Yasukuni: Why the Emperor Stopped Going

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:57 am

Tomita Tomohiko's MemoThere have been two relatively important Japan history-related news items in the news of late. There have been revelations about US covert funding of Japanese political parties (perhaps more on this in another posting) and separately, evidence has emerged, scooped by Nikkei, to suggest that emperor Showa (Hirohito) stopped going to Yasukuni shrine because of his displeasure at the enshrinement 分祀(ぶんし) of war criminals there in October 1978 as martyrs. There has been a lot of speculation over the years the exact reason he stopped going. I will save my own thoughts on this issue for later but in this posting I just want to assemble some of the material on this available in the news online.

Emperor Showa made his last visit to the shrine in November, 1975 after the issue had become more political with prime minister Miki’s (三木武夫) visit on August 15th of that year. A former Imperial Household Agency grand steward who served in the position for ten years beginning in 1978, the late Tomita Tomohiki (富田朝彦 d. Nov. 2003), kept a record of statements made by the emperor. (English: Asahi, Mainichi, NYT, Yomiuri I II, III, BBC Japanese: Asahi I, II, III, IV, V, VI, Mainichi: I, II Yomiuri: I, Sankei: I ) In one of Tomita’s recorded memos from April 28th, 1988, the emperor is quoted as saying, among other things, that:

“Class-A war criminals have been enshrined. Even Matsuoka and Shiratori (have been enshrined). I’ve heard that Tsukuba dealt cautiously with the matter, but …” (Mainichi trans.)

「私は 或(あ)る時に、A級(戦犯)が合祀され その上 松岡、白取(原文のまま)までもが 筑波は慎重に対処してくれたと聞いたが」

“That’s why I haven’t paid a visit to the shrine since then. That’s my belief.” (Mainichi)




Japanese Historical Text Initiative at UC Berkeley

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:49 am

A recent message on H-Japan from Yuko Okubo at UC Berkeley announced an interesting online resource: The Japanese Historical Text Initiative Here is a part of that announcement which outlines some of the materials already available:

The Japanese Historical Text Initiative (JHTI) is a rapidly expanding
database made up of historical texts written during the last 1292 years.
The original version of every paragraph in every text is cross-tagged with
its English translation, making it possible for any researcher to see, on
the same screen, both the original and English translation of any word or
phrase appearing in any JHTI text.

The texts now included are of the following types:

Ancient chronicles. These were compiled by officials of the Imperial
Court in compliance with edicts handed down by occupants of the throne.
The three oldest chronicles have been placed on JHTI: (1) the Kojiki
(completed in 712 CE) and cross-tagged with its English translation by
Donald L. Philippi, (2) the Nihon Shoki (completed in 720) with its
translation by W. G. Aston, and (3) the Shoku Nihongi (covering 697 to
791) with its translation by J. B. Snellen.

Ancient gazetteers. These texts were submitted by provincial officials in
compliance with an Imperial edict handed down during the first half of the
8th century. Only a few remain. We are inserting on JHTI the original of
the most complete extant gazetteer, the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki (submitted in
733), and linking it with Michiko Aoki’s translation. Remaining portions
of other gazetteers will be added and linked to translations by Professor

Ancient religo-civil code. In 927, at the close of the Great Reform period
that began in 645, a comprehensive compilation of religious and civil law
(the Engi Shiki) was submitted to the Imperial court. The first 10 books
are made up of religious (Kami) law. All other books are devoted to civil
law. The originals of the 10 Kami books have been placed on JHTI and
cross-tagged with Felicia Gressitt Bock’s translation.

Medieval stories. After the Great Reform period, and during early years of
the emerging feudal age, the most valuable historical texts were stories
written about what was said and done by powerful leaders of aristocratic
and military clans. Three are being placed on JHTI: (1) the Okagami
(covering the years 866 to 1027) with the translation by Helen Craig
McCullough; (2) the Eiga Monogatari (covering the years 794 to 1185) with
the translation by William H. & Helen Craig McCullough; and (3) the
Taiheiki (completed around 1371) with the Helen Craig McCullough
translation. Other translated texts of this type will be added later.

