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Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Japan's Dual Identity: A Writer's Dilemma
Author(s): Kenzaburō Ōe
Source: World Literature Today, Vol. 62, No. 3, Contemporary Japanese Literature
(Summer, 1988), pp. 359-369
Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma
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President Reagan's good friend and col- to democratic forces throughout Asia as well. of products that must compete with sons. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. in fact a member. TV . but. ance of imports and exports is disrupted. I am this from a writer from the Third World should free from the hearty welcomes of the happy users of undoubtedly disappoint an audience that is expecting Japanese products. In country her stay here in the United States.000 the advanced nations.either economically or culturally. or audio equipment . coming here has our role accordingly. There visit is anwith my first one to this country twenty years element in the Japanese nation and among Japanese ago. The annexa- myth in the Far East. during "The Challenge of Third World Culture. then. I feel the crisis of being South Korean government which oppresses aspirers a citizen of a nation of self-satisfied people . stand before you job is to produce Japanese novels and not auto- harboring not unfounded suspicions that Japanese mobiles. and especially to our partici- pant from the Philippines.47 on Wed. though having experienced the Hiroshima even now. I am free from a genuine "challenge" from our discussion titled "The the overt antagonisms of workers engaging in the Challenge of Third World Culture. of which we ourselves are become lost in the crowd there. more than forty years after the end of the and Nagasaki bombings. which. cannot that makes us unwilling to accept the fact that we are help but feel a strong sense of crisis. however. We are often aggressors toward few weeks I will have to go back to those islands and nations of the Third World. At the same time. tional scene clearly as a Third World nation fromThe crisis that I feel is the crisis of living in a about the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868). I shrink back in fear when I think that the cisms of my colleagues. Japan and people on those four islands in the Far East are the Japanese betray democratic aspirants in Third heading for destruction without knowing it. in its process of today. Kidlat Tahimik.which are literature is indeed evi- to democracy in that nation. that is because I am a Japanese whose writer. though an economic giant with its process of modernization ever since. is dependent on imports for most nation blatantly hostile to her fellow Third World of its food and resources. is the image of Japan and the Japanese Japanese writer taking part in this discussion titled in the eyes of the industrialized nations? If I. Although I have members of the Third World and reluctant to always play sensed that crisis in Japan. rising to the status of a technically advanced nation. as a What. I. sense the crisis stronger than ever through my visit here. by the mere fact of my being Japanese. However. A confession such ashighly competitive in the international market. thereby helping spread the nuclear-deterrence for . I feel the danger of living in a country can never be restored or compensated for.jstor. as one Japanese neutral smiles. I have come to I must listen with undivided attention to the criti. Japan appeared on the interna- made me feel the crisis more acutely. Such must also be the national image of Japan landslide victory of the party led by Prime Minister not only to seekers of democracy in South Korea but Nakasone. Essays Japan's Dual Identity: A Writer's Dilemma By KENZABURO OE Is Japanese literature de. Further- independent nation which implements plans of her more. Japan is now a member of consider the discriminatory status that some 600. The burden of that image weighs heavily on my back as I stand before you now. she is not an Korean residents in Japan are now suffering. Nevertheless.146. as evidenced by her annexation of livelihood of its people will be devastated if the bal- Korea and by her war of aggression against China. tion of Korea in 1910 is no bygone matter when we Because of her wealth. but in a World countries. to be sure. It is a nation where the nations in Asia. when I compare this Japanese the part of the disappointing clown." will be This content downloaded from 42. when we see our government supporting a own to establish world peace. we see clearly that Japan is indeed one of the powers that oppresses the Third denced in the recent national election (1986) by the World. As one Japanese intellectual. she has been huge a trade surplus. The destruction we wrought upon China during has spread pollution everywhere and is unable to find the invasion is so great that what has been destroyed a solution to it. why I have willingly accepted to act ones. league."* There aremanufacture rea. I do not think that we Japanese have done that can only support the United States' SDI pro- enough to compensate for what we can compensate gram. am welcomed by caying? I. I feel the Her hostility toward her neighbors continuescrisis even of living in a country which. is now run by a government war. Such is the frame of reference with which I.16.

Studies.jstor. Note: Kenzaburo Oe's paper was delivered at Duke Uni- Shoyo Tsubouchi's Shosetsu shinzui (The Essence ofversity in Durham. TV sets.and the younger generation taking only for a short period in the history of modern no notice of the oddity of the situation. author. have clearly provided a contempo- A characteristic lexical item employed among the rary age and a human model which inhabited that writers of Japanese literature is the term junbungaku. 38^39. As I mentioned to you in the beginning.S. was estab- lished in our country. hammer named None- 'Historical Treatise/ preaches that theless. literary current. On Oe." It was which Japan.16. there have been a future. I therefore must admit period. suspect that Japanese literature is decaying. age.insofar as man is obviously a blance of Mount Fuji. Therefore. "[That man]. a period which we refer to as the examine the present situation of Japanese literature postwar era. where the anese culture. city is the Japanese archipelago in rary age which envelops past and future and a human metaphor. as its outcrop. is already an established mass-media literature.47 on Wed." From what I have quoted. identity. The roof of one of the buildings is painted with a sharp sem." sponsored by Duke's Center for International after the Meiji Restoration. that myhad already started to use the term talk may be confusing. In Japan. let alone cultural journalism. and works which surpassed their times. establish the spirit of modernization by borrowing European Iideas. I feel that it is the machinery of the highly mechanized now necessary for us to reevaluate the term jun- Matsushita bungaku in light of its two definitions. was used as an antithesis to the Third World. experienced the bombings at only after the Meiji Restoration that modern litera- ture.historical being .360 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY of that talking to you. as it were. N. secluded itself from the literature of the porary age and for the future. but inferno- like paintings of the future world. have created motion such products as automobiles. I wish for myself that I junbungaku' will be able tobe crushed and thus endeavors needs to overcome those ambiguities. It isare suspect with good reason that the Japanese usedlosing today to refer to.e. In order to accomplish these wishes. as a Japanese writer. One losophy such and history piece is aand was an active intellectual genre that he painting of a city destroyed by a neutron bomb: a city hoped would help create a spirit of in which human life has been terminated modernization but where among the Japanese. it is microcomputers . in literature" or in French as belles lettres. I suspect that mass media. Idoes not denote what it once did. I would like to Japanese literature. He wrote. and the apparently Mid." are seeing. only to leave behind few in men of letters who. pp. see also WLT 58:3 (Summer 1984). published in 1885 . Tokoku Kitamu. that a group of writers.C. I cannot deny the possibility wherein Jap. that is. to say. with strong European influences. with his iron of twofold or perhaps threefold ambiguities. This. It was a new literary phenomenon that started which in English would translate as "sincere or polite immediately after the defeat in the Pacific War. took the matter of the quest tion of Japanese culture. literature that has passively their power to create an active model for the contem. ominous phenomenon foreboding the total destruc- during the Meiji period. In recent years it is said that not the may one realm in the ears of a non-Japanese ring strange of intellectual activity which has seen the but audience. