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Hi Blog. Dovetailing with our previous blog entry, I noticed within the ranks of Sakurai Yoshiko’s ultraconservative group Japan Institute for National Fundamentals the Guest Researcher Dr. Kevin Doak of Georgetown University. He was honored by them earlier this year:
U.S. professor honored for Japan studies
The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) July 14, 2014
By Rie Tagawa / Japan News Staff Writer, courtesy of JK
A professor of Georgetown University in Washington has been selected for his study of nationalism in modern Japan as the first recipient of a private award established to promote research on Japan by foreign scholars.
“It truly is a privilege and gives me the great confidence to continue my study,” said Prof. Kevin Doak at a July 8 ceremony in Tokyo to announce recipients of the first Terada Mari Japan Study Award established by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a Tokyo-based think tank.
Doak, 54, received the Japan Study Award, top prize, for his 2009 book “A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan” (published in Japanese under the title “Ogoe de Utae ‘Kimigayo’ o”) and other works on Japan. In the book, he says English-language media do not necessarily provide correct explanations about nationalism in Japan. For instance, the book discusses a growing trend of “civic nationalism” in modern-day Japan, a concept opposite to ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism, Doak writes, is based not on ethnic roots but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community.
Doak further explained this trend in his commemorative speech delivered on the day following the award ceremony, saying that civic nationalism should be attributed to “the lost decade” of the 1990s following an earlier obsession with economic growth as it allowed the Japanese people an opportunity to look for deeper meaning in their lives than merely acquiring material goods.
“Ethnic nationalism was coming into conflict with the reality of a multiethnic, cosmopolitan Heisei Japan,” he said, referring to Japan’s current era.
The Japan Study Special Award, second prize, was granted to Liu Anwei, a 57-year-old Chinese professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, for his research on the life of Zhou Zuoren, a Chinese writer and younger brother of the famous writer Lu Xun, who lived in a turbulent period of relations between Japan and China.
Brandon Palmer, 44, an associate professor at Coastal Carolina University in the United States, was given the Japan Study Encouragement Award for his research on Japan’s annexation of Korea, and Vassili Molodiakov, 46, a professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, received the same prize for his study on the history of relations between Japan and Russia.
In the pamphlet explaining the award, Yoshiko Sakurai, president of the think tank and a journalist, wrote the award was created to honor foreign researchers specializing in Japan’s politics, history, culture and other areas.
“Japan remains misunderstood on many accounts,” she wrote. “The best way to dispel such misperceptions is to help people abroad increase their knowledge of Japan.”
COMMENT: I of course respect the views of an academic colleague who has the training, knowledge, and rigor to express his views in a measured, balanced, and well-researched way.
Dr. Doak has caused some debate regarding his point about civic versus ethnic nationalism. Here are some points made by colleagues:
“Kevin Doak, who teaches Japanese history at Georgetown University, is one of the most consistently interesting academic writers of his generation. His research focuses on Japan’s experience of nationalism and modernity. Doak’s thinking on Yasukuni has been published widely in the right-wing Japanese media such as the Sankei newspaper, and the journals Voice and Shokun. Only recently, however, has he made his views known in English in an important essay entitled ‘A religious perspective on the Yasukuni Shrine controversy.’
“Doak’s position is that there is no constitutional impediment to Japanese Prime Ministers’ visiting Yasukuni; Prime Ministerial visits neither violate the separation of state-religion nor threaten the religious freedom of any Japanese citizen.27 In adopting this position, he is informed by the afore-mentioned Pluries Instanterque, and its acceptance of the Japanese government’s definition of Yasukuni in the 1930s as a civic, patriotic site. As we have seen, it sanctioned Catholics’ visits there as ‘purely of civic value.’ Doak stresses the significance of the re-issue of this document in 1951, and sees it as a natural reflection of the Catholic Church’s tolerant theological thinking, and its broadminded approach to Shinto before, during and after the war…..”
John Breen, “Popes, Bishops and War Criminals: reflections on Catholics and Yasukuni in post-war Japan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 9-3-10, March 1, 2010. http://www.japanfocus.org/-John-Breen/3312
>In adopting this position, he is informed by the afore-mentioned Pluries Instanterque, and its acceptance of the Japanese government’s definition of Yasukuni in the 1930s as a civic, patriotic site.
“Isn’t this what the Catholic Church swallowed, under entreaty from the Japanese diocese, under fear that to do otherwise would result in Christianity being banned in Japan (again) as the nation geared up for total war?”
“Kevin Doak is a serious scholar, but I don’t know what has been happening with him in recent years. The Japanese translation of this book is entitled 大声で歌え、君が代 or Lustily Sing the Kimigayo, and it is being marketed as a polemic in favour of patriotism, not as a detached academic tome. In part it seems the book has been hijacked by a publisher with an agenda — the two-star comment on Amazon Jp is instructive — but then how did Kevin allow them to do this? It would be interesting to compare the English and Japanese texts, if only life were not so short. This case bears comparison with the recent hoo-hah about Henry Scott-Stokes’ book, another publisher-driven right-wing venture.”
“Translating “nation” and “nationalism” into Japanese has always been problematic. 国家主義 is literally “statism” but is one common translation. 民族主義 is ethnicity, or ethnicism, but is so traditional for “nationalism” that the traditional term for the post WWII African nationalist movement is 民族主義運動, despite its being opposed to ethnic nationalism. “Nationality” in the UN discrimination treaty is translated 国籍 despite its clear reference to ethnicity, and Soviet “nationalities policy,” which translation is used to give the Japanese government its excuse to pretend that ethnic discrimination isn’t covered by the treaty and they only have to take refugees persecuted for their citizenship in their own country, not those who are persecuted for their ethnicity, i.e. nobody. Recently there’s been a trend to using ナショナリズム in katakana, especially when talking about multiethnic nationalisms like Indian, US American, Brazilian, etc.
“One possible interpretation of this news article is that Doak is saying Debito’s campaign for awareness of diversity in Japan is having some impact on Japanese self-perception. I’m not sure how true that is, or even whether that’s what Doak means, but without knowing which Japanese terms are being talked about it’s impossible to know.
“BTW, if the “nation state” is 国民国家, not 民族国家, would “nationalism” then be 国民主義？The whole thing strikes me as an example of Japanese failure to understand the off-island world, like insisting that an American county is a 郡 but a British county is a 州 but an American state is the same 州 and then actually insisting in English that British counties and American states are equivalents. Not everyone actually thinks like that, of course, but there are plenty who do.”
“Doak is to be taken seriously, and this is precisely the problem as I see it. A very good historian who is basically a nice guy nevertheless sees in historical revisionism a source of rejuvenation for Japan. He quoted my first book, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism, in his own Nationalism book. He is to be watched, just as Abe is to be watched and, hopefully, rebutted.”
“Who funds/endows his Georgetown chair?” “It is the Nippon Zaidan.”
My closing comment is that his concept of civic nationalism (according to the Yomiuri writeup above) not being “based on ethnic roots, but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community”, doesn’t quite square with my research on how “Japaneseness” is enforced not only through “Japanese Only” signs and rules, but also through the structure and enforcement of Japan’s legal and administrative systems. That I believe goes beyond civic engagement and into issues of ethnicity (and racialization processes). Perhaps someday we’ll have a chat about that. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito