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Catholic Critiques of Statism in Interwar Japan: Minoda Muneki, Suehiro Izutaro, and Tanaka Kotaro.

I. The Raised Stakes of Political Philosophy: Kokutai Discourse in Interwar Japan

IN THE EARLY 1920s, Suehiro Izutaro, a University of Tokyo law professor and legal historian heavily influenced by American Pragmatism and the theories of Austrian thinker Eugen Ehrlich, attempted to find a new modus vivendi between state and society in Japan. The interwar state loomed large in everyday Japanese life, but was, at the same time, unresponsive to nearly all citizens due to disenfranchisement by earlier constitutional provision, as well as to interference by political parties. Therefore, Suehiro wanted to find a way to incorporate Ehrlichian and American pragmatic sociological jurisprudence as means to effect gradual, bottom-up, court-centered social change in the absence of political avenues for wide-scale reform. Privileging society over state, Suehiro hoped, would enhance the ability of the courts to render strict justice for the poor who needed it most.

In 1921, Suehiro returned from a lengthy period of study in Europe and the United States and set about using case law as a way to bring equity to the vast majority of Japanese left disenfranchised by Meiji-era (1868-1912) legal and constitutional reforms. In pursuit of an Ehrlichian "living law" (lebendesrecht) approach that foregrounded customary law over the statecentric, Germanic positivism then dominant in jurisprudence and legal philosophy worldwide, Suehiro hoped to circumvent the state and appurtenant party politics by using the court system to effect real, equitable solutions to individuals' essentially apolitical personal struggles, while also changing Japanese jurisprudence from the bottom up, one case at a time.

The Japanese state--preoccupied with responding to rice riots following the economic turmoil at the close of World War I, the after math of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and with securing its empire in Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, and beyond--for the time being was content to leave Suehiro and his social project largely unmolested. The interaction among law, society, and state, choreographed in places by elite lawyers like Suehiro but also sympathetic to the needs of the disenfranchised proletariat, seemed to be enjoying a heartening success. Suehiro attained national prominence, and his writings on the fledgling law-and-society movement began to appear in major publications, such as national newspapers, trade magazines, and the left-leaning highbrow intellectual journal Kaizo (Reform). In 1929, Suehiro founded his own journal, Horitsu Jiho (Legal Times), which featured writings by Suehiro's group of scholars as well as articles by prominent public intellectuals and translations of leading European and American legal thinkers like Eugen Ehrlich and Roscoe Pound. Thanks to Suehiro, the ostensibly anti-programmatic pragmatism of American democratic jurisprudence, and the state-indifferent lebendesrecht of Ehrlich, were having halcyon days in Taisho-era Japan (1912-1926).

And yet, all was not well with Suehiro's pragmatic/Ehrlichian charge toward legal reform. Many in Japan began to see sociological jurisprudence, according to which negotiations between law and society carved out special spheres of semi-autonomy for the proletariat outside of the realm of statecentric politics, as a threat to the very existence of Japan and the Japanese Empire. Beset by encroaching European colonialism, transnational Bolshevism, anarchism, liberal capitalism, Marxism, and neo-mercantilism, Japan's imperial structure was under multipronged attack. Suehiro's short-circuiting of the governmental and political institutions seen by the state and state-aligned neo-traditionalists as inculcating deference to the national and imperial interest--strengthening Japan in a hostile world and thereby increasing security for all Japanese--was viewed with deep suspicion by an emerging coterie of hardline supporters of the Japanese imperial house. Increasingly, statists began to see these non-state solutions, such as Suehiro's Ehrlichian living law, as untenable within the absolutist conception of the imperial state. The episteme of imperial politics, in other words, was expanding to crowd out all nonpolitical movements and groups. As the world darkened in the late 1920s and early 1930s, criticism of the state and the empire became luxuries that many in Japan found too extravagant to afford.

"State" was, of course, a key term of the interwar period. It was in wide circulation from Moscow to Rome, Berlin to Barcelona, and Washington to Shanghai. However, "state" had a different valence in Japan than it did elsewhere in the world at that time. In Japanese, "state" is kokka, but Japanese statists were concerned much more with protecting what they called the kokutai, often translated as "the national essence." A brew of gleanings from ancient Japanese culture and history mixed with absolutist conceptions of state, nation, and imperial house of a much more recent (and undeniably Prussian) vintage, the kokutai was mainly conceived of as the unique, even ineffable, quintessence of what it meant to be Japanese in Japan. Under the kokutai, the individual was part of a village, a region, society as a whole, and, ultimately, the body politic embodied in the person of the Emperor himself. It was a vision of the national polity in which the transcendent was always inescapably immanent in the mundane. As such, the kokutai was irreconcilable with secular political arrangements of any form, liberal or collectivist.

One of the leading figures in policing strict adherence to this vision of the unity of Japanese state and society was Minoda Muneki (1894-1946). A former professor at Keio University, Minoda was an informed, fearless, brilliant, tireless critic of anyone whom he found to be insufficiently deferential toward the kokutai (as Minoda understood it) and the Emperor at its head. Minoda and Suehiro clashed publicly in the early 1930s over the kokutai, and their personal opposition typifies the ideological standoff overall between Minodian fascists and Sueherian liberals even today.

Often forgotten in postwar histories of Japan, however, is that there was a Catholic critique of both the liberal and militarist camp even at the height of prewar and wartime nationalism. In particular, the most cogent criticism of both Minoda Muneki's radical statism and Suehiro's Ehrlichian sociological jurisprudence was Catholic legal scholar Tanaka Kotaro (1890-1974). Working from a solid grounding in the natural law, Tanaka was able to show that the presumptions underlying Minoda's philosophy of the supremacy of the Japanese state, as well as Suehiro's putatively apolitical legal pragmatism, were both equally misguided.

The readdition of Tanaka's voice to the 1930s debate in Japan over the issue of state sovereignty allows us to understand the period in new ways. The disagreements among political partisans and the philosophers of the various academic schools over how the state should relate to the individual, and vice versa, diminish into near insignificance in light of Tanaka's principled critiques of neo-Kantianism, whether Marxist, liberal, technologist, or ultrastatist. Indeed, Tanaka's critiques of Suehiro's neo-Kantian technocratic theories on the grounds of the natural law reveal that, despite Suehiro's and Minoda's very public quarrel in the early 1930s, both men were, by the end of the first five years of the Showa Period (1926-1989), actually much closer to one another in political philosophy than either was apparently able to perceive. Tanaka's insights show that, by the 1930s, even those political philosophies and philosophers that came under the most withering fire from kokutai champions such as Minoda Muneki were much nearer the state end of the state-society spectrum than the same philosophies and philosophers had been just a decade before, during the era of so-called "Taisho Democracy." Tanaka Kotaro, now as then, is the key to placing Japanese interwar political debates into their full and proper context.

II. Changing Views of State, Society, and Law

After returning to Japan following a transformative meeting with Eugen Ehrlich in Switzerland in 1920, Suehiro led a drive among legal scholars and practitioners to apply pressure to the Japanese court system in an effort to domesticate the promises of Taisho Democracy by using case law to make judges more responsive to the suffering of the disenfranchised Japanese lumpenproletariat. The goal of this was to achieve apolitical equity--akin to earlier, native forms of equity that had prevailed in premodern Japan--for those in Japanese society otherwise disenfranchised by the rise of constitutionalism and Western-style party politics. However, despite this early-career advocacy of the democratic position, Suehiro gradually came to see democracy as dangerous to the security of the Japanese empire.

