Summary of the main seminar in the online seminar series of the International Symposium 2021
The main seminar in the online seminar series of the International Symposium 2021 was held via Zoom from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 18, 2021.
Session I: Marginal Social Groups in Early Modern and Modern Japan: Their Place in World History
TSUKADA Takashi (Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University)
“Society, Space, and Marginal Social Groups in Early Modern Dōtonbori, Osaka”
Daniel BOTSMAN (Professor, Yale University)
Maren EHLERS (Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
After a brief overview of scholarship on the urban social history of early modern Japan since the 1970s, when greater attention to the chō (block association) led to a dramatic growth in the body of research in the field, Professor Tsukada introduced part of his current project on Dōtonbori, one of the places most often brings to mind the issue of overtourism in parts of Japan over the past few decades. In the early modern period, however, Dōtonbori represented a marginal society as it was located on the southern frontier of the urbanization of Osaka, the second largest city after Edo with a population of around 400,000. Through a close examination of a case from 1725 that arose when the body of a man who had been executed under the jurisdictional powers exercised by the town governor was found on public display within the precincts of Hōzenji Temple, which was under the direct control of the Shogunate, Professor Tsukada elucidated the complexity of interwoven jurisdictions in this geographical periphery of Osaka. Moreover, the involvement of various actors in this case, specifically occupational guilds including a beggar status group, epitomizes the characteristics of early modern Japanese society, where each social group was granted the privilege to pursue a specific livelihood, for example to run a business or beg in certain areas, in return for performing duties on behalf of the authorities, a mechanism that was primarily related to policing to ensure the maintenance of public order.
Following the presentation of the paper, some comments were made by two discussants. The first discussant was Professor Botsman, who specializes in early modern and modern Japanese history and is the author of Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005). Professor Botsman began by pointing out that the term “paper reality”, coined by Professor Bhavani Raman in her investigation of the East India Company’s colonial administration, could be applied to early modern Japan in terms of its strong reliance on official written documents that functioned to regulate the way in which society was intended to work and people were expected to behave. Then, Professor Botsman moved on to make two specific points about Professor Tsukada’s paper. First, the Professor highlighted that, whereas it is established knowledge that early modern surveillance systems elsewhere in the world such as Europe were heavily dependent on networks of the underclass including criminals, the case examined by Professor Tsukada is unique in that it reveals an extremely dense and complex system of surveillance that involved a variety of different social groups each of which was assigned the duty of policing in a specified area. The second point Professor Botsman made was in regard to the tension between historicity and tourism. Because traveling itself has positive aspects, it is important is to create opportunities for those who visit a place to learn how the present of a locality—not only in terms of its extant monuments and landscapes, but also those that no longer exist—has been made. To that end, Professor Botsman emphasized that historical research is crucial, and that the international joint research project being led by Professor Tsukada would surely contribute to such a goal.
The second discussant was Professor Ehlers, who focuses on the Ōno domain in central Japan in the early modern and modern period and is the author of Give and Take: Poverty and the Status Order in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018). Professor Ehlers offered new insights from her own research interests on three perspectives that form the basis of Professor Tsukada’s current research project: revisiting the chō in early modern Japan; the view from the periphery; and the comparative study of historical records and societies. First, Professor Ehlers argued that focusing on the chō—the basic component of Tokugawa society along with the villages—as a key point of comparison would offer the possibility of overcoming some of the challenges that historians are often confronted by when comparing urban societies that have different characteristics including size, particularly large cities (i.e., Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka) with provincial castle towns such as Ōno. Second, by providing the example of the Ōnoya Trade Company, a domain-run enterprise established in 1855 that had a branch in a chō of Osaka under a fictitious name, Professor Ehlers showed the potential of Ōno, a geographically peripheral area of Japan, to shine a light on more central areas of Japan, in this case Osaka, and their internal social structures. Last but not least, Professor Ehlers introduced a fascinating fact that during the Bakumatsu era the Ōno domain came to exercise control over part of Karafuto (Sakhalin) and prepared population registers of the “natives” (i.e., Ainu people) of that region, which seems to be a system of control parallel to that of Tokugawa Japan proper.
Session II: History of Encounters between Japan and China: Social Groups in Early Modern and Modern East Asia
PENG Hao (Associate Professor, Osaka City University)
“The Chinese (tōjin) Community in the Early Modern Trading City of Nagasaki”
ZHANG Zhihui (Associate Professor, Shanghai University)
“Japanese Settlements in the Cosmopolitan City of Shanghai in the 1920s–30s”
WATANABE Kenya (Professor, Osaka City University)
“Modern China in the Eyes of a Bakumatsu-Meiji Intellectual: Oka Senjin’s Kankōkiyū”
The first speaker, Professor Peng, explored the Chinese (tōjin) community in eighteenth-century Nagasaki, the sole port in Japan open to junk traders from the early seventeenth century onward. After investigating the hierarchical relations that can be seen in the Chinese Residence (tōkan) that was established in 1688 to accommodate Chinese people visiting Nagasaki, to whom rooms were allocated basically according to the ships on which they came, Professor Peng examined the regional networks that were formed among the residents in the Residence, networks that are most clearly reflected in the temples endowed by groups of residents who were co-locals. Then, Professor Peng shifted his focus to the connections between the Chinese Residence community and the wider surrounding Japanese society, in which those of the community whose ancestors had originally come from China and who had established themselves in Nagasaki played a mediating role.
The second speaker, Professor Zhang, examined Japanese settlements in Shanghai in the 1920s–30s from three different perspectives. First, Professor Zhang focused on a communal aspect of the settlements, namely, the supervision of the Administrative Committee of the Japanese Residents’ Association, which was established in 1907 and played a key role in serving to bind the residents together. Then, the Professor drew attention to the difficulties that the Japanese settlement community faced in terms of establishing its position within the Shanghai International Settlement through land ownership. Third, the Professor provided an overview of the political situation during the period under exploration, which was characterized by various revolutions and incidents along with the rise of popular nationalism and interventions by Japanese imperialism against it, in order to highlight the implications that these phenomena had for the development of the Shanghai Japanese community. Professor Zhang concluded by noting that all three of the aspects covered in her paper were closely intertwined.
The third speaker, Professor Watanabe, began by posing a question: “why was it that Japan and China took so different a path from the mid-nineteenth century, a period that marked the advancement of Western powers into Asia?” Then, keeping this question in mind, Professor Watanabe explored the evolution of modern China from the viewpoint of a contemporary Japanese intellectual through an examination of Kankōkiyū, a travelogue penned by Oka Senjin (1833–1914) who visited Qing China during 1884 and 1885. Professor Watanabe discovered that, whereas Oka in his travelogue repeatedly criticized and deplored the role of opium addiction and the imperial examination system in poisoning Qing society, he nevertheless saw the potential of the Qing dynasty to overcome such challenges through Westernization and modernization, a view that stands in stark contrast to that of Naitō Konan, who was born in 1866, a few decades later than Oka, and whose scholarly achievements are generally considered in the existing literature to represent the pinnacle of the modern Japanese understanding of China.
Following the presentation of the papers, further discussions covered a range of issues such as the relationship between land and people, the diversity of meanings in the key terminology of “marginality” and the possibility of making comparisons in the framework of global history, and the commonalities and differences between the East Asian world and the South Asian world in terms of experiences on the path to modernity.