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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #82: March 12, 2003

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name:
Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies:
September, 2000, Vol.12, No.2

Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


In defence of the Kyoto School: reflections on philosophy, the Pacific War and the making of a post-White world (pp143 - 156)
David William
In this essay, I argue that one dilemma ('philosophy or anything but philosophy') and four negations stand in the way of establishing a fitting place for Japanese philosophy within Japan studies. All four negations reflect unacceptable evasions of philosophic rigour. In different ways, these negations reinforce the widely endorsed judgement that the Kyoto School, modern Japan's pre-eminent school of philosophy, is nothing more than a nationalist ideology. In this defence of the Kyoto School, I argue that Japan studies would benefit greatly from a confident recognition of the rigour and vitality of the modern Japanese attempt to do philosophy in the Graeco-European mode. Recent attacks on the wartime Kyoto School are reviewed in detail and a critical reassessment of D.T. Suzuki's influence on post-war America is offered to demonstrate how seriously I take these criticisms. Nevertheless, I conclude that the recent crisis of liberal conscience among Western students of the Kyoto School requires a fresh chapter in the study of Japanese philosophy. With this crisis in mind, I call for a new emphasis on the political and historical dimensions of the wartime thought of Tanabe Hajime, Koyama Iwao and Kosaka Masaaki. I see this as part of the broader project of Asia-Pacific War revisionism now gathering force among Western historians of Japan. Finally, I conclude that today the philosophic labours of the Kyoto School have 'unique powers to illuminate the contours of an immense racial transition in human affairs: the arrival of a post-White world'.

Rights and psychiatric patients in East Asia (pp157- 168)
Ian Neary
This paper seeks to compare the treatment of the mentally disordered in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan paying attention to patients' rights.

'Patriotism is not taboo': nationalism in China and Japan and implications for Sino–Japanese relations (pp169 -181)
Caroline Rose
The rise of nationalisms in Japan and China in the 1980s and 1990s aroused much interest in Western, Chinese and Japanese academic and journalistic circles and prompted some analysts to speculate about potential conflict between China and Japan. This article questions such arguments by examining nationalisms in China and Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. It identifies similar trends in the resurgence of state nationalism and cultural nationalism in both countries, and argues that, although élites in both countries were active in promoting patriotism in the 1980s and 1990s, their efforts had limited impact, whereas cultural nationalism, on the other hand, managed to capture the popular mood. The article suggests that, nonetheless, because both types of nationalism were predominantly inward-oriented responses to domestic and external changes, relations between China and Japan remained relatively stable.

Paradigms of development: British perspectives on social and economic change in Japan, 1900–41 (pp183 - 197)
Philip Charrier
The rapid industrialization and modernization of Japan in the first decades of the twentieth century preceded both the creation of 'development studies' as an academic sub-discipline and popular awareness in the West of development issues. Japanese achievements were therefore not analysed at the time according to specific expectations or models of development, as would be the case today, but rather were interpreted in the context of more general Western concepts such as 'civilization', 'modernization', and 'progress'. As Japan was the first non-Western country to adjust its economy and society successfully to modern modes of production, this process of assessing the changes taking place in Japan generated ideas that represented some of the first Western interpretations of non-Western development. This paper excavates some of these by sampling a broad variety of British contemporary source materials, including newsreels and radio broadcasts. It concludes that the process of interpreting Japanese social and economic change between 1900 and 1941 led to the creation of a number of paradigms of non-Western development. Two of the most important of these were the Darwinist-inspired idea of evolutionary development; and revolutionary development, which was posited as the opposite of the concept of natural progress.

Following the flow of Japan's river culture (pp199 - 217)
Paul Waley
Japan's rivers have been the focus of considerable attention in recent years, in government circles, in the media, and among academic and other experts. The image of a river culture (kawa no bunka) is frequently conjured up to create both a spatial and a temporal field of nostalgia. This attention to rivers is one response to the pervasive encasement of water in concrete, which has been used throughout the country as the principal means of flood prevention. The unthinking use of concrete, it is argued here, is axiomatic of the bureaucratic, hierarchical, and technocratic society of post-war Japan. Prompted however by a number of social changes and led by officials of the Ministry of Construction, the nature of riparian work has shifted in recent years, and today there is a new emphasis on protecting riverine ecosystems through a determined programme of river restoration. This is a very ambitious programme, but ultimately its success is dependent on a sea change in prevailing ideologies away from construction-led economic growth.

Nihon fukeiron (Japanese Landscape): nationalistic or imperialistic? (pp219 -231)
Masako Gavin
Nihon fukeiron (Japanese Landscape), written by Shiga Shigetaka (1863-1927), a journalist and geographer, is widely recognized as his most representative geographical text and also one of his most controversial works. The debate centres on whether his purpose in broadening his contemporaries' understanding of Japan's natural environment was educational or imperialistic. Shiga is known among scholars of Japanese modern intellectual history as the pioneering advocate of kokusui shugi (maintenance of Japan's cultural identity) in the face of increasing pressure from the West in the late 1880s. He perceived that the traditional Japanese elements that were so much a part of the lives of the Japanese people had their foundation in geography. This paper demonstrates that his immediate goal in praising Japan's geography was to arouse national awareness and pride and to alert his countrymen to Japan's position in the fast-changing world order. Furthermore, Nihon fukeiron was a rational geographic treatise and a travelogue in the Western style that suggested a new way of viewing the Japanese landscape. It was his attempt to express the abstract concept of kokusui in a more practical way and to provide concrete evidence of Japan's 'excellence and uniqueness'.

An interview with Oe Kenzaburo (pp233 - 241)
Sharon Kinsella

Japan Forum (2000)
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