For Suehiro in the early 1920s, influenced as he was by the living law ideas of Ehrlich, the state was a passive adjunct to society. Not only that, but the primacy of society meant that each state could be home to any number of different societies, each with its own internally binding regulations and mores. Suehiro insisted that the state remain pliant before these differing social norms, with case law as the vehicle for disrupting and decentering the state's monopoly on the use of force. In deciding case law, judges, responding to the immediate needs of communities under their jurisdiction, supplemented the lacunae left behind by legislatures at the state level. Not only was the state not transcendent, then, for Suehiro in the 1920s, it was not even solidly in control of its own basic legislative functions.

As Hirohama Yoshio points out:
Ubi societas ibi jus ["Each society has its own law"] means that,
within a given nation, there will be multiple legal orders in addition
to the state legal order. Interpretive jurisprudence was brought about
as a discipline whose aim was to understand legal orders as normative
systems, logically and without contradiction. Interpretive
jurisprudence which takes as its subject the state legal order must see
statutory law as the only source of law, and must take no account of
things such as customary law or cases. This is because, in all
likelihood, the actual authority of customary law and case law is not
preserved by state power. The traditional stance of interpretive
jurisprudence has been that there is but one legal order existing
within the society in a given state. The reason for this direct
formation of the state legal order was the absence of purely legal
investigation. However, on the question of whether customary law and
case law can be sources of law within state-law interpretational
jurisprudence, interpretational jurisprudence borrows customary law,
based on the practical scientific nature of service to the government,
and sees case-law analogously as an original source of law.

Ehrlich also used the maxim ubi societas, ibi jus to explain and justify his insistence on the multiplicity of legal orders under any given state framework. This advocacy for a spontaneously arising societal law independent of the state was one of the hallmarks of the law-and-society movement in both Europe and Japan.

Suehiro was at first even more explicit about the limits of the state. In a stance that Yoshida Katsumi calls "Suehiro's negative evaluation of the actual state at that time," (2) Suehiro wrote in Kaizo in 1923:
One of the most remarkable features of the Meiji Period was that the
state was trying to lead the people in every facet of their lives. And,
not only did most people accept this position [of the state], they
relied on the state's directives, were devoted to them--and the state
was able to accomplish anything. The Meiji state took it upon itself to
issue directives to the populace not just on matters of economics and
material concerns, but even on spiritual questions. What's more, the
state was quite successful in all of this. If a government official
said something was beautiful, the people said it was, too. And if an
official said something was ugly, the people also said so. That's what
kind of an age it was. Furthermore, the state became a font of morals
and mores, and even made plans to unify religion within the state's
grasp. And hardly anyone thought any of this to be out of the ordinary.
It was thought that the state and the law were omnipotent, and the
highest good. Thus, as everything was accomplished in the name of the
state, the people, in general, lost all power to critique the state.
Sober reflection will reveal how strange a phenomenon that was. But it
was all just like that. But all phenomena arise from some kind of
cause, correct?.... Does the state really have the ability to act in a
directive capacity? Is it not a cause for concern when the state
assumes such a stance? (3)

Two years later, Suehiro continued this line of thought: "According to state philosophy today, the state exists for the mutual benefit of us citizens. The law and the courts and the other government agencies all exist for the purpose of protecting the citizens' welfare." (4)

Suehiro's early views on the nature of the state thus ran directly counter to Minoda's understanding of the inviolability, and unquestionability, of the kokutai.

Minoda was especially troubled by Suehiro's demotion of the state to the level of helpful referee. In Suehiro's estimation, the state should play only an auxiliary, ancillary role (sewayaku toshite no kokka): "The state must exist in an ancillary role as long as we human beings live in groups. The state as a mechanism for the rulers and the ruling class, may, perhaps, eventually disappear. But the state in an auxiliary role will carry on forever." (5)

As Yoshida explains, "Obviously, this [ancillary state] will not be adopting a stance of issuing directives to the people from a position of superiority over them." (6) Yoshida sees Suehiro as trying to overcome the self-declared transcendent and all-powerful state by pointing out that the state was a subject of its citizens, and also by emphasizing problems with the state as it actually existed at the time, all with an eye to "attempting to limit the state's functions" (kokka no kino gentei wo hakaru). (7)

Minoda, outraged by Suehiro's publications, did more than just critique Suehiro for these anti-kokutai views. He actually filed suit against him, on the charge of lese majeste, with the prosecutor's office of the Tokyo District Court on June 6, 1934. Minoda reprinted the text of his lawsuit in its entirety in Genri Nippon (the journal Minoda edited) in an article titled "The Violent Thought of Suehiro Izutaro." (8) Minoda's main complaint was that Suehiro had openly advocated for a violent overthrow of the national polity, thereby offending the dignity of the kokutai. Minoda shows this partially by selectively quoting from Suehiro's writings and then comparing those excerpts with similar quotations from the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. Underlying this insinuation that Suehiro, like the Marxists and Communists, was inciting armed revolution is the much more fundamental premise that Western ideals, such as individual rights, are incompatible with the Japanese ethnos and ethos, and, ultimately, pose an affront to the unique political arrangement of the Japanese archipelago.

Minoda's lawsuit leads off with an indictment of Suehiro's argument, as Suehiro set it forth in "Fundamental Principles for Compensation Following Erroneous Court Decisions," (9) that the state must exist in an ancillary role as long as people live in groups. (10) Suehiro, possibly following Engels, also thought it possible that the state as a mechanism of the ruling class would eventually disappear. For Minoda, this emphasis on the "state as a mechanism of the ruling class" (shihai kaikyu no kikan toshite no kokka) bore a striking similarity to a passage from Lenin's The State and Revolution, which Minoda cites in full, in English (without Japanese gloss), immediately after citing Suehiro's offending phrase:

"The authority of the government over persons will be replaced by the administration of things and direction of process of production. The state will not be 'abolished'; it will wither away." (11) Minoda goes on to quote Suehiro making an explicit appeal to violence as being the sine qua non of "subjectivity": "Because I believe that subjectivity is nothing more than a concept, a hypothesis meant to supplement those areas lacking in physical force, I cannot conceive of a subjectivity divorced from military power--whether such power is in the hands of the bourgeoisie or the proletariat." (12) This seeming call to use force to uphold subjectivity, according to Minoda, constituted a desire to "alter the kokutai" (kokutai henkaku) in direct violation of Article One of the Imperial Japanese Constitution--Minoda's "solemnity clause" (genshuku josho)--that states: "The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal." (13)

This is not all. Minoda also uses Suehiro's criticism of the military to argue that Suehiro has committed a second instance of lese majeste. Suehiro writes: "In essence, the military... is perhaps nothing more than a nuisance encountered in the course of average, everyday living. But it's a nuisance that one has no choice but to keep around in anticipation of... when something extraordinary happens. That is to say, [the military] is a 'necessary evil.'" (14)

This slight against the military, according to Minoda, violated the principles set forth in the Imperial Japanese Constitution, sections 11 through 14, inclusive, as well as the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors (Gunjin ni okuritaru chokuyu) (1882), which called for a unified sincerity (ichi no seishin) among the Emperor's military. (15) By extension, Suehiro's slight therefore impinged upon the Emperor's military prerogative. (16) Minoda spells it out as showing "intent of heinous treason" (kyogyaku ishi), which, again, is the illicit desire to effect the alteration of the kokutai. (17)

These charges of seeking to alter the kokutai beg the question: what, for Minoda, was the kokutai? In the same essay in which he attacks Suehiro and lays out his lawsuit against him, Minoda offers a brief gloss of the kokutai:
The Japanese national polity calls for a spirit of vassalage, expressed
as "the lords do as the august sovereign commands," and "to receive an
imperial command is to obey it." It is for this reason that we may be
sure that it is an expression of a desire to alter the kokutai to
express the willingness to contradict the sublime pronouncement made by
His Majesty in a rescript proffered upon the promulgation of the
Imperial Japanese Constitution: "Our Ministers of State, on Our behalf,
shall be held responsible for the carrying out of the present
Constitution, and Our present and future subjects shall forever assume
the duty of allegiance to the present Constitution." (18)

The kokutai, for all intents and purposes, lay beyond interrogation. Suehiro had made himself an easy target with his criticisms of the military and the use of state force to maintain "subjectivity."

