Symposium, Abstracts

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Shinto Studies and Nationalism

Datum: 12–14 September, 2007
Ort: Austrian Academy of Sciences
Organisation: Bernhard Scheid (IKGA)

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Participants and Abstracts

Klaus Antoni

Kojiki Studies and Shintô Nationalism

As is very well known, all of the modern editions of the Kojiki (712 AD) are more or less based on Motoori Norinaga's (re-) constructions of the seemingly original Old Japanese wording of the text, which was written down in Chinese characters by Oho no Yasumaro, following the dictate of Hieda no Are. Extremely interesting in this context is the Kokushi taikei version, dating from 1940. Here the supposed reading dominates the whole edition in a sense that the Chinese original becomes nearly obsolete. As a consequence, one of the editors, Kinoshita Iwao (1894-1980), who also made the first complete German translation of the text (1940, and later again 1976), prepared a complete romaji version of the Kokushi taikei text that was supposed to be an effigy of the “real” old Japanese narrative without any hint to Chinese characters (and connotations?). This method can be interpreted as a “purification" of this text from all Chinese characteristics, thus perfectly fitting into the anti-Chinese discourse of the 1940ies and, more general, the condemnation of the seemingly evil karagokoro (“Chinese spirit”) that was so fundamentally criticized by Motoori Norinaga and later nationalists. Looking on the text this way reveals that the Kojiki in modern times became that important only because of the linguistic constructions by Norinaga and his successors. It were the ideological ideas and connotations behind the visible text that made it so important for modern usage, and therefore the Kojiki could be taken as a modern text, too, as a kind of nativistic “invented tradition” or an example of “traditionalistic” texts in Japan. These questions are of high importance for our understanding of the Kojiki’s function within modern nationalistic discourse. Moreover it seems interesting that it was a Japanese scholar who made the first German translation, having been responsible for the first complete romaji edition in 1940.

Prof. Klaus Antoni (Universität Tübingen)

Jean-Pierre Berthon

The Missionary, the Jurist and the Ethnographer: French Japonology on Shintô at the Beginning of the 20th Century

Within the French academic milieu, Japanese Studies have been late newcomers, if compared to Indian or Chinese Studies. That being said, starting from the Meiji Period, a number of studies on Japanese history, culture, and society begin to appear which, for the first time, do not depend on the sole travel writers or art lovers. Through the most well known works of the missionary Jean-Marie Martin, the jurist Michel Revon and the quasi-ethnographer George Bousquet, the paper aims to question their interpretation of the religious beliefs and pratices of the Japanese people of the time and to draw a portrait of the first steps of French Japonology on Shintô studies.

But I shall try also to respond to two questions: firstly, which image of the “religion” of Meiji Japan can one infer from the reading of these three representatives of the French learned world present on the Archipelago? Secondly, is their approach of Shintô from the point of view of its myths and divinities appropriate with their main concern: Is Shintô a religion? Is religion the mirror of a civilization? Their background and their function, the reasons why they were present in Japan at that time interfere also with the capacity they had, or didn’t have, to produce new knowledge on Shintô and its role in contemporary Japan, while they focused mostly on its historical origins.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Berthon (Paris, École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

Endō Jun

Shinto Studies and Shrine Policy in the First Half of the 20th Century: The Case of Miyaji Naokazu

In order to consider the relationship between the state and Shinto (as well as Shrines) in modern Japan, we have to investigate various factors concerning shrines. If we regard the modern shrine system as an ideological state apparatus as Louis Althusser maintains, we need to examine the realities of Jinja administration and clarify the role or the function of education and Shinto studies in that context. Miyaji Naokazu [1886-1949] was not only a bureaucrat of the Jinja-kyoku (Shrine Bureau) in the Naimu-sho (Department of Interior) but was also a professor of Shinto history in some universities such as Kokugakuin University and the Imperial University of Tokyo. These two aspects of Miyaji's social position were closely related to each other: his works in the bureau included research activities, and his academic position in universities might have been influenced by the contemporary political situation. In this presentation, I am going to introduce Miyaji's activities in the bureau and in these universities in order to trace outlines of the work of Jinja-kyoku and the education on Shinto in universities. I will thereby consider the meaning of Shinto Studies in the political context of modern Japan.

