2-3 pages of sociological reflection

Write 2-3 pages of sociological reflection.Analyze 3 readings attached and listed as a link below carefully and write not only a summary but deeply analyzed context in the reflection.The refection should take the form of either a thematic connection between the readings and a discussion of the meaning–how practice is manifest in culture. Also, please reflect on 3 of the articles below. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.7745…


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Society for History Education
Bushido or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese
Warrior Tradition
Author(s): Karl F. Friday
Source: The History Teacher, Vol. 27, No. 3 (May, 1994), pp. 339-349
Published by: Society for History Education
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Bushid6 or Bull? A Medieval Historian’sPerspectiveon
the ImperialArmy and the JapaneseWarriorTradition
Karl F. Friday
Universityof Georgia
It would be difficult to find any facet of Japan’s culturalheritage that
exercises as powerful a hold on the world’s popularimaginationas the
samurai.1For the most part,the image of the samuraiandthe traditionhe
representsis positive. Japanesewarriorsare the heroes of movies, TV
shows, and novels, and the role models for hundredsof thousands of
martialarts studentsaroundthe globe. But for many among the generation that fought Japanin the Pacific War, for much of the political left in
Japan, and especially for many of the peoples and governmentsof the
lands that were occupied by Japanin the course of the war, the legacy of
the samuraialso has its sinisterside.
The samuraitraditionis often cited as the source of both the mind-set
that launchedJapan’swar againstChina, SoutheastAsia and the United
States and of the normsandvalues of the soldiersandofficers who fought
it. Both are said to have been conditionedby and derivedfrom an ancient
code of warrior behavior called bushid—literally, the “Way of the
Warrior.”In the words of militaryhistorianArthurSwinson:
WhenJapanwent to war [attackedPearlHarbor]in 1941 the samurai
caste andthe feudalorderin whichit flourishedhadbeenabolishedfor
seventyfouryears.But bushido,the code of the samurai,was still preThe HistoryTeacher
Volume 27 Number3
May 1994
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servedintactby the warriorfamilies,andwas taughtto the officercorps
of the imperialJapaneseArmy.Thefact thatthe code was not incorporatedinto Army Regulationsdid not invalidateit, for it existed on a
superiorplane-an ideal,a faith,a creed,anda key to theultimatethings
of life anddeath.2
It was this same perspectivethatled LordRussell of Liverpoolto title his
1958 litany of JapanesewartimeatrocitiesTheKnightsof Bushido.3
Of course the connection of the Imperial Army to bushidJ and the
samurai traditionwas not just a Western invention; it was, in fact, an
importantpart of the modern state’s early propagandaand remaineda
favoritetheme of Japanesemilitaristsandright-wingessayists rightup to
Japan’s defeat in 1945. A set of instructionsissued by the Ministry of
War to the new Japanese conscript army in December of 1871, for
example, listed seven qualities of characterappropriateto soldiers: loyalty, decorum, faith, obedience, courage, frugality, and honor. “This
spirit,”it enjoined, “madeup the substanceof the bushid6of old.”4
The foregoing,then, raises an intriguingquestion:just how well does
Japan’spremodernmilitarytraditionexplainthe comportmentof hertroops
during the Pacific War? The following essay questionsthe accuracyof
tracingthe normsandvaluesof the modemImperialArmyto the legacy of
the samurai.In examiningthisissue,I will firstdiscussthe termandconcept
of bushidditself, and then look at some of the wartimebehaviorof the
ImperialArmy,comparingit to the battlefieldconductof the samurai.
Bushidi in Medieval & Early Modern Japan
Hangingthe label of “bushide’on eitherthe ideology of the Imperial
Army or the warriorethic of medievalJapaninvolves some fairly overt
historian’ssleight-of-hand.In the first place, the term was not used to
designatea code of warriorbehavioruntilthe earlymodemeraandwas only
rarelyused in this contextpriorto the late nineteenthcentury.(In fact the
wordwas so unusualthatNitobeInazo,whose 1899tract,Bushidd:the Soul
of Japan, probablydid more thanany othersingle book to popularizethe
idea of bushidoin bothJapanandthe West, was able to believe thathe had
inventedit himself!)5Theconceptof a code of conductforthe samuraiwas a
productof the seventeenthand eighteenthcenturies,when Japanwas at
peace, not the medieval”Age of the Countryat War.”The samuraiof this
later period were bureaucratsand administrators,not fighting men; the
motivationheld in common by all those who wrote on the “way of the
warrior”was a searchfortheproperroleof a warriorclass in a worldwithout
war. The ideas that developed out of this search owed very little to the
behavioralnormsof the warriorsof earliertimes.
