Current Affairs

Toshihiko Izutsu

 21 May 2021

    Toshihiko Izutsu

 (1914 – 1993)

Area of Expertise:  Islamic Studies, Theology and Philosophy

The Book selected: Koran (translated in Japanese), Iwanami Shoten, 1957

                                    The Birth of Islam, Chuo Koron, 1979

                                    Islamic Philosophy, Chuo Koron, 1991

Alma Mater: Keio University

Achievements: He is the first and only modern philosopher from the viewpoint of global standard’s observation up to this point in Japan. The status was allowed only for the limited area of academic research, because as reality of politics/media, the concept of Public – of or concerning the people as a whole – (OED) never existed in Japanese society. Watching all those years of economic struggles in the past three-decades, we can now confirm that the Japanese political reforms (such as Meiji Restoration or Showa New Constitution) were implemented by neither modern revolutionary way nor a solid social scientific method.  

The Origin of Economic Failure

Despite all-remarkable materialistic progress made in modern times, therefore, Japan had to remain/even strengthen its status as an outdated ideologue in East Asia, far away from the reality of global politics. As an indicator of such failing economic policy, more than half of economists are now belatedly arguing; – Japanese economy is collapsing. But nobody knows how to retore it. It’s hidden so deep inside the country’ politics under the discouragement of free speeches in various forms. What was the origin of this economic failure in the post-war Japan? Here opinions would split further and could cause furore elsewhere again in Japan. 

Nevertheless, this ancient polity was in short, as Ichisada Miyazaki described it pertinently; – certainly better than nothing. Historically, there was indeed no other choice for Japan. But this die-hard ancient political core refused to be tamed even in the 21st century. Now the Japanese cannot afford to enjoy such consolation either, in widening the ever-isolated negative gap of inherited Japanese politics, as the globalization vigorously progressed further. We then suddenly realize an important missing fact that the Japanese never understood how to develop economics properly, or rather, they virtually disregarded all the related modern thoughts of social science, in both its pre-war and post-war periods.

Why Japan Cannot Be Modernized?

Then, why is Izutsu so precious in this crisis? His greatest contribution is; he, and only he in Japan, explained the reason/formula to this fundamental answer required for the subject of Japanese modernization. Indeed, he logically analysed its social scientific mechanism. For this serious political reality could lead to many questions and answers in Japan, without any endings. Why Japan cannot be modernized? Because Japanese have no proper modern economic system, for instance. But every answer is bound to result in further thoughts and questions; why Japan cannot establish their own modern legal or economic system? At this flashing point, however, all these inquiries would be suddenly converged on one eventual answer. Because Japan has no philosophy. 

His translation of Koran into Japanese is regarded as the most reliable and outstanding (rather impossible to surpass). He took utmost cares for translating this Sacred Book of extraordinary nature. He referred Gustav Fluegel’s most credible interpretation in Europe, as the basis of his direct translation from Arabic. He further exploited all available intellectual means. The basic trend of translation was determined by most credible study at the time of al-Baidawi. He was also aware of all progresses and criticisms appeared, including Noeldeke in Europe. Also, he rejected all unfounded hypotheses made, to understand rationally the original Arabic text in meditation. 

As he would have certainly noticed, the subject is so important for Japan. But the answer is not easy to get directly from Europe or European history. As everything is already established in an advanced manner in their system, nobody is interested in the original link today that happened long time ago. Above all, it was not Europe to launch this search for the forgotten philosophy. Hence, many Western experts also have no idea on this. No war was required to attain this principle, but by only some discussions on this vital reform with the involvement of few people, even though, it was politically decisive. 

It was the advance of Islamists eastward to initiate and deal with this entire spiritual development by connecting West and East. And who could have realised this specific historical importance, if one studied only in the remote islands of Japan, not knowing what was happening in the Centre of the World? Izutsu’s thoughts and the extent of his global research grew under the exceptional circumstances, where he took the professorships of McGill University, Montreal, and later, Institute of Philosophy, Teheran, in addition to his extended experiences in the Arabian Peninsula and Europe.

The Islamist scholars such as al Kindi and Ibn Sina/Avicenna (in Latin), decisively contributed to the development of modern philosophy from the newest Islamic/modern religion viewpoint. Kindi lived as Arab and Sina as Persian. And that powerful influence over the entire West that reached Japan already by the 16th century. Izutsu was convinced from these extraordinary studies, theology and philosophy are ultimately different expressions, which are based on the same fact. And Japan do not have such vital fundamental modern concept. So how could they modernize themselves?

Modernization Began in the West

The ancient Japanese were taught every good thing came from China. Indeed, they imported all, including ideology and writings. But the shape of China is getting worse day by day. More alarmingly, it is now clear that Chinese were not the leader of the world and they never will be, as comprehensively studied and verified by the leading Japanese historians. Then, for what should the ‘modern’ Japanese be striving now? – this thesis must be demonstrated.  Sticking at the ancient ideology and to persevere cannot be the answer. 

The Japanese must take a new credible course for prosperity exactly as their revolutionary ancestors did it in the 7th century. From this aspect, the current problem of Japan is all about Metaphysics, as the incredible Toshihiko Izutsu embraced this salient modern concept in Japan. In case of progress in Physics, Sumer first invented bronze technology in c. 4000BC and the world’s first writing system with cuneiform characters by c. 3300BC. Soon Egyptian/Hamite took an initiative in c. 3100BC. They invented hieroglyph characters. And the unified Egypt (Upper and Lower) was emerging as the richest and powerful state with its various inventions, such as magnificent stone architecture and use of chariot for its military. Men were clearly to differentiate themselves from the rest of wild animals. 

Akkadian/Semite followed (c. 2350 – 2150BC), and after an era of divided regional conflicts, Babylonia/Aramaean/Semite (c. 1894 – 1600BC) were to rise in Mesopotamia. Arians/Indo-European also invaded to the area of Indus civilization in c. 1500BC. The people founded the original Indus civilization (c. 2500 – 1500BC) had bronze technology, writing system and town-planning for their cities in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. We assume, therefore, they attributed to Mesopotamia. 

Thus, the new economy based on international trade extended to Mesopotamia, Egypt and Indus civilizations and all of their adjacent areas. Notably, the world’s first code (of laws) was already compiled in Babylonia. All powerful leaders were trying to get more authority and used religion as their political means. They praised sun, moon, animal, bird or king/emperor/sage, and all sorts of human-created gods/Idols, including shamanism, were named as a god everywhere. 

With the rise of civilizations, state’s driven economic expansion began with new ideas and many trade opportunities also created for migration movements. The ancestors of Indo-Europeans including Greek tribes moved to Europe in c. 2000BC. Around the same time, Persian/Indo-European made already contacts with Semite people in Mesopotamia. Meanwhile, iron technology was invented by another Indo-European, Hittite (c. 1680 -1190BC) who immigrated into rocky Anatolia/Asia Minor and mixed with other inhabitants. Together with their own, they used several languages including Sumerian. Hittite Kingdom had also their legal system. Notably, state/political machine started to play an important role, where maritime economy was getting the upper hand. 

Sometime, war was necessary to solve trade dispute. The Old Testament was finally conceived and started to develop in Jewish land (c. 1230BC), after Israeli/Semite tribes had been enslaved for the second time, this time by the strongest power of Egypt, and then they were saved miraculously. The Holy Bible required more than 1000 years of history to assemble. The West was slowly entering into the modern era by this profound initiative.

Phoenicians/Semite invented their first alphabet in c. 1200BC from Egyptian letters. Greece also made its own alphabet, thereby started the first national state of Indo-European people by c. 800BC. In the 8th century BC, Assyrians/Semite emerged as a powerful military state with advanced iron technology, the mercenary of Scythian/Indo-European cavalry and the help of Aramaic merchants based in Syria. They expanded their territory from Mesopotamia via Syria to Egypt/Nile Delta in the 7th century BC but their state was short-lived. 

