3. Alternatives for Japan
3-1. De-Asianization (Datsua脱亞)
The Japanese traditional world-image had three constituents which were called ‘Three Countries’, namely Honchô (本朝: Japan), Kara (唐: China), and Tenjiku (天竺: India). It was concerned closely with the perception of Buddhism’s spread eastward as typically shown by Gyônen(凝然)’s History of Buddhism (三國佛法傳通縁起), 1311. Korea was made a part of ‘Kara’ in the ‘Three Country view’unjustifiably. Japanese ethnocentrism was always sensitive to the relationship among the three and Japan’s uniqueness in particular. ‘Honjisuijaku(本地垂迹)’ theory prevailing since the 11th century did identify the deities of Japan with metamorphous arrivals of Buddha and Bodhisattva, ratifying syncretic merger between Buddhism and Shintoism. ‘Konpon-shiyô-kajitsu (根本枝葉花實)’ theory since the 15th century expounded that Japan was the roots while China being branch / leaves and India flower / fruits. ‘Kokugaku (國學, National Learning) since the 18th century laid emphasis on Japanese mind and spirituality free from Chinese scholarly interpretation (漢意, kara-gokoro). In brief, the ‘Three Country view’ was not an Asian perspective, but a tool for Japanese self-identification.
When Nanban (南蛮: the Portuguese and the Spaniard) and Kômô (紅毛: the Dutch and the British) came to Japan in the 16th century and after, the new element ‘Seiyô’ (西洋) intruded into Japanese sight as a powerful existence militarily and religion-wise. Since the mid-19th century when the controlled national seclusion policy by the Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed, the Japanese, being convinced of their belonging to ‘Asians’, have started to ask themselves incessantly whether Japan should enter the Western power club by quitting Asian neighborhood or pursue its solidarity with Asian peoples in opposing to European and American predominance. What the Japanese are most concerned about is the alternative of ‘De-Asianizing Westernization’ or ‘Asianism.’ However, those two choices are, as a matter of fact, not contradictory but reciprocal to each other. They are of a feather from time to time in the course of modern Japan. ‘Leader (盟主) of Asia’was a decoration of Imperialism to imitate the West. Even though the two lines might be seemingly antagonizing one another, both of them are sharing the same ground of ‘Two World theory’ in Western Orientalism.
Consciously or unconsciously, the Japanese adapted themselves to Western Orientalism, because they had been accustomed to the ‘Three Country view’ to alienate Japan from Asia. Taking advantage of the Japanese Orientalism in stock, they could so easily ride a Western bus. On the above-mentioned ‘Map for Civilizational Strategy’, Japan is located at the outer intersection of Eurasian and Indian Ocean circles, while West Europe identifies itself at the contrastive intersection of Eurasia and the Mediterranean-Africa. The positions occupied by both Japan and West Europe are symmetrical. They are at the peripheral verge of the traditional world. It facilitates them to command long-range sights over the traditional world as well as the new world. Both Japan and West Europe have shared similar characteristics to display such peculiar and exceptional patterns of social development in world history as primogeniture, feudal societies, capitalist system originated from rural areas, mass production type industrialism having resort to vehement militarization to secure material resources and wider market.3)
In this connection, Geoffrey Parker, a British historian, is presenting noteworthy findings in his “The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500~1800” published in 1988. Analyzing the Battle of Nagashino (1575) where Oda Nobunaga gained a crushing victory over Takeda cavalry corps owing to the new tactics of continuous shooting by 3,000 musketeers deployed, Parker concludes that the victory was the first striking landmark in the process of Western military revolution. Japan was connected with Europe in such a manner. Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasions Korea had to confront with in 1592 and 1597 were as such. He launched the campaigns called Kara-iri (唐入り, Kara Conquest), envisaging a scheme to dominate China and then India (豊太閤三國大早計).
Caught up in the ‘Three Country view’, Japan that was perceived by the Japanese as small country ‘Zokusan-koku’(粟散國, A millet grain blown off at a breath) maintained continuously latent expansionist greed. It reflected successively in the series of the tale fabrication on Queen Jingû’s campaign to Korean Peninsula (神功皇后三韓征伐), the enduring impulse of Expeditions (異國發向) based on xenophobia by demonization (e.g. the daily-used idiom after the 1274 and 1281 Mongol-Koryo’s aborted invasions of Japan, ‘Mukuri, Kokuri, oni ga kuru.’, むくりこくり鬼が来る, Demons of Mongols and Koreans are to come.) , the executed invasions of Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the policy pursuit of Expedition to Korea (征韓論) since the mid-Edo period. Japan, therefore, entered so smoothly the modern stage of armed aggression toward Asian neighbors, making an easy self-adaptation to Eurocentrism.4)
An overall critical aspect of Japanese history hereby opens. The state of Japan was formed and developed through conquering and subjugating the aborigines called ‘Emishi’(蝦夷,毛人), later ‘Ezo’(蝦夷). Occupied territories were expanded gradually by continuing armed strife, plundering and exploiting resources such as gold, horses, etc. absorbing and relocating Hushû (俘囚), the tamed or controlled portion of the aborigines. Frontiers were always pushed out, while repeated Hushû’s rebellions were mercilessly suppressed. Thus, the Bushi (武士, Samurai) class emerged to obtain political power, the head of which was Sei-i-dai-shôgun (征夷大将軍, Emishi- or Ezo-subduing generalissimo). The title itself appeared in the early 8th century, whereby the Kamakura Shogunate under the Sei-i-daishôgun was established in the late 12th century, consolidating central political power. The Bushi government lasted until the mid-19th century when the Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed. Its colonial policy to extend penetrating rule into the land of Ezo, now the Ainu, was succeeded by the Meiji Government to promote it to a modernized style of the development of Hokkaidô.
Along with the eastward or northeastward expansion above-mentioned, the southwestward one should be also noticed. The Kumaso and Hayato were formerly the aborigines to be swayed in Kyûshû. The fate of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, however, became the central point in this case after the early 17th century when the Satsuma domain made it partially subordinated by mounting military expedition under the Tokugawa Shôgunate’s approval. Such an ambiguous status was drastically changed by the Meiji Government, which incorporated it into Japan as the Okinawa prefecture by force.
In fact, Japanese history is totally colored by the struggle against the aboriginal peoples. Japan is originally a settlers’ state. It is the very‘History of Japan’ to intentionally ignore the inborn features of colonialism and militarism. Owing to surprise attacks committed by Samurais deceptively in the occasions of pretentious friendly banquets to assassinate Ainu leaders, the Ainu people’s resistance movements were destroyed repeatedly for centuries. Japan has been called ‘Wa-koku’(和國, the Country of ‘Wa’ namely Peace and Harmony) since its emergence. ‘Bushidô’(武士道, Japanese chivalry) has been depicted as a sublime manifestation of Samurai’s lofty spirituality and refined behaviors. The discourse regarding ‘Wa’ and ‘Bushido’ has undeniably worked for embellishing Japanese militarist colonialism to humiliate neighbors. Those who emphasize meritoriously the Wa and the Bushido have to accept criticism of hypocritical complicity to hide their negative implications. Nevertheless, those two are praised again nowadays under a newly rising tide of Japanese nationalism. It could be another sign of defensive bankruptcy for saving a pseudo-Eurocentrism.