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Kodokai

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  • Japanese: 公動会 (Koudoukai)
  • Founded: 1896
  • Dissolved: ?


The Kôdôkai, or "Society for Public Unity", was an organization formed in 1896 by former Ryukyuan prince Shô En and a number of others, in opposition to Japanese assimilationist policies in Okinawa. Organized and supported chiefly by former aristocrats, the group was also aimed at restoring those scholar-aristocrats to positions of power and prestige.[1]

The formal founding of the organization was preceded by numerous events of a similar nature, stretching back several decades. In 1875, Japanese statesman Ôkubo Toshimichi suggested that the governorship of Okinawa Prefecture be a hereditary post held by members of the former royal family.

The movement's chief aims were that the Ryukyuan royal government and aristocracy be restored, healing the "spirit" of Okinawa, and that then the Ryukyuan system could lead the islands, gradually, into assimilation with Japan. To these ends,they petitioned that Governor Narahara Shigeru recalled to the mainland, and replaced with Marquis Shô Tai, former King of Ryûkyû. Their proposal would have also restored the yukatchu to their government positions; for this reason, much of the Kôdôkai's support came from low-ranking, unstipended, yukatchu. The organization's language, explicitly not pushing for Okinawan independence but rather speaking of how restoring the aristocracy could benefit Okinawa's absorption into the Empire, was aimed at helping the movement gain support in mainland Japan, and to avoid being labeled as subversive or treasonous. But, in the end, this stance gained little support in mainland Japan, and spurred considerable opposition within Okinawa from those supporting sovereignty and independence.[1]

Nine representatives of the group traveled to Tokyo and submitted a petition with 72,767 signatures to Matsukata Masayoshi, Minister of the Interior. He rejected it immediately. Some in the Meiji government saw the petitions as accusations of grave misrule in Okinawa and as attacks on the good judgment of the Emperor. Most Okinawans are said to have believed in the inevitability, and benefits, of assimilation with Japan, or at the very least saw royal/aristocratic rule as having been no less oppressive, and so, combined with threats from the Japanese government to pursue the Kôdôkai members as traitors should they continue their efforts, the organization quickly fell apart.

References

  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: the History of an Island People. (revised ed.) Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. p425.
  • Smits, Gregory. Visions of Ryukyu. University of Hawaii Press, 1999. pp148-149.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Gregory Smits, "Jahana Noboru: Okinawan Activist and Scholar," in Anne Walthall (ed.), The Human Tradition in Modern Japan, Scholarly Resources Inc. (2002), 106.
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