Dr. Endō Jun (Tokyo, Kokugakuin Daigaku)

Will Hansen

From Nationalism to Spiritualism: Rehabilitating the Study of Hirata Atsutane

This paper traces the history of the study of Hirata Atsutane from its origins in the Japanese academy in the late nineteenth century, through its zenith of nationalistic studies both foreign (mostly German) and domestic in the thirties and forties, and finally to its re-invention and rehabilitation in the post-Pacific War decades of the twentieth century. The coverage of the post-Pacific War scholarly activity will include, the immediate post-war gap in the study, even in Japan, and the clear disgust of and aversion to Atsutane evinced by the American academy, as well as some important members of the Japanese academy for some time afterward. Nevertheless, the last three decades or so of the twentieth century attempted to de-politicize the study of Atsutane, at least in Japan. The American academy, for its part, has been slow to respond to this no longer new Japanese initiative. I propose that a move away from the study of Atsutane's more overtly political and racially charged works to include several other rich and intriguing texts could help move us toward a rehabilitation of his study in the American academy. For example, my forthcoming book focusing on Senkyo ibun highlights the religious creativity of Atsutane the Shinto scholar who considered his beloved native kami tradition to be a victimized minority religion in need of heroic effort to save its integrity. By redirecting our effort we can force ourselves to realize that Atsutane is and always was multi-faceted, not simply a racist and fascist who should be held responsible for the ideology that brought on the Pacific War and therefore should shoulder the blame and pay the penalty of academic murahachibu.

Dr. Will Hansen (San Diego State University)

Hayashi Makoto

Japanese Orientalism in Shinto Studies, Religious Studies, and Oriental Studies

In this presentation, I would like to use the new term “Japanese Orientalism” in order to describe the genealogies of academic studies, such as Shinto Studies, Religious Studies, and Oriental Studies. “Japanese Orientalism” that appeared after the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War, spread gradually among academicians, politicians, and bureaucrats. Above all, this type of Orientalism contributed to the belief that Japan had the noble rights and duties to control the surrounding countries, because it was the leader of Eastern countries.

I conceived the idea of “Japanese Orientalism” when I read Stefan Tanaka’s Japan’s Orient. Tanaka states that, like the Romanic scholars of Europe who searched for their past in the orient, Japanese scholars ignored the immediate past of the Tokugawa period (1600-1867) and went back further to discover “the East.” Tanaka points out that the “narratives” of Orientalist historians such as Shiratori Kuraichi and Naitō Konan were characterized by their arguments over how much Japan had progressed and separated from the East while still sharing a common culture with it. Undoubtedly modern Japan, as the only nation in the East that had modernized along Western lines, was the basis for the self-conceit of many intellectuals and politicians. In order to analyze the relationship between academic studies and nationalism in prewar Japan, it seems to be necessary to consider the significance of “Japanese Orientalism.”

Prof. Hayashi Makoto (Nagoya, Aichi Gakuin Daigaku, Dept. for Buddhist and Religious Studies)

Hirafuji Kikuko

The Study of Japanese Mythology in the Early Showa Period

In this presentation, my aim is to explore the relationship between nationalistic studies of Japanese mythology and Japanese colonialism. It is said that myth accounts for a variety of phenomena such as the creation of the world, including not only the origin of humankind, the formation of earth, the birth of mountains, rocks, trees, fire and other natural objects, but also the origin of the nation and the royal house. Therefore we can say that myth has an aspect of nationalism or ethnocentrism, and the study of mythology sometimes supports this connection scientifically. Nationalistic studies of mythology appeared frequently in the history of Japanese mythology. In particular, I will take a closer look at some scholars who carried out studies of mythology to justify Japanese colonialism and to arouse nationalism in the early Showa period.

Dr. Hirafuji Kikuko (Tokyo, Kokugakuin Daigaku)

