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3 History Lecture Notes ?/span>2001 by Mineharu Nakayama



3.1. Prehistory


Principal periods, dates, artifacts and monuments, waves of migrations of Altaic peoples from Central Asia; others from South China, Southeast asia and Polynesia; Ainu people


Keywords: Joomon Culture, Emperor Jimmu, Yayoi Culture, Yamato, Uji, Shinto and KAMI, Buddhism


30,000BC - (522AD?) Stone Age

30,000BC - earliest datable traces of human habitation


10,000BC - 300 BC JOOMON CULTURE (JOO means 'rope or cord'; MON means 'figure') Many Joomon-doki (rope figured pottery) were produced.

      Doguu figurines

      Tate-ana pit dwellings


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      Rope figured pottery           Doguu figurines             Tate-ana pit dwellings


660BC - The first Emperor - JIMMU


300BC - 300 AD YAYOI CULTURE - technical innovations - metal working, the use of pottery wheel and irrigated rice cultivation (from Korea), clan units grow in power


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      Pottery                               Irrigation                                   Storage (Nezumi gaeshi)


About this time - the first clear view of the Japanese (by Chinese record 3c BC) - sharp class divisions and living by agriculture and fishing (Occurrence of bronze articles and evidence of established agricultural communities)

      - a hundred or more tribal units under female or male chieftains of semi-religious status

      -"queen's country" - a certain hegemony over the others - MATRIARCHAL system - descent of the historical imperial line from the sun goddess

Starting around 200AD - overrun by waves of mounted invaders from Korean Peninsula/cultural influences from Korea

ca. 260 - Conjectural date for founding of the Great Shrine of the Sun Goddess at Ise

297 AD Chinese record - Accounts of the Eastern Babarians "Land of Wa" (dwarfs)

      mound burial, purification rituals, "mourning keeper", "fond of liquoe", longevity, polygamy, litigation infrequent, group responsibility, class distinctions, slavery, Queen Himiko (or Pimiko), shaman queen, junshi (sacrifical death)- "over a hundred male and female attendants followed her to the grave"


ca. 300-552 - KOFUN (Tomb) PERIOD - many large burial mounds (KOFUN) were built throughout the western 2/3 of the islands -> concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a military aristocracy

      - creation of giant key-hole tombs and Haniwa figure

      - agression into Korea (Silla, Paekche, Koguryo), Mimana colony


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      Haniwa                   Emperor Nintoku's tomb (KOFUN)                


By 6 c AD - the YAMATO family gains supremacy (Nara Plain) and founds the imperial line.

      Emperor - dual character - functions of a religious leader and a leader of the state

      - Political and economic organization was still primitive

      - most of the land - controlled by semiautonomous tribal unit - UJI (bound to the ruling family of the Yamato)

      UJI - had chiefs and own UJI shrines, a number of subordinate UJI and pseudo-family groupings of farmers, fishermen, weavers, and other types of workers

      Religious practice - SHINTO "the way of the gods" - the worship of gods or KAMI (natural phenomena, mythological ancestors (often nature gods)) - the line between man and nature was not drawn sharply - unusual or awesome men were easily made into deities - No ethical concepts associated with these religious ideas except the sense of awe and reverence before nature and a concept of ritual purity (NO list of DOS and DON'TS - NO Ten Commandments)

      (even presently can see - water in front of a shrine to wash mouth and hands)

      - cultural influences from the nearby continent - iron and bronze

538 AD - BUDDHISM arrival from China via Korea (Buddhism - an endless cycle of reincarnations, enlightenment - Nirvana, universal appeal)

      use of Chinese characters

      A fight started in the Yamato court - Buddhist images and beliefs as a magical system of equal or greater power than Shinto - the supporter of Buddhism won


3.2. Early Japan


Keywords: Prince Shootoku, NARA Period, KOJIKI, NIHON-SHOKI/NIHONGI, MANYOOSHU, Shoosooin, HEIAN period, TALE OF GENJI, Great Buddha in Toodai-ji


552-646 - ASUKA PERIOD

562 - Japanese power in Korea destroyed by Korean Kingdom of Silla

592-628 - Reign of Empress Suiko with the support of the continental-looking Soga clan.

      Prince SHOOTOKU (593-622) - the regent for his aunt Empress SUIKO proved a great champion of the new religion and the continental civilization

594 - Buddhism proclaimed the state religion

604 - Shootoku drafted Seventeen Article Constitution - ethical government

      - establishes a 200 yr tradition of scholarly missions to China

      Conscious effort of massive cultural borrowing (No parallel in the western history except Peter the Great -18 c in Russia)

      Adoption of Chinese calendar.

      Soga clan increases influence over the Imperial (Yamato clan) family.

Chinese concept of all-powerful monarchy (Emperor - from a naive semisacred leader into a secular ruler of the Chinese type, but in reality by 7th century - largely symbols of authority rather than wielders of personal power - manipulated by other members of the extensive imperial clan or the broader court aristocracy -> NOW "symbol of the State and the unity of the people")

Centralized state - provinces administered by officials from the capital higher posts in the government - largely filled by bureaucrats who passed scholastic state-administered examinations, but didn't last long -> determined by inherited family status rather than by individual merit)

607 - Founding of Hooryuu-ji Temple (World's oldest wooden building, Chinese copy) - Hossoo Sect


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645 - The TAIKA REFORM (abolishes most private land ownership and aims for the central government like China, but gradually into the hands of private owners - hereditary privilege of certain families, tax-free estate - temples and shrines)

701 - TAIHOO CODE (creates administrative offices and legal system)


710 - 784 NARA PERIOD - Imperial court moved to the newly built city Nara, Japan's first permanent capital and urban center (Heijoo-kyo) - the court left the old city to escape Buddhist political influence

      City laid out on symmetrical grid-pattern of Changan, capital of Tang China

712 - KOJIKI (Records of Ancient Matters), Japan's first written history book

720 - NIHON-SHOKI or NIHONGI (Chronicles of Japan), Japan's first written mythology

751 - KAIFUUSOO, first collection of Chinese poetry written by Japanese

752 - Founding of Toodaiji Temple (rebuilt 3 times), The Great Buddha, Kegon Sect

      largest wooden structure in the world

      Bronze-cast Great Buddha (Daibutsu) -dedicated in 752- Buddha of Light (Vairochana or Dainichi Nyorai)

      parallels other manmmoth Buddhist temples built in Asia at same time (e.g., Borobudor Temple in Indonesia, Pagan Temple in Myamar/Burma)

      All reality is mirrored in every other part of reality "A speck of dust rises in the air: it contains the whole of the earth; a single flower blooms: the whole world blossoms forth."


