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Japan's Competing Modernities

Japan's Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930

Edited by Sharon A. Minichiello
Copyright Date: 1998
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    Japan's Competing Modernities
    Book Description:

    Scholars, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, have studied the greater Taisho era (1900-1930) within the framework of Taisho demokurashii (democracy). While this concept has proved useful, students of the period in more recent years have sought alternative ways of understanding the late Meiji-Taisho period. This collection of essays, each based on new research, offers original insights into various aspects of modern Japanese cultural history from "modernist" architecture to women as cultural symbols, popular songs to the rhetoric of empire-building, and more. The volume is organized around three general topics: geographical and cultural space; cosmopolitanism and national identity; and diversity, autonomy, and integration. Within these the authors have identified a number of thematic tensions that link the essays: high and low culture in cultural production and dissemination; national and ethnic identities; empire and ethnicity; the center and the periphery; naichi (homeland) and gaichi (overseas); urban and rural; public and private; migration and barriers. The volume opens up new avenues of exploration for the study of modern Japanese history and culture. If, as one of the authors contends, the imperative is " to understand more fully the historical forces that made Japan what it is today," these studies of Japan's "competing modernities" point the way to answers to some of the country's most challenging historical questions in this century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6315-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Gail Lee Bernstein

    The first three decades of Japan’s twentieth century constituted largely unexplored terrain in English-language scholarship when Bernard S. Silberman and H. D. Harootunian invited nineteen Japanese and American scholars to Quail Roost, North Carolina, in January 1970, for the first conference on Taishō Japan. On the twentieth anniversary of the publication of papers from that trailblazing symposium (Japan in Crisis: Essays on Taishō Democracy, 1974), twenty-two scholars representing a new generation of modern Japan scholarship gathered on Maui, Hawai‘i, for the second Conference on Taishō Japan. Organized by Sharon A. Minichiello and Germaine Hoston, the conference yielded this volume, representing...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Sharon A. Minichiello

    The years 1900 through 1930 bracket the reign years of Japan’s Taishō emperor (1912–1926). It was a short reign compared to that of his father, the Meiji emperor (1868–1912), and his son, the Shōwa emperor (1926–1989). For a time, scholars, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, studied the Taishō era within the framework ofTaishō demokurashii, or “Taishō democracy.” As one writer who used this framework, I have suggested elsewhere:

    The period was a time of social, political, and economic ferment in which some Japanese were attempting to become world citizens in line with universal post–World War I...

  6. I Geographical and Cultural Space

    • 1 Peopling the Japanese Empire: The Koreans in Manchuria and the Rhetoric of Inclusion
      (pp. 25-44)
      Barbara J. Brooks

      In Dunhua, Jilin province, in China’s northeast, on May 1, 1930, a demonstration by a band of Chinese and Korean leftists—suspected Communists—escalated into violence. In retaliation, Chinese authorities under the command of the warlord Zhang Xueliang sent in troops that exceeded their mission, brutally attacking local Korean residents. Innocent farming families scattered to the hills in terror of torture and atrocity while Chinese soldiers ransacked their homes for possessions and livestock. The Chinese took into custody more than two hundred Koreans; in late August the majority were released. On September 5, however, fifteen were executed outside the walls...

    • 2 Integrating into Chinese Society: A Comparison of the Japanese Communities of Shanghai and Harbin
      (pp. 45-69)
      Joshua A. Fogel

      In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Japanese began settling in what were to become famous as the two most “international” cities in East Asia, Shanghai and Harbin. The Japanese communities that formed in these multicultural metropolises varied widely as they faced different issues and developed within different contexts. Writing in 1933 and 1934, the renowned journalist Edgar Snow cut through the “internationalist” hyperbole and inadvertently shed light on the question of ethnic integration within Shanghai and Harbin.

      Harbin, once delightful, today notorious as a place of living death, the worst-governed city in Manchukuo.

      Probably in no other city...

    • 3 Space and Aesthetic Imagination in Some Taishō Writings
      (pp. 70-90)
      Elaine Gerbert

      In his article, “Disciplinizing Native Knowledge and Producing Place,” Harry Harootunian discusses the ways in which urbanization and industrialization led some intellectuals to reinstate the importance of local place in the formation of Japanese identity. To affirm the common identity of all Japanese at a time when applications of instrumental reason together with capitalism, individualism, and competition were creating divisions between city and country, and social conflict and disharmony, Yanagita Kunio (1875–1962), for example, emphasized the “timeless history of folkic life,” rooted in rural Japan, as the essential unifying reality transcending differences of social class and function. Local place,...

