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1.17: The Travails of Tsuda Sōkichi, Attacked as ‘Traitor’

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    In which the author traces the actions of Tōdai’s right-wing critics, most notably publicist Minoda Muneki and his colleagues on the journal Genri Nihon. They accused the Faculty of Economics and the Faculty of Law of harboring professors whose thinking was treasonous and formed an Alliance for an Imperial University Purge. The Minister of Education joined the assault, only to be outmaneuvered by Tanaka Kōtarō, dean of the Faculty of Law. Much of the action focuses on Tsuda Sōkichi, distinguished historian-anthropologist from Waseda University, who was brought to Tōdai as guest lecturer on Asian political thought and ran into student opposition organized by the right.

    The Detailed Account of Hayashi Kentarō

    Behind the great turmoil in the Tōdai Faculty of Economics lay the factional fight among the three factions of Ōuchi, Hijikata, and Kawai. But these three factions experienced changes in members, coalitions, and name changes, so don’t think of them too schematically. To chart the currents of the day in terms of major events:

    1937: Japan-China War. Yanaihara Incident.

    1938: Faculty Group Incident (the arrests of Ōuchi, Arisawa, Wakamori). Banning of Kawai’s four books. Minister of Education General Araki Sadao’s university reform.

    1939: Hiraga Purge (firings of Kawai and Hijikata; protest resignations of professors, assistant professors, instructors—thirteen in all). Indictment of Kawai. Beginning of criticism of Tsuda Sōkichi (the following year, banning of his books).

    To chart the factions during these years: at first, opposition between the Marxist, Ōuchi faction, on the one hand, and the anti-Marxist Hijikata and Kawai factions, on the other. Then, when the Ōuchi and Hijikata factions joined hands and excluded the Kawai faction, the Kawai faction splintered, with one part joining the Hijikata faction to form the renovationist faction that favored cooperating with the war economy.

    The power chart was redrawn: the Ōuchi faction and what was left of the Kawai faction combined and seized hegemony. It happened in the political fight over whether to fire Ōuchi and Arisawa and Wakimura, who had been arrested in the Faculty Group Incident. Hayashi Kentarō (later the 20th president of Tōdai) was serving at the time as an assistant in the Western History Department of the Faculty of Letters. According to his memoirs: “Thus, while an unusual political fight was playing out among the professors of the Faculty of Economics, barely twelve in number, there came the arrest of the ‘Faculty Group’—Ōuchi and Arisawa and Wakimura …. For Hijikata and the renovationist faction, this was the perfect opportunity to drive out the left-wing professors; puffed up with success, they acted too arrogantly. From a bit earlier, this renovationist faction had made contacts with newspaper reporters and not only published their renovationist views, but even let reporters know what happened in Faculty Meeting and criticized colleagues, albeit not by name. Then, with Ōuchi’s arrest, they began a movement in Faculty Meeting to fire him immediately.”

    Why does Hayashi make his appearance now? Because in the end the issue of firing Ōuchi was not confined to the Faculty of Economics but as a university issue came before the University Council. (For the details, see Chapter 10.) Imai Toshiki played a decisive role in the University Council, and Hayashi was an assistant to him; Hayashi observed this incident at close hand from beginning to end and left a detailed account….

    The arrest of Ōuchi (the arrest of the Faculty Group) was a major event, the first time in Tōdai’s history that a regular Tōdai full professor had been arrested, and the newspapers of the day gave it exceptionally heavy coverage. At the time, the Faculty Meeting of the Faculty of Economics was controlled by the Ōuchi and Hijikata factions, but cracks in that alliance had already appeared. So Hijikata and the renovationist faculty, who controlled (or thought they controlled) the majority in Faculty Meeting, tried to seize this opportunity to fire at one fell swoop Ōuchi and the Ōuchi faction, sympathetic to Marxism. The Kawai faction was fundamentally anti-Marxist, so the renovationist faction apparently felt that on this issue they’d surely go along.

    Minoda Muneki’s Hatred of Tōdai

    At Tōdai, where professorial rank was concerned, faculty autonomy ruled: in every faculty, only faculty meeting had the power to hire and fire professors. In its origins, Tokyo Imperial University was a comprehensive university created when colleges that had been different schools (different in both origins and histories) amalgamated, so each faculty (each formerly a college) was a sort of independent state with its own powers, and each faculty meeting refused to let go of the right to hire and fire professors. The roots of university autonomy lay in freedom of research and freedom of teaching, but a third important freedom, supporting those two freedoms, was the freedom to hire and fire professors. Faculty meeting alone had the right to hire and fire professors, and outside forces, including the state, must not interfere in any sense in the hiring and firing of professors: that was the great principle of university autonomy.

