When we consider the political space of Japanese modernity, Manchuria seems to possess distinctive significance. It is important to remember when considering Japanese modernity that with the exception of only a very small number of people, such as the actress Okada Yoshiko (1903-92) who defected to the Soviet Union in 1938, and the translator and dramatist Sano Seki (1905-66), scarcely any Japanese took refuge abroad. The issue itself of why there were so few Japanese refugees is important, I believe, in understanding the history of Japanese modernity. In modern Japanese history, Manchuria appears to be something of a space for taking quasi-refuge.
The [South Manchurian Railway], too, provided a site accepting of large numbers of leftist converts. In this sense, it was the only asylum in modern Japan. A moment ago, I mentioned a certain image of Manchuria that was invested with ideals and in which was sought that which could not be realized in Japan. I think Shiba Ryōtarō (1923-96), the famed historical novelist, was no different in this regard. He was drawn to Mongolia out of a yearning for the wilderness of Manchuria and Mongolia. It bore the sense for him of an asylum to which one might escape from the space Japan blockaded. This phenomenon was not limited to men, for looking at the memoirs of Japanese women as well we see some who went to Manchuria because they could not develop personally in Japan. For example, there were a certain number of women who had dreams of developing into teachers or who wanted to teach people of other ethnicities.
In this sense, we have two polar images of Manchuria in tandem: the extremely dark image of a Manchuria as a hellish abyss and that of Manchuria as a site for asylum. Whichever extreme would emerge would depend on the person, and the image of Manchuria, then, was inevitably rent asunder. Although this is a bit of personal experience, I became quite close to Professor Matsuda Michio (1908-98). When I was writing Kimera: Manshukoku no shōzō (Chimera, a portrait of Manzhouguo, published in 1993 [the volume herein translated—JAF]), he once said to me: “It’s strange that you’re using your energy on such a thing as this. As far as we’re concemed, it’d be just fine to forget Manzhouguo altogether. It’s bizarre that such a thing ever existed.” I have never forgotten these strong words of his to me. For people who lived through it, Manchuria remained an object to be rejected but which continued nonetheless. I think that this is one of the reasons that evaluations offered by postwar scholarship on Manzhouguo has been split in bipolar fashion….
One additional issue is the existential importance of Manchuria for the Jewish people. Shanghai was the most important Jewish place of asylum in Asia, but second to it was Manchuria. Of course, once the Tripartite Alliance was signed among Japan, Germany, and Italy, they were to be expelled from Manchuria, too, but such schemes as the “Fugu Plan” conceived of a harmony of the six ethnicities—the five initially conjured up and the Jews—and military officers such as Yasue Norihiro (1888-1950) and Inuzuka Koreshige (1890-1965) were actively trying to realize it. “Fugu” or blowfish carried the meaning that, although this kind of fish is delectable, if it disagrees with you, its poison can be especially strong. If Jewish capital could be well used, this scheme envisioned, then it could be of great value. In the sense of using such a plan to control the Jews in the United States, this tactic was an extremely calculated political ploy.
Reading through the memoirs of people who actually lived in Manzhouguo, it appears that places such as Harbin were relatively easy for Jews and White Russians to live in. We know a bit about what happened to White Russian men who graduated from Kenkoku University. We thus need research which will examine what Manzhouguo, or the Kenkoku University, may have meant for White Russians. For not only Jews, but Muslims who had escaped from Central Asia as well, Manzhouguo provided a kind of asylum, as I describe it in my recent book, Shisō kadai to shite no Ajia (Asia as an intellectual task, published 2001), an important site where people who had escaped Soviet oppression could live. It is an undeniable irony of world history that, for people who escaped from Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, Manchuria bore importance as a space for survival. There were many more who traveled through Manchuria en route to the United States, and we need studies which examine this phenomenon.
Needless to say, there is as well the issue of how Manzhouguo tried to use the Jews and Muslims. Research on ethnic groups in Manzhouguo to this point has examined only the “five ethnicities,” but we need to insert into our vision the flows of such world-historical peoples as the Jews and Muslims and consider the place of Manzhouguo in their migrations. We are collecting material in this area now. There is even a recent book about Poles in Manchuria, published in Poland, describing who was there and what they did.