More specifically, one of the reasons why Minoda thought that Suehiro's appeal to "subjectivity," however enforced, would not work, was that it was an artifact of Western science and political philosophy, and therefore a priori inimical to the Japanese kokutai: "It is obvious that the justifying pronouncements of liberal research on Geisteswissenschaftlich universal rights must not be applied as a model for research into the national polity or the national Constitution of Japan." (19) For Minoda, the kokutai was out of bounds. It could be used as a cudgel for enforcing obedience, or as a spotlight for discovering enemies among the people, but it could never be placed under a microscope and examined objectively. Suehiro's quest for apolitical equity had brought him up against a wall of totalizing politics. The kokutai, as the essence of the Japanese polity, was the means by which Japanese imperial politics infiltrated and politicized all attempts to find nonpolitical solutions to problems with Japanese society.

Minoda was also exercised by Suehiro's having brought his theoretical speculations to bear upon a particular question of pressing political import. In a 1933 essay titled "Violence and the Rule by Law" (Hochi to boryoku), (20) Suehiro expounded upon the theoretical reasons for the need for occasional violence in order to overturn laws. This work was a clear reference to his advocacy for tenant farmers, (21) an advocacy that Minoda and many of his colleagues saw as helping open the door to communist revolution in Japan. (22) In a later essay, Suehiro touches directly on the tenant farmers' struggle, allowing, again, that violence in the name of righting perceived injustices is not always forbidden. In the text of his lawsuit against Suehiro, Minoda quotes Suehiro: "Just as, in the past, a theological worldview corresponding to rule by theocratic despots was in broad control of society, the modern democratic state, which champions rule of people by people, has concomitantly established a jurisprudential Weltanschauung which has substituted the state for God, and law for the divine will. This worldview is nothing but the 'vulgarization of the theological worldview,' just as Engels said." (23) What Minoda found especially troubling was that, for Engels--and, by extension, presumably for Suehiro, too--class conflict was inevitable and perennial, ending only when the oppressed classes took up arms and violently overthrew their bourgeois oppressors. (24)

Up to this point, Minoda's attacks may perhaps be dismissed as circumstantial, based on equivocations between terms and phrases found in Suehiro's works and the works of communist agitators and Marxist philosophers. But Suehiro goes further in his insistence that violent struggle is the very essence of the modern capitalist state. For example, in an essay titled "Legal Conflict and Actual Conflict," (25) Suehiro explicitly adopts the Marx/Engels line on the centrality of class conflict and concomitant violent struggle to the modern nation- state:
Real society is always the scene of a conflict of actual force. (26)
... It has always been the case that the tenant farmer disputes were
like labor disputes in that neither were suitable for resolution in a
court of law. From the beginning, these were disputes that transcended
the law, and were also ways of settling disputes. (27)... Most likely,
he who has social power will awaken to that fact and will then demand a
position within society in accord with his power. When he makes the
effort to carry through his demands by force, the dispute that will
arise because of it can be resolved only through a forceful struggle.
[The resolution of such disputes] is altogether impossible for the
state [to effect]. (28).... Therefore, class-based struggles of force,
like labor disputes and tenant farmer disputes, will certainly never be
resolved by applying state power or through the law courts. The state
must deal with such things by first recognizing the reality that they
are struggles of power, and then must resolve them as precisely what
they are: power struggles. (29).... It should be obvious that tenant
farmers would tend toward the use of violence as their weapon of
absolute last resort. (30).... It is eminently natural that tenant
farmers should exhaust every ounce of their strength in a fight to the
death in order to resist this [threat to their livelihood]. The
Kizakimura Incident (31) and all the other tragedies happening in
farming villages are nothing but a consequence of this perfectly
natural [drive to defend one's own livelihood]. (32)

Suehiro is clearly not opposed to the tenant farmers' use of force in resolving their disputes with the state. Not only this, but, as Minoda remarks in his comments on the string of Suehiro quotations just given, Suehiro, in his essay titled "Tenant Farmers and Land Ownership Rights," (33) argues in favor of the uncompensated confiscation of [landlords'] land. (34) For Minoda, these were not even veiled threats against the kokutai--they were direct assaults.

III. Gnosticism and Conflicting Interwar Ideologies

Japan in the 1930s was a whirlpool of absolutisms (including absolute relativisms) all vying for control. Much of the centralized Japanese state's efforts to suppress communist and socialist activity were grounded in the need to defend against the totalizing nature of those ideologies. Minoda's zealous support for the kokutai was in many ways a response to the Comintern's program for world revolution that had also proven itself unwilling to brook any kind of dissent. Between the Japanese imperial kokutai and the dictates of Third International communism, there could be no common ground. The ideologies themselves precluded compromise.

In this sense, both Comintern communism and Minoda's philosophy were nearly perfect examples of what Eric Voegelin would later diagnose as "Gnosticism." For Voegelin, Gnosticism was "a purported direct, immediate apprehension or vision of truth without the need for critical reflection; the special gift of a spiritual and cognitive elite." (35) As a closed system, Gnosticism relied on some kind of prophetic insight, usually by a charismatic founder, which was prevented in some way from being accessed by those outside the system. (36) Assenting to a founder's totalizing organizing principle was typically the passe-partout into the Gnostic scheme. Those outside the scheme were, by definition, incapable of accessing and understanding the intellectual or spiritual riches available to initiates. Minoda's hermetically sealed definitions and tautologies offered in support of the kokutai make it clear that Minoda was most certainly a Gnostic in the Voegelian sense of the term. (37)

What about Suehiro, though--was he a Gnostic, too? The answer is no. A hidebound pragmatist and intellectual bower bird, Suehiro almost never, in his sheaves of writings, appealed to an overarching principle in justification of a proposed course of action. If it works, do it; if not, do something else--this seemed to be the one lodestar of Suehiro's philosophical cosmos. (38) If Voegelin's diagnosis of Gnosticism applies to Marx and Minoda, then by the same measure it falls short of fully encompassing Suehiro's philosophical outlook and jurisprudential approach. The living law did, in fact, have a guiding principle beyond muddling trial-and-error tactics in a Polanyian sense of being rooted in a particular culture, a network of mores, memories, and shared assumptions about the way the world should work. As such, both Suehiro's Ehrlichianism and Minoda's kokutai find their heft in the particularities of Japanese cultural and historical life. But for all of his Ehrlichian influence, Suehiro's brand of equity was ad hoc and fundamentally apolitical, and only incidentally Japanese. Suehiro, in that sense, was the antithesis of Minoda and of the Communists and Marxists, for Suehiro subscribed to no overarching ideology at all.

