Episode 55 – Peace in Our Time

This week, we’re going to be talking about the origins and background of Article 9, the peace clause of Japan’s constitution. Where did it come from? How has it been interpreted? What does its probable future look like? All that and more, this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Pyle, Kenneth. The Making of Modern Japan.

Lectures at the University of Washington by Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, May 28th and 29th, 2014.

Media

Dwight Eisenhower looks on as Kishi Nobusuke signs the revised security treaty in the White House. Courtesy of the Embassy of the United States in Japan.
Dwight Eisenhower looks on as Kishi Nobusuke signs the revised security treaty in the White House. Courtesy of the Embassy of the United States in Japan.
Protestors during the Anpo Riots. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Protestors during the Anpo Riots. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Japanese protestors during the Anpo riots. The large building in the center is the Diet (parliament). Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Japanese protestors during the Anpo riots. The large building in the center is the Diet (parliament). Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
JSDF ground forces on a training exercise. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
JSDF ground forces on a training exercise. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A Japanese supply ship refueling an American vessel (the USS Decatur) in the Indian Ocean during the invasion of Afghanistan. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A Japanese supply ship refueling an American vessel (the USS Decatur) in the Indian Ocean during the invasion of Afghanistan. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
JSDF soldiers deployed in Iraq. Courtesy of USA Tdoay.
JSDF soldiers deployed in Iraq. Courtesy of USA Tdoay.

 

A period newsreel of the riots in Japan. Courtesy of British Pathe.

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Episode 54 – The Great Change

This week, we’ll be talking about Japan’s first great political reform: the Taika, or Great Change. We’ll discuss its causes, effects, its parallels with the Meiji Restoration some 1200 years later, and its legacy — which reaches a lot farther than you might think.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The rough extent of Yamato during the Taika reforms.
The rough extent of Yamato during the Taika reforms.
The massive extent of the Tang Dynasty, the rising threat on the continent confronting Japan. Some of the territory held by the Song would not be reclaimed by a Chinese dynasty until the Qing dynasty, some 1000 years later.
The massive extent of the Tang Dynasty, the rising threat on the continent confronting Japan. Some of the territory held by the Song would not be reclaimed by a Chinese dynasty until the Qing dynasty, some 1000 years later.
The Kingdoms of Korea. This image shows the disposition of the kingdoms in the 300s (hence the inclusion of the fourth kingdom, Gaya, which was destroyed by the time of our episode) but it should give you some idea of what things looked like on the peninsula.
The Kingdoms of Korea. This image shows the disposition of the kingdoms in the 300s (hence the inclusion of the fourth kingdom, Gaya, which was destroyed by the time of our episode) but it should give you some idea of what things looked like on the peninsula.
The assassination of Soga no Iruka; Nakatomi no Kamatari is the one threatening the figure on the ground (Iruka) with a sword.
The assassination of Soga no Iruka; Nakatomi no Kamatari is the one threatening the figure on the ground (Iruka) with a sword.
Naka no Oe, or Emperor Tenji, one of the leaders of the Taika Reforms. The text above him is a poem of his included in the poetic compilation known as the Hyakunin Isshu.
Naka no Oe, or Emperor Tenji, one of the leaders of the Taika Reforms. The text above him is a poem of his included in the poetic compilation known as the Hyakunin Isshu.
Nakatomi no Kamatari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) with his two sons. The Fujiwara would eventually become one of the most powerful and influential families in Japanese history.
Nakatomi no Kamatari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) with his two sons. The Fujiwara would eventually become one of the most powerful and influential families in Japanese history.
Konoe Fumimaro. Can anyone see a family resemblance?
Konoe Fumimaro. Can anyone see a family resemblance?

Episode 53 – The Sun Queen

This week, we’re going to take a look at the first figure in recorded Japanese history: Himiko, queen of Yamatai. Despite the fact that the records on her are extremely brief, she’s assumed a position of tremendous importance in our thinking about the early history of Japan. We’ll look at our records of her life, and her legacy in Japanese history and self-identity.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Kidder, Edward J. Himiko and Japan’s Elusive Chiefdom of Yamatai. 

Piggot, Joan R. The Emergence of Japanese Kingship.

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan to 1334.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

An artists rendering from the Meiji Period of Himiko's appearance.
An artists rendering from the Meiji Period of Himiko’s appearance.
A Pinghua (vernacular) version of the Sanguozhi, the history containing the first mention of Yamatai and Himiko.
A Pinghua (vernacular) version of the Sanguozhi, the history containing the first mention of Yamatai and Himiko.
China during the Three Kingdoms Period -- Cao Wei, the kingdom which made contact with Yamatai, is the yellow one to the north.
China during the Three Kingdoms Period — Cao Wei, the kingdom which made contact with Yamatai, is the yellow one to the north.
A statue of Empress Jingu, who was considered by some as likely to be the Queen Himiko referenced in Chinese records.
A statue of Empress Jingu, who was considered by some as likely to be the Queen Himiko referenced in Chinese records.

Episode 52 – Nichiren

This week, we’re going to be talking about one of Japan’s most famous religious movements: Nichiren Buddhism, devoted to the veneration of the text know as the Lotus Sutra. We’ll discuss the life and education of Nichiren, as well as the legacy his teachings have for Japan and the world.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images 

A roughly contemporary portrait of Nichiren late in life. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A roughly contemporary portrait of Nichiren late in life. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A portable shrine from China; the image depicted is Sakyamuni Buddha (the Budda) preaching the Lotus Sutra before his death. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A portable shrine from China; the image depicted is Sakyamuni Buddha (the Budda) preaching the Lotus Sutra before his death. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A copy of the Lotus Sutra. This version is from 13th century Goryeo Korea, but like all important texts of the time it is written in Classical Chinese; thus an educated Japanese would have been able to read it as well. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A copy of the Lotus Sutra. This version is from 13th century Goryeo Korea, but like all important texts of the time it is written in Classical Chinese; thus an educated Japanese would have been able to read it as well. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A fragment of the original text of the Rissho Ankokuron (The Treatise on Securing the Realm by Promoting Virtue). Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
A fragment of the original text of the Rissho Ankokuron (The Treatise on Securing the Realm by Promoting Virtue). Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Nichiren's first exile in 1261. The collapsed figure on the shore is Nichiro, one of his disciples, who attempted to join his master in exile but was forbidden by Nichiren to do so. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Nichiren’s first exile in 1261. The collapsed figure on the shore is Nichiro, one of his disciples, who attempted to join his master in exile but was forbidden by Nichiren to do so. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Artists rendering of the bright flash of light saving Nichiren at the execution grounds. Courtesy of Nichiren Shoshu Myoshinji Temple.
Artists rendering of the bright flash of light saving Nichiren at the execution grounds. Courtesy of Nichiren Shoshu Myoshinji Temple.
A Gohonzon in the Nichiren-shu style. The central line of text is the "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" chant.
A Gohonzon in the Nichiren-shu style. The central line of text is the “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” chant.

Episode 51 – Aum Shinrikyo

This week, we’re taking a look at the darkest incarnation of Japan’s new religions: the cult known as Aum Shinrikyo. We’ll discuss their background, philosophy, and the chain of events which led them to commit the deadliest terror attack in Japan’s history.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

The Council on Foreign Relations report on Aum Shinrikyo.

The New York Times archive on Aum.

Images

The flag of Aum Shinrikyo. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
The flag of Aum Shinrikyo. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Asahara Shoko being taken from the courtroom after his final death sentence was upheld in 2006. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Asahara Shoko being taken from the courtroom after his final death sentence was upheld in 2006. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Asahara Shoko "flying." Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Asahara Shoko “flying.” Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Endo Seiichi, the Aum biowarfare expert. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Endo Seiichi, the Aum biowarfare expert. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Japanese responders removing sarin residue after the attacks. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Japanese responders removing sarin residue after the attacks. Courtesy of Asahi Shinbun.
Anti-Aum Shinrikyo protesters in Tokyo. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Anti-Aum Shinrikyo protesters in Tokyo. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.