    If outside forces, notably the state, tried to intervene, great turmoil arose and shook the university. The issue of Minobe Tatsukichi’s emperor-organ theory arose after Minobe had already reached the mandatory retirement age of sixty and left, so it did not involve firing a professor; but it was a problem that went to a freedom more important than hiring and firing—the freedom of research, the freedom of teaching. Nevertheless, the university response was so slow that the freedom of the university was battered and then battered some more. At the same time, freedom in the world at large was rapidly going down the drain. When the emperor-organ theory became an issue, the outside force interfering in university freedom was not the state but right-wing statists linked to the military. Above all, it was the Genri Nihon group, with Minoda Muneki in the lead, and the national-essence members of the Upper House.

    Earlier, before the Emperor-Organ Incident, they had stirred up the Takigawa Incident at Kyoto University and driven out seven professors; in the Emperor-Organ Incident, they drove all the professors who advocated the theory from the faculties of the universities of the entire nation and purged the emperor-organ theory from the curricula of all Faculties of Law. Their power was overwhelming. The attack on the emperor-organ theory became a great public campaign that drew in the military and the right wing, and under pressure, the government twice was forced to issue declarations on the clarification of the kokutai (1935).

    According to these declarations, all government activity must be judged in terms of clarification of the kokutai. Education both in the schools and for the public was reorganized to conform with clarification of the kokutai. For university education, a Consultative Council on Educational Reform was established (President Nagayo, philosopher Watsuji Tetsurō, Hijikata, Hiraizumi, Kakehi Katsuhiko, and others served as members) and a report was issued: “The great Empire of Japan serves the divine will of the emperor and the Sun Goddess of the one dynasty through all time, which rules eternally. This is our kokutai unchanging through all time. … Our education has its source in the kokutai and takes the Japanese spirit as its core.” And it set about redesigning all university education to “embody the true meaning of the kokutai.” The university reform of Minister of Education Araki, which we’ll talk about later, also has its origin here.

    Not only in education but in controls on speech, too, clarification of the kokutai became the new standard, and from then on, the charge “contrary to the kokutai” led to the easy suppression of speech of all sorts. Article 26 of the publication law read, “When books or drawings are published that blaspheme the dignity of the Imperial House and try to destroy the government or throw the constitution into confusion…” and mandated imprisonment for up to two years and fines of up to 200 yen for authors, publishers, and printers. Its Article 27 read, “When books or drawings are published that disturb the public order or corrupt social mores…” and carried imprisonment for up to six months and fines of up to 100 yen for the same parties. These two provisions were of great use in controlling speech, and from then on these were applied much more strictly.

    The Tsuda Incident involved Article 26, and the Kawai Incident involved Article 27, but what was at issue in both cases was books published far earlier, books that until then had been utterly unproblematic. Now, suddenly, legal proceedings were brought against them. Why? Once clarification of the kokutai was made the fundamental social standard, everything changed, including the very standard of judgment—“What does blaspheming the dignity of the Imperial House mean?” “What does disrupting public order mean?”

    After the February 26, 1936 Incident and the beginning of the Japan-China War in 1937 (the incident at the Marco Polo Bridge), Japanese society as a whole moved onto war footing. The national spiritual mobilization movement began at the same time as the fighting, and in 1938 the national mobilization law was enacted; through these measures, Japanese society from top to bottom and in all its nookks and crannies was put on wartime footing. This great transformation of society, placing the whole society on war footing, was the greatest background factor for the whole series of incidents from 1937 to 1939 listed at the beginning of this chapter.

    Under these conditions, the Genri Nihon group led by Minoda stepped up its tenacious attack on Tōdai. Its fundamental belief was that Tōdai was the nucleus of anti-kokutai scholarship, that all the communist-sympathizing professors preached Marxism themselves or taught that it should be tolerated; so Tōdai was the general headquarters of the movement to turn Japan red. Hence in order to prevent the communization of Japan, it was necessary to destroy Tōdai (in particular, its Faculty of Law). In the Yanaihara Incident, too, the attack on Yanaihara by Genri Nihon had been the spark. At this time Genri Nihon intensified its attack on the Faculty of Law—on Yanaihara and also on Miyazawa, Tanaka, Yokota, Rōyama, and Yabe; its attack on Kawai of the Faculty of Economics was particularly fierce.

    Both Democracy and Representative Government Are Anti-Kokutai

    What did they criticize? In a word, anything they thought didn’t suit the kokutai. To listen to Minoda and the others, Japan’s kokutai made the authority and will of the emperor unconditionally supreme—theirs was a belief system centered absolutely on the emperor. So of course the emperor-organ theory was unacceptable, as was democracy, too. (It was unacceptable for the “people” to be “chief.” The “chief” had to be the emperor.[1]) It was also unacceptable for the Diet to be the center. The Diet was permitted only to assist emperor-centered government. Miyazawa still seemed not to have discarded the emperor-organ theory, and Rōyama preached democracy centered on the Diet; neither was acceptable. Yabe advocated democracy under the name of “majoritarian government”: not acceptable. Tanaka, who advocated world law, placed world law above the emperor: unacceptable. And international lawyer Yokota, too, placed international law above the emperor: unacceptable. (“It is fiendishness, worse than the ‘emperor-organ theory, to say there is natural law or international law superior to the constitution of any given country.’”).