    • 4 The City and the Countryside: Competing Taishō “Modernities” on Gender
      (pp. 91-113)
      Mariko Asano Tamanoi

      Although the notion of modern(ity) always resists a single definition, few would deny that the notion emerged with the rise of the nation-state. Indeed, a “modern nation-state” is almost an oxymoron, as a nation-state is always modern.¹ The rise of a nation-state also constitutes a process in which the idea of a nation and that of a “culture” merge. Hence, “the articulation of a unified Japanese ethnos with the ‘nation’ to produce ‘Japanese culture’ is entirelymodern” (Ivy 1995, 4, emphasis in original; see also Sakai 1991). Such an imaginary Japanese nation-culture, however, could be discursively constructed by suppressing its...

    • 5 Naturalizing Nationhood: Ideology and Practice in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
      (pp. 114-132)
      Julia Adeney Thomas

      Modern nationhood has been portrayed as profoundly unnatural. Whether analyzed by Hegel or Maruyama Masao, Benedict Anderson or Ernst Gellner, the creation of modern nationhood has been deemed an artificial act. Neither the natural bonds of kinship nor rootedness in the soil impelled its creation; rather, the impetus behind nationhood has been ascribed to the working out of the Hegelian Ideal in History, to invention(sakui)in Maruyama’s theory, to exile and hybridity in Anderson’s, or to a particular type of industrial culture in Gellner’s. The nation (as opposed to the state) in these analyses emerged in the nineteenth century...

    • 6 Asano Wasaburō and Japanese Spiritualism in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
      (pp. 133-154)
      Helen Hardacre

      Nineteenth-century spiritualism from the West was a subject of great interest in early twentieth-century Japan. Situated on a border between mass culture and the more rarefied pursuits of Westernized, bourgeois salon culture, Japanese spiritualism represented, in part, the importation of Western cultural fads for seances, telekinesis, clairvoyance, and hypnosis. As such, it was romantic and escapist in a larger cultural context of empire, industrialization, and the expansion of state powers. Like its American and British counterparts, Japanese spiritualism adopted a general orientation of universalism, based on the idea that all humanity is united by possessing an eternal, undying soul, each...

  7. II Cosmopolitanism and National Identity

    • 7 Becoming Japanese: Imperial Expansion and Identity Crises in the Early Twentieth Century
      (pp. 157-180)
      Tessa Morris-Suzuki

      At the end of the twentieth century—when some eighty million “guest workers” inhabit the margins of the international order—images of belonging, nationality, and identity shift and blur in disconcerting ways. In Japan (to take one small example) the sociologist Katō Hidetoshi warns that increasing immigration challenges the very “core”(shutai)of Japan, and calls for the development of a “New National Learning”(Shin-Kokugaku)to counter this challenge (Katō 1995). It is easy to imagine that there was once a simpler time, when the boundaries of citizenship were certain and national “cores” clearly defined. But to assume a simpler...

    • 8 Culture, Ethnicity, and the State in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
      (pp. 181-205)
      Kevin M. Doak

      Some sense of ethnic Japanese identity may be projected retroactively through Japanese history to the murky ancient beginning, but for the modern sense of the ethnic nation in Japan we need look no further back than the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Here one finds the emergence of a very specific use of ethnicity, along with a new term,minzoku(the ethnic nation), to redefine national membership in the context of the modern political state (Yoon 1993, 16–19). This newly formulated sense of ethnic national identity carried with it a complex assortment of political values that drew from...

    • 9 Writing the National Narrative: Changing Attitudes toward Nation-Building among Japanese Writers, 1900–1930
      (pp. 206-227)
      Roy Starrs

      When Japanese writers began to read and translate Western literature in the late nineteenth century, they encountered a very powerful vehicle of national narrative: the Western novel. Just as one of the main features of Western political history over the previous few centuries had been the rise of the modern nation-state, so an equally central feature of Western literary history had been the rise of the novel. These two phenomena were not merely parallel but symbiotic: each had contributed to the other’s growth. And this mutually enriching relationship reached its climax and apogee in the nineteenth century—at exactly the...

    • 10 The Bunriha and the Problem of “Tradition” for Modernist Architecture in Japan, 1920–1928
      (pp. 228-246)
      Jonathan M. Reynolds

      In 1920, a group of young architects launched Japan’s first modernist architectural movement. They called themselves the Bunriha Kenchikukai, or Secessionist Architectural Group, a name that at once linked them with contemporary movements in Europe and distanced them from the professional establishment both in the West and in Japan. At the heart of the Bunriha project was a particular vision of history. These architects sought to break with the past as it had been constructed in recent architectural practice. At the same time, they proposed to replace this problematic “past” with an architecture firmly situated in the present yet resonant...