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759 - MANYOOSHU (Collection of Myriad Leaves), Japan's first anthology of poems 4516 native Japanese poems in 20 volumes, covering 400 yrs of poetry (from Emperor Nintoku (d. 399) to 759)

      beginning of written poetic tradition; imperial patronage after 905

      Waka (Japnese songs, syllable count 5-7-5-7-7) cf. Tanka (short poems) and Chooka (long poems); Themes - romantic love, nature, seasons (Spring vs. Autumn), change, parting and separation, passage of time

      techniques - fixed epithets, pillow words, pivot words

      Further development of kana symbols (manyoogana)

      Great poets (e.g., Hitomaro, Yakamochi)

      Manyo spirit - expansive, life-affirming, natural

8c - SHOOSOOIN (Imperial storehouse/museum) - 10,000 treasures from Middle East (in particular from Iran (silk road)), India, China, Korea, etc.

      - raised platform construction of a rice granary

(Nara today: has withstood abandonment, samurai wars, WWII to become the greatest surviving repository of Buddhist and continental art and archtecture from China of the Six Dynasties (220-589), Sui Dynasty (589-618), and Tang Dynasty (618-907), as well as other parts of Asia)


794 - 1191 HEIAN PERIOD - The imperial court establishes Heian-kyo (Kyoto), which represents a capital of peace and tranquillity (laid out on larger scale than Nara; again on Chinese model of Chang-an, but Buddhist temples were excluded from city proper.

      Kyoto becomes permanent site of residence of emperors until 1868

      Isolation, Assimilation and Naturalization of Cultural Influences

      Malevolent influence of Buddhism on politics, especially the priest Dookyoo, who was close to Empress Shootoku (r. 764-770), the last empress to reign in Japanese history

      Development of urban culture (city vs. country dichotomy)

      Zenith of courtly or aristocratic life-style

            emperor, court, and bluebloods (Kuge)

            wealth derives from large land estates or shooen

            authority derives from bloodlines, cultural prestage

            emperors "regin, but do not rule"


805 - Saicho (767-822) returns from China to found Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei (Kyoto), Tendai Sect of Buddhism                  

806 - Kuukai (a.k.a. Kooboo Daishi, 774-835) returns from China to found Shingon Sect of Buddhism on Mt. Kooya (Wakayama)                     

      emphasis on rituals, court patronage, secret transmission of teachings sutra, mudra (hand poses), mandala (cosmic diagrams)

838 - last mission to China, termination of official relations with China

858 - The Fujiwara family secures ruling power as regents to the imperial throne. (marriage politics: Fujiwara marry daughters to emperor, produce heir, force abdiction, become regent for grandchild)

9c - KANA developed from kanji (31 syllable -Tanka; diary written in Kana - man ,but pretended to be a woman)

905 - First imperial anthology Kokin-shuu  (Collection of Ancient and Modern Verse)

            preface by editor, Tsurayuki (905), on nature of waka

1011 - TALE OF GENJI by Lady Murasaki, the world's first novel, description of a court life (in brilliant detail and psychological subtlety), a novel but also a story to be read aloud from hand scrolls and to be illustrated

      Sensitivity - esthetic feelings

      Yamato-e - Chinese influence (bold use of color)

11c - Buddhist paradise on earth, Phoenix Hall of the Byoodooin Temple

1068 - Gosanjoo Tennoo attempts to control the power of the Fujiwara family

1086 - Shirakawa Tenno begins institution of "Cloistered Emperor"


Literature: Waka poetry, diaries, fictional tales of courtly life and loves

      Sei Shoonagon, arbiter of good taste in Makura-no sooshi "The Pillow Book"

      Monogatari 'tales'

            poem tales: Ise Monogatari (Tale of Ise)

            prose tales: Taketori Monogatari (Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and the Shining                            Princess)

                        Tale of Genji - World of the "Shining Prince", Hikaru Genji

      courtly ideals and aesthetics

            miyabi, courtly refinement "rule of taste"

            mono-no aware, the "ahness", "sadness" of things/life/love; nothing is permanent, all        is change - Shinto expression of beauty and awe (aware) plus Buddhist feeling that      life is suffering, changing, unstable and impermanent (mujo)

      arts of poetic exchange, calligraphy, painting, incense, dress, gardening

      importance of court women as writiers, perpetrators of native Yamato language and its literary tradition


3.3. Feudalism


Keywords: Taira and Minamoto, KAMAKURA period, Shogun, Minamoto-no Yoritomo, Kamikaze, Emperor Godaigo, NAN-BOKU-CHO Period, Ashikaga Takauji, The Onin war, Daimyo, the Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren


Cadet branches of the imperial family Taira and Minamoto (Heike & Genji)

1156 - Taira Kiyomori, of the military and provincial aristocracy, gains control of civil government in the capital

1156-60 - A struggle for court control pits the Taira family against the Minamoto family.  The Taira holds way from 1160-1180. (married their daughters to the emperors)

1185 - The Minamoto clan triumphs after a 5 yr war and establishes the first military government in Kamakura (one hr SW of Tokyo by train).  Power passes from the court aristocracy to the warrior class. 


      The Tale of the Heike

            the second great clssic of Japanese literature

            the historical sourcebook or "bible" for the samurai

            work of oral literature told by traveling musicians and priests

            tells two major stories

                        rise and fall of the Heike: power corrupts, the proud will not last (life of the                    warrior + Buddhist doctrine of change)

                        military victories of the Genji, esp. the great strategies of Yoshitsune,                              Yoritomo's half brother, at Ichi-no-tani, and the final naval victory at Dan-no-                      ura

            other themes

                        origin of samurai code/style about military dress, martial arts (e.g., kendo,                                  Way of the Sword); honor, seppuku (ritual suicide; also called harakiri 'belly                  slashing'); death poems, etc.

                        the vanity of all existence: the bell that tolls at the beginning and end of the                                  Tale; the death of Atsumori; the final visit with the imperial princess

                        the "nobility of failure": the story of Yoshitsune - the "failed hero" is more                                    heroic: a tradition of the "anti-hero"


      The "cherry blossom" as metaphor for the life of the warrior; it casts itself away at the very peak of its powers


1191 - Zen Buddhism was introduced from China. (Later 13th-16th c) it influences Chanoyu (tea ceremony), Noh theater, rock gardens, ink painting, and flower arrangement)

            the patronage of Zen Buddhism by the samurai elite

            to develop powers of concentration for the martial arts through meditation:                                 sitting at Zen or zazen

            philosophy of "elf-relience" (jiriki)

      Zen or "Chan" Buddhism in China

            founded by Bodhidarma, who meditated for nine years until his legs disappeared or        atrophied: Daruma

      the sect of Buddhism that survives anti-Buddhist campaigns in China after the fall of the Tang Dynasty

            temples - distant from cities; economically self-sufficient

      although a branch of Mahayana or institutional Buddhism, it is a return to the original, non-institutional spririt of early Buddhism

            rejects teachings of sutras, teachers

            relies on kooan, mental puzzles or paradoxes designed to destroy relience on dialectic    logic (e.g., "When you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha", "What is the sound of one      hand clapping?", "Where is the white rabbit in the snowstorm?", "What was your        form before your parents were born?")

      goal: to achieve "satori" or "enlightenment" - to discover the Buddha nature, or Nothingness, in oneself

      emphasis on naturalness and anti-intellectualization

            emptying the bucket of the mind - resonates with Shinto

      influence of the understated, rustic taste of China in the Sung Dynasty (960-1280)


1192 - KAMAKURA period - Japan's first Shogun (Military ruler, the generalissimo of the emperor's army) - Minamoto Yoritomo establishes first Shogunate government

      Bakufu=Shogunate (literary "tent government")

      Shugo (protector)- region and Jito (the new managerial position of steward); followed local customary laws - proto-feudal

1206 - Honen (1133-1212) exiled because of success in gaining converts to the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism.