    In short, virtually everything being taught at the Tōdai Faculty of Law was anti-kokutai, so the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics should be shut down. Even should they be permitted to continue to exist, unless changes were made, other faculties might be infected by communist-sympathetic ideas, red ideas; so Tōdai as comprehensive university must be broken up and Law and Economics allowed to exist only in isolation from the other faculties. Moreover, custom and the concept of “the autonomy of the university” held that the university itself had the power to hire and fire, but such action infringed the kokutai and the constitution’s explicit words that the emperor has the authority to hire and fire officials. So independent power to hire and fire must be stripped from the university and returned to the Minister of Education, a direct servant of the emperor. Such were their assertions.

    The Reform Plan of Minister of Education Araki; Tanaka’s Secret Plan

    The chronology at the head of this chapter lists under the year 1938 that General Araki Sadao became Minister of Education and pushed “university reform.” What Araki wanted to do, in fact, was precisely to destroy university autonomy in personnel decisions. Araki was a leader of the Army’s Imperial Way faction, but after the February 26 Incident, he had withdrawn from center stage (retired to inactive duty) and been on his best behavior. Why did he become Minister of Education and set about university reform? In University Autonomy,[2] Ōuchi explains: “1938: Japan invaded China, and Chiang Kai-shek resisted stubbornly, so nothing came of it…Educational renovation was absolutely essential to military aggression. But as we’d already seen in the Yanaihara and Ōuchi incidents, Tōdai wasn’t an unstinting advocate of militarism, and it didn’t suit the military that there were places where liberalism existed. … So the military resolved to put General Araki, considered the most thorough-going militarist in matters of education, at the forefront of this issue. On May 26…Araki marched into the Konoe Cabinet. At the time Araki was fiercely energetic, and he tried to push through Japan’s intellectual revolution at one fell swoop. The first thing he set his hand to was university administration; at its core, he thought, lay the hiring and firing of university presidents. So the Minister of Education immediately summoned President Nagayo and handed him his proposed university reform.

    Araki was close to the Genri Nihon group, and what he asserted was word-for-word the reform of the imperial universities that Genri Nihon had long been advocating. The point of Araki’s reform proposal was to end the system of choosing imperial university presidents via faculty election. (The practice began in the early 1910s at Kyoto University and spread gradually to Tōdai and all the imperial universities). Democratic methods such as election infringed upon imperial prerogative, so they were contrary to clarification of the kokutai. The controversy continued for several months thereafter, but in the end the university won. This issue arose at virtually the same time that the university was shaken by the Ōuchi issue, and in order to know where the essence of university autonomy lies and why it’s so important to defend it, more important elements are involved. So let me speak first about these other issues.

    Why was the university able to resist the pressure of the Ministry of Education on this issue? For one thing, the university united quickly, locking arms behind the scenes, and even though the Ministry schemed to break down that unity, the unity held. Second, the university devised a resolution of the issue that preserved the honor of the Minister of Education (the university discarded university autonomy in name but kept it in substance). In this entire process, the leader on the university side was Tanaka, then dean of the Faculty of Law (after the war Minister of Education, Diet member, and chief justice of the Supreme Court). He was a leader with great knowledge and pluck. He was also the one who drew up the grand design of the Hiraga Purge, which we’ll discuss later; along the way, it looked any number of times as if the Hiraga Purge would collapse, and it was he who supported it to the end. So let me introduce him.

    Yoshimura Sachio’s “Tales of Tōdai II,[3] written after the Hiraga Purge, describes how Tanaka fought against heavy odds. Yoshimura writes as follows of Tanaka’s activity at the time of Araki’s university reform: “Tanaka Kōtarō, the sphinx—he’s truly wasted as a university professor. Were he to enter politics, he has the strategy and fighting spirit to become a true leader. One observer appraised the young, highly-talented Tanaka as a man as to be feared, as likely to come to grief by his own hand… He is a scholar filled to overflowing with tenacity and fighting spirit, like a viper. At the time of the university reform, from summer last year into the fall, he faced the Ministry of Education single-handedly and fought stubbornly to preserve university autonomy….” Ministry of Education officials threw the proposed solution, which I’ll describe later, back in their faces: “This does not suit the Ministry’s intent for reform of the university, so please take it back with you!” Of the three Tōdai representatives there at the meeting with high Ministry officials, university secretary Eguchi trembled, and Dean of the Faculty of Letters Kuwada stuck out his hand as quick as could be. But Tanaka bit off the words, “We’ll never take that proposal back!”