Monthly Archives: December 2006
Furumi Tadayuki (1900-83), who served as assistant director-general for administrative affairs in Manzhouguo, once said: “Manzhouguo is an immense installation created by a top secret fund of the Guandong Army.” The Japanese army was able to engage in extensive activities, such as intelligence gathering, throughout Asia, because it had sufficient funds which Manzhouguo siphoned off. This practice cast a huge shadow over postwar Japanese politics, beginning right with Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke (1896-1987). The basic source for the monetary fund was opium. This was the problem which Gotō Shinpei worked hardest on in Taiwan; by making the sale of opium a monopoly, Gotō tried gradually to reduce the quantity of it available. He took the same approach in Manzhouguo, and although it was said to have been well regulated in Manzhouguo, this was in fact not the case. Opium production provided the richest source for such a slush fund. It was not only produced in Manchuria, but steadily flowed into Manzhouguo via Turkey, India, and Shanghai. The opium produced colosgal profits which became the financial source for Japan’s military schemes. The very fact that Amakasu Masahiko (1890-1945) gained such power in Manchuria was due to this money. While Kishi was a mere bureaucrat, Amakasu had at his disposal a slush fund of some ten million yen—which would come to ninety billion yen (roughly $800 million) today—for his special operations. This is difficult to prove on the basis of documents, the only corroboration being oral testimony, but younger scholars are now examining materials in such places as the Public Record Office in Great Britain on the remittance of opium, and this issue will probably be cleared up in the not-too-distant future.
I started blogging on a Saturday exactly three years and 1377 blogposts ago. I need to concentrate on a few other things over the next few weeks so posting will be a little lighter than usual.
I have lived in this same bunkhouse for most of my career in San’ya, sharing a room with six others and separated from them by a single curtain. The manager who sat at the front desk when I moved in has already departed this world, having succumbed to liver cancer. I suppose I can number myself among the old-timers at this doya [ドヤ].
I can’t say that life here has been all that comfortable, but I’ve made an effort to develop something resembling affection for the destiny that has landed me in this place. This is how I look at it: What would have happened if by some mistake I’d remained stuck in a job with an ordinary firm? Unable to resist the all the static around me, I probably would have gotten married and had a family. Yet would such a life course really have been better than my life here in a doya? I think not. I doubt very much that I could have maintained my mental equilibrium had I been placed in those circumstances.
I am a vessel that was made to hold nothing more than my own body and soul. I have been quite incapable of shouldering any other burden than these. My psyche would have been crushed by any added weight. The consequence would have been not just my mental breakdown and a life of confinement but also the certain misfortune visited on family members as a result of my breakdown. At the very least, then, I’ve been able to prevent myself from becoming the source of other people’s unhappiness. Those who are made like me or who have turned out like me would surely have ended up leading the kind of life I’m leading in the sort of place I’m living in, regardless of the era. Yet might I not take secret pride in the fact that I have been able to limit the misfortune I’ve caused others to the bare minimum? (In the case of my parents it really can’t be helped.) This is how I sometimes view things. At other times, when I’m in a more positive mood, I fancy that I have happened upon a life here that quite agrees with me. There is nothing to add or detract, and I really have no cause for dissatisfaction.
I have always tried to steer my thoughts in this direction. I intend to stay the course. If possible, I’d like to remain lost in these thoughts and slide as if in a trance toward death. For someone like me, who is on the threshold of old age, such a wish is akin to a prayer of supplication.
No matter what the future holds, I am determined not to harbor any bitterness toward the fate that has led me to this place.
UPDATE: I had a heck of a time trying to track down the kanji for the word Japanese word doya, which I couldn’t find either in my dictionaries or on Google. I finally found it spelled in katakana in the Japanese Wikipedia entry for San’ya (山谷), an area of Tokyo that contains many doya.
