Jan 19, 2011

Winners’ History and Losers’ History

Some people are criticizing the history, which is taught in Japanese schools now, because they think that it is based on the view of U.S. occupation army in Japan after the Pacific War. They call this view "the historical view of Tokyo war crimes tribunal" or "the masochistic historical view". They call their own historical view "the liberal view of history".

I am sure that the dominant historical view in Japan is biased by the American view, and I think that the word "the historical view of Tokyo war crimes tribunal" is true. But "the liberal view of history" is also biased enough, and it is not worth the word the "liberal" view of history.

It might be difficult to present various historical views in schools. But it is very important to make a historical view relative, because any historical views are somehow biased, and a winners' view tend to be a main historical view and a losers' view tend to be ignored. (Of course I don't mean that a losers' view is always true.)

The people, who support "the liberal view of history", see mainly the history around the Pacific War ("the Greater East Asian War") as a problem. But it isn't the only problem in this period, and winners' views also become the dominant historical view in other periods. For example the history around the Meiji Restoration is written on the winners', the group of overthrow of the Tokugawa government, historical view. The history, which is taught in Japanese schools, is based on "the historical view of anti-foreigner royalists" or "the historical view of anti-Tokugawas". It should be criticized on the historical view of pro-Tokugawas.

I found an interesting description in Ernest Satow's, a diplomat staying Japan around the Meiji Restoration, book "A Diplomat in Japan".

"Tycoon, as I have said before, was the title given in the treaties to the temporal sovereign. The Japanese, however, never used it. Sei-i-tai Shogun, or "Generalissimo for the subjugation of barbarians," was his official designation, which delicacy prevented his ministers from employing in their official communications with the foreign representatives, while the common people spoke of him as Kubo sama. The "opposition" daimios, however, had adopted the term Baku-fu, which most closely might be rendered by "military establishment," and it was this term that my friend I used in conversation." (p174) http://goo.gl/6fNre

The Tokugawa Shogun used the word "Tycoon" in order to claim that he represented Japan to foreign countries. It is true that the word "Shogun" means one of the official positions of Emperor's "Ten-nou" subjects, so I could understand that the Tokugawa Shogun did not use the word "Shogun".

In the book "The Sovereignty and the Ideology in the East Asia" Hiroshi Watanabe wrote about the formation of the words "Bakufu" and "Shogun" as follows.

"The late Mito school spread the word "Bakufu". ... They emphasized that the Tokugawa government was just appointed by an emperor in Kyoto. ... The Anti-Tokugawa group had not used the word "Gokogi" or "Kohen" which were used generally, but the word “Bakufu”, which had a negative connotation. ... In the political circumstance at the end of the Edo era the word "Bakufu" spread soon. ... After the Meiji era the word "Bakufu" was adopted through education at schools. Of course the word "Bakufu" was fitted the historical view (which was not observed in the beginning of the Edo era) that the emperor "Tenou" had been the only sovereign throughout Japanese history. So the word "Bakufu" symbolizes the emperor-centered historical view "Koukoku Shikan"." (pp3-4)

I myself am the "anti-anti-foreigner royalists", "anti-anti-Tokugawas" and "pro-Tokugawas". I should promote to call "Shogun" "Kubo-sama" and "Bakufu" "Gokogi".

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