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BCAS/ Critical Asian Studies Back issues of BCAS publications published on this site are

BCAS/Critical Asian Studies

BCAS/ Critical Asian Studies Back issues of BCAS publications published on this site are intended

Back issues of BCAS publications published on this site are intended for non-commercial use only. Photographs and other graphics that appear in articles are expressly not to be reproduced other than for personal use. All rights reserved.


Vol. 10, No. 2: April–June 1978

• Noriko Mizuta Lippit - Literature, Ideology, and Women’s Happiness: The Autobiographical Novels of Miyamoto Yuriko

• Miyamoto Yuriko - The Family of Koiwai / A Short Story

• Herbert P. Bix - Miura Meisuke or Peasant Rebellion Under the Banner of Distress

• Sato Tomoyuki - Children of the A-bomb I

• Howard Schonberger - Hiroshima Survivors and the Atomic Bomb:

People’s Art as History

• Barton J. Bernstein - The Decision to Drop the Bomb / Appendix

• Ikuko Wakasa - Children of the A-Bomb II

• Stephen Salaff - The Diary and the Cenotaph: Racial and Atomic Fever in the Canadian Record

• John W. Dower - Science, Society, and the Japanese Atomic Bomb Project During WWII

• Alexander Kuo - New Letters from Hiroshima / A Poem

• Stephen Salaff - Bikini Atoll 1954

• Ichioka Yuji - Los Angeles Issei / A Review Essay

CCAS Statement of Purpose

Critical Asian Studies continues to be inspired by the statement of purpose formulated in 1969 by its parent organization, the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS). CCAS ceased to exist as an organization in 1979, but the BCAS board decided in 1993 that the CCAS Statement of Purpose should be published in our journal at least once a year.

We first came together in opposition to the brutal aggression of the United States in Vietnam and to the complicity or silence of our profession with regard to that policy. Those in the field of Asian studies bear responsibility for the consequences of their research and the political posture of their profession. We are concerned about the present unwillingness of specialists to speak out against the implications of an Asian policy committed to en- suring American domination of much of Asia. We reject the le- gitimacy of this aim, and attempt to change this policy. We recognize that the present structure of the profession has often perverted scholarship and alienated many people in the field.

The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars seeks to develop a humane and knowledgeable understanding of Asian societies and their efforts to maintain cultural integrity and to confront such problems as poverty, oppression, and imperialism. We real- ize that to be students of other peoples, we must first understand our relations to them.

CCAS wishes to create alternatives to the prevailing trends in scholarship on Asia, which too often spring from a parochial cultural perspective and serve selfish interests and expansion- ism. Our organization is designed to function as a catalyst, a communications network for both Asian and Western scholars, a provider of central resources for local chapters, and a commu- nity for the development of anti-imperialist research.

Passed, 28–30 March 1969 Boston, Massachusetts

Contents: Vol. 10, No.2

April-June 1978

Focus on Japan

Noriko Mizuta Lippit


Literature, Ideology and Women's Happiness:


The Autobiographical Novels of Miyamoto Yuriko

Miyamoto Yuriko


The Family of Koiwai/short story

Herbert P. Bix


Miura Meisuke, or Peasant Rebellion Under the Banner of "Distress"

Tomoyuki Satoh


Children of the A-Bomb: I

Howard Schonberger


Hiroshima Survivors and the Atomic Bomb:


People's Art as History

Barton j. Bernstein


The Decision to Drop the Bomb/appendix


Survivors' Art

Ikuko Wakasa


Children of the A-Bomb: II

Stephen Salaff


The Diary and the Cenotaph:


Racial and Atomic Fever in the Canadian Record

j. W. Dower


Science, Society, and the Japanese Atomic-Bomb Project During World War II

Alexander Kuo


New Letters from Hiroshima/poem

Stephen Salaff


Bikini Atoll, 1954

Yuji Ichioka


Los Angeles Issei/review essay


Bruce Cumings (Seattle); Saundra Sturdevant (San Diego) Associate Editor: Jayne Werner (Tucson, AZ); Managing Editor: Bryant Avery (Charlemont, MA)

Editorial Board

Len Adams, Nina Adams (Springfield, IL), Doug Allen (Orono, ME), Steve Andors (Staten Island), Frank Baldwin (Tokyo), Ashok Bhargava (Madison, WI), Herbert Bix (Tokyo), Helen Chauncey (Palo Alto, CA), Noam Chomsky (Lexington, MA), Gene Cooper (Hong Kong), John Dower (Madison, WI), Richard Franke (Boston), Kathleen Gough (Vancouver), Jon Halliday (Mexico City), Richard Kagan (St. Paul, MN), Sugwon Kang (Oneonto, NY), Ben Kerkvliet (Honolulu), Rich Levy (Jamaica Plain, MA), Victor Lippit (Riverside, CA), Jon Livingston (Berkeley), Ngo Vinh Long (Cambridge, MA), Angus McDonald (Minneapolis, MN), Joe Moore (Flagstaff, AZ), Victor Neelthaca, NY), Felicia Oldfather (Trinidad, CA), Gail Omvedt (Pune, India),. James Peck (New York), Ric pfeffer (Baltimore, MD), Carl Riskin (New York), Moss Roberts (New York), Joel Rocamora (Berkeley), Mark Selden (Tokyo), Hari Sharma (Burnaby, BC), Linda Shin (Los Angeles), Anita Weiss (Oakland, CA), Thomas Weisskopf (Ann Arbor, MI), Christine White (Sussex, England), Martha Winnacker (Berkeley).

General Correspondence: BCAS, Post Office Box W, Charlemont, Massachusetts 01339. Typesetting: Archetype, Berkeley, California. Printing: Valley Printing Company, West Springfield Massachusetts.

Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Apr.-June, 1978, Volume 10, No.2. Published quarterly in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Subscriptions: $9; student rate $7; library rate $14; foreign rate (outside North America) $10; student rate $8. Bryant Avery, Publisher, P.O. Box W, Charlemont, MA 01339. Second Class postage paid at Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts 01370.

Copyright © Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 1978. ISSN No. 0007-4810 (US) Postmaster: Please send Form 3579 to BeAS, P.O. Box W, Charlemont, MA 01339.

Literature, Ideology and Women's Happiness The Autobiographical Novels of Miyamoto Yuriko

by Noriko Mizuta Lippit

Although the liberation of women was one of the basic concerns of the Meiji intellectuals who struggled with the question of modernizing the self-and thus the women's liberation movement has a long history in modern J apan­ women's concerns were generally left to women intellectuals and treated separately rather than as a part of broad social movements. Similarly women writers were classified separately (as "female-school writers") and their literature considered a special category related only tangentially to the central activities of modern Japanese writers. Heirs to a long tradition of women's literature in Japan, modern Japanese women writers tended to focus on emotions and psychology, while women's status in a modernizing society was excluded from the principal literary currents. Japanese proletarian literature, which reached its peak at the beginning of the Showa period (1926-present), was no exception in this regard. Such major writers as Kobayashi Takiji paid only scant and superficial attention to the questions of women, and in general the theoreticians who were concerned with the questions of laborers, peasants and intellectuals in revolution ignored women. I Miyamoto Yuriko, a leading proletarian writer of the first half of the Showa period, stands out in this context as an exceptional figure, as a writer who placed women's concerns at the center of her literature and integrated them with the socialist movement of her time. She began her writing career as an idealistic humanist who was disturbed by the alienation of elite intellectuals from the masses, yet in her attempt to grow into a real intellectual, liberated from the conditioning forces of her bourgeois background, she came to realize that being a woman imposed an obstacle as great as any other she confronted. She came to believe that overcoming the class nature of her philosophic and aesthetic ideas and becoming a truly liberated woman were both crucial to living a rich and meaningful life. She saw the family and marriage system, feudal institutions preserved in the interest of modern capitalism, as the primary forces oppressing women. At the same time, she noted the failure of women intellectuals to grasp the class nature of their ideas, and their cynical and reactionary retreat into false femininity. For Yuriko, being a humanist meant being a feminist and communist revolution­ ary, and the humanist, feminist and revolutionary struggles were necessary truly to liberate human beings. Miyamoto Yuriko was born into an upper-middle class, intellectual family in 1899 and died a committed and major

communist writer in 1951. She accepted historical incidents as personally significant events and grew from a bourgeois humanist into a humanistic communist, from an intellectual observer into a committed fighter, from a bright, over­ protected daughter of an elite family into a liberated woman, and, above all, she grew into a fine fiction writer who combined history and individual experience in literature. Her art is a mirror reflecting the complex history of Japan and the inner life of the Japanese artist who lived through it. She dealt with three major concerns throughout her life, concerns which she considered central problems or conflicts to be solved. They are the questions of consciousness and practice, women's happiness and creativity, and politics and literature. Focusing on her ideas on women, I would like to examine how these central problems and her consciousness of them shaped her creative works and are reflected in them. A precocious writer, Miyamoto Yuriko published her first novel, Mazushiki Hitobito no Mure (A Flock of Poor Folk), in Chill okoron in 1917, when she was only eighteen years old. 2 It appeared with a strong endorsement by Tsubouchi Shoyo, who observed that she was endowed with keen perception and an ability to think originally, qualities that are clearly shown in this first novel. The novel is about an ojosan (an honorable daughter) from Tokyo who visits the remote agricultural village owned by her grandfather. The protagonist, observing the details of the poor peasants' life, becomes appalled by the injustice of the system of land ownership as well as by the distortions which absolute poverty creates in human psychology and character. In her sincere attempts to help the poor peasants, she meets only vicious greed and apathy on the part of the peasants and cynical arrogance from the village elite. Although the work is filled with youthful sentimentalism, Yuriko's treatment of the protagonist's deep self-reflection and self-analysis when she confronts the absolute defeat of her upper-class humanism is impressive. The novel ends with the protagonist's determina­ tion to find something, however small, which could be shared with the peasants and her determination to grow into a person who understands life. What principally characterizes the novel is the author's tendency toward introspective self-searching, together with her idealism and strong faith in human good will, characteristic

traits which

Reflecting the strong influence of Tolstoy and such writers of

the Shirakaba group as Arishima Takeo, she expresses in this

were to stay with her the rest of her life.

work a youthful and hopeful belief in the union of consciousness and practice, and her determination to contribute to human welfare. In this respect she differs from the naturalist writers and urban intellectuals of the late Meiji period (1868-1912), whose discovery of the deep chasm between themselves and the peasants, and of the evil of a system which separates people so absolutely, merely led them to an overall pessimism and desperation about human nature. Soon after the appearance of this novel, however, she was confronted by a serious contradiction between her consciousness and practice, a contradiction which emerged not so much from social conditions as from her personal life. In 1918, she accompanied her father, a prosperous London­ trained architect, to New York, and while studying at Columbia University she fell in love with Araki Shigeru, a scholar of Oriental linguistics fifteen years older than her. Although she was passionately in love with him (he appears as the character Tsukuda in the novel Nobuko), the marriage was important for her in other respects too, since it would allow her to be independent from her family, assuring her a new start in life. She saw it as a way to live as she wished, to develop her feelings and sensitivity, and her husband declared his commitment to help her do so. Yet in her marriage, to which her parents objected unyieldingly, she found herself still trapped by the feudal institution of the family, with pressure from the family as a daughter replaced by even heavier pressure as a wife. She went through an agonizing and futile struggle with her mediocre scholar-husband, a security-seeking, emotionally cold man, and she concluded that the occupation of housewife, with its emotional and mental inactivity, petty hypocrisy and banality of thought, is totally detrimental to human creativity. She realized that she would have to sacrifice her imagination and creativity as a writer unless she were to be reborn as a different woman or unless society's attitude towards women were to change. She discovered from her four years of marriage that a woman becomes emotionally and psychologically vulnerable to her husband, and at the same time, paradoxically, that the "security" of the wife's role justifies and maintains relations between man and woman on the basis of the family institution rather than on the basis of

real human involvement in each other. 3 Her experiences

marriage were soon to become the basis of her first masterpiece, Nobuko (1923), which, like all of her subsequent novels, is highly autobiographical in nature, reflecting the experience and realization of a particular phase of her life. 4

Unlike many women, Nobuko did not think she could change her life-situation by finding a new love, for then she would just be moving from one man to another and would still be someone's wife. It was not that she disliked her married life because she compared Tsukuda with someone else. It was because of the many difficulties that the incompatibility of their personalities created and because she could not accept the differences between men and women in the way they fulfill themselves in marriage, differences which are accepted generally. Either she would have to be reborn as a different woman or the common social ideas of sex life would have to change in certain respects for her to remain married without problems.

To be perfectly honest, she could not claim to be free from apprehension about her independent life in the future. She

could not imagine that Tsukuda was

weakness. No matter how eager Nobuko was for her


unaware of her subtle

independence, he saw through her weakness, thus allowing her to act as she liked, like a spoiled child, and called her his "baby. "

(Nobuko, p. 133; my translation)

Yuriko-Nobuk0 5 also discovered the hypocrisy of intellectuals who argue for ideals but have no intention of living according to them. She determined to live according to her beliefs, distinguishing bourgeois intellectualism from revolutionary intellectualism, and paid a high price to put this into practice; the traumatic experiences during the four years of what she called her "swamp period" convinced her finally that any ideas which were not substantiated by her personal life were meaningless. She set out to establish her own life-style and to live according to her ideas. When she became a communist after living for three years (1927-1930) in the Soviet Union, she was forced to confront the social and political implications of her belief that consciousness can be intellectually meaningful only when it contributes to a concrete change in life which facilitates one's inner growth. Subject to the heavy censorship of her writings and the strenuous experiences of trial and imprisonment after her return to Japan, her health deteriorated and she suffered at one point from a complete loss of vision. During these years, when she was not allowed to write freely, she committed herself to leading a study-group composed of women, and to

Yuriko received Akutagawa's death as the tragic self­ dissolution of a bourgeois intellectual fundamentally alienated from life itself, as the total defeat of his in­ tellectualism and aestheticism. She was chilled by the thought that she herself might follow his path if she continued to live as a detached intellectual writer.

well as to writing letters to her

second husband, a communist who had been sentenced to life imprisonment. 7 These years required a firm commitment; many writers, subject to great pressure and actual physical torture, declared, some truly and others superficially, that they had given up their communism, while a majority of the writers wrote non-political works or fell into silence. All suffered from self-doubt, self-pity, cynicism and desperation. Yuriko, together with Kobayashi Takiji, who was brutally murdered by the police, stand truly heroic in this context. In Nobuko, the protagonist's decision to give up her husband and to go against the desires of her family was for the sake of her personal growth and happiness. Although well aware that her action would invite criticism as an egotistical act, Nobuko is portrayed as having felt at that time that marriage was detrimental both to women's happiness as individual human beings and to their creativity. It was necessary to be independent from men, emotionally as well as economically, in order to secure a room of one's own. Yet Nobuko's solitary life makes her experience the frightening loneliness and emptiness that exist in life without love. She comes to reconsider whether marriage itself is the problem or whether it exists in deviation from an ideal form of marriage. In Futatsu no Niwa (The Two Gardens, 1947), an autobiographical sequel to Nobuko, Yuriko traces her life after

wntmg essays on women, 6 as

her divorce to her decision to visit the new Russia. Although she was now writing novels steadily and enjoying a newly independent life as a professional writer, she (Yuriko-Nobuko) suffered from loneliness and a sense of sterility which came from the absence of total involvement in human relations. After the divorce, she lived with a woman translator and came to realize the prejudice to which single women are subject in a male-oriented society and the distortion in their characters which women suffer because of it. They force themselves unnaturally to behave like men, yet they are more vulnerable than married women, more conscious of themselves as sexual objects, and cannot liberate themselves from sex. Her relationship with her friend Motoko gradually comes to resemble that between lovers, and Nobuko feels it a psychological burden. 8 She feels that single women tend to become alienated cripples, deprived of proper objects of love, and realizes that a satisfying male-female or sexual relationship is necessary for women's happiness. Thus she comes to reject the androgenous existence which she once though t necessary. 9

Nobuko-Yuriko describes two incidents which occurred during this period as decisive in her determination to step into a new life. One is the affair of her mother, then 52, with the 32-year-old tutor of her son. The unfortunate love affair, which ended in her mother's bitter disappointment, illustrated the tragic fate of women who could not find the correct channel for their passion and self-growth in the feudal family system. Nobuko-Yuriko came to realize the impossibility of love's transcending differences of age and environment, given the existing warped male-female relationship. At the same time, she found herself appalled by her mother's romanticism, so miserably removed from reality, and by the easy cynicism about love and men her mother adopted and her quick return to a bourgeois life after her brutal disappointment. There Nobuko-Yuriko saw a lack of the true passion which might

have enabled her to develop the full possibilities of happiness and the meaning of life in love, even though defeated. 10 Above all, Nobuko hated the hypocrisy of the intellectual who talks of beautiful ideas yet is a cowardly egotist in daily life.

as \\ _11 the traps created by women's



vulnerability to romantic love. Women desire. to be romantic heroines, finding happiness only in being loved by men. They spend all their psychic energy in loving and lose the capacity to see that they are only catering to an illusory ideal of femininity created by men. She sees in her mother both passion misused and the lack of a true commitment to love. This realization leads Yuriko to explore love relations which are not based on romantic love. II


Akutagawa Ryiinosuke in 1927. The Two Gardens describes

the profound shock brought by his death, a shock which resulted in her decision to go to Soviet Russia.








If indeed to grow in class awareness is the only correct way to live in history for a member of the bourgeoisie, how does such growth take place? "Do you know?" Nobuko sat next to Motoko, who was

proofreading, and continued, "I know that there is a limitation in Aikawa Ryonosuke's

[Akutagawa Ryunosuke'sl intellect

'class transformation' occur in such individuals as you and I? "

but how does the

She knew that among those who are identified as

members of the proletarian school, writers who did not come from the working class or were not living in poverty,

with the exception of such theorists

as Shin ohara Kurato,

would be ignored. In fact, her own writings were indeed ignored by them. Nobuko felt, however, that whether or not she was recognized by them, she had things to say as a human being and as a woman, and that she could not wipe out her own

way of life. If she could stop her way of life somewhere because she became hung-up on some theory, why had she thrown away the life with Tsukuda, pushing his pleading face away with her own hand "I think I will go to Soviet Russia. I would like to live there. I would like to see with my own eyes and experience with my own body everything there, good and bad. " (The Two Gardens, p. 263; my translation)12

Yuriko received Akutagawa's death as the tragic self­ dissolution of a bourgeois intellectual fundamentally alienated from life itself, as the total defeat of his intellectualism and aestheticism. She was chilled by the thought that she herself might follow his path if she continued to live as a detached intellectual writer. Interestingly, her future husband, Miya­ moto Kenji, made his critical start by writing a brilliant and influential essay, "The Literature of Defeat," in whic·h he analyzed the class nature of Akutagawa's sensitivity, anxiety, desperation and aesthetics. 13 At the time, Yuriko was already an established writer while Kenji was a very young man, fresh from the countryside, vacillating between politics and literature as his life's work. (Today he is the chairman of the Japan Communist Party.) What particularly shocked Yuriko-Nobuko was Akuta­ gawa's deep loneliness as a man. Akutagawa, firmly tied to his family, with a gentle, homemaker wife and bright children,


was desperately lonely, starved for love. He fell in love with a woman whose intellect matched his own, but gave her up for the sake of his family. His sentimental overflow of emotion when he finally did so, and the pathetic sincerity of his subsequent writings in which he describes his own feelings and sense of defeat, moved her deeply. There she saw a sensitive man burdened by obligations as a father and provider which drained his energies and damaged his fine sensibility. She recognized that Akutagawa's anxiety and sterility as a detached bourgeois writer would also be her fate and that she too would be a victim of the institution of the family, deprived of love. Here she gained a new insight in her struggle; it was not only women but men as well whose creativity was stifled by their effortS to cope with an oppressive reality. A vital love of life, of a life committed to active thinking, writing, acting and loving, sprang up in her. In order to complete and enrich her life she needed a liberated man. Human liberation, not merely women's liberation, was necessary.