It also militates against Suehiro's having been a Gnostic that the Taisho Period, before the raised imperial stakes of the 1930s, had been a relatively apolitical age. Politics as a totalizing episteme simply was not a factor of early Taisho intellectual life. As philosopher Miki Kiyoshi later recalled:
Even though we experienced the tremendous event of the First World War,
we were utterly uninterested in politics. We had contempt for politics
and valued culture, meaning we exhibited both anti-political and
apolitical tendencies. This was a culturalist way of thinking. The
thought known as "refinement" was literary and philosophical. Which is
to say that we placed a particularly high premium on literature and
philosophy, but looked down on science and technology as being
subordinate to culture and civilization. (39)

According to Miki, at least, the Taisho Democracy milieu out of which Suehiro emerged was not a place likely to foster political or ideological Gnosticism.

Voegelin's insights thus allow us only to go so far in splitting Minoda and Suehiro. Is there nothing that allows us a view of the divide from a higher, more permanent remove? The answer lies in Tanaka Kotaro's criticisms of his contemporaries' neo-Kantianism. In other words, whereas Suehiro's antinomian pragmatism slips through the net of Voegelin's Gnosticism rubric, which assumes an active attempt to enclose contingency under a philosophical paradigm (precisely what Minoda did with his complete devotion to the amorphous idea of the kokutai), Tanaka's critique of neo-Kantianism reveals a deeper layer of contradictions underlying not only Minoda's political fervor, but also Suehiro's pragmatic avoidance of organizing principle.

In a revealing essay, (40) Kevin Doak highlights Tanaka's principled critique of several Japanese thinkers. For example, Tanaka criticized Miki Kiyoshi's "technological reductionism:" (41)
By the early Showa period,... the greatest threat to universalism and
moral philosophy was Miki's own technological positivism that eschewed
both metaphysics and a religious outlook in favor of a socially
deterministic ideology of technological positivism. As Tanaka astutely
observed, such positivism led to the view that "there is no science
other than the recognition of the conventional morals and laws
(jittei-teki dotoku mata wa jitteiho) of a given society. This is a
negation of the very ideas of ethics and jurisprudence." Tanaka saw
such positivism as the greatest threat to the moral good of Japanese
society, and he emphasized that this positivism informed movements on
both wings of the political spectrum. (42)

While other groups and individuals, such as those associated with the quasi-Marxist journal Under the New Science, were more explicit in their attempts to "reject nature as a constraint," Suehiro, in his often-repeated emphasis on social science as the key to understanding and overcoming social problems, as well as in his neo-Ehrlichian call to privilege the organically arising living law as a challenge to the rigidity of the logic of the state, falls squarely within the bounds of criticism against the "socially deterministic ideology of technological positivism" leveled by Tanaka Kotaro. (43) Tanaka saw that the unifying thread connecting all of the disparate attempts to reject the given order of things in favor of one form of social or political reengineering or another--be it Minodian statism or Suehirian pragmatism--was the wholesale adoption by most Japanese thinkers and political philosophers, whether they realized it or not, of neo-Kantianism. (44) It was in the shadow of this neo-Kantianism, prominent in Japanese intellectual life since the 1913 publication of a Japanese translation of Prolegomena zu einer jeden kunftigen Metaphysik die als Wissenschaft auftreten konnen, that subsequent Japanese philosophers would have to work out their moral and political philosophies. (45)

Even Nishida Kitaro--the mentor of Miki Kiyoshi and arguably the greatest Japanese philosopher of the twentieth century--ultimately espoused a consonance between subject and object in the entity of the state. (46) Nishida's radical neo-Kantian relativism left him unable to find transcendence to human nature as particularized in the individual. Therefore, the individual finds identity in the state. In Zen no kenkyu (An Inquiry into the Good), Nishida writes:
We individuals, conversely, have developed as cells within a single
society. The substance of the state (kokka no hontai) is the expression
of the communal consciousness that is the basis of our spirit. We can
achieve significant growth in character (jinkaku) within the state. The
state is a single, unified character, and the system of laws of a given
state is, in this way, the expression of the will of the collective
consciousness. The reason we give our all to the state is to complete
the development of this great character. And the reason the state
punishes people is not revenge, nor for social tranquility. It is
because it possesses a dignity whose character must not be violated.

Nishida, eschewing his earlier advocacy of a Buddhist-Christian universalism, began to anchor his philosophy in the particularity of the Japanese nation-state.

IV. Catholicism at the Center of the Debate

Despite these seeming affinities, Nishida and Minoda disagreed on how, and whether, the Japanese state should be universalized. While Minoda advocated a pan-Asianist transformation and liberation of Japan's Asian neighborhood by means of the ancient Confucian notion of the "kingly way" (odo shugi), Nishida was in favor of hakko ichiu, or the joining of the entire world under one roof of rule by the Mikado, which was a distinctly Japanese--in contradistinction to Christian, Buddhist, or even kingly--way of universalizing his surroundings. (48) This was too universalistic for Minoda, though. Japan might work on behalf of her Asian neighbors, but Minoda saw it as heretical, and even nonsensical, to suggest extending the kokutai out to those unable, by their very nature, to understand it.

Minoda Muneki's true adversary was not Nishida, however, but Tanaka. What especially riled Minoda was Tanaka's Catholicism, and in particular Tanaka's advocacy of a globalist instantiation of the natural law that Tanaka called "world law." In The True University Problem, (49) Minoda criticizes Tanaka's "stateless globalism." (50) As Minoda quotes Tanaka:
Law premised on the state system is nothing but an immoderation.... We
believe that the time has arrived for us to break apart this stubborn
shell by means of the problem of world law. (51) For the sake of the
academic consciousness of law, it is sorely needed to liberate law from
the state, in doing so overturning the old way of thinking according to
which the commands of the sovereign were accepted, and establish law on
the basis of mankind's social life itself.

Minoda does not quote unfairly here. If anything, he has left out the most strident of Tanaka's points from the cited Sekaiho no riron section, (53) which ends on an unequivocal note entirely consistent with the rest of the book: "In summary, the single most urgent task before us for the sake of affirming world law is to liberate law from the concept of the state." (54) Whether intentionally or no, this posed a direct challenge to the very heart of Minoda's kokutai ideology.

The timing of Tanaka's book's release, in February 1932, also seemed calculated to increase Minoda's anger. Just three months after Tanaka's book was published, Col. Kitahara Hitomi, an army officer assigned to the Catholic Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku) in Tokyo for training purposes, took sixty sophomores from Sophia's college preparatory school to Yasukuni Shrine in Kudanshita, Tokyo. When two or three (reports disagree on how many) students refused to bow at the Shinto shrine to the war dead, Colonel Kitahara reported the incident, which immediately made national news. (55) In May 1932, Tanaka serialized a long essay titled "Fascism and Catholicism" in the Yomiuri Shimbun. (56) Minoda mentions this briefly in "Motive and Objective in Censuring the Tokyo Imperial University Law Faculty: Impressions Concerning Tanaka Kotaro and Yokota Kisaburo's Lawless Anti-Japan Thought, and on the Communist Party Lynching Incident [of Obata Tatsuo]," (57) noting with disapproval that Tanaka's attitude had remained defiant since the Sophia Affair.

Despite Minoda's fixation on Tanaka's Catholicism, the issue at question was not essentially a theological one. Minoda did not necessarily take umbrage at particular points of Catholic dogma, but with the very fact that Catholicism is not a political system, and in fact claims to transcend politics entirely. Tanaka put this succinctly in his initial column for the Yomiuri serialization: "Catholicism is not a political ideology. For this reason, generally speaking it is not possible for Catholicism to mount a direct attack on any kind of political ideology whatsoever." (58)

Minoda's disagreement with Tanaka, then, was not really about Catholicism as a religion per se, but about whether Catholicism can claim to go beyond the ethno-chthonic nationalism of Minoda's kokutai.