Isomae Jun'ichi

The “Religious/Secular” Dichotomy in Modern Japan: On Arguments of State Shinto

Speaking of State Shinto we have to take into account that this is only an analytical term coined by the Occupation Army after the War, not a substantial one in prewar society. Moreover, the conceptual boundary between “religion” and “morality” was fluid in prewar Japanese society because it didn’t legally adopt the political separation of state and religion. At that time, the conservative camp tended to argue that Shinto belonged to the category of “morality” or national public duty, while the liberal camp argued that Shinto belonged to the category of “religion,” a privatized sphere of human activity the freedom of which was to be guaranteed. But in as far as shrine worship was a ritual act without any clear belief system, both interpretations were possible. This ambiguity of definition derived from the gap between the interpretation of Shinto as “indigenous tradition” and the Western — and in particular the Protestant — notion of “religion.” Thus in prewar society, the category of Shinto could be freely interpreted as religion or non-religion as long as one did not criticize the Japanese emperor system in which the emperor was regarded as a living god as well as the constitutional monarch. The Japanese emperor system itself was “excessive” in that by including both aspects of the religious and the secular, it went beyond the “religious/secular” dichotomy of the West. Here we see a strong reaction from the indigenous tradition in its repudiation of the Western hegemonic dichotomy of “religious/secular.”

Dr. Isomae Jun'ichi (Kyoto, Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyu Center)

Kate Wildman Nakai

Coming to Terms with “Reverence at Shrines”: Sophia University, the Catholic Church, and the 1932 Yasukuni Shrine Incident

Among the most problematic aspects of Shinto for foreign missionaries and Japanese Christians in the prewar period was “offering reverence at shrines” (jinja sanpai). Governmental and educational authorities and society at large came increasingly to hold “reverence at shrines” to be a patriotic, moral duty, and schoolchildren were often taken to shrines as part of the ordinary educational routine. The reluctance of Christians to participate in such activities on religious grounds became an ongoing source of friction and criticism. For the Catholic Church, this issue erupted into a crisis in 1932 in the Yasukuni shrine incident involving several students from Sophia University, a Jesuit school founded in 1913. In May 1932 when the military training officer (haizoku shôkô) attached to Sophia took a group of students off to Yasukuni, just a few blocks away, a number of the students did not bow in reverence. The army asserted that such behavior disqualified the university from participating in the military training program, which was operated jointly by the army and the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education, anxious to protect its own authority in the face of pressure from the army, resisted the army’s demand that the officer be withdrawn, but eventually, in December, after a contest played out in the media with much bad publicity for the university and Church, the army found a way to remove the officer without the Ministry of Education’s formal agreement.

Sophia and Church representatives had already been negotiating with the Ministry of Education in hopes of averting the crisis by finding a compromise on the issue of jinja sanpai. These efforts continued with growing urgency after December as the university sought to secure reappointment of the officer. The result was a step-by-step shift in the Church’s position on jinja sanpai. The Church had originally firmly defined jinja sanpai as religious and thus forbidden to believers; it was specified in the Japanese catechism as one of the acts of idolatry prohibited by the first commandment. By mid-1933, the Church had come around to the position that jinja sanpai could be tolerated (and even encouraged) as a patriotic duty and social obligation, an act that even if it retained a certain religious form had been emptied of religious content. In 1934 the Propaganda Fide in Rome formally confirmed this interpretation, and jinja sanpai was removed from the acts forbidden in the catechism. For Sophia, the compromise was rewarded at the end of 1933 by the return of the military training officer. For the Jesuits, the compromise was also an ironic reversal of the outcome of (and vindicated their position in) the Chinese rites controversy of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, which had resulted in the expulsion of the missionaries from China.

The resolution of the Yasukuni incident had important ramifications as well for interpretations of Shinto that came to be associated with Sophia University via the journal Monumenta Nipponica that it inaugurated in 1938. Condemnations of jinja sanpai as idolatrous had repeatedly cited various activities that typically accompanied visits to shrines, such as the reception of amulets and tablets (taima) and the offering of prayers. The compromise that came to interpret jinja sanpai as a patriotic duty and social obligation by contrast discreetly ignored these problematic aspects and focused almost entirely on the meaning of the bow (literally, “the inclination of the head”) made at the shrine. Do we not see a similar attitude, conscious or not, of delimitation and avoidance in the research into the intellectual and philosophical dimensions of medieval and early modern Shinto and Kokugaku published so extensively in the early issues of Monumenta Nipponica? I look forward to learning more about this issue from the presentations of other participants in the symposium.

