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LIST  July 2018

LIST July 2018

Subject:

Re: Why no celebration of Meiji Restoration 150th anniversary?

From:

Roger Brown <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

NBR's Japan Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Jul 2018 15:07:19 +0900

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (262 lines)

Another tidbit, albeit not a personal reminiscence, about the Meiji 
Centennial and protests: The Sato cabinet set up a committee to plan 
nationwide celebrations, which triggered alarm on the part of left-wing 
historians and--as Mr. Dyck suggests--fed into the mix of protests. Not 
that it took much to alarm those folks, but the presence on the 
committee of Yasuoka Masahiro, Kobayashi Hideo, and Hayashi Fusao no 
doubt heightened their sense of crisis (Yabe Teiji, a former close 
confidante to Konoe Fumimaro, was also selected, but died in 1967). The 
journals Rekishigaku kenkyu and Rekishi hyoron carried quite a few 
articles analyzing the committee's views of the Meiji Ishin in the 
context of monopoly capitalism and as evidence of the impending return 
of fascism, and I believe there were teach-ins and such.

Incidentally, historian John W. Hall gave a presidential address at the 
1968 Association for Asian Studies Conference considering the centennial
's significance both as history and in relation to the radicalism of the 
1960s, which was later published in the Journal of Asian Studies (I have 
a PDF handy, should anyone be interested).