The casus belli for Minoda's full-scale attack on Tanaka and Catholicism was, of all things, a tiff over weights and measures. Tanaka had critiqued one Okabe Nagakage (1884-1970), a diplomat and minor politician who opposed the overturning of Japan's Meiji-era decision to maintain the older Japanese system of measurement. (59) Minoda disagreed with Tanaka's opinion that Japan would benefit by adopting the metric system, finding the old, native system of measurement more suited to Japanese use. But it was really Tanaka's obiter dicta on this issue that provoked a strong reaction from Minoda and others in the Genri Nipponsha. As Tanaka points out in his critique of Okabe, "We live today in a realm wherein nationalism is omnipotent," which Minoda immediately links to what he calls "The Red Professors at the Imperial Tokyo University and their Common Thread of Lawless, Anti-Volk, Treasonous Thought." (60) As with Nishida, Minoda objected here to a competing universal encroaching on the sacred particularity of the kokutai.

In his essay on the weights and measures issue, Minoda quickly dispenses with the pretext and gets to the meat of the dispute, launching into a lengthy mockery of Tanaka's Catholic-informed world law: "Tanaka is completely unrepentant that his own Roman Catholic revivalist thinking and his 'Theory of World Law' based thereon have fallen into Western medieval theologico-metaphysical errors of both time and place." For nearly a full page thereafter, Minoda gives a history of the divisions of Christianity, starting with Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli to show that the former "Crusader" (Minoda's term) idea of a unified Christianity is now a "story from the past," the principle of national unity having long since outstripped and overwhelmed the ability of Christianity to organize political units on any sizeable scale. (61)
In the modern age, during which political and economic activities and
the common citizens' culture that supports those activities have become
the unified center of the life of mankind, a nominally world
religion--Christianity--is a private, individual affair that, insofar
as the question of actual community in the social life of the nation is
concerned, has nothing positively to do with anything. (62)

Minoda is not saying that Catholicism is a false religion as such, only that it isn't bigger than the state, and has no business influencing the distinct national polity of Japan.

After criticizing Tanaka's apparent denial of the nation-state in favor of an abstract scheme of social organization strategies, Minoda cites Tanaka again: "Besides the volk, there are the individual, the family, cities, villages, the state, international society, and the society of all humankind. Each of those has their own inherent functions. I can understand somewhat the emphasis on the significance of the volk vis-a-vis a globalism arising out of individualism." (63)

In response to this, Minoda returns to his theme of the primacy of the nation-state in forming the individual and giving society a context in which to develop and thrive.
Tanaka sees the volk and the individual--and, a fortiori, even the
state--in an oppositional, disjunctive relationship. But this view is
an anachronism of eccentric medieval thought even as Western thinking
goes. Tanaka is missing or has otherwise lost that common sense of a
Japanese which sees the land of the gods, Japan, as one timeless and
perfectly inwardly-indivisible relationship of volk, state, and
individual, all actually forming one living body, coeval with the
creation of heaven and earth and as eternal as they, and making one
divine, naturally generated cooperative, communal, gemeinschaftlich
body. But where do the "individuals, families, cities, and
villages"--which each have their "own inherent functions" "separately
from the volk, the citizens, and the state"--exist? Tanaka should think
about the reality of the human and social values impinging upon that
existence, for example the Chinese as a "disunified people scattered
like sand"; Tanaka should also try considering how the Chinese are
fulfilling their "own inherent functions"! (64)

Minoda then avers that Tanaka cannot possibly know the meaning of the "international society" (65) that he (Tanaka) advocates, as "international" implies the interacting of nation-states (which Tanaka's theory presumably denies). Nor can Tanaka know the meaning of "a society of mankind," as "the global history of the human race is nothing other than the history of the rise and fall, emergence and disappearance of ethnic nations." (66) Minoda's conclusion is that Tanaka, who has accused Japanese nationalists of "cultural imperialism" (and here one strongly suspects that Minoda has taken the liberty of including himself among those Tanaka has criticized), is, in point of fact, a Catholic cultural imperialist. (67)

V. The Problem of Denatured Western Philosophy

Interestingly, one of the main references in the long chapter of Sekaiho no riron from which Minoda cites above is Eugen Ehrlich. Tanaka is understandably eager to grandfather Ehrlich in as a member of the natural law camp. The living law approach, which Suehiro appropriated as technique but which Tanaka attempted to evaluate as philosophy and method, does indeed bear affinities with the natural law. For example, legal positivism sees law as merely the end product of legislation, which in turn is founded on state sovereignty backed up by force. But Ehrlich's living law, if seen as an embrace of spontaneous social ordering based on the innate human ability to know and live out the basic demands of justice, is a profound, albeit tacit, admission of the existence of the natural law. Tanaka writes:
In both [ancient] Rome and in recent times, the authority of the state
has expanded greatly and there has been a transformation into a
despotic polity. The state is attempting to monopolize the law and is
doing its utmost to suppress all sources of law that do not originate
either directly or indirectly in state power. This is a situation one
can find in both imperial Rome and in Western Europe during the
sixteenth century. (68)

But then, in the corresponding footnote, Tanaka admonishes Ehrlich for not having seen either the historical antecedents to, or the philosophical ramifications of, his (Ehrlich's) own insights:
I must say that it is regrettable that on this point Ehrlich had in
view only the natural law of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
and was ignoring the strongly-rooted tradition of Scholastic natural
law, which began in [ancient] Greece and Rome and continued through the
middle ages and up to the present time. However, Ehrlich makes some
noteworthy points in the text, such as that the natural law scholars
are forerunners in the legal-historical view, and that the pioneers of
the legal-historical viewpoint are those who perfected the natural law
movement. (69)

It is difficult to discuss the living law, Tanaka is reminding his readers, without taking into consideration the natural law in its fullest historical complement.

Tanaka makes these points even more clearly by showing that Ehr lich had sided with Friedrich Carl von Savigny and Georg Friedrich Puchta against those who sought to elevate the state to near omnipotence:
Ehrlich finds it regrettable that recent theories on the German common
law have gone against Savigny and Puchta in moving toward a statist
view of law and returning to the old path of theories of customary law,
jurisprudence during the age of Imperial Rome, and the old common law.
On the outstanding theories of Zitelmann on these points Ehrlich
writes: "For this reason, over and against Savigny and Puchta, the old
theories have again been used on the key points of customary law. [The
old-theory revivalists argue that,] because, in principle, law is a
manifestation of state power, it is necessary to have state authority's
permission, approval, and consent, whether explicit or implicit, in all
of [law's] various forms. Even if, following Savigny and Puchta, we
were to attempt to create a foundation in general legal custom
(allgemeine Rechtsubung) for the binding force of customary law, this
would be nothing more than an attempt to add one special element to the
statist theory of law. The real meaning of this theory is that all law
begins with the state, and the state acknowledges extra-state law under
certain conditions; as in standard legal belief, the state stops at
saying that a law belongs to one of those [aforementioned] conditions.
Zitelmann proved convincingly that these theories are baseless. He
attributed customary law's effectiveness to the simple fact of
customary law's being put into practice (Geltung). 'They are valid
precisely because they are carried out.' ("Es gilt eben deswegen weiles
gilt.") Within this tautology there at least lies dormant the deeper
awareness that customary law exists separately from the state
(Ausserstaatlichkeit). It is tantamount to saying that a law may be
established with no respect of the state so long as that law is carried
out in society." (7)

Later, Tanaka avers that customary law was largely ignored as a scholarly subject during the latter half of the nineteenth century as scholars were much more concerned with commenting upon, and finding the boundaries of, existing law, a process occurring in tandem with the promulgation of constitutions worldwide. (71) Ehrlich, according to Tanaka's quotes of him, noted this relative indifference to the customary law. Before long, legal theorists began to notice that court cases and administrative actions came to be interpreted within the realm of "universal human action." (72) The natural progression, then, had been towards Tanaka's "world law." Ehrlich and Tanaka thus both arrived at a version of the natural law despite starting from very different places.

