During the Second World War, one of greatest Japanologists, Ruth Benedict, wrote one of best books on Japan, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. She analyzed Japanese society’s strong sham culture, which reflected traditional society of Japan. Since then, many scholars have imagined Japan as the sham society based upon Benedict’s book. In the 21st century, Hollywood created The Last Samurai, casted by Watanabe Ken and Tom Cruise, addressing individual Japanese responsibility the issue of (as Samurai) during Meiji Japan. The movie depicts the controversial debates between western modernization and Samurai traditional society. Eventually, the last samurai made his seppuku (Japanese ritual suicide) demonstrating his allegiance to the Meiji emperor. The movie portrayed traditional Japanese society focusing upon Japanese culture.
Today, the thing has changed. Both Ruth Benedict’s theory and the Last Samurai’s perspectives are gone forever. On December 1, 2008, Tamogami Toshio held a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo by defending his paper regarding the rule of Japan during WWII. Contrary to traditional Japanese culture he insisted that his arguments (i.e., Japan is not aggressive nation) were correct. If Tamogami was a real modern Japanese Samurai, he should have embraced the traditional model and refused his retirement money (or seppuku). Rather he took a more individualistic stance and cashed out more than $70,000,000 ($1=93 Japanese yen) in retirement money despite the fact that he was fired after both Hamada Yasukazu, Defense Minister, and Aso Taro, Prime Minister, found his arguments “inappropriate,” as they significantly beautified Japan’s role during WWII. In addition, Tamogami tried to convince foreign journalists to accept his views regarding WWII. In the final analysis, there is neither shame nor responsibility as an individual Samurai in Japan anymore.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
No Shame, No Responsibility/Tamogami-II
After growing up and studying in China and Japan, Dr. Suganuma went to the U.S. for graduate studies, earning master’s degrees at both St. John's University (in Chinese studies) and Syracuse University (in international relations) as well as a Ph.D. (in geography) from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.