    “Take it back!”

    “No, we won’t!”

    With that back-and-forth, Tanaka made to leave, taking the others with him. One of the Ministry officials said, “Well, if you simply won’t take it home with you, we’ll send it back by registered mail; it’s the same thing.” Tanaka: “Do as you please. But I say for the record: taking it back involves the will of the university; but if it’s mailed to us, it isn’t the will of the university but something over which we have no power. Don’t confuse the two!” With these parting words, Tanaka left, and the Ministry side stared after him, open-mouthed.

    Tanaka was also the Faculty of Law professor who for some time had been the object of the fiercest attacks of the Genri Nihon group led by Minoda. The prime reason was that Tanaka was a Catholic. Because he was a Catholic, he rejected strongly the general custom, widespread in Japan, of paying shrine visits. In his Law and Religion and Society,[4] he argued that all modern states guarantee freedom of religion, and the religious practices of specific religions should not be compelled, so the shrine visits by primary-school children often carried out in Japan should be ended. In the same way, visits to shrines by officials in their official capacity should also stop. For Minoda and the national-essence people, “Japan, land of the gods” was a land of shrines, so this was absurd. That’s why, for some time, Tanaka had come under fierce criticism by Genri Nihon.

    On the issue of university reform (specifically, whether presidents should be elected), Tanaka took the lead in the negotiations between the university and the Ministry of Education. The record of the give-and-take is to be found in University Autonomy, and the argument that “university autonomy is the very life of the university” developed there is telling, so let me summarize it here. According to Tanaka, autonomy for the university is similar to independence for the judiciary. Judges of local courts do not take orders from the Justice Minister. Only when judicial independence exists can legal fairness be guaranteed. He writes:

    In constitutional terms, university professors differ from judges, but in terms of their official duties and in substance, they are similar. Judges judge right and wrong; university professors judge true and false…. If professors are influenced by public opinion or become subject to official influence, we cannot hope for the healthy development of the state’s learning. Education, too, must be separated from politics. …

    University professors have no constitutional protections such as judges have, and of course, they must not infringe public order, sound customs, or the essentials of the kokutai; but within the permitted sphere, they must be free. Based on their years of scholarly experience, senior professors can give guidance and encouragement to their juniors, but they cannot order them. If you tell a painter who can paint apples to paint Mt. Fuji, he cannot produce a fine picture. Nothing good results if you strip the freedoms to create and to conduct research from painters and scholars. Administrative officials differ greatly: it doesn’t matter if they find what they’re doing fascinating; if ordered by their superiors to stop, they must obey. Even though both professors and bureaucrats are officials, they differ on this point. The unfettered independence and spirit of scholars is their lifeblood, and it comes from a disinterested attitude toward scholarship. …

    The virtues essential for the professions are not the same: for administrative officials, obedience; for judges, fairness; for scholars and artists, unfettered independence. Unless that is the case, they will be lickspittles and not benefit the state. They will exert a bad influence on a country’s culture and bring about its ruin. The spirit of university professors is nourished in the autonomous society they form with their colleagues. …

    Autonomy sounds legalistic, but essentially it is the spirit of family. The relations among professors within the university differ from the superior:subordinate relations among government officials; they are the relations of colleagues, the relations of senior, junior, student, not the relations of submission to authority. There are, of course, differences in levels of closeness; one discipline is ancillary to others; the others make use of the one. So the recommendation of professors and assistant professors is to elect as president those who help them. For themselves and for their colleagues, to be able to choose one who is suitable in terms of character and scholarship is key.

    In essence, the university is in these ways a society organized according to completely different principles than society in general. The election of university presidents by professors and assistant professors: that has a meaning completely different from elections in society at large. So Tanaka dreamed up a unique compromise that discarded the name but kept the substance: it gave the Ministry of Education the name; the university kept the substance. Elections in the university are elections, but they mean solely that each person recommends a person suitable for the position. So stop calling it an election and call it a recommendation. Instead of a ballot, call it a “position paper.” Have each person write a position paper on who is suitable; collect the position papers, total them up, and decide. This is the very essence of an election, but its form differs.

    When this proposal was submitted, the Ministry of Education suggested it was necessary to make responsibility clear—who was recommending whom, that ballots not be anonymous. Moreover, so this kind of selection process not leak outside and cause problems later, the procedure should be secret. It was squaring the circle—sign the ballots, record the ballots, keep the vote secret. The solution to this dilemma was to use perforated ballots so that at the time of voting the two parts could be separated. But how to leave a record of who voted for whom if people submitted their ballots torn in two? The passage in University Autonomy continues as follows:

    Tanaka: In the end the problem boiled down, as I touched on earlier, to anonymous ballots versus signed ballots. For our part, it was our thinking that unless the voting was anonymous, you couldn’t expect a true and fair recommendation—we avoided the term election and spoke of recommendation—so to the extent possible, maintain the reality of anonymous ballots. So at Tōdai we decided—well, it may be a slight evasion of the law—to make perforations in the middle of the ballot so you could separate the part with the candidate’s name from the part with the recommender’s name, put the two in separate bags, and keep the signatures absolutely secret. The voters’ names were written—these were signed documents, but in reality they were anonymous (chuckle). With this contrivance, we kept the reality of anonymous ballots.