As noted by Herodotus, the Phoenicians by the order of Egyptian King sailed in 600BC from Red Sea to all around African Continent and returned via Mediterranean to Egypt after three years of voyage. Accelerated technological progress led the entire movements of the world economy, while new modern technological competition was also causing frictions among peoples in widening area. 

The Impact of Alexander’s Expedition

Numerous migrations of Indo-European people to the West seem constantly taking place in long period of time span. Hypothesis applied here is that an advanced modern civilization always attracts people. But many tribes could not establish/keep their state by some reasons (including not-having own writing system) and absorbed by others or joined them voluntarily. In such constant struggles, Achaemenian Persia successfully built the world’s first Indo-European empire (from 538 to 330BC) by conquering the others in the traditional world except Greece. 

Then, Alexander the Great (356 – 323BC) reconquered all the civilized world with the learning centre in Alexandria in Egypt. He further founded; the modern political concept of freedom and the modern economic means of unified currency for his empire. At this stage, Indo-Europeans ruled the entire urbanized area of Europe, North Africa, West and Central Asia. China was still divided in several kingdoms and fighting each other with bronze weaponry. However, the Mauryan empire (321 – 232BC) in India and the first Qin/Chinese empire ((221 – 207BC) were to be born, following the extraordinary impact and influence of his adventure that firmly connected the Eurasian world. Alexander’s empire was vanished in history but his concept of international community began to expand ever since.

Meanwhile, Romans/Indo-European gradually built up their new political system by 270BC and emerged as the greatest empire by AD150 in the centre of Europe. In the Eurasian theatre, a massive Germanic/Indo-European people continued to move towards the West and contributed to the successful expansion of the Roman empire and beyond. Tacitus (c. 56 – 120) recorded: In his time, Germanic tribes were still divided in so many territories, and he could not name or count them all (estimated as over 50). Roman Empire took them first as slave but their role of mercenary soon became prominent. The Germanic power was massively enhanced by new horse-riders arrival in the period of Barbarian invasions, in particular, by Attila’s (406 -453) joint force of Hun/Ural-Altaic and Ostrogoths/Indo-European from a region of Volga. 

Similarly, the first Slavonic state of Bulgaria emerged in the 7th century. They were a mixture of Bulgar/Ural-Altaic and Slavic/Indo-European tribes. Together with its own advanced states, the seafarer Viking/Norman/Germanic took the initiative to conquer/help national states in France, Britain, Ireland, Russia and others including the Islamic occupied territories in Mediterranean during the period from c. 800 to 1200.  Many states were formed with multi-racial reality but kept in one by its own language.

Following the traditions of Roman/Frankish and Byzantine empires, all of those people in Europe accepted Christianity. What was the motivation for these migration movements after all? New technologies and economic benefits and opportunities represented by the solid civilization of Roman Empire/Modern West, what else? The better future for their children, perhaps. All wanted to modernize themselves.

Chinese/Sino-Tibetan tribes did not participate in such Eurasian migration trend, because they had their own economic advantages. They preferred to immigrate towards the periphery of their own land due to its economic factors. First, China could enjoy rather its isolated environment, far away from serious competitions in the West. Secondly, their unique geopolitical assets and natural resources. Unlike the Nile Delta of Egypt, China had two gigantic rivers and their tributaries (many Chinese say, three, including Huai-he in the middle). It was paramount for the benefits of Chinese economy to secure all areas of these natural boundaries and beyond for its future expansion. 

By protecting and expanding these natural resources by river and its tributaries, the prosperity of China could be assured. The Chinese arch-bureaucracy was thus born to control this economy. Because of this geopolitical advantage, which is of self-generating nature, China always remained regional on their own terms. Above all, they had to keep their own peculiar economic system, despite their versatile culture. Rather problematically, this ‘own land’ could expand ‘theoretically’ depending on the strength of Chinese military power. And we need to include the entire East Asia and Western Pacific today (well, at least for the time being).

Indo-European and Ural-Altaic Exodus

As confirmed by Alexander’s expedition (written by Arrian), all oases in Central Asia and Eurasian steppes were still Indo-European land in his time. But two centuries later, this situation began to change drastically. Learning formidable cavalry strategy including iron technology from an Indo-European tribe, many Ural-Altaic tribes gathered and gradually spread to the north of China. For the first time, they threatened China as a powerful military power in 215BC. Chinese first called them ‘Bandit’. After the conflicts of almost three centuries, their base in the Altai mountains was finally crushed by the Han’s army in AD91, and many of them fled/spread to westwards. 

Yet Han’s victory was not decisive, as new Ural-Altaic tribes soon emerged in even a larger region. By the 5th century, they controlled all the steppes of Eurasia. Some Indo-Europeans joined/racially mixed with them. The fall of the most successful Han dynasty (202BC – AD220) indicated that the expansion of China had stalemated with their traditional method. China was seeking for a new opportunity. Only these horse-riders could provide this new course for China, and the direction of Chinese expansion was adjusted to westward. The focus seemed toward Central Asia where the Han empire had tried twice to take the control but failed in both attempts. 

The capital of Ural-Altaic/Chinese Empires of Sui (581 – 617) and Tang (618 – 907) was based in Chang-an (the name was Daxing under Sui) in the West China, the largest and international city in the East/World at the time, situated not too far from the Indo-European land. The Tang China was vigorously trying to expand the Chinese Global Empire by influencing Persians and Indians. The Koreans and the Japanese/both Ural-Altaic firmly joined them in this global venture. 

The mighty Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) reached to its zenith under the powerful leadership of Emperor Xuanzong (reigned: 712 – 755). Many Indo-Europeans also participated in his Chinese expansionary initiative. General An Luxan (705 – 757) distinguished himself by his military prowess as regional commander was once renowned with his 8,000 strong foreign bodyguards and 140,000 cavalry division. 

In the West, only the leaders/traders in Arabia knew the existence of this colossal danger coming from the East, and fully prepared for the eventual outcome. They had to integrated Persians firmly to their camp to win. Supported by Shiah branch, under the more theocratic Abbasid rule, the capital moved to ‘City of Peace’ or Bagdad, which was then a small village of Iranian inhabitants, but soon became the largest city in the West. Meanwhile, Abbasid Islamic forces shattered an ambitious Chinese onslaught headed by Korean General Gao Xianzhi at the Battle of Talas River basin in 751. 

The global expansionistic trend of Tang China was to peak out from this historical defeat and never returned to its former glory. Facing this reality, the drift of Indo-European involvement in China was also terminated by their emigration as the subsequent economic progress accelerated in the West as a whole. Many of Ural-Altaic tribes, such as Bulgar, Finnic, Hungarian, Turk and other Central Asian Turki also joined the West by establishing their own states or by joining the others. 

Together with other Western experts, Eiji Mano believes that the ancestors of Europeans, Indo-Aryans and Iranians once lived in Tarim basin/Indo-European heartland, where all three different types of the ancient documents/languages were recovered. To reject this, somebody have to find the reason why the people who spoke so-called Centum/European language (include British and Irish) once lived here. The event was developed likely in some unknown time-frame of human movements in 2 million years originated from warmer Africa in any case. But the linguistic classification is one of the greatest discoveries of the modern social science as the ‘Champion of Multi-Linguists’ – Hajime Nakamura asserted.

A phenomenal change was noticeable among the inhabitants of Central Asia by the 9th century. As Professor Mano further analysed, this revolutionary trend could be described in three words; Settlement (from nomadic life), Turkification and Islamization, where the old Indo-European speakers disappeared (but the new returned in various forms). Despite such changes of political environment, the Chinese territory was expanding in the long run, while its arch-bureaucracy was keen to develop its economy incessantly. 

