By Tacoma Mary L. Hanneman University of Washington
This new in-depth examine of Hasegawa Nyozekan (1895-1969) examines his lifestyles and highbrow contributions as a pre-eminent liberal reformer via his position as a journalist and social critic, quite in pre-war and wartime Japan.
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Extra resources for Hasegawa Nyozekan and Liberalism in Modern Japan
The roots of Nyozekan’s character studies lay in the atmosphere of change that surrounded him in his youth. The enormous social, cultural and political change heralded by the Meiji Restoration’s disbanding the military government and adopting a constitutional monarchy created an intense pressure to understand the real Japan that lay beneath these myriad changes. The answer to the question of identity was of utmost importance to Japan, the answer was key to the nation’s future. Thus began the quest to define the Japanese national character.
Tanaka, “Hasegawa Nyozekan no janarizumu-kan,” 223. Nolte, Liberalism in Modern Japan, 266–7. Matsumoto Joji, “Kaisetsu,” 416. Sera, Hasegawa Nyozekan, 115. Tanaka Hiroshi, “Hyoden: Hasegawa Nyozekan: Senchu, sengo o ikinuite,” Sekai no. 486 (March 1986) 314. Hasegawa Nyozekan, “Educational and Cultural Background of the Japanese,” S. Sakabe, translator (Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1936) 26. Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, “Foreword” to “The Educational and Cultural Background of the Japanese,” S.
It proved far easier to explain how the national character was formed than to describe it exactly. 14 But Shiga found it difficult to actually define the Japanese national character, at best offering only a vague description, saying it was “. . diametrically opposed to the West’s,” which he said was “. . ”15 Like Shiga, Miyake Setsurei believed the national character was formed by the natural environment, the “geography, climate and soil, and features of . . [the] . . ”16 But Miyake’s argument had a twist: the Japanese were descendents of the Mongols, and, therefore, he reasoned, the natural environment that had shaped the Japanese character was in fact Mongolian.