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. when That used is nowadays. seventeen yearsWorld Culture. sharpest I.. the term . I also hopeto assailto its envisage realm. who was keenly aware of the goings-on of the society and 60:1 (Winter 1986). By then. This content downloaded from 42. because I speak from a standpoint junbungaku. I sciences of philosophy and history with which the will present to you the ambiguities as ambiguities and Japanese of the early and mid-Meiji era strived to would like to ask my fellow panelists to guide me out of them. as employed perhaps play a unique role among the cultures of the by Tokoku Kitamura. 370-73. on 25 September 1986 as one of the featured addresses at the conference "The Challenge of Third the Novel). it is used to denote modern Japanese culture is losing its vital force andthat literature that we is not "popular" or "mundane. as a definite by delving into the foreboding elements of these phenomena.146. To the youngerelaborate generation who on it for the purpose of confirming my respond so sensitively to new cultural developments. I fear that this is an romanticism and the rationalist of literature who. even to the point of It is not unusual for Kurt Vonnegut to draw figures suicide. after losing its strength to create a history of modern and contemporary literature spans human model to direct its culture toward a new a period of over a hundred years. we are for myself an idea of Japanese culture able to that could know that the term junbungaku. However. Although the term junbungaku is now used literature no longer seems to be within to their focus differentiate theof writer's passive withdrawal from attention. junbungaku constituted the antithesis to phi- of Japanese in his tender. to Tokoku. in 1945. I believe. and Honda factories are still in motion. the young poet of theory in cultural journalism. pp. shatters and crumbles. as to create a model of a contempo- western U.model that lives in that age. the pioneer in modern Japanese romanticism. It appears here with the expressed permission of the ra. for his identity so seriously.. pathos-filled. the waning Myof talkJapanese on what is "sincere" literature and what is literature.i. The precursory treatise that provided the rationale for literature in Japan was *Ed. would like to decline is literature. The role of literature .

lished in 1949.readers. was. however. and it is to thatthe turmoil of the colonies or from the effects of age and model that Mishima tried to producestudent a mobilization. It can rightly be said that Tokoku's toil pan. is more characteristic of postwar liter-Were we to search for a metaphor for this situation ature than "The Cigarette. Noma. Marxism through the even amid various other literary peasant movement. When report of members of the Self-Defense Forces ." and Kobo Abe's path Dickens plots for each of them. he was a Kamikaze pilot awaiting orders for a suicide attack. built a fence around a once lot given the freedom to express themselves. Although it is hard toDuring say theexactly when it years of intellectual suppression . at the least. forces. Were we to look at specific examples. Ooka had been guideline. which had pursued modernization all the while and labor bore fruit in the form of postwar literature. opportunities both within and outside the nation. For Ja- their house. Takeda and Shiina suffered oppres- Leyte" (1969) and Taijun Takeda's "Mount Fujision Sani- for having participated in leftist activities while a tarium. A comprehensive analysis of the postwar writers brings to light a contemporary Mishima . was still in its embryo stage in the middleliterature of was. ten years after the war. which Tokoku had proclaimed in defiance reality with a spirit of defiance against the battlefields and the fascist government that ruled them. these writers were either researchers in some literati." Taijun Take- da's Saishi kajin. I believe it continued to is.jstor. These are writers who had to endure silence full meaning. Mishima too. next to the edifices erected by the philosophy-and. This postwar was the youngest literature was and Shohei Ookafirst a vital force especially during the the oldest. When the novel "Road Sign at the End of the Street" .the de facto defeat reached Shimao.47 on Wed.") The year 1947 saw the in literature. so that he and his compatriots events that ever took place in Japan's history of would at least later have something on which to build modernization since the Meiji Restoration. Noma through the liberation currents." the year 1970 seems to serve as astudent fair and laborer respectively. It was literature that had endeavored to establish their identity by absorb- endeavored to grapple squarely with the needs of ing the literary impact from Europe. the Meiji era. Noma immersed himself in Japanese literature. OE 361 thirty-six.and here is completed. The individual units are alive already while fascism prevailed prior to and during the war and have significant import in themselves within the years.that ended. ture was. counterpart." areA studded with "units" that convey diverse mean- year after that came Toshio Shimao's "Island's End. Mishima Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yutaka Haniya's "Ghosts. pub. Neither Abe nor armed forces of Japan. and Haruo Umezaki's SakurajimaMoreover.146. and Ooka read Stendhal. which publication of Rinzo Shiina's "Midnight Feast. the "units" progress along the Shohei Ooka's "Prisoner of War. in other words. thrive during thewhile immediate prewar period and the war postwar writers vigorously continued to itself produce. very careful With this chronology. and in fact "postwar literature" did win intellectuals honed their intellectualism and lived firm support from intellectuals in various fields.Haniya experienced their works. Confessions of a Mask. Their pent-up frustrations became the spring. Haniya and Shiina studied Dostoevsky. the defeat was nothing less than complish this? The feat can be attributed to historical reasons. yet the light which emanates board for forming their identity as intellectuals. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. from a broader Over and beyond their experiences of harsh real- perspective can be counted as one of the postwar ity. we find that postwar litera. in the history of modern and contemporaryTakeda read Lu Xun. calling out desperately for the protection of junbungaku. the defeat spurred a reform which sup- are works which appeared only a year after the .was free from age and a human model they created. Pictures. As we read on. The postwar literati started to publish their the revelation of a multifarious impasse for an imperi- alistically underdeveloped nation. Postwar of philosophy and history in order to assert his raison d'etre. however. the most important of material from Europe. Jun- bungaku. needless to say.story as it progresses.S. which brought about history architects who had imported know-how and a decisive period of transition among the postwar writers. The defeat in the Pacific War.the youngest of the writers . the literature that strived to pro-French symbolism. committed suicide after calling for a coup d'etat and by Umezaki had been drafted. these intellectuals. a literary activity which these intellectuals had started simultaneously. and because of the fact that This content downloaded from 42. Tokoku. In fact. Takeda. and had dared to compete with the imperialist na- How was it possible for postwar literature to ac- tions of the West. movement such of the buraku." ings. special field of interest or. I would suggest Dickens's novels. That was also the year Yukio Mishima taken prisoner by the U." Hiroshi Noma's "Dark led to an examination of askew elements in Japanese culture and tradition of premodernization days. as a socially disadvantaged Shohei Ooka's novelistic account "The Battle of class of people. vide a total." Yukio Mishima's "Cigarette. he affixes to each of the units a retro- already we have the whole array of the postwar spective light by means of which each comes to bear literati. plied momentum to Third World-oriented liberation (For Mishima. The surrender also works within two or three years after Japan's defeat.16. comprehensive contemporary age and all a the postwar writers were young intellectuals who human model that lived it. Onfrom the denouement reveals to us not a contradic- Japan's day of defeat their ages ranged from twenty to tion but a new import. Unable to give vent to self-expression during the war years.

