Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements

17.1 visual essay
17.1 visual essay



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  »  Issues Contents  2014-05-01 A historical re-consideration of the “Japan problem”


A historical re-consideration of the “Japan problem” from the perspective of critical civilizational strategy
ABSTRACT The “Japan Problem” is a geo-cultural plight which causes tension and disaccord due to Japan’s historical posture. Critical civilizational strategy challenges the inertia of Euro-American-centrism and nation-state cohesion. This task-discovering lecture undertakes a deconstructive review of (1) civilization and (2) modernity. It does so through (1) reexamining hybridity and synchronicity (e.g. between the Islamic tawhîd and Buddhist Huayan as well as Neo-Confucian philosophies), and their resonance with monotheist phenomena. It examines the work of M, Bernal, R. Pal, and T. Izutsu on networking among civilizations. (2) The lecture explores the conventional discourse of Eurocentric modernity including its “post-modern” aspect and criticizes it from the viewpoint of a “super-modernity” and its diverse phases worldwide since 7th century. The commonality between West European and Japanese modernities and their pathology are also discussed. Then, by emphasizing the emergent conjuncture for super-modernity’s possible revival in 2011, the lecture touches upon some of the features of the muwâtin revolution which open up this new era. Now that the “Japan Problem” has to be questioned at the threshold of major global change in human history, the lecture discusses the dilemmas faced by ōkawa Shūmei and the "Overcoming Modernity” theory during the Second World War in Japan, the legacy of Kūkai and Keisei in Eurasian scenes, the ethno-centric Three-Country-worldview of Japan, the aggressiveness of “wa” ideology, and the intrinsic colonial-racist-militaristic character of the Japanese State since 7th century.. The concluding proposition is that Japanese society should break free of the “Japan Problem” by developing potential identities and life-spaces through an ethicizing self-criticism and dialogue.
Keywords: Japan Problem, civilizational strategy, tawhîd, super-modernity, networking partnership, Euro-American centrism, muwâtin revolution, composite identity, area, Japanese Orientalism, colonialism-racism-militarism based on male-centrism
Author’s biography

Prof. ITAGAKI Yūzō was born in 1931 in Tokyo and is Professor Emeritus at The University of Tokyo and Tokyo Keizai University. He is also Chair at the Japan Organizing Committee for Japanese-Korean Historians’ Congress. His former careers include: Member & Chairman of 1st Division (Humanities), Science Council of Japan; Chair, Expert Panel of the Study Forum on Islam, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; President, Asian Federation of the Associations for Middle East Studies (AFMA); Chair, Japan National Committee of CISH (International Committee of Historical Sciences); President, Association of Islamic Studies in Japan, etc. He has researched and taught at the Institute of Oriental Culture and College of Arts-and-Sciences, University of Tokyo; Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka; Department of Communication Studies, Tokyo Keizai University; Middle East Research Center, Ain Shams University, Cairo; and many other institutions, covering the fields related to International Relations, Comparative Politics, Global Area Studies, and Islamic Thought and Movements. His specialties are History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and Civilizational Strategy Studies.


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