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Bushid6 or Bull? A Medieval Historian’sPerspective
One of the basic tenetsthatmodemwritersassociatewithbushiddisthat
a true samuraiwas not only willing to risk his life when called upon to do
so, but actually looked forwardto the opportunityto sacrifice himself in
the line of duty. As Swinson puts it, “theessence of bushido was thatthe
young warriorshould aim at dying…. In any event, deathfor the samurai
was not somethingto be avoided;it was ‘a consummationdevoutly to be
wished’; it was the realizationof a greatandwonderfulideal.”6This is the
fundamentalsentimentto be found in Yamamoto Tsunemoto’s famous
Hagakure (compiled sometime in the early eighteenthcentury),and was
the inspirationfor Mishima Yukio’s eloquent post-war commentaryon
that text.’ The Hagakure was immensely popularamong the officers of
the ImperialArmy and its often-quotedopening line, “I have found that
the way of the warrioris to die,” was unquestionablyused to inspire
kamikazepilots and the like.
But, however centralthe willingness to die might have been to twentieth century notions of bushidd,it takes a considerable leap of faith to
connect this sort of philosophy with the actualbehaviorof the medieval
samurai.It is not terriblydifficult to find examples of warriorswho, in
desperatesituations,chose to turnand die heroicallyratherthanbe killed
in the act of runningaway. By the same token, it is not terriblydifficult to
find examples of this sortin the militarytraditionsof virtuallyany people
at any time anywherein the world. On the other hand, as one reads the
militaryhistorical recordof early and medieval Japan,one is struckfar
more often by the efforts of samuraito use deception and subterfugeto
catch an opponentoff guardor helpless, than by the sort of zealous selfsacrifice that Tsunemotocalled for.
A second popular theme among modem commentatorson bushid6
concerns the absolute fealty that warriorswere supposed to have displayed towardtheir lords. The loyalty of a samuraiis said to have been
unconditionaland utterly selfless. It is true that exhortationsto loyalty
were a majortheme in shogunalregulations,the house laws of the great
medieval feudal barons,and seventeenthand eighteenthcenturytreatises
on bushidd, as well. But there are at least two problems involved in
interpretingfrom this thatloyalty was a fundamentalpartof the medieval
To begin with, the unrestrictedloyalty that subjectsowe theirrulersis
a basic tenet of Confucianism and derives little or nothing from any
military traditionper se. Japanesegovernmentappeals for loyalty from
subjectsbeganlong beforethe birthof the samuraiclass-as, for example,
in the “SeventeenArticle Constitution”of Sh5tokuTaishi, promulgated
in 603. The concept predateseven the existence of a Japanesenation by
hundredsof years, andtracesbackto the ChineseConfucianphilosophers
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Karl F. Friday
of the sixth to thirdcenturiesB.C. Japanesewarlordswho called upon the
samuraiwho servedthemto renderunflinchingloyalty were not so much
defining propersamurai behavioras they were exhortingtheir subjects
on a traditionaland generaltheme of government.
thereis a logicalfallacyinvolvedin tryingto deducenorms
of actualbehaviorfromformallegal andmoralcodes. It is no moreaccurate
to inferfromthewritingsof lawmakersandmoralphilosophersthatmedieval
samuraiwere shiningexamplesof fealtythanit is to drawconclusionsabout
the sexualbehaviorof twentiethcenturyGeorgiansfrom the state laws on
sodomy. The truthis that selfless displaysof loyalty by warriorsare conspicuousin theJapanesehistoricalrecordmainlyby theirabsence.Fromthe
beginnings of the samuraiclass and the lord/vassalbond in the eighth
centuryto at least the onset of the earlymodem age in the seventeenth,the
ties betweenmasterandretainerwere contractual,basedon mutualinterest
and advantage,and were heavily conditionedby the demands of selfinterest.Medievalwarriorsremainedloyal to theirlords only so long as it
benefitedthemto do so; they couldanddidreadilyswitchallegianceswhen
the situationwarrantedit. In fact there are very few importantbattles in
Japanesehistoryin whichthedefection–ofteninthemiddleof thefightingof one or moreof the majorplayerswas not a factor.