org/terms . the only Japanese soil on total which the deified emperor had been sup- parable to that of any other prefecture. This content downloaded from 42. In Okinawa.S. The fact that soon afterward today. At that time it was postwar to examine. claiming to be the descendant of an em- strong cosmological features. Japan and the Japanese had done to Asia and to the vulnerable elements sincerely that very picture of Japan and the Japanese. that light which shone an A-bomb victim in Hiroshima and who chose to retrospectively from the finale. the unitsprinciple take on has twofold become a general one among the Japa- nese meanings. for they took greater self-expression of her own. and modernization was pursued among Korean nationals in Japan correspond to those under the pretext of his inviolable authority. The fact that pressing. That is to say. after the Meiji Restora- The self-expression of the people of Okinawa is a tion. At the beginning of the new year following the wrote in Japanese and delved into the matter ofdefeat. saw for that the major preoccupation of postwar writers was the first time the entire picture of the modernization of a nation called Japan. it will become all the more clear Japanese. Were we to view the Nagasaki bombings bear in mind the movementemperor system as positioned at the peak of the which seeks the enactment of the A-Bomb Victims' structural hierarchy. Okinawa has aby Japanese on the mainland. and to liberate the Japanese from the curse of nations in Asia. Those writers gaze squarely at the after it was common knowledge within journalistic destructive impasse to which Japan's modernization circles that the period of postwar literature was over. the emperor issued a proclamation that he Japan's colonial rule over the Korean peninsula." a novel on which he spent many we can discover for ourselves a principle as to how years. One of the condi- Yoshie Hotta wrote about what they saw in China. but all the while she had to suffer was exacerbated by their sense of loyalty strived and managed to accomplish her own recon. tradition. the emperor was made the witnessed in the Philippines. who had had absolute life-style which does not pose a threat to any of thepower. the social outcasts for whom he had been working making a continuous effort for the eradication of all since before the war. The literary activities absolute figurehead. however." a certain "Emperor Kumazawa. a was no deity. the intellectuals who had had to We should also examine how the postwar writers participate in these incidents and who witnessed thedealt with the problem of the emperor system.jstor. forces for years to come. a loyalty stronger than that embraced struction. efforts. was completed a year after Mishima's suicide. thus giving the story itself in thesignifi- a new past forty years should be the basis for cance. We can find. and culturalthe first time in their history. Because of this experience. for utter downfall of such imperialistic expansion. criticism of Japan and the Japanese today. Korean writers in Japan or. commit the suicide as soon as a new conflict . direct and The aims of the postwar writers were to "relativ- important clues by which Japanese can search for aize" the value of the emperor. The movement is also one which is est. Noma continued to write even nuclear weapons. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. longanother "emperor. many citizens died. wrote this was the cultural and political axle upon which of what they saw in various ways. who wrote of his experiences as meanings upon surrender. even to revive from the experiences of the Hiroshima andat the subconscious level. boreAn amid examination of whether or not this the progress of the story. and wars of aggression in other regions nation of after it died a national death. It is here that"Ring of Youth. invasionand of what means of resuscitation were possible for the China. Asia. were admitted as children of the emperor for product of their realistic ideas. However. The Pacific War culminated in the all regions of Asia was nothing but the emperor's battles at Okinawa and left the islands in a state of armed forces. The diverse units which modernization bore ever If we were to add to the list of postwar writers the since the Meiji Restoration came to reveal twofold name of Tamiki Hara.47 on Wed. pride in the fact that they.the Korean War .16." maintained its own political system and a culture with appeared. is an indication of one of by Japan. Okinawa. literature which depicted most sensitively and mostin pursuit of modernization. in their expression. Taijun Takeda andJapan's modernization revolved. under the Ryukyu Empire. what. After being taken overperor in the Middle Ages. how the impasse foreboded defeat. took the form of annexation of Korea.broke out. Okinawa became the sole battlefield on Japanese soil The Great Japanese Imperial Army which invaded speaks for itself. treaty. a proclamation to which MacArthur matter which has ramifications and legacies even expressed satisfaction. from the Meiji Restoration brought us.362 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY the final light imparts a new significance to Japan and the the should live in Asia in this new Japanese individual units in addition to the onenuclear they age. Hiroshi Noma depicted the low- Relief Law.146. At the international level Japanese modernization within the nation. Thus. through defeat in the Pacific War. Okinawa was victimized in thethe diversities and the astounding amount of total process of Japan's modernization to an extent incom. Even after the signing of the peace which any battle was fought. tions necessary for the nation's modernization was Hiroshi Noma and Shohei Ooka wrote of what they national unity. What by Japanese writers who wrote from the standpoint ofthis actually meant was the deification of the emper- Japan as an aggressor nation. Okinawa remained under the dominion of the Analysts claim that the tragedy the Okinawans had U. with the force of their imagination. The writers who start by asking how the emperor system which haunted their the emperor.

