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History > Asian History > Japan

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Japan's Competing Modernities Cover

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Japan's Competing Modernities

Issues in Culture and Democracy, 19001930

Sharon A. Minichiello

Scholars, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, have studied the greater Taisho era (1900-1930) within the framework of Taisho demokurashii (democracy). While this concept has proved useful, students of the period in more recent years have sought alternative ways of understanding the late Meiji-Taisho period. This collection of essays, each based on new research, offers original insights into various aspects of modern Japanese cultural history from "modernist" architecture to women as cultural symbols, popular songs to the rhetoric of empire-building, and more. The volume is organized around three general topics: geographical and cultural space; cosmopolitanism and national identity; and diversity, autonomy, and integration. Within these the authors have identified a number of thematic tensions that link the essays: high and low culture in cultural production and dissemination; national and ethnic identities; empire and ethnicity; the center and the periphery; naichi (homeland) and gaichi (overseas); urban and rural; public and private; migration and barriers. The volume opens up new avenues of exploration for the study of modern Japanese history and culture. If, as one of the authors contends, the imperative is " to understand more fully the historical forces that made Japan what it is today," these studies of Japan's "competing modernities" point the way to answers to some of the country's most challenging historical questions in this century.

Japan's Imperial Diplomacy Cover

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Japan's Imperial Diplomacy

Consuls, Treaty Ports and War in China, 18951938

Barbara J. Brooks

In November 1937, Ishii Itaro, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Asiatic Affairs, reflected bitterly on the decline of the ministry's influence in China and his own long and debilitating struggle to guide China policy. Ishii was the most notable member of a group of middle-level diplomats who, having served in China, strongly advocated that Japan adopt policies in harmony with China's rising nationalism and national interests. Japan's Imperial Diplomacy profiles this distinct strain of "China service diplomat," while providing a comprehensive look at the institutional history and internal dynamics of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and its handling of China affairs in the years leading up to and through World War II. Moving from a thorough examination of a wide range of primary sources, including the extensive archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, memoirs, diaries, and unpublished speeches, Japan's Imperial Diplomacy offers integrated interpretations of Japanese imperialism, diplomacy, and the bureaucratic restructuring of the 1930s that were fundamental to Japan's version of fascism and the move toward war. Specialists of China, Japan, comparative colonialism, and World War II diplomacy will find this well-conceived and carefully researched and organized work of first-rate importance to the understanding of modern Japanese history in general and Japanese imperialism in particular.

Justice in Japan Cover

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Justice in Japan

The Notorious Teijin Scandal

Richard H. Mitchell

The Imperial Rayon Company corruption scandal (popularly known as the Teijin incident) was Japan's major interwar political bribery case. Compared to numerous Japanese corruption cases of the past century, the Teijin affair stands out as not only the most sensational of the pre-1945 era, but also the most important--perhaps because more than any other case, it has left an indelible mark on the public mind. Nevertheless, Japanese and foreign scholars have neglected this incident, which brought down an entire cabinet and produced a record-setting trial. The sixteen defendants, all prominent bureaucrats, ministers, and businessmen, were charged with illegally profiting from the sale of Imperial Rayon Company stock held by the Bank of Japan. In December 1937, after a more than two-year trial, all sixteen were found innocent when the judges declared that the case had been fabricated by the prosecution. Their verdict ranks in importance with the famous Otsu case judgment, the benchmark for judicial independence from the executive. Despite its importance, basic facts about the Teijin case remain obscure, as scholars repeat factual misinformation and produce farfetched conspiracy theories. This study, the first comprehensive, scholarly work on the subject in English or Japanese, investigates controversial and important issues regarding the origins, results, and significance of the incident. It illustrates transwar continuities within the judicial system by showing that the institutional flaws in the old criminal justice system, which were magnified by the Teijin investigation and trial, remain embedded despite reform attempts during the Occupation. While illuminating the basic institutional features that generated it, the author uses the incident to spotlight the considerable amount of political criticism and public conflict that existed in Japan in the 1930s.

