Chapter 9. Covering a Bigger War, 1903 to 1905
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C H A P T E R 9 271 COVERING A BIGGER WAR 1903 to 1905 Liaoyang occupied! Liaoyang occupied! The news echoed through even the dingiest back street, the humblest dwelling in the remotest mountains, and the most isolated island out across the roughest sea. Bell ringing newsboys spread the new reports about it almost hourly across the whole country. Tayama Katai1 Yorozu Chòhò hawkers must have had a field day on October 12, 1903. At the top of that morning’s issue were editorials by three of Japan’s best known journalists—Uchimura Kanzò, Sakai Toshihiko, and Kòtoku Shûsui—explaining their decision to leave the paper. Uchimura, who had argued in an editorial a few days earlier that “supporting war with Russia was tantamount to supporting the destruction of Japan,”2 wrote now that for him to remain at Yorozu would make the paper “lose society’s confidence.” Sakai and Kòtoku declared in a joint essay that “keeping silent” about their own opposition to war “would be an act of irresponsibility toward our fellow patriots,” but that speaking out in Yorozu’s columns was no longer possible. And their editor, Kuroiwa Shûroku, told readers on the same page that while these three were his favorite writers— ”the paper’s bright lights if it has any”—he had no choice but to accept their resignations, since their views had become untenable.3 It was not just the public airing of disagreements that made the resignations shocking but also Kuroiwa’s own advocacy of war 272 Creating a Public with Russia. For months he had supported his antiwar writers, standing almost alone among the nation’s leading publishers in urging negotiations to lessen tensions between the two pretenders to power in eastern Asia. Now, he said, he could support pacifism no longer—and since the paper was his, not theirs, Kòtoku, Sakai, and Uchimura would have to go. He enlarged on his shift the next day, in a lengthy editorial asserting that while he did not seek war, Russian actions on the continent (particularly the refusal to withdraw troops from Manchuria after the 1900 Boxer Rebellion)4 made it unavoidable. “Since taking on another country in battle is a task for all of the country’s people, not just for the army and navy,” he said he saw no choice but to come out for a more aggressive foreign policy.5 Journalists at other papers debated his motives, suggesting that the loss of readers and profits in an increasingly war-minded public prompted the conversion. The important thing for his country , however, was that, with Yorozu’s shift, the voice of restraint disappeared almost wholly from public discussions of foreign policy. A CHAUVINIST MOOD The pressures on Kuroiwa had been building for a long time. Throughout the 1890s, conservative minkan or private opinion leaders throughout the land had spoken with increasing fervor of the need to educate the people in “a sound sense of the nation” in order to make genuine “citizens” of them.6 Operating in every field —politics, law, journalism, business, education—they ranged across a broad spectrum of political ideas, including advocates of civil morality like Inoue Tetsujirò and pan-Asianists such as Òi Kentarò. Many of them detested the “corrupt” world of bureaucrats and politics ; some made that world their home; many took up the cudgel of people’s rights and social reform; others grimaced at “radical” issues of that sort. But with the passing years increasing numbers of people in every political camp espoused a litany of nation-centered ideas and phrases deemed necessary to foster unity and make Japan strong: national ethics and morality, kokutai or the national “essence,” Shintò as a national “faith,” and, above all, the centrality of the emperor as the embodiment of everything Japanese. As Education Minister Mori Arinori had put it before his assassination in 1889, the only way to assure national strength was for all Japanese to be “ ‘taught,’ to the very marrow of their bones to feel a fervent spirit of loyalty and patriotism (chûkan aikoku).”7 Nihonshugi Covering a Bigger War 273 or Japanism, in other words, had replaced kokuminshugi (“citizenism ”) and kokkashugi (“countryism”) at the heart of nearly all public figures’ ideological systems by the end of the 1890s, no matter where they stood on other political issues.8 Of particular importance to this study are the international tones that colored this new patriotism for many journalists in...



Subject Headings

  • Press and politics -- Japan -- History -- 19th century.
  • Press -- Japan -- History -- 19th century.
  • Japan -- History -- Meiji period, 1868-1912.
  • Public interest -- Japan -- History -- 19th century.
  • Journalism -- Social aspects -- Japan -- History -- 19th century.
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