Russian Japanology Review

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Vol 6, No 1 (2023)
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5-26 124

article addresses the experience of Fumio Kishida’s first year as Prime Minister of the Japanese government with respect to its economic policy vision and implementation. This policy is analyzed by comparing it to the policy pursued over the past ten years by PM Kishida’s predecessors in the office, on the one hand, and to the commitments he announced during the 2021 election campaign, on the other hand. The paper notes that, in its basic moments, the economic policy of the cabinet of the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party continues the course previously maintained by the team of then-PM Abe Shinzō, known as Abenomics. This is manifested in the specific use of basic instruments of macroeconomic policy, primarily in the monetary and tax areas, as well as in setting priorities for the policy to stimulate consumption and economic activity. Continuity of the course can be particularly illustrated by the soft monetary policy; a positive view of the depreciation of the Japanese national currency; the moderately expansionary fiscal policy relying on domestic borrowing; preference given to interests of the national corporate sector. Legacy inherited from the previous administrations also includes government measures to revitalize deferred private demand, promoting investment in R&D, venture, and innovative enterprises with a particular focus on regional economies. Kishida’s particular emphasis on invigorating redistributive mechanisms and increasing the share of wages in the total national income has not yet resulted in specific decisions and actions by the government. Kishida’s commitment to expand the number of beneficiaries of the capitalist market system as part of his idea of “new capitalism” is yet to be carried out.
In recent months, the attention of the government and its economic team has largely been focused on overcoming the consequences of the disruption of transnational production, trade and logistics chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic and rising geopolitical tensions. In addressing this issue, the government prioritizes subsidizing businesses and households to partially offset energy and food price hikes, securing diversification or localization of critical links of trade and production chains, as well as the exclusion from them of politically undesirable or unstable locations. At this stage, however, the actions of the government are limited to setting relevant goals and plans to provide finance for programs with effectiveness yet to be proven.

27-43 129

The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in July–September 2021 took place in a challenging social environment that seriously affected the public perception of the events. When preparing for the Olympics from 2013–2019, the Japanese people actively supported the Games, which was confirmed by the results of numerous sociological studies. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began, followed by several waves of infection spread. The competition was postponed for a year. Vaccination in Japan was delayed compared with most of the G7 countries. Against this background, in the summer of 2021, the most dangerous Delta strain of coronavirus began to spread in the country, bringing a rise in mortality rates and overcrowding in hospitals in large cities. In this difficult epidemiological and social situation, surveys recorded a negative attitude towards the Olympics.
However, during the competition, the majority opinion once again turned positive, mainly due to the athletic successes of the Japanese team and effective anti-virus control measures. The absence of spectators in the venues, most probably, did not affect the sporting achievements significantly. At least, the Japanese Olympic team won a record number of medals. Infection prevention measures proved effective in limiting the transmission of the virus among the athletes and the Japanese service personnel. The economic and symbolic achievements of the Games did not meet expectations, as, during the Olympics, it was not possible to properly address its significance as the end point of the low-growth “lost decades”, evidence of economic recovery after the triple disaster of 2011, and as a tool to increase Japan’s tourist attractiveness.
Therefore, during the pandemic, major sports events should be held primarily to train top-class athletes and to increase populace satisfaction with the success of the national team rather than to obtain direct economic benefits or improve the host country’s image.

44-68 88

This article examines the transformation of ancestor worship in the context of socio-political and religious conditions and identifies the characteristics of worship in contemporary Japanese society and the changes in the form of practices and functions of this worship occurring today.
Ancestor worship is not a phenomenon unique to traditional societies: in the 21st century Japan, ancestor worship rituals are practiced by a large part of the population. After World War II, Japanese veneration practices underwent significant changes. The post-war modernization and urbanization of Japanese society played a major role in these changes, leading to the breakdown of the traditional family system. The concept of ancestor itself changes: the concept of ancestor tends to expand and begins to extend bilaterally (to both the husband and wife lines). There has been a transition from the “obligatory” concept of an ancestor, which includes all deceased ancestors in the direct line of succession regardless of personal preferences, to an “optional” one, which limits the concept of “ancestor” to close relatives whose memories are dear to the descendant. With the change in the concept of the ancestor, the functions of ancestor veneration also undergo a transformation: the former functions of veneration rituals contributed to the stability of the ie system, while the new ones consist in relieving psychological tensions between the living and the dead and bringing comfort to particular people. There has been a “privatization” of ancestor veneration, i.e., a growing dominance of personal functions in veneration. Diversification of family types, especially pronounced in the first decades of the 21st century, is also reflected in the rites of ancestor veneration: alternatives to traditional funerals and new forms of burial and storage of remains are appearing.
The article concludes that, despite changes in the functions and forms of ancestor worship, the place given to the dead in their lives by the living remains invariably important. And the individualization of veneration practices and the undying belief of a large part of the Japanese population in the power of ancestor spirits indicate that the ancestor cult in contemporary Japan is apparently at the next stage of its unfolding, but by no means of extinction.