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Kaempfer's Japan

Tokugawa Culture Observed

Engelbert Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer's History of Japan was a best-seller from the moment it was published in London in 1727. Born in Westphalia in 1651, Kaempfer traveled throughout the Near and Far East before settling in Japan as physician to the trading settlement of the Dutch East India Company at Nagasaki. During his two years residence, he made two extensive trips around Japan in 1691 and 1692, collecting, according to the British historian Boxer, "an astonishing amount of valuable and accurate information." He also learned all he could from the few Japanese who came to Deshima for instruction in the European sciences. To these observations, Kaempfer added details he had gathered from a wide reading of travelers' accounts and the reports of previous trading delegations. The result was the first scholarly study of Tokugawa Japan in the West, a work that greatly influenced the European view of Japan throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, serving as a reference for a variety of works ranging from encyclopedias to the libretto of "The Mikado."

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Letting Go

Peter Haskel (trans.)

Of the many eccentric figures in Japanese Zen, the Soto Zen master Tosui Unkei (d. 1683) is surely among the most colorful and extreme. Variously compared to Ryokan and Francis of Assisi, Tosui has been called "the original hippie." After many grueling years of Zen study and the sanction of a distinguished teacher, Tosui abandoned the religious establishment and became a drifter. The arresting details of Tosui's life were recorded in the Tribute (Tosui osho densan), a lively and colloquial account written by the celebrated scholar and Soto Zen master Menzan Zuiho. Menzan concentrates on Tosui's years as a beggar and laborer, recounting episodes from an unorthodox life while at the same time opening a new window on seventeenth-century Japan. The Tribute is translated here for the first time, accompanied by woodblock prints commissioned for the original 1768 edition. Peter Haskel's introduction places Tosui in the context of the Japanese Zen of his period--a time when the identities of early modern Zen schools were still being formed and a period of spiritual crisis for many distinguished monks who believed that the authentic Zen transmission had long ceased to exist. A biographical addendum offers a detailed overview of Tosui's life in light of surviving premodern sources.

Long Night’s Journey into Day Cover

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Long Night’s Journey into Day

Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945

Sickness, starvation, brutality, and forced labour plagued the existence of tens of thousands of Allied POWs in World War II. More than a quarter of these POWs died in captivity.

Long Night’s Journey into Day centres on the lives of Canadian, British, Indian, and Hong Kong POWs captured at Hong Kong in December 1941 and incarcerated in camps in Hong Kong and the Japanese Home Islands. Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines, and British and Australians POWs in Singapore, are interwoven throughout the book.

Starvation and diseases such as diphtheria, beriberi, dysentery, and tuberculosis afflicted all these unfortunate men, affecting their lives not only in the camps during the war but after they returned home. Yet despite the dispiriting circumstances of their captivity, these men found ways to improve their existence, keeping up their morale with such events as musical concerts and entertainments created entirely within the various camps.

Based largely on hundreds of interviews with former POWs, as well as material culled from archives around the world, Professor Roland details the extremes the prisoners endured — from having to eat fattened maggots in order to live to choosing starvation by trading away their skimpy rations for cigarettes.

No previous book has shown the essential relationship between almost universal ill health and POW life and death, or provides such a complete and unbiased account of POW life in the Far East in the 1940s.

Lost Leaves Cover

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Lost Leaves

Rebecca L. Copeland

Most Japanese literary historians have suggested that the Meiji Period (1868-1912) was devoid of women writers but for the brilliant exception of Higuchi Ichiyo (1872-1896). Rebecca Copeland challenges this claim by examining in detail the lives and literary careers of three of Ichiyo's peers, each representative of the diversity and ingenuity of the period: Miyake Kaho (1868-1944), Wakamatsu Shizuko (1864-1896), and Shimizu Shikin (1868-1933). In a carefully researched introduction, Copeland establishes the context for the development of female literary expression. She follows this with chapters on each of the women under consideration. Miyake Kaho, often regarded as the first woman writer of modern Japan, offers readers a vision of the female vitality that is often overlooked when discussing the Meiji era. Wakamatsu Shizuko, the most prominent female translator of her time, had a direct impact on the development of a modern written language for Japanese prose fiction. Shimizu Shikin reminds readers of the struggle women endured in their efforts to balance their creative interests with their social roles. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from works under discussion, most never before translated, offering an invaluable window into this forgotten world of women's writing.