Tanaka does not stop with Ehrlich, however. In his endnote to the passage quoted above, he also turns his attention to Suehiro, singling him out for sharp correction:
On the one hand, Prof. Suehiro has emphasized the intimate relationship
in Japan between law and social reality. On the other hand--not in his
scholarly labors, to be sure, but limited strictly to his explanations
for laymen--[Suehiro argues that] law is not the standard for human
action, but rather the standard for courts. (See Hoso kanwa, 5, 9, 20,
and Minpo kowa, vol. 1, 8 ff.) This is not only extraordinarily
contradictory, but also, as I have pointed out before (in my book Law,
Religion, and Social Life, 235 and 278), when law is divorced from the
social life of humanity, it robs the law of its life force. Law is
order (Ordnung). It is clearest in the realms of the Constitution and
in administrative law that law does not stop with trial norms
(Entscheidungsnorm)--which, according to Ehrlich, are a variety of law
determined to rest on the foundation of trials as legal struggles
(Ehrlich, Die Tatsachen des Gewohnheitsrechts, 1907, S. 26). Trial
norms are nothing more than one kind of legal norm. (On this point, see
Ehrlich, Grundlegung, SS., 15 ff., 33.) One cannot avoid the criticism
that to see law as trial norms is to lapse into an Austin-type legal
viewpoint which sees the state as omnipotent. (73)

From the natural law perspective, Tanaka argues, Suehiro's engagement with Ehrlichianism had been fundamentally flawed.

In his critique of Suehiro's appropriation of Ehrlich's ideas, Tanaka presciently foresaw much of what Suehiro would actually do when faced with growing state power. Suehiro saw Ehrlich's lebendesrecht as a methodology useful for achieving particular results. But Tanaka understood that this methodology was deeply rooted in Christianity, and that without the ballast of faith the methodology of sociological jurisprudence could easily devolve into statist neo-Kantianism.

In a broad sense, Tanaka was in agreement with Minoda that Western concepts could not be separated from the culture that had produced them. Ironically, it was Minoda who assumed that all Western ideas were tainted with the culture of their origin, while Tanaka lamented that Western philosophies had apparently been cut off from their roots and imported piecemeal into Japan. For Tanaka, the Western concepts of individualism, nationalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism were bound to produce societal and intellectual anarchy in Japan, because those who had imported those concepts had failed to import their Christian foundations:
Earlier, Japan imported Western materialist civilization with no
limits. But the most socially influential political and economic
leaders, at the very least, did not accept Christianity, which forms
the foundation for that [materialist civilization] and counteracts the
damage [that it causes], and which parallels [that civilization] and is
organically linked to it. It is understandable that the political and
economic leaders of Japan wanted to emulate the great politicians of
foreign countries, but the Japanese leaders thought--completely
unrealistically--that they could cut out only those politicians'
achievements and study them in isolation, paying no attention to their
character and belief. Scholars studied the theories of Pascal and
Pasteur, but demurred when it came to their orthodox Catholic faith.
Thus, many of the professional politicians, the scholars who have
caught the "professional disease," and the industrialists who are men
of pure economics are crippled when it comes to being human beings. And
yet it is these men who control the politics, the academy, and the
business world in Japan. I don't know about the politicians of the
early Meiji years, but many of their successors were lacking in moral
training, whether that came from Confucianism or Buddhism or bushido.
The early Meiji politicians may have had such training, but many of the
later politicians didn't. As a result, there was an absence of ideals
and moral reflection that one finds in society and in a human life.
(74) The vast majority of politicians were much more concerned with
getting and keeping power, prestige, and wealth for themselves than
they were with the farmers and laborers who wandered about at
starvation levels. Industrialists were shamelessly brazen in following
the dictates of their economic natures, and were unscrupulous about
exploiting workers in order to line their own pockets. The endlessly
repeated bribery scandals involving elite government officials in the
bureaucracy, the fact of corruption of people in the political parties,
and the embezzlement scandals involving the top management in the big
corporations happen despite the fact that those who do those things
have all received a top-class education, and have gained the trust of
society and of the state. But [these scandals] show that that education
has been limited strictly to materialist knowledge, and has been
utterly lacking in moral training. Without moral training, education,
talent, and especially legal knowledge all conversely become
calamities. Today, we are now reaping the harvest of that Meiji Era
education which aimed only at the importation of materialist
civilization. (75)

Apart from indirectly complicating Minoda's insistence on the purity of the kokutai--for how can Showa Japan be purely Japanese if Meiji Japan was so enthusiastically Western, especially when the emperor system was established by such cosmopolitan elites?--Tanaka's critique also exposes the dangers inherent in Suehiro's own appropriation of Ehrlich's legal pluralism.

Minoda, for his part, rightly saw that the fundamental question for Tanaka was that of Catholicism, without which Japanese society was unable to make sense of any of the philosophical concepts it had adopted from the West piecemeal. Hence Minoda's insistence on breaking down Christianity and subjugating it to the nation-state. For Minoda, the state was the ontological ground of being and the epistemological filter of experience. Suehiro, likewise, although not an overt proponent of the kokutai, nevertheless backed into statism as a way to overcome the social chaos engendered by Ehrlichian social pluralism in a time of global crisis. Against both, Tanaka argued in opposition to the primacy of the state and in favor of the natural law.

In light of Tanaka's religion-based critique of statism, it becomes clear that Minoda Muneki and Suehiro Izutaro were not diametrically opposed in their philosophies. Minoda saw the state as a kind of ineffable demiurge greater than the sum of its parts (i.e., individual people). Suehiro, for his part, was what Tanaka elsewhere criticized as a neo-Kantian technocrat, possessing no principles on which to base moral judgments and so unable to resist the siren call of the state when it sought to put technical expertise in the service of imperial expansion. (76) As such, despite beginning from such seemingly different philosophies, Suehiro and Minoda were virtually bound to end up in the same place.

VI. Conclusion

Already by 1920, Suehiro began to fear that disputes over the government's monopoly on the use of force (kenryoku rodan) would split the nation-state up along class lines. By the 1930s, Suehiro had begun to privilege "stability" (antei) over liberty, and the state over society, as ways around the "dead-end of a liberal economy" (jiyu keizai no ikizumari). (77) In 1933, Suehiro was writing warmly about the special paternalistic character of the Japanese labor market--a paternalism he had previously criticized--advising that semifeudal labor relations should be made use of proactively in order to prevent the damage that might arise from those relations if left to themselves. (78) Thus, by the beginning of Japan's fifteen-year war in Asia, Suehiro, the founder and leader of the law-and-society movement in Japan originally rooted in the Ehrlichian attempt to treat the state and society as two semiautonomous entities, had merged his jurisprudential revolution with the imperial expansion of the increasingly autarkic and apotheosized Japanese state. While Suehiro never embraced the worship of the kokutai as Minoda did, Suehiro did enthusiastically participate in the administration of new imperial conquests, putting his law-and-society project fully at the disposal of the centralized state as it pushed outward into the Asian continent and beyond.