1212 - Kamo-no Chomei writes Hojo-ki (an Account of My Hut)

1219 - The Hojo family, the decedents of Taira, takes power. Hojo shogunal "regents"

1222 - Dogen (1200-53) founds Soto School of Zen.

1260 - Nichiren (1212-82) establishes the Hokke-shu (Lotus Sect) of Buddhism.

1274, 84 - Kubilai Khan fails to add Japan to his Mongol Empire when storms (Kamikaze - Divine Wind) wreck his invasion fleets.

13th c Renaissance of sculpture - the great Buddha at Kamakura, Noh

1333 - Emperor Godaigo attempts to take back the political power.

      Kenmu Restoration (1333-36) Godaigo disposed by forces of Ashikaga Takauji.


1336-1573 (NAN-BOKU CHO Period/Muromachi or Ashikaga Periods) - two imperial capitals; Ashikaga Takauji - Kamakura general broke with Godaigo and set up another member of the imperial family as emperor in Kyoto.

      A new Shogunate, the Ashikaga - strong art patrons, but weak rulers

      the development of the "high culture" of the samurai class under the direction of the Ashikaga Shoguns: its two poles: opulence and understatement

1338 - Ashikaga Takauji becomes Shogun.

1368 - Ashikaga Yoshimitsu succeeds to the shogunate.

            builds "Goldren Pavilion" (Kinkaku-ji) - gold plated structure (later a temple) floating     at the edge of mirror pond; symbol of Ashikaga opulence and extravagance

            cultivates the Noh theater and patronizes the theater's foremost playwright and   theorist, Zeami

                        Noh: a dramatic poem concerned with past or supernatural events, performed               by a dancer, often masked, and a secondary character(s), often a traveller or               Buddhist priest, who along with the chorus elicits and tells the dancer's                                   traumatic tale

1443 - Zeami (1363-1443) Master playwright and performer of the Noh drama, dies.

      Ashikaga Yoshimasa, 8th Ashikaga Shogun

            builds "Silver Pavilion" (Ginkaku-ji) - unpainted bldg. (later temple) surrounded by         swept sand that supposedly makes the pavilion look silver in the moonlight; symbol         of aesthetic of understatement, primitivism, rustification, less is more, minimalism,            reverse snobbism, etc. represented by such terms as

                        Shibui - "astringent" or unostentatious

                                    (e.g., fine silk fabric made to look like linen)

                        Sabi - rusty, rustic, rusticated, weathered

                        Wabi - forlorn, lonely, abandonned

            the concept of "elegance" or "miyabi" from the Heian Period is retained but without        its sense of extravagance and ostentatiousness

            a "negative" or inverted aesthetic standard that reflects:

                        declining military and economic control of central leaders

                        state of constant change and uncertainty of the times

                                    mujo "impermanence, transience, ever-changing"

                        Zen Buddhism: ideas of naturalness, self-sufficiency, anti-                                                     establishmentarianism (reinforced by Shinto taste)

                        Chinese tastes in the Sung Dynasty, also a period of weakened political and                   economical conrol in China

            this new aesthetic is anticipated and described in

                        writings by Chomei and Kenko

                                    a ten-foot square hut is better than a palace

                                    better to imagine the cherry blossoms and the moon than to actually                               see them

                        tea ceremony (Sado, Ocha-no-yu)

                                    especially, the "wabi" -tea style of Rikyu

                        Noh theater (Onoh, Noh-gaku)

                        gardens (paradox: Nature (manipulated) made to look Natural

                        flower arrangement (Ikebana, Kado)

                                    Donald Keene on 4 characteristics of Japanese taste:

                                                1) suggestion, 2) irregularity, 3) simplicity, 4) perishability

1467-77 - The Onin war (a civil conflict) devastates Kyoto

      civil war destroying the last of the residential archtecture of Heian Period within the city limits of Kyoto

      Daimyo or feudal lord claimed absolute control of their own vassals and lands.

1467-1568 - Period of Warring States

      rise of local feudal lords (Daimyo) with small estates, stockades

      breakdown of Ashikaga power

By late 15th c - the imperial court and its aristocracy became poor


Samurai - great emphasis on the military virtues of bravery, honor, self-discipline, and the stoical acceptance of death - suicide (no religious injunctions) - harakiri or seppuku - payment of the highest form, honorable way to escape an intolerable situation

less emphasis on law, but morality -no room for the concept of political rights

Confucian system - loyalty; family continuity - select one most suitable male heir, or take an adoption

No cult of chivalry though women were considered as fragile and inferior beings (Buddhism influence plus Confucian influence) - yet Samurai expected women to be as tough as they were

Buddhist concepts of the vanity of life or Shinto ideas of the permeation of nature and man

the Pure Land, Nichiren (Lotus Sutra), Zen (concepts of meditation, simplicity, and closeness to nature)


3.4 Centralized Feudalism


Keywords: Portuguese, St. Francis Xavier, Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tensho Boy Mission, Tokugawa Ieyasu, EDO Period, Fudai, Shimpan, Tozama, Hatamoto, Sankin kootai, Foreign policy, Sakoku, Dutch, Shimabara-no ran, Haiku, Kabuki, Jooruri, Geisha, Ukiyoe, Seppuku, social scale/classes, Burakumin, Commodore Matthew C. Perry


1543 - Western (Portuguese) commerce arrives at Tanegashima, and left his gun

1549 - 57 St. Francis Xavier launches a Jesuit mission (He converted 150 Japanese to Christianity - by 17th c a half million converted)

1568 - Regional Lord Oda Nobunaga first seized Kyoto (Azuchi Momoyama Period).

      castles - hirajiro vs. yamashiro

      breaks power of Buddhist monk armies & Ashikagas

1568-1600 - Age of Unification

1582 - Oda was assassinated by Akechi Mitsuhide.  Akechi was killed by a farmer.  Oda's close follower Toyotomi Hideyoshi keeps the campaign and completes it in 1590.  He never took the title of Shogun.  He made a clear distinction between samurais and other classes.  He monopolized foreign trade, confiscated the arms of the peasantry, drawing a sharp line between them and the samurai.

1586 - Tenshoo shoonen shisetsu (Tenshoo Boy Missions) went to Europe and came back in 1590.

