井の中の蛙

5/21/2008

End of Semester Bits-n-pieces

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:12 am

You grade sixty tests, and what do you get?
Three months older and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don’t you call me, cause I can’t go!
I owe book orders to the campus bookstore….

***

Books that still need to be written about Meiji Japan1 :

  • A good comprehensive history of the Meiji era2
  • A good social history of the post-abolition samurai class. Aside from the Hirschmeier-Yamamura economic debate, there’s hardly anything.
  • a full-length biography of Kido Takayoshi (aka Kido Kōin). We’ve got Ito, and Yamagata, and Okubo and Meiji (now we need an abridged one) and Katsura Taro and Shibusawa Eiichi, and Saionji Kimmochi.
  • a history of the modernization of martial arts

***

Adamu at MutantfrogTravelogue did a nice survey of the Yasukuni Shrine’s Yushukan museum which ignited a 60-response comment thread. One of the subtler distortions in the Shrine is their history of Korea-Japan relations. Adamu writes

The arguments made did not seem particularly pernicious or dishonest, though certain claims (such as “Japan had repeatedly proposed national independence for Korea, but the West rejected the idea” prior to formal annexation in 1905) seemed kind of disingenuous.

My contribution to the comments was to clarify:

On the Korean issue, they are being blatantly disingenuous: the various calls for Korean independence were targetted at blunting the influence of other regional powers over the Korean court, on the grounds that—according to Japanese strategic calculations—the only natural and legitimate influence in Korea should be Japanese. They called for Korean independence from China before the Sino-Japanese war (after which China explicitly recognized Japanese interests in Korea), then independence from Russia before the Russo-Japanese war (after which Russia and the US explicitly recognized Japanese innterests in Korea). It’s still not a settled question as to when Korean annexation became Japanese policy, but there never was any question (after about 1876 or so) that control of Korea was critical to Japan’s strategic situation.

  1. inspired by the difficulties my Meiji class students had with their topics []
  2. this is the only one of this list which I would consider taking on myself []

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