This essential harmony between Minoda and Suehiro in terms of their relationship with the state was predicted by Tanaka Kotaro even before Minoda sued Suehiro for lese-majeste in Tokyo District Court in 1934 for allegedly besmirching the kokutai. The absence of an organizing philosophical principle bigger than the state doomed both men, Suehiro and Minoda, to embracing the state as a faute de mieux retreat from neo-Kantian relativism.

The Japan of the Showa Period was not the Japan of Meiji high-minded political thinking or freewheeling Taisho experimentation with the full range of Western modernist philosophy. The world situation had worsened to full-blown crisis by the early 1930s, and political groupings on every inhabited continent scrambled to find some way to stave off the collapse of the liberal world order, often by turning to dictatorial expediencies and the intervention of a centralized state elevated to mythical, romantico-aesthetic, or even quasidivine status. The law-and-society movement in Japan had struggled to compete with kokutai absolutism, but had failed. The divorce between law and society had been settled in favor of neither. The state--the broker called in to heal the rift--had simply nullified all previous arrangements and declared itself to be the solution to every other problem henceforth. As Catholic philosopher Tanaka Kotaro repeatedly warned, law without natural law--government without God--could never have ended in anything but the denial of human dignity and the wholesale worship of the state.


(1.) Joint review: Hogaku Kyokai goju shunen kinen ronbunshu, gohyo, Tohoku Teikoku Daigaku Hobungakubu (npd), 57 (1868).

(2.) Yoshida Katsumi, "Shakai hendoki no Nihon minpogaku--Hatoyama Hideo to Suehiro Izutaro," Hokkaido Law Review 52, no. 5.

(3.) Suehiro Izutaro, "Issues of reform and reflections on the Meiji Period: 1: The state's directive stance and standardization," in Kaizo (New Year's Edition, 1923): 106.

(4.) Yoshida, "Shakai hendoki," citing Suehiro, Gohan baisho no konpon genri (1924), in Hoso kanwa (Tokyo: Kaizosha, 1925), 87.

(5.) Yoshida, "Shakai hendoki," 275, citing Suehiro, Gohan baisho, 94-95.

(6.) Yoshida, "Shakai hendoki."

(7.) Ibid., 275.

(8.) Suehiro Izutaro no boryoku shiso. See also John David Person, "Philosophizing Japan: The Genri Nippon Society and the Question of Japaneseness" (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2012).

(9.) Suehiro, Gohan baisho no konpon genri.

(10.) Page 95 in original, cited in Minoda Muneki, Zenshu (Complete works), 271, in Kokka to daigaku, 243.

(11.) Lenin, 17, cited in Minoda, 244 of Genri Nippon, 272 of Zenshu.

(12.) Minoda, Zenshu, 244/272, citing Suehiro, Hoso kanwa, 398. (Page numbers separated by a slash indicate page in original/page in Minoda, Zenshu.) The citation is taken somewhat out of context, as Minoda shifts suddenly to a completely different Suehiro essay in which Suehiro offers his "disorganized" (muchitsujo) thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake in the October 1923 edition of Kaizo. Suehiro is critiquing bourgeois subjectivity, with a broader reference to the global competition of capitalism that seemed to necessitate militarism in Japan, and is furthermore concerned that this militarization has been accepted entirely too easily by ordinary Japanese citizens, especially the military was deployed to keep the peace in Tokyo following the Great Kanto Earthquake. Suehiro says plainly that he is not attacking the military as such, and is grateful for their quick help after the natural disaster. His concern is that the "state of emergency" that prompted the military's deployment is gradually becoming a permanent affair, and could be used to justify full-fledged militarism in the future.

(13.) Minoda, 244/272. For the complete English translation of the Meiji Constitution, see

(14.) Suehiro, Hoso kanwa, 399, cited in Minoda, 244/272.

(15.) Article 11. The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and Navy. Article 12. The Emperor determines the organization and peace standing of the Army and Navy. Article 13. The Emperor declares war, makes peace, and concludes treaties. Article 14. The Emperor declares a state of siege. (2) The conditions and effects of a state of siege shall be determined by law.

(16.) Minoda, 244-45/272-73.

(17.) Minoda, 245/273.

(18.) Minoda, 247/275. Translation of constitutional preamble from

(19.) Minoda here renders "universal rights" so literally--i.e., as "rights of the universe"--as to raise doubts as to whether he fully understood the term. See Minoda, 247/275.

(20.) Published by Nihon Hyoronsha on January 20, 1933, in Hoso manpitsu.

(21.) Suehiro's advocacy went beyond general theorizing to include pointed critiques of specific political figures. For example, on February 10, 1926, Suehiro took to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper to blast the Wakatsuki cabinet for a bill that Suehiro claimed would restrict the activities of labor unions. Suehiro accused the bill's researchers of ideologically driven ignorance, and the political parties and the politicians themselves of malfeasance. Cited in Harukata Takenaka, Failed Democratization in Prewar Japan: Breakdown of a Hybrid Regime (Stanford University Press, 2014), 117.

(22.) One of Minoda's colleagues at the Genri Nippon organization, Mitsui Koshi, was personally involved in the tenancy disputes in Matsushima, Yamanashi Prefecture, and had seen firsthand how communist ideas, including the call for full-scale revolution, had come to influence the mostly uneducated tenant farmers in the region. Minoda's broadside against Suehiro was almost certainly influenced by Mitsui's experiences and subsequent journalism on the subject.

(23.) Suehiro, "Violence and Rule by Law," 101, cited in Minoda, 247/275.

(24.) Minoda, 276/248, citing Kaizosha, Marukusu Engerusu zenshu, Vol. 22 (1928 et seriatim), 101-03 passim.

(25.) Horitsuteki toso to jitsuryokuteki toso (1930), in Hoso zatsuwa.

(26.) Suehiro, Horitsuteki toso to jitsuryokuteki toso (1930), 95.

(27.) Ibid., 115.

(28.) Ibid., 97.

(29.) Ibid., 98.

(30.) Ibid., 116.

(31.) The Kizakimura farming village in Niigata Prefecture was the scene of a violent uprising of tenant farmers in 1922. The farmers' complaint was that when the prefectural authorities instituted more stringent quality control measures in 1907 in an attempt to improve the Niigata rice product, the farmers, and not the landlords, bore the burden of implementing the measure without receiving any of the increased revenues that resulted from the better rice. The problems in Kizakimura quickly spread to other farming villages in Niigata Prefecture. See, e.g., Inoki Takenori, ed., Senkanki Nihon no shakai shudan to nettowa-ku: Taisho demokurashii to chukan dantai (Tokyo: NTT Press, 2008).

(32.) Suehiro, Horitsuteki toso, 115; all cited in Minoda, 250/278.

(33.) Kosakujin to tochi shoyuken (Minoda mistakenly cites it as Tochi shoyuken to kosakujin), in Hoso kanwa (1930).