1589 - Persecution of Christians

1590 - National unification completed by Hideyoshi.

1592-7 - Hideyoshi attempts to invade Korea, as the first step to conquer the world (China), but fails. (diverts samurai energies into Korean campaigns)

1598 - Hideyoshi dies.

1600 - Battle of Sekigahara.  Tokugawa Ieyasu takes the torch.

      Sekigahara -60,000 guns; Japan - 100,000 guns - France - 3,000 guns

      Sakai (in Osaka) produced 5,000 guns per year; all Europe - 2,000 per yr

1603 - Tokugawa Shogunate, Edo Period - Edo - government (capital - Kyoto)

      Nakanakuba koroshite shimaoo hototogisu - Nobunaga (kill)

      Nakanakuba nakasete miseyoo hototogisu - Hideyoshi (force)

      Nakanakuba nakumade matoo hototogisu - Ieyasu (wait)

establishment of highly centralized Shogunate

      seat of government moved to Edo (modern day Tokyo)

      control of feudal lords

            245 to 295 vassal lords or daimyo (feudal lord)

            Fudai (hereditary daimyoo) (loyalists)

            Shinpan (Tokugawa collateral branch)

            Tozama (outer daimyo) (pledge loyality)

            Hatamoto - direct army of shogun

      Sankin kootai - one yr at home, one yr at Edo with his wife and the first son (hostages)

            financial burdens: two residences, great processions, etc.

            later "restructuring": elimination of loards as in story of 47 Masterless Samurai    (Chushingura)

      System of roads, communications and checkpoints

            Tokaido road linking Kyoto and Edo

            check point near Mt. Fuji (Kanto/Kansai - East & West of the barrier)

      A fourth of the agricultural land and all the great cities, ports, and mines - Shogun's land (tenryoo)

      Neo-Confucianism established as official Tokugawa ideology.

      4 classes - samurai (leaders), peasants, artisans, merchants (eta, hinin-> burakumin)

            samurai class (5-6% of population) administers society

            makes chu, loyality to one's lord, most important value (given more emphasis than          even ko "filial piety"- devotion to parents and family)

            emphasizes subordinate status of women

                        Great Learning for Women (Onna Daigaku) - 3 obediences

                        divorce in "3 and 1/2 lines" (Mikudari han)

            neighborhood associations as form of collective responsibility

      builds monuments to Tokugawa power, e.g., Ieyasu's mausoleum at Nikko

      control of life-style, leisure, money of all classes

            sumptuary laws controlling luxurious living

            establishment of pleasure districts (e.g., the Yoshiwara in the city of Edo)

                        courtesans: geisha as professional entertainers

      Unification leads to:

            growth of large cities: Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Nagasaki, and the new political capital Edo

            growth of castle towns: local economies grown up around daimyo castles

            relative peace and prosperity for 250+ years

            rise of middle-man class: the choonin, townsmen or merchant class

                        although at the bottom of the social hierarchy, this class amasses wealth

                        possession of wealth - without political power - leads to contradictory moral                  goals

                        thrift, frugality and investment as the first step to amassing capital

            the culture of merchant class focuses on conspicuous consumption

                        redefinition (re-evaluation) of the term ukiyo as a "vale of tears"

                        to the meaning of ukiyo as "the floating world"

            emphasis on feeling (ninjo) rather than duty (giri)

            emphasis on romantic love - the primacy of feelings, romantic choice

            posture of anti-establishment opposition to the samurai class

            wet/heterodox merchant tradition vs. dry/orthodox samurai tradition

      Haiku, Kabuki, Jooruri, Ukiyoe, etc.

      Principal cultural artists and artifacts of the merchant tradition

            Basho (1644-94) and the writing of haiku (5-7-5) poetry: a life of travel and the open    road in pursuit of the poetic moment

            Sikaku (1641-93) and the kana-novel

                        rise in literacy: literature and art made available to the average person through                the "mass" publication of novels and prints (e.g., ukiyoe "picture of the                          floating world") - wood block prints of courtesans, actors and landscapes)

                        makes Heian classics available to mass audience: neo-classicism

                        creates a series of romantic or erotic novels in which the central characters                                 devote themselves to the way of love or sexual pursuit (shikido, the way of              eroticism) e.g., The Man Who Lived For Love (1683), The Woman Who                              Lived For Love, Five Woman Who Lived For Love

                        novels as an important source of information about fashions in dress, food,                     theater, sumo, etc.

                        importance of tone in these writings: ironic, parodic, satirical

            Chikamatsu (1653-1724) and the Puppet and Kabuki theater

                        giri vs. ninjo (duty vs. feeling) or romantic vs. arranged marrage

                        the drama and tragedy of the double suicide (shinju)

                        duty wins but lovers as "failed heroes" live in death

            Kabuki theater: starts with comic and erotic performances by Okuni, an actress, and      her troope on the dry riverbed of the Kamo River in Kyoto

                        later women were outlawed as performers; roles were taken by men

                        perfection of female impersonation

            Pleasure districts: Yoshiwara in Edo, rise of professional entertainers (geisha)

            Sumo wrestling

            Public bathhouses, nudity, tatooing

1615 - Osaka Castle destroyed; final defeat of Hideyoshi's heirs.

1616 - Ieyasu dies.

1617 - Renewed persecution of Christians (fumie- walk on crucifix- test).

1624 - Spanish expelled.

1638 - Shimabara-no  ran (Riot at Shimabara) 40,000 Christians and farmers stayed in the island and fought against 100,000 of the government soldiers about 4 months.  Protestants (Dutch) helped the government from the sea to seize the riot.

1639 - Japanese are forbidden to leave the country.  Missionaries are expelled.  Only Chinese and Dutch traders were allowed to contact the Japanese at Dejima (man-made island) in Nagasaki. (national isolation policy - Sakoku)

      - technically behind, but stable society - strong sense of national identity

      - occasional riots by the oppressed peasants

      - regional specialization in production

      - monetized economy

      - 25 or 30 million people - above mere subsistence level, only one heir - more of a liability than asset - practiced infanticide

      - importation, manufacture of guns prohibited: "return to the sword"

ca. 1700 - The Genroku flowering of narratives, theatrical, and arts; novels by Ihara Saikaku, plays by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, and haiku by Basho.

1703 - the 47 ronin masterless samurai

late 18th c salaried samurai - working for wages

Confucian doctrines - nationwide intellectual cross-fertilization- Chinese was to rule by men of superior education and morality, but Tokugawa was by birth

18th c - Kokugaku or National learning and Ranguku or Dutch learning

1770-90 - The Tamuma Period of political corruption.

1792 - Russians - Matsumae in Hokkaido

1804 - Americans - Nagasaki; Russians

1808 - British

1840-1 - Tempo Reforms.

1844 - Dutch

1846 - French. US warships under Biddle at Uraga request trade with Japan

1853 - Commodore Matthew C. Perry appeared in the Edo Bay (Uraga), requesting American trading rights

1854 - Perry returns and negotiates Treaty of Kanagawa. Internal Japanese opposition to the development results in a period of political chaos, contributing to the fall of the rule of the Tokugawa Bakufu.