Her concern with meaningful male-female relations deepened when she met Miyamoto Kenji and married him in 1932. This was also the point at which she actually joined the Communist Party, although she had already become a communist in Russia, begun to write Proletarian literature, and been engaged in active organizing work-particularly among women-since her return. After a short life together, both of them were arrested; Kenji was sentenced to life imprisonment, and a life of separation for twelve years started.* Although she learned through her pa:ssionate love for this brilliant ideologue ten years her junior that women's happiness and creativity, supported by faith in life and in love, are truly compatible, this fortunate union was by no means earned easily. In "Koiwaike no Ikka" (The Family of Koiwai, 1934), Yuriko describes the wife of a communist forced to go underground. The wife, although uneducated, is endowed with natural intelligence and strength of character developed through a life of poverty. She is firmly committed to her husband and works hard to maintain the family under the unusual circumstances, supporting and taking care of her parents-in-law and her children. She is the epitome of the strength and endurance with which traditional women are usually supposed to be equipped. Although she is the actual center of the family, she comes to feel a curious sense of isolation and lack of purpose when her husband finally decides to go underground. She is an ideal wife for an activist, supplying abundant moral support, yet she knows clearly that an unbridgeable gap has been created between her and her husband, who were united only as partners in a home-making enterprise. The story ends as the wife, appropriately named as Otome (young maiden), realizes that there will be a day when he will not return home unless she herself joins the movement with equal seriousness and commitment. The story describes the growth of this maiden into an independent participant in life, and this growth is treated as an essential factor in true love-relations. Later, in Banshu Heiya (The Banshu Plain,

• Arrested in 1933, Kenji was imprisoned until 1945. Yuriko was arrested six times between 1932 and 1943; her time in prison totaled approximately two years. She was finally released when her own health deteriorated from the imprisonment and when her parents died.

1946), Yuriko deals with the question of ideological differences between husband and wife and concludes that the sharing of ideology and political actions is also essential. Yuriko's relationship with Kenji was deeply satisfying. Contradicting her previous insistent stance, she changed her name from her maiden name Chujyo to her husband's name Miyamoto, and assumed positively the role of daughter-in-law and sister-in-law in his family. This evoked criticism and disgust among women writers and intellectuals, for she appeared to be protecting his male ego. 14 Although we may discern in her attitude the concern of an older woman and established writer to eliminate any source of inferiority complex which her young husband might have, we would totally miss the point to see in it a willingness to assume the traditional role of a woman. However, although she believed that what she was doing was right, she later came to realize that she was indeed trying to protect her husband's male ego and was thereby creating another fraudulent male-female relationship. In Banshu Heiya, a work dealing with her love of Kenji and set in the days around the end of the war, Yuriko presents her protagonist, who is unshakably certain of her love for and commitment to her husband, as naturally attached to his family. Her concern with and understanding of the women in his rural, lower-middle-class family is alive, devoid of any intellectual aloofness, and filled with genuine love. In this novel, the protagonist achieves a genuine tie between herself arrd the working class and peasant people from whom she is separated by education, class and cultural-social background.

the working class and peasant people from whom she is separated by education, class and cultural-social

What makes this possible, twenty years after her first novel and Nobuko, is her understanding of the common fate which women in the Japanese family system share and her commitment to proletarian revolution. When the protagonist of Banshu Heiya Hiroko, hears that her brother-in-law was among the victims of the Hiroshima holocaust, she visits her husband's family in Yamaguchi prefecture, a visit which renews her recognition that women have once again had to bear the tragedy of the war and society more heavily than men. Her sister-in-law, now widowed, changes into a nervous, greedy and calculating woman, losing all tenderness toward other people. Saddened by the psychological distortion created in this woman, Hiroko is struck by the misery which women in the family system have had to endure. She feels it unfair that the maintenance of the system depends upon the endurance of women, and is at the same time appalled by the role which women had assumed in maintaining this dehuman­ izing and sexist system. She calls the strength produced in the frail woman's body at the time of emergency and the psychological and mental distortion caused by it "goke no ganbari, " the widow's stubborn strength.

The recent autobiography of Simone de Beauvoir also resembles her works in its basic attempt to trace the inner, as well as social, growth of the author-protagonist, and to place her in history. By placing inner growth within a concrete historical and social framework, history and individual life are uniquely interfused, creating both a personal drama and social, intellectual history; Yuriko's hero is an honest reflection of herself, yet she emerges as a universal, modern hero.

Yet soon this widow's strength/distortion is to be found in Hiroko-Yuriko herself, and worst of all, this is pointed out by her husband, with whom she is finally reunited after twelve years of separation. In Fuchiso (1946), Jyukichi (Kenji) points out that her over-anxious, protective attitude to himself and to his family is goke no ganbari, and suggests that she return to a more relaxed attitude. His observation of her widow's hardness and strength, implying a lack of femininity, is a male chauvinist one, yet she realizes that her eagerness to protect her husband was indeed distorted and mistaken, that she was unconsciously adopting a protective attitude toward him just as a husband might do toward his wife, and that the love relation must be based on mutual equality and independence. The full cycle had come; twenty years earlier she had suffered from the hypocritical protectiveness of her older husband and she was now unconsciously assuming the same protective role towards her younger husband. Most importantly, when the question arose of her rejoining the Communist Party, the executive committee of

which Jyiikichi-Kenji was now a member, she asked him to let her work in a way that would let her continue to write novels.

He replied that she must work in

continue to write novels. With this understanding she joined the party without h-:sitation, but later found that he had foreseen a possible conflict that might have wrecked their love had she not done so. Although Yuriko's deciosion to join the party was reached from her own belief and the decision was hers, ironically it was the same experience which her protagonist in "The Family of Koiwai" had gone through. Ideological sharing was an important condition for love. Yuriko here argues that ideal love is the most human one, in which each partner is concerned with his or her own life without an overinflated confidence in bringing happiness to others, but a love based firmly on the support of and faith in each other. Together with such support, complete sharing of basic attitudes toward life and the same world view are considered necessary; this is the hardest demand made on women, the demand to participate in political as well as intellectual activities as equals of their men. She calls such a relationship that of humanistic communism. Women's happi­ ness must be instrumental in the development of their creativity, while there will be no happiness where creativity is stifled.

her own way, and must

Yuriko believed in human growth as the most significant purpose of life. She committed herself to communism only when, impressed especially by the condition of women in Soviet Russia, she came to believe in it as an ideology which aids both human growth and social justice. For her, human growth was not a matter of inner awareness, but could be achieved meaningfully only in relation to others: it could be achieved only by living within the real world, within history, in vital association with other people. For this reason, personal concerns-ideal love relations especially-and social and political ones become interfused in her creative activity. In her understanding, practice takes a central role; the pursuit of art for life's sake and of intellectual activity for its practical consequences provided the means for her to unite life and ideas, life and writing. Yuriko's firm belief in human growth, her unending interest in and love of women, and her commitment to positive male-female relations make her close to such writers as Simone de Beauvoir. Like Beauvoir, she lived passionately, creating her own life-style as a woman, and tried to create a unique autobiographical novel in which the protagonist emerges as a modern as well as an historical hero. Yet of the three conflicts, the one which gradually came to concern Yuriko most in her later years was that between politics and literature. As I have noted, she started her creative career as a bourgeois inteltectual, deeply influenced by the humanistic writings of Tolstoy and Arishima Takeo at a time when the moralistic, introspective "I-novels" (first-person novels) had established the tradition of the modern novel in Japan. The historical perspective of Yuriko's autobiographical novels distinguishes them from the traditional I-novels, in which the perspective of the author-protagonists is exclusively internal and psychological. This historical perspective grew stronger in the course of her writings. Although the conflict between consciousness and practice, the realization of which was to become central in Japanese writers' struggle against the I-novel, was clearly the starting point of Yuriko's writing and the basis for the development of her thought, when she was

writing Nobuko she understood this conflict only as a problem of her personal growth, not directly related to history or society. When she came to realize that sexism is a political phenomenon, the conflict developed another layer of meaning, that is, the conflict between literature and politics. Writing about her personal growth, about achieving her personal freedom, came to appear to her the sterile self-satisfaction of an elite intellectual. Thus the conflict was transformed from a metaphysical-philosophic concern with realization (conscious­ ness) and practice to a socially concrete question of politics and literature. The early Showa period produced a flood of theoretical arguments with regard to proletarian literature and the writers' role in revolution yet did not produce many significant fictional works. Miyamoto Yuriko, together with Kobayashi Takiji, undertook the task of creating literature as a communist. Her problems were more complex than those of Takiji, who was committed to presenting situations or dramas in which the oppressed masses come to attain a revolutionary understanding and commitment to action, or than those of Tokunaga Sunao, another important proletarian writer who, himself coming from a lumpenproletariat background, writes naturally about laborers-their struggle for change, their limitations, their happiness and their distortions. Yuriko, on the other hand, was an intellectual who was keenly aware of her basic alienation from the masses and of the limitations of her understanding. She had not forgotten the bitter lessons she learned from the tragic failure of the humanist writer Arishima Takeo, who embraced proletarian literature and gave up his inherited property to become a socialist but later had to declare that the class nature of a writer cannot be transcended. After declaring that he could not pretend to be a socialist and could write only as a member of his bourgeois class, he committed love-suicide with a woman. 15 During the first years of Yuriko's life as a communist, * her writing suffered from didacticism and from dogmatic analysis; her best contribution during this period was clearly in the field of essay-writing, in which she analyzed the conditions of women. Although her belief that literature should contribute to the progress of people and should be meaningful to the emerging new class and generation was not shaken, she did come to feel uneasy about the possibility of artistic stagnation in her political life. Although Kenji was more than eager in urging her to pursue her novel-writing in her own way, for him there was no doubt that she should not write other than as a communist. In Fuchiso (1947), the protagonist Hiroko hesitates to join the party because she still does not see clearly the relation between her art and political activities, and worries how her joining the party might affect her writing.

"Hiroko, will you leave your curriculum vitae since you are here (at party headquarters). " 'iWy vitae?" She hesitated, feeling that it was too sudden. To present her vitae must mean going tbrough a formal procedure to join the party. "Of course, but Hiroko was not prepared to do so here, at this moment. She felt that two kinds of work were pushing her from opposite


• She joined [he Communist Party in 1931.




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sides of her body: literary work and political work concerning women, which was the natural consequence of her being a woman. At present she was occupied more with the latter. As a result, what she wrote became entirely

If only I knew."

Whenever Hiroko wrote short educational pieces, Jyukichi himself advised her to organize her political work, telling her that otherwise she would not be able to write novels. It was also felt keenly [by the communists} that they must


when Jyukichi asked her when she planned to write novels,

how was it related to his suggestion to present her vitae? "There is no reason for me to refuse if I know what my writing will be. " "Hiroko, you can only prove objectively through your own writing what is the best. " "I am very glad if I can work in that

produce specialists in every field of the

"How would it affect my work?


"But that you can write in a way most appropriate for your

present concern does not mean that a writer does not have to assume historical responsibility in ber own daily People in the humanities are too preoccupied with it [the


must be because their life and work are too personal. But in

the case of husband and wife, the gap can become too big to bridge. "

(Fuchiso, p. 256; my translation)

relation between politics and literature} in

Her only solution was to maintain her determination to write novels in history and to find out what kind of novel is.a good novel by writing with all her energy. Yet this was an indirect way of saying that she was going to set aside the problems of politics and literature, and would be immersed in writing novels, not political novels but just novels. Indeed, most of her communist ideas were expressed in her essays and her novels deal almost exclusively with her personal growth. She was also totally committed to actual political activities, organizing, lectures, and so forth, as if she were trying to bridge the gap between politics and literature in this way. When she started writing as a feminist, however, with her own life as the central theme of her novels-and that started with her postwar novels-the gap between politics and literature, and that between history and individual life, was eliminated. She had discovered new modern heroes, the oppressed class of women struggling for liberation, a class emerging to play an important role in the history of human liberation. By writing autobiographical novels from a revolutionary feminist perspective, she achieved a unique combination of literature and politics, of history and individual life. The result was an overflow of creativity. The Banshu Plain, Fuchiso, The Two Gardens, and Road Sign, which were written within the short years of bubbling creativity between the end of the war and her death in 1951, were all autobiographical works and extensions of Nobuko, tracing her personal growth as a woman writer and woman communist, but these later works were distinguished from Nobuko by their communist-feminist perspective. She had plans for writing two more such novels, plans left unmaterialized by her sudden death. The form of Yuriko's novels is closest possibly to the Bildungsroman, a form of novel which traces the moral as well as social development of an individual. Her works, most simply, are a communist and feminist variant of the Bildungsroman. The recent autobiography of Simone de Beauvoir also resembles her works in its basic attempt to trace the inner, as well as social, growth of the author-protagonist, and to place her in history. By placing inner growth within a concrete historical and social framework, history and individual life are uniquely interfused, creating both a personal drama and social, intellectual history; Yuriko's hero is an honest reflection of herself, yet she emerges as a universal, modern hero. Although Yuriko's hero is by no means portrayed as an ideal, superhuman woman, she is a positive hero whose faith in female and human liberation through communist revolution is unshakable. Yuriko's works present the drama of a woman developing from a member of the bourgeois elite, dependent on men, into an independc;nt, mature woman writer and communist; they also mirror realistically an important page in the social, moral and intellectual history of modern Japan. Thus Yuriko created a new form of autobiography, one in which the protagonist emerges as an historic figure of the age, living fully its limitations and possibilities. Her writings uniquely bring together the tradition of the I novel and the


historical, social commitment derived from her political activities.


1. The Japanese anarchists and communists considered

women's demands as petit bourgeois and thus not revolutionary. They refused to establish women's bureaus in their organizations for fear that

they would lead the movements in a petit bourgeois direction and mar cooperation with the male branch. See, for example, Takamure Itsue, Jyosei no rekishi (A History of Women; Kodansha, 1958).

2. The complete works of Miyamoto Yuriko were published by

Kawade Shobo, 15 vols., 1951. There are also selected works published by Aki Shoten (11 vols., 1949) and Shinnippon Shuppansha (12 vols.,


3. Yuriko kept diaries during the years of her love for and

marriage to Araki Shigeru (Nobuko Jidai no Nikki, 1920-23, Yuriko Kenkyukai, 1976). Such autobiographical stories written during the same period as "Chiisai ie no seikatsu" (Life in a Small House, 1922), "Hitotsu no dekigoto" (One Incident, 1920), "Yoi" (Evening, 1922),

"Kokoro no kawa" (The River of Heart, 1925), in addition to the unrevised first versions of Nobuko, supply reliable information about her life during these years. See also Tomoko Nakamura, Miyamoto Yuriko (Chi kuma, 1974). 4. Nobuko was serialized in Kaizo in len installments between 1924 and 1926. This original version was shortened and radically revised when the novel appeared in book form in 1928. The following quotation in the text is from Selected Works of Miyamoto Yuriko and Kobayashi Takiji, Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1969.

5. The protagonists in Yuriko's novels are readily identifiable

as real-life persons, and for grasping her world it is as appropriate to use the names of their real-life prototypes as of the characters themselves.

6. In her early works (such as "Yoi") Yuriko had already been

writing about lhe problems of women artists, especially about the difficulty of fulfilling the dual role of home-maker and creative woman,

a theme which was developed as central in Nobuko. However, her

interest in women in general and her linking of her personal questions to the larger problems of women took place when she visited Soviet Russia. Her commitment to women's liberation became apparent and unshakable only after her return from Russia, where her ideological understanding and perspective took definite form. 7. Jyuninen no tegami (Letters of Twelve Years), 2 vols., Chikuma, 1965. 8. The relationship between Nobuko and Motoko was more than one of friendship between two women, both psychologically and in some respects physically. It is clear that Motoko was attached to Nobuko as a lesbian while Nobuko was not attached to Motoko in this way. However, Nobuko's need for close human relations did find an outlet, soon after her divorce, in her friendship with Motoko, and her new life with Motoko did supply her with a vision of a new start as significant as marriage. 9. Yuriko had never advocated the maternal femininism which characterized such feminists of the Bluestocking group as Hiratsuka Raicho. Yuriko's own decision not to have children was based on her concern that women who spend their psychic energy on child-rearing and the emotional dependency on children it entails would have little

remaining of the energy and emotional commitment necessary for a creative life. (See Diary). Yet her love for Miyamoto Kenji changed her attitude and she wished to have a child with him, a desire which was not fulfilled because of his prolonged imprisonment.

10. As in many cases of women artists and intellectuals,

Yuriko's complex relation to her mother was a crucial factor in her intellectual and emotional growth and the formation of her character. Yuriko was a keen and even cruel observer of her mother. Yet her

admiration and sympathy for her mother as a woman grew over the years, enabling her to love her mother dearly. Yuriko has written as much about her mother as about herself in her works.

11. Yuriko saw clearly the class nature of the aspiration for

romantic love, viewing it as the product of the feudal-bourgeois concept

of women, a concept which idealizes virginity, chastity and motherhood. See such essays as "New Monogamy," "Discussion of Love for a New Generation," "Passion for Home-making" (Yuriko Zenshu, Kodansha, vol. 9), and "On Chastity," "The Wife's Morality," and "The Morality of Marriage" in vol. 12. 12. Selected Works of Miyamoto Yuriko and Nogami Yaeko, Tokyo: Kodansha, 1967.

13. Yuriko must have read the essay in Soviet Russia, since she

kept receiving Kaizo, one of whose issues carried MiyamQto's article. She tells of her impression of the essay in her novel Dohyo !Road Sign). Kobayashi Hideo's essay, "Samazama naru Isho" (Various Designs), received the second prize.

14. The most outspoken critic was Hirabayashi Taiko, a woman

writer and once an anarchist.

15. See "Sengen hitotsu" (One Declaration), Gendai Nihon

Bungaku Ronsoshi (A History of Modern Japanese Literary Disputes), Miraisha, vol. I, pp. 11-14. 16. Selected Works of Miyamoto Yuriko and Kobayashi Takiji, Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1969.


The Family of Koiwai

by Miyamoto Yuriko

translated by Noriko Mizuta Lippit


A night in February-there was not a touch of fire in the


Otome, wrapped in a dyed kasui nightcover with a soiled shoulder patch, and leaning her face against the table, sat immobile on a folded sewing board placed across a round, brown porcelain hibachi in which the ashes had congealed. Severe cold, coming down with the night from the black suburban sky where stars were shining, froze the streets and the earth of the farm fields, pierced the tin roof and penetrated to the roots of her hair. She felt faintly the warmth of the electric bulb hanging low in front of the table. The electric bulb illuminated the lusterless hair of Otome, sitting near, and the many roughly bound books kept in the beer boxes stacked a bit out of the way at the windowside. The burnish of the table glittered smoothly, its shine so cold that one hesitated to touch it. Shortly, while keeping her hands across her chest and inside her clothes, and raising only her face from the sleeves of the nightcover, Otome asked her husband Tsutomu, slowly and with emphasis on each word, "The hot water bottle-is it still hot?" In front of the same table, Tsutomu, also wearing a nightcover over his shirt in place of a house-jacket, sat on a wicker chair-the only chair in the house-resting his cheeks in his palms. Moving his large mouth, conspicuous in the fair-skinned face characteristic of people born in the north, Tsutomu spoke, heavy-mouthed, "Yes. Shall I give it to you?" "No, that's all right." The couple, both covering their small bodies with the nightcovers, almost fell into silence again, but this time Otome, licking her chapped lips anxiously and appearing as if her long eyebrows were raised, said, "Grandpa may send Mitsuko to us in a package."