isthe outcasts the situation of junbungaku in the demonstrate a show of force in latter a masshalf movement of the 1980s? Young andintellectuals who emerge victorious. (As a hasty aside here. the ones I have KENZABURO OE (© Shinchosha) mentioned above .g. practice in This content downloaded from 42. even includes writers whose works Mishima's are not consid- suicide is an incident which can never be effaced from our ered to be in the realm of junbungaku as well as memory. Although. a writer born after the war. The number of is now being lost. those magazines which had helped nurture and de- velop short stories unique to Japanese literature.literature which.were. who diverse had literary theories from America proclaimed he and Europe. science fiction.16.jstor. Theyis in that believe itself very although there still may be meaningful. One might also add almost all curtain fell for postwar literature . his deep of new and introducers lamentation for the emperor.This group of young intellectuals formance. however. Lack of activity in the of giving vent to cultural energies that had been realm of junbungaku can be substantiated objectively suppressed since the prewar days. played an important role in maintaining high cultural standards.47 on Wed. mysteries.) Another indicator of the long downward path that junbungaku is taking can be seen by the long busi- ness slump for literary monthlies peculiar to Japan. How- ever. junbungaku publications. and esthetic principles wrights. short-lived fads say that jun- but the mere fact that Nomabungaku depicted is alreadyadead. play- cal. victory or that it isby about to breathe those who had been most oppressed its last. It is clear. What I mean nowwhen we compare the volume of its publication with by the portents of the decay of Japanese literature is that of other literature such as popular historical nothing other than the loss of the unique status . for he supposedly had prepared a balefuljournalists in various fields and a group who nowa- ghost to appear time and time again whenever Japandays in our country enjoy the greatest popularity encountered a political crisis. In his later years Mishima's is composed political. the literary forceriod and the war years provide no basis for compari- which postwar literature had once possessed to en-son. never have there been so many publications in lighten Japan and the Japanese to reality and culture Japan as in the past forty years. OE 363 The work depicts a scene in What. ethi.. that Murakami's target lies outside the sphere of jun- bungaku.e. I believe that any future resuscitation of jun- bungaku will be possible only if ways are found to fill in the wide gap that exists between Murakami and pre-1970 postwar literature. the "cultural heroes" of today's grotesquely bloated through Japan's defeat in 1945. Haruki Murakami. It was not a deity but a human being. Moreover. obviously. there is not one work of junbungaku to be found in the 1985 list of the ten best-selling Japanese books in either fiction or non- fiction. is said to be attracting new readers to junbungaku. together with numerous general- interest publications.of critics. In other words. as was common. Amidst such a trend. was begun as a means consumer society in Japan. This is one of theamong the younger generation: the copywriters of reasons why I have set 1970 as the year in which thecommercial messages. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. is inversely pro- portional to the increase in the amount of the other publications.146. The victoryrespond is a quickly to intellectual one. Almost all the representative literary works . the latter and hiswill sooner or later fade subse- away as a natural quent suicide constituted essentially course of events. centered on and screenwriters. which then. some literary activity shoved away in some bleak corner in Mishima's call for a coup d'etat of journalism where the survivors are barely the compounds of the Self-Defense Forces in making Ichigaya a living. the prewar pe- Japanese culture. such magazines. It is generally believed that there is nothing that directly links Murakami with postwar literature of the 1946-70 period. looking back on the first ten years after the war. and various nonfic- postwar literature had established in the realm of tion categories. a theatrical per. and that is exactly where he is trying to establish his place. I am sure that those literary magazines are periodicals of least concern to the young intellectuals who now are the vanguard of Japan's consumer society. however.

thusiasm among the younger generation for these curred in Prague. Speaking before or during the war years and had acquired certain cultural sophistication. affecting staged. whose thoughts reached incentive in the field of literature. What pre- influence Marxism had exercised on the Japanese pared him for literature was his involvement in the mentality when it flourished for a short time before Marxist socialist movement. It can be said that whenthe slumping the United Red Army. The book been influenced by Western literature and thought.16. and from others who read had everywhere on university campuses. Their methodology most widely read work by any of the postwar writers. by then intellectual en- the series of protest movements and riots that oc. East or several interesting characteristics. What Paz had pointed out about identical intellectual journalism. Because the riots been part of that boom. journalistic faddishness. Belgrade. a trend for new cultural ideas imported fromathe United States and from Europe.Power" by a young scholar named Akira Asada. no work ofjunbungaku published dur- fact is evident when we examine the manner in which ing that period was able to generate as much intellec- Masao Maruyama established his school of Japanese tual interest among the younger generation. formed three years after the Tokyo literary magazines are eliciting derisive riots. except as myth.47 on Wed. sold equally well outside academe and became the that postwar literature was born. was It is from these writers. I notice situation in which all technological societies. Instead of pursuing higher educa- the seventies and eighties with the strong galvanizing tion.some of which came via the U. new cultural theories. Rare speci- am even tempted to offer a comparison of the diverse mens among the postwar writers were Rinzo Shiina influences of the structuralism-based cultural ideas of and Taijun Takeda.146. . the advent of structuralism that it appeared anese imperialism was quickly preparing to invade they were going to permeate the whole of the nation's China. for they provide a strong and vital ern Europe or of Russia. aside from those works of mere characterize their culture. after the Asama Mountain Villa Incident of 1972. works of sincere toil and The Mexican thinker Octavio Paz marks 1968 as an labor started to appear in the latter half of the 1980s. Paris. first found themselves. and the guard of Japanese modernization carried over to theYale School of deconstructionists. Maruyama was a salient contempo-followed a time in which many new French cultural rary of the postwar writers. An excellent summary of the for him too Dostoevsky was a thinker without whom new cultural theories of the West. By studying those writ. Mexico City. I was the populace regardless of religious denomination by or that time no longer a young writer and had never social class. and reflected that enthusiasm.ideas . Here we must which prepared the way for the advent of the season not forget that the intellectuals who established post- war literature were those who had been educated of rationality. As if in which started to flourish from the latter half of he 1970s and lasted through the first half of the 1980s. the new generation's cultural trend of the 1970s and 1980s swung toward period which coincides with the decline of jun- bungaku. Maruyama in turn opened new horizons forduced and translated. and ruin of the voluminous introductory works and and Paz analyzed their significance in light of the translations and look back upon that age. The eyes and ears of elaborate on one example of the effectiveness of its Japanese intellectuals after the Meiji Restoration had introduction. Student riots within the realm of intellectual journalism which had raged everywhere like a medieval plague. including poststructuralism them. all of which were imported It must be borne in mind that it was these events from Europe and the United States. So great was the influx of new cultural theories Takeda studied Chinese classical literature whilefollowing Jap. as it had Rome. This content downloaded from 42. and Santiago.S. same however. So strong has been its influence that I always been directed toward the West. however. Derrida. "Structure and he would not have been able to establish his identity. but what converted him the war. Later I shall Japan via Western Europe. from Marxism was his encounter with Dostoevsky. evaluate very highly the had diversified been greatly influenced by cultural theories of West- cultural thoughts springing forth from structuralism. for delving deep into Japanese traditional thought "Structure and Power" was by no means easy read- and culture was also. trod the path toward annihilation. Lacan. as one writer. criticism among the young intellectuals whoThe bodies have no ofdirect numerous Red Army members exe- cuted in cold means of recalling the glory and grandeur ofblood by their colleagues were dug up those magazines. extremely significant year and calls our attention Despite to this fact. West. Theing. Rationality was the fad amongsubcultural trends having global horizontal ties had become apparent also in Tokyo. new cultural thoughts had come to an .jstor. Kristeva. