A Post-War Japanese Intellectual Journal: Shisō no kagaku and Self-Publishing

in East Asian Publishing and Society
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In 1996, the Institute for the Science of Thought decided to cease publication of its journal Shisō no kagaku (Science of thought). Launched in May 1946, the journal had not only survived the turbulent immediate postwar era, but also oversight by five different publishing companies within the space of less than twenty years. In 1962 the Institute broke away from commercial publishers, and established a new company especially to publish the journal. Self-publishing was prompted by the decision by the journal’s current publisher to cancel a forthcoming special issue on the ‘emperor system’. This was a pivotal moment in the history of Shisō no kagaku. In this essay, I outline the chronology of the “Shisō no kagaku Incident,” examine aspects of the contemporary ideological context such as the emergence of the so-called “chrysanthemum taboo,” and explore its legacy for the new publisher’s treatment of topics to do with the emperor.



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‘Tennōsei tokushūgō haiki jiken no konnichiteki imi’ 天皇制特集号廃棄事件の今日的意味 Shisō no kagaku 1972 5 128 162 198

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Marotti, Money, trains, and guillotines, p. 49. Occupation authorities allowed Ministry of Justice officials to indict a protester at the Food May Day demonstration of 1946 for lèse-majesté (a charge later downgraded to libel) for implicit criticism of the emperor. Marotti details how scap oversaw the effective replacement of the charge of lèse-majesté by one of defamation, and, while instructing that lèse-majesté provisions of the Criminal Code be abolished, initially sought to retain provisions of the Code that related to bodily injury to members of the Imperial Household or expressions of disrespect towards the paramount symbols of the pre-war emperor system (Money, trains, and guillotines, p. 53). He further explains that although all provisions of the Criminal Code concerning lèse-majesté were removed, the notion of imperial exceptionalism remained thanks to scap’s attempts to reconcile the fundamental contradiction between the ideal of popular sovereignty and the strategic policy of reshaping the emperor system (Money, trains, and guillotines, pp. 53-57).


Marotti, Money, trains, and guillotines, p. 54.


Nakamura Masanori, The Japanese monarchy, p. 128.


Tsurumi Kazuko, Tsurumi Kazuko no shigoto, p. 56.


Packard, Protest in Tokyo, p. 320.


Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, p. 667. For a detailed description of the story, see Treat, ‘Beheaded emperors and the absent figure in contemporary Japanese literature’.


Packard, Protest in Tokyo, p. 321.


Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, p. 665.


Ueda Yasuo, ‘Shimanaka, Chūō Kōron shachō tei shūgeki jiken’, p. 82.


Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, p. 666. Takeda Kiyoko, a co-founder of Shisō no kagaku, links the Incident to the so-called chrysanthemum taboo, stating that it ‘helped revive an invisible social “taboo” against speaking openly and critically about the emperor’ (The Dual Image of the Japanese Emperor, p. 155.


Bix, ‘The Invention of the “symbol monarchy” ’, p. 363. Bix describes media co-operation with the post-war re-invention of the emperor as symbol of the nation and the Imperial House Agency’s coordination of the construction of the imperial family as a modern democratic upper-middle class family. Treat refers to a ‘coordinated media campaign’ (‘Beheaded emperors’, p. 108) and media ‘parnership’ with the Imperial Household Agency in this process. Rubin details specific instances in which this co-operation led to the hyper-vigilance and reluctance on the part of editors to submit potentially difficult stories to scap censors (Rubin, ‘Wholesomeness to decadence’, pp. 88, 90).


Takeuchi Yoshimi, ‘Shisō dantai no genri to sekinin’, p. 460.


Ichii, ‘Zasshi no mondai ni tsuite’, p. 141.


Takeuchi, ‘Aru kōgi no tenmatsu’, p. 478.


Takeuchi, ‘Shisō dantai no genri to sekinin’, in Takeuchi Yoshimi zenshū vol. 9 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1981), pp. 459-465.


Ibid., p. 45.


Hidaka, ‘Tsuitō, Takeuchi Yoshimi san no omoide’, p. 5.


Hidaka, ‘Tsuitō, Takeuchi Yoshimi-san no omoide’, p. 5.


Kasuya, Chūō Kōronsha to watashi, p. 199. Kasuya, who had just been promoted to the position of editor-in-chief of Chūō Kōron when the demand that editors resign was issued (see below), thought the demand nonsensical as most of the current editors were not involved in the Shisō no kagaku Incident.


Kasuya, Chūō Kōronsha to watashi, p. 189. Kasuya reproduces the statement in full on pages 190-192. The statement eventually appeared in the June 1967 issue of Chūō Kōron. In an entry on the Shimanaka Incident in a collection of commentaries on events in the postwar publishing world, the former president of the Japan Society of Publishing Studies, Ueda Yasuo, also linked the author boycott and industrial action at Chūō Kōronsha: Ueda, ‘Shimanaka, Chūō Kōron shachō tei shūgeki jiken’, p. 83.


Cited in Takeuchi, ‘Aru kōgi no tenmatsu’, p. 483.


Ōno, ‘Jishu kankō, 10nen no ayumi’, p. 747.


This list is reproduced in full in Dower, Embracing defeat, p. 411.


Irokawa, The age of Hirohito, pp. 110-111. The ‘chrysanthemum taboo’ is often noted in relation to critical comment on the emperor’s wartime activities by public figures during his lengthy illness and subsequent funerary rights in 1989, but it emerged in association with controversial representations of the emperor much earlier in his reign.


Dower, Embracing defeat, p. 330. Dower describes emperor Hirohito’s conduct on these tours, popular responses to them, and their role in ‘seculari[sing] popular veneration of the emperor’ on pages 330-339.


Nakamura, The Japanese monarchy, pp. 123-124, quotation from p. 127.


Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, p. 666.


Ruoff, The people’s emperor, p. 236.


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