69-87 101

The article considers the nature of mastery in martial arts (bugei) and the method to obtain it according to the treatise by Issai Chozan (1659–1741), Tengu Geijutsu Ron (Discourse of Tengu on the Art [of the Sword], 1729). This text is a unique phenomenon in the martial arts literature of the Edo period. A work written with a mass readership in mind, it was received by martial artists as an epiphany and remains a part of the canon of the Japanese bugei until now. The topic of mind and methods of controlling its state occupies the central place in the treatise. The sections focusing on this topic contain a comprehensive analysis of the empirical, “incorrect” state of mind (shin), which is juxtaposed with the state of “true mind” (shintai).
According to one version, these sections were actually written not by Issai Chozan, but by one of the greatest Japanese Confucian scholars of the 17th century, a representative of the Japanese Wang Yangming school, Kumazawa Banzan (1619–1691), which, probably, explains the depth in which the topic of mind is covered. The Tengu Geijutsu Ron persuasively shows that mastery in martial arts is the result of achieving the state of “true mind” (shintai), bringing in the right state the pneuma-ki, mastering the technique of battle, training the body, grasping the “nature” (sei) of the weapon used and obtaining the ability to “follow” this nature. Issei Chozan notes that, in the system “mind – pneuma – body,” mind occupies the top, commanding place, directing the ki, which, in turn, directs the body, but the process of achieving mastery is based on using feedback in this system.

88-100 107

In 1799, the Russian-American Company (RAC) was founded in Saint Petersburg for the development by Russian merchants and hunters of the Northern Pacific lands. In the same year, Japan’s government made a strategic decision to include the eastern Ainu lands (higashi ezochi), and subsequently the western and northern Ainu lands (nishi ezochi, kita ezochi), into its direct control and to start their economic development. By this year, the Japanese had collected enough information about the Ainu and their lands, about the advance of Russians along the Kuril Islands in the southern direction, about the history of Russia, its emperors, and the Russian language. This article describes Japanese authors and their writings on the mentioned topics, which could not but influence the political decision-making of Japan’s military government (bakufu).

101-123 73

Due to the expiration of a number of previously classified materials related to the activities of the Soviet special services during the Second World War, and also due to the especially high public interest in the “case of Richard Sorge” in the last 5 years, a military historian and Doctor of Historical Sciences Mikhail A. Alekseyev introduced into scientific discourse a large number of previously unknown Russian-language documents on this case. These documents are of paramount interest to researchers. For example, it is the first publication of the materials that definitively answer the questions of whether Sorge was a double agent and of what the real reason for the failure of the network of Soviet military intelligence in Japan in 1941 was, as well as of many other pieces of important documentary evidence of the activities of the Soviet secret services in that country.
Soon after that, the authors of this article for the first time made a complete translation of the memoirs of Ishii Hanako, Sorge’s Japanese wife, which were analyzed in detail and commented on by the authors of the book Another Sorge. The Story of Ishii Hanako. The memoirs of Ishii Hanako give a chance to take a fresh look at Richard Sorge’s personality, his goals in studying Japan and his approaches to this issue, to form a more personal and, at the same time, objective picture of his character. Together with the case of the “Special Folder” of the Central Committee of the CPSU on perpetuating the memory of Richard Sorge, declassified in 2020, for the first time in history, these materials allow us to fully evaluate Ishii Hanako’s effort to preserve the memory of Sorge in Japan during the period from 1945 to 1964. By comparing the memoirs, the documents of the Soviet side, and by carrying out the research and analytical work, the authors have reached a new level of understanding of the “case of Richard Sorge.”
In 2017–2022, a number of new materials devoted to the same case were published in Japan. They reveal the level of awareness of not only Japan’s government and law enforcement agencies, but also of the emperor himself, as well as the division of powers of the special services in the liquidation of Sorge’s intelligence network.

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ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)