Pirate ships recruited men from every sort of vessel which sailed the Atlantic and Caribbean, but there were two trades which stood out as a source of willing men. The first was the Newfoundland fishery which attracted the pirates of the 1710s just as it had those of a century earlier. Here every summer there were some two thousand English and American sailors and fishermen, ‘shamefully exploited by the masters of their ships’ and doing work of ‘extraordinary labour and pains’, perfect recruits for the pirate ships who came to Newfoundland ‘to get better manned’. The West African slave trade was an even better recruiting ground for pirates, the crews of slavers being ‘generally glad of an opportunity of entering with them’, as Snelgrave reported. Slavers were notoriously unpleasant ships to work in, with more than their fair share of harsh and brutal captains and with incredibly high mortality among their crews, an average of one in four who shipped at English slaving ports such as London and Bristol not surviving the voyage. Sailors were described by a clergyman eager to redeem them as ‘a third sort of persons, to be numbered neither with the living nor the dead: their lives hanging continually in suspense before them’. This was literally true for the crews of slavers, making them very willing to swap their harsh conditions for the easygoing life aboard a pirate ship, even if it was a ‘voyage to Hell’ in which they would inevitably die sooner or later, as a pirate in Captain Cocklyn’s crew described the prospects of the venture on which he had embarked.
In the first three or four years of this period of piracy, few men were forced to join the pirates, except those known as ‘artists’, skilled men desperately needed aboard the ship such as carpenters, coopers, sailmakers and surgeons or perhaps a tailor, the pirates with their shipworn clothes ‘wanting such a person very much’, as a tailor forced to serve Bartholomew Roberts against his will declared at his trial. Musicians, such as trumpeters and fiddlers, were also more than likely to be forced on board as music was an essential part of life on a pirate ship. De Bucquoy describes the men on Taylor’s ship practising with their weapons on deck, ‘while their musicians play divers airs so that the days pass very agreeably’, though this might not be so pleasant for the musicians who were ordered ‘to play their tune or be beat’, as was ‘one of the musick’ of a slaver captured by pirates in West Africa.
But the general run of sailors, ‘being encouraged by the daily and uninterrupted success of the pirates’, needed no force to make them enlist, sometimes whole crews at a time, but more often just two or three of the more adventurous or more discontented of the merchant crew. John King, a young passenger on a sloop captured near the Virgin Islands by the famous pirate Black Jack Bellamy, was absolutely determined to join his crew. ‘He declared he would kill himself if he was restrained and even threatened his mother who was then on board as a passenger.’ But such enthusiasm for the piratical way of life began to wane as time went on and it became increasingly apparent that life as a pirate was likely to be a short one. Now volunteers dried up and more and more men were forced to serve, often with a pistol at their head or with a whip, a change in policy which made pirate crews dangerously divided between forced and willing men and enabled the former to take control of the ship on several occasions.
I can well predict the reactions of many secular progressives to the latest news about religious secession in Virginia.
The efforts of Episcopal Church leaders to bring about reconciliation within the troubled denomination suffered their biggest blow yet, as eight parishes in Virginia voted this weekend to sever ties with the church.
While the actions involved only eight of 7,200 Episcopal congregations, they showed that traditionalists in the US and Africa are intent on raising the pressure within the Anglican Communion. These pressures will likely come to a head next February, when the 38 top Communion leaders meet in Africa. Some have said the disagreement are so basic that they cannot sit down with the new US leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
As the US branch of Anglicanism, the church has been a lightning rod within the global community over its 2003 consecration of a gay bishop, with traditionalists threatening schism unless the church’s convention repented its decision.
A small number of conservative US parishes had formed a network within the church – the Anglican Communion Network – to press for a return to traditional teachings. But this weekend’s actions amounted to a dramatic secession involving two of the largest and most historic congregations. (One of them can say, “George Washington worshiped here.”)
The Falls Church and Truro Church in the northern Virginia suburbs voted overwhelmingly to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a group connected to Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the most prominent and outspoken leader of traditionalists.
The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Communion, issued a statement after the votes clarifying that CANA was “a ‘mission’ of the church of Nigeria. It is not a branch of the Anglican Communion … nor has the Archbishop of Canterbury indicated any support for its establishment.”
