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China in the Japanese Radical Gaze, 1945–1955

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2009

CURTIS ANDERSON GAYLE*
Affiliation:
Japan Women's University, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Japan Email: cagayle5@gmail.com

Abstract

Japanese images of China have much to tell us about the way Japan sees its own modernisation and its place in the international system. Contrary to popular belief, Japan did not turn unabashedly toward the USA after 1945. During the first decade after World War II, a number of important Japanese radical historians and thinkers decided that modernisation could be accomplished without the help of the West. Just when many in Japan were looking to America and Europe as exemplars of modernisation, others looked instead to revolutionary China and its past struggles against Japanese colonialism in the construction of a very different historical position from that ordinarily associated with the early post-war years. Certain Japanese historians, inspired by the push toward decolonisation in Asia, set about writing the history of the present in ways that aligned Japan with modern Chinese history. Even though China had just been liberated from Japanese colonial rule, Japanese Marxists saw their own position—under American imperialism—as historically and politically congruous with China's past war of resistance against Japan (1937–45). Through campaigns to develop a kind of cultural Marxism on the margins of Japanese society, they sought to bring about post-war Japanese ‘national liberation’ from American hegemony in ways that consciously simulated past Chinese resistance to Imperial Japan. Replacing Japan's own cultural Marxist traditions from the pre-war era with the more palpable and acceptable example of China, they also hoped a new form of Asian internationalism could remedy the problem of Japan's wartime past. The historical irony associated with this discursive twist deferred to future generations the problem of how the Left* would come to terms with the past.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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References

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2 These aspects are covered in Lewis, Martin W. and Wigen, Karen E., The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press: 1997)Google Scholar. See especially Chapter 1.

3 A historical overview of Japanese views towards China can be found in Hikotarō, Andō, Nihonjin no Chugokukan (Tokyo: Azekura Shobō: 1975)Google Scholar.

4 Examples of this view can be found in Harootunian, Harry, Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in Tokugawa Nativism (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press: 1988)Google Scholar.

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7 This argument is relevant not only to China but also to the Korean Peninsula. The task of historical reconciliation is complex and by no means complete. In fact, social and political enmity over the past and present remains an obstacle to this kind of reconciliation, in spite of the spread of Japanese popular culture in East Asia and the presence of ‘things’ Japanese among the youth cultures of China and South Korea, not to mention Southeast Asia.

8 Kon-cha, Yun, Nihon Kokuminron: kindai ni Nihon no identiti (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō: 1997)Google Scholar, Chapter 4.

9 A noteworthy example of a comparative look at Chinese and Japanese Marxism in the twentieth-century can be found in Hoston, Germaine, The State, Identity, and the National Question in China and Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1994)Google Scholar.

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11 The onset of the Cold War had an important impact on many Japanese Marxists, and others, during the late 1940s and early 1950s. See for example Gayle, Curtis Anderson, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism (London: Routledge Curzon: 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Chapter 4.

12 See Hoston, Germaine, The State, Identity, and the National Question in China and Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1994)Google Scholar, especially chapters 6 and 7.

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19 A general introduction to the concept of proletarian culture can be found in Forgacs, David and Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey (eds.), Antonio Gramsci: selections from cultural writings (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press), 1985Google Scholar. See section I on Proletarian Culture. The emergence of proletarian cultural ideas in Taisho era Japan has recently been discussed in Curtis Anderson Gayle, ‘Intellectuals and the Dawning of “Proletarian Culture” in Japan, 1912–25’, paper presented at ‘Proletarian Culture and Resistance in Pre-war East Asia’, International Workshop held on November 3, 2006 at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

20 The topic of proletarian cultural resistance in pre-war East Asia has been enjoying a revival of late. See the Fall 2006 issue of Positions: east asia cultures critique, Vol. 14, No. 2 (2006), entitled ‘Proletarian Arts in East Asia; quests for national, gender, and class justice’.

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24 Among those who at first heralded the Occupation as a form of liberation was Nosaka Sanzō. See Sanzō, Nosaka, Nihon Minshuka no Tame ni (Tokyo: Jinminsha: 1948), pp. 7683Google Scholar.