    Wagatsuma: Whose idea was that? (chuckle)

    Tanaka: The Faculty of Science’s, I think.

    Wagatsuma: Distribute the ballots. And the ballots have perforations down the middle. Write your own name on one half and the candidate’s name on the other half; the same number is on both halves. Then tear it down the middle and put the halves in separate containers. And seal hermetically the halves with signatures and take only the halves with the candidates’ names and add them up, and then it’s a matter of who got the most recommendations—recommend that person. But the number’s the same on the two parts of the ballot, so if you go looking and put the two halves together, you can tell who recommended whom. Once there’s an official announcement of the winner, burn the ballots. That serves the goal of anonymous voting splendidly. Whoever thought that up was a clever man! (Chuckle.)

    Miyazawa: …In reality, it’s a completely secret ballot.

    Wagatsuma: So it saved the face of the other side and made them back off.

    Suekawa: Really, a brilliant idea.

    Wagatsuma: I wonder what bright person thought it up.

    Suekawa: Good idea, but a bit complicated.

    Wagatsuma: It meets the needs of the other side. You sign your name, but keep it secret, so, yes.

    Tōdai: Domestic Enemy

    Let’s return now to the attack on Tōdai by the right-wing national-essence people. Minoda’s State and University,[5] published right after the second Popular Front Incident, bears the subtitle, “An Academic Indictment of the Democracy and Anarchism of the Tōdai Faculty of Law!” The whole book is an attack on the Tōdai Faculty of Law, and the fifth section of Chapter 1—“The Traditionally Anti-Kokutai Academic Style of the Tōdai Faculty of Law”—includes the following (italics in original): “Very recently, too, on January 31 three members of the Tōdai Faculty of Economics, along with professors of imperial and private universities around the country, were arrested under the Peace Preservation Law. Far from being mere agitation—the “evil practice of a university interfering in politics”—it in fact became a movement, in time of crisis, to ‘change the kokutai’ in collaboration with an enemy country.”

    He’s speaking of the arrest of Ōuchi in the second Popular Front Incident and says that in time of war that incident is the equivalent of trying to stir up a revolution, in collaboration with the enemy, “to change the kokutai.” War began between Japan and China because in China a “communist or communist-sympathizing popular front” (the Guomindang and the Communist Party joining hands) had come into existence. Since then, “anti-Japan, hate-Japan, resist-Japan” ideas had spread to all China. Behind the spread of these ideas lay the fact that Japan’s imperial universities and Japan’s major newspapers and magazines (run by graduates of imperial universities) were spreading these ideas. And he asserted: “That a country’s national universities have a traditional academic style of denouncing and slandering their own country’s kokutai and national spirit and of fundamentally repudiating and denouncing its state policies, and that for a half century the country has done nothing to change this officially permitted and recognized academic style: is any similar university and state to be found in history, old or new, Eastern or Western?” In “The Empire’s National Policy and the Imperial Universities’ Academic Style,”[6] Minoda says that very recently Chinese radio had broadcast: “Several days ago two Japanese soldiers, graduates of imperial universities, gave themselves up voluntarily to the Chinese army and said they wanted to work for the Chinese army for the sake of Asian harmony.” This was without doubt a propaganda broadcast, but what it transmitted was “regretfully, not without foundation ideologically.” Minoda cited Minobe Tatsukichi’s comment in the Asahi (June 14, 1931) just before the Manchurian Incident: “It appears the army believes strongly that it must maintain order in Manchuria and Mongolia traditionally, by force, but nothing is more damaging to the state.” Minobe said the very fact that Japan is ruling Manchuria and Mongolia by military force causes great damage to Japan; so graduates of such a university, having been taught this, think that it will further Asian harmony if, rather than staying in the Japanese Army and continuing to fight, they throw themselves instead into the arms of the Chinese. According to Minoda, this is not at all surprising. Similarly, Minoda cited the following passage from Kawai: “Quite recently, Kawai Eijirō, whose most important four books have been proscribed because they were judged to be ‘no different from communism,’ spat out these preposterous lies, too, in Critique of Fascism, the third edition of which was issued on October 15 of last year, after the Incident: ‘I certainly hope the countries of Asia regain their independence. But I don’t agree with their depending on Japan to do so…. If they throw out Great Britain and the United States only to substitute Japan, then they’ll likely prefer Great Britain and the United States… We absolutely must avoid a war that takes Japan as its focus.’”[7] According to Minoda, if you’ve had that kind of education, it’s not surprising that after graduating you throw your lot in with the enemy.