We can't tell what he will do."

On the table lay a letter from Teinosuke, scribbled carelessly with a charcoal pencil on tissue-like paper. Omitting the phrases with which people of the older generation invariably began, he had written directly to the point, asking

when they intended to send the money for which he had written many times. Tsutomu may be engaged in an important movement, although he-Teinosuke-does not know how important, but here a family of five is half-starved. What do you, the eldest son, intend to do? If you do not send the money, then I will make a package of Mitsuko, who is in our way, and send her back to you. Expect that! Teinosuke had cursed the unmatched letters which, sometimes broken, sometimes smudged, reminded them of his stubbornly hairy

eyebrows. On the envelope just below the name of Tsutomu-Mr. Tsutomu Koiwai-there was a large oil stain that had penetrated to the letter inside. In their home town, A-city, Teinosuke had been peddling natto on the street every morning for the past few years. In the evening, Mother Maki, taking the initiative herself, let him take a cart of imagawa-yaki sweets to a street on the river-bank which, although particularly windy, was filled with passers-by. There they worked until about one o'clock in the morning. Tsutomu's younger brother, Isamu, who had finished elementary school, was working as an office boy at a bank. In this way, the family, including the younger sister Aya, lived. There was a reason why Tsutomu and his wife had left their three-year-old Mitsuko in the hands of a family so poor. In the spring of the previous year, Tsutomu had been picked up by the police for having worked with a proletarian cultural group, and, because of the beating he had received on his cheeks, he had contracted a middle-ear infection. Tsutomu was moved from the police station to a welfare hospital only when the disease had progressed to the point of causing a brain infection. There a military intern operated on his ear, following instructions to cut here, stuff there, and so forth. The care he received after the operation was so rough as to have astonished a specialist, and in the summer, he contracted


case of papillitis. Through his friend, he was

admitted to a different hospital, but he had remained in critical condition for more than a month. The doctor who headed the ear, nose and throat department carried out a skillful operation, but even he could not tell for sure whether or not Tsutomu, who lay in bed, a blood-soaked gauze

bandage wrapped around his head like a Cossack hat, would



recover. As a part of her effort to save Tsutomu, Otome borrowed a kimono from her friend and promptly took it to a pawnshop. Then she took Mitsuko on a night train to her grandparents' place, leaving her there almost forcibly. It was only for the first two or three months that she was able to send them for two or three yen. When autumn deepened, Otome sent Mitsuko a sweater-mantle she had knitted. She was unable to keep the promise she had made to her parents-in-law that she would send them money for rearing Mitsuko.

Tsutomu survived. Since the spring, however, the publishing section of the group for which he had worked devotedly had been beset with great difficulties. There were few who could work, and money was lacking. In the morning, raising the collar of his coat to protect his injured ear, Tsutomu would leave by the front entrance, holding the old essays on Marxism bound in a single volume that he had bought with great sacrifice. After locking the front entrance, Otome would exit by the kitchen door. Receiving several ten-sen coins from Tsutomu at the customary second-hand bookstore, she would return home. This happened more than once.

First her parents-in-law demanded money and then they began complaining that, with Mitsuko keeping Maki tied up, the volume of sales at her sweets-cart had decreased sharply. They had Isamu write such things for them in great detail. Tsutomu and his wife felt saddened by their inability to send money, yet Tsutomu was annoyed by his narrow-minded father who blamed Mitsuko for the decrease in their business. Nor did Tsutomu, remembering his own experiences at home as a young boy, fail to see the feeling of Isamu, the 17-year-old second son, who had had to write that sticky, complaining letter, writing down what his father had said without adding a word of his own. A-city was included in the Tohoku [Northeast) famine district. Since the war started, the deprivation of farmers in that district had been extreme. At the end of the previous year, there was even an incident in which the mothers in families whose young men had been drafted got together and demanded that their sons be returned to them. It was natural for there to have been a decrease in the number of young men who, returning from an evening's amusement, would hold hot baked sweets in the bosom of their kimonos, and eat them one by one. If they had money to spend for such things, they would go to a wanton cart instead of an imagawa-yaki cart. Tsutomu had earnestly explained the world situation in these terms, describing the reasons for their poverty in a way Teinosuke could understand, and writing in the margin that Isamu should be shown the letter too. Teinosuke's letter, which arrived shortly afterwards, showed that Tsutomu's effort had been completely in vain. With his dull shrewdness, Teinosuke had begun to use granddaughter Mitsuko in an effort to burden Tsutomu with the responsibility for their straitened circumstances. Moving his disproportionately-large mouth as if he were saying "puff-puff," and looking at Otome with sharp eyes, Tsutomu said, "I never went to a barber before I was eighteen and never bought my underwear." In order to earn money to buy the books which he loved reading, he had worked nightly at a rope factory after his regular job at a post office. His mother, Maki, also found a job at the rope factory. Then she bought a

pair of scissors to cut his hair and cloth to sew his underwear, and paid for the medicine for her fragile daughter Aya. Tsutomu burned the letter from his father. He would be angry, he thought, if his house were searched and the letter seized and used to persuade him to quit the movement. Otome felt in sympathy with Tsutomu's anger, but, opening wide her eyes with the double-folded lids and looking at her husband's hair which had thinned strangely after the ear infection, she said quietly, "I hope Grandpa is not mistreating Mitsuko." Otome's voice reflected her dual concern. She felt guilty for not being able to bring up Mitsuko herself, as well as for reminding Tsutomu-already plagued by numerous troubles-of the worrisome family matters.

After the lunar new year was over, Aya, in her unskilled but clear handwriting, wrote to them that Grandma kept saying these days that she wanted to die, and that she worried that Grandma might indeed die. Before Tsutomu appeared the image of the gentle, wise face of his half-graying little mother, carrying the heavy granddaughter on her back, mentally tired and sandwiched between Tsutomu and her stubborn husband.

Out of consideration for his mother, Tsutomu agonized over ways to make money to send or to use in bringing Mitsuko back. The poetry-writing which had led Tsutomu to become involved in the proletarian movement would bring no money. It was at this time that the letter with the oil-stain arrived. While Tsutomu, after returning home, sat at the table without a word, Otome scurried about in the kitchen that had no electric bulb, her feet wrapped thickly in Tsutomu's old navy-blue tabi. She prepared a hot watter bottle for Tsutomu. Even the money for charcoal was saved to meet his transportation expenses. Tsutomu remained silent for a long time. Then, tearing his father's letter with a hand whose middle finger had a red ink-stain, he said in a tone of voice not much different from his usual one,

tell them to close up their place and come to

Tokyo." Otome did not know how to take his statement and looked at Tsutomu as if paralyzed. Then her eyes with two-folded lids gradually grew larger under her unconsciously­ raised eyebrows, and with the tip of her nose reddened by the cold, she assumed the expression of a startled wild hare. 11

"I will

Closing up the household and the five of them coming to live here-how would they eat? Something akin to fear spread wide and weighed on her. Isn't Tsutomu himself like his father to think of such a thing, she thought? Tsutomu, however, in between his various activities, had been thinking of this all day. He could not think of any ways to make money, either to send there or to bring Mitsuko back. It was evident that Teinosuke would sink deeper into poverty. In Tokyo, if Isamu worked, Teinosuke sold natto and Grandma did some part-time work at home using her skillful hands, they would at least be able to eat. Better that they should come to Tokyo and see how Tsutomu and Otome lived. Tsutomu felt certain about it. That would correct Teinosuke's narrow-mindedness, his using the fact that they were taking care of Mitsuko to place the responsibility for their livelihood on the "eldest son" and let Isamu's second-son-character develop further. Besides, he might come to understand the nature of Tsutomu's work-understand by being together with them and by seeing the way they live. When Tsutomu explained this to Otome, she did not consider it unnatural. "It may be a good idea." Thus Otome, her eyes still wide open, gave her wholehearted consent, moving her tongue slowly and moistening her upper and lower lips. "Then I will send them a letter. You go to bed first." Tsutomu wrote a letter to Teinosuke and then, taking a long time, wrote something else on a thin piece of paper. Putting each in a different envelope, he took one out of the room and hid it somewhere. Otome lay in bed facing the shoji screen but did not sleep. When Tsutomu told her to go to bed first, she was accustomed to doing so without asking any questions or going into the three-mat room beside the kitchen. Writing in a small, precise script, Tsutomu often took his left hand out of the sleeves of the nightcover and pressed the wound on his ear with his fingers. The area behind the ear was indented because the bone had been scaled off, and there gauze cloth had been stuffed in. Because of his fatigue and the cold, the wound ached and half his head felt heavy. Behind his ear, in addition to the scar left by the operation, there was a severe scar from a burn. It had been made in the winter of 1930, when Tsutomu, having resigned from the group that was publishing Literary Front because he was not satisfied with its direction, had joined the activities of Battle Flag. Ishifuji Kumoo of Literary Front, a man known for his hunting hat, had placed a hot iron there. It was that scar.


Carrying furoshiki-wrapped packages of various shapes and colors, Grandpa, Grandma, Aya, Isamu and Mitsuko all moved wordlessly via Veno Station to the two rooms under the tin roof of Koiwai. They took up their lives there, spreading even onto the tokonoma alcove their sooty packages that contained only rag-like things. The couple's life changed. At five o'clock in the morning, while it was still dark, Teinosuke sat up on his mattress and turned on the light above the faces of the family members sleeping next to one another in the narrow room. Preparing his pipe with a noise-"pan, pan"-he started to smoke. Grandma had left out an ashtray for him.

Disturbed by the noise, Tsutomu, who had gone to bed around two o'clock in the morning, turned his body uncomfortably and pulled the cover over his face. Then Mitsuko started fussing. Otome, who had been patting her daughter'S back half-asleep, became wide awake and tried whispering to soothe her lest she wake up Tsutomu. But as if throwing off her mother's soothing words, the bull-necked Mitsuko arched her back, calling for Grandma as she had become accustomed to doing in the past half year. "No, Grandma, no." Tying her apron, Grandma got up from her mattress and


"All right Mitsuko, don't cry. I will give you something to eat." She brought rice to Otome's mattress and gave it to Mitsuko. Then Isamu got up followed by Aya; Tsutomu could no longer sleep and threw off his thin bedding. While Tsutomu washed his face, dry from lack of sleep, Teinosuke swept curs9rily with a broom in front of the entrance and came back to sit in the room, which had already been cleaned and tidied. Aya brought out a dining table. Isamu read the colored advertising leaflet which had fallen onto the tatami from Grandpa's newspaper. Otome, who was preparing breakfast in the kitchen without cooking utensils, asked, "Grandma, please taste this," and with the expression formed these days by her raised eyebrows, stretched out a little plate to Maki, who was squatting there. Maki tasted the miso soup noisily. "Seems all righ t. " Otome and Grandma started serving the miso soup, which was diluted and had lots of salt added. Sitting around the small dining table, the family ate breakfast very quickly, and even Mitsuko did not say a word. Even though after breakfast he had time before having to leave for work, Tsutomu did not talk to anyone. Lying on his stomach near the open corridor, he read a book. As if he had just remembered, he would sometimes ask his father, "What did you do with the tools for baking imagawa·yaki sweets?" "I sold them." Teinosuke said no more. The conversation between them developed no further. Tsutomu left in a tattered, navy-blue coat. Even at that time, Teinosuke never stood up to see Tsutomu off. He remained sitting with his raised shoulders wrapped in a handwoven cotton haori jacket.

In the evening, Tsutomu returned. Quite often, Grandpa

was still sitting in the same place as in the morning, with the newspaper and ashtray before him. The only difference was that the light was on. While Tsutomu was away, Otome had made and served dumplings out of the flour which Grandma had managed to obtain. After going to bed in the three-mat room, Tsutomu asked Otome in a small voice, "What does Grandpa do all day?" "He sits." Then, lowering her voice still further as if saying something frightful, she said, "I hope Grandpa has not lost his senses." Tsutomu did not answer. Stubbornly slttmg thus, Grandpa was watching the way Tsutomu lived. Tsutomu felt

it. He knew with bitterness that Teinosuke's mute attitude indicated that he was observing whether the situation dictated that he must work or not. Every day around five o'clock, Isamu used to go down

the gradual

employment news or looked for a long time into the show window, the blue shade of which reflected the light on his boyish red cheeks. After a month, he was hired by a company near Kyobashi as an office boy. Tsutomu found for him an old bicycle costing five-yen-twenty-sen that could be paid for over two months. Isamu commuted happily, pedaling the bicycle, and when he returned at night, he said:

"This company is very big; there are five office boys like


He said this with his mouth extended as if he had found out how small the bank in A-city was.

," speaking uncon­

sciously in his native dialect, "that although I am young, I am a miser."

At that company, it was a fad among the office boys to treat each other. People said that Isamu was a miser because although he ate when others treated him, he could not return the favor. Grandma, mending the belt of Mitsuko's dress clothes with crudely sewn stitches, worried aloud, "Then, do not be treated." Tsutomu, for a change, had returned early and was working at the table. "You do not have to be concerned with such a thing." Moving his large mouth, he said gently and encouragingly, "You can tell them proudly, Isamu, that since you are helping the family you cannot afford to spend money." Isamu, short and stout and fair-complexioned--like his brother but with a small mouth-neither protested nor agreed, but began turning the pages of a very old issue of Children's Science. Otome wished that Grandpa too would say something at such a time. But he just sat silently, smoking. However, an incident finally occurred which forced even Grandpa to talk with people and to walk around Tokyo, with which he had not yet familiarized himself. Aya, who had been delicate and tended to stay in bed, contracted a complicated stomach infection of tuberculosis. She needed to be hospitalized. Tsutomu could not return home every night, not only because he was busy but also because his situation had become dangerous. Bringing Grandpa's wooden clogs and making them ready for him to go out, Otome sent him to see his uncle in Mikawashima. Although there was not a great age difference between them, Teinosuke's uncle, Kankichi, had been working as a clerk at a borough government office for over ten years, and was the only relative of the Koiwai family in Tokyo. They had finally come upon the idea of borrowing money from him with the promise to return it out of [samu's 17-yen-a-month salary, and, through his government connections, of getting the district committee to be responsible for the medical care of Aya.

slope to a radio shop where he listened to the

"But everyone says about me

Kankichi's third wife, Oishi, visited them after a few days, bringing a contract sheet to receive Teinosuke's seal. The minute Oishi entered through the torn shoji screen, she remarked, "What can I do with country folks? They don't even know how to tidy their house." "In an exaggerated way, she walked on her toes in her colored tabi, gathering the end of her kimono as if it should

not touch such a dirty floor. She sat down on the only cushion in the house and looked around indiscreetly at Aya lying in her sick-bed. Turning to Grandma who, politely taking off the sashes that tied her sleeves for working, bowed her half-gray head, Oishi said, "Because we are relatives, you use us when you need money, but you do not even show your face in ordinary times. Now stamp the seal here." Otome raised not only her eyebrows but her skinny shoulders as well. Holding the money Oishi gave to her and carrying Mitsuko on her back, she left to buy ten-sen worth of potato wine and five-sen worth of fried things. Tsutomu had lived for years without having anything to do with his uncle-or with the former-bar-girl aunt whose reputation in their n'eighborhood was quite bad. As Otome was about to step out, supporting Mitsuko on her back and holding in her hand' an empty bottle which might hold about a cup, Oishi said,

that? Even

though you want to buy only one cup, they'll give you less than one if you don't take a bottle that contains four cups." Oishi's philosophy of life was like this.

"Hey, you.

Are you

going shopping


Glued to a spot in front of the table with her eyes wide open like saucers, Mitsuko stretched her hand close to the fried food, almost touching it. "I want to eat that, Mommy-that I want to eat," she pleaded. Oishi, protruding her lower lip like a little girl making a face, imitated her, "This, you want to eat, heh?" Looking at Mitsuko with an expression of hatred, she drank wine alone and ate the fried food.

Because you do not believe in religion, you become poor, sickness appears in the family, and your son turns into a red. Using such talk as a relish for her drinks, she finished the ten-sen worth of wine. Belching, she took out another ten sen from her wallet and, putting it inside her obi sash, she sent for more wine. This took place two or three more times until the time came for her husband to return from the office.

at last, Teinosuke took out the debt

contract sheet from the drawer of Tsutomu's desk. He looked

at it, turning it over again and again. back again, he said,


Standing up to put it




"Poverty certainly follows us." It was a tone of voice with deep emotion, a tone in which Otome had not heard Tsutomu speak since he came to Tokyo. "If one has money, one becomes like that." "You see, isn't it just as big brother used to say?" Otome, angry from having to tolerate a woman like Oishi and affected by her expectation that Grandpa was changing his attitude, spoke in a voice that sounded as if her mouth had dried up. "If society changes, Aya will receive medical care without worry." Licking her lips, Otome explained in detail that in Soviet Russia there is a free medical clinic ih each borough to take care of sick people. Tsutomu used to send them the photographic journal Soviets' Friends even when they lived in A-city. Otome had no way to know what Teinosuke thought when he read it then, but today he certainly listened to her intently. At night she also heard him remark to Grandma, "I should not have sold the tools for making baked sweets."


Turning from the silent main street where everyone was asleep, and bearing to the left around the gas station, Otome entered a newly developed area with only a few scattered houses. The moon suddenly appeared, high and cold, casting its shadow on the ground. Far and near, keyaki trees were enwrapped in the haze melting in the moonlight, and in the sky, light, white clouds were floating. While walking, looking at the clear moon with the halo around it, Otome felt that only the sound of her shoes and the rustling of her skirt was disturbing the subtle sound of the moonlight falling on everything. It was lonely and frightening to walk alone at such an hour. Yet only while she was walking on such a street could Otome, now commuting to Shinjuku as a bar-girl trainee, regain herself. Through the efforts of the district committee, Aya was hospitalized in a charity hospital, but the family had to supply someone to take care of her, and that created a transportation expense. Besides, they could not give Grandpa their usual soup-with-everything-in-it as lunch to take to the hospital. Since Oishi started coming to the family, she began to bring sewing jobs to Grandma and Otome so they could earn some money. They sewed one cotton kimono for twenty-five sen, but they had to supply their own thread. Yet this sewing job was somewhat frightening for them who could not argue well. Early on the promised day, Oishi would come without failure with twenty-five sen. "I am putting the twenty-five sen here. You work where

you are and usc a messenger. What high class people you are." When Grandma cut the last thread with her teeth and went out to the corridor to dust off the kimono which was just finished, Oishi, who had been drinking potato wine while waiting, examined it immediately. "Let me see." She folded the kimono as if she were a neat and precise person, and pressed it for awhile by sitting on it. Then, standing up to leave and holding the kimono wrapped in a Juroshiki, she would extend her hand before Grandma or sometimes before Otome·s delicate pigeon-chest, and say, "Give me twenty sen for I am going to buy tonight's dinner." She spoke looking straight into their faces, without moving an eyebrow. Struck by her aggressiveness and unable to answer, they swallowed their saliva as twenty sen were taken away from the small amount left from what had been placed there.