25 One of the best places to look for evidence of this mindset is Shō, Ishimoda, Zoku: Rekishi to Minzoku no Hakken (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai: 1953)Google Scholar. The background of Ishimoda and his colleagues was rather diverse: Ishimoda Shō graduated from Tokyo University and specialised in pre-modern Japanese history. Inoue Kiyoshi was a Marxian historian central to the People's History Movement and the historiographical inclusion of women during this period. Trained at Tokyo University, Inoue specialised in modern Japanese political history and later taught at Kyoto University. Uehara Senroku was an influential historian and thinker within the People's History Movement and a former Chancellor of Hitotsubashi University. Matsumoto Shinpachirō, heralding from Ehime, was a historian of pre-modern Japan.

26 Examples of this abound. See Hiroshi, Bandō (ed.), Minzoku no Mondai (Tokyo: Azekura Shobō: 1976)Google Scholar.

27 The term ‘subaltern’, originally put forward by Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, refers to any person or group of inferior rank and station, whether because of race, class, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Subaltern Studies has taken the Gramscian idea of counter-hegemony to its concrete conclusion by stressing the sub-cultures and daily lives of those who would claim that their existence is defined not by inclusion, but by exclusion and repression, not unlike Gramsci's working-class subject. See Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Can the Sub-altern Speak?’, in Grossberg, Lawrence and Nelson, Cary (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press: 1988), pp. 271316CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

28 For general information on this topic, see Kristine Dennehy, ‘Overcoming Colonialism at Bandung, 1955’, in Sven Saaler and J. Victor Koschmann (eds.), Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History: colonialism, regionalism and borders, pp. 213–25.

29 Masao, Maruyama, Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics (New York: Oxford University Press: 1963)Google Scholar.

30 Maruyama Masao, ‘Nationalism in Japan: Its Theoretical Background and Prospects’, Ibid. pp. 135–156.

32 Matsumoto Shinpachirō, ‘Minzoku Bunka wo Ika ni shite Mamoru ka’, Rekishigaku Kenkyū, No. 154 (1950), pp. 36–43.

33 For an interesting look at the modern history of realist positions on the international system and the influence of the United States of America, see Sadria, Modjtaba, Kenshō: Genjitsushugi—Kokusai Kankei no Otoshiana (Tokyo: Chūō University Press: 1994)Google Scholar.

34 See, Senroku, Uehara and Seiya, Munakata, Nihonjin no Sōzō (Tokyo: Tōyō Shokan: 1952)Google Scholar. Also Tōyama Shigeki, ‘Futatsu no Nashonarizumu no Taikō’, in Bandō Hiroshi, Minzoku no Mondai, p. 129.

36 This is discussed in greater detail in footnote 48 below.

37 See Ichirō, Tomiyama, Senjo no Kioku (Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Hyōronsha: 1995)Google Scholar.

38 Oguma Eiji, ‘The Post-war Intellectual's View of “Asia”’, in Sven Saaler and J. Victor Koschmann (eds.), Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History: colonialism, regionalism and borders, p. 98.

39 Many Marxists were forced to flee abroad or to cease their activities. Some, like Nosaka Sanzō, came back to a hero's welcome in Japan after the war and helped to reinvigorate the radical Left. Some of this is detailed in Dower, John, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II (New York: Norton & Company: 2000)Google Scholar.

40 One interesting work on the Kyoto School is Ryu'ichi, Narita, Rekishi wa ikani Katarareru ka (Tokyo: NHK Books: 2001)Google Scholar.

41 See Gayle, Curtis Anderson, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism (London: Routledge Curzon: 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, especially chapter 5.

42 Descriptions of the pre-war Marxist discourse on the nation in Japan can be found in Ibid.

43 Gluck, Carol, ‘The Idea of Showa’, in Gluck and Graubard, Stephen (eds.), Showa: The Japan of Hirohito (New York: W. W. Norton & Company: 1993), pp. 126Google Scholar.

44 Carol Gluck, ‘Sengo Rekishigaku no Metahisutorī’, in Yasumaru Yoshio (ed.), Nihon Tsūshi vol. 1: Rekishi Ishiki no Genzai (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten: 1995), pp. 3–44.

45 This was a comment made directly to the author by members of the Ehime Women's History-Writing Circle in Matsuyama, July 2003.

46 See Donovan, Josephine, Feminist Theory: the intellectual origins of American feminism (New York: Continuum: 1992), pp. 7072Google Scholar. Donovan bases her adaptation of ‘revolutionary praxis’ upon Petrovic's, Gajo, Marx in Mid-Twentieth Century (Garden City: Doubleday: 1967), pp. 171–98Google Scholar.