    The moment war began in China, the criticism of Tōdai from this point of view became frighteningly fierce. The essays collected in State and University are all attacks on Tōdai from this angle. Mitsui Kōshi, a Genri Nihon colleague who contributed a postscript to State and University, argued that Tōdai was Japan’s domestic enemy: “Germany (in World War I) was not defeated by enemy armies; it was defeated and ruined by the deliberate policy of the domestic enemy, the Social Democratic Party. The anti-kokutai, internationalist professors of Tokyo Imperial University, the domestic enemy, are the ones who nourish, teach, and lead judicial and administrative officials. I repeat this crucial fact here and appeal to my countrymen.” All the essays in this volume had run in Genri Nihon in the previous several years. Thereafter, too, Genri Nihon put out a special issue on “the Imperial University Revolution Problem” (September 1938), lining up articles criticizing Tōdai, beginning with Minoda’s “Tokyo Imperial University’s Scholarly Inability to Govern Itself,” as well as an issue, “Proclamation of an Imperial University Revolution” (April 1939). In every issue, the attack on Tōdai continued ringing the changes. The following speech by Diet member Inoke Toshie, member of the Diet’s budget committee, ran in the “Proclamation of an Imperial University Revolution” issue; it drew on Genri Nihon essays and is a plain-spoken précis of the Genri Nihon group’s attack on Tōdai at this time: “The current state of affairs at the imperial university is truly grave. Minister of Education Araki may be thinking of purging Tōdai, but I can’t believe that the number of pinko professors there has shrunk in the least. People who have studied at this university take the higher civil service exam administered by pinko scholars and enter government service; many even enter the Ministry of Education and become high officials. These officials guide and supervise their subordinates, so even if Minister of Education Araki wants to do things with the correct ideas, he can’t. Nor is it at all the case that even cabinet ministers are immune from bad ideas; there were strange folks in the previous cabinet. In the current cabinet, only Prime Minister Hiranuma and Minister of Education Araki are solid. I surely hope these two men carry out their duties loyally.”

    Tsuda: “Worse than the Emperor-Organ Theory”

    It was just the same throughout as in the issue of the emperor-organ theory: once the Genri Nihon group of Minoda and the others decided on the target of their attack, it sent its attack essays everywhere under the sun and did everything possible to stir things up. It aroused its members in upper and lower houses of the Diet to raise the issue there; it incited the Home Ministry and the Justice Ministry to prosecute formally—was it really right to allow such books to be published? Even Tanaka’s Law and Religion and Society that I talked about earlier: on the day the second Popular Front Incident took place, Baron Mimurodo Takamitsu cited the book in the Upper House and attacked it, and it was immediately banned (details later, Chapter 9).

    The Kawai Incident and the Tsuda Incident, which became major issues at this time, both developed in that manner. The former I’ll deal with later; here I’ll write about the latter. Tsuda considered virtually all of Japan’s ancient history, including the age of the gods, to be myths spun by the imperial house to justify its political control. Beginning with Studies in the Kojiki and Nihongi,[8] his books shook the foundations of the thinking of Minoda and the emperor-centered people, so they reacted in the fiercest of ways. They published an expanded issue of Genri Nihon with the scary title:


    They introduced Tsuda’s arguments and were censorious in the extreme: “In this way, regardless of the truth or falsity of his contentions, Tsuda’s argument that ancient history including the age of the gods is a forgery—that is, his erasure of it—is disrespect of the most evil kind toward the most august ‘imperial house’ that ‘created’ the Kojiki and Nihongi. It does not recognize the existence of the earliest imperial ancestors.” The attack goes on to compare this blasphemy with that of the emperor-organ theory: the emperor-organ theory did recognize the existence of the emperor, saying merely that he was not the subject of sovereignty, yet the cabinet still criticized it—“It indeed contravenes the principles of our sacred kokutai.” But in contrast, “When it comes to this argument of Tsuda, it rejects fundamentally and utterly the historical facts of ancient history, including the age of the gods, the very source of Japan’s kokutai, thereby erasing the existence of Emperor Jimmu and the first fourteen imperial forebears, and hence also the sacred meaning of the palace and the imperial tombs. So this is a case of ideological treason unprecedented in our history.”

    Right-wing Students Storm the Classroom

    The strange thing is that Studies in the Kojiki and Nihongi had been published in 1924, all of fifteen years earlier. Since then, consistently, Tsuda had never hidden these assertions. In fact, he had said the same things in another book back in 1913. So why was it made an issue now? Because it was one facet of the Genri Nihon group’s criticism of Tōdai. Tsuda had become a Waseda professor in 1918 and held that position straight through to the time of the Incident. In 1939 a new specialty was established in the Tōdai Faculty of Law, “History of Asian Political Ideas,” and he was invited to be the lecturer. The title of Tsuda’s course was “The Political Ideas of the Early Qin [Chinese] Dynasty,” so there was absolutely no connection to Japan’s ancient history. But perhaps because Tsuda had gained public attention, Iwanami Books decided in the spring of 1938 to issue an expanded edition of Studies in the Kojiki and Nihongi, which had long been out of print.