      The Harris Treaty expands the US trade concession; France; Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands followed.

1863-8 - The domains of Satsuma, Chooshuu, and Tosa agitate to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate. They are victorious in 868 when Keiki, the last Tokugawa Shogun, resigns.

1867 - Tokugawa Shogunate ends.  End of the Edo Period, end of feudalism.


3.5. Meiji and Taisho


Keywords: Townsend Harris, Sonnoo Jooi, compulsory education, samurai revolt, Itagaki Taisuke, Jiyuu Minken Undo, Seiyuukai, Ookuma Shigenobu, Ito Hirobumi, invited foreigners, the Imperial Constitution, Diet system, Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, TAISHO Period, Taisho democracy, WW I, Versailles Peace Conference, Washington Conference, voting right


      China - semicolonial system of unequal treaties

      Russians - all of Siberia

1854 - Harris Treaty (Townsend Harris) - full trade treaty in 1858 (commercial treaty - asked Emperor's approval)

      strong demand of Japanese silk

      Sonnoo Jooi "honor the emperor and expel the barbarians"

(US Civil War 1861-5)

1/3/1868 - direct Imperial rule; Meiji Restoration - the reinstitution of the supremacy of the Emperor in political and ideological life.

      - rapid modernization; abolish the samurai class; Edo -> Tokyo

      Fukoku Kyoohei (rich country, strong military)

      return the land registers to the emperor, receive appointments as governors

1869 - 15 yr old emperor moved to Tokyo.

      Rickshaw invented in Japan.

1871 - Education Ministry was founded

1872 - compulsory education.

      Tokyo-Yokohama railroad opened.

1873 - universal military conscription; fixed monetary taxes.

      The Meiroku-sha, an influential group of intellectuals,

      urges the "civilization and enlightenment" (Bunmeikaika)

      of Japanese society based on largely Western models.

      Members include Fukuzawa Yukichi, a founder of Keio Univ.

      in Tokyo. A conservative reaction arises against the "mindless

      and chaotic" importation of foreign ideas and technologies.

1876 - The samurai were prohibited from wearing their swords

1877 - the last and the greatest samurai revolt

      clear awareness of the possibility of learning from abroad

1877 - Tokyo University - graduates- high civil service jobs

1879 - New Testament translated.

1881 - In response to the People's Rights movement, the government promises a constitution and parliament. Constitution promulgated 1889, and Diet opens in 1890.

1881-98 - 6177 British, 2764 Americans, 913 Germans, 619 French, and 45 Italians were invited (French-law, German-medicine, steel, American-agriculture, British - railroad)

1885 - Prime Minister and the cabinet were appointed.

1887 - Masquerade ball in Western dress given for the political elite and foreigners at Rokumeikan provokes a nationalistic reaction. Tokutomi Sohoo founds the nationalistic newspaper Kokumin Shinbun.

1889 - Promulgation of the Imperial Constitution - based on the German (Weimar) constitution - and the Imperial Household Code

      Emperor - merely validate the decision, not to rule

1890 - First National Diet- House of Peers (15 yen Tax - not much more than 1% of the population) and House of Representatives - first successful parliamentary experiment outside the West

      First national election

1892 - 2nd national election

1894-5 Sino-Japanese War - victory (control of Korea)

1894 - British - agreed to relinquish their extraterritorial privileges by 1899

1900 - At about the turn of the century, Japan's publishing industry undergoes a boom that is probably unprecedented in the history of the world up until that time.

      Itagaki Taisuke - Jiyuu Minken Undo "freedom and people's rights -> "movement" - political party - (later) Seiyuukai held power in 1900-12, 

      Ookuma Shigenobu - implement British parliamentary system; cabinet 1914-16

      Ito Hirobumi - German system - constitution - assassinated by a Korean in 1909

1901 - A massive wave of translation of European literature begins and continues for about a decade. Of particular importance are the works of Zora and Nietzsche, though at first their ideas are translated into bad melodrama.

1901-13 - Saionji Kinmochi and General Katsura Taro alternated prime minister position

1902 - first true equal alliance between a Western nation (Britain) and a non-western nation (Japan) (- against Russia). Oriental Palace Hotel in Yokohama installs electric lights and fans.  

1903 - First permanent movie house, the Electric Theater, built in Akasaka entertainment district , Tokyo.         

1904-5 Russio-Japanese War - victory (control of Korea). The peace treaty (broken by Teddy Roosevelt) strikes many as unfair, and riots break out.

1905 - Natsume Sooseki, professor of English at Tokyo Imperial University, publishes his I Am a Cat, and the work proves to be wildly popular. Natsume Sooseki's image today graces Japan's most widely circulating denomination of paper currency, the 1,000 yen note.

1906-10 - Perhaps Japan's most important national literacy movement, Japanese Naturalism, erupts.

1907 - Universal education for 6 yrs became reality

1908 - Conservatives object to Naturalism. Boshin Shosho is promulgated to improve the morals of the nation.

1910.6 - 1911.1 - The High Treason Incident. Severity of censorship increases. Left-wing thinkers are suppressed. The "Winter Years of Socialism" continue until the end of WWI.

1910 - Occupy (colonize) Korea. The first flight of an airplane in Japan.

1911 - Revision of Anglo-Japanese Alliance; US-Japan, Anglo-Japanese, German-Japanese Treaties of Amity, Trade, and Navigation

1912 - Emperor Meiji dies. End of Meiji period. General Nogi commits suicide to serve his Emperor in death.

1912 - TAISHO Period (1912-26), Emperor Taisho

1913-32 - Taisho democracy

1913 - Political parties win power from other elites. The Women's Movement.

1914-8 - Entry of Japan into WW I. Japan aligns itself with allies against Germany. Suffers only 1,210 casualties and prospers greatly from increased European demand for its industrial products. The transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one is facilitated.

1915 - 21 Demands forced on China - a new concession from China

1918 - Siberian Expedition against Russian Revolution in concert with US and Great Britain. Rice riots, strikes, and open defiance of the National Family ideology.

1919 - Versailles Peace Conference - first non-Western nation to have made it into the club of the Western great powers - German holdings in Shantung Provinces in China and German islands of the North Pacific became Japanese

1920 - May First Day. Leftist intellectual trends alarm the authorities.

1921 - Hara Takashi, popular Party Prime Minister, is assassinated.

1921-2 - Washington Conference - limit the ratio of the capital ships to between 3 and 5 with the US and Great Britain, not build bases beyond Hawaii and Singapore

1922 - Japan Communist Party founded.

1923 - Great Kanto Earthquake

1925 - the vote was given to all adult males (Universal male suffrage). Legislation, the Peace Preservation Law, to suppress the left is enacted - a crime to advocate a basic change in the political system or abolition of private property (lacked emotional and intellectual support for the democracy). Scandals erode faith in party politics and government.