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. There political thought. The predilection for Western culture whichand postmodernism and particularly the work of prevailed among the intellectuals who were the van-Barthes. reaction a to the political years. Tokyo. but as I stand amid the wrack were spontaneous. Western. So strong was its force that it overwhemledantipolitics.were intro- ers. published in In Japan it was the time literary magazines. they were all the more universal. As far as transla- generation that came after them and continued totions are concerned. Takeda was greatly influenced by Lu Xun. Shiina spent his youth as a laborer. Foucault. first of all. Almost all of themfor myself. directed. but intellectual climate. Chicago. only on a broader scale.364 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY the publishing system of our nation. a Mention must be made of the seasonyear of which happens to coincide with the approximate rationality time when postwar literature came to a close. I.

were anreplaced easy in rapid succession. I believe that understanding would have fostered the ability even those expressions were indeed very appropriate ones to offer feedback to the sources of those ideas. transplanting or translating the new American and Criticism arose claiming that. if anything at all. By speaking of "poststructuralism"flow from Europe and America to Japan was com- or "postmodernism. such was not the case.16. How. and also the criticisms thereof in order Since the mostto "accept" important skills required in the task of introducing and . its "acceptance" and "dis- were yet to come and for which they were unable to charge" was over. That is why . Yamaguchi had been there was an inclination for people to think that an originally a specialist in monarchism. Without hav- ries would have been raised to a higher level. the curtain dropped on new cultural trends in our country as soon as these advocates found therebrought about the lukewarm situation whereby a was no one thinker or cultural theory for them to handful of literature and language specialists became shuttle on the American and European conveyor the importers of new cultural theories. providing a defini- hand in introducing it in Japan to remain free from tion of their identities. OE 365 the translatorstrue First. cance of the emperor system.146. and those towhoourread the translations national character. in turn. in intellectual journalism in our post. Obviously. to translate Only after the works into Japa- nese. varietya of cultural thoughts synchronically. Never new one would follow if they simply added the prefixhave we witnessed. Why then didand is now being subjected to a reappraisal. could never expect them to do so. To put it very bluntly. analyzed and systematized dia-manner. since all they did This tendency has produced another characteristic was passively accept and then discharge). the young phenomenon in today's Japanese cultural climate: Japanese intellectuals conjectured optimistically that. almost no effort was made gist Masao Yamaguchi. criticism. It for those who could involve themselves only passively would then not have been possible for each new in coping with the kaleidoscope of ideas.of what they spoke for. very often and translations in a way that would have enabled them to apply the new cultural theories in interpret- such phrases as "the performance of ideas" or "the ing Japan's reality. the one-way of the prefix post-. up to a theories point. and both Japanese reality. because their influx.the cultural anthropolo- ing new cultural theories. Yamaguchi.unique cultural interpretation of Japan's reality. If the readers had read their introductions At the height of the ongoing process of accepting and discharging new cultural theories. to a mutual deepening of the two "such-and-such" thoughts in themselves meant very schools. belt. structuralism series of self-destructive impulses when they learned and deconstructionism .org/terms . for they cultural theory itself and for those who had had a were." employed a structuralistic intellectuals and in the realm of intellectual journal. together with its diverse implica- nation's intellectual journalism had nurtured evertions. the absence of any and all effort to accept a insofar as some cultural theory was in existence. Such an ing to refer to any authority on words.with the exception of the archi- little. That is to say. the existing one. in his work United States become so popular among the young "Periphery and Center.methodology and provided substantiation for his ism? This is indeed the strange part of the story. for that matter . the synchronic existence of two opposing not a few young intellectuals who were stricken by a new schools of thought . in any examination of European cultural thoughts into Japanese. criticism of postmodernism . the forerunner among intro- to interpret them meticulously in view of specificducers of new cultural theories. I believe the phenomenon can be attrib-his discussion of postwar literature and its impor- uted mostly to the special characteristic which our tance. placing importance on peripheral This content downloaded from 42. tect Shin Isozaki. which can insubstantial and when. they learned that the lead. with field-study intellectual effort had been accomplished merely by experience in Nigeria.and the resulting combina- that the concept of "post-such-and-such" was in fact tion of antagonism and complementarity.for example. Cultural heroes came and went. I am sure that there were country. Forforeign language in which acceptance of those thoughts were presented and Foucault.but ideas were often spe- only to await the next new thinker.jstor. cialistsThe in literature or languages. Going the new cultural theories from Europe and the against the general trend. the responsibility does not rest solely with these specialists. use an antonym not quite appropriate new cultural for ideas thiswere the abilities to read the word . Such a were inclined to think in the same tendency exists eventheories chronically the various structuralism-based today." or even of cultural thoughts that pleted. the young Japanese intellectuals.or critics. shuttling of Even when cultural new cultural theories was. their understanding of these theo- frolicking with texts" came to be used.47 on Wed. in turn. In However. was extremely effective in clarifying the signifi- since the Meiji Restoration. That is how the continual expecta- envisage any positive ideas (although obviously wetion of new trends in theory became a convention. who in his works substantiated his Second. As soon as a very Japanese connotation was added to the usage an introduction or translation was made. amid this cultural trend. This fact ever."discharge" those theories. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. despite this remarkable trend for absorb. Barthes had to be discharged. the Lacan was dismissed could Derrida be spokesmen accepted for those . Also. stands out as unique situations in which Japan found itself. by using those expressions.they were not necessarily advocates . the re- task for the introducers and translators who advocated placement did not apply to the spokesmen. his theory.