Under Emperor Yang-di of the Sui Dynasty, the construction of superb canal networks began to connect the central with northern and southern regions, in enhancing the war efforts against Koguryo Korea. Mamoru Tonami explained; Yang-di ordered the construction of canal (width of 60 m) networks of total length of around 1500 km, which is still in use, with some modifications, today. 

Then, based on these massive infrastructures, commercial developments in the Central and Southern China were further pursued under the Northern and Southern Sung dynasties (from 960 – 1279) as many urban commercial centres with a large population appeared alongside of canals, as Masaaki Chikusa noticed. China was always working on their own economic enhancement by the arch-bureaucracy, despite the fierce competitions of factional politics in their state power. 

Mongolians/Ural-Altaic expanded the world’s ever-largest empire spread over Eurasia from 13th to 14th century. But their political control only by military power could not produce an enduring result. The territory of Southern Sung was absorbed into one regime of the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty (1206 – 1368) that paved the way for the powerful Chinese-proper Empire of Ming (1368 – 1643). Emperor Yongle (reigned: 1402 – 1424) sent his fleet headed by Admiral Zheng He with the largest ships in the world at the time to South East Asia, India, Persia and the East Coast of Africa for 7 times voyage made in 25 years. The mighty Ming Dynasty was, however, precipitated to fall by the Japanese invasion to Korea (1592 – 1598) with a new Western military technology directly arrived from Portugal. 

In this long-term struggle between Chinese and Ural-Altaic nations, only Koreans and Japanese kept their independence. Again, there were other races involved inside both Greater Korea and Northern Japan (more than 50% chance of including some Indo-Europeans). But how could they manage to keep their independence? First, they had to learn Chinese to communicate officially. Furthermore, by developing their own variant of Chinese ideology/political system under the acknowledgement of Chinese suzerainty, and of course, maintaining credible military power to resist. One more principle had to be kept; they never became Chinese emperor.

Following the Islamic/Iranian rules in the Northern India since 1192, Timurid/Ural-Altaic Prince Babur, pressurized by Uzbeks, decided to move out from his native land to establish the Islamic Mughal/Mongol empire (1526 – 1858) in India. His empire was the precursor to the British rule over India. In the Chinese front, Mongolians were trapped and absorbed into the Ural-Altaic/Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912). But the Qing people had to give up their own homeland of Manchuria, together with Mongolia and the Uygur territory/Xinjiang to China when their long-reign ended. The system always worked perfectly well for the Chinese purpose. Mongolians eventually regained their independence, thanks to the intervention of Stalin’s Soviet Russia.

Despite the danger imposed currently on international community, many people and intellectuals in the West don’t know about such basic history in the East. More importantly, this historically-inherited political reality doesn’t match with the current status of China as its permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the organization that must be strengthened in the future or rather urgently. Should the world’s modernization be ended here? Absolutely not.

To solve such grave international crisis and in order to form its own strategy, there are many things, the West must be aware of about the reality of ‘Communist’ China and ‘Capitalist’ Japan. Above all, how to dismantle this ancient ideology in the East. We have been talking about so far, the political influence exercised by China toward Japan. But we need to understand one more important thing. After the modernisation of Japan in the 19th century, the direction of such status was actually reversed from Japan to China due to its ideological convertibility, despite the fact that the operational difference between the two remains huge.

No Philosophy in the East

Then, why could only Izutsu’s argument clarify the nature of problems facing the Japanese nation and the world? Since the Meiji Restoration, Japanese belatedly tried to learn military industry or modern physics from the West. Only political system that the Japanese had was the one imported from China. But we need a fundamental question to ask on this political system in the East. How could one learn physics without metaphysics? This is no longer academic matter alone. It actually covers the entire politics/economy of East Asia because both South Korea and China developed their ‘modern’ economic system based on the Japan Model. Instead of relying on the original inventor, the West – and there was no such choice either for them, without philosophy.

As clarified by Izutsu, Islamic/Western philosophy was largely influenced by the Greek philosophy/Aristotle in particular. Philosophy is nothing to do with Confucianism as Confucius/Chinese mandarins never got interested in such matters, as clearly written in his Analects. Of course, politicians can compromise sometimes. But the principle of running economy/modern economics must get hold of a proper social infrastructure and effective politics as its functioning instrument. 

An economic theory should take place generally. The reality is, however, as once Thomas Robert Malthus properly argued in his Principle of Political Economy; it must have operated very differently upon the different countries of the commercial world, according to the different circumstances in which they were placed. Malthus is absolutely right. Such difference in the East could be far/unimaginably greater. 

In a systematic deterioration of economy, where ideology/good tradition is no longer able to take the political role, nobody can stop the on-going debacles…without any hope. Historically, here a regime change had to come forward in China/Japan. But such old economic mechanism is no longer workable today. Unless they (who?) successfully introduce the necessary philosophy to rationalise the ailing bad politics. In the current global crisis, the economists in the world are still not aware of such systematic defects of the global economy. It’s not about the policy that they all prefer to discuss. How can you establish a policy without identifying the problem first? 

Miraculously, Aristotle’s precious books once forgotten in the Christian world was kept safe by the people in Syria, culturally opened under Aramaic tradition and once the richest region in trade of the Roman Empire. Under Abbasid Caliphate, the translation works to Arabic/Latin began in the 9th century. Islamic philosophers found its authentic value by their own philosophical attitude. This study was the immensely international operations, participated by many philosophers of various nationalities and different racial distinctions in the regions spread from West Asia, North Africa, Central Asia to Europe. 

Not only Greek philosophy but theology experts read Latin were also involved. Prior to this phenomenal challenge, Portuguese and Spaniards already had begun their global ventures. The Islamists influence and contributions were immense in the Iberian Peninsula under the Umayyad Caliphate/Emirate of Cordova since the 8th century, as a forerunner to the Crusade, the Renaissance and beyond. Toledo and Cordova with new global knowledges once became the learning centre of Europe.

In Europe, Christian theology of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was subsequently formed by the findings of Aristotle/Islamic philosophers and his own profound studies on the subject. He recognized one of the most popular books at the time – ‘Liber de Causis’ claimed as written by Aristotle was forgery. He seemed to know all the important books of theology, as he could name the original author and title of the book, which this fake publisher copied – Izutsu explained. In particular, the Aristotle’s analysis on Metaphysics endorsed by him established the principal Christian doctrine and gave the revolutionary impact on Western Philosophy. Here philosophy firmly joined theology in the West based on fact/truth. 

Hence, Izutsu’s analysis is also directed to Christianity and Judaism or all people’s religions. He pointed out (to Japanese in mind) the principle of modernization. The God must be the Creator of the Universe including our earth, human beings, animals, bacteria and everything exist, with spirit or without, as all of these creatures were made on such extraordinary physical principles in harmony. Therefore, the unified existence of such principle/rationale and physics created by the God Almighty should be indisputable. If someone cannot recognise this marvellous fact, and says, it is not important or not worth to be respected, they must be responsible for their own ignorance. The acceptance of this principle of metaphysics is where the real modernisation of the world started. 

As clarified by him, philosophy is not about any kind of human thoughts. Instead, all philosophy must begin from this principle of theology by accepting the factual principle with the determination to learn. To understand and exercise this righteous law must be the objective of modern politics. Japan/the East has neither respect for good nor truth/rationale because the Japanese do not appreciate this principle of Metaphysics, which should generate the common sense on right and wrong for daily life including its political operations. Unlike in the British parliament, politicians are not allowed to use common sense in Japan. As such, Japanese cannot develop its rational legal system either.

Izutsu explained; the principal modern concept- common sense – is neither functioning nor existing theoretically in Japan/China without philosophy. The Japanese equivalent words – Jyoshiki – means ‘common knowledge that should be practiced in the society’ – again about human relationship, which is decided by various unknown political influencers who have no common sense. The problem is that all the Japanese/Chinese are asked to show no respect to fact, or simply ignore right or wrong, in this distorted ‘principle’. 