Roger Brown


----- Original Message -----
> Well, since everyone else is reminiscing about Japan in 68-69, I must 
confess that I was there too, living in a visiting foreigner residence 
on Waseda University campus, where radical students were occupying the 
newly built student activity center in a dispute over who should control 
access to the space – and trying to break into  into the university 
auditorium.  The street beyond  the neighboring tennis courts – now the 
site of the Riga Royal Hotel--was lined with riot police vans filled 
vastly bored-looking officers.
> 
> The only attention I remember being paid to the Meiji Restoration was  
the Sunday evening NHK  TV drama about Sakamoto Ryoma, which, I should 
add, really established him as a central figure in the Restoration.  
Before World War 2, he rarely appeared  in textbooks among the list of 
principals along with Okubo, Saigo,  Ito and all the usual suspects.
> 
> I did, however, attend one memorial event – the semi centennial 
anniversary of the founding of the Shinjinkai – the first radical 
student organization at Todai.  Ironically, it was held on the day that 
the riot police brought an end to the student radical occupation of  
Yasuda Tower.  As the former student radicals, now in their seventies. 
many of them  union officials or Socialist politicians, reminisced about 
their times, the dull  thud of tear gas bombs murmured in the background.
 When the event ended, a couple of them said “Let’s see what’s  going on.
”  We made our way behind riot police lines that were keeping everyone 
else away but as we neared the pond in front of the now emptied tower 
the piercing miasma of  slowly disappearing made it difficult to go any 
further. Disappointed, the old radicals decided to go home.
> 
> The fall of Yasuda Tower, I think, signaled an important moment of 
political change – the beginning of the collapse of the postwar left.   
Of course, the cause was more complicated than that but I doubt that 
former Zengakuren leaders, nostalgic or not, are having reunions this 
year.  Indeed I also wonder whether anyone remembers that 1968 was the 
year the Japanese GNP finally exceeded West Germany’s and became the 
world’s second largest – an event that must have seemed more important  
at the time than the Meiji Restoration.
> 
> Happy July 4th, Peter Duus
> 
> From: gregory clark <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2018 4:08 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [NBR's_Japan_Forum] Why no celebration of Meiji 
Restoration 150th anniversary?
> 
> I too was around 68-69 and witness to the Kamata Senso, the very 
violent student attempt to block the Sato Eisaku flight to the US where 
he would do the deal allowing the US to continue to use Okinawa as a 
base for continued bombing of Vietnam.
> 
> MY memory is similar to that of Rick Dyck: There was so much turmoil 
going on that few had the time to remember Meiji. If any thing Meiji was 
seen on balance as the originator of the conservatism that had led Japan 
to its seeming impasse.
> 
> Gregory Clark
> On Jul 3, 2018, at 14:54, Rick Dyck <[log in to unmask]<mailto:jfmember@
NBR.ORG>> wrote:
> 
> Dear Colleagues,
> 
> I was in Japan in 1968, which was the year of the centennial of the 
Meiji Restoration.  I was studying at Kyushu University.
> 
> Beginning with a group at Kyoto University, students organized 
protests of the centennial which spread throughout Japan.
> 
> It did not take much in 1968 to get a demonstration going. The 
worldwide noise level was high. That was the year of the assassination 
of Robert Kennedy and the Chicago Democratic convention.  Japan had its 
own set of issues, mostly related to complicity in the US Vietnam policy.
> 
> For example, in June, 1968, a US phantom Jet on its way from a bombing 
mission in Vietnam crashed into the campus at Kyushu University, and for 
a full year the students would not allow officials from the nearby US 
air force base on campus to remove the wreckage.  Also in 1968, the US 
nuclear aircraft carrier, the Enterprise, docked at the US naval base in 
Sasebo on its way to Vietnam.  A huge group of students, including yours 
truly, traveled from Fukuoka to Sasebo for demonstrations, with the 
President of Kyushu University, Inoue Masaharu, in the lead.  Inoue was 
later forced to resign by the Minister of Education, partly for his role 
in the demonstrations, but also for proclaiming  “police are the enemy 
(警察は敵だ!).”
> 
> The climax to all of this came in January, 1969 with the march on 
Yasuda Kodo at Todai.
> 
> There was so much in Japan to protest in 1968 that the Meiji 
Centennial was simply rolled into the mix.
> 
> Ishibashi Tanzan was still alive in 1968.  As a lifelong anti-
imperialist, he made the case that the demonstrations of 1968 were a 
fitting way to celebrate the Meiji Centennial.  In 1912,  Ishibashi was 
beginning his career as a cub reporter when Emperor Meiji died.  At the 
time he wrote that the real legacy of Meiji was not Japan’s colonies, 
but the Charter Oath and the value of democracy.  In 1968, Ishibashi 
felt that Japanese students protesting the complicity of Japan in the 
bombing of Hanoi was worthy of the legacy of Meiji.
> 
> Rick Dyck
> 
> 
> From: Edith [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 3, 2018 10:56 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [NBR's_Japan_Forum] Why no celebration of Meiji 
Restoration 150th anniversary?
> 
> Let me just add to Robert’s note that the impact of the Meiji 
Restoration on the rest of Asia was immense, through its demonstration 
effect that an Asian country could defeat China and Russia and create a 
modern industrial state. Anti-colonial rebels from across Asia spent 
time in Japan as part of their revolutionary educational enterprise, and 
were given love and support under the banner of “co-prosperity.” The 
experience of actual Japanese occupation shattered the illusion but not 
the underlying lessons of Japan’s rise, which we are seeing playing out 
today again with China. The lessons? A non-western state can beat the 
West but not without facing the fury of the West and possible defeat. 
Japan’s post-war hedging strategies have served as another kind of model 
for its Asian counterparts, including China.
> 
> Regards,
> Edith
> 
> Edith Terry
> [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Horizon Mansion
> 102 Macdonnell Rd., 1/F
> Mid-levels
> Hong Kong
> m + 852 6053 9252/ 9094 5851
> home + 852 2522 2025
> f  + 852 3014 0740
> 
> 
> 
> On Jul 3, 2018, at 7:04 AM, Richard Katz <[log in to unmask]<mailto:
[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> 
> OK. Time to tell why I’m so interested in the Meiji Restoration and, 
in the course of this, also answer Ehud Harari’s question about how 
people got interested in Japan.
> 
> I arrived at Columbia University in the fall of 1969, during the 
Vietnam war. Since they offered no course on Vietnamese history, I took 
a two-semester seminar on China and then Japan. At the time, all I knew 
about Japan was that, when my parents bought me a toy and it broke three 
days later, it was made in Japan. I was stunned when, at the very first 
session of the Japan semester, one of the several Chinese students said, 
in the presence of one Japanese girl, “I hate Japanese.” The class was 
explosive for me in so many ways. Firstly, Japanese history is like a 
soap opera. It’s up; it’s down; it’s up again, down again. Secondly, 
Japan was at once similar enough to Europe, and different enough, to 
make it a fascinating comparison. And thirdly, Japan was the only Asian 
country, aside from Thailand, to escape Western imperialism, something 
very important to someone involved in antiwar activity. And that escape 
was due to the Meiji Restoration. Beyond that, the Meiji Era created 
rapid, state-led modernization in a wide variety of life’s facets, 
economic and political and military and cultural and interpersonal 
relations. People like Okubo, Fukuzawa and Okuma fascinated me.
> 
> Recall that this was also the time of emerging US-Japan trade 
frictions and the US policy debate over Japan’s industrial policy. So, 
the Meiji Era experience was integral to any look at these issues.
> 
> So, perhaps my view of Meiji is seen through a romantic prism, but I 
don’t think that’s all there is to it.
> 
> There was a debate among Western scholars—and perhaps those in Japan 
as well—as to whether the 1930-40s militarism was a logical outgrowth of 
Meiji oligarchical rule or an interruption in the progress seen from 
Meiji through Taisho. The latter view has always made more sense to me. 
40 years ago, I tended to see the secret societies on the 1930s as the 
descendants of those assassins of Okubo and the Black Dragon Society, i.
e. those who resisted Meiji Era modernization. I have no idea what 
current views about all of this now prevail among mainstream historians 
in Japan and the West.
> 
> In any case, to me, the event seems a lot more than just a rivalry 
among different Han. Is that how it’s taught in Japan? It also seems to 
me that, no matter what flaws may have existed—and what human 
institution is not flawed, cf. Robespierre—the Meiji Era is the 
foundation stone of modern Japan.
> 
> I’d love to know how school children have been taught, and how that 
teaching has changed over the decades. I don’t know how the Communists 
and JSP viewed Meiji, but I can well imagine that they may have seen it 
as a precursor to 1930s militarism and downplayed it when they were so 
prominent among teachers.
> 
> Richard Katz
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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> ######################################################################
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***************************************************************
Roger H. Brown, Ph.D.
Professor of History (Modern Japan & US-Japan Relations)
Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Saitama University
Email: [log in to unmask]
Graduate Program Home Page: http://hss.saitama-u.ac.jp/english/index.html
Personal Website: https://rogerbrown.academia.edu

***************************************************************
ブラウン・ロジャー
埼玉大学大学院人文社会科学研究科教授(日本近現代史・日米関係史)
電子メール:[log in to unmask]
研究科ホームページ:http://hss.saitama-u.ac.jp
個人ホームページ:https://rogerbrown.academia.edu

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