Otome had decided to work as a bar girl in order to get rid of this witch as soon as possible. But there was another reason as well. It had become apparent that in order for Tsutomu to continue his activities safely, it would be necessary for him to rent a room outside of the house. Recently, when the printed copies of the journal had

been sent to a bindery, he had discovered that the police were after them. At the right moment he took them out quickly. It was such a sudden action that he didn't have any place to send them. Therefore, randomly riding around in a taxi, he came to

a wooded suburb where he thought to hide the package. It was

a Saturday afternoon. As Tsutomu went further and further

into the woods, staggering under the weight of the package, he came suddenly upon a narrow, open stretch of lawn. Three young students were lying on the lawn, talking. Both the

students and Tsutomu were startled. The students stopped talking. One of them stood up and looked at the short man in

a hat who, his large mouth tightly closed, was carrying a

package. Unable to tum back, he continued on and entered the woods that stretched beyond the open area. Deciding upon a certain spot, he began to wrap the journals with the paper and cord which he had brought with him. Soon the vibrating sound of a high-pitched whistle came from the direction of the lawn where the students were. It was a jazz phrase with which Tsutomu was not familiar, but he sensed immediately that the hurried tone of the whistle was directed to him and that it was meant as a warning. He covered the journal with grass, placed his coat with its torn collar and hem over it, and, listening atten tive! y, pretended to be urinating. He heard the laughter of women coming nearer and the footsteps of two or three people as they stepped on small

branches. When

they came to


open area,

they seemed

undecided but

finally turned to the left. The footsteps and

cheerful laughter no longer reached Tsutomu. It took two hours for Tsutomu to finish, and during that time, the students once again let Tsutomu know by whistling

that someone was coming into the woods. That night Tsutomu told Otome with deep emotion how the students had conveyed their support. He also told her at that time that he needed a room.

whose appearance had been changed by the

waves newly applied to her hair, used to stand by Tsutomu's table when she returned late at night and, licking her lips that were dry from fatigue, tell him in a low voice what had happened that day at "Beauty Club." "There is one man-a democrat who sings 'Red Flag.' He showed me a scar on his wrist and boasted that it"was from having been tortured." "Hmm." "I felt offended, thinking people will think that communists are all like that." Tsutomu, who had been suffering constantly from lack of sleep since Grandpa and Grandma had come to live with them, just listened to Otome silently, pressing the wound behind his ear and never asking her about the bar. When Otome talked continuously, he would say sullenly, "That's enough. Go to bed." Hecould not get used to thinking of Otome as a bar-girl.


As for Otome's suitability for such a job, she was certainly an unwaitress-like waitress-more so than Tsutomu or even Otome herself could imagine. One of Otome's customers arrived, sat down heavily in a booth, and gave an order:

"Well, I guess I'll have a cocktail." Otome, who had been standing and waiting for the order beside him-unblinking and with eyebrows raised-repeated the order:

"One cocktail, right?" She went off with her shoulders raised, repeating the order to herself. She returned with the drink. When the customer extended his hand and tried to touch her, Otome was unable to brush him off skillfully or respond cheerfully with words; when he held her hands, she tightened her body and wordlessly raised high her eyebrows. Her face, with some beauty in it, suddenly assumed the desperate expression of a startled hare. With the unexpected change, the customer felt ridiculous or abashed, and, letting her hand go, reassumed his usual demeanor-but clicked his tongue. "Tut." After working for twenty days, including the training period, Otome was fired from "Beauty Club." The reason was that, even after so many days, she had not learned how to serve properly. Bringing a book even to bed, Tsutomu asked for the first time, "What must people do to serve properly?" "I don't know!" Otome looked depressed, shaking her waved hair.

The way she said "I don't know!" with such strength reminded him of the two of them four years earlier. In the outskirts of A-city there was a butcher who had pasted on a glass door a notice "We carry pork." Otome was the daughter of the butcher. When Tsutomu's cousin was hospitalized in A-city for a serious eye disease, Otome was working there as a

helper. She and Tsutomu gradually started to speak to each other, and Tsutomu, who was working for the post office, lent her War Flag and other books to read. Otome had just finished elementary school, but she read it carefully and showed great interest. She borrowed many books from Tsutomu and at one time asked to borrow Marx's Das Kapital, possibly mistaking the book for something else. About five days later, Otome, who still had her hair braided, came to the patient's room with drops of perspiration on her nose to return the book. "Did you understand?" Tsutomu had unintentionally relaxed his mouth as he asked the question. Otome, raising her long eyebrows so high they might have come out of her forehead, had looked up at Tsutomu who was almost twelve centimeters taller than she (although both of them were quite short), and had said: "I don't know." She had said it with all her strength, shaking her head, just as she did now. Tsutomu had almost forgotten that, when they were about to marry, he had insisted that he should not have to present the family with the traditional preparation money because he was not accepting a horse or a cow. Otome's mother had cried, saying that since she was not born a horse or a cow, she would like his parents to present a formal marriage gift. Otome said that if her family did not approve, she would leave the house. Then she joined Tsutomu who was already living in Tokyo.

The money that Otome had earned with such great pain-disliking the job and knowing Tsutomu's silent dislike of it-was gone after she returned ten yen to Oishi and paid for Tsutomu's room. After Tsutomu had moved but before Otome had any time to relax, the debt to Oishi had doubled. Aya had died. They did not have money for the funeral. From whom other than Oishi could the family of Koiwai have borrowed money? Grandpa and Grandma (who held Mitsuko on her back with a sash) returned from the crematory with Aya's bones. Grandma moved some of the packages to the back of the

closet which left the front part empty. There she spread a blue, Fuji-silk filroshiki wrapper and placed the urn containing

Aya's bones. Otome was working the early shift at a bar where she had recently begun to work. She returned early and found Grandma sitting before the urn with Mitsuko on her back, her legs dangling down. "We do not need red cloth any longer," she said quietly without taking her eyes off the urn. She signed, "Ahh." Isamu also returned and, without sitting down, looked with embarrassment at the urn. Then he bowed abruptly, lowering his head awkwardly. No 0I1e cried. Mitsuko, her hair in a Dutch cut, turned toward Otome and said repeatedly, "O! O!" pointing at the urn as if she were sorry that it was not something to eat. There was no longer a homeland for Grandpa and Grandma-neither a place to bury her nor a temple to which they could take her bones. The stubborn attitude which Grandpa had assumed since coming to Tokyo gradually began to disappear. Otome could sense it even from the way Grandpa sat. Since their debt had increased, Oishi came to their house every three days. Learning that Oishi was being inquisitive­ asking why Tsutomu stayed away from home so frequently and asking for the location of the bar where Otome was working-Otome warned Grandma earnestly with force in her eyes, "Grandma, be careful. You don't know what she would do to us." Oishi might do anything to obtain money. It would be nothing at all to Otome if she came uninvited to the bar to threaten, but she might do far worse. Otome shuddered with fear. At that time, Grandma just answered vaguely, "Yes, that's true," without showing whether or not she understood. But that night she must have thought over the matter, and in the morning she came to Otome who was doing the wash in a bucket in the kitchen. Holding Mitsuko, who was poking her hands in the bucket and making a mess, she reported to Otome:

"When Aunt came yesterday, she asked whether Otome too was helping the reds." "You see, I told you. And what did you say?" "You are working for a bar, so I told her that you are working for a bar." Worrying about the time when she was not at home, Otome told her, "Please warn Grandpa well too."

These days, Grandpa had begun to use the baby carriage to peddle sweets to children, going out whenever the weather was good. In the evening, Grandpa would return to the area near home at almost the same time as Isamu. Coming in through the back alley without the carriage, he would check to see that Oishi was not there, and then push the carriage to the front entrance. Once he had bumped into her and she had taken ten sen out of his small sales. It was a bitter experience for him. At the sound of the carriage's front wheels being raised so that it could be taken inside, Mitsuko, hearing it from somewhere, came rolling out without failure. "0,0, Grandpa." She raised her strong-willed forehead in an expression that was comical but filled with happiness. "I want some sweets." Sitting kite-like with her little legs folded kite-like, she placed her dirty hands on a square package wrapped in aluroshiki. "Hey, wait until Grandpa enters the house."

"No, these are mine." Grandpa sat down silently just inside the entrance and let Mitsuko have a few cookies coated with sugar. Mitsuko, looking with an upward glance at Grandpa and Grandma in turn, quickly put all the cookies in her mouth.

It was about five or six days after the conversation in the kitchen. Carrying both the crochet-work she had knitted while sitting at the "Lily of the Valley" bar-on the worst occasions she was called to work only once in three days-and the sixty-odd sen she had earned, Otome was walking leisurely up the slope towards home when she saw a policeman coming towards her. There was only one road, on one side of which was a cedar nursery. As Otome walked slowly up the slope watching him, he moved from one house to the next checking their name plates. He stopped in front of the house which had a paper on which was written "Koiwai." Opening the door, he entered the house and called in a loud voice, "Hello, is anyone home?" Otome's breathing became rapid-not only from climbing the slope-and she unconsciously opened her mouth and looked around. Appearing unconcerned, she turned in two houses before her own house and went around to the back. Grandma had taken out the bucket and evidently had been hanging the laundry. Trying not to make any noise, Otome listened to the conversation in front while wringing out the washed clothes and hanging them on the clothesline. "The family, are there five now?" "That's right." "T'hat child-Ah, it is Mitsuko." The policeman was silent and it seemed that he was checking his notebook. Soon he shifted his weight to his other leg, making a clashing sound with his sword fiS he did so. "So the son, Tsutomu, is missing, huh?" Holding Mitsuko's little pink underwear, Otome felt as if her ears were filled with sound. Grandma answered in her

usual slow,low and polite voice,


"Why did he leave the house~since he had the child?" "


"Dissipation? " "Well, that is about right." Unconsciously, Otome almost smiled. Looking down with tightened shoulders, she said to herself, "Good work, Grandma." She really felt so. Living· in poverty for over thirty years, Grandpa had managed to exist until today without even knowing how to cook rice, and he had managed to put Isamu through elementary school. Sometime in the past Tsutomu had said that Grandpa's life depended on Grandma. In an instance like this, Otome felt Grandma's earnest quick wits. For the next few days, under the dusty red and green lights of the "Lily of the Valley," Otome recalled vividly the two voices in the conversation, "Dissipation?" "That is about right." Yet the more she recalled it, the more complex became the emotions which accompanied it. The fact that Tsutomu was the very opposite of a dissipated person made the conversation with the policeman indescribably humorous, and, as his wife, Otome even enjoyed it. However, the more she thought seriously of his strong character, the more deeply she came to feel about their relationship. She had not thought

about it previously. Because of the pressing circumstances, Tsutomu had begun to live apart from her without giving her time to think over their separation. But Tsutomu was not a man who would desert her out of dissipation. She had carried the thought only to this point before. If she did not keep up with his activities in the movement, however, he would not have her as his wife. Now she understood it firmly. If indeed that were to happen, Otome knew that she could not cling to Tsutomu and show him her shame. The value of the proletarian movement and the value of Tsutomu had permeated her being. Thinking of these things for the first time since Tsutomu had lett the house, Otome could not sleep












she held

It became the season for wearing serge. Frequently a bright, fine rain fell. On the rainy days, the fragrance of the resin from cedar saplings floated subtlely from the cedar nursery out front into the open corridor of the two-room house in a closet of which was the urn containing Aya's bones. It was a late-shift day and Otome was reading at Tsutomu's desk. Grandpa, who could not go peddling because of the weather, had been reading the newspaper for a long time. "Oh," he called to Otome, taking an unlit pipe from his mouth. "They can't be arrested like that." "What is it?" Wondering what it was about, Otome went to look at the newspaper. In the corner of the third page, there were a few lines rep~rting that two "all union" workers had been arrested at an employment agency in the Koto area. Grandpa's way of reading the newspaper had changed. That was clear to Otome. Grandpa was asking questions which even Isamu did not ask. After listening silently to Otome's faltering explanation, he coughed and, as if thrusting a stick, asked,

"Isn't there a union for peddlers of sweets?" Otome was flurried without knowing why. She raised her eyebrows and answered, "I don't know." Silent again for awhile, Grandpa bit his pipe. Abruptly, he took the pipe from his mouth and hit the ashtray with force, "It will be troublesome if the world does not change in the direction which Tsutomu describes." It sounded as if he meant that it would be troublesome for him personally, but Otome thought that it showed how much progress Grandpa had made. "Yes, and that's why, Grandpa, you should not say such things as you did the other day." About a month earlier, when Otome was hanging up Tsutomu's overcoat, Grandpa had turned its tattered insides out and remarked, "He is no good, a man nearing thirty, living in Tokyo, and walking around in such a thing." Otome had involuntarily lost her temper and quarreled with him. Now she was referring to that incident. Grandpa silently shook his knees, slowly puffing the smoke from his pipe toward the out-of-doors where the rain was falling softly. Otome soon stood up to change, letting Grandma take

care of the clinging Mitsuko. While tying her obi, she felt as if she could see Tsutomu before her eyes, clad in a suit, walking

along steadily with his

umbrella over his small body.

mouth tightly closed, and holding an



Miura Meisuke, or Peasant Rebellion Under the Banner of "Distress"*

by Herbert P. Bix

I don't think you realize how hard it is for the oppressed to become united. Their misery unites them--once they recognize who has caused it. "Our sufferance is a gain to them." But otherwise tbeir misery is liable to cut tbem off from one anotber, for they are forced to snatch the wretched crumbs from each other's moutbs. Think bow reluctantly men decide to revolt! It's an adventure for them: new paths have to be marked out and followed; moreover the rule of rulers is always accompanied by that of their ideas. To tbe masses revolt is tbe unnatural rather than the nature

(B. Brecht, "Study of the first scene

of Shakespeare's Coriolanus")

The Setting

Nanbu lay against the Pacific coast in the rugged mountainous region of northeast Honshu, a large tozama fief valued originally at 100,000 koku. I To its south lay Sendai, to its west and northwest the fiefs of Akita and Tsugaru. Abutting it along the northern coast was the small, independent branch fief of Hachinohe, where the great Ando ShOeki lived out his life in the first half of the eighteenth century. Called in modern times the "Tibet of japan," this was the region whose people would later be known for their tenacity and stubbornness (like Nanbu hanamagari-local salmon ascending a river), where peasant families during the great depression of the 1930s were reduced to selling their daughters into prostitution, where children grew up before the war not having known the taste of sugar. Since the Kamakura period the old and powerful Nanbu family had ruled over the region from their headquarters in the castle town of Morioka. During the first century of Tokugawa rule, which began in 1603, Nanbu's economy grew on the basis of mining and the development of commerce, in a manner similar to the other semi-autonomous fiefs into which feudal japan was divided. But soon enough the country's rice economy evolved into a money economy, without any accompanying political legitimation. The feudal lords of Nanbu then grew more oppressive, as they themselves were oppressed by the bakufu government at Edo. As the

• This essay appears in Great Historical Figures of Japan by Murakami Hyoe (editor). (Tokyo: Japan Culture Institute) 1978, pp. 243-260.

eighteenth century drew to a close, a marked decline could be seen in the fortunes of three of the four official classes caught up in the self-destructive bakuhan system. Only the lowly merchants continued to prosper. In the northeast the crisis of feudal disintegration worked itself out with particular· severity, aggravated by a succession of devastating famines and droughts. Nanbu lost 49,600 people through starvation in the great Horeki famine of 1755, more than ten percent of the fief's entire population of 358,000. The scars of that disaster had hardly healed when the famines of the Tenmei era (1781-88) struck, taking

another 65,000 lives and causing over 10,500 dwellings to be abandoned. 2 With rice productivity low even in the best of times, the peasants were compelled for their very survival to seek other sources of food and income. Whereupon the daimyos of Morioka levied new taxes, obstructing rather than encouraging the development of new lines of industry and commerce. Not content to take tribute from the peasants in accordance with the standard ratio of "six to the prince and four to the people," they devised taxes on every form of profitable activity. Finally, because the fief's treasury and cash reserves were chronically depleted, and pressed by the unending burdens of the sankin kotai system, they moved toward a strategy of reinforcing samurai control over the countryside and squeezing the peasants even harder. The peasants of Nanbu, although unarmed by law and at the mercy of the fief's. officials, answered back, drawing on a long tradition of peasant rebellions_ During the Tokugawa period there were at least 2,967 peasant uprisings (ikki), and if urban and rural disturbances are included the figure comes to over 4,000. 3 The authors of Nibon zankoku monogatari [Tales of Cruelty in japan) give a figure of 1,240 major peasant uprisings during the early modern period and claim that as many as 361 or 29 percent occurred in the northeast. And more occurred in Nanbu than in any other fief in japan-96 by one count and 120 according

to another. 4

As the nineteenth century unfolded and Western military pressure on japan grew, the rebellions in Nanbu intensified: in tempo, size, planning, degree of organization and militancy. Finally, in the year of Commodore Perry's arrival at Uraga, they culminated in one of the greatest and most anti-feudal peasant uprisings in all of Tokugawa history. This was the uprising that began in May 1853 and twice swept Kunohe, Shimohei and Kamihei-Nanbu's Three Hei Districts

(Sanheidari)-toppling the corrupt regime in Morioka castle and forcing its successor to accept and implement most of the demands of the people. Directed against the authority of Nanbu itself, it brought 16-17,000 people onto the road in a meticulously planned and executed mass exodus from the fief; and it represented, in the last analysis, the striving from below for a wider market free from feudal restrictions. This short essay has a dual objective which is, first, to present a few of the more important economic and political factors behind the famous 1853 rebellion against Nanbu fief that have a bearing on the thought of Miura Meisuke (1820-64). Meisuke, at age thirty-three, joined the command group of the rebellion at a critical stage and was probably the main drafter of the forty-nine peasant demands. Later, while in prison, he went on to produce a unique document, the "Prison Memorandums and Letters," which historian Mori Kahei, the first scholar to have found it, has named the Gokuchuki. Second, by characterizing the contradictions in Meisuke's Class position it is possible to point out some salient features of his thought as revealed in the Gokuchuki, and to show the contribution that the peasants, particularly those of the dissolving nanushi stratum from which Meisuke sprang, made to overthrowing Tokugawa feudalism from within and preparing for the Meiji Restoration.