Prof. Kate Wildman Nakai (Tokyo, Sophia University)

Bernhard Scheid

In Search of Lost Essence: Ideological Topoi in German Shinto Studies around World War II

The focus of this paper will be on German Shinto Studies shortly before and during WW2, particularly on contributions to Monumenta Nipponica (vols. 1-5, 1938-1943). While this was - and still is - a multinational forum of (Western) Japanese Studies, German contributions prevail in this period. There is, moreover, a striking German bias when it comes to Shinto Studies. Within these studies there is further a particular emphasis on the kokugaku. The choice of this subject was obviously favoured by contemporary politics (the details of which will be discussed in other papers) but this is not to say that these studies were carried out for opportunistic reasons only. In this paper, I will look for both ideological stereotypes and intellectual curiosity among the leading German Shinto scholars of that age. I will also trace the development of their interests after the war and try to evaluate their influence on our present state of knowledge about Shinto.

Dr. Bernhard Scheid (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)

Michael Wachutka

"A Living Past as the Nation’s Personality": Hermann Bohner’s Comparison of Kitabatake Chikafusa’s Jinnô-shôtôki with Arthur Moeller van den Bruck’s Das Dritte Reich

When Hermann Bohner came to Japan as a prisoner of war from the small German exclave of Tsingtau (Quingdao) in 1914, he was already well versed in Chinese history and classical literature. Having studied under the famous missionary-cum-sinologist Richard Wilhelm and fascinated by China’s cultural grandness, Bohner, during his imprisonment in the camps at Matsuyama and Bando, started to also learn Japanese. After his release in 1920, he set out to truly research his new home-to-be for nearly fifty years. When asking the ultimate question: ‘What is Japan?’, those to whom he spoke referred him in unison to Jinnô shôtôki. In 1935, Bohner completed the first translation of Kitabatake Chikafusa’s treatise into a western language; followed by a volume of meticulous commentary and annotations in 1938.

An influential post-war anthology in the West termed Kitabatake’s work — without further clarification — “the most important document of medieval Shintô”. Given that the term ‘Shintō’ itself is only used three times throughout the text, this paper will attempt to address the kind of Shintô represented in Jinnô shôtôki. Moreover, what made a book, which approximately 600 years ago argued for the legitimate rule of the southern court during the then imperial schism, to be apparently so important for Japan of the early 20th century? And finally, how did Bohner himself perceive this highly recommended work? A contemporary review of Bohner’s much acclaimed translation calls Jinnô shôtôki “a Bible-book of Japan’s folk-national worldview and a national-pedagogical standard work”. Despite its strong Buddhist and Chinese influence, it obviously were aspects of Shintô thought expressed therein that appealed to contemporary readers since the early Meiji years. Most famous is its very first sentences describing Japan as shinkoku or kami no kuni (divine country). The concept of shinkoku of course was nothing new even in Kitabatake’s days as this term already appears in the Nihongi of 720. New however is the shifted implication. Since the Jinnô shôtôki, Japan is no longer a ‘divine country’ simply because it is protected by the deities, but because only Japan for eternity is reigned by divine sovereigns of an unbroken dynasty initiated by the sun-deity herself. Thus, to formerly religious belief Kitabatake adds an explicit political dimension borne from the notion of an unchangeable and ‘continuously living past’. In Jinnô shôtôki, according to Bohner, “the past from the earliest beginnings is relevant to present times and truly comes to life”.

In his eyes, such “living history as the personality of one’s own nation” also confronted the author of another work hailing the mystique of the national ideal. As a point of comparison Bohner refers to and extensively quotes from Arthur Moeller van den Bruck’s 1923 work Das dritte Reich. Moeller van den Bruck — a literary bohemian and political commentator often described as ‘national romanticist’ — was the founder of an influential conservative debating circle called the “June-Club” at which Adolf Hitler held one of his first political speeches. Profoundly inspiring Hitler with his ideas, he coined the famous concept of a ‘Third Reich’ lasting for thousand years. This new ‘Thousand-Year Reich’, as predicted and outlined in his book, “restores the nation’s ‘eternal values’, without which man loses contact with nature and with God”. With all its mystic associations such ‘Reich’ thus combines regnum and sacerdotum just like the ‘eternal and unchangeable national principle’ underlying the legitimate succession of ‘divine sovereigns’ in Japan as expressed in Jinnô shôtôki. Incidentally, for Bohner like most succeeding editors as well, the only help in interpreting Kitabatake’s text was Yamada Yoshio’s monumental exegesis Jinnô shôtôki jutsugi of 1932. Yamada however was also the main theoretician of the kokutai ideology of the 1930s and 40s as well as one of the chief editors of the infamous Kokutai no hongi — a further dimension that will be discussed in this paper.

Dr. Michael Wachutka (Universität Tübingen)

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