Only the truth is Justice. This modern principle in the UK court system cannot be sustainable in Japan. How serious is this reality? It could go disastrous without any dictator’s involvement in the East. Hence, Japanese do not care, or rather, unable to care about the responsibility, as they could not be protected by law. For instance, the Article 76 to 82 of the Japanese Constitution is for Judiciary. Supreme Court was introduced following the US system. By the subsequent development in Britain and constant coordination between Britain and America in English laws, this Chapter still matches the arrangement. However,

We see the clause in the Article 77, which English version (approved by GHQ) says; Public prosecutors shall be subject to the rule-making power of the Supreme Court.

But in its Japanese version (by unknown author/translator – so nobody can be blamed in Japan); ‘Public prosecutors’ became ‘Kensatsu-kan’ where the word ‘Public’ has gone. And this added – ‘kan’ – means arch-bureaucracy. Furthermore, the peculiar Japanese function of ‘Kensatsu’ exists neither in British nor in American legal system. The difference is not about the weakened meaning of this English phrase, as the concept itself is gone invisible. Even though, there are many decent constitutional experts in Japan and abroad, such irregularity cannot be discussed publicly in Japan or elsewhere, as we all know.

What Can Japan Contribute in This Crisis? 

Constantly stronger requirements for secularism transformed in little into the principles of managing modern global economy even in the 21st century. People in the West fought for establishing religious freedom in old days, in order not to be persecuted under tyranny. But the country like Japan/ancient state still requires philosophy as bare minimum. And even if the change of modern ideology is duly made successfully, it only means; Japan can then start a proper modernization. 

In the secular West as a whole, power of religion seems declining as more old churches are sold for shopping outlet, housing or simply closed down. Young people are attracted to technological wonders with danger attached to criminal and extortionist at every level. Or some may start to believe; they could be technically invincible and invisible. Hyper-technology without philosophy comes with a lot of unpredictable risks to democracy. In this situation, religion/philosophy must be enhanced, but how? One of effective methods would be to strengthen this worst neglected part in the world to raise the global standard. If successful, the West could see a hint and real example from Japan for their own constant reforms. 

As global climate change continued to develop alarmingly, environment problem also must be tackled by all nations in the world. It is largely physical and political problems, and some progress was made globally. But is this not the economic issue as well? As Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population analysed; population, when it is unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio but subsistence increases only arithmetical ratio. Hence, ‘power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.’ But his foresightful warning was completely ignored.

We need to add here today the pressures from illegal immigration and its mafia business, who disregard human decency. In addition, the general costs of living expenses increased including property price/rent at the time of bubble economy must be counted to find the balance in economic downturn for the sake of immigrants themselves. And from this economic viewpoint, all conventional warfare (taking advantage of/destroying other people’s property) must be terminated at both confronting sides. Without economic rationalization, the global environment cannot be protected today. 

The current critical global assessment would be; an economic conflict is happening again between West and East. This is the second time for the West in the post-WWII, since Cold War against Communists. This time, Japan is standing at free economy’s camp disguising themselves as democracy. But this unshakable reality has not yet been recognised by the West. Have these politics in the East gone through a modern democratic election process? Or why cannot Korea be united? All these extraordinary ‘modern’ political realities must be rectified by modern diplomacy. But how?

Since the start of hard-headedly negotiated Basic Law in Hong Kong, the time seemed to pass so fast, and almost a half of the treaty-period has already expired. What could happen after 2047? Signs are all alarming and onerous. With its secretive military budgets, China is the fastest growing military power in the Pacific Ocean, aggressively threatening with its self-made territorial claims to many of their neighbours by denouncing international protocols and diplomatic practices. 

In the area of nuclear armaments, China is only country secretively expanding including the numbers of newly developed nuclear missiles and warheads without any transparency, while the old type of conflict in Gaza or other places continued sporadically in the West. Why are they investing their people’s money in such an objective? Every financial policy has its own costs. China’s overall economy entered already in a long-term declining trend with hidden domestic debts since 2015, and expected to be further worsened. The rudimentary fact is that Renminbi cannot be a hard currency. 

Can the West be ready dealing with such an unpredictable outcome? The United States with its on-going Japan disease in its economy may require some help. The world is changing and rather rapidly. In this situation, we need a reliable and economically sound country always fairly opened for the international business in the centre of the East to counter the deteriorating situation. There is virtually none at the moment. If so, does the West need to reconsider the current diffident strategy? 

The Perceivable Strategy

In this realistic global overview, we see neither ‘New Cold War’ nor ‘Regional Hegemonic Conflict’, but an Alarming Global Economic Crisis, coming out of no diplomatic initiative. The details of Winston Churchill’s diplomatic tactics toward Naziism during the WWII may be outdated today but his shrewd strategy is still valid and absolutely non-negligible. We simply cannot ignore Russia going down who has a huge stake in the East, similar to the reality of the British Commonwealth. Didn’t they learn a lesson from losing 25 million people in WWII? Of course, they did. The West needs a grand plan for confronting this unprecedented challenge in the East in addition to the same old tactics. It is important that the West is united as ever as one joint political unit of the advanced civilization to solve this quietly enlarging global ideological conflict.

The political dysfunction in the East is serious as they could not learn how to achieve their modernisation. But this comes from the pattern of economic evolution in its history, and not by their intellectual weakness or defect. You just need to study history to get a whole picture. Idea is there, at least, in Japan. And the West is wrong to assume that anyone could have mastered it (like we all did it successfully, except idiots) …without philosophy and common sense? Nobody can move to that direction under the ancient political and social pressures. If so, such passive and unimaginative notion cannot form the principal strategy of Western diplomacy. 

In this perspective, however, Japan’s strength could be their experience of unconditional surrender in the WWII itself. No great country could have emerged without this process of failure and humiliation in their politics. Many nations, such as Britain/English-speaking nations, France, Germany and Russia all learned from the similar experience of diplomatic disaster in their history to get the current political status. Japan remains as the only country suffered from atom-bomb attack in the world history, yet Japanese cannot even rationalize their nuclear energy policy properly. Instead of disregarding their attained knowledges, Japan must acquire the similar conviction and acknowledge their own mission as a state, to lead the East out of this critically dangerous scenario. 

In face of this crisis, the completely-forgotten Anglo-Japanese Alliance must be recalled. Japan and the Japanese navy with a trained British discipline was once successful by completely segregating Asia-Pacific war from the front line in Europe during the WWI. Under the current circumstance, we need a new touch and long-term commitment by strength of modern politics. Who knows, if Japan could act as good as Britain in a not-too-distant future, by connecting London and Tokyo (means Eastern Capital in Japanese/Chinese) – and economically amalgamating the West and the East? What…Sounds ridiculous. But is there any other credible alternative? 

Only Japan could be reliable economically in front of the unpredictable and colossal Chinese problems. And there is only one way to achieve this, as explained by Toshihiko Izutsu. In the worsening global situation, the West/Leader will be required to break this historical deadlock somehow. The simplified solution would be, at first, we need to found Theology/Philosophy in Japan. And from a solid Japan, it should spread to Korea and China through diplomatic negotiation. Nothing is more important than to rectify this negative ideology in the centre of international economy, as we cannot expect any progress by not having a proper Metaphysics in the approaching global age of Hyper-Physics. 

Ichisada Miyazaki

19 May 2021

    Ichisada Miyazaki

   (1901 – 1995)

   Area of Expertise:   Chinese History with Global Perspective

   The Book selected: The Examinations for Entering Bureaucracy 

                                          in Ancient China, Chuo Koron, 1963

                                          The History of China, Volume I & II, Iwanami Shoten, 1977

      Alma Mater: Kyoto University

Achievements: He contributed to combining the Chinese history with global perspective by taking his initiative in Japan (the point is nobody else did it in the world). This was also required as the basis of discussion on East Asia for intellectual world. Thanks to freedom and economic assistance given to the post-war Japan by international community and Japan’s own economic progress; it appeared that ordinary Japanese could then visit and study abroad. This level of freedom for global research was never attained in the country before. By 1970s, any place in the world, except where the political constraints existed, became accessible for Japanese scholars, whoever had the will to do it.