The Class Struggle in Nanbu Fief

The story of the Nanbu uprisings and of Miura Meisuke, whose life spanned the worst period of misgovernment in the fief's history, must be set first in the larger framework of peasant rebellions (hyakusho ikki) that arose in the last forty years of the Bakuhan system and feudal society. Although nineteenth century rebellions displayed an essential historical continuity with those of the preceding centuries, they also had characteristics that set them apart from earlier Tokugawa rebellions. For one thing there were more of them and they were being paralleled at the local level by unchikowashi and sodo, the largely spontaneous and highly destructive collective actions of proletarianized peasants and urban poor. Although exact figures for minor disturbances are not available, scholars have counted as many as 479 ikki between 1830 and 1867. As in the early Tokugawa period, they occurred all over Japan but were most numerous in five areas: Nanbu (present·day Iwate Prefecture), Iwashiro (Fukushima Prefecture), Echigo (Niigata Prefecture), Shinano (Nagano Prefecture) and Iyo (Ehime Prefecture).5 By contrast, the fiefs of the southwest which were to launch the Meiji Restoration-Satsuma, Choshii and Tosa-and which have been studied the most intensively by Western scholars, experienced comparatively few. 6 Second, whereas nearly all the rebellions of the Tokugawa period can be regarded as expressing the structural contradictions of the closed bakuhan system, and the peasants' desire for liberation from feudal oppression, those at the end of the period expressed both in a more self-conscious, if not class conscious, way. They also expressed the peasan t belief in the ikki as an actual right, to be exercised when all other peaceful tactics had failed and their basic existence stood to be destroyed by intolerable feudal tax levies and corvees. 7 Peasants who rose up in late feudal society, when the

possibility for material progress-even in backward Nanbu­ was becoming self-evident, gave freer reign than ever before to their underlying moralism, to their pride at being society's producers, and to their belief in their own indispensability to the fief. 8 Third, the form of protest at the fief level underwent a subtle change. On the occasion of earlier uprisings, either individuals or councils representing entire villages, would draw up a petition of grievances and take it personally to some higher feudal ~uthority, often the domain lord himself, or even the shogun, thereby violating the feudal chain of command. This was the daihyo ossa, a traditional form of protest that ran the penalty of death, but which expressed in a veiled way the groping from below for a new system of rule. By the 1840s and '50s, however, the mass ossa began to acquire a dual significance as the feudal system itself entered the final stage of disintegration. Not only did the ossa break the feudal chain of command and reveal a scale of class consciousness that was more national than fief-bound but the peasants in the process were starting to proclaim the illegitimacy of the fief itself-first by threatening, and then by actually implementing the threat to seek redress in other fiefs. This was a progression in anti-feudal consciousness and nowhere was it more clearly expressed than in Nanbu. Thus, when the first rebellion of the Three Hei Districts erupted, on

As the nineteenth century unfolded and western military pressure on Japan grew, the rebellions in Nanbu intensi­ fied: in tempo, size, planning, degree of organization and militancy. Finally, in the year of Commodore Perry's arrival at Uraga, they culminated in one of the greatest and most anti-feudal peasant uprisings in all of Tokugawa history.

December 2, 1847, over 12,000 peasants followed the seventy-year-old Yagobei, their leader, only as far as Tono, a dependent fiefdom within Nanbu domain. It was to Tano's karo, Nitta Kojuro, also a direct retainer of the Nanbu family, that the rebel petition and demands were submitted. 9 The implied threat to go outside the fief, as well as the tone of despair, are unmistakable.

We are coming out to the door of the Bakufu because the

Nanbu family is so crude. Peasants are people of the country [i.e., not of a particular fief] and therefore we

want benevolent intervention by the Bakufu

We can

hardly live in this fief So that even if we seize all the boats

on the coast and row out with the winds as far as the coasts of such foreign lands as China or India, we will find a better place to live than this. 10

Six years after this first major uprising of the Three Hei Districts-after Yagobei had died in jail in Morioka and after the fief government had broken everyone of its promises to the peasants-they rose up again in the Three lIei Districts, not even bothering to appeal to the fief at all. The rebellion of 1853, in which Miura Meisuke participated as Yagobei's

spiritual successor,


thousands of peasants southward

across the border into Toni Village in neighboring Sendai fief. From there, if their demands were not met, they were prepared to go on to Edo. Why were the peasants of the Three Hei Districts driven repeatedly into revolt? To answer that it is necessary to review briefly the situation in Nanbu at the opening of the nineteenth century. By then the villages of the fief were fully enmeshed in the money economy; the various agricultural strata had undergone further differentiation; and the position of the hereditary servant-owning nanushi stratum, which bore the brunt of taxes, was becoming increasingly unstable. 11 In addition, by this time, Morioka's policy of raising cash from merchants and rich peasants by selling them samurai ranks at fixed prices had become an important crutch of the regime. Desperately seeking an outlet from its financial difficulties, the fief government continued to expand the ranks of the samurai class. 12 It did this by reviving in the countryside the medieval "retainer" system, implied by the term Jikata Kyunin. In its new (pseudo) incarnation, jikata kyunin meant "local resident official." Originating from the nanushi stratum, the kyunin had acquired considerable wealth through land reclamation, iron mmmg, fishing and money lending. Significantly, after purchasing samurai status and becoming enfeoffed, they continued living right in the villages, supervising the activities of the peasants and directly participating in the suppression of their rebellions. This despised stratum of pseudo "retainers," the "local resident officials," totaled only 361 in 1738. By 1827 their number had swelled to 559. But thereafter they grew by leaps and bounds, going from 760 in 1831 to 1164 in 1858 and 1151 in 1861. 13 The greatest proliferation of kyunin occurred in the heartland of the Three Hei Districts-Ozuchi, Miyako and Noda-and that was a major factor in the rebellions of those years.

Besides spawning kyunin, who lived in the villages like the goshi ("rustic samurai") of Satsuma, Morioka also established a stratum of kaneage zamurai (literally, "money contributing samurai"), who were really privileged merchant capitalists. Unlike the kyunin, the latter went to live in Morioka castle in direct service to the lord, under whom some of them set fief policy. Ishihara Migiwa, who figured prominently as an object of peasant hatred during the 1853 rebellion, was an oil merchant who rose to the position of karo (fief elder) after his daughter became Lord Toshitada's concubine. A document quoted in the Nihon zankoku monogatari captures the image of this kaneage zamurai in the eyes of a samurai chronicler.

The high officiallshihara Yusubei {MigiwaJ of Nanbu, who came from the chonin class and by mysterious fortune became. a fief retainer, was gradually promoted. Sitting beside the lord, he flattered and seduced him with his sycophantic words just as Chao Kao of the Ch'in dynasty did. Flatterers and sycophants who became familiar with Migiwa, at both upper and lower ranks, indulged themselves in selfish desires. Meanwhile Migiwa, who was in command of those people, sought to cover his own corrupt practices through them. He developed his evil schemes day after day, with the result that tributes were doubled every year, causing great suffering among the people. 14

If the emergence of kyunin most vividly signalled the blurring of the line between samurai (shi) and peasants (no), then the

kaneage zamurai symbolized the fief's policy of sheer tax pillaging, as another document cited in the above source confirms.

First they [fief authorities] would contrive excuses and demand tax paymf"1ts on unjustifiable grounds. But later, because the pea~_711ts were reluctant to comply, they resorted to illegal means, treated people harshly and even arrested them. And if the peasants failed to pay assigned taxes on the day due they would press them unmercifully. And, in addition to taxes, those rascals in lower offices and the ruthless prison guards would seize household effects as reminder fees. One can hardly bear to see their insatiable greed. IS

The tax abuses, peasant protests and turmoil which accompanied the rise of the kyunin and the kaneage zamurai meant that the very groups Morioka was relying on to keep the peasants under control and augment its wealth were actually undermining the framework of the fief itself. Yet the threat of fiscal insolvency, which grew as the bakufu added to Nanbu's coastal defense obligations, compelled Morioka to continue its rule over the peasants with the aid of big merchant capital. The years 1820-1840 saw the establishment of new monopolies on silkworm egg-cards and cotton thread (1822), on salt (1823), on marine products (1832 and 1837),16 together with new taxes of all sorts-all at a time when famine raged in the countryside. It was in this period that the thirty-eighth daimyo of Nanbu, Toshitada, by his indiscretions managed to crystallize the discord at his court into two factions: one that supported him together with the kaneage zamurai, and another that supported his eldest son, Toshitomo. As friction between the pro- and anti-Toshitada cliques deepened, the peasants stirred themselves. Rebellions occurred in 1836-1837 and in 1847 the peasants of the Three Hei Districts rose up, organized and led by the intrepid Yagobei. The 1847 uprising, seventeen years in the planning, succeeded in forcing the bakufu's intervention and Toshitada's retirement from the headship of the Nanbu family; but little else. He continued to rule the fief with an iron hand, hastening its ruination, while his weak-kneed son, Toshihisa, ruled as nominal daimyo. Moreover he immediately returned to the only financial policy he knew-forced loans and donations and crushing taxes, thereby breaking his promise of a moratorium on taxes to the Sanheidori peasants. The ingredients for a new social explosion piled up until finally, in 1853, a year the lord was scheduled to make the costly journey to Edo, the peasants of the Sanhei seized their chance.

The Nanbu Uprising of 1853

The uprising staged on May 20, 1853, by the peasants from Tanohata Village in the Noda District of Nanbu, quickly developed into a great rebellion. Young and old, men, women and children, whole villages participated, carrying with them in straw backpacks food and provisions for a long exodus from the fief. The object was to flee into Sendai, smashing any resistance encountered on the way. The march was led by a command group, numbering approximately 300, which raised a great banner inscribed with the words, "In Distress" (made by combining the character ko [small] with a circle [marul to be read as komaru). Each participating village constituted a military unit with its own banner of identification: a number.

As new villages joined the march, armed marshals from the command group, calling themselves "petty magistrates" (kobugyo), some wearing white hanten with red sashes and others wearing yellow hanten with white sashes, were deployed to meet them. During the course of the march they attacked the Daikan's office in Nodadori, smashed a samurai detachment sent out to stop them and destroyed the sake shop of Sato Gisuke, a large mine operator and kaneage zamurai. In June 1853, the organized peasants of the Sanhei, reduced by half to approximately 8500, crossed the border into Sendai fief. Up to that point their leadership seems to have been a large council. But sometime after the marchers reached Toni Village in Sendai the command seems to have fallen to three men, the main one of whom was Miura Meisuke, a stoutly built, eloquent, minor official from Kuribayashi Village who had not been part of the core group at the start of the uprising. However, as one source speculates, Meisuke may already have been involved at the planning stage of the rebellion under several pesudonyms, one of which was

Of the actions of the peasant leaders after entering Sendai only two need concern us. One was the presentation of their petition to the daimyo of Sendai, the Date family, who had long had territorial ambitions on the adjacent districts of Nanbu; the other their passing over of a list of grievances and demands. These documents summarize the history of peasant oppression in Nanbu and constitute as well a damning indictment from below of late Tokugawa feudalism in general.

the seventeenth century, the mechanisms for extracting t surplus from the peasants devised at that time, as well as t political control structure at both upper and lower leve· remained essentially intact right down to the middle of t nineteenth century.

The peasants are suffering from these things:

1. Advance payment of fixed corvees.

2. In addition to taxes in lieu of fixed corvees, excessive

taxes have been levied on the peasants several times a year since twenty years ago and ten times last year, and twice this year large sums have been ordered to be paid.

3. Exorbitantly high prices have been fixed for the

annual rice tribute, though formerly peasants paid in <aSh at the rate quoted at the Miyako exchange.

4. We are suffering because ever since the Bunsei era

[1818-29] all sorts of public works [ukeoigoto] have

been imposed.

5. We are suffering from the fief's hoarding [okaimono I

of soybeans, floss silk and other things.

6. In recent years we have had four Daikan; previously

we had just two.

7. In recent years we have had six Forest Magistrates,

though in the Bunsei era Daikan usually held the two posts concurrently.

Morioko • 21

To The Lord of Sendai from the Peasants of the Sanhei -We Respectfully Make This Petition­

1. We sincerely aspire to see that Lord Kai no Kami [Toshitomol, now retired in Edo, comes back to the fief. 2. We sincerely aspire to see you keep benevolently in your fief all the peasants coming from Sanheidori and save their lives. 3. We aspire that you designate Sanheidori to be a part of the bakufu domain and if this is not possible, designate it to be part of Sendai domain. 18

After presenting this petition to Sendai officials in Toni, the peasant leaders were questioned as to what had caused them to rebel. Miura Meisuke is then believed to have drawn up this list of forty-nine specific complaints against Nanbu fief, only some of which are quoted below. The grievances show that despite the economic advances made in Japan since


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8. In recent years we have had four officials under the

Daikan sent from the castle town, while formerly we had two local resident officials [kyunin] . 9. In recent years we have had four clerks [i.e. lowly samurai, equivalent to asbigaru] ; formerly we had one clerk. (Since foods are paid for by the peasants, as the number of officials increases, the peasants suffer accordingly. ) 10. In recent years we have had four officials in charge

of cattle and horses whereas previously we had only one.

12. The villages are suffering from the burden of having

to care for [fief] horses and cattle until they foal and



We are suffering from the losses involved in the

manufacture of gunpowder, i.e. having to furnish

firewood for the making of gunpowder and supplying our own houses as sites for this manufacture.

39. We are suffering from matters relating to the fief

monopoly on copper mines.

46. We are suffering from the increased transport,

communication and travel corvees that have accom­ panied the increase in the number of officials [we must support] since the Bunsei era.

47. Speaking of contributions to the lord, we would like

to have the kimoiri bring the tribute directly to the lord while he is in the fief as was the practice in the past.

48. We are suffering because the various ranks of

samurai who were promoted to that status fifty years

ago were formerly peasants.

49. Chiitaro and Shunji of Atsuka Village, two leaders

of those who assembled in Tono seven years ago were banished to Ushitaki.

In October 1853, months after the Nanbu peasant leaders had secured Morioka's immediate acquiescence to all but eleven of the above demands,2O they made the return of the remaining forty-five to Nanbu fief conditional on the acceptance of four additional demands, and exchanged papers with officials of Sendai fief as follows:

1. that various types of taxes be paid directly as in the previous year;

2. that debts of all peasants of the Sanhei be paid in

installments for thirty years;

3. that upon their return to the fief the people

assembled not be arrested;

4. that Ogawa Kiyoshi, Ogawa Ichizaemon and Ogawa

Naoemon [kaneage zamurai] not be appointed

officials. 21

Miura Meisuke

Let us now see who the man was who had carried the second Sanheidori uprising to its successful conclusion. Meisuke was an educated peasant whose position in the market and administrative structure of his home village was hereditarily privileged, giving him a status above the majority of the villagers. A minor village official, he also operated as a small rural merchant who, when the need arose, lent money to other peasants. Breaking down the various determinants of his class position:

First, he was a small-scale, independent landowner and agricultural producer whose family worked the land with the

help of four hereditary servants or bondsmen, remnants of the historically superseded serf system. After his participation in the Sanheidori uprisings, this agricultural-producer aspect of Meisuke seems to have waned, a fact that also reflected the difficulty of farming under the onerous system of tax levies imposed by the fief government. Second, he was a petty merchant who "purchased rice from Tsuchizawa and Hanamaki and marketed it in the Three Hei Districts." 22 Another source describes him selling "agricultural produce from the interior of Nanbu in exchange for marine products from Ozuchi and Kamaishi." 23 This second aspect of Meisuke, his merchant concern, apparently grew throughout his life. By the time of his arrest, he appears to have resolved to enjoy the freedom of the middleman, earning as lucrative a living as possible through merchant trade. Third, as the son of a kimoiri (literally, village "caretaker") Meisuke was a hereditary member of Kuribayashi village'S official elite. Kimoiri families belonged to the dissolving nanushi stratum mentioned earlier. They traced their origins back to the Sengoku period of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when their ancestors fought side by side with local samurai, which is why Meisuke retained his surname. It is worth noting that Meisuke showed no particular distaste at being a privileged member of the old village elite. In fact, holding such a position was perfectly congruent with his ideal of material affluence and living life to the fullest. Carrying this discussion of Meisuke's class position a step further, it is possible to extrapolate two principle features. Meisuke may be seen as reflecting the interests of petty merchant capital in a period of feudal disintegration, when strong possibilities existed for the rapid rise or rapid fall of different social strata. His own family stood in an intermediate position above the ordinary (lower and middle) echelon peasants and below the new kyunin or pseudo-retainer class of local resident officials that Morioka re-created for the dual purpose of keeping the peasantry under control and meeting its own dire need for money. Had Meisuke himself been more venal, had he not hated the growing absolutism of the fief government, had he not chaffed at the poverty, isolation and countless restrictions on life and trade in Nanbu, then it is possible that he might have sided with the kyunin who also sprang from the nanushi stratum. Instead, to his credit, he chose to share the indignation of the majority of poor peasants of the region and participate with others in leading the rebellion against the fief.

Where feudal theory sawall value as emanating from land to its possession, Meisuke locates its source in man and his labor. A small merchant and agricultural

producer, Meisuke played his role on the stage of his­ tory just at the moment when a break had occurred in the disintegration of Japan's feudal mode of production -a break symbolized by the linking of the country to the expanding world capitalist market system and by the virtual revolution against Nanbu fief, both in the year


Secondly, by virtue of his position as a Village Elder (otonayaku) Meisuke stood in an objectively antagonistic relationship to the poor, the majority of the village, his own personal integrity and uprightness notwithstanding. In March 1853, two months before the rebellion, he had advanced a loan of 76 kan 300 mon to someone, accepting as security the labor of a forty-eight year old man.24 His family account book of 1856 reveals also that he had earlier lent over 93 ryo to peasants living within Kuribayashi Village and to others in


however seems not to have confronted the pitfalls in his own position. Yet once the lord of Morioka submitted to the peasants' demands, the unity of the villages would dissolve and the smaller contradictions inherent in his situation would inevitably reassert themselves. The optimistic Meisuke's failure to anticipate that natural reversion may have contributed to his own undoing. Morioka had publicly pledged itself not to arrest or punish any of the forty-five peasant representatives who had remained in Sendai to negotiate. But its officials, believing that the house of Nanbu had lost face, seethed with resentment and

were looking to revenge the humiliation inflicted by the peasants. They had somehow to find a scapegoat through which to exorcise the spirit of the successful 0550. When Meisuke returned home from Sendai fief after the uprising, he immediately resumed his duties as a Village Elder (otonayaku) in Kuribayashi. The fief officials thereupon moved to exploit the vulnerability of the man they remembered as the tough peasant negotiator and drafter of the rebel demands. That they could do so presupposes the latent resentment of the majority of poor against the village officials who also doubled as merchants and exploiters of the lower and middle-echelon peasants. For what occurred next was, according to one authority, nothing less than a dispute in which the entire

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village, represented by six peasants, appealed to the Daikan's Office for the removal of the kimoiri, Heiemon, and the appointment of Zen'emon to otonayaku, whereupon all the otonayaku, including Meisuke, offered to resign. 26 Another writer, emphasizing the machinations of the fief, describes Meisuke's downfall as follows:

An ikki of thirty people under Rokuzaemon arose in

Kuribayashi Village on July 5, 1854. Meisuke tried to stop it but it broke out again on July 21. The Daikan [of

buchi] , without investigating the

who had tried to get the peasants to listen to reason, and

rebuked him for his role at the time of the uprising of tbe

case, railed at Meisuke

Three Hei

Tbis bas tbe very strong smell of an

ikki instigated by tbe fief Meisuke, unable to bear tbe pressures, fled tbe fief on July 23 and was charged witb tbe crimes of seizing public money and illegally leaving tbe fief Later Meisuke repeatedly said that leaving tbe fief was a mistake.