    The attack by Minoda did not begin immediately on the book’s reissue. The initial attack from Genri Nihon began from the point of view that Tsuda’s Asian ideas conflicted with the concept of the new order Japan was trying to create in Asia. And suddenly, in late December, when the course that began in October was about to end, the Genri Nihon group launched its concerted attack .

    Even at the Faculty of Law there were some right-wing students connected with Genri Nihon, and when they went to the classes of professors likely to become the object of Genri Nihon attack, they obstructed in all sorts of ways, asking malicious questions and the like. This student group came en masse to Tsuda’s final lecture. Maruyama Masao, then an instructor assigned to assist Tsuda, accompanied Tsuda to the lecture. Here is what he remembers:

    Maruyama: Tsuda said, “I’ll stop here. Are there any questions?” At that moment, hands went up in unison from all sides. I think there were fifteen or sixteen questioners. It wasn’t that they had listened to the lecture and were reacting. They had set it up, from the first. Intentionally taking the occasion of this last lecture, they had come to make a concerted attack. The ones clamoring were a bunch I doubt had attended the earlier lectures. Some were from the Faculty of Letters; some had clearly already graduated.

    Nambara: Was Odamura Torajirō there, too? [Odamura was a notorious right-wing student in the Faculty of Law. He took his lead from Minoda and had attacked quite a few professors.]

    Maruyama: No. Odamura had already been suspended and wasn’t there…. But his buddies were—the Student Co-operative Association that Odamura had organized with the Shōshinkai[10] of First Higher School as its core; it was a student organization that took Mitsui and Minoda as its leaders. These guys were members of it, beyond a doubt.

    Fukuda: What questions did they ask?

    Maruyama: I don’t remember all of them…. “Japan is now prosecuting the China Incident and is trying for national unity in order to create a new moral order in East Asia. Despite that, not to recognize the ethical ideas that traditionally have linked Japan and China: isn’t that to deny the foundation of the New Order in Asia?” From the first, it was a campaign of attack on Tsuda. I knew immediately it was the Co-op bunch. But Tsuda responded scrupulously. It went on for fifteen minutes—when one questioner was finished, another and then another kept asking the same sort of question. Finally, I jumped out of my seat, stood in front of the dais, and said, “Questions like these aren’t scholarly questions. Professor Tsuda has gone to great pains to give these lectures for the Tōdai Faculty of Law. It’s impolite to ask him questions that have nothing to do with his lecture.” And I put my arm around Tsuda and led him to the Faculty Lounge.”[11]

    But fourteen or fifteen students followed and stormed noisily into the lounge, saying, “We’ve got more questions.” Good-natured man that he was, Tsuda answered questions there, too.

    Maruyama: I sat next to Tsuda, and the bunch took seats around the table, hemming us in. It was students plus outsiders. Then a prolonged kangaroo court began. In brief, Tsuda’s stance was fundamentally the Marxist view of history and not compatible with the spirit of clarifying the kokutai. Tsuda said no, he didn’t think the materialist view of history was scholarly and responded for all he was worth. But their goal from the first was accusation, so there was no way they’d buy it. They were saying things like “The spirit of the Jinnō shōtōki was such and such…”[12] It went on for more than three hours…. It was endless, so I said, “Professor Tsuda, there’s no point in a conversation with such fanatics. Let’s get out of here.” And by main force I dragged him out. They didn’t obstruct us by force, as I’d expected, but jeers followed us. I don’t remember this, but afterwards Tsuda spoke of the moment in these words, “You wrangled with those guys.” I was hot-headed then, so I might have given that impression… But the next day, an account of that last lecture appeared in the Imperial News. The all-out attack of that bunch, with Minoda in the lead, had started.

    Nambara: And as soon as the course at Tōdai ended, in February 1940, Tsuda’s main books were banned. And in March he was indicted under Article 26 of the publication law for profaning the dignity of the imperial house and so on.

    This was just about the time of the Kawai trial, and it was the same sort of incident, so we decided to bring the two into contact and gathered at Iwanami Books and compared notes…

    Maruyama: While Tsuda was in Tokyo, I apologized to him for the trouble he’d encountered in the incident, “If you’d never come to the Faculty of Law, you’d probably have been fine…” Silently, he smiled and nodded. He didn’t say explicitly that that was the case, but I think he thought so.

    In fact, this incident did arise because Tsuda came to Tōdai and caught the eye of Minoda, who was already confirmed in his hatred of Tōdai; had Tsuda stayed at Waseda, it never would have happened.