1926 - Taisho Emperor dies.


      Asian markets became open because the Western nations left Pacific.

      influence from Russian Revolution

      labor movement

      JPN's foreign policy moved from the military orientation to policies more in line with business interests


3.6. Showa and Heisei


Keywords: SHOWA Period, the London Naval Treaty, the League of Nations, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, WWII, Indonesia, Manchuria, China, Russia, General Tojo Hideki, Atomic bombs, Potsdam Proclamation, constitution, women, Emperor, demilitarization, Land Reform Policy, San Francisco Peace Treaty, the US-Japan Security Pact, Self Defense Force, LDP, the United Nations, Income-doubling Plan, Tokyo Olympic Games, Okinawa, Sapporo Winter Olympic Games, "Nixon Shock", Oil crisis, Tokyo Summit, HEISEI Period, coalition government, Nagano Winter Olympic Games


Diet control over the prime ministership and cabinet was by no means part of the established constitutional system but merely political convenience

Army and Navy ministers remained military men and outside party discipline

economy - bad - peasants forced to sell their daughters


1926 - SHOWA Period, Emperor Showa (Hirohito)

1927 - General Tanaka Giichi - president of Seiyuukai - became prime minister - army - actual operations are free of civilian control.

      Writer Akutagawa Ryuunosuke commits suicide, leaving behind prophetic statement that Japanese society was falling into a dark valley.

      Economy collapsing. Many farmers forced to sell daughters into prostitution. Democracy appears to fail and political parties are blamed. Young military patriots seek spiritual solution.

1928 - army's assassination of the Chinese warlord in Manchuria

1929 - American stock market crash

      self sufficiency - population problem

1930 -the cabinet forced the navy to accept the London Naval treaty - heavy cruisers - 3-5 ratio of US and Britain - insubordination by the navy

1931 - Depression, Occupying Manchuria (staged incident, railroad)

      Military leaders assassinated the Prime Minister who forced the London Treaty

      Right wing terrorism becomes a primary force in governing Japanese foreign policy. Talking pictures introduced into Japan, throwing those who formerly explicated silent pictures in Japanese out of work. These people organize a union and urge the boycott of talking pictures.

1932 - Founding of Japanese puppet state Manchuko in Manchuria.

1933 - Withdrawal from the League of Nations

      Mass arrests of leftists. The writer Kobayashi Takiji tortured and murdered by the police.

1936 - Minseito - "Will it be parliamentary government or fascism?" - gained some seats, but outpowered by nationalists

      The 2.26 (Feb 26th). Incident - young army officers killed a number of government leaders and seized part of downtown Tokyo - another decline of the Diet

1937 - Army general prime minister eliminated all party participation in the cabinet

1937 - War against China, Control over Inner Mongolia and North China, unplanned fight between JPN and China - Chiang Kai-shek's government demanded an overall settlement of JPN's creeping aggression (but never colonized China)

      Mass media in Japan ordered to avoid anything anti-war, anti-military, anti-Japan. In December, the Japanese military in China goes berserk. There is the Rape of Nanking.

1940 - the government banned all parties - Imperial Rule Assistance Association - no dictator and the system was not the product of a well-defined popular movement, but a change of mood, a shift in the balance of power

      Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.

9/'40 - the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere - pacts with Germany and Italy

9/'40 - seized North Vietnam

4/'41 - pact with Russia

1941 - WWII, Dec. 7 (Dec 8 in JPN time) attack on Pearl Harbor under government of Tojo Hideki.

      3 choices: - backing down in China; waging a war to seize the oil of Indonesia; negotiating a compromise settlement with the US

      General Tojo Hideki became prime minister

1942 - Performances of American and British music are banned.

1944 - Steel guitars, ukuleles, and banjos outlawed.

1945 - Atomic bombs: 8/6 - Hiroshima; 8/9 - Nagasaki

      8/8 Russians joined the War against Japan

      8/14 (Aug 15 in J time) unconditional surrender - Potsdam Proclamation

      668,000 civilians were killed in aerial bombardments

      Agricultural production - 1/3

1945-52 - Allied Occupation of Japan. Occupation troops include British, Australian, and other allied forces, but the Soviets are excluded and it is generally an American show. Ultimate power within Japan resides with the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, S.C.A.P., or General Douglas MacArthur. However, different from the Allied Occupation of Germany, in Japan, many administrative functions and powers are left in the hands of Japanese citizens, who are expected to carry out S.C.A.P.'s directives.

      Demilitarization - the Switzerland of Asia; and democratization

      More than 6.5 million in Asia were dumped back to Japan

      7 men including General Tojo - executed

      Ultra nationalistic groups were banned, communists were released

1946 - New constitution - effective from 3/3/47

      women gained legal equality and the vote (universal suffrage)

      Emperor - symbol of state and the unity of the people

      Article 9 - Disarmament

      Prime Minister - elected by the lower House

      judicial system - independent of executive interference

      Zaibatsu - dissolved - attempts to revive industry - took 10 yrs to become mid 30's standard per capita

      Land Reform policy began - tenancy was reduced to only about 10 % of the land

      union organization

      religious freedom

      compulsory education - 6 -> 9 yrs

      Liberal Democratic Party, Communist Party, Socialist Party, Democratic Socialist Party, Komeito (Clean Government Party - Soka Gakkai)

      Japan is an utter mess.

1946-7 - 1st Yoshida Government

1947-8 - Katayama Government. The only interlude of non-conservative, socialist government in postwar Japan.

1948-9 - 2nd Yoshida Government.

1948 - Reserve course. S.C.A.P. ousts U.S. and Japanese progressives from administration and undertakes policy of deflation.

1949 - Hideki Yukawa becomes the unshared Nobel laureate in physiscs.

1949-52 - 3rd Yoshida Government

1950 - Korean War

      Communist Party driven underground. Japanese economy takes off.

1951 - San Francisco Peace Treaty and the US-Japan Security Pact

1952 - April, Occupation ends. Japan regains full independence

1952-3 - 4th Yoshida Government

1953 - Television broadcasting begins.

1953-4 - 5th Yoshida Government

1954 - Self Defense Force

1954-7 - Hatoyama Government

1955 - Liberal Democratic Party (Two traditional conservative enemies, Yoshida and Hatoyama, unite to form the LDP. The LDP has held power till 1993.

      Ishihara Shintaro writes Season of Violence. One of the angry young men of postwar Japanese media, Ishihara later becomes a conservative politician, authored TheJapan that Can Say No in 1989 (English ver. in 1991), and became the governor of Tokyo in 1999.

Mid 50's - per capita production levels of pre-war years

1956 - a full peace treaty with the Soviet Union

      Japan's participation in the United Nations approved

1957-60 - Kishi (formerly convinced of being wartime criminal) Government

1959 - Free Trade and exchange policy adopted

1960 - revision of the Security Treaty

      Opposition to the US-Japan Security Treaty brings down Kishi Government.

