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Shinron

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Shinron, often translated as the "New Theses," was a work by Aizawa Seishisai which came to form the core of the jôi ("expel the barbarians") ideology in the Bakumatsu period. Though first put into wide circulation in woodblock-published form in 1848, it was not formally published at Seishisai's request, or with his authorization, until 1857.

The text speaks of the "national essence" (kokutai) as lying in the unbroken line of emperors, which could be traced from the present back, in an unbroken line, to the age of the gods, something no other royal dynasty in the world could claim. This, along with a number of other ideas expressed by Aizawa, would be taken up not only by Imperial loyalists of the Bakumatsu period, but also in the ultra-nationalism of the 1930s-40s. Aizawa also writes of Buddhism as being a foreign religion, and an impediment to the connection between the people and their sacred land, Japan, the land of the gods (shinkoku), and advocates its rejection, alongside Christianity.

Though many of his time saw the Russian threat as a crisis of the past and no longer a current concern, Aizawa expressed alarm at the threat posed by the Western powers, noting their long histories of warring with one another as they expanded their control over much of the world. In Shinron, Aizawa advocates a unification of the national will, to devote more of the country's resources and of his countrymen's efforts to the strengthening of national defenses against the potential incursions of the Western powers. He takes the 1824 Edict to Repel Foreign Vessels as a call to arms, that the entire country should transform itself into an engine, a unified economic & military effort, for war against the Westerners.

References

  • Mitani Hiroshi, David Noble (trans.), Escape from Impasse, International House of Japan (2006), 23-24.
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