47 These were two of the most influential historical associations in the early post-war era and were composed not only of historians, but also of social scientists. They were progressive organizations whose membership was mainly Marxist or neo-Marxist.

48 For information on this movement see Oguni Yoshihiro, ‘Kokuminteki Rekishigaku Undō ni okeru Nihon Shizō no Saikōchiku’, Jinbun Gakuhō, No. 337 (2003), pp. 1–2.

49 There are a number of works in English covering various aspects of this, including Crump, John, The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan (London: Palgrave MacMillan: 1983)Google Scholar and Scalapino, Robert A., The Japanese Communist Movement, 1920–1966 (Berkeley: University of California Press: 1967)Google Scholar.

50 See Yun Kon-cha, Nihon Kokuminron: kindai ni Nihon no identiti, Chapter 4, for a discussion of how this idea was applied to Japan.

51 See for instance Turner, Bryan, Marx and the End of Orientalism (London: George Allen & Unwin: 1980)Google Scholar.

52 The historical background to the Comintern Critique of Japanese capitalism can be found in Germaine Hoston, The State, Identity, and the National Question in China and Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1994), pp. 422–426.

53 Following the pre-war Kōza Faction position, many of the Marxists discussed in this paper adhered to the two-stage theory of revolution, first a bourgeois democratic revolution and then a revolution that would bring Japan into socialism. This formula was, however, not so hard and fast as is usually assumed, especially during the early 1950s.

54 After the 1950 Comintern Critique, Marxists like Ishimoda believed for a time that a direct transition to socialism, as had taken place in China, was also the way Japan had to go. This unofficial change in views is, however, often overlooked by those who assume a two-stage approach remained the order of the day.

55 See for instance, Turner, Bryan S., Orientalism, Postmodernism and Globalism (London and New York: Routledge: 1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Nicholas Dirks, ‘History as a Sign of the Modern’, Public Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1990), pp. 25–33.

56 Okamoto Saburō, ‘Mao Zedong no ‘Shin Minshushugiron'’, Zen'ei, Vol. 1, No. 5 (1949), pp. 28–9.

57 Yoshimi, Takeuchi, ‘Chugoku no Kindai to Nihon no Kindai’, in Yoshimi, Takeuchi (ed.), Tōyōteki Shakai Riron no Seikaku (Tokyo: Haku'ichi Shoin: 1948)Google Scholar.

58 Shō, Ishimoda, Zoku: Rekishi to Minzoku no Hakken (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai: 1953), pp. 430–1Google Scholar.

59 This sentiment is expressed by Ishimoda in many places; see Shō, Ishimoda, Rekishi to Minzoku no Hakken (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai: 1953), p. 49Google Scholar.

60 The pre-war proletarian culture debate in Japan indicates that cultural Marxism supports both the view that old traditions can be put to new use and also the view that new traditions more flexible to radical socio-political objectives can be developed in modern societies.

61 Okamoto Saburō, ‘Kōnichi Minzoku Tōitsu Sensen no Keisei Katei’, pp. 16–18.

62 This kind of realism depicted and dramatised through cultural forms for revolutionary political change is often known as ‘proletarian realism’ in Japan, China and within proletarian cultural movements more generally. See, for instance, Heather Bowen-Struyk, ‘Proletarian Arts in East Asia’, Japan Focus (online journal, 1 May 2007).

63 Akio, Saitō, ‘Minzoku Bunka Sōzō no Katei’, Kenkyūkai, Rekishigaku (ed.), Minzoku no Bunka ni tsuite: Rekishigaku Kenkyūkai: 1952 Nendo Taikai Hōkoku (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten: 1952), pp. 140142Google Scholar.

64 Rekishigaku Kenkyūkai, ‘Sekaishi no Dōkō’, Rekishigaku Kenkyū, No. 138 (1946), p. 37. See also Kenkyūkai, Rekishigaku (ed.), Sekaishi no okeru Kihon Hōsoku: 1949 Nendo Rekishigaku Kenkyūkai Taikai Hōkoku (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten: 1949)Google Scholar.

65 Hung, Chang-Tai, War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937–1945 (Berkeley and London: University of California Press: 1994), pp. 271 and 279Google Scholar.

66 Ibid. pp. 280–281.

67 This view of what happened during the war against Japan is expressed in Ibid. pp. 275 and 278.

68 See Kang, Liu, ‘Aesthetics and Chinese Marxism’, in Barlow, Tani (ed.), New Asian Marxisms (Durham and London: Duke University Press: 2002), p. 175Google Scholar.