(34.) Tochi musho bosshu seitoron, in Minoda, 250/278. Suehiro's essay first appeared in the Asahi Shimbun on New Year's Day, 1925. In the brief introduction to the essay as reproduced in Hoso kanwa, Suehiro writes, in a possible oblique reference to Minoda, that he was continuously criticized after the publication of the tenant farmer essay in the Asahi, with some accusing him of the extreme position of advocating the forced appropriation of land for the tenant farmers in spite of the [landlords'] rights of land ownership. However, Suehiro goes on to argue, his position is simply one in favor of recognizing the reality of disparate strength of rights among farmers and landowners, even as rights-talk grows more prevalent throughout Japan as a whole. Suehiro ends his introduction with a plea that his essay not be criticized or thought dangerous solely from the limited viewpoint of the landholders. Suehiro, Hoso kanwa (1930), 152.

(35.) Eugene Webb, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History (University of Washington Press, 1981), 282.

(36.) See, e.g., Michael Franz, Eric Voegelin and the Politics of Spiritual Revolt: The Roots of Modern Ideology (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992).

(37.) See Minoda, Zenshu, editorial postscript.

(38.) For a history of pragmatism in Taisho Japan, see, e.g., Funayama Shin'ichi, "Puragumateizumu no juyo to tenkai," in Taisho tetsugakushi kenkyu (Tokyo: Horitsu Bunkasha, 1965), 215, ff.

(39.) Funayama Shin'ichi, Taisho tetsugakushi kenkyu (Horitsu Bunkasha, 1965), 2-3, citing Miki Kiyoshi, Dokusho to jinsei (1942), 35.

(40.) Kevin M. Doak, "Romanticism, conservatism and the Kyoto School of philosophy," in Christopher Goto-Jones, ed., Repoliticising the Kyoto School as Philosophy (Oxon: Routledge, 2008).

(41.) Doak's phrase, 139.

(42.) Ibid., 139-40, citing Tanaka Kotaro, "Gendai no shiso taikei anakii to sono gen'in no kento," in Hayashi Kentaro, ed., Shin hoshushugi, in Gendai Nihon shiso taikei, 35 (Series) (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1963), 235-63 (248).

(43.) Doak, "Romanticism," 146-47.

(44.) See also Kevin M. Doak, "Nationalism as Dialectics: Ethnicity, Moralism and the State in Early Twentieth-Century Japan," In James W. Heisig and John C. Maraldo, ed., Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995), 174-96, and Doak, "Under the Banner of the New Science: History, Science, and the Problem of Particularity in Early Twentieth-Century Japan," in Philosophy East and West 48, no. 2, 232-56.

(45.) Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science, first published 1783. Doak, "Romanticism," 143, citing Robert William Adams, The Feasibility of the Philosophical in Early Taisho Japan: Nishida Kitaro and Tanabe Hajime (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1991), 123-24.

(46.) See Gereon Kopf, "Between Identity and Difference: Three Ways of Reading Nishida's Non-Dualism,"

(47.) Nishida, 253, translated by and cited in Doak, "Romanticism," 140.

(48.) Doak, "Romanticism," 155. Even the possibility of a Minoda attack was enough to force Nishida to hew closer to kokutai orthodoxy. For example, Nishida had advance warning that Minoda was planning to criticize him for a three-part speech Nishida was to present at Kyoto University on April 25, May 2, and May 9, 1938. Nishida was therefore particularly careful when using words like "world," "universal," and "cosmopolitanism," as well as anything hinting, at the opposite end of the spectrum, at liberalism, individualism, or "atomis[m]." See Michiko Yusa, Zen and Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitaro (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002), 292, ff.

(49.) Shin no daigaku mondai, 65, in Minoda, Zenshu, 1073.

(50.) Mukokka sekaishugi, Minoda, Zenshu, 65/1073.

(51.) Sekaiho no riron, Vol. 1 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1932), 144.

(52.) Ibid., 142.

(53.) "Dai ni sho: ho no gainen to kokka no gainen."

(54.) Tanaka, Sekaiho no riron, 153.

(55.) Sophia University newsletter, no. 40, 100th Anniversary of Sophia University (2013), 1. See also "Jinja reihai kyohi mondai: Jochi Daigaku wa jinja no gimu tokezu to iu," Yomiuri Shimbun, October 13, 1932.

(56.) "Fashizumu to Kasorishizumu no tachiba"

(57.) "Todai hogakubu dangai no doki mokuteki: Tanaka Kotaro, Yokota Kisaburo shi no futei hai-Nichi shiso to rinchi Kyosanto jiken no shokan to" (1933).

(58.) Yomiuri Shimbun, May 10, 1932, 4.

(59.) See Hashimoto Takehiko, "From Traditional to Modern Metrology: The Introduction and Acceptance of the Metric System," in Historical Essays on Japanese Technology (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, 2009), 87-106.

(60.) Minoda, Zenshu, 22/1110.

(61.) Ibid., 22-23/1110-1111.

(62.) Ibid., 23/1111, citing Minoda, Gakujutsu ishin Genri Nippon, 542-43.

(63.) From the June 15, 1933, Tokyo Asahi Shimbun. Cited in Minoda, Zenshu, 1111/23.

(64.) Minoda, Zenshu, 23-24/1111-1112.

(65.) For a much more detailed background to the question of nationalism versus internationalism in Japan, see Kevin M. Doak, "Liberal nationalism in imperial Japan: The dilemma of nationalism and internationalism," in Dick Stegewerns, ed., Nationalism and Internationalism in Imperial Japan: Autonomy, Asian brotherhood, or world citizenship? (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 17-41. See also Doak, "The Place of National Identity in World Law: Reflections on Tanaka Kotaro's Theory of Minzoku," in Urs Matthias Zachmann and Christian Uhl, eds., Japan und das Problem der Moderne: Wolfgang Seifert zu Ehren (Iudicium, 2015), 441-48.

(66.) Minoda, Zenshu, 24/1112.

(67.) Ibid., 24/1112.

(68.) Tanaka, Sekaiho no riron, vol. 1, 117, citing Ehrlich, Grundlegung der Soziologie des Rechts (1913), 8: 11.

(69.) Tanaka, Sekaiho no riron, vol. 1, 118-19.

(70.) Ehrlich, Grundlegung, 379 ff., cited in Tanaka, Sekaiho no riron, 123-24.

(71.) Tanaka, Sekaiho no riron, 127.

(72.) Ibid., 127.

(73.) Ibid., 128-29.

(74.) Tanaka makes virtually identical arguments in an English essay published in 1957. See Tanaka Kotaro, "What is Necessary to Make Democracy Work in Japan?" in Paul K.T. Sih, ed., Democracy in East Asia ([phrase omitted]) (Taipei: China Culture Publishing Foundation, 1957), 50-56.

(75.) "Gendai no shisoteki anakii," 243-44.

(76.) See, e.g., "Kachi no sotaisei," in Funayama Shin'ichi, Nihon no kan'nenronsha (Tokyo: Eihosha, 1956), 256 ff.

(77.) Ishida, in Rokumoto Kahei and Yoshida Isamu, ed., Suehiro Izutaro to Nihon no hoshakaigaku (Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 2007), 169-70, citing Suehiro, "Shina kanko chosa no kaishi wo yorokobu," in H oritsu Jiho, vol. 11, no. 1 (1939), 3, and Suehiro, "Antei genri no rodo seisaku to rodoho," in Horitsu Jiho, vol. 10, no. 9 (1938), 4 ff.

(78.) Rokumoto, et al., Suehiro Izutaro, 168, fn. 17, citing Suehiro, "Onjoshugi no botsuraku," in Horitsu Jiho, vol. 2, nos. 5 & 6 (1930), 5, and Suehiro, "Kiro ni tatsu waga rodoho," in Chuo Koron, vol. 50, no. 1 (1935), 22.

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Author:Morgan, Jason
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
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Date:Jun 22, 2018
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