1960-4 - Ikeda Government.

      Income-doubling Plan by Prime Minister Ikeda (but actually doubling every seven years)

      Ikeda's famous quote, "Japan doesn't need the poor!" MITI helps engineer three decades of unsurpassed economic growth.

1964 - Tokyo Olympic Games - new sense of national pride and purpose

      The obligations of Article 8 of the IMF agreement

      Membership in OECD

      Bullet train (Hikari) service began

1964-72 - Sato Government

1965 - relations with South Korea - normalized with large financial payments

      Vietnam War; anti-America

1965 - Shin'ichiro Tomonaga becomes the unshared Nobel laureate in physiscs.

1968 - Yasunari Kawabata becomes the unshared Nobel laureate in literature.

1969 - reversion of Okinawa - effective in 1972

      by late 60's Japan became the 1st or 2nd largest trading partner of almost every country in East and Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific

60's - major role in the Asian Development Bank

1970 - Osaka International Exposition

      Mishima Yukio commits suicide.

1971 - Nixon Shock - Nixon went to China

1972 - Sapporo Winter Olympic Games

      Return of Okinawa

      Kawabata Yasunari commits suicide.

      Diplomatic relations between Japan and People's of Republic of China restored

1972-4 - Tanaka Government

1973 - Reona Esaki becomes the Nobel laureate in physiscs.

1973 - Oil crisis (Oil Shock) - Japan's vulnerability (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries - more than 60% import -> two-digit inflation) -this challenge results in even greater export-inspired economic growth.

      the 4th Middle East War

1974 - Former Prime Minister Eisaku Sato becomes the Nobel laureate in Peace.

1974-6 - Miki Government

1976 - Lockheed Scandal. Former prime minister Tanaka Kakuei is prosecuted for taking bribes from Lockheed.

1976-8 - Fukuda Government

1978-80 - Ohira Government

1979 - second increase oil prices by OPEC

      Tokyo Summit (5th Economic Summit Conference)

1981 - Ken'ichi Fukui becomes the Nobel laureate in Chemistry.

1982-87 - Nakasone Government

80's - highest rates of longevity

1986 - Tokyo Summit (12th Economic Summit Conference)

1987-89 - Takeshita Government

1987 - Susumu Tonegawa becomes the Nobel laureate in Physiology/Medicine.

1989 - Emperor Hirohito dies in January; Heisei Period starts, Emperor Heisei (Akihito)

1989 - Uno Sosuke Government resigns over sex scandal.

1989-91 - Kaifu Toshiki Government

1991-3 - Miyazawa Government

1993 - coalition government (non-LDP government) All parties except LDP and Japan Communist Party

1994 June - Japan Socialist Party, LDP, Sakigake coalition government

1994 - Kenzaburo Oe becomes the unshared Nobel laureate in Literature.

1996 - 1/17 Great Hanshin Earthquake

      several Aum incidents

1996 - coalition government (LDP and Shaminto (former Japan Socialist Party) government)

1998 - Nagano Winter Olympic Games

2000 - Prime Minister Obuchi dies

            Prime Minister Mori (LDP, Komei-to and Hoshuto coalition government)

2000 - Okinawa Summit

2000 - Hideki Shirakawa becomes the Nobel laureate in Chemistry.


George Hicks, The Comfort Women: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995. 303 pp. Selected annotated bibliography, index. $25.00 US (cloth), ISBN 0-393-03807-6.


Reviewed for H-Women@msu.edu (October 1996) by Jeff Roberts, Tennessee Technological University <jjr7904@tntech.edu>


Imperial Japan was not the first nation to procure women to provide sexual services to its soldiers.  As George Hicks notes, "More or less institutionalized means have always been found for catering to this primitive sexual need."  Hicks, however, convincingly argues that the Japanese case represents a most ghastly instance of abuse, involving "the legalized military rape of subject women on a scale ... previously unknown in history."


Hicks notes several reasons why this long dormant issue surfaced only recently. In Asian societies, wherein chastity is esteemed, the comfort women "had everything to gain by keeping silent and everything to lose by making accusations."  With prospects for marriage ruined by speaking out, most preferred to keep their ordeal secret rather than push for compensation and justice.


Furthermore, "[t]he task of uncovering the history of the comfort women has thus far been delayed by such factors as the destruction of evidence by the Japanese Armed Forces, the Japanese government's insincere attitude toward war responsibility and social prejudice against comfort women." The Japanese were all too happy to avoid the issue.  Government officials have attempted to deny or shift responsibility in a number of ways, for example, by claiming that the comfort women were volunteers, working for private operators, over whom the military maintained only limited supervision.


Hicks also notes that, with one exception, the victorious Allies did not press the issue.  While other atrocities such as the abuse of prisoners of war and the massacre of civilians were dealt with by the Tokyo war crimes trials, all such trials ceased with the outbreak of the Cold War.  Only the Dutch took action, on behalf of Dutch women.  This lone exception, oddly and improperly conducted in the midst of Indonesia's war for independence, was routinely dismissed by the Japanese as anomaly, if not injustice.


Perhaps most importantly, South Korea, whose women were the primary victims, was both distracted by war and threats thereof, and ruled by men who did not countenance demonstrations or protests.  In addition Korea's leaders remained unwilling to challenge Tokyo, at least in part owing to economic dependence.


Comfort women thus began demanding redress in earnest only in the late 1980s and 1990s.  By this time, some individuals no longer had any family upon whom they might "cast shame."  Furthermore, by then, Asian attitudes toward women's rights had begun to change.  Groups and individuals began to link the issue with the problem of sexual oppression of women as a whole. "Simultaneously shocking from the standpoints of morality, feminism and patriotism," the issue could be used to arouse feelings against current practices, including the ongoing sex trade in Asia.


Beginning in the late 1980s, advocates for South Korean comfort women have demanded:


1.         That the Japanese government admit the forced draft of Korean women as comfort women.

2.         That a public apology be made for this.

3.         That all barbarities be fully disclosed.

4.         That a memorial be raised for the victims.

5.         That the survivors or their bereaved families be compensated.

6.         That these facts be continuously related in historical education so that such misdeeds are not repeated.


The Japanese government initially replied by claiming that there was no evidence of a forced draft, and hence no need for apologies, memorials, disclosures or compensation.


Anger at that response prompted many women to come forward, and in some cases, to file suit.  Comfort women from other nations joined the South Koreans in protest.  All the while, scholars gradually uncovered irrefutable evidence that the Japanese military was behind the running of the comfort stations.


Following more Japanese stalling, the South Korean government added its weight to the struggle in 1992.  Several other nations followed suit.  In August, 1993, the Japanese finally admitted to the use of deception, coercion and official involvement in the recruitment of comfort women.  The apology they gave "was along the lines that the government ...offer[s] its deepest apology and sense of self-reproach to all the women for their irreparable mental and physical suffering and injuries, promising that means of compensation would be studied, and the lessons of history squarely faced."