Bushidd and the Modern State
Much of the code of conductfor samuraiprescribedby early modem
and modernwriters,then,was at odds with the apparentbehavioralnorms
of the actualwarriortradition.Beyondthat,muchof the “bushidd’preached
by the government and the militaristsof the late nineteenthand early
twentiethcenturieswas at best only superficiallyderivedfrom the “Way
of the Warrior”espoused in the seventeenthand eighteenthcenturies.
Modem bushid6 is closely bound up with the notion of a Japanese
“nationalessence,” and with those of the kokutai,or Japanesenational
structure,and the cult of the emperor.It was a propagandatool, consciously shaped and manipulatedas partof the effort to forge a unified,
modem nation out of a fundamentallyfeudal society, and to build a
modem nationalmilitarymade up of conscriptsfrom all tiers of society.
Bushid6 was believed to representmuch more thanjust the ethic of the
feudal warrior class. The Imperial Rescript to the Military of 1882
proclaimedthat it “shouldbe viewed as the reflectionof the whole of the
subjects of Japan.”8That is to say, warriorvalues were held to be the
essence of Japanese-nessitself, unifyingtraitsof charactercommonto all
classes. The abolition of the samuraiclass thus markednot the end of
bushidr,butthe pointof its spreadto the whole of the Japanesepopulation.9
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Bushid6 or Bull? A Medieval Historian’sPerspective
But, hadthey notbeencremated,YamamotoTsunemoto,Daid’ji Yfizan,
YamagaSok6, andthe otherearlymodemfigureswho wroteaboutthe idea
of a code of conductfor samuraiwould probablyhave rolled over in their
graveswhen they heardthis. One of the few thingsthatall of these men had
in common was theirinterestin defining-and defending-the essence of
whatset the samuraiapartfromall otherclasses.They weredescribing–or
prescribing-a code of conductforanelite;andtheywerearguingthatit was
adherenceto this code of conductandthe valueson which it was basedthat
separatedthis elite class of warriorsfrom the rabble of townsmen and
peasantsbeneaththem.The idea thatbushidJvalues were simplyJapanese
valueswould have appalledthem.
Furthermore,the abstract,transcendentloyalty to the emperorand the
kokutaidemandedof Japanesesubjectsby modem bushidhwas a far cry
from the particularized,feudal loyalty valued by Tsunemoto and his
contemporaries.The formerwas intangible,institutional,and more akin
to nineteenthcenturyGermanpatriotismthan to the lord/vassalbond of
premodernJapan.The latterwas direct and personal:for Tsunemotothe
relationshipbetween a samuraiand his lord was groundedin a kind of
platonic homosexual love; for Yizan, it derived from an extension of
filial piety. In short, twentieth century and early modem commentators
on bushidJmay have been using many of the same words, but they were
not speakingthe same language.
Anotherprobleminvolved in attemptingto find the source of Imperial
Army behaviorduringthe Pacific Warin samuraicodes of conductis that
modem “bushidd’is not much of a guideline to behaviorat all. Which is
to say that the ideals for modernsoldiers specifically identified as deriving from the samuraitraditionare vague and innocuous.The Ministryof
War’s 1871 instructionsto the troops listed seven charactertraits that
soldiers should strive for: loyalty, decorum, faith, obedience, courage,
frugality, and honor.10Similarly, the ImperialRescript to the Military,
promulgatedon Jan. 4, 1882 listed five such traits: loyalty, decorum,
courage, faith, and frugality.” (Apparentlythe governmenthad lost interestin keeping its troopsobedientand honorableduringthe intervening
eleven years.) At any rate these are all very generalconcepts-and very
nebulous ones. There is nothing especially samurai-esqueabout them;
they could apply to almost any militaryanywhereat any time.
Of course, some might objectthatbushidJideals were ingrainedin the
Japanese,and that they needed no elaborationin orderto function as a
determinantof army behavior.Swinson, for example, arguedthat, “According to their historians,the Japanesederive a large measureof dash
and braveryfrom theirMalayanancestors,and the qualities of discipline
and loyalty from the Mongolians. Undoubtedlythese qualities (whether
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KarlF. Friday
denied or not) are latent in the vast majorityof the people, and can be
developed throughtrainingto a remarkabledegree.”12But the truthof the
matteris that bushid5,and the notion of what constitutedpropersamurai
behavior,was a vague and impreciselydefinedconceptin premodernand
early modem times as well.