    • 11 Defining the Modern Nation in Japanese Popular Song, 1914–1932
      (pp. 247-264)
      Christine R. Yano

      One of the most significant social aspects of the Taishō period (1912–1926) was the mass migration from rural to urban areas. Modern Taishō life was characterized by a reformulation of the existing urban culture, based in part upon a keen sense of displacement of these new urbanites. This new urbanism became the nexus of the nation and the modern in Japan. This essay examines representations of the modern Japanese nation found in popular songs from 1914 to 1932. These songs document an unofficial but no less important history of urban life filled with heady intoxication, as well as poignant...

  8. III Diversity, Autonomy, and Integration

    • 12 Media Culture in Taishō Osaka
      (pp. 267-287)
      Jeffrey E. Hanes

      In 1920, Ōbayashi Sōshi set out to conduct a comprehensive survey of “popular recreation”(minshū goraku)in the city of Osaka. By the time he released his hefty 380-page study in 1922, however, he had restricted his purview to the “for-profit entertainment industry”(eiriteki kōgyō goraku)in four discrete amusement quarters—Dōtonbori-Sennichimae, Shin Sekai, Tamatsukuri, and Kujō (Ōbayashi 1922). This essay retraces the topical and spatial boundaries of Ōbayashi’s pioneering survey, revisiting the alluring amusement quarters of Taishō Osaka, but it also asks why Ōbayashi put this particular form of popular recreation at center stage. I will suggest that this...

    • 13 Zaikai and Taishō Demokurashii, 1900–1930
      (pp. 288-311)
      Lonny E. Carlile

      Various chapters in this volume demonstrate that during the Taishō years “modernity” permeated all classes of Japanese society in a variety of economic and political guises. Indeed, one of the themes to emerge strongly from many of the contributions to this volume is the stunningly populist quality of much of Taishō modernity. Clearly, modernity in Taishō had amass dimension of a greater magnitude than had been realized in past scholarship. Despite this, it remains the case that there were clear and profound limits on the degree to which the “massification” of Taishōdemokurashiicould unfold. Nowhere were these limits more...

    • 14 Fashioning a Culture of Diligence and Thrift: Savings and Frugality Campaigns in Japan, 1900–1931
      (pp. 312-334)
      Sheldon Garon

      Historians, being historians, love to periodize. For several decades, they have been fascinated by the problem of “Taishō” and its evocations of “Taishō democracy” and “Taishō culture.” Defining the beginning and end of Taishō has itself been contentious. Should it be confined to the Taishō emperor’s reign (1912–1926) or perhaps commence in 1905 with the mass protests known as the Hibiya Riots? Or, as many American scholars assert, is it more useful to locate “Taishō” in the years from 1918 to roughly 1932—that is, the period between World War I and Japan’s “Fifteen Years’ War”?

      Regardless of how...

    • 15 Visions of Women and the New Society in Conflict: Yamakawa Kikue versus Takamure Itsue
      (pp. 335-357)
      E. Patricia Tsurumi

      By the end of World War I, the Japanese left wing included individuals with a wide range of viewpoints. But by 1921 most of them had lined up on one side or the other of the fledgling labor movement’s famousana-boru(anarchism vs. Bolshevism) debate between champions of anarcho-syndicalism and advocates of Marxian socialism. Like so much of “Taishō democracy,” the mainstream of theana-borucontroversy regarding the postrevolutionary society leftists hoped to build defined human needs in terms of society’s male members.

      In a parallel discourse a few years later, female anarchists and socialists argued about the kind of...

    • 16 Broadcasting in Korea, 1924–1937: Colonial Modernity and Cultural Hegemony
      (pp. 358-378)
      Michael E. Robinson

      In February of 1927, under the call sign JODK, the newly established Kyŏngsŏng Broadcast Corporation (KBC) began regular programming in Korea. By the end of the colonial period, an estimated 305,000 radio permits had been granted for use in private homes, tea rooms, restaurants, public markets, schools, and village meeting halls, and KBC had brought every nook and cranny of the colony within range of its network of stations and relay facilities for exchanging programming with Japan, Manchukuo, and China.¹ In the twentieth century, no other colony was tied to its metropole with such an extensive communications net (Fanon 1965,...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 379-382)
  10. Index
    (pp. 383-394)