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i84 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Lincoln Li. The China Factor in Modern Japanese Thought: The Case of Tachibana Shiraki, 1881-1945. Albany: State University ofNew York Press, 1996. x, 171 pp. Hardcover $65.50, isbn 0-7914-3039-1. Paperback $21.95, isbn 0-7914-3040-5. Tachibana Shiraki tH^ (1881-1945)—journalist, propagandist, ideologue, and a respected, self-taught scholar of Chinese popular Daoism and of grassroots Chinese society—was an influential and independent-minded Japanese living in China and China's Northeast for more than thirty years, from 1906 to 1939. After 1939, as the Japanese military that dominated Manzhouguo became more intolerant of alternative voices, Tachibana retreated back to Tokyo. From Japan itself, he strove to check Japanese militarism by reforming Japan's political structure, to modify Japanese governmental policies toward China, and to move Japan closer to his own vision ofa peaceful agrarian-based New East, or Shin Töyö ^JÎU^. Scholars researching Sino-Japanese relations in the twentieth century invariably run across Tachibana's name. Until now, however, not one article in English (much less a book) has focused on this important figure. This "little failing" of China scholars is symptomatic of a "big failing" of China scholars, that is, our failure to investigate the full variety of activities of Japanese in China. Sweeping generalizations and simple stereotypes dominate our thinking. Moving to a fuller understanding of the Japanese presence in all its complexity—and its varied impact not only in China but also back home in Japan—is long overdue. Only systematic data-gathering and analysis of primary source materials in both Japanese and Chinese can achieve this end. Lincoln Li's book moves us in the right direction. Li is an established scholar of Japanese activities in North China, going back to his pioneering study, The Japanese Army in North China, 1937-1941: Problems of Political and Economic Control (1975). In his present book, he focuses on one person , Tachibana Shiraki, in the manner of Mark Peattie, who focused on a complex military leader in his Ishiwara Kanji and Japan's Confrontation with the West (!975)> and of Joshua Fogel on a brilliant sinologist in his Nakae Ushikichi in China: The Mourning ofSpirit (1989). In an introductory passage that clarifies his choice of book title, Li remarks, "The China factor was imbedded in Japanese traditions" (p. 2). Li explores this claim via the life and thought of Tachibana. The choice of Tachibana is significant , since Tachibana specialized in studying China's folk culture and popular 1998 by University Daoism, in defiance of"traditional Japanese scholarship on China" (p. 14), which concentrated on China's elites and elitist traditions. The case ofTachibana gives the lie to notions of a narrow or uniform "Japanese" approach to modern China. ofHawaii Press Reviews 185 Tachibana's three intellectual phases serve as the organizational structure of Li's study. In phase one, 1906-1925, after arriving in China, Tachibana experimented with various methodologies, including the Western social sciences, to explore Chinese society and popular culture. In phase two, 1925-1931, catalyzed by China's May Thirtieth Movement, he embarked upon political commentary and the exploration ofthe themes ofpopular consciousness (minshü ishiki .K^bIII) and national consciousness (minzoku ishiki ËzlMMïÈ). After the Manchurian Incident in 1931 and up to 1939, or phase three, Tachibana devoted himselfto ideas and policies aimed at autonomous self-rule for Manchuria, focused on village society , through agrarianism and the spread ofrural cooperatives. In his most influential period, between 1925 and 1936, his voice was heard broadly through various journals, including some edited or cofounded by him. After 1939, prevented by the Japanese military from nonmilitary pursuits, Tachibana took refuge in Japan, from where he tried to moderate military policies that he considered misguided and ultimately self-defeating. In this study, Li identifies the parameters ofimportant issues and, using predominantly Japanese materials, begins the process of exploration. It is only a start, however. Many compelling issues are half-explored, and lack the rigor expected ofintellectual histories. Contradictory shifts in policy recommendations by Tachibana, for example, as he sought to accommodate rising Japanese military aggression and pressures, are not challenged...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 184-185
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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