He was doubly stigmatized because of this and bis pride as an ikki leader was wounded. Here is why, despite all the dangers, he had to return to the fief, issue various public confessions and make personal explanations. They demonstrated his sincerity but at the same time they provided grist for the mill of tbose who were out to get him. 27

Meisuke fled Kuribayashi Village and the jurisdiction of the Ozuchi Daikan on July 23, 1854, leaving behind his pregnant wife and five children. 28 From then until his arrest and imprisonment in Morioka in 1857, his actions and motivations are not entirely clear. By his own account, as reconstructed by Moti Kahei, he stayed nearly three months in Nanbu before crossing into Sendai in early October 1855. While in Sendai he became affiliated with two Tendai sect temples that seem to have been connected with the Nijo family in Kyoto. These were Sekiunji, where his brother served as a resident priest, and Nishinobo, where he stayed for a year, becoming a priest himself and practicing a type of ascetic mountain worship. In late October 1856 he returned secretly to Nanbu staying at different places and managing somehow to communicate with his family. His diary entry for November 21, 1856, states, "Finally I am ready to go." On December 23, 1856, he arrived in Kyoto, where he later said he became a retainer to the noble court family of the Nijo. After staying only four days in Kyoto he departed for what was tp be his last return journey to Nanbu. Meisuke was arrested on July 4, 1857. It was recorded that at the time "he was calling himself Miura Meisuke, a retainer of the Nijo, bearing a signboard saying 'In the Service of Lord Nijo,' wearing two swords, accompanied by servants and walking swaggeringly past the guard house at Hirata Village.,,29 In 1864, in the sixth year of his imprisonment, Meisuke died, too soon by three years to witness the dismantling of the feudal political order, an historical event he had helped fur­ ther by his own actions apart from his conscious motives. The invaluable record of his thinking which he left behind, the Gokuchuki, is essentially a collection of four notebooks of letters and diaries to his family written between June 1859 and February 1861. (The first three were completed between September 26, 1859, and sometime in 1860, and the last in February 1861.)30 Notebooks one and two open with an invocation to three popular peasant deities, under whose

banner peasant uprisings often occurred:

Hachiman Daibosatsu: May Peace Prevail Under Heaven

Tensho Kotaijingu: A Prayer

Kasuga Daimyojin: Safety for the Country31

[i.e. in this country]

Hachiman was a quasi-Buddhist deity and the ancestral god of Minamoto. Kasuga Daimyojin, the god honored in the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, was the ancestral god of the Fujiwara family and a figure associated with syncretic Shintoism. Tensho Kotaijingu, the sun goddess in Japanese mythology associated with the creation of Japan, was another object of peasant folk belief, though her connection at this time with the emperor living in seclusion at Kyoto is a matter of dispute among scholars. A prayer offered to Tensho Kotaijingu did not, one suspects, necessarily connote a peasant belief in loyalty to the emperor.


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But having stressed the very mundane and non­ nationalist content of the opening invocation, it is still possible to interpret it, as Yasumaru Yoshio has, as expressing the intimate connection Meisuke made between certain "universal tasks on a national scale-peace and safety for the country"-and the way he devised to achieve "wealth and prosperity and the perpetuation of the family line for all the descendants." 32 In fact, Meisuke's prescriptions for his family for achieving that goal constitutes the main theme of the Gokucbuki. And in describing "the way of wealth and prosperity" (gokuraku no bo)-the title of a letter addressed to his family on june 16, 1859~Meisuke implies that even in backward Nanbu fief a market for handicrafts exists and that, when all land is lost, it is still possible not only to survive but to live comfort~bly, provided one works hard and diligently.

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For the past year we have been listing 'sets' of back issues that are available for classroom purchase and assignment (or for your own research).

India ('set' listed in 9:1) • China (9:1 Be 9:4) • Korea (9:2) • Thailand
India ('set' listed in 9:1)
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Gordon Bennett (Univ. of Texas) is one person who has tried the package on China. The situation: an undergraduate lecture course, "Politics of China," emphasizing the nature of the Chinese state since the beginning of the revolution. Enroll­ ment: 30-50 students. Here is his solicited (but unpaid) comment:

Every year students ask most frequently about economic policies-development strategy, rural industries, work incen­ tives, food supply, arId so on-so I need readings in this area that non-economists can comprehend. Some texts are available but they are usually too long, too expensive, or tbey assume that readers already know some economics. The Bulletin's articles on China have several advantages. They cover several aspects of China's economic policy. Each piece is short enough for assignment in one class. They are intended for non-economists, yet the writing is scholarly. And you get entire issues of the Bulletin with all the other articles.






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Write to: B.C.A.S., Box W, Charlemont, MA 01339.

Man should go to bed late in the evening to do work worth 30 mono By day earn 35 mon, thus totaling 65 mono With

First let

me write down tbe day's expenses: for each person, 30 mon for rice, five mon for miso, 5 mon for fish, 5 mon for radish, 10 mon for kimono and another 10 mon for services. Thus totaling 65 mon to be needed everyday. Therefore, each should work for 65 mon for one day and one evening in order to live a comfortable life. This method of living is devised to meet requirements when our fields [lit. paddies and uplands} are lost to us. Keeping this in mind, each of you should earn 65 mon by doillg some suitable handicraft in an emergency, so that you may not disclose your weaknesses to your enemies. To show your back means flight [i.e. stay in tbe village by doing handicrafts}.

Man sbould seek to earn money. I mentioned this method for the time when one has insufficient land to support oneself 33

An essential part of Meisuke's outlook, boldly stated at the beginning of the Gokuchuki, was a belief in man rather than in land as the source of all value. After telling his family, who had fallen into distress because of his escape and imprisonment, not to be afraid of debts or loss of land, he goes on to declare,

If one compares man and tbe rice fields, man is tbe Udonge flower [i.e. tbat magical flower tbat makes fortune} that blooms only once in 3,000 years. 34

And a little later he adds:

tbis much he may support himself for a

On holidays go to bed early. You should revere your spirit from tbe bottom ofyour heart. If I may say, the figure of a man is quite like the moon and sun. Just as you worship them, every morning you should pray to your own soul. 3S

Where feudal theory sawall value as emanating from land to its possession, Meisuke locates its source in man and his labor. A small merchant and agricultural producer, Meisuke played his role on the stage of history just at the moment when a break had occurred in the disintegration of japan's feudal mode of production-a break symbolized by the linking of the country to the expanding world capitalist market system and by the virtual revolution against Nanbu fief, both in the year 1853. At this juncture, a merchant with Meisuke's experience could perceive the possibilities of the situation and the power of the individual ruled by peasant values of diligence, thrift, hard work and honesty, to realize those possibilities. The foundation for his self-confidence and his modern insight that man was the very "Udonge flower"-the source of all value-lay precisely in his immersion in the developing capitalist market sector. But that immersion in the market also accounts for his despair with the fief, which retarded the economy and the peasants' desperate efforts to eke out a living by developing trade and handicrafts. Miesuke's mood changes as his years in prison go on. A letter to his family dated September 27 [probably 1860) states,

whenever you have to leave the fief, you should make the rumor that you are moving to Morioka. Wherever you may move to, you should make that ru11'l0r. You should

- arrange things very carefully. However, if I am not killed,

you should not go anywhere. If I am killed, I sincerely hope you will move to one of these five places: Matsumae, Tsugaru, Shiogama fa port near Sendai] and Ishinomaki fa port within the fief of SendaiJ. 36



Gokuchuki and one often dwelt on by writers,37 he observes









Heaven is benevolent but because the lord of the domain lacks benevolence everything is difficult. 38


Rebel leaders like Miura Meisuke expressed a vague longing for a larger public authority, which to them meant greater freedom-and, in a sense, greater freedom could be expected under the direct rule of the bakufu than under Nanbu fief. But their criticism of local fief authority did not entail a grasp of the limitations of the bakuhan system itself. Lacking opportunities for communication across feudal boundaries, lacking the intellectual catalyst of a community of revolutionary intellectuals, they found it difficult to build on their own historical experiences and to develop their own analytical capabilities for grasping political realities. In other words, a continuous tradition of peasant rebellions such as existed in Nanbu, where the memory of Yagobei was still fresh in 1853, was not the same thing as an intellectual heritage of revolutionary thought. The tragedy of Miura Meisuke and


I wish to thank Okubo Genji for many pleasant occasions on which we discussed Nanbu ikki and Kano Tsutomu for reading and commenting on the text.

1. See Kodama Kota et al. (eds.), Kinseishi handobukku

[Handbook of Early Modern History I (Tokyo, Kondo Shuppansha, 1972), p. 58. Nanbu, also called Morioka fief, had its seignorial value in

others like him was that, lacking such a heritage, they could find no way to raise their desire for human freedom to a self-conscious and anti-feudal ideology.39 Yet in two basic ways Meisuke at least did effect a transcendence and transvaluation of feudal ideology. Through involvement in the market economy of the fi.ef he came to perceive that man and his labor, rather than land, was the source of all value, and that it was better for man to serve an impersonal master-the bakufu or even the emperor-rather than remain the private possession of a feudal lord. Ultimately, Meisuke's outlook had acquired, by the time of his arrest if not earlier, a specifically non-feudal, indeed bourgeois content. Then, toward the end of his life, deprived of physical freedom and the hope of ever again being able to satisfy his nature through labor, he even displayed the characteristic dualism of the petite bourgeoisie. The optimism of the early letters of the Gokuchuki changed swiftly to despair and the gokuraku no ho, that prescription for the good life, revealed its essential ambiguity: the temporal way of wealth and prosperity reverted to the religious way of paradise. The last entry in the Gokuchuki reads:

Discard the sense of rivalry; Be free from stinginess; Do not mind being laughed at by people; Do not care where you end your life. On this day of February 24, 1861 I abandoned desires. 40

13. I am indebted to Kikuchi Hayao for kindly giving me data

on the growth in numhers of kyunin from his own research on the Nanbu fief. Kikuchi's most recent essay is "Miura Meisuke 'Matsumae'

ijuron no shiteki igi,"

in Rekishi hyoron, No. 331 (November 1977),



Nihon zankoku, p. 320.


Nihon zankoku, pp. 32()'21.

rice, that is to say, its ranking in the feudal order increased to 200,000


Moriya, "Bakumatsu koshinhan," p. 192.

koku in 1808. A useful annotated bibliography on Nanbu is found on


Nihon zankoku, p. 321.

pages 58-60.


Mori Kahei, Nanbuhan hyakusho ikki no shidosha, Miura

2. Miyamoto Tsuneichi, Yamamoto Shugoro et al. (eds.),

Nihon zankoku mongatari, daisanbu-sakoku no higeki [Tales of Cruelty in Japan, Part 3, The Tragedy of Seclusion) (Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1960), p. 304.

3. Shoji Kichinosuke, Hayashi Motoi and Yasumaru Yoshoi

(eds.), Nihon shiso taikei 58-Minshu undo no shiso [Outline Series on

Japanese Thought, Vol. 58, The Thought of the People's Movements) (Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten, 1970), p. 391.

4. Nihon zankoku, p. 307, and Sasaki Junnosuke (ed.), Nihon

minshu no rekishi 5, Yonaoshi [History of the Japanese People, Vol. 5, Millenarian Movements) (Tokyo, Sanseido, 1974), p. 209.

5. Murakami Hyoe, Seinen no sanmyaku -ish in no naka no sei

to shi [Youth Who Mack History-Life and Death in the Meiji

Restorationl (Tokyo, Tokuma Shoten, 1966), p. 58.

6. Perhaps one reason for the one·sided, rose-colored

interpretation of the Tokugawa period in most postwar Western accounts is the neglect of peasant rebellions and, indeed, the history of

the plight and aspirations of the peasants.


Minshu undo, p. 397.


See Kano Tsutomu, "Peasant Uprisings and Citizens'

Revolts," in The Japan Interpreter, vol. 8, No. 3 (Autumn 1973),



Nihon zankoku, p. 313.


Quoted in Sasaki, Nihon minshu, p. 210.


See Moriya Yoshimi, "Bakumatsu koshinhan no keizaiteki

jokyo-Morioka han bakumatsu hyakusho ikki no yobiteki kosatsu no

tame ni," in Nihonshi kenkyu, Nos. 150-51 (March 1975), pp. 184-86.

12. According to Moriya (Ibid., p. 187) the full-scale sale of

samurai ranks began in 1773 though the policy itself antedated the



Meisuke den [A Biography of Miura Meisuke: A Leader of the Nanbu Peasant Uprisings) (Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1962), p. 41.


Ibid., pp. 41-45.

20. Morioka rejected four of the demands outright (33, 39,47,

48), promised to investigate three (20, 25, 40) and claimed that five others (23,26,31,32,37) were not clear.


Miura Meisuke den, p. 73.


Nihon zankoku, p. 332.


Minshu undo p. 421.


Fukaya Katsumi, "Koseitaiteki kiki no dankai ni okeru

jinmin-'Miura Meisuke Gokuchuki' no kento 0 tsujite," in Minshushi kenkyu, No. 75 (April-May 1969), p. 61.



Ibid., p. 61.


Fukaya, p. 62.


Minshu undo, p. 443.


This paragraph summarizes Mori Kahei's account in Minshu

undo, p. 443.



Cited by Mori in Minshu undo, p. 444.


Ibid., 445.


Miura Meisuke den, pp. 219, 228.


Minshu undo, p. 428.


Miura Meisuke den, pp. 234-35.


Ibid., p. 220.


Ibid., p. 221.


Ibid., p. 245.


See Sasaki, p. 212; and Yasumaru Yoshio in Minshu undo.




Miura Meisuke den, p. 253.


Minshu undo, p. 421.


Miura Meisuke den, p. 254.

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Children of the A-Bomb: I

by Tomoyuki Satoh

a boy in 4th grade 4 years old in 1945.

On that sixth of August I wasn't going to school yet. At the time, I was playing in front of the public bath near home. Then Sei-chan said, "Please go to the garden and pick some flowers." So I was on my way to get them. All of a sudden there was a big flash and I was scared and tried to go back to the house. And all of a sudden a lot of needles got in my eyes. I couldn't tell where anything was. When I tried to go toward the house I bumped into the front door. When I opened my eyes everything was darkish. Then Grandma rushed out with

Keika-chan on her back. I followed Grandma. We went toward our bomb shelter. My younger big sister was already inside the shelter so the four of us huddled together. Then my older big sister came running in and we huddled together again. That older big sister was old enough so that she had already gone to work at a bakery; our mother had already died from illness. Father, who had been working with the Volunteer Labor Group, came back and was looking to find where we were. When she heard him, my big sister went out and took Father's hand and led him to the shelter. Father was burned all over above his hips. When Sister and the other people saw it they were all scared. A stranger spread some oil on his body for him.

In my heart I thought, "Thank you." After that we went away to Fuchu in the hills. In a broken temple we put up a mosquito net and we lay down there. We stayed here for a long time. After a while other people began to go back to their homes so we went home too. When we got back we found that the glass was all broken, the chests were all toppled over, the family altar was tipped over, the shoji were torn, the roof tiles were broken and the plaster had fallen off the walls. We all helped to clear it away and laid Father there. After about sixty days, in the middle of the night, Father called to Grandma and said he wanted to eat a sweet potato. Grandma said, "All right," and cooked the sweet potato. "Father: the potato is ready,'~ she said and looked at him, but he didn't answer. I touched his body and it was cold, and he was already dead. Dear Father, dear Mother, good-bye.

The copyright in the U.S. and Canada for Children of the A-Bomb, compiled by Arata Osada, is held by G_ P. Putnam's in New York (1959). In the British Commonwealth, the English-language copyright is held by Midwest Publishers, Ann Arbor, Michigan. The two selections which we have reprinted here are from the Putnam edition and are reprinted with permission.

from the Putnam edition and are reprinted with permission. NO M O R E I MAS!



and are reprinted with permission. NO M O R E I MAS! UNFORGETTABLE FIRE: DRAWINGS BY




The slide show consists of 49 color slides, a script, and a 16 minute cassette tape.


Slide show, wltape


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Send all orders to:






Hiroshima Survivors and the Atomic Bomb People's Art as History

by Howard Schonberger

More than thirty years have passed since the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Despite the volumes that have been written about and photographs and documentaries made on the A-Bomb, the world has remained largely ignorant of what it meant to those who experienced and survived one of the worst tragedies of modern times. But in fact the memory of Hiroshima is especially important today. The United States and the Soviet Union are engaged in a nuclear arms race, and nuclear weapons and the accompany­ ing technology have been diffused to a score of other nations. A collection of drawings and paintings by A-Bomb survivors (hibakusha) housed in the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima is a stark and shocking reminder of the barbaric cruelry of nuclear war that still threatens the existence of all humanity. The collection began quite by accident when, in May 1974, Mr. Iwakichi Kobayashi, 77 years old, visited the Japan Broadcasting Station (NHK) studio in Hiroshima. He had a single picture with him entitled "At about 4 P.M. August 6, 1945, near Yorozyo Bridge." The picture had been inspired by a television drama then on the air. In the crudely drawn picture were numerous people suffering from burns and thirsting for water. Mr. Kobayashi explained to the NHK staff that he was at the railway station when the A-Bomb exploded over Hiroshima and was looking for his son at the time he witnessed the scene drawn in his picture. The NHK staff was awed by the extraordinary power of Mr. Kobayashi's picture and the vividness of his memory even after the passage of thirty years. The Yorozyo Bridge, to which they had previously paid no attention, suddenly took on a new meaning. Conscious that a generation of A-Bomb survivors would soon pass, NHK officials decided to immediately launch an experiment. At the conclusion of a documentary entitled "A Single Picture" based on Mr. Kobayashi's drawing and aired on a local morning program in June 1974, NHK appealed to survivors to draw "Pictures of the A-Bomb." Almost as soon as the program ended, a flood of pictures

poured into NHK. About half were sent by mail and the rest were brought directly to NHK. The pictures were drawn with all kinds of tools-pencils, crayons, water colors-and on all kinds of paper-from backs of calendars to the paper used in sliding doors. Almost every picture had a written explanation either on the picture itself, on the backside, or on an attached sheet. During the two summers of 1974 and 1975, a total of about 2300 drawings were collected by NHK. On the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the A-Bomb tragedy (1974) a selection of the survivors' drawings was exhibited at the Peace Memorial Museum. The response of the 20,000 visitors was so favorable that an arrangement was made for the exhibition to be shown in the major cities of Japan. Subsequently, NHK filmed a documentary on "Pictures of the A-Bomb" that included interviews with the survivors, and they published a book of 150 of the paintings under the title The Unforgettable Fire. Below and on the cover of the Bulletin are nine pictures selected from The Unforgettable Fire with the English translations of the explanations of the pictures. • As they drew their pictures, the survivors became impatient and dissatisfied because they could not express the full extent of their feelings. Despite such frustrations they testified that the drawing of the pictures helped to relieve some of the anguish of their souls and to make amends individually for those who died. More positively, the survivors hoped that their drawings would lead others to understand the

truth of atomic war so that there would be, in the motto of the Japanese peace movement, "No More Hiroshimas" "*

• Nihon Hoso Kyokai, ed. The Unforgettable Fire (Tokyo: Japan Broadcasting Publications Association, 1975). The introduction and translations of the explanations of the pictures were done as a project of the World Friendship Cmter of Hiroshima under the direction of Mrs. Leona Rowand Dr. Thomin Harada. I prepared a polished final draft whose accuracy was checked by Mrs. Yuriko Kite. I am deeply indebted to the World Friendship Center for their generous cooperation and initiative in the translation project. 29

Appendix by Barton J. Bernstein Instead, policymakers had come to assume that a combat demonstration would advance, not impair, the

The pictures of the A-Bomb survivors, of course, raises the questions of why the A-Bombs were used. Were they necessary? Were they justified? Probably no other event of World War II has generated as much controversy as the atomic bombings on Japan, yet nothing since 1945 permits the belief that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would prevent American or other nation's policy-makers from engaging in nuclear war. Indeed the threat of nuclear destruction is greater. A review of that controversy in the United States is beyond the scope of this paper. Instead, the following selection from Barton]. Bernstein's "The Atomic Bomb and American Foreign Policy: The Route to Hiroshima" provides a brief summary of the most recent revisionist interpretation of why the A-Bomb was used. (H. S.)

of the postwar

interests of peace-a position shared by Conant, Oppenheimer, Arthur H. Compton, Nobel laureate and director of the Chicago Metallurgical laboratory, and Edward Teller, the physicist and futur~ father of the hydrogen bomb. In explaining the thinking of the scientific advisory panel in recommending combat use of the bomb, Oppenheimer later

said that one of the two "overriding considerations


the effect of our actions on the stability

world." Some policymakers thought, Harvey H. Bundy, .Stimson's assistant, wrote in 1946, "that unless the bomb were used it would be impossible to persuade the world that the saving of civilization in the future would depend on a proper international control of atomic energy." The bomb, in short, would impress the Soviets.