The Mission for Japanese Modernization

Miyazaki himself broadened his views as visiting professor to University of Paris (1960-1961) and Harvard University (1961-1962). He also travelled West Asia on this occasion. Why was this renewed effort for global study required for Japan? To find out what was the fatal defect in Japanese modernization during the pre-war Japan, that eventually led the country to a disastrous and irrational end. From this historical perspective, every sensible person in Japan (including our emperor) were convinced that Japanese intellectuals in the pre-war Japan had only insufficient knowledge about the world history; in particular, about East Asia, Indian-Subcontinent, South East Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and Europe, or in one word – Eurasia.

Therefore, Japan could not simply catch up with a global level of political standard in the West, after the spiritually-empty period of its closed era severed from the developments of modern world. On the contrary to a ferociously revolutionary trend in Europe during the 19th century, the decadence in corruptive politics was uncontrollable. As professor Inoue noted; the Tokugawa 11th Shogun – Ienari, the head of Japanese government at the time, made 40 concubines and 55 children in days of wine and dine, as the country’s economy had plummeted. Japan was at its nadir.

This was a most difficult and challenging academic mission ever-attempted by the Japanese, but Kyoto University under Ichisada Miyazaki’s leadership provided many of credible and dedicated historians to fill up this enormous gap, and by doing so they led Japan and the world. It was also an indispensable task to fulfil on the road to Japanese modernization. The job was planned as a combined effort for this objective, and no others could match to their standard. Most importantly, the significance of this long historical void was unimaginable to the Japanese, in particular, for accurately assessing the damage done to its society. 

Civilised Spirit – Fukuzawa’s View

Before the post-war period, only-one credible argument was published on this vital subject in Japan and it is not only still valid but also even more critical for the Japanese. As the official researcher and translator of English and Dutch for the Tokugawa Shogunate’s missions, Yukichi Fukuzawa visited Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and the United States. With his unique experience (as he also stayed at all of port of call including Hong Kong and Singapore en route to Marseille via Suez of their British ship – HMS Odin), he asserted the necessity of Japan’s Civilized Spirit, which the country must yield. 

He described it as a single metal bar of state power commonly exists in the West from the different materials of gold, silver, copper and iron. While those materials themselves are all existing in Japan but they cannot be united by existing factionalism in the society, in his words – due to its inherent disproportion of power. He further explained it more precisely that his argument was about the progress of Civilized Spirit of the Japanese people – Shushin-hattatsu-ron. Criticising the Japanese governing system, he was indeed talking about the indispensable modern progress in democracy. 

Why were there no Civilized Spirit of the People for a modern state of Japan? Fukuzawa insisted; ‘They say (in the West) – The God creates all men with equal right.’ However, the people of Japan do not get involved in the politics/public affairs; therefore, Japan still has no shape as a modern state. The cause of this political failure is that there is no individuality or individualism in Japan, as he pointed out. As a political system, their own human way of bad thinking/factional interests must always come forward, disregarding what is/should be the right policy for the nation. Isn’t this still the source of problems in politics elsewhere today? 

He analysed the history of Japanese religions in details. All these lavish Shinto shrines and Japanese Buddhist temples in cities and at mountainous locations in the capitals and various other regions were planned and constructed by the state with its strict criterion, within the framework of its grade-ranking system. No priests or monks were given any freedom on what to preach or how to develop the religious concept (as the matter was a part of the sacred military strategy). Some Buddhists were later added by the state approval, as they accommodated to this state-made norm and bought a rank. (Christianity as independent religion, however, had to be banned in this closed system, which ultimately lasted more than two and half centuries until the Meiji Restoration.)

This controversial grading-system was originally invented in Wei/China. But together with Buddhism, China later abandoned the practice. Fukuzawa solemnly gave his frank assessment: In this discordant political reality, which is completely different from the modern West; all the Japanese monks and scholars (and perhaps politicians, elite bureaucrats and some big businessmen too?) are merely a mental slave of an ancient/despotic government. By this defunct rule of employment, no Japanese can be independent in the society. In this strict and harsh directive, there are actually no religion, or rather, religious rights in Japan – he firmly criticized the on-going reality. 

Why cannot the Japanese be allowed to think something differently, if the new way is better for their future? He went straight to the point. Disregarding the modern spirit, they all live in the artificial/unreal/second man-made world, without any progress, but only with constant shame. In this illogical/prejudiced system, everyone needs to abuse somebody irrationally, and at the same time, to be oppressed by someone baselessly, whereas the people at the bottom have no rights at all. Fukuzawa worried; in such dreadful reality, a precious noble spirit could not be come forward even in turbulent time. Many ‘modern’ Japanese would be surprised at his candid remarks but his logic is based on customary tradition that no Japanese can deny. 

Every Japanese is supposed to have their own class and rank, where everyone is expected to speak with a different form of language – Keigo. This is always applicable whenever one speaks to other person, if he is slightly senior in age or has a senior job. No individual nor organisation can be free from this tacit enforcement in the Japanese society. Higher the rank a Japanese obtains, the problem increases. At one point, it could be dramatically multiplying in terms of responsibility. Over a certain level, one must argue not based on right and wrong or the fact of his superior’s opinion that could be connected to upper-echelon of unknown political entity. The individual with conscience who does not consent to this rule must be sacked, or unlikely to get/take such a high-rank position in the first place. 

In this hidden ‘corridor’ of ranking, no one (including the head of the government) can maintain any rationale for making decision, and consequently, taking responsibility attached to all the judgements made in Japanese organizations (and no young Japanese exactly knows the existence of this hidden social practice until they join them upon graduation day). Fukuzawa argued that in this strictly controlled society, Japanese do not know what to achieve for the present and future world, as they are already deprived of their civilized spirit for the benefits of ancient ideology, which belong only to the past-outdated world. 

Without civilised spirit, therefore, no Japanese could prosper in the end, as the relevant matters will never be discussed sincerely. He wrote this harsh criticism in believing that Japan will attain their real modernization someday. This book – The Summary of Civilised Spirit/Bunmei-ron – was published as private edition in 1876. He also left his strongest words on this specific issue; ‘Factionalism/System of the Classes must be revenged upon my parents’, despite he belonged to Warrior/Samurai class. His father was a scholar, and he could read most of Chinese classics at home. Fukuzawa rightly knew that Confucianism is only talking about human relationships, and therefore, not a religion.

He denounced, therefore, both Tokugawa Shogunate and new Meiji Government as hopelessly inadequate with their anti-foreign chauvinism brewed during the Japanese isolation. He predicted that they will be unable to provide modern politics and economic policy for the people of Japan. He further warned that they will eventually be ‘a laughing-stock in the world’. The Japanese history proved him right. (The Meiji Restoration followed exactly the cyclical pattern of this ideology.) So, what would he say, regarding the current Japanese administration? Isn’t it obvious that the misused modern constitution is not good enough, if Japan is not yet equipped with his single metal bar?

Western Views on China and Its Reality

On the other hand, the general view vis-à-vis China in the West had another problem. The Chinese extraordinary inventions of gunpowder and mariner’s compass or export products such as tea party or silk garments with exotic elegance were changing the culture of growing aristocratic life in the industrializing Europe. Even in the 19th century, as the West began to develop their own bureaucracy around the time of French revolution, many Western intellectuals believed China, as one of the most enduring civilizations in the world, had a rationalism and advanced bureaucratic system. For France, La Chine always represented superior civilization with a full of exquisite finesse. However, as testified by further advance of technology in the 20th century, things were changing rather rapidly. 