69 Yanagita Kunio was one of the foremost Japanese pre-war researchers and proponents of folklore and folk culture. A number of interesting articles on Yanagita and his concept of folk culture and the village can be found in Vlastos, Stephen (ed.), Mirror of Modernity: invented traditions of modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press: 1998)Google Scholar.

70 Li Hsiao-t'i, ‘Making a Name and a Culture for the Masses in Modern China’, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 9 No. 1 (2001), p. 41.

71 For an introduction to the influence of Japanese intellectuals on Chinese development of proletarian culture, see Xu Mei-Yan, ‘The Japanese Influence on Chinese Proletarian Culture’, Journal of Zhejiang Business Technology Institute, Vol. 3 No. 2 (2004), pp. 43–45.

72 Li Hsiao-t'i, ‘Making a Name and a Culture for the Masses in Modern China’, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 9 No. 1 (2001), p. 47.

73 Ibid. p. 32. See also Dagfinn Gatu, Village China at War: The Impact of Resistance to Japan, 1937–1945 (University of British Columbia Press: 2007). However, During the 1920s and early 1930s in Japan there was much debate by writers, thinkers and artists of various persuasions as to whether proletarian art should utilize ‘old’ forms of traditional culture, or whether it should instead develop new kinds of artistic practice and representation so as to make a more fundamental ‘break’ with the feudal past. See Curtis Anderson Gayle, ‘Intellectuals and the Dawning of ‘Proletarian Culture’ in Japan, 1912–25’, pp. 21–30.

74 One good source in Japanese which discusses in detail both intellectual and material manifestations of cultural Marxism is Hidehiko, Soda, Minshu Gekijo: mo hitotsu no Taishō Demokurashi (Tokyo: Shozansha: 1995)Google Scholar.

75 Matsumoto, Shinpachirō, ‘Kakumeiteki Dentō ni tsuite’, in Tōma Seita et al. (eds.), Rekishi ni okeru Shomondai: Kōza Rekishi, Vol. 4 (Tokyo: Otsuki Shoten: 1956), pp. 190–91.

76 See for example Seita, Tōma, Nihon Minzoku no Keisei (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten: 1951)Google Scholar.

77 Yoshimi, Takeuchi, Takeuchi Yoshimi Zenshū (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō: 1980), pp. 67Google Scholar.

78 Shigeki, Toyama, ‘Futatsu no Nashonarizumu no Taikō’, in Hiroshi, Bandō (ed.), Minzoku no Mondai (Tokyo: Azekura Shobō: 1976), pp. 114121Google Scholar.

79 The historical and theoretical background to the idea of proletarian internationalism can be found in Lenin, V.I., Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House: 1960).

80 Uehara Senroku, Uehara Senroku Chosakushū, vol. 12, p. 42.

81 The general discourse of uniquely ‘Asian values’ in Japan and Asia has been around since the Meiji era. See, for example, Takahiko, Tsubouchi, Okakura Tenshin no Shisō Tanpō (Tokyo: Keisō Shobō: 1998)Google Scholar. To reiterate, the Marxist version of this was rooted in a different historical perspective to that of the mainstream of modern Japanese discourse on this topic.

82 Lowenthal, David, The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1988)Google Scholar.

83 A detailed description of why Ishimoda and others turned their backs on their earlier approaches can be found in Okuda Shuzō and Nakatsuka Akira, ‘Kokuminteki Rekishigaku no Hanketsu to Hansei’, in Tōma Seita (ed.), Kōza Rekishi, vol.1: Kokumin to Rekishi (Tokyo: Otsuki Shoten: 1956), pp. 227–86.

84 See for instance Kei'ichi, Matsushita, Shimin Seiji Riron no Keisei (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten: 1959)Google Scholar.

85 For an overview of the development of social and cultural history in contemporary Japan see Keiji, Nagahara, 20 Seiki Nihon no Rekishigaku (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Hirobunkan: 2003), pp. 185–89Google Scholar.

86 I take this position in my forthcoming monograph entitled, Narrative Unbindings: the emergence of local women's history in early post-war Japan (unpublished data).

87 See for example, Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (eds.), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group: 1982).

88 Dworkin, Dennis, Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain (Durham and London: Duke University Press: 1997), pp. 46Google Scholar.

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