National churches within the Communion are autonomous, and rules prohibit one national church from interfering in the affairs of another. This tradition has been strained as US conservatives developed ever closer ties with church leaders in Africa and elsewhere. One congregation in Texas recently left the Dallas diocese and put itself informally under the bishop of Peru.
Earlier this month, the 10,000-member Diocese of San Joaquin in California took the first step toward changing its constitution to sever ties with the church.
After the June election of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, seven dioceses petitioned Canterbury for “alternative oversight.” Some oppose female leadership in the church; others say they cannot work with the new leader because she favors blessing same-sex unions and a role for gay bishops.
What many secular progressives (and regional bigots) may not realize is that many moderate Virginians have already seceded from the politically conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for similar reasons: an objection to the polarizing politics of their respective elites.
As the SBC moved toward religious fundamentalism during the 1980s and 1990s, many Southern Baptist congregations redirected their offerings to more moderate organizations such as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the Mainstream Baptist Network. After the SBC withdrew from the Baptist World Alliance (headquartered in Falls Church, VA) on the grounds that the BWA was “too liberal,” two of the most powerful of the dissident Southern Baptist state organizations, those in Virginia and Texas, applied to join the BWA.
In what would be a first for the Baptist World Alliance, state associations of Southern Baptists in Virginia and Texas–who at times assert their independence from the Southern Baptist Convention–have been recommended as full members in the Baptist World Alliance, the organization that the SBC left last year in an ideological dispute.
British Baptist Alistair Brown, who sits on the BWA membership committee, said in March that it is “the committee’s unanimous view that both be recommended” to the BWA General Council to become full member bodies of the worldwide group of Baptists.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which are already major financial contributors to the Baptist World Alliance, in January joined the North American Baptist Fellowship, one of BWA’s six regional groups.
Both state groups relate to the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other nationwide missions organizations.
But if “the recommended membership is approved by the BWA’s General Council during its meeting in July, it would mean the two state conventions would become members on the same level as CBF, the American Baptist Churches, or any of the 200-plus other national and regional Baptist groups that make up BWA’s membership. They would be the first U.S. state conventions to join.
The moves by the two conventions come after the SBC voted last year to leave the global fellowship amid charges that it was too liberal, a charge denied by BWA leaders. “Both bodies express sadness at the withdrawal from membership from the BWA of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Brown told the assembled BWA leaders. “And they said that the withdrawal from the BWA had removed from them a means of fellowship with Baptists from around the world.”
And the same goes for the Episcopal Church, whose leaders have drifted too far left, while the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have drifted too far right in relation to substantial numbers of their respective coreligionists. Both sets of elites are starting to feel the backlash.
I only recently discovered the fascinating blog Dumneazu, which follows threads of food, family, friends, and folklore wherever they lead across time and space, with plenty of photos from past and present. Its author is one of my favorite commenters on Language Hat. The Dumneazu blogpost on The Dwarf Jewish Theater of Maramures has got to be among the most far-outlying I’ve read all year. Here’s a taste.
There is an extensive wikipedia entry on the Ovitz Family. On arrival, the family members were selected by Dr. Jozef Mengele for genetic experiments. Thus it was that the Ovitz family, which in May 1944 arrived in Auschwitz together – seven dwarfs and the rest of their normal-sized family members – many of whom might have been murdered immediately had they arrived on their own, were not only spared the gas chambers, but were accorded special conditions which helped facilitate their survival. What’s more, they were able to convince the Nazis that their trusted family assistant and coachman Shimon Slomowitz, his wife and six children, as well as two additional neighbors from Rozavlea with no special connections to the family, were also relatives, and as such were allowed to join the Ovitz group. Incredibaly, the Ovitz’ were one of the only families to enter Auschwitz and survive intact, along with most of the other Maramures Jews whom they falsely claimed as relatives – thus attracting the protective umbrella of Mengele’s expermientation.
After the war, the Ovitz family settled in Haifa in the newly established state of Israel, where they called themselves the Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz and began touring. Their bittersweet cabaret was an enormous success. When they retired they had enough money to buy two cinemas, a café and a large flat where they lived together. the last surviving member of the family troupe, Perla Ovitz, died in 2001 in Haifa after revealing her amazing story to Israeli journalists Koren and Negev. “If I was a healthy Jewish girl, one meter seventy tall, I would have been gassed like the hundreds of thousands of other Jews in my country. So if I ever wondered why I was born a dwarf, my answer would have to be that my handicap, my deformity, was God’s only way to keep me alive.”
