246; similar struggles are recounted in 338– 339. These figures come from Yamamoto Fumio, Hattatsu shi, 170 (1887) and 204 (1907), and Oka Mitsuo, Kindai Nihon shinbun koshi (Mineruba shobō, 1969), 62 (1894). Other useful figures are found in Yamamoto Taketoshi, Dokusha sō, 404–407, 411; his 1907 figures for both Asahis are lower but present the same general picture. Uchikawa Yoshimi, “Shinbunshi hō no seitei katei to sono tokushitsu,” Tokyo daigaku shinbun kenkyūjo kiyo 5 (1956), 87. Another 3,721 were born and died during that period. See Haruhara, Shinbun tsū shi, 65–66. Japan’s first two-page ad was placed by Maruzen in Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun, 29 November 1905. See Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 209. For an example of this analysis, see Kido, Rekishi, 2. Two of the best studies of censorship and its impact on the press are Richard H. Mitchell, Censorship in Imperial Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), and Uchikawa Yoshimi, Masu medeia hō seisaku shi kenkyū (Yūhikaku, 1989).

386

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46 47

48 49

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See Nishida, Shinbun to zasshi, 245; Ono, Shinbun no rekishi, 54; and Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 140–142. Nearly all the standard Japanese-language press histories deal with this issue. The most useful study in English is Westney, Imitation and Innovation, 180–186. Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun, 12 April 1877; see also my Politics of the Meiji Press (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1980), 115–120. The Illustrated London News, 20 October 1894; cited in Donald Keene, “The SinoJapanese War of 1894–95 and Its Cultural Effects in Japan,” in Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture, ed. Donald Shively (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971), 132. Keene, “The Sino-Japanese War,” 129. Takeichi Hideo, Nichibei shinbun shi wa (Fukumi shobō, 1984), 107. Also see Midoro Masaichi, ed., Meiji Taishō shi, genron hen (Asahi shinbunsha. 1930). 192– 193. Jiji shimpō, 25 July 1894; in Haruhara, Shinbun tsū shi, 83–84. The use of graphic arts is described in some detail in Keene, “The Sino-Japanese War,” 161–166. He cites the poor education of the public as a reason for the heavy interest in visual materials. Ibid., 133. Yūbin hōchi shinbun, 22 February 1895; Nakayama Yasuaki, ed., Shinbun shūsei Meiji hennen shi 9 (Honpō shoseki, 1982), 212. See, for example, Jiji shinpō, 31 March 1895. Kido, Kōza gendai jiyānarizumu, 1. Yamamoto, Hattatsu shi, 169. Nishida, Shinbun to zasshi, 269. Based on Ukai, 28–31. Ukai gives annual circulation figures of approximately two hundred million, which I have divided by 330, as a very rough average of the number of issues published per year. Numbers ranged from about 300 to 360 depending on the paper. If anything, the daily figure I have used would have been on the low side, since most papers were closer to three hundred issues a year. Yorozu chōhō, 1 November 1892; Okano, Meiji genron shi, 113. Aso Makoto and Amino Ikuo, Education and Japan’s modernization (Ministry of foreign Affairs, 1972), 25, 35. Also see Yamamoto Taketoshi, “Shinbun sangyō no keisei katei,” Tokyo daigaku shinbun kenkyūjo kiyō 19 (1970), 123. Yamamoto Taketoshi, “Keisei katei,” 121. See also Ronald P. Dore, “Mobility, Equality, and Individuation in Modern Japan,” in Aspects of Social Change in Modem Japan, ed. Ronald Dore (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 121, 131. Interview, November 29, 1983. See Carol Gluck, Japan’s Modern Myths (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 159. Pierson, Tokutomi Sohō, 169. Uchikawa Yoshimi, “Shinbun dokusha no hensen,” Shinbun kenkyū 126 (July 1961), 23. John Crump, The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983), 8–9. Yamamoto Taketoshi, “Keisei katei,” 119–120. Yorozu chōhō, 1 November 1892; Okano, Meiji genron shi, 113.

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Kuroiwa, “Yo ga shinbun,” 119. Yamamoto Taketoshi, Shinbun dokusha sō, 129. Stephen Koss, The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain, vol. 1, The Nineteenth Century (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981), 418. Midoro, Meiji Taishō shi, 191.