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The Lost Wolves of Japan

by Brett L. Walker

Lovesick Japan Cover

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Lovesick Japan

Sex * Marriage * Romance * Law

In Lovesick Japan, Mark D. West explores an official vision of love, sex, and marriage in contemporary Japan. A comprehensive body of evidence-2,700 court opinions-describes a society characterized by a presupposed absence of physical and emotional intimacy, affection, and personal connections. In compelling, poignant, and sometimes horrifying court cases, West finds that Japanese judges frequently opine on whether a person is in love, what other emotions a person is feeling, and whether those emotions are appropriate for the situation.

Sometimes judges' views about love, sex, and marriage emerge from their presentation of the facts of cases. Among the recurring elements are abortions forced by men, compensated dating, late-life divorces, termination fees to end affairs, sexless couples, Valentine's Day heartbreak, "soapland" bath-brothels, and home-wrecking hostesses.

Sometimes the judges' analysis, decisions, and commentary are as revealing as the facts. Sex in the cases is a choice among private "normal" sex, which is male-dominated, conservative, dispassionate, or nonexistent; commercial sex, which caters to every fetish but is said to lead to rape, murder, and general social depravity; and a hybrid of the two, which commodifies private sexual relationships. Marriage is contractual; judges express the ideal of love in marriage and proclaim its importance, but virtually no one in the court cases achieves it. Love usually appears as a tragic, overwhelming emotion associated with jealousy, suffering, heartache, and death.

Making a Moral Society Cover

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Making a Moral Society

Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan

Richard M. Reitan

This innovative study of ethics in Meiji Japan (1868–1912) explores the intense struggle to define a common morality for the emerging nation-state. In the Social Darwinist atmosphere of the time, the Japanese state sought to quell uprisings and overcome social disruptions so as to produce national unity and defend its sovereignty against Western encroachment. Morality became a crucial means to attain these aims. Moral prescriptions for re-ordering the population came from all segments of society, including Buddhist, Christian, and Confucian apologists; literary figures and artists; advocates of natural rights; anarchists; and women defending nontraditional gender roles. Each envisioned a unity grounded in its own moral perspective. It was in this tumultuous atmosphere that the academic discipline of ethics (rinrigaku) emerged—not as a value-neutral, objective form of inquiry as its practitioners claimed, but a state-sponsored program with its own agenda.

After examining the broad moral space of "civilization," Richard Reitan turns to the dominant moral theories of early Meiji and the underlying epistemology that shaped and authorized them. He considers the fluidity of moral subjectivity (the constantly shifting nature of norms to which we are subject and how we apprehend, resist, or practice them) by juxtaposing rinrigaku texts with moral writings by religious apologists. By the beginning of the 1890s, moral philosophers in Japan were moving away from the empiricism and utilitarianism of the prior decade and beginning to place "spirit" at the center of ethical inquiry. This shift is explored through the works of two thinkers, Inoue Tetsujiro (1856–1944) and Nakashima Rikizo (1858–1918), the first chair of ethics at Tokyo Imperial University. Finally, Reitan takes a detailed look at the national morality movement (kokumin dotoku) and its close association with the state before concluding with an outline of some conceptual linkages between the Meiji and later periods.

With its highly original thesis, clear and sound methodology, and fluid prose, Making a Moral Society will be welcomed by scholars and students of both Japanese intellectual history and ethics in general.

4 illus.

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