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Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early Modern Japan: The New Theses of 1825

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This study analyzes New Theses (Shinron), by Aizawa Seishisai (1781--1863), and its contribution to Japanese political thought and policy during the early-modern era. New Theses is found to be indispensable to our understanding of Japan's transformation from a feudal to a modern state.

Focusing on Aizawa, Wakabayashi traces the development of xenophobia during the Tokugawa period and examines the basis of anti-Western sentiment. He shows how knowledge of Christianity inspired Aizawa to develop the potent concept of kokutai ("what is essential to a nation"). His analysis explains why the Edobakufu's policies of national isolation (sakoku) and armed expulsion of Westerners (jõi) gained widespread support in the late Tokugawa. Wakabayashi also describes how information on Western affairs and world conditions decisively altered Tokugawa Confucian conceptions of civilization and barbarism, and how this in turn enabled the Japanese to redefine their nation's relationship to China and the West.

Rather than place Aizawa and his New Theses of 1825 at the beginning of a process leading up to the Meiji Restoration, Wakabayashi discusses New Theses in conjunction with the bakufu's Expulsion Edict issued in the same year. He concludes that the convergence of the two events in 1825 marks the emergence of modern nationalism in Japan, and therefore should perhaps be seen as more epoch-making than the 1868 Restoration itself.

The study also presents a complete translation of New Theses.

Synopsis:

This study analyzes New Theses (Shinron), by Aizawa Seishisai (1781--1863), and its contribution to Japanese political thought and policy during the early- modern era. New Theses is found to be indispensable to our understanding of Japan's transformation from a feudal to a modern state.

About the Author

Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi is Assistant Professor of History, York University, Toronto.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  1. Prologue: Looking Backward
  2. The Civilized and the Barbarian
    • Civilization: Where Confucian Ritual Obtains
    • Japan: A Land of Splendid Barbarians
    • Innate Japanese Superiority: The Rise of Kokugaku
    • The Excellence of Western Barbarians
    • The Mito Synthesis: Japan as Middle Kingdom
  3. Knowledge and Hatred of the West
    • The Road to National Isolation: Misconceptions of Sakoku
    • Aizawa's View of Christianity: Conquest Without Warfare
    • The Threat from the North: Russia
    • The Threat from the South: Spain and (New) England
    • Western Learning and Confucian World View
  4. Aizawa and his New Theses
    • Rangaku and Expulsion by Force: Takahashi Kageyasu
    • The World Situation in 1825 as Seen in New Theses
    • New Theses on Domestic Reform
    • The Sages and their “Expedient Device”
    • Kokutai and “A Long-Range Policy”
  5. Epilogue: Looking Ahead
  • Translation: New Theses
    1. Prefatory Remarks
    2. What is Essential to a Nation [Kokutai] (I)
    3. What is Essential to a Nation [Kokutai] (II)
    4. What is Essential to a Nation [Kokutai] (III)
    5. World Affairs
    6. The Barbarians' Nature
    7. National Defense
    8. A Long-Range Policy
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674040373
Author:
Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Author:
Wakabayashi, Bob
Location:
Cambridge, Mass.
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Japan
Subject:
Far East
Subject:
Kokutai.
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
History, Modern -- 19th century.
Copyright:
Series:
Harvard East Asian monographs ;
Series Volume:
EP 8-6 (vol. 2)126
Publication Date:
December 1986
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
360
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 19 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Asia » Japan » Ancient and Tokugawa to 1868
History and Social Science » Asia » Japan » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early Modern Japan: The New Theses of 1825 New Trade Paper
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Product details 360 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674040373 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This study analyzes New Theses (Shinron), by Aizawa Seishisai (1781--1863), and its contribution to Japanese political thought and policy during the early- modern era. New Theses is found to be indispensable to our understanding of Japan's transformation from a feudal to a modern state.
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