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                          JAPANESE MILITARISM

 

1. A Pictorial Record of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-5)

Kubota Beisen, Nisshin Sentou Gahou (A Pictorial Record of the Sino-Japanese War). Incomplete set; first ten volumes only out of 11. Published at irregular intervals between October 21st 1894 and June 6th 1895. Each volume has an introduction by various figures of some standing of the period. First edition. Fukurotoji binding. 17 x 23 cm.; 22 pages of illustrations per volume (usually), with about the same number of pages of close-typed text following the illustrations. The illustrations to volumes 5-10 have captions in English. Two fold-out pictures, and the remnants of a folding map.

A pictorial account of the first Sino-Japanese war, from its outbreak in the summer of 1894 to Japan's sea-victories at Weihaiwei and elsewhere in February 1895. Japan's advance into Manchuria and the peace treaty signed between Japan and China in April 1895 are covered in the final, missing, two volumes.

Kubota published a number of works - mainly for use in schools - in the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s. These volumes are partly wartime propaganda, and partly - since Japan had the upper hand from the beginning and there was little need to doctor the facts - a fascinating contemporary account. Uncommon; I can find only three holding libraries, and none has a complete set (vols. 1-7, 3-8 and 1-3, respectively).

 

 

 

 

2. A Photographic History of the Early Meiji Period

 

Rekishi Shashinsho (A Photographic History of Japan). 22 x 30 cm. Unpaginated, but some 50 pages per volume. 9 volumes (complete), April - December, 1932. Soft cover periodical issue in binding.

Akiyoshi Zentaro, Rekishi Shashinsho (Historical Photographs). 9 x 12 inches. Unpaginated, but some 50 pages per volume, with dozens of full-colour plates and hundreds of photographs - both full-size and composite pages (like the page on the bottom right, below) - in colour and black and white. 9 volumes, April - December, 1932. Soft cover periodical issue in binding. This monthly journal first appeared in Taisho 2 (1912). Offered here are issues 227 to 236 (April to December, 1932), bound together in a single volume. Copies of this journal are quite scarce these days, and NACSIS Webcat, the main online reference for Japanese library holdings, does not record a complete set anywhere. During the first half of the 20th century Japan was an astonishing mix of traditional and modern attitudes. Looming above all else was the spectre of militarism. This 9-volume set of periodicals contains hundreds of photographs and prints, giving a unique insight into the life and atmosphere of the period leading up to World War II. The content is not exclusively military, but war was in the air, and this is reflected in these pages. This is a stunning photographic record of Japan during the early Showa period, invaluable to anyone interested in Japan at this time.

The content is not exclusively military, but war was in the air, and this is reflected in these pages.

 

 

 

 

3. "Japan is God's country"

Hoshino Shiro, Jinno Shotoki (A Short Discourse on the God-King). Showa 9 (i.e., 1934). 19 x 13 cm. 228 + 24 pp. First edition.

 

This is an old school textbook, with the school stamp on the title page and the library number on several pages (e.g., title page, first page of text, spine). The text begins with the quintessential words underpinning Japanese imperialism - Nihon wa kami no kuni dearu ("Japan is God's country"). Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori caused an outcry - and speeded his path to loss of office - by repeating this phrase in discussion with Shinto lawmakers in the year 2000.

 

The doctrine of the god-king, i.e., the belief that the emperor of Japan is a god, was the foundation stone of State Shinto. Emperor Hirohito publicly denounced this doctrine in 1946, and State Shinto officially came to an end. However, the belief still persists in pockets. To the dismay of Japan's neighbours China and Korea, the present Japanese prime minister, Koizumi Junichiro, makes an annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where this doctrine is still upheld.

Once all-pervasive, early Meiji texts of this kind have been systematically destroyed and are becoming increasingly uncommon. There were several books with this title published from the late 19th century onwards, but I cannot locate any holding libraries of any of them in Japan, and the Library of Congress (though it lists other similar books) does not list this particular volume. Written throughout in the katakana script that was instituted at the time, this is a scarce copy of a once-common book.

 

4. Nazi Law

Sugamura Shozaburo, Wagatsuma Sakae, Kimura Kameji and Goto Kyoshi, Nachisu no Horitsu (Nazi Law). Showa 9 (i.e., 1934). 19 x 13 cm. 372 + 10 pages. First edition.

Not a scarce book (there are over 40 holding libraries in Japan), but I had a hard time trying to find any references to it or discussion of its contents. The bibliography cites copious other contemporary sources - both in favour of Nazism and opposing it - in German, English, French and Japanese.

 

 

5. Mussolini

Sawada Ken, Mussolini Den. Showa 3 (1928). First edition. 9, 12, 439 pages. 4 black and white photographic plates. 19cm. 23 holding libraries in Japan.