The French excavation team found the code of Hammurabi (reigned from 1792 – 1750BC) written on black whin in Susa, Iran, in 1901. What were those writings saying? It sounds like Bible… The modern West was excited to discover many other archaeological findings. Sumer in Mesopotamia already invented bronze technology, town-planning and letters all by c. 3300 BC. The archaeological findings could only confirm, those appeared in China by c. 1300 BC or even later. A substantial gap was recognized for the case of iron technology in which China was less advanced. Qin’s (221 – 206BC) terracotta army had no iron weaponry, although they might already had known some of these products. 

Another source of confusions developed in the West was that the name of China was always China – one name – generally for the public-discussion purpose. This English word originally came from the pronunciation of Qin. The first Empire of Qin was ephemeral and virtually ruled by only one emperor, Zheng. The Qin Emperor rose from the Far-West of China with a strong military power and foreign element. He conquered China by crushing five other kingdoms one by one, in the stagnating era of divided kingdoms, which lasted more than five centuries, during the so-called Spring and Autumn, and the following Warring States periods (770 – 221BC). But he failed to establish his political base to the rest of China. 

The longest-survived Han dynasty firmly introduced the iron technology. Above all, as magnificent Chinese historians in the West such as Jacques Gernet properly analysed, Chinese dynasties never used this naming. China/Zhonghua actually means the Centre of the Civilised World. It is connate; the rest are all barbarians. It was originally used to explain their political ideology. In fact, the Chinese administrations only started using this name of state – Zhonghua – in modern times. 

This naming was first conceived by Sun Yat-sen who had to give in his provisional Republic of China to Yuan Shikai, after the fall of Qing dynasty in 1912. Sun could not ignore Yuan’s remnant forces of Qing, capable of destroying Sun’s dreamed ‘revolution’ for his own Empire of China (– all including ‘People’s Republic’ written in the same Chinese Characters). One of the purposes for such a new usage was the Chinese wanted to inspire ‘modern’ nationalism. 

Sun, still regarded as the father of Modern China, wrote his important note on this subject with its difficulty he encountered. His identified problem/Confucianism covered all the Chinese political activities. Like what happened in Japan, therefore, the People’s Republic of China could be also the largest ever-created ‘dynasty’ in its political core without real sense of any modern revolution. 

The Ancient China sensibly accommodated barbarians from the north, like Romans did it for their own empire. But these two geopolitical patterns of economic expansion were totally different. China had neither Mediterranean Sea nor Baltic Sea equivalent. Instead, the agriculturally rich China was often invaded by the Ural-Altaic horse-riding ‘bandits’ from the north. Some of these northern invaders were lucky enough to establish and select the name for their own Chinese empire and/or divided kingdom. But even as absolute conqueror, all of them had to rely on Chinese mandarins to administer the Chinese farming population. 

The fact was that no Ural-Altaic nomadic rulers could ignore the advantage of various Chinese agricultural productions and other exquisite expertise in abundance, which were all essentially required for strengthening their military power. In this process, no matter what race originally one came from, they could become authentic Chinese by taking one of its surnames. The important matter was not about appearance but ideology to control the human way of thinking politically at institutional level.

Any foreigners could be Chinese, like exactly what happened later in the United States and all other countries in the West. You just need to accept the ancient Chinese/modern American principles. From the Chinese viewpoint, the important thing was to expand and protect a huge-inherited agricultural infrastructure spread all over its territory. In this traditional process, the acknowledgement of rulers could be easily given so far as Chinese were concerned – To subjugate the Chinese population as Chinese emperor (he will be given a Chinese name) meant the acceptance of the Chinese ideology.

In modern times, some did not wish to be integrated in such a way. The problem of its sovereignty and danger for China is that they do not have a solid national political history for their state, due to the prevalence of such durable political ideology. Unless, they established a modern polity like Americans. Most controversially, this old economic structure has already gone in terms of statistics, as China’s ‘modern’ economic sector vigorously advanced in the 21st century. 

As the conclusion from our overview, therefore, while three, i.e., Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Indus out of four world’s ancient civilizations were interlinked each other, China developed in a relative isolation in terms of politics and economy. Despite its isolationism, however, China was constantly influenced by the West. Even one of the original inventors of this Chinese ideology, Zhou (1050 – 771BC) could have some Western foreign element (decimal classification, for instance – as Shigeki Kaizuka noticed). 

Something good, unless it politically conflicts with the ruling ideology, should also be accepted in China or elsewhere. We must realize that the same sort of history was recently repeated in ‘Communist’ China as the country became a technological and economic titan in Chinese way. The Chinese corporations are also copying it today, absorbing all the advanced technologies from the West/Japan/South Korea, without paying much attention to the necessary international obligations in doing so. 

The British Global Assessment

Other social scientific achievements in the pre-war period were duly delivered in the United Kingdom. In the West, only Arnold Toynbee caught this totally different ideology as Britain’s diplomatic relationship with Japan was suddenly collapsing in the Asia-Pacific region. He launched his formidable analysis – A Study of History – promoting the necessity of global historical study to understand a specific political issue facing the nations, as Georg Hagel once tried it in vain without a credible information available in the 19th century. 

Toynbee captured this political entity by extracting the two turning points in Chinese history and named the essence of this ideology as militarism. He argued that this Ideology inclusive of Japan, was conceived earlier in the inland China/at the time of Yin-Zhou ‘revolution’. And Confucius did not provide this Chinese concept because he was born afterwards, simply to fortify this ideology. With this vacant politics, he warned the Japanese, Japan cannot establish an independent civilization with maritime economy. Nobody listened in Japan and perhaps also in the world but his findings are simply stunning.

In this alarming situation, John Maynard Keynes published The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Under the deteriorating reality of global economy, he put an unusual preface to Germans and Japanese for this book. He explained the mechanism of economic failure by establishing the modern economic theory. But his warning was not taken seriously by most economists in the world, as a war was then still remaining as better/credible alternative. The problem is that many economists in the world still could not capture his points, even though the war solution with further advanced technology became unthinkable today. 

A Global Research Began in Struggling Japan

This inconsistency gap of ideology with the outside world had widened constantly in the ever-secluded Japan, as its economic outlook continued to be worsened since the 1990s. In fact, the Ancient Japan did not hide about their politics and diplomacy. They tried to explain every substantial political event in the Japanese classics, in particular, about important diplomacy and relationship with Korea and China. 

But this negative Japanese attitude surfaced in the closed era was multiplied by the inevitable ‘modern’ double-standard. And the reality/economy of such peculiar ‘ancient’ state, which hide all the important facts, or simply following their isolated politics, has been getting worse and non-rectifiable. All these passive developments pushed Japan’s economic trend further downward. More problematically, the world had to be influenced inactively by Japan as this economic dragging continued on a global scale.

Nevertheless, it is not Japan that is different from the world (they need an economy to survive, for instance). Also, the Japanese are not particularly strange people. But this system of seclusion is completely estranged Japan from the rest of the world. Such politics will never come to rule in other parts of the world, but they cannot put an end to this malfunction with its ‘tradition’ of its incessant political-core movement. Is this not the reason why Japan could not make a reform in the last three decades? 

What learned Japan from the collapsed history of modernisation, which eventually materialized as the disastrous and disgraceful defeat of WWII? In this process, Japanese officers and soldiers all participated in the war together. There was no better place where this command system or its politics were exposed so visibly. Many wrote about their experiences in memoirs; in particular, about the exalted insanity of powerholders without any sense of responsibility (still there) and technically primitive and lacklustre human inefficiency experienced in the battlefield (ditto). 