I’m a little puzzled by the blogname Dumneazu. When you google it, Google asks whether you might have meant Dumnezeu, lit. ‘Lord God’. Perhaps it’s a dialectal variant.
Whatever it may be, it provides me a good excuse to disquire a bit about Romanian deferential pronouns. The nondeferential second person singular, of course, is the familiar tu. The polite second person singular is dumneavoastră (often abbreviated d-vă), lit. ‘your (plural) lordship’. The “officious” second person singular is dumneata (d-ta), lit. ‘your (singular) lordship’. (The officious second person is the one they taught us at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey—presumably suitable for interrogating people from a position of authority.) There’s even a set of polite third person equivalents: dumnealui (d-lui) ‘his lordship’ and dumneaei (d-ei) ‘her ladyship’.
UPDATE: The blogger himself clarifies the mystery in the comments:
The name Dumneazu is a dialect variant – it is actually the nickname of a friend of mine who is the lead fiddler – the primas – of a Gypsy band in Transylvania. Everybody in the band does exactly what he tells them to do, hence the nickname. In the Transylvanian dialect that they use in Maramures, and even stronger in Moldavia, the -e sounds often get elided into -ye sounds. Pe mine becomes pe minye, etc. In the Boyash (Rudari who speak Romanian, having lost Romani) gypsy dialect of Romanian spoken in Hungary and Croatia the interesting written (mostly used for song lyrics) form – mnye – is used.
International relations professor (and Red Sox fan) Daniel Drezner has compiled a range of responses to the signing of Japan’s top pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, by the Boston Red Sox. One of the excerpts he cites comes from Bryan Walsh at Time.com.
Most Japanese fans … are celebrating Matsuzaka’s signing as further proof that Japan’s best players can compete on baseball’s premier stage. Japanese players who move to the majors are no longer seen as leaving Japan behind; they are seen as representing their country in the international game. It’s a sign that the globalization of sport is finally penetrating this often isolationist country, that many fans here would rather watch an international game with the top players in the world than settle for a lessened domestic product. As one Japanese baseball blog put it: “Finally, all the dream matches will come true in 2007. Matsuzaka vs. Godzilla Matsui, Matsuzaka vs. Genius Ichiro, Matsuzaka vs. Igawa! I wish the MLB 2007 season would start soon.” He’s not the only one.
I suspect Mongolians feel the same way about the success of their countrymen in Japanese sumo, as people in Hawai‘i once did. Japanese professional sumo is, I think, more internationalized than Japanese professional baseball, but the latter is rapidly catching up. However, if Japan’s Central and Pacific Leagues are at the AAA level relative to the North American major leagues, sumo outside Japan is barely at the A level, in my opinion.
Last Saturday, I caught the last half of “Sumo World Challenge from Madison Square Garden in New York” on ESPN2. The final four were from Japan, Poland, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands. The Japanese wrestler won, and they were all rather skillful, but I found the dumbing down of sumo ritual for the benefit of those provincials in NYC pretty jarring. I got the distinct impression that the low-key—even taciturn—color commentator, retired pro sumo grand champion Musashimaru, was slightly embarrassed.
Probably the most interesting way 命 can be used is to write mikoto, which is the “highness” (as in “your”) that I mentioned above. “Highness” is, obviously, a gross translation that takes the cultural context out back and breaks its kneecaps; the word mikoto is from /mi/ (honorific) + /koto/ (“word”) and was first used to refer respectfully to what gods and emperors said, or did, or were — the distinction was not always clear-cut, as is often the case with gods and emperors*. In any case, that is why everyone who’s anyone in Japanese mythology has a name ending in -no-Mikoto.