What this With its truly free laws of behavior.intellectuals.47 on Wed. the cultural sion. that pointed to as a natural course of he had something prepared for later events whichwas the following situation.Defense Forces to rise up in a coup a broader as perspective. Moreover. though filled were to result in the strengthening ofdisparities with the center when seen.the fell prey to the general flow imperial family). on the other. In enthusiasm for new cultural theories was fact. Japanese.that theseisphenomena to say. mythology coming andand going after only a short from literature of the Middle Ages craze. thus seemed allowing to outnumber each year's new literary works.middle-class in turn. one could say that such a phenomenon advocated. tem would never be the kind which the student might riots. the two andpoint the young at dia. I believe what structuralism was one scrupulously calculated . but merely it Japanese living a subcultural young to seek a paradigm of political unity fad in among theaverage consumer culture. the ofproblem. despite the dichotomy In thebetween context of the cultural climate of Jap those who were driven away from societynew culturalinto the theories. I also noted the the periphery would function effectively only evident in of decline estab- Japanese literature at that highest lishing a more solid central authority level and -that termed junbungaku in Japanese . In other words. so great was the number of introductory cism based on deconstructive methodology. books and translations that these these ideas were made even more profound. generation we in the large urban areas has find that there is no room in his thought playedthat an important would role in the recent landslide allow for a political short circuit or a politicalvictory of reaction. the one can say that the young emperor's forces. criti- In fact. Yama- war literature. Critics of his theory asserted that onset of Japan's modernization.366 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY cultures and energizing them will not lead I began myto the presentation by stating that Japanese literature reversal of the relationship between those is decaying and referred specifically to post- peripheral cultures and the central one.e. Their charges came to be accepted and discharged in a overlooked the fact that Yamaguchi's manner quite peculiar to our nation.. However. if one were to extrapolate from the anal- in "Periphery and Center" were toyses activate the which of sociologists pe. What is more. In short. Yamagu- chi proved. by citing from Japanese short-lived.and how there- various fore the ideas in Yamaguchi's "Periphery andcultural Center"theories and critical isms. various examples of ways in which. them to bear more realistic validity. I believe t two phenomena .point to the fact that the ripheral aspects of Japanese culture and prevalent that. young serve as a Japanese have indeed be- guiding principle for the Self. was not followed up well by the introducers Now. whoas dichotomous adversaries but as one his lamented the fact that the emperor made entity "blended together like fresh ink spots "Human Proclamation" after the defeat and who oncalled blottingfor the paper.16. this is the same younger scope of the question I have raised. "trickster" theory. the ruling conservative . left no room whatsoever where thefor bulkshort- of the younger generation dwells.jstor. as evidenced also in to begun his unique emerge quite noticeably in the big cities. which represents the highest level of guchi's ideas were attacked as beingliterary nonrevolution- achievement since the Meiji Restoration and thestimulating ary. these in the context of our discus- theories . generation which promptly interred.literature and its readers like fresh ink spots on blotting paper. When we reread to theYamaguchi's fact that the conservative trend among the cultural theory in light of contemporary youngerreality. is shared far and wide would be totally different from the one Mishima in Japan. new cultural overlaps with that of Yukio Mishima. means is that signs of a conservative trend have Yamaguchi's ideas on culture.intellectuals who accepted should metrically opposite poles. heroes is that thisofyounger the generation.Defense come conservative. Although Yamaguchi's political thought and. be viewed not Mishima. the late seventies and early eighties felt Because Yamaguchi's ideas in "Periphery and the decline Cen. and circuited criticism stemming from such uncompromising signs will soon start to appear in small cities as political ideologies.146. Yamaguchi's well. is aban- that we can find the means to illuminate the full doning literature. sought to absolutize intellectuals the emperor were not truly intellectuals as system in the context of a cultural principle and in such. sinceprecurso- the younger generation is conjoined by an ry work leading to the rise in new urbanized culturalculture theories that spans the nation." one other words. Yamaguchi's emperor attests sys-in comparison to the days of to the fact that. as things of the This content downloaded from 42. periphery and the chosen ones in the center decline. if Yamaguchi's ideas as expounded Moreover. which re- placed was were reactionary. an urbanized. as one organic part o ture's ( light of the actual lives namely. Forces Political scientists have attested to carry out a coup d'etat. To be sure. However. Young intellec- a meth- odology based on deconstructionism would tuals during reveal. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about.literature most keenly and fell of Japanese head over heels forbut ter" were based on structuralist methodology new cultural theories from Eu- from the outset coexisted synchronically rope and with America. consciousness. the emperor system .the resulting of the Japanese system on the whole." Ind'etat Self. It joined subculturally is precisely here on a nationwide level. so closely con- late seventies and early eighties. that the two often "blended together decay faster than that of literature. A political short circuit junbungaku the pithin capturing the minds of young and the marrow of their critiques.