Simply, they were striving against the strategy and tactics of modern military and the business management of international community, not knowing what it meant, in believing Japan as a modernized state. In global terms, Japanese are not particularly ingenious people compared to others. And some Westerners may find a difficulty to appreciate; why on earth only Japanese could write such a global issue. Talking about say, History of West Asia, for instance, Philip K Hitti wrote a detailed superb study for Syrian and Lebanese histories in English. Threats from outside world to the region, that he identified, came from Roman and Persian empires. Frankly, China was invisible in his analysis.

Shinjiro Kodama translated Hitti’s major works into Japanese, travelling thoroughly the region by adding countries into his considerations, such as the historical influences of Persia and Greece to the East, and then he wrote his own analysis. Above all, he was aware of Chinese and Japanese history. While all West Asia experts still find Hitti’s original information most valuable, one might need Kodama’s book to understand the issues that facing the world today. Besides, such an omission of facts will not occur in Japan, as they must first study the existing materials in English, as a matter of course.

Frankly, intellectual world seems to be split between the West and the East at an enormous level in this standstill, and the gap is enlarging without free dialogues. It seems that the origin of this problem comes from the lack of historical understanding in the ruling West about the reticent East. It used to be trivial in terms of impact but is getting serious as China had rapidly replaced the Soviet Union’s status in the Cold War.

Hidden, Unidentified and Unnoticed Ideology

Another barrier is; the lack of general interests and enthusiasm among scholars and journalists in the West and there are reasons for this tendency. To capture the opposing ideology and its arguments could never be a complicated task. It rather jumped directly in the centre of Western politics. Karl Marx’s The Manifest of the Communist Party and other written materials explained how the ideology of Communist works. Nothing was hidden and even the name of ideology was declared based on modern internationalism. They also insisted their thoughts to form a political party. You cannot even blur your political statements in front of the tenacious critics. 

The ideology of Fascism/Naziism and Anti-Fascism movements brewed by new nationalism in Europe. It spread from Italy to Germany, Spain and many other countries. Some obtained their independence after the dissolution of imperialism in the late 19th century, and the sentiment was also affected by the consequence of WWI. As this political movement was actually developing, few leaders/politicians were involved in a decisive manner to lead the movement. Above all, many intellectuals and professionals in the West also studied the nature of this ideology and warned about it. 

On the contrary, this enigmatic ancient political core had to be hidden even in the East. Nobody led or declared anything. It was a movement like power of inertia. You may say, how could we/the West get involved in such other people’s affairs without giving an impression of diplomatic impudence in the age of democracy? Another decisive factor for this unidentified ideology was that this grave historical confrontation is not going on in Europe, but in East Asia…for the first time in world history. 

After the Cold War ended peacefully, China gradually emerged as the world’s second largest economy. Yet, they were still behaving like a developing nation, in hiding their manifesto with domestic agenda. As China soon started to behave strangely, the West was caught off guard. Many of leading Western analysts on global affaires so far seemed to have no idea about this unimaginable new-ideological confrontation under such circumstance.

Japan Problem was terminated in the new financial competitions, while the Japanese had no clue on what happened in terms of modern economics. Afterwards, the effects of Japan disease gradually spread out to all the corners of world. The current global reality is, as everybody can see it, Japan is still surviving negatively with a massive government debt as the ‘boiler’ of this Japan disease, and the world had to follow suit. It is now critically important for the world economy that we take actions to reverse this global trend.

Who Makes A Move?

‘Where Japan stands in face of the progress of the world?’ – even Professor Miyazaki had no idea on this query of emergency. Equally, despite Fukuzawa’s absolutely pertinent analysis, he ended up somewhat uncompleted in terms of Japan’s reform possibility. The Japanese economy was (in particular, after the victory of the Nippo-Chinese war in 1895 and the adoption of the Gold Standard in 1897) vigorously expanding with the injections of new technology/physics from the West led by the United Kingdom. The economic cycle has not yet reached its pinnacle in his time; therefore, Japan was not ready to take any actions for such degree of hyper-mega-reform. 

To find the real answer, we need to enhance these two intellectual achievements by further intensifying the pertinent analyses. Fukuzawa’s definition of Western civilization – starting from the Roman empire was far too short but this was already covered by Kyoto School and others. And his contemporary’s claim for 2500 years of the Japanese history was apparently too long. This academic jumble seems continuing even in the post-war Japan. History must be certified by a reliable document. In this sense, the national history of Japan began from 645 onward. The history of antiquity cannot be ignored but it must be differentiated to avoid confusions.

One thing seems certain; nobody else in the West would go further to find out the real cause in the global history inclusive of Japan. Could then both sides start a discussion towards an eventual solution, perhaps? Let’s hope the answer is positive. Some Japanese still believe, Japan has democracy and capitalism. And they are seriously arguing the end of democracy and capitalism is near. They know history like a baby, so don’t worry – just not to be perturbed, and let’s concentrate on the real issues in Tokyo.

The Choice: Harmonious Economy or Apocalyptic Disaster

In terms of efforts for long-awaited reform in Japan, the general view seems – the government already waisted three decades, i.e. the entire 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Although those who lived during this period are fully aware of its long-overdue necessity, quasi-unknown to the Western journalism, at least three ex-prime ministers, namely, Kiichi Miyazawa, Ryutaro Hashimoto and Junichiro Koizumi had spoken out about their serious concerns on the subject of Japan’s unavoidable administrative shake-up. In the end, it seems that they tried to do something in vain, by bluntly taking their own political risks in an increasingly ‘ancient’ environment of Japanese politics. Despite the havoc, however, all these people’s representatives must be remembered in Japan.

On this essential issue, Taichi Sakaiya, a respected writer, former politician and bureaucrat, and Ryuichiro Matsubara, a pre-eminent university researcher of Capitalism, discussed about the existence of an insurmountable barriers in Japan for the November 2005 issue of Chuo Koron, one of the most prestigious monthly magazines based in Tokyo. In the special article titled: ‘Unless We Break The Spell of Company-Man Practice, Japan Must Sink with It’, Mr Sakaiya argued about the approaching downfall of the elitist Lump Generation (coined word by him) – born from 1947 to 1949 – baby boomers who contributed most in establishing Japan’s modernised economy during 70s and 80s. And those who had studied in Japan’s post-war free educational system in full advantages, as the generation were then getting leading positions in the society. He warned them with his unusually serious tone, and perhaps, as for his last hope; ‘their fate will be completely reversed in the future, when they suffer in old age, if Japan cannot launch a prerequisite reform now.’

Professor Matsubara agreed on his point: ‘so-called lifetime employment system, which is much admired and successfully kept in Japan, in fact, is also a cruel system from different perspective. In this kind of organisation, an employee has to care bosses or colleagues inside one’s own company more than anybody or anything else, such as clients, ordinary people and different opinions, all only available outside of the company. This attitude actually means to ignore much bigger opportunities in the society, since the day of one’s graduation from university.’ And he predicted: ‘Worse, the long-term relationship constantly treasured, in a manner like this, would most-likely be shattered at the time of retirement. On the other hand, they must accept a crude reality that many other existing ordinary relationships available in society become hardly recoverable for them in this accumulated pattern of isolationism’. 

The two leading intellectuals further emphasised Japan’s urgent requirements for a modern financial-investment market and for the necessary investment products to cope with the rapidly growing demand of its pension fund sector. But nobody listened to their serious warnings and most preferred to continue the old practice. Actually, Mr Miyazawa, who also served as Japan’s most credible economist, advocated the indispensable needs of such asset management policy in the late 80s, before he was appallingly attacked by a thug in public place. Mr Hashimoto thought about a deeper political issue and fully meditated in his articulate remark: ‘Japan now must launch a more radical reform than the Meiji Restoration’. And in Japanese term, Mr Koizumi represented Satsuma clan’s tradition that successfully led the Restoration. Why then nobody in the Japanese politics took any further actions on this vital issue for their unique motherland or just to follow these inspired leaders? We must perhaps think about this answer belatedly.