 

6. Japan at War

Mizuno Toshishige, Daitou Kaiun Tsusho Eidan no Setsuritsu wo teishousu (An Advocation of the Establishment of the Daitou Submarine Transportation Trading Corporation). Showa 18 (1943). 36 x 25 cm. Pages unnumbered, but over 100. Varying types of paper and presentation techniques, almost like a kind of scrapbook. First printed on June 1st, 1942 and reprinted on June 6th of the same year. This is the third printing, on June 10th of the following year. Very good, with one or two small tears and other signs of wear. Many illustrations and photographs. Half a dozen holding libraries in Japan.

 

 

A wartime propaganda publication. The sample pages below show, from left to right, Hirohito, Hitler and Mussolini, Japanese warplanes on the attack, and British troops surrendering to the Japanese.

 

 

7. Germany in World War I; "The Ignoble Warrior"

 

J.W. Robertson Scott, Kore demo Bushi ka (Can this Really be Called the Warrior Spirit?). English title, The Ignoble Warrior. Taisho 6 (1918). 6 + 10 + 231 + 156 + xvi pages (complete). 26 x 19 cm. Third printing, postdating the first printing by some 3 months. Text in Japanese and English. The Japanese text starts from the "back" of the book and works its way back to the middle; the English text starts from the "front" and also works its way back to the middle. The English text is richly interspersed with 38 cartoons by Louis Raemakers and 26 other illustrations. The date is given in Japanese only. Japanese (non-circulating) library stamps.

Germany was allied to Britain at this time, and if it later sided with Germany it was not through a lack of effort by Robertson Scott. He insists he recognises the glory of German civilisation and the bravery of German soldiers, but writes a searing criticism of German warmongering during the course of the First World War.

 

 

8. 100 Years of Japanese Diplomacy

 

Nichibei Tsuushinsha (Japan/America Communication Company), Shinsei Nihon Gaikou Hyakunenshi (New Life History of 100 Years of Japanese Diplomacy). 1952. First edition. 31 x 22 cm. 344 pages.

Covers the history of Japanese diplomacy from the time of the Black Ships to the post-war period. A standard text, so not in the least scarce. Simply something one would expect any library or collection dealing with the period to have. Text in Japanese; copious illustrations with captions in both Japanese and English.

 

 

9. History of the Meiji and Taisho Periods

Shirayanagi Shouko, Meiji Taishou Kokuminshi (A History of the Meiji and Taisho Periods). Later edition (1941); first published in 1936-8. Complete in five volumes. All volumes bear a stamp with the author's seal on the copyright page. Volume one lacks a slipcase, volume two has an owner's signature and inscription (in Japanese) on the front endpaper and rear inside cover, volume four has a thin circle of ink, about 1 inch in diameter, on the front board, and volume five has an owner's name stamp on the title page and slipcase.

 

10. Tokyo War Crimes Trial

Hosoya Chihiro, Ando Nisuki, Onuma Yasuaki, Richard H. Minear (editors), The Tokyo War Crimes Trial. An International Symposium. 1986. 26 x 19 cm. 226 pages, including index. First edition. Publishers' wraparound band and tipped-in Japanese colophon both present. The official English-language record of the 1983 Tokyo symposium.

 

 

 

 

11. A Left-Wing Novelist of the 1930s

Shimaki Kensaku, Seikatsu no Tankyou (Life's Quest, 1937). First edition. 333 pages. 19 x 14 cm. Very good. Spine brown with age but clearly legible. Spine of slipcase is missing and it has a repair on the inside. Shimaki (best-known in the West for his "From a Japanese Prison") was one of the intellectuals cracked down on and forced to renounce their left-wing views in the late 1930s.

 

 

12. A Wartime Bestseller

 

Samukawa Koutarou (real name Sugawara Norimitsu), Kitakaze zo Fukan (North Wind don't Blow!), Showa 17, April 1942. 353 pages, 19 cm., first printing. In chipped d/j. Slight browning to edges of pages. Uncommon. Nine holding libraries in Japan (various printings). LoC has an 18th (1943) printing.

Samukawa won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for his novella Mitsuryousha (The Poacher) in 1939. He was born in Hokkaido, but lived mainly in Ehime prefecture. Akira Kurosawa's film "Ai to Nikushimi no Kanata E" (Beyond Love and Hate, 1951) was based on one of his novels. The protagonist of this novel, loosely based on the author's grandfather, leaves Yamagata prefecture at the end of the Meiji period and goes to work in the fields in Hokkaido. Inspired by a love of plants, he finally becomes a self-taught botanist.

 

13. The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

 

Alfonso P. Santos, Philippine-Nippon Tales. A Collection of Incidents Showing the Sunny Side of the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. 1978. First edition. 22 x 15 cm. xiii + 170 pages. Paperback.

Not quite a whitewash, since Santos also depicts the brutal context in which the acts of kindness he describes occurred. An uncommon book.

 

14. Hiroshima

John Hersey, Hiroshima. Showa 24 (1949). Translated by Ishikawa Kenichi and Tanimoto Kiyoshi. 162 pages. 18 cm. First edition in Japanese. A milestone publication as, for some years after the war, mention of the atomic attacks was disallowed by the occupation administration.


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