The most powerful sections of the book are the personal accounts of the comfort women.  Intermittently throughout the work, women tell of being violently "deflowered" and then forced to service dozens of men per day in a melange of dehumanizing ways.


One is left aghast at the physical pain the women endured.  "I was continuously raw" writes one woman. "Sex was excruciating."  Many emerged from their service with physical scars, nearly all of which were inflicted by Japanese officers.  While a few managed to injure their tormentors in kind, "one forms the impression that many clients may have preferred this kind of sado-masochistic drama to tame submission."


Sadism is a recurring theme of the women's stories, along with the blatant abuse of force, as in the following example:


            As I lay there naked on the bed ... he slowly ran the

            sword over my body ... He played with me like a cat plays

            with a helpless mouse ... He threw himself on top of me

            ... he was too strong ... To me, this brutal and inhuman

            rape was worse than dying... The night was not over yet,

            there were more Japanese waiting ... this was only the



Beyond the damaged hips, the crippled legs, abdominal scars, broken bones, ruptured eardrums and missing teeth, came even more devastating psychological trauma.  One women speaks of her inability to "relinquish her fear of sex and hatred of men, which extends even to ... her grandson." "I just hate all men and I hate sex."  Others have a different focus for their rage:  "I was to be stripped of every shred of pride and dignity ... how I hate the Japanese!"  "Cannot hate them enough" says another comfort woman, who was seized from her family on the very eve of her wedding.


The anguish they have endured has been worsened by the fact that the victims could not find release in an open acknowledgment of the wrong done to them.  A former Filipino comfort woman, now a grandmother of twelve, stressed the need for justice as follows:  "Our lives were wasted by the Japanese.  We were treated like animals.  Japan should at least say that it is sorry."


Curiously, many Japanese right-wing organizations have responded to even vague apologies with intense venom.  They claim that Japan was not responsible for the war, that their actions were not lawless by the standards of the day, and that human rights were denied to all under wartime conditions.  The present stir, many have claimed, is but economically motivated to put pressure on Japan.


Such responses alert one to another reason why this issue must be pursued, beyond the fact that this is a war crime gone unpunished.  Japan has too often attempted to cover up, or has failed to inform and educate young Japanese, on the less heroic aspects of the war.  Overall there is a pervasive taboo on discussion of the war, giving one an appearance of "national amnesia."  The comfort woman issue "raises afresh the question of Japanese reluctance to acknowledge wartime atrocities."  What is needed is "not only apology and compensation, but proper understanding of history by all Japanese."


In one paragraph which may best sum up the reasons to pursue this issue, the Comfort Women Problem Resolution Council of South Korea concluded: "Even among the war crimes committed by Japan, the comfort women issue involved the most inhuman, atrocious national crimes, unparalleled in the world.  We have consistently demanded that the concealed truth of the matter be brought to light and that apology and compensation be made to the victims.  This is a move designed to restore the human rights denied the comfort women.  It also aims to correct the distortions in the history of Korean and Japanese relations and to sound an alarm bell to the world so that such war crimes are not repeated."


Hicks offers overwhelming evidence to support his criticisms of Japanese policies.  He is more ambiguous, however, in discerning this example from other historical cases of military prostitution.  Hicks is certainly correct to note that after the war, American soldiers claimed from some comfort women "the same sort of service their Japanese counterparts had." He also justifiably notes a "link between the sexual activities of the Japanese Armed Forces and that of the American Occupation Force as two sides of the same coin -- the exploitation of women."


Hicks might do well, at times, to clearly note the differences as well.  Consider the following:  Scholars of the Holocaust, by way of comparison, distinguish that event from many other examples of genocide by noting the scope and scale of the deprivations, and the extent of involvement of modern bureaucracies in the business of torture and murder.  It would seem that the Japanese case similarly extends well beyond other historical examples of military prostitution, and implicates both the Home Government and the Imperial Armed Forces in a variety of ways.  Not only was the scale of deprivations extraordinary, but so too was the suffering.


The Imperial Japanese approached military prostitution with some unusual attitudes.  Some felt that sexual deprivation made one accident prone, and that sex before battle provided charms against injury.  Some even wore "lucky" amulets made with the pubic hair of comfort women.


The system was worsened far less by superstitions, however, than by an intensely hierarchical military that strayed considerably "beyond the rational requirements of discipline."  Within the armed forces recruits endured daily abuse in a dehumanizing process designed to secure complete obedience.  The comfort women, supposedly supplied to "relieve tension," endured excessive mistreatment, especially from the officers.  They who treated their own men as an inferior species, showed even greater contempt for women whom they often regarded as not only sexually but racially inferior.  As one officer put it, "They're less than cattle."


There is also no doubt of extensive bureaucratic involvement.  Women were procured in one of three ways.  Initially recruiters searched for volunteers, finding some among professional prostitutes.  More commonly they deceived young women with promises of cooking, laundry, nursing or waitressing jobs.  Finally, women were seized in virtual slave raids.


While some (not all) of the "recruiting" was handled by private operators, the Japanese Armed Forces "controlled the comfort stations in such respects as laying down regulations for them and conducting examinations of venereal disease."  There were no uniform standards, but posted regulations covered the hours of opening, the length of each visit, bathing procedures, the required use of condoms (which were washed for re-use in shortage-stricken areas), and the fee scale.  The military bureaucracy treated the women as they would handle standard supplies.  With the exception of a recurrent concern for decorum, (amidst the satisfaction of rather brute "male needs"), they ran the comfort stations in a disturbingly banal, indifferent fashion.


There are minor problems with the work.  Given that even educated readers often struggle with Pacific geography, the book could use at least one map.  While a bit overgeneral on the background of the war, the last half of the work conversely drags in detail, as Hicks chronicles the increasing attacks of advocates and Japan's gradual admittance of guilt.  Finally, on an admittedly trivial note, as a scholar of Afghanistan, I simply must dispute his claim that the Russo-Japanese war was "the first war in which an Asian power successfully took on a Western one."


I also question his rather virulent denunciation of the Allies for their failure to prosecute these war crimes earlier.  Not only did the Allies have but limited evidence, but, given prevailing attitudes, one must assume that they likely viewed the comfort women as not altogether unusual for a society known for its bathhouses, geishas, and the like.  While the emergence of feminism has made these issues explicit today, one must at least wonder how clearly the Allies of the late 1940's could have seen the dividing line between prevailing cultural patterns and atrocity.


While the ongoing recovery of relevant information precludes anyone from calling Hicks' work definitive, he has provided much of value.  He has also done well (the book's title aside) to supply a limited degree of balance amidst a subject that begs perjoratives and sensationalism.  Hicks notes cases of Japanese soldiers who empathized with for the comfort women, including one who objected to the whole process as "no different from relieving oneself in the lavatory."  A 73 year-old veteran states: "I think it is appropriate that some kind of compensation should be made to the comfort women."  One suspects that upon concluding this work, Hicks' readers will readily agree.


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