Few people in Europe may refute to such specific Japanese problems vis-à-vis the current smashed-status of world economy under an unprecedented pandemic by saying; every country is struggling today. Absolutely agreed. Nonetheless, the tackling problem and its acuteness are fundamentally different in Japan, compared to the West. Unknown to most people in the world, the post-war Japanese politics is still failing to establish a modern financial system, in particular, its basic legal structure. Of course, few experts may still insist somewhere in EU – we are also endeavouring to achieve it…Right.

Say, for instance, does Portugal have it? Yes, they have as a shrewd survivor but the Portuguese have to improve it all the time, like anybody else. However, Japan cannot routinely work it out with their own ambition as a modern nation, unless its essential modernisation efforts since 19th century has been duly carried out and completed. Some people may absent-mindedly believe that it was done with atom bombs long time ago. But as the Western professionals dealing with Japan on the front line of business could detect and sense it every day, the current realities are totally different from such an assertion. In this situation, we all perhaps must recollect the phrase of Yukichi Fukuzawa, a great leader for Japanese modernisation, in his master piece, The Summary of Civilised Spirit, – the society must always progress further. Indeed. But Japan is backtracking.

In looking back all the past in history since Japan’s birth as a state, the similar grave political crisis actually experienced in the 15th century. After the horrible wars and atrocities in the capital Kyoto (from 1467 to 1477), Japan was experiencing the long-term economic downturn for the first time in its history, and further declining on the way to a divided state, as the central government became quasi-nonexistence. In this critical period, thanks to the technologies and advices provided by then-rising-star Portugal, Japan was again reunited by the 16th century, and somehow saved. 

This encounter with a modern leading nation was so precious for Japan. As a proof, even the most accurate history of this revolutionary era in Japan was written by a Portuguese. He, the author of History of Japan, Luis Frois, was unknown in the world and his book was lost even in Europe. More than 400 years, his most magnificent works had been completely banished from the history. But two Japanese scholars were determined to salvage it and bring back to Japan, to complete the essential but forgotten part of Japanese history. Stunningly, the team was successful in this most challenging mission to translate the copy of his manuscripts (found by them in the Macao archives) into Japanese. And the solution for today’s crisis in Japan seems to be also written in his book as the accumulation of facts and events happened during this period. In the end, it was not a difficult issue to understand, as everybody is talking in Japan today that Japan is now going to bankrupt with this old politics. It was, and still is, simply about the matters of common sense.

A serious question must be asked also from the Asian viewpoint. In the ancient period, Japan was deemed as one of peaceful countries governed by the common religion of Buddhism spread all over China (Kara) and India (Tenjiku). Today, two counties already deserted Buddhism, while Confucianism and Hinduism are still in rife in China and in India respectively. Only Japan still uphold this so-called new India-originated religion among three nations. Despite the fact, it was all interlocked in a rather isolated religious environment in Japan, such as Shinto-Buddhist complex, which neither Indians nor Chinese can understand, or rather, are interested. Are the Japanese only the remaining extremists in today’s world? Despite no one has ever expressed such a fear, we must realise that this possibility cannot be entirely eliminated. 

Many Japanese politicians, bureaucrats and historians are still using these ancient controversial practices for the governmental function, such as the Gengo year-counting system, which was abolished in China, the original inventor, once and for all, by the early 20th century. Thinking of a possible islanders’ insularity under the misguided politics, Japan should be perhaps seriously avoiding an intellectual stalemate, and the ultimate severance from the world. For instance, can a Japanese prime minister change it to the modern calendar, just like Mao Zedong made it successfully, supported by the intellectuals such as Lu Xun, in China? Nobody ever discussed its political implications to Japan as if it was cursed even to raise a subject like this. So, we need to assume that there will be no argument even at intellectuals’ level. The politics of isolationism is almost a religion in Japan and it is all hidden impeccably far away from the modern progress.

To comprehend this fundamental theoretic issue, however, Japan fortunately have Hajime Nakamura, an incredible specialist who studied both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and India itself, its culture, art and history. The conclusion deduced from his arduous research was broadly to confirm and reiterate the ancient historical development in the world that religious organisations cannot be financed by state, no matter how powerful they are. Therefore, religion must be supported by the rational people as individual who have equipped with common sense, which can only be obtained by the combination of physics and metaphysics as once argued by Aristotle (Yes, his precious books were once lost but then recovered in Syria only by the Islamist movement.), and all the modern nations had to follow him subsequently. 

People intuitively understood this problem in the West, as all of their ancient powerful empires had disappeared, with unstoppable corruptions, lawlessness and shameful behaviours, in the fierce competitions at early days in their own history. The West simply could not hide their inefficiency to survive. What’s the point for hiding it before the total disappearance? Almost unnoticed in the West, this inefficiency syndrome is what exactly happening in the East today. What we should be cautious about the East is, however, there is still living ‘ancient’ empire of China in full swing., which was regarded as a communist dictatorship even by the leading Western intellectuals. 

One more critical situation to be realised in the West would be, in fact, Confucius had completely disregarded Metaphysics, and so did the Chinese Buddhism and Taoism. So how could we explain even the existence of problems to people without common sense? We can only show an example for their visible impact, in believing that as a human, they will also understand it. Although you may agree or disagree, to perform this mission better, the world economy should be also reinvigorated from the current rock-bottom. How can we do that? Well, that is the question.

However, it is still important to realise that such modern principles could be possibly established in Japan. To break this enigma code, or rather, to crack this no-need-to-argue mentality hidden deep inside Japan, we need a miracle. And this revolutionary measure could be launched, only if, the Japanese are willing to act for a real change abandoning the old practices and its existing way of thinking in business, as Messrs Sakaiya and Matsubara made their profound statements 15 years ago. 

Only such revolutionary shift can save all Japanese, including every sector of business and every sect of religion, under Japan’s precious freedom of speech and religion, of course. Do nothing and simply relying on a sinking traditional politics or ancient magical power, certainly cannot be a solution for ending the current politico-economic crisis evolving from Japan to all over the world, or rather, curing from ‘Japan disease’ as World’s major financial institutions have now started calling this global phenomenon.

Covid19 and Its Political Aspect in Europe

It is often forgotten by many political commentators that the most revolutionary modern
movements of Renaissance and Religious Reformation since the 14th century onward was
launched after the arrival of the largest and longest ever pandemic of plague in Europe
(from 1346 to 1350). Statistics were still patchy indeed, nevertheless, it was claimed that
one third of the total population of Europe had to be perished. Some say, the virus had
spread from the most-extended Eurasian Empire of Mongols, which then occupied the
eastern half of today’s European continent, and China was at the eastern fringe of the
empire. As realistically depicted in Boccaccio’s The Decameron, people were struggling to
cope with their lives, while both Copernicus and Galileo were yet to be born, safe from their
insane critics.

After experiencing such agony, however, the modern spirit was created somehow by the
efforts of city states in Italy and spread to all other places in Europe who had the serious
business relationship with them. As Yuji Aida argued in Japan, ‘Renaissance and the
Reformation emerged almost simultaneously in the same sort of formation…back to its
tradition. The former was launched by the recognition of classical art and literature, the
latter by returning to the Bible from distorted medieval-teaching of priests.’

Together with the constant scientific and technological advancements, two great human
movements were trying to consolidate a new economic expansion by the emancipation of
individualism, where rulers had to give people a minimum form of economic assurance. By
the 16th century, the efforts were fortified by establishing the practices of international
diplomacy searching for eternal peace among the states that all equipped with the modern
common sense in Europe…This was a history, of course, but we need to do it again now
globally. And perhaps, in a much quicker pace.

Among the good things happening from this pandemic, everybody would agree to its
positive impact on reducing the risk of the approaching environmental disaster, while its
required economic policies are still arguable. It was not the issue at the time luckily on earth
and we cannot learn much from this history. However, how can we tackle and resolve such a
serious global issue with the current reality of the ideologically-divided world?

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