    The Alliance For a Tōdai Purge

    Right after he published the special expanded issue of Genri Nihon attacking Tsuda, Minoda put together an “Alliance for a Tōdai Purge” made up of one hundred and forty influential figures from various worlds who had been cooperating with Genri Nihon for some time. It included nineteen members of the Diet, among them people who had been active at the time of the issue of the emperor-organ theory, famous military men, and major right-wing figures.[13] The alliance issued a proclamation “On the Erasure of Ancient History, including the Age of the Gods,” and called Tsuda’s essay “an authentic erase-Japan, erase-Asia argument” that “destroys the foundation of the kokutai.” It argued that those who brought “this person who embraces these evil ideas” from Waseda University and made him lecturer at the Tokyo Imperial University should take responsibility for their action and said: “This alliance appeals to the sense of responsibility of cabinet members for advising the emperor—Prime Minister Abe, the Home Minister, the Justice Minister, the Minister of Education—and calls the attention of Army and Navy officials, demanding that they deal quickly with this issue and carry out a resolute, fundamental, and thorough reform of education. It demands further that those who have recommended and encouraged Tsuda’s writing and research—university officials, the publishers, the Ministry of Education, Japan Library Association, and Japan Academy—come forward and take responsibility.” It called upon officials and public opinion to rise up, as in the Emperor-Organ Incident, and denounce Tsuda history. It distributed this proclamation to 5,000 influential figures in all fields, got much reaction, and printed the reactions in Genri Nihon:

    • “This speech tries to erase ‘Japan.’ People rotten to the marrow are impossible to redeem. I’d like them placed beyond the pale of ‘the Japanese.’” Army Brigadier General.
    • “Unspeakable. It should not be allowed. Tōdai too needs major purge.” Diet member.
    • “If this were Germany, it’s certain he’d be deported immediately and his books burned.” Former Diet Member.
    • “Must be crazy. Send him to the asylum at once.” Kawashima Kanji.
    • “Of course Japan is the land of the gods. Whether here or abroad, we cannot tolerate foolishness that ignores this brilliant history of 2,600 years in the slightest.” Poet.

    Other literary figures also commented.[14]

    Against the background of voices such as these, the Alliance for an Imperial University Purge issued demands of the government, one after the other, requesting that the Home Minister ban Tsuda’s books, that the Justice Minister take immediate legal action, that the Minister of Education strip Tsuda of his professorial rank and his degree.

    The renovationist faction within the Faculty of Economics and the right-wing nationalist forces outside were apparently not linked organizationally, but they had deep ideological ties. All through these years, Tōdai was harassed both from within and from without.

    1. RHM: “Chief” here (or “head”) is the second character of the four characters of the Japanese word for democracy: people-chief-ism.
    2. Daigaku no jichi (Tokyo: Asahi shimbunsha, 1963).
    3. Daini Tōdai monogatari,”Nihon hyōron, April 1939.
    4. Hō to shūkyō to shakai seikatsu (Tokyo: Kaizōsha, 1927).
    5. Kokka to daigaku: Tokyo Teikoku Daigaku Hōgakubu no minshushugi mukokka shisōni taisuru gakujutsuteki hihan, co-author Matsuda Fukumatsu (Tokyo: Genri Nihonsha, 1938).
    6. “Teikoku seifu no kokusaku hōshin to teidai gakufū,” Genri Nihon, December 1937.
    7. Kawai, Fuasshizumu hihan, p.365.
    8. Kojiki oyobi Nihon shoki no kenkyū (Tokyo: Iwanami, 1924).
    9. RHM: In the original, part of the title, “The Treasonous Thought of Tsuda Sōkichi,” is bolded in an unusual way. The background on which the letters rest is black, the letters themselves are white. The final line is indented to demonstrate respect for its first character: jin/kami (gods神). And with each mention of emperor or imperial house in the following passage, Genri Nihon leaves a blank space immediately preceding these terms, thus demonstrating respect.
    10. RHM: The name of this student organization approximates “society of true believers.”
    11. Kaikō Nambara Shigeru.
    12. RHM: Jinnō shōtōki is a work of the fourteenth century by Kitabatake Chikafusa; it deals with the imperial lineage and in the nineteenth and twentieth century became a favorite text of right-wing nationalists.
    13. RHM: Tachibana lists Diet members Kikuchi Takeo, Mimurodo Keikō, Inoue Seijun, Iida Kōnan; military figures Hayashi Tetsujūrō, Tatekawa Yoshinaga, Kashii Kōhei; and right-wing figures Toyama Mitsuru, Iwata Ainosuke, Imaizumi Teisuke.
    14. Tachibana lists, among others, Hagiwara Sakutarō and Kataoka Teppei,

    1.17: The Travails of Tsuda Sōkichi, Attacked as ‘Traitor’ is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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