and more animated than. they delved into the the critical path has been and what it should be for Japan and the Japanese from the standpoint of litera-matter of Japan's new direction. and the European countries . awareness of a principle in which Japan's place in the one-dimensional acceptance and discharge of new world would be not in the center but on the periph- cultural theories continued. for the Japanese opposition-party members so searched that for the various principles latter won to guide them in enough seats to keep the ruling makingparty a fresh. the na. . envisaged a ally . because it is possible for linguistic such barriers. who the resulting had feedback from gone through the hardships of war. of such principles.namely. Although the diachronic. The path Japan had What occurred during that period was the recurrence taken prior to the defeat was one in which she had set of short cycles of introductions of new cultural theo-up the central nations of the world . where a trend there exists a fad-sensitive among the younger generation to merge intellectual with journalism that the transmits those ideas. and theThe aim of the postwar people's movement in 1960 to protest writers wasthe ratification to provide literary conviction and expres- of the new Japan-U. Power" at one time became occur a fad on university in a country where the vast ocean separates it campuses and occasionally was from referred to asthose the country that produces the theories. sev- ered symbolic phenomenon: literature any continuity treading itswith the postwar path to intellectuals. When we look back on the various culturalIn otherphenome- words. It seemed that theU. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. and following defeat. Akira Asada's treatise societies that "Structure and it can only produce cultural theories. It was a movement which nor was have they takenas equally a critical power. Many of the postwar writers even went through So. the In light of thisfor postwar writers who laid the foundations situation. they envisaged a way the first half of the eighties. I believe that by reflecting on the cultural to that which Japan had taken in her process of climate of Japan in the latter half of the seventies and modernization. The postwar writers. the ries from America and Europe.16." I cannot thesimply introduction dismiss this the of theories follows asovercoming of a mere fad. stance toward them.S.S.jstor. i. cultural as mentioned theory of their ownearlier. who sought a means of resuscitation at a asm for new cultural difficult theories.They the hadopposition prog. by lost it. twenty years ago . new start. in the first A comparison place. of the have cultural theo- not followed up on these principles. ful as.the younger those of generation. no effort had been made ery.such principles no intention of developing ressive parties and the labor unions.. where "Asada phenomenon. In other words. however. a move- the intellectuals of the new generation. the literature Pacific War . rists.and culminated in defeat.47 on Wed. itvery had been from the is outset. realized if they had examined the theories The postwar writers and those they who created imported in light cultural of Japan's reality and culture. the trend toward new cultural theories to interpret which those theories in lightinof Japan's reality many respects overlapped with and culture.have become as remote Speaking for an existence as myself. we can see therein for Japan to live as one nation in Asia. OE 367 past.namely. a direction contrary ture.with that of today as is clear shedswhenlight we look at how the on what it is exactly that has younger beenintellectuals lost and of thehow we seventies and eighties.something which could that is not how things turnedhave outbeenin Japan. what such journalism transmits. in check. as a writer. Security sionTreaty was However.146. what is to be done? I. However. as far as literature isthey concerned. As far as politics goes. that is what actually occurred in Japanese many were not able to establish a countries after World War II. and we have is thus that they were able to educate thetoday as a result youth a situation of a in which generation which followed their those theories own. lacking the conservative party in terms of cultural work that is being done by has been monopolizing the political scene Japanese today. ment which had actively incorporated those of the the opinions of seventies and the postwar writers and thoseeighties. What the Japanese had abandoned in pursuing a This content downloaded from 42. theory for their contemporariesIf were that had people been done. the theories essentially had nothing time in a society that had recently to do with suffered Japan's reality defeat. wrack and ruin. such Their would an examination being haveone enabled the Japa- with the younger generation enabled their nese to establish works a new cultural to of their own. mywe see clearly what is own writing. It and culture. However. but in the end all enthusiasm forpath quite the contrary and aimed at establishing an cultural theories died out.follow. and new cultural theories and then wherebear positive there are receivers offruit. as one of the glimpses of what course of action we should take. for Japan's a long beginning modernization time. think of whatthe bitter experience of fighting in the war as sol- diers. theory effect a positive influence upon the Though younger Japan experienced genera- a period of great enthusi- tion. with only a few excep- paradigms to acceptance and discharge of those theories was gradu. the This sort of situation can subcultural never occur in fad they embraced.e. The light shines upon not the road probing along into the various which accomplishments of the twenty years have taken us and also postwar upon writers or whatathey very tried to achieve. I believe that with thethe generation Meiji Restoration which had run into a fatal im- overlapped with the readers of passepostwar .Third World nations in Asia. ofgap between There is indeed a wide the political and cultural situation of the postwar those and intellectuals years . Upon demonstrated its strength by casting very sincere enough votesreflection.

47 on Wed. neither among First In or Third World nations. and posthumously he has won . Also.Art. My novel "Contemporary no other people but the Japanese. such. and internationally from Korea. Such a merger the heritage of the postwar writers. of aHecultural wrote prolifically while continuing to work theory unique to Japan. theyouthspostwar by the young intellectuals who had pl writers endeavored to revive by also learning part in introducing new cultural theories domestically from Okinawa. "The Challen especially the works of the modern ThirdKorean poet Kim World Culture. for I believe it he established a world of his own expression and would have resulted in the developmentimagination. a peripheral district of Japan. tive directive for embarking upon their self-examina- I believe that the problem Japanese literature faces tion vis-a-vis our topic of our discussion. and South Korea. An examination of these ambiguities He was ain light believer of Saddharma Pundarika Sutra. I have trod a pathneed leadingof a to cluethe for self-recovery as the Japan "relativization" of an emperor-centered culture. is a work in which I aimed at creating a model I would like to close by offering as a hint to the regarding reality and culture for the kind of Japan I Japanese intellectuals of the new generation a posi- envisage. literature and modern history but whose importance Japan as a Third World nation has an ambiguous is being recognized slowly but steadily. a pe- ripheral nation of the world . for what I have talked and which was followed up by the writers who came to you about is a bigger question for me than for the after them was severed completely by the young young intellectuals." which epitomizes his ance on a grass-roots level with theideas both as an younger agronomist and as a writer. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about.and is win- ning -generation. A joining of close hands with its by quoting such opening paragraph: This content downloaded from 42. There is in Japan a poet and intellectuals of the seventies and eighties. Kenji Miyazawa. increasing interests correspond with the self-expression of his the popularity even more.fromI the downward path to decline would note as well that by considering the cultural is so ominously portended by the decline in l characteristics of the peripheral regions of IJapan ture. I have chosen a course exactly the oppo- people but the Japanese. concrete results in energ writing always borne in mind the island of Okinawa. at least itaswould an agronomist. at the dawn of the Showa era against (1926-). there are some who are taking an increased his epic children's story "The Night of the interest Galaxy Railway" in the singularity of the Okinawan culture. if not. His audience was not limited to readers of literature as process of "accepting" and "discharging" imported theories. and can think of no people or nation as mu those of Asia. There is also a movement to keep the fullest degree a "Writer of People's Litera- the title ture. have a profession he pursued until his death automatic taken us beyond the realm of the almost in 1933 at the age of thirty-seven. he worked for the Tohoku ous place in Japan and an equally ambiguous role to farmers. One reason today lies in the fact that the attitude toward reality why I decided to participate in this symposium is the and culture which the postwar writers had nurtured fact that I myself want to learn. play. The youthswrote a treatise titled "Outline of involved in that movement are now theseeking Essentials of anPeasant alli. who had amid such discontinuity in attitude toward reality and been assigned culture that the fad for new cultural ideas a peripheral place in contemporary flourished. who live Games. no that regard. I shall genera- tion of other nations." Sixty years close watch on Japan's economic aggression ago. Among intellectuals of the present new an even wider spectrum of . which had a cultural tradition readily of its realized. who strived to absolu- strange blending of First and Third World cu tize the emperor system. young Japanese intellectuals had a still more ambigu- Being an agronomist. in the the new cultural theories and the providing of an Under the influence of contemporary Western poetry interpretation for them would have been a difficult task but one well worth undertaking.368 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY center-oriented modernization. I have employed in my tion writing of whetherthe Japanese culture can find a cl image system of grotesque realism saving as my itself weapon. ties.and inThe the topic latter ofcase our discussion. Japanese a literature of the new generation. Miyazawa the Philippines and other Asian nations. Many young Japanese what is genuine people's literature has been a topic of who participated in the protest movement debate for the throughout modern and con- release of the poet Kim Chi Ha stilltemporary empathize Japanese withliterature. Very re- cently. mine which howwas thein- theories ought to be interpret stilling a typically Asian prosperitylight and diversity. who tilled the soil under adverse conditions.16. Miyazawa place in the world and an ambiguous role to play. of Japan's reality and culture." raises the very relevant Chi Ha. but now people have started to realize thatof the grass-roots movements for the democratization it is Miyazawa who deserves to South Korea. whose culture evide site of that taken by Mishima. The question of new generation on Okinawa.146. if the latter make an effort to own. peripheral region of Japan. bringI have aboutwhile direct." which I completed at the end of the seven- reality. and also i I would add that. The was born in Tohoku. as a writer who seekhas engaged to learn in how to plan for the reconstruct literary activities with the awareness that that Ivery carry on reality and culture.jstor. It was writer of children's stories. was made into an excellent animated and their movie.

jstor. world shall be one and will become a living entity. argues in his book The social climate? Nuclear Delusion that political figures and nuclear- KO: I published a book called Hiroshima Notes (1965. So ganizations. I do what I have to immature if one is antinuclear. they were difficult . Oe. He said that their lead.If Japanese critics say it is childish and naive to ner" (1976). Eng. but I was not supported by the majority of SY: In your works. not really your own fault. the society.fore. The text was translated into Professor Shuichi Kato.diplomacy and nuclear weapons. took place on 7 June or well-known writers. Many victims talked at those that had not been treated in Japanese literature be- meetings. Kennan says. So it has been about a quarter of a century since I started to think However. do you agree with such an assessment of thewhose judgment I trust. As the author of these ing: the American political scientist George Kennan. fervid antinuclear movements in Europe and the United States." it is in part years ago. The researchsame. Nev. yet I do not think things are partic. the experiments of Let us search for true happiness of the world . your "Flood unto My Soul" (1973). physicists. weapons experts always ridicule antinuclear move- ments as manifestations of naivete or childishness. I have perhaps something indeed quite childish about Japa- nese antinuclear movements. well. and that one may be considered childish or ups and downs of the movements.little is going on. There were not a few among our very ancient fore. among the facts of modern science." To be frank. and First Publication An Interview with Kenzaburo Oe By SANROKU YOSHIDA The following interview scholars of English literature. If you don't ularly difficult today. and residence in Tokyo. that makes the exis- pated in the activities of a group called the Japan tence of the world precarious. . sociologists. Now very in which it is rather difficult to discuss matters anti. Oe. galaxy within ourselves and to live according to its I wish to hold discussion where there is communion dictates. there are many themes Japanese intellectuals.146.16. I have to admit that there is support of such movements as "Abolishment of Nu- clear Weapons" and "Relief for Victims". The situation now is about English from the Japanese and edited by the inter- viewer with the permission of Mr." During that time. whether they were were shocked because of your unique style. Japanese intellectuals tend to follow SY: I met with Yotaro Konaka yesterday. difficult. 28 Feb 2018 01:52:19 UTC All use subject to http://about. Nonetheless.except for a handful of fine scholars such as Kazuo Watanabe. I have partici. Isn'tis this the path the saints of yore tough. This is what George Confederation of A-Bomb and H-Bomb Sufferers Or. Therefore. Twenty-four or twenty-five do this. I have not been influenced by these nuclear. The major theme of do in writing my novels arid critical essays. an antinuclear movement spread from Europe to the United States. we had a large-scale anti- recently Japanese society has created a peculiar mood nuclear movement in Japan at that time. I have written and spoken in public in there is no need to keep silent when you are called "childish.oh. some readers ertheless. When there are such and by a 1986 travel grant from the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies.the the seekers of truth. new This content downloaded from 42. and other works is the deracination of oppose nuclear weapons. seldom paid serious attention 1986 at Kenzaburo Oe's to such things . When you started writing fiction. To live strong and true is to become aware of the fathers who did live that way.we are so busy then andthe our work universe.try to embody one's ideals in one's works. 1981) twenty-three years ago. search for the path is in itself the path. Tokyo The awareness of the ego starts with the individual and gradually evolves to that of the group. let me tell you the follow- mankind by nuclear holocaust. One person's happiness cannot be realized unless all the world is happy. Masao Maruyama. and our intuition. one must organized committees and councils for these move- ments as well. and they wrote about their ordeals. the and the trip to Japan for this interview were sup-Four or five years ago. and I think this is also true in Japan. trod and taught us? We want to find a way to live a more lively and The new age is headed in a direction in which the cheerful life. novels. it is the naivete of the expert. when American medium- ported by a 1986 summer research grant from therange nuclear missiles put Europe in a very precar- Faculty Research Committee of Miami University ious position. and you are called "childish. YOSHIDA 369 We are all farmers . in both about "Hiroshima. Japanese scholars.47 on Wed. "The Pinchrun.