G. Cameron Hurst, III has observed that the range of early modem
opinion concerningjust what constitutedthe “real””way of the warrior”
is well-illustratedin the various contemporaneousreactions to the famous incident of the “Forty-sevenrdnin of Ako.”•3To recap the story
briefly: In 1701, LordAsano, the lord of Ako domain,was serving in the
Shogun’s castle in Edo. He seems to have somehow run afoul of his
assigned supervisor,Lord Kira,who managedto humiliatehim publicly
on several occasions. Asano, who apparentlyoperatedmore on youthful
righteous indignationthan pragmatism,at length ambushedKira in the
halls of the castle and cut him-although not fatally-with his short
sword. Shogunal law on this matterwas both clear and strict:drawinga
weapon within the confines of the Shogun’s castle was a capital offense,
whateverthe reason. AccordinglyAsano was orderedto commit suicide
and his domain was confiscated.
In the aftermathof this decision by the shogunate,the principalretainers of the (now-defunct)Asano domain met to plot revenge. In orderto
allay the suspicions of Kiraandthe shogunate,who would naturallyhave
been expecting a vendetta,they agreedto split up and lay low for some
time, reassemblingnearlytwo years later,afterKirahad hadtime to relax
his guard.On the 14th night of the twelfth monthof 1702, 47 of the now
masterlessformerAsano samurai(i.e., rrnin) attackedand killed Kirain
his home in Edo. They then surrenderedthemselves to shogunalauthorities, who, aftermuch debate,orderedthem all to commit suicide.
The shogunate’s decision notwithstanding,public sentiment at the
time andsince came down heavily on the side of the forty-sevenrJnin.The
story was almost immediatelyfictionalized into a stage dramaand has
subsequentlyservedas the plot of half a dozen or moremovies. For many
at the time, and for the militarists of the modern era, the forty-seven
Asano retainerswere the embodimentof samuraivirtue.But evaluations
of the incident varied widely among the early eighteenth century “authorities”on propersamuraibehavior.
Ogyi! Sorai, Dazai Shundai, and several others censured the Asano
raninfor placingtheirpersonalfeelings above theirhigherdutyto uphold
the shogunallaw andprotectthe publicorder.On the otherhand,Hayashi
Nobukatsu, Miyake Kanran,and others praised them for the purity of
their motives and the selfless nobility of their actions. Perhapsthe most
significantcondemnationof the ranin-in the context of the point at issue
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Bushido or Bull? A Medieval Historian’sPerspective
here-came from Yamamoto Tsunemoto, the author of Hagakure. To
Tsunemoto,the actions of the Asano retainers-specifically, the fact that
they waited to carryout their vendettaratherthan rushingto attackKira
immediately,withoutthoughtof actualresults-were too calculatingand
rational.He wrotethat,”citifiedmen [like the Asano ronin]areclever and
know angles to show off themselves for praise…” but this was not at all
the way a truewarrioroughtto comporthimself.14In otherwords,the very
text thatthe officers of the ImperialArmytook as the paramountstatement
on warriorvalues denouncedthe very actionsthatare most often takenas
the peerless example of samuraibehavior!
Bushidi and Japanese Wartime Behavior
The foregoing has arguedthree main points: that “bushidd’is a very
ambiguousterm and one that covers a very wide range of thinking;that
neither modem nor early modern ideas about the “way of the warrior”
had muchto do with authenticsamuraibehaviorduringthe age when they
were actually fighting; and that modem ideas about bushidJ and the
samuraitraditionwere out of sync even with those of the early modem
bureaucratswho firsttriedto enunciatea code of conductfor the samurailong afterthe samuraihad ceased to be warriors.
The overall point to be taken is that the connection between Japan’s
modem andpremodernmilitarytraditionsis thin-it is certainlynowhere
nearas strongor directas governmentpropagandists,militarists,Imperial
Army officers, and some post-warhistorianshave wished to believe. All
of which is to say that politicians and others who condemn the samurai
tradition,who blame the legacy of Japan’swarriorpast for the atrocities
and other wartime misbehavior committed by the Imperial Army, are
distortinghistory. To make this point just a bit clearer, I will conclude
this articlewith a look at two specific patternsof Japanesewartimetroop
behavior: atrocities against civilian populations, and mistreatmentof
prisonersof war. Both of these behaviorsseem particularlyforeign and
are particularlyshocking to modem western audiences; and both have
often been attributedto bushid6and the samurailegacy.
On December 12, 1937 the CentralChina Expeditionaryforce of the
Imperial Japanese Army capturedthe city of Nanking and went on a
rampage against the city’s civilian population. In the words of Lord
Russell of Liverpool,
killingChineseof bothsexes, adults
throughthe streetsindiscriminately
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or reason.Theywenton killinguntilthe gutter …
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