Medieval and early-modern interpretive histories. Between 1219 and 1712,
three great interpretive histories were written, mirroring the religious
and political interests of their authors. The originals and translations
of two are being placed on JHTI: (1) the Gukansho (completed in 1219) has
been linked with the Delmer M. Brown and Ichiro Ishida translation, and
(2) the Jinno Shotoki (completed in 1339) with the H. Paul Varley
translation. The third history of this type, the Tokushi Yoron (completed
in 1712), will soon be cross-tagged and inserted with the Joyce Ackroyd

The Japanese state and Imperial Shinto. After the Meiji Restoration of
1868, and in response to increasing pressure from Western powers, the
Japanese state adopted reforms in all areas of public life, including
religious life. After World War II the government collected and published
important religious orders issued between 1868 and 1945. This is entitled
Meiji Igo Shukyo Kankei Horei Ruisan (Collection of Religious Orders
Issued since the Beginning of Meiji) and it is being placed on JHTI, and
is being linked with translations by Brown and Okubo. In 1937, the
Japanese government published and distributed its official interpretation
of Imperial Shinto. Entitled Kokutai no Hongi (Principles of Nation-Body)
this has been placed on JHTI and cross-tagged with the English translation
by John Owen Gauntlett.

Scriptures of Japan’s New Religions. After Japan was forced to adopt a
constitution that freed religion from state control, numerous New
Religions emerged and flourished. The strongest two have amassed 10
million or more members. Their teachings are rooted in the Lotus Sutra
(Hokke-kyo) and this Sutra, thought to be the earliest of the Mahayana
scriptures, will be placed on JHTI and cross-tagged with the English
translation by Banno Kato et al and revised by W. L. Soothill and William
Schiffer et al. The Ofudesaki written by the founder of Tenri-kyo will
also be added, and linked with the translation by Iwao P. Hino.

This is an exciting project and I hope it continues to develop, adding material and ironing out problems as it does. I have only given the site a quick look but a few quick observations:

1) Searching some of the materials requires obtaining a password, which apparently is available from one of the site administrators.

2) There is a fascinating “Frequency of Appearance” feature which allows you to search a single or in all of the texts for the frequency of certain words.

3) The design of the website still needs some work. The site uses frames, which is fine, but the encoding is not set in the HEAD tag for some of the files, which renders the Japanese characters wrong in some cases unless the visitor manually chooses the correct encoding in their browser (example: their logsel.cgi file produces files without encoding, which is just lazy programming) or has the default encoding set to the appropriate Japanese encoding.

4) Some of the search pages still need work, as well as the browse function. For example, browsing the Kojiki lists the language as “Japanese and English” but only the English appears except in the footnotes.

5) Some links on the site are still broken (the search page for nihon shoki was broken at the time of writing this post)

Japan Focus Back Online

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:28 am

Japan Focus is easily one of the best sources of articles online about Japan and Japanese history. I include the site among those I visit each day but since early June there has only been a short “under construction” message.

Today I noticed that the e-journal is back online with an explanation for its downtime:

Japan Focus was closed by an anonymous hacker on June 2. We are now up and running with a redesigned site that offers important new features including advanced search capabilities.

I hope this was not a targeted attack and that they did not lose any content in the attack. Fortunately, they have not only restored their site after the attack but added more advanced search capabilities to access their excellent archive of articles by some of the best scholars working on Japan. If you haven’t visited the site before, you can read more about it on their about page and visitors can also subscribe to receive email updates.


AHC #5

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:42 pm

Miland Brown has the latest edition of the Asian History Carnival up at his World History Blog, and it’s a very nice collection.

We’re still looking for hosts for August and beyond, however: time to step up and make your mark in the historical blogosphere!


What books sell?

Filed under: — Morgan Pitelka @ 8:28 pm

Or perhaps more to the point, what books are given the chance to sell? The other day I was in a local chain bookstore and took the following photo of the “World history” shelf ostensibly dedicated to China (and thus also Japan). I wanted to look in more detail at the books that are given shelf space in places like Borders and Barnes and Noble. (more…)



Filed under: — sasaki @ 10:23 pm





Q1 第二次大戦をめぐる日本政府の謝罪・反省について

A1 十分(36%) 不十分(42%) 謝罪・反省は必要なし(11%) 無回答など(11%)

Q2 対米開戦への評価

A2 無謀な選択だった(59%) やむを得ない選択だった(33%)

Q3 対中戦争で侵略的行為が行われたと思うか

A3 どちらとも言えない(45%) 侵略だと思う(40%)

Q4 極東国際軍事裁判(東京裁判)への評価

A4 不当な裁判だが、戦争に負けた以上、やむを得なかった(59%) 戦争責任者を裁いた正当な裁判(17%) 戦勝国が一方的に裁いた不当な裁判(10%)




Q5 先の戦争は、アジア近隣諸国に対する侵略戦争だった。

A5 そう思う(51%) そうは思わない(15%) 昔のことだから、自分には関係ない(7%) わからない・無回答(28%)

Q6 先の戦争は、資源の少ない日本が生きるためにやむを得ないものだった

A6 そう思う(30%) そうは思わない(35%) 昔のことだから、自分には関係ない(4%) 分からない・無回答(31%)




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