The buccaneers are better documented than the pirates of the early seventeenth century, there being several surviving books and journals written by people who had themselves sailed with them, such as the buccaneer surgeon Alexander Exquemelin and the great navigator and travel writer William Dampier, as well as much comment from their captives and by observers ashore, especially the French who were fascinated by these early denizens of their West Indian colonies. This material shows that there had been several interesting developments in pirate customs and mentality. What has most intrigued the modern observer is the evidence of a degree of democracy and egalitarianism which ran quite counter to the norm anywhere else in the late seventeenth-century world. This is perhaps most striking among the true hunting buccaneers, a community of exiles who scorned the laws of all nations but honoured their own rules, ‘the custom of the coast’, and were so determined to forget the social hierarchy of the outside world that it was forbidden to speak of a man’s origins, and surnames which might have given those origins away were replaced by noms de guerre or nicknames.
The privateers did not go so far as this, but they were still remarkably egalitarian by the standards of their day. They respected the governments of Jamaica and Tortuga from which they drew their commissions and were prepared to pay a share of their prizes for the right to operate from these safe ports, just as the corsairs of the Mediterranean did. They were also sufficiently capitalistic in their mentality to recognise the rights of the owners of their vessels, most of which were owned and fitted out by investors ashore. But they did this with reluctance and the Jamaican privateers were notorious for cheating the owners of their ships, refusing to count as spoil to be shared with investors much that would have been shared by a privateer operating from a European port. Significantly, this included the goods, money and slaves seized in raids ashore, their most important source of booty, but they also had a very liberal interpretation of what was known as ‘free enterrance and plunder’, goods seized from a prize at sea and divided at the mast before the privateer returned to port? And, once they had become out-and-out pirates, as most of them had by the 1680s, they of course no longer recognised owners at all and shared everything among themselves.
This share was ‘a very exact and equal dividend’, ‘man for man’, with the exception that boys got half a share and slaves got nothing, for the buccaneers were not so egalitarian that they would forgo the opportunity to retain ‘negroes to do our work’, as one of them noted in the journal he kept of his voyage. Captains and other senior officers got more than a man, but not very much more, ‘five or six portions’ for a captain according to one account, ‘a double lot’ according to another, while the French missionary Jean-Baptiste Labat reported that even this was not a right but ‘a gift which is given them by the rest of the crew’? There were also arrangements for compensation for those who had been wounded or maimed, such as 500 pieces of eight (about £100) or five slaves for the loss of an arm or a leg, slightly more if it should be the right arm or leg, and 100 pieces of eight or one slave for an eye or a finger, while one account says that ‘if a man has a wooden leg or a hook for his arm and these happen to be destroyed, he receives the same amount as if they were his original limbs’. Extra payments were also made to those who first sighted a ship later taken, the first to board or the first to storm a fortification, rewards for the sharp-eyed and the brave which were very similar to those accorded by the ‘Custom of the Corsairs’ in the Mediterranean.
The management of a privateer ship was as egalitarian as its division of prizes. Captains were chosen by the vote or acclamation of their men, and articles of association or chasse parties were agreed between captains and crew. In Morgan‘s time the crew elected two representatives to speak for them, but later there evolved an elected officer whose function was to speak on the men’s behalf, to see that they were treated correctly and that the division of booty was really equal. This was the quartermaster, described by Dampier as ‘the second place in the ship, according to the Law of Privateers’, though a minor office on a merchant ship, and this was a position that the quartermaster would retain among the pirates of the early eighteenth century. Consultations in which decisions on the next move would be made by majority vote were frequent, every day according to one account, and there were also meetings to determine collective codes of behaviour, as on the occasion recorded by the French buccaneer Raveneau de Lussan in his journal. ‘We then drew up regulations condemning anyone to forfeit his share of our loot if convicted of cowardliness, rape, drunkenness, disobedience, larceny, and failure to obey orders.’ Both ships and men were free to opt out if they so wished, a ship by the collective vote of the men and a man by his own choice. ‘Privateers are not obliged to any ship,’ wrote William Dampier, ‘but free to go ashore where they please, or to go into any other ship that will entertain them,’ a freedom which would certainly not have been accorded by the rules of later pirates who bound a man to the ship once he had joined, whether willingly or unwillingly.