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INTRODUCTION In the Japanese tradition there were no political philosophers before the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). This is surprising, because in earlier periods there appeared to be a need for some form of political expression . The first such era included the time of the establishment of the imperial state (550-700) and the period of its early maintenance (700-900). The second such era was the time ofdevelopment and change; it included institutional and political change associated with the rise of the Fujiwara Regency (850-1185), and the wide-ranging challenge posed by the emergence to power of the warrior clans and the establishment in 1185 of a separate warrior government, the Kamakura Bakufu. The imperial government continued to exist after 1185, and antagonism between it and the Bakufu reached its height in a direct military confrontation in the Jokyu War of 1221. The war did not resolve the political problem, and conflict continued throughout the Middle Ages, until by 1600 the warrior government came to dominate every aspect of Japanese existence. Then the problem faded into insignificance. Neither era produced formal political writings. To some extent religion provided understanding, explanation, and legitimation, particularly in the era of founding the imperial state. To support its legitimacy, the imperial court exploited the religious beliefs of the country about the divine origins of Japan and the Japanese people. In the era of challenge, the Bakufu did the same thing but to a more limited extent, since the myths, specifically about the divine origin of the imperial family, could not be applied to the Bakufu. The note to the Introduction is found on page 142. 3 4 POLITICAL THOUGHT IN JAPANESE HISTORICALWRITING It is not the case, however, that Japanese throughout history were unconcerned with the questions of legitimacy and authority that have engaged political thinkers in other societies. In the absence ofdiscussion by philosophers or constitutional thinkers, political problems of Japan were in fact addressed by historians. This work shows how the historians tenaciously followed the vicissitudes of authority in Japan, and were particularly concerned with understandingand explainingthe fate of the imperial house. According to their times and circumstances, historians took many different approaches to the problems, and we will discuss their diversity. At the same time, their continuingconcern with intractable problems of the imperial house caused their thinking to develop into more complex and sophisticated modes, so that the story of Japanese historical writing is one of improvement and advancement. This is a story that has not been told, and it provides an unusual perspective on Japanese intellectual development. Yet it is not unreasonable to suggest that Japanese thinking changed and improved between ancient and modern times, whenit was deeply affected successively by Chinese Confucianism and modern Western thought. Emperor Tenmu, the most important figure in the founding of the imperial state, commanded the writing of Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712) and Nihon Shoki (Chronicle of Japan, 720). The ideas in these works, identifying the essence of Japan with the imperial house, had an overpowering effect on the Japanese consciousness for centuries. As the imperial court continued to flourish, the Emperors continued this practice and commissionedfive more national histories: Shoku Nihongi (Chronicle of Japan Continued, 797), Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan, 840), Shoku Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan Continued, 869), Nihon Montoku Tennd Jitsuroku (Veritable Records of Emperor Montoku of Japan, 879), and Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (Veritable Records of Three Reigns of Japan, 901). In the era ofdevelopment, the Fujiwara Regency presented a problem of intellectual accommodation: how could Japan have both an Emperor and a Regent? Historians addressed this problem in a new genre called rekishi monogatari (historical tales), most notably Eiga Monogatari (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes), Okagami (The Great Mirror), and Imakagami (Mirror of the Present Day), which were devoted almost exclusively to describing the splendours of the Fujiwara. The later age of challenge posed by the rise of the warriors evoked a wider variety of responses in historical writing. First was the development of a new genre of gunki monogatari (war tales), which were politically unreflective and admiring works devoted to narrating warrior history. Like the earlier historical tales which glorified the aristocracy, these stories were produced in great numbers and encouraged unquestioning acceptance of the presence and the glory of the warriors. INTRODUCTION 5 The tremendous crisis of the Jokyu War of 1221provoked the second response, a work of political discussion unique in Japanese history: Myde Shonin Denki (Biographyof Saint Myde,mid-thirteenthcentury...


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