In addition, there was another possible advantage to using the bomb: retribution against Japan. A few days after Nagasaki, Truman hinted at this theme in a private letter justifying the combat use of the bombs:







Truman inherited the assumption that the bomb was a legitimate weapon for ending the war. No policymaker ever challenged this conception. If the combat use of the bomb deeply troubled policymakers morally or politically, they might have reconsidered their assumption and searched ardently for other alternatives. But they were generally inured to the mass killing of civilians and much preferred sacrificing the lives of Japanese civilians to sacrificing those of American soldiers. As a result, they were committed to using the bomb as soon as possible to end the war. "The dominant objective was victory," Stimson later explained. "If victory could be speeded by using the bomb, it should be used; if victory must be delayed in order to use the bomb, it should not be used. So far as [I] knew, this general view was fully shared by the President and his associates." The morality of war confirmed the dictates of policy and reinforced the legacy that Truman inherited. Bureaucratic momentum added weight to that legacy, and the relatively closed structure of decision-making served also to inhibit dissent and to ratify the dominant assumption. Had policymakers concluded that the use of the bomb would impair Soviet-American relations and make the Soviets intransigent, they might have reconsidered their assumption. But their analysis indicated that the use of the bomb would aid, not injure, their efforts to secure concessions from the Soviets. The bomb offered a bonus. The promise of these likely advantages probably constituted a subtle deterrent to any reconsideration of the assumption and, in effect, also confirmed that operating assumption. Policymakers rejected the competing analysis advanced by the Franck Committee:

Russia, and even allied countries which bear less mistrust of our ways and intentions, as well as neutral countries, will be deeply shocked. It will be very difficult to persuade the world that a nation which was capable of secretly preparing and suddenly releasing {the bombi is to be trusted in its proclaimed desire of having such weapons abolished by international agreement.

Reprinted with permission from Barton J. Bernstein, "The Atomic Bomb and American Foreign Policy: The Route to Hiroshima," in Barton J. Bernstein (ed.), The Atomic Bomb: tbe Critical Issues (Boston: Little, Browrf, 1976), pp. 112-114. Footnotes deleted.

Nobody is more disturbed over the use of Atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one that we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.

In this letter, one can detect strains of the quest for retribution (the reference to Pearl Harbor and prisoners); and one might even find subtle strains of racism (Japan was "a beast"). The enemy was a beast and deserved to be destroyed. War, as some critics would stress, dehumanized victors and vanquished and justified inhumanity in the name of nationalism, justice, and even humanity. In assessing the administration's failure to challenge the assumption that the bomb was a legitimate weapon to be used against Japan, we may conclude that Truman found no reason to reconsider, that it would have been difficult for him to challenge the assumption, and that the prospect of benefits also deterred reassessment. For the administration, in short, there was no reason to avoid using the bomb and many reasons making it feasible and even attractive. The bomb was used primarily to end the war promptly and thereby to save

American lives. There were other ways to end the war, but none seemed as effective, and all seemed to have greater risks. Even if Russia had not existed, the bombs would have been used in the same way. How could Truman, in the absence of overriding contrary reasons, justify not using the bombs, or even delaying their use, and thereby prolong the war and sacrifice American lives? Some who have searched for the causes of Truman's decision to use atomic weapons have made the error of assuming that the question was ever open-that the administra­ tion ever carefully faced the question of whether to use the bombs. It was not a carefully weighed decision but the implementation of an assumption. The administration devoted thought to how, not whether, to use them. As Churchill later wrote, "The decision whether or not to use the atomic bomb to compel the surrender of Japan was never an issue." "Truman's decision," according to General Groves, "was one


existing plans. "




to upset the



Survivors' Art

Survivors' Art Slide 4. In Hiroshima City and its suburbs there live about 120,000 atomic bomb

Slide 4. In Hiroshima City and its suburbs there live about 120,000 atomic bomb survivors. They feel frustrated by photographs or stories about the atomic bomb. "It was not at all like that," they say. A total of 2300 drawings with written explanations on most of them were collected during the summers of 1974 and 1975. Taking their often crude drawings in hand, the survivors again said, "No, it was not like this. This is only one ten-thousandth of what it actually was." It would be appreciated, therefore, if each of you would help compensate for what these slides lack by using your own imagination. This drawing is the "mushroom cloud" as observed from a mountain village 20 miles north of Hiroshima. From that distance the deathly cloud even looked beautiful, and breathtaking.

Slide 7.

"I tried desperately to rescue my baby daughter, trapped inside the collapsed house, and scratched at the clay wall with my fingernails. But when 1 finally

" I)'

succeeded in opening a hole, flames had enveloped the


Slide 8. "Mother! Run! You must run away!" a child cries. But Mother prays, begging for forgiveness.



, . , .


I j






I !




I i






I !

f I j 1 1 I J I I ! ~ t i I i 4

Slide 30.

"The city seemed to have been wrapped in fire. A small fire-prevention water-tank overflowed with a number of victims, all dead. Those dead on the streets were scorched black but those dead in the tank were swollen red."

black but those dead in the tank were swollen red." Slide 27. "Morning came. Fire was

Slide 27. "Morning came. Fire was still smoldering in Hiroshima. I entered the city. Many people were dead in the fire-prevention tank, their bodies scorched black. I saw a dead woman, her standing body scorched black, holding a baby in her arms, still in a running position. Utterly incredible, but this was reality."

Slide 33. A 34 year old father had to cremate his 3 year old daughter Hisako. He remembers, "the fat burnt and melted, and the flames formed a pillar. Truly this is hell! "I still don't know where my 9 year old son is. ) hope he is alive!"

Slide 29.

and fingers

pointing to the sky. It was difficult to tell whether it was

a boy or girl."






with hands

\ i




I I Slide 18~ "This little girl, crouched and leaning against the stone bank of the

Slide 18~ "This little girl, crouched and leaning against the stone bank of the river, passed away in this posture. No one came to save her."



Children of the A-Bomb: II

lkuko Wakasa

a girl in 5th grade 5 years old in 1945

I really hate to think about war and I hate to remember

the day when the atom bomb fell. Even when I read books I skip the parts about war. And I shiver at the newsreels in the

movies when the scenes of the war in Korea appear. Since I was assigned this for homework, and even though I don't want to do it, I am making myself remember that awful time. That morning of the sixth of August my brother's friend

who was in second grade then, came calling him

school in the temple. At that time I was five and my little sister was two. My little sister and I were playing house in the

garden. Father, although he always left for work at eight o'clock, happened on that day to say, "I'm not going until eight-thirty today." He was facing the north windows and practicing brush­ writing. Mother, in front of the south windows, was clearing up after breakfast and from the kitchen I could hear the noise of dishes being washed. Just about then 1 could hear the sound of an aeroplane flying very high, and thinking it was a Japanese plane I shouted, "Oh, there's an aeroplane!" Just as I looked at the sky there was a flash of white

light and the green in the plants looked in that light like the color of dry leaves.

to go to

I cried, "Daddy!" and just as I jumped into the house there was a tremendous noise and at the same time a bookcase and chest of drawers fell over and broken glass came flying past grazing my face. I dashed back into the garden scared to death.

Mother called, "Ikuko, I'm over here."

I went blindly in the direction of Mother's voice and I dived into the shelter. After a little while a lot of blood came out of my ears and it didn't stop for a long time. Even when we put cotton and gauze in, the blood came pouring out between my fingers holding the cotton and gauze in place. My father and mother were frightened and they bandaged my ears for me. Father had his little finger cut with glass-it was almost off. And below his eye there was a big cut from glass. When I looked at Mother she was all bloody below the hips. It must have been from the glass that came flying from the north windows. A big piece of glass was still sticking in Mother's back. The cut was about six inches long and two inches deep

and the blood was pouring out. The edges of the cut were sort of swollen out like the lips of a savage. As Mother cried out with the pain, Father pulled out the glass and poured a whole bottle of iodine on the place to sterilize it. When my older brother dived under the table he hit his head and he got a big bump on it. My little sister who had been outside, even though she only had on a pair of pants, wasn't hurt because she had crawled under the porch. After they finished bandaging me, a pain stabbed me so I lay down. When I woke up I was lying in a funny little shed. When I tried to lift my head it was stuck to the mattress by the blood that had seeped out and I couldn't lift it. Father said, "We don't want this to get any worse, so let's go to the hospital." So he carried me on his back to a military hospital nearby. The hospital was full of people who were groaning and people who were naked. I was scared to death. Finally I said to Father, "I'm too scared; let's go home." Since there were so many people that we didn't know when our turn would come-and besides that, there were so many people who were hurt worse than I was-Father said All right, let's go back, and we did. ) We had a good view from the fields and we could see

1 that it wasn't only the part where we lived but the whole city that was burning. Black smoke was billowing up and we could hear the sound of big things exploding. Since a north wind was blowing and the fire was gradually coming closer and closer to
1 the place where I was standing, I didn't know what to do and I was scared to death. About noon the wind changed to the
1 south and our house was saved from being burned. Mother's younger brother was a high school student but since he was seventeen he had gone to be a soldier. He was a big strong man and he belonged to the Second Army. He was stationed at the Nobori-cho School. Since he didn't come home on the night of the sixth, Father and Mother and all of us went searching for him until late at night in those dreadful streets. The fires were burning. There was a strange smell all over. Blue-green balls of fire were drifting around. I had a terrible lonely feeling that everybody else in the world was dead and only we were still alive. Ever since that time I haven't liked to go outside. A soldier friend of my Uncle Wakasa said that my Uncle Wakasa had finished his night duty and was sleeping at a place at the school that was next to the rice storehouse. Father and Mother went right away to the school. Next to the rice storehouse among the ashes there were lots of bones scattered around. Since they didn't know which were my uncle's they picked up a lot of them and put them in a funeral urn. Also among the ashes they found his schoolcap insignia and his aluminum lunch box. Even now we are making ourselves think that my uncle was killed instantly by the blast and we are not letting ourselves think that he was burned or pinned under a house and burned while he was still alive. A man who was so badly burned that you couldn't tell whether he was a young man or an old man was lying in front of Grandpa's house which is right next to ours. Poor thing, we laid him on the floor in our hall. Then we put a blanket down for him and gave him a pillow; while we were looking at him he swelled up to about three times his size and his whole body turned the color of dirt and got soft. Flies came all over him and he was moaning in a faint voice and an awful smell was coming from him.

He kept saying, "Water! Water!" Father and Mother and Grandpa, although they were wounded, picked up broken glass because the house was badly damaged and since it was wartime they were taking important things to the little shack in the country and they were so busy they couldn't take care of that sick man. I went and looked at him every now and then and gave him water but when I had to pass the place where he was I closed my eyes and held my breath and ran past. Soldiers came and took him to the hospital; we gave him the blanket and pillow. The house was squeezed sideways three feet, the floor was fallen in, the bookcase and chest of drawers had fallen on

top of each other, and the ceiling and roof had fallen on top of all that, and you could see the blue sky.

I thought, "We can never live in this house again."

There were ten eggs in a basket on the table in the north room. Strangely enough they were plastered around the far­ ther, south side of the sliding doors of that room. Mother said, "What sort of a wind could have carried those eggs there? The blast must have come first from the north and then turned around and come from the south to have soiled the south side of the doors that way." Father said that ten of the tiles from the roof were piled up in one place in a spiral. Since the foundation stones of the house had moved we imagine that the whole house must have been lifted into the air at some time. From about then on Mother began to be sort of sick. The doctor said, "It's prob­ ably because she breathed poison while she was walking around looking for her brother." A half year ago a ten-year-old girl suddenly developed radiation sickness. All her hair fell out and she became entirely bald and the doctor at the Japan Red Cross Hospital fran­ tically did everything he could for her but she vomited blood and died after twenty days. I shudder when I think that even though it is already six years after the end of the war, still people are dying in a way that reminds us of that day. I can't think that those people who died are different people from us. What would I do if such a thing happened in my house? When I only hear about the suffering of people who have that radiation sickness, it makes me so frightened that I wish I could think of some way to forget about it. The grandma of some of our relatives was made lame. Every time I see her I remember the sixth of August and I feel

miserable. Sometimes when I ride on the streetcar I see people with their ear burned so that it's just a little bump of flesh, not even an inch, stuck on their head. The father of the Sarada family also lost his ear. Even though the atom bomb was so terrible and hateful, they're saying in the news broadcasts on the radio that a bomb ten times more dreadful than the Hiroshima bomb has been made and they are discussing whether or not to use it in Korea. This is a dreadful thing.

I think that everybody who was in Hiroshima on the sixth of August hates war. Our grammar school still hasn't been fixed where it was damaged during the war. The reason my family became poor is because all the houses that we were

renting out fell down or were burned. This sixth of August is the seventh anniversary of my uncle's death. When that day

comes around, everybody will be reminded of that terrible

time; this makes me feel very bad.


The Diary and the Cenotaph; Racial and Atomic Fever in the Canadian Record

by Stephen Salaff

Rest in peace. The mistake shall not be repeated.

(Inscription on the A-bomb monument, Hiroshima)

In Ottawa, the capital of Canada, on August 6, 1945, Prime Minister Mackenzie King learned that an atomic bomb had obliterated Hiroshima. Subsequent to an initial public statement lauding this "greatest achievement in science," 1 Mr. King wrote in his diary:

We can now see what might have come to the British race had German scientists won the race. It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe. I am a little concerned about how Russia may feel, not having been told anything of this invention or of what the British and the

of exploring and perfecting the

u.s. were doing in the way process. 2

The first sentence in Mr. King's triptych reminds us that atomic ordnance was originally developed in strenuous competition with Nazi Germany, which embarked upon an A-bomb program after uranium fission was discovered there in 1939. The menace of Germany absorbed most of the energy and war materiel of the U.S., U.K. and Caflada until late 1944; initially, the atomic bombardment of Japan was not their primary wartime objective. Since the bomb was not perfected and tested until July 16, 1945, victory in Europe was achieved with less cataclysmic weapons. Thus the Atlantic triangle's policy objectives "fortunately" appeared obtainable without an atomic assault on the "white races of Europe." The second sentence in Mr. King's testament of power is an acute indicator of an endemic "racial purity" creed which far transcends the bigotry of one lonely politician or of one government. Shared by many co-leaders of the "British race" even as they severely punished the Nazi Fuehrers of the "Aryan master race" at Nuremberg for monstrous crimes against humankind, the doctrine confided by Mr. King to his diary holds that a mysterious and unprecedented catastrophe is more acceptable when it afflicts the "non-white races." We are now quite conscious of the ways in which racists represent Asian nationalities as ethnically inferior and geopolitically overpopulated. They falsely ascribe the indifference to human life of the Japanese military-fascist leaders to the Japanese people as a whole.

Mr. King, in particular, was armored against moral and

















immigrant Japanese. Rising to eminence as Deputy Minister of Labor, Mackenzie King was dispatched as a one-man Royal Commission to British Columbia in 1907, where in September of that year a pogrom against the Oriental residents of Vancouver had been carried out by vigilantes of the "Asiatic Exclusion League." A mob organized by the League ransacked and plundered Chinatown and swept into Vancouver's Japanese qurter before the immigrant Japanese laborers beat it back. Mr. King negotiated a 30 percent reduction in Japanese property damage claims arising from the ugly episode, and in May 1908 submitted his Report on Immigration to Canada From the Orient, which stated that Canada "should remain a white man's country.,,3 He asserted that an overwhelmingly white population was "not only desirable for economic and social reasons, but highly necessary on political and national grounds.,,4 Mr. King was to become a leading advocate of "industrial peace" (as expressed, for example, in his book Industry and Humanity, 1918), and "conciliation" in British Columbia kindled his successful campaign for a parliamentary

seat in October 1908. Following the lead of Mr. King, Ottawa enacted legislation in 1910 cutting off Oriental immigration to Canada. Mr. King held the office of Prime Minister for a total of over twenty-one years between 1921 and 1948. During World War II his government continued the tradition of anti-J apanese chauvinism when it dispossessed over 20,000 Japanese­

Canadians from western

happened in the United States,6 Canadian citizens of German and Italian origin were relatively unaffected, and the ruinous incarceration was applied under the War Measures Act, with no trace of due process, strictly to the allegedly treacherous Japanese. But despite numerous police raids and seizures, no threats to wartime security were ever discovered among the

Canadian Japanese. Historically responsive to anti-Oriental vigilantism in British Columbia, Mr. King raised the brutal effort to destroy the Japanese-Canadian community to a culmination in the House of Commons on August 4, 1944. He

British Columbia to the interior. s As

demanded that, although there had been no instance of sabotage, all "disloyal" Japanese-Canadians be deported "as soon as physically possible." Those adjudged "loyal" could remain, but they would be forbidden from concentrating in one area of the country.7 Although Canadians of civil­ libertarian conscience prevented sweeping deportations, over 4,000 persons, many of them Canadian since birth, were shipped to devastated Japan in 1946-47. Racial supremacy was compounded in the Canadian Prime Minister with the fever of atomic superiority taking hold within the Manhattan Project, where A-bomb construction was carried out. The United States feared postwar economic, scientific and political competition from Britain and Canada, and moved to exclude them from A-bomb capabilities, but diplomatically, the U.S. sought an "Anglo-Saxon" nuclear alliance. The secret pact signed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Quebec City on August 19,1943, called for the pooling in the Manhattan Project of "all available British and American brains and resources," and the Montreal heavy water research team aUlmented the British scientific talent deployed into the Project. The major development of the Canadian uranium industry began in 1942, "in response to demand for virtually unlimited quantities of uranium for the military programs of the United States and Great Britain." 9 Several hundred tons of Ontario-refined uranium was fabricated into the Hiroshima bomb, and the large scale supply of uranium for military purposes to the U.S. and the U.K. continued well into the 19505. The U.S. built a heavy water plant in British Columbia, which sustained the Nagasaki bomb effort and produced several hundred tons of heavy water annually between