CHAPTER 5 1

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See, for example, Fukuda Tsuneari, Genron no jiyū to iu koto [Freedom of the Press] (Shinchōsha, 1973); Kyōgoku Jun’ichi, “‘Seken no jōshiki’ to ‘seikai no jōshiki’” [“‘Common Sense:’ The Public and the Politicians”], Bungei shunjū (January, 1975), pp. 116–28; Urushiyama Shigeyoshi, Shinbun ronchō e no hanron [In Opposition to the Prevailing Tone of the Press] (Nisshin Hodō, 1975). See The Japanese Press 1974 (Tokyo: Japan Newspaper Publishers Association, 1975), p.23. The circulation of The Wall Street Journal (1,265,685) equals .6 percent of the population; The Sunday New York Times,.77 percent; The Washington Post,.26 percent, and The Christian Science Monitor,.1 percent. See The Official Associated Press Almanac (1974), p. 767. Satō Seizaburō, “Tanaka’s Resignation and the Japanese Press,” Japan Echo, Vol. II, No.1 (1975). A fascinating survey illustrating the near-total reliance on seniority for promotion is found in Nihon Shinbun Kyōkai, ed., “Survey of the Consciousness of Japanese Newsmen,” in The Japanese Press 1974, pp. 93–96. A helpful description of the working of the Japanese press is Nathaniel B. Thayer, “Competition and Conformity: An Inquiry into the Structure of the Japanese Newspapers,” in Ezra F. Vogel, ed., Modern Japanese Organization and DecisionMaking (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), pp. 284–303. Richard Halloran, “Japanese Newspapers, Feature of Group Journalism,” Asahi Evening News, 7 December 1973. For more on the press clubs, see Thayer, “Competition and Conformity,” 269–300. Quoted by Edwin Emery, The Press and America (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1962), p. 373. Richard Halloran, “Japanese Newspapers, Their Approach to the News,” Asahi Evening News, 6 December 1973. Kyōgoku Jun’ichi, “‘Seken no jōshiki’ to ‘seikai no jōshiki,’” Bungei shunjū (January, 1975), p. 118. The article is translated into English in Japan Echo, Vol. II, No. 1 (1975). Nihon Shinbun Kyōkai, “Survey of Consciousness,” pp. 93–94. Thayer, “Competition and Conformity,” p. 303. Halloran, “Approach to the News.” Kyōgoku, “Seken no jōshiki,” p. 120. Shiraishi Kokyō, “Twenty-sixth Newspaper Convention Address,” in Nihon Shinbun Kyōkai, The Japanese Press 1974, p. 16. Jack Anderson, The Anderson Papers (New York: Ballantine Books, 1974), p. 10. Tomoo Hirooka, “Japanese Press Today,” Asahi Evening News, 6 November 1974. Hayashi Saburō, Shinbun o dō yomu ka [How to Read Newspapers] (Tokyo: PHP Kenkyūjo, 1974), p. 126. Ibid., pp. 131–32.

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THE RISE AND EVOLUTION OF MEIJI JAPAN