The Quebec Agreement stipulated that A-weapons would be used against a third party only with the joint assent of Roosevelt and Churchill. "To ensure full and effective collaboration" in the Manhattan Project, a six-man inter­ governmental Combined Policy Committee was formed,

through which the U.S. coordinated British and Canadian

nuclear developments. On this committee sat "the founder of

industrialized, Americanized Canada," 10 Ottawa's

Minister of Munitions and Supply, C. D. Howe. The Anglo-Soviet agreement of 29 September 1942 called "for the exchange of new weapons, both those in use and those which might be discovered in the future," 11 and Mackenzie King, as the' third sentence from the diary epigram quoted at the beginning of this article shows, was disquieted by the indignation sure to follow in Moscow over the hidden development and unilateral exercise of atomic energy. However, the Quebec Agreement was honored when on July 4, 1945, with Mr. Howe in attendance, the Committee received Churchill's assent to the atomic detonations. Seeking to prevent the permanent militarization of atomic technology, some far-sighted scientists moved the case for continuance to Roosevelt, Truman and Churchill, but Mr. King and Mr. Howe loyally acquiesced to the inundation of atomic death. The cost in "nonwhite lives" was over 300,000, with as many more persons now medically registered with the Health and Welfare Ministry of Japan as A-bomb sufferers. After the war, A-bombs became one basis of U.S. military-political doctrine. The Atlantic triangle stiffened into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the response of the Soviet Union was to nullify nuclear superiority by exploding its own A-bomb in 1949 and by forming the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Meanwhile the U.S. threatened to use atomic bombs in the Korean War of 1950-53. Canada and Britain also mobilized their sizable "Commonwealth Division" for what Mr. Lester Pearson termed the "defence against Russian communism." 12 The Western powers inflamed their respective citizens for the intervention in Korea by slurring the Korean and Chinese soldiers as "gooks," just as a decade later the U.S. side labelled each Vietnamese antagonist a "Vietcong." In that latter war too, Washington flashed atomic weapons when in 1954 the Vietminh besieged the French


when in 1954 the Vietminh besieged the French modern, Mackenzie King. Roosevelt and Churchill at the

Mackenzie King. Roosevelt and Churchill at the Quebec Conference in August, 1943.





fortress of Dienbienphu. (The threat was also uttered during the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1958.) Finally, for our purposes here, the thermonuclear fireball which roared upward from the Bikini test site in March 1954 was timed-or so it was

perceived in much of Asia-to precede by one month the Geneva Conference on Indochina and Korea. As with the A-bomb, the world's first H-bomb victims were again Asians:

23 Japanese fishermen and several hundred Micronesian islanders trapped under the Bikini death ash. In these many historical ways, the government of Mackenzie King mortgaged Canada's nuclear future to the global strategy of the United States, while democratic decision-making was sacrificed to secrecy. Thus the Quebec Agreement was not published until April 1954 (during the worldwide outcry against the lethal Bikini fallout). The history of the negotiations begun during the Korean War on overflights of Canada by nuclear-armed U.S. aircraft, which led to the establishment in 1957 of the NATO-linked North American Air Defence Command (NORAD), has not yet been revealed. 13 The second, starkly illuminating sentence from the

diary epigram ("It is fortunate that

The Mackenzie King Record, the biographical project of Mr. King's literary executors,14 and concealed until the lapse of a thirty-year prohibition on the publication of secret govern­ ment papers on January 1, 1976. This maneuver, which has retarded our understanding of the temper of Mr. King's times and scientific-technological civilization, is doubly unfortunate in view of the IlDre recent

engagement of Canadian nucleonics with Asia. Supplied in the framework of the neocolonialist Colombo Plan, a loosely safeguarded Canadian heavy water research reactor cooked the fissile plutonium for India's 1974 nuclear explosion. Despite this setback to the fragile regime of non-proliferation, Ottawa went ahead in the same year, in the absence of a broad, .country-wide debate on reactor exports, to sell a "Candu"

nuclear power station to South Korea. By providing a substantial plutonium source to the nuclear weapon-coveting Seoul autocracy, this incendiary "commercial" transaction courts a second Korean War and erodes the crucial but equivocal non-proliferation commitment of Japan. In Japan to promote the sale of Candu reactors and other Canadian high technology, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau found it expedient in October 1976 to express regrets for the evacuation of the Japanese-Canadians and their deprivation of civil rights "in the heat and fright of the Second World ·War."IS The attempt by Mackenzie King's latter-day successor as leader of the' Liberal Party to capitailze on official Ottawa's belated acknowledgment of this injustice perpetuated the central myth that Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry belong in the final analysis to Japan and are "racially" alien to Canada: Mr. Trudeau's "explanation" of Canada's "unhappy record" was offered to the government of Japan instead of the Japanese-Canadian community itself. In sum, Canada's avid copartnership in the wartime bomb enterprise and the sensitive technology germinating in its laboratories as Mackenzie King penned his testament, and its ensuing hard commercial marketing of nuclear materials prefigure the quest to attain nuclear advantage whatever the cost in morality and international security. By letting go the fiction that "the British race" can command atomic

of all nations and




supremacy, Canadians, along with people

") was excised from










1. J. W. Pickersgill and D. F. Forster, The Mackenzie King Record, Volume lI, 1944-45 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968), p. 451.

2. Diary of Mackenzie King, August 6, 1945. Public Archives of Canada. The voluminous King diary "was kept largely to serve as a record from which he could recount and explain his conduct of public affairs." Pickersgill and Forster, p. viii. C. P. Stacey, the official historian of the Canadian army during World War II, asserts that the diary "is the most important single political document in twentieth-century Canadian history." C. P. Stacey, A Very Double

King (Toronto: Macmillan of

Canada, 1976), p. 9.





of Mackenzie

3. W. L.


King, Report on Immigration to Canada

From the Orient, Sessional Paper No. 36a (Ottawa: Kings Printer,

1908), p. 7.

4. Ibid.

5. The basic reference on the Canadian evacuation is Ken

Adachi, The Enemy That Never Was (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart,


6. Jacobus tenBroek, Edward N. Barnhart, Floyd W. Matson,

Prejudice, War and the Constitution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).

7. House of Commons Debates, August 4, 1944, p. 5948.

8. "Canadian scientists, especially those with training in atomic

or nuclear physics, were begged, borrowed or stolen from university staffs or wherever they could be found to augment this team." Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Review, March-April 1977, p. 18. The Montreal

group of Canadian and French scientists laid the basis for postwar development of the "Candu" heavy water nuclear reactor.

Mines and Resources, An Energy

9. Department of Energy,









Information Canada,

1973), p. 325.











(Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1976), p. 370. C D. Howe organized Canada's contribution to the production of the A-bomb, and for this contribution he was in 1947 awarded the Medal for Merit by President Truman.


11. Richard











of the United States Atomic Energy Commission,

193911946 (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962), pp. 267-68.

12. Lester Pearson, Mike:

The Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Lester

B. Pearson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 154.

13. An integrated military air headquarters was established at

Colorado Springs on August 1, 1957. "For some years prior to the establishment of Norad," however, "it had been recognized that the air defence of Canada and the U.S. must be considered as a single

problem." Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Organization and Operation of the North American Air Defence

Command, May 12, 1958. Canada, Treaty Series 1958, No.9, p. 2.

14. Pickersgill and Forster. J. W. Pickersgill, former Minister of

Citizenship and Immigration, long served on Mr. King's personal staff. Mr. T. B. Pickersgill, who oversaw the "repatriation" of Japanese­ Canadians to Japan as Commissioner of Japanese Placement in 1947, is almost certainly J. W. Pickersgill's brother.

15. "Remarks by Prime Minister Trudeau in Tokyo," October

25, 1976. Department of External Affairs, Ottawa.

Before and After the Pacific War The United States and Japan!

Read and assign these articles from the pages of the Bulletin:


U.S., Japan and Oil, 1934-35 (Breslin) Origins of the Pacific War (Breslin)


3) Literature on the Occupation (Dower) 4) Zaibatsu Dissolution and the U.S. (Schonberger) The total cost of this packet: $6.00. Order from:

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Science, Society, and the Japanese Atomic-Bomb Project During World War Two





by J. W. Dower


On January 7, 1978, the front page of Tbe New York Times carried a headline reading "Japanese Data Show Tokyo Tried To Make World War II A-Bomb." This is history as news-but history of a politically consequential sort nonetheless, although it can be used in different ways. It is of interest to students of science, technology, and the state who are concerned with arms control and anti-nuclear proliferation, for example. At the same time, it can be grist for the mill of anti-Japanese sentiment, which is grinding with increasing momentum now, for economic reasons, in the United States. The former concern appears to be the major interest of the two American scientists who are most responsible for the recent publicity concerning Japan's wartime A-bomb research, Herbert York of the University of California at San Diego, and Charles Weiner of MIT. Professor York, the chief scientific adviser to the Defense Department during the Eisenhower administration, is a noted expert on weaponry and a prominent spokesman for arms control. In commenting on the significance of the Japanese project, he has drawn two conclusions: that in Japan, as in all other nations with World War Two A-bomb projects, the initial impetus came from the scientists and engineers rather than the highest ranks of the military and government; and that the Japanese project, which "completes the set" for World War Two (the U_S., U.S.S.R., Britain, Germany, France, and Japan), constitutes yet another demonstration of "technological momentum," or "a general, technological imperative." 1 The information gathered by Professors York and Weiner WlS broadly summarized by a reporter in the January 13, 1978, issue of Science (on which the Times based its article). Here, however, a different lesson was drawn, suggestive of the more specifically anti-Japanese uses to which the information may be put:

tbe bistorical importance of tbe project lies not in tbe fact tbat Japan failed but that she tried, and tbat Japan's postwar attitude, tbat sbe, as tbe one nation victimized by atomic weapons, is above seeking to acquire tbem for herself, is not bistorically accurate. Tbe historical record shows-on tbe basis of tbe eagerness of her military and the willing cooperation of her scientists-tbat if other factors bad made a bomb possible, the leadership-which by the end of the war were placing their own youth in torpedoes

to home tbem on the advancing u.s. fleet-would not have besitated to use the bomb against the United States.

Where the York thesis places technology in command and thereby diminishes the significance of national or socio­ political considerations, the interpretation reflected in Science returns state, national (and, indirectly, racial) considerations to the fore, although it also minimizes the social and political context. It is no doubt true that Japan would have used the A-bomb if it had been available, and this may be comforting to those Americans who bear, but lightly, a sense of guilt for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A thin wafer of history, and one's sins are absolved. The potential anti-Japanese thrust of the argument, however, lies elsewhere, viz., in the impression that for over three decades the Japanese have deliberately and effectively concealed their own wartime engagement in A-bomb research, and in doing so have assumed a hypocritical posture of moral superiority. Thus the recent American publicity concerning what Science labeled Japan's "social secret" can be turned into a notion, a "confirmation" for


so inclined, of Japanese duplicity. 2

These are all provocative notions, and it may be well to begin here with several broad observations. Japan's wartime research on the atomic bomb is not news but an old story; it has been resurrected and refurbished, rather than revealed. Also, the "set" may be complete, but its pieces are grossly, almost grotesquely, unbalanced; such disparate matching

would not sell as crockery or chessmen, and there seems no reason to accept looser standards for intellectual constructs. And while the thesis of a technological imperative is attractive, it is not a conclusion one would emphasize from studying the Japanese case alone. Certainly the intimation of a "social secret," a postwar conspiracy of silence on the part of the Japanese, must be qualified at the outset. In one of the earliest major postwar survey histories of Japan, first published in 1949, Chitoshi Yanaga of Yale University, discussing the destruction of Hiroshima, noted that "Japanese scientists knew immediately that it was the atomic bomb, for they too had been working on it for years." 3 Ten years later, a Rand Corporation study of atomic energy in the Soviet Union included a general but quite


accurate paragraph on Japan's futile wartime project, and cited

a 1952 article in Japanese entitled "Japan's Uncompleted Atomic Bomb."4 The research has been mentioned, although

not always accurately, in a number of more popular English sources since that time. 5 That this information did not make a great impression upon the American consciousness-and that it subsequently

evaporated from

be attribu ted to

scholars and publishers have acknowledged the wartime work on the atomic bomb in English in a number of places. It was mentioned well over a decade ago by several Japanese

historians of science. 6 And it was described in considerable detail in a 1972 book, The Day Man tost, written by a group

of Japanese scholars and published in the West by a major

Japanese firm. The "revelations" proclaimed in Science and the Times add only minor detail to this latter account. 7 It is true that the full story was not seriously pursued and publicized in the West until recently. This has also been

the case on the side of Japanese-language materials, although

to a lesser degree. The Japanese government apparently has

not spoken publicly on the matter, but by the early 1950s various discussions of the wartime project had been published

in Japan. Among these was a 1953 volume on Japanese weaponry which included a reminiscence by Ito Yoji, a naval officer who coordinated some of the earliest deliberations on

the military

by 1968, the subject had been quite thoroughly exposed in Japan. In that year, a volume in a widely advertised popular

history of the Showa period devoted over 150 pages to

"Japan's atomic bomb," consisting almost entirely of accounts

by participants in the project. 9

The Science article itself refers to several of the major sources, all Japanese, utilized by Professors York and Weiner, among them a 1970 volume in a multi-volume history of science and technology in Japan. This includes, as it turns out, an entire chapter of commentary plus technical documenta­

tion and excerpts from earlier references pertaining to the A-bomb project.lO Among these documents is a tantalizing Japanese version of a memorandum dated October 10, 1945, and addressed to the U.S. military in which the Japanese describe that aspect of the atomic-bomb project which involved the Navy and Kyoto Imperial University.ll This naturally raises the question of how much U.S. military intelligence and the U.S. government have actually known about the Japanese A-bomb project all along-and whether the "social secret," to the extent that it has existed on the state level, has in fact been binational. 12 Thus one has a triple question here which provokes speculation about the United States itself, and not merely Japan: concerning state secrets; concerning how facts once acknowledged can disappear from standard texts, only to reemerge decades later as important revelations; and concerningwby now?

standard Western histories .of Japan-cannot

a Japanese conspiracy, and in fact Japanese

application of atomic energy in Japan. 8 Certainly

Professors York and Weiner have performed a service in making this data more widely known to the English-reading public, and they cannot be held responsible for the Yellow-Peril manner in which others may choose to use it. * It

• Indeed, in a letter published in the. February 17, 1978, issue of Science, Professor Weiner expressed criticism of the manner in which the magazine had presented the subject. For other responses, see letters published in the issues of March 24 and April 21.

must be acknowledged, however, that their subject is old, their details (to the extent summarized in Science) are not notably new even to the English-language record, and their spadework was done by the Japanese themselves. Insofar as the relative early silence on the subject by the Japanese is concerned, moreover, it can be suggested that motivatio.ns were more complex than the crass and externally-oriented moral hypocrisy which some of the recent accounts imply-and that such reticence reflected personal, professional, and domestic, as much as international, considerations. This could have become a volatile subject within Japan in the early postwar period, and it is reasonable to assume that both the conservative government and scientific community were apprehensive of the public criticism that might ensue. On the part of the scientists involved, viewing the charnel houses of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there may have been retrospective personal shame and regret-but also, and in a contrary direction, an element of professional embarrassment. For what emerges from the story of Japan's "A-bomb program" are the facts that, first, Japan unquestionably did engage in such research; but, second, that its accomplishments were miniscule and miserable, and cast a harsh light on the relative backwardness of science and technology in Japan.


In addition to its intrinsic interest, Japan's atomic-bomb project provokes speculation on science and society, and the structure of power and politics, in presurrender Japan. Here, for the historian, it is important to keep in mind that the project failed-and, indeed, that it was a rather strikingly half-hearted and uncoordinated endeavor. In great part, this reflected paucity of human and physical resources, com­ pounded by the confusion and material drain of a losing war. The failure, however, also exposes constraints within the social structure of the Japanese scientific community, as well as within the structure of authority and political control in presurrender Japan. In addition, and contrary to what appears to be one of York and Weiner's major conclusions-that it is "the cadre of scientists and engineers" who took the lead in promoting the A-bomb in Japan as elsewhere-it seems more accurate to argue that the most readily identifiable initiatives came from the military; that no one, however, really took much of a lead at all; and that many of Japan's leading scientists approached the project with ambivalent feelings at best. This is not meant to deny that Japanese scientists as a whole were mobilized behind the war effort, or to·imply that those involved in the A-bomb project addressed moral questions more squarely than their Western counterparts. But the situation in Japan contrasted sharply with that in the West, and the evidence is scant for suggesting, as the account in Science does, that Japanese scientists were either driven by "blind patriotism" or drawn irresistibly to what Oppenheimer called the "sweet problem" of the explosive potential of the atom. Scientific research in wartime Japan was bittersweet at best. There was certainly a nationalistic imperative. There was also a practical, financial imperative: it took the military crisis (and eventual severance of the Japanese scientific community from the rest of the world) to bring in the funds, bring about the restructuring, and begin to approach the scale which had

long been necessary for first-rate research in general, and for solid basic research in particular. 13 In addition, there was often a simple personal and opportunistic imperative at work: good scientists were rarely sent to the front. For the younger scientist, participation in the war effort of the laboratories was thus a form of self-preservation unavailable to students in the humanities and social sciences. For the olljer scientist, collaboration at a higher organizational level was a way of saving younger colleagues from probable death. This appears to have been one consideration in the A-bomb project, and it can be taken at two levels: the bond of human affection, and the desperate desire to save the future of science-in this case, the future of physics-in Japan. 14 For some Japanese scientists, the war years were undeniably good years. Some of the intellectual challenges 'Were intrinsically attractive, and the unprecedented support for advanced research was a bonanza. Indeed, one of the many ironies of World War Two for Japan is that-at a cost of devastation and close to two-million Japanese lives-it forced the breakthroughs, not least in scope and scale of scientific research, which provided a base for postwar economic "miracles." In the crisis context of a disastrous war, however, the prospects for epochal leaps in the militarized new science were limited to certain areas (Japan, albeit belatedly, did develop radar and penicillin), and the new priorities were often disruptive of promising on-going research (for example, on cosmic rays). Japanese scientists who had occasion to comment on the A-bomb project appear to have been almost unanimous in believing that this was a hopeless task for the immediate future-certainly for Japan, but for every other belligerent country as well, including the United States. They immediately recognized what the Hiroshima Bomb repre­ sented, but they had not believed it possible before Japan's defeat. Thus it is difficult to detect any esprit in the Japanese undertaking, any genuine sense of a race against time or a race against the enemy or a race toward an imminent scientific threshold. The Allied A-bomb project marshaled an inter­ national cadre great in numbers and superlative in expertise at every level, all giddy with anticipation and all fearful almost to the end that Heisenberg and his German colleagues would beat them to the wire. The Japanese worked in isolation, deeply and realistically pessimistic concerning their prospects but naively sanguine that it did not really matter. For sound reasons, Allied intelligence dismissed the possibility of an atomic threat from Japan. IS But for these same reasons, and for others suggested below, the Japanese work on a potential nuclear or uranium bomb presents qualitative as well as quantitative differences from the research in other countries. In most general terms, the point is this: For economic, technological, and material reasons, Japan proved incapable of mounting anything remotely comparable to the American, British, .or German atomic-bomb efforts. Beyond this, even after it had been decided to investigate the feasibility of a nuclear weapon, the country was unable to effectively mobilize and coordinate the limited resources available. The Japanese endeavor was badly fragmented, inadequately staffed, indifferently pursued, and plagued by doubt and ambivalence at the individual level. In various respects, in fact, it seems to repudiate some of the most cherished stereotypes commonly applied to Japan: of a "consensus" society, a robot-like "efficiency," a wartime solidarity of "one-million


"totalitarian" regime.






tightly regimented prewar


The historical interest of japan's wartime nuclear research thus cuts simultaneously in several directions. On the more purely scientific side, it calls attention to contradictions in the prewar development of Japanese science. It serves as a reminder, on the one hand, that the Japanese scientific community was capable of pioneer theoretical and conceptual work prior to World War Two-and, on the other hand, that this community was vulnerable to social and economic constraints. The former point can be briefly illustrated by a few highlights of chronology in the development of nuclear physics in Japan: 16

• In 1903, Nagaoka Hantaro proposed a detailed

"Satumian" model of a nuclear atom. (The existence of the

atomic nucleus was confirmed by Lord Rutherford in 1911, although Nagaoka had overestimated the probable number of electrons.)