Ibid., 133. Nakane Chie, Japanese Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970). Thomas P. Rohlen, For Harmony and Strength: Japanese White-Collar Organization in Anthropological Perspective (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974). Fukuchi Gen’ichirō, Shinbunshi jitsureki [My Career in the Newspapers], reprinted in Yanagida Izumi, ed., Fukuchi Ouchi shū, Vol. XI of Meiji bungaku zenshū (Chikuma Shobō, 1966), p. 328. Quoted by Kubota Tatsuhiko, Nijūichi daisenkaku kisha den [The Biographies of Twenty-One Pioneer Reporters] (Osaka Mainichi Shinbunsha, 1930), p. 66. Emphasis mine. See Nishida Taketoshi, Meiji jidai no shinbun to zasshi [Newspapers and Magazines of the Meiji Period] (Shibundō, 1966), pp. 50, 147. Also Nishida Taketoshi, “Meiji jūichinen – dō jūyonnen no shinbunkai” [The Newspaper World from 1877 to 1881], in Osatake Takeki, ed., Meiji bunka no kenkyū (Meiji Bunka Kenkyūkai, 1944), p. 407. Trans. in Tsunoda Ryusaku, de. Bary, William, and Keene, Donald, eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. II (New York: Columbia Univiversity Press, 1958), p. 145. Ono Hideo, Shinbun no rekishi [History of Newspapers] (Tōkyōdō Shuppan, 1961), p. 24. Tamura Hisashi, Fukuchi Ouchi, Vol. III of Sandai genronjin shū (Jiji Tsūshinsha, 1962), p. 75. Tokyo nichi nichi shinbun, 28 July 1875. Miyake Setsurei, Dōjidaishi, Vol. II (Tokyo, 1954), p. 165. Also Nishida, Shinbun to zasshi, p. 105. Sōmō zasshi, quoted in Ono, Shinbun no rekishi, p. 30. Yūbin hōchi shinbun, 4 April 1875. Nichi nichi, March 12 1875. See Nishida, “Meiji jūichinen – dō jūyonnen no shinbunkai,” p. 373. The former meeting is described in Ono, Shinbun no rekishi, p. 78 and in Sugiura Tadashi, Shinbun koto hajime [Newspaper Beginnings] (Mainichi Shinbunsha, 1971), p. 291. The second is described in Chōya shinbun (24 June 1876), quoted in Nihon Shinbun Renmei, Nihon shinbun hyakunenshi (Nihon Shinbun Renmei, 1962), p. 793. Quoted in Kawabe Shizō, Fukuchi Ouchi (Sanseidō, 1942), pp. 155–56. Nippōsha was the company name under which Nichi nichi was published. Evidence of this found in a letter from E. H. House to Ōkuma Shigenobu, undated but clearly in regard to financial arrangements for the Tokio Times, which House edited from 1877 to 1880. See Ōkuma monjo, Waseda University, Document 4416. Sugiura, Hajime, p. 274. For an account of Fukuzawa’s invitation to edit an official paper, see Kawabe, Fukuchi Ouchi, pp. 206–16. See Nishida, Shinbun to zasshi, p. 44. Fukuchi, Shinbunshi jitsureki, p. 330. Kawabe Kisaburō, The Press and Politics in Japan (University of Chicago Press, 1921), p. 81. Herbert Passin, “Writer and Journalist in the Transitional Society,” in Lucian Pye, ed., Communications and Political Development (Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 100.

NOTES

45 46

47

48

49

50

389

Shimada Saburō, Taikan (October, 1918), p. 202. Matsushita Keiichi, “Politics of Citizen Participation,” trans. in The Japan Interpreter (Spring, 1975), p. 461. See, for examples of these opinions, Yūbin hōchi, 29 Jan, 26 March and 4 April 1875; Nichi nichi, 6 December 1874, 14 April, 28 December 1875. Quoted in Joseph Pittau, Political Thought in Early Meiji Japan 1868–1889 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967), p. 109. Fukuzawa Yukichi, The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa (New York: Schocken Books, 1966), p. 322. Merle Miller, Plain Speaking (New York: Berkeley Publishing, 1974), p. 21.

CHAPTER 6 1

2 3 4 5

6 7 8

9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18

19

20 21

22

Authorized National Language Text No. 8 (Kokutei kokugo kyōkasho dai hachi), 1904–1909, reprinted in Oka Mitsuo, Kindai Nihon Shimbun koshi, p. 107. “Shimbun shō,” in Okano Takeo, Meiji genron shi, p. 106. Yorozu, June 19, 1901, Shimbun shūsei Meiji hennenshi, 11, p. 266. Tokutomi Sohō, Sohō jiden, p. 224. Nisshin Shinjishi, March 17, 1872; Matsumoto Sannosuke and Yamamuro Shin’ichi, eds., Genron to medeia, p. 117. Seiyō jijō, Matsumoto and Yamamuro, p. 3. Motoyama to Mainichi trainees, in Iwai, p. 124. Midoro, p. 115; see also his analysis on p. 367. The government issued twenty-one more decrees and regulations in the remaining Meiji years and another twelve in Taishō; most are reprinted wholly in Midoro, pp. 369–458. He also reprints other press-related draft laws and ordinances proposed to the Diet; pp. 459–480. Okudaira Yasuhiro, Jian iji hō shōshi, p. 1. Pierson, p. 265. Chōya Shimbun, December 20, 1875; Maeda Ai,