Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Abe Isoo (安部磯雄,1865-1949)@ 日本の野球の父

In the time of mass movement in the country for militarism, many people were stirred by the crowd effect of nationalism and patriotism, and forget the sense of reasoning. This revealed the majority may not be always right. It happen in Hitlers' Germany, Mao's Cultural Revolution and Japan's militarism.

Few people will have ears to hear, the noise of propaganda of war, the education of nationalism, and even the call of holy war; it polluted the sound of the inner heart, and the human lost its affection for fellow human being....

In Military Japan, however there are many brave Japanese who stand up for righteousness, calling the militarist government to stop the wars; some was killed, some was imprisoned, some was silenced....but the opposition continued....

They even have systematic thought change program called Tenko (転向, literally, changing direction). A Japanese term referring to the ideological reversal of numerous Japanese socialists who, between 1925 and 1945, renounced the left and (in many cases) embraced the "national community.". Tenko was performed especially under duress, most often in police custody, and was a condition for release (although surveillance and harassment would continue). But it was also a broader phenomenon, a kind of cultural reorientation in the face of national crisis, that did not always involve direct repression. One of the most well known of tenko came in June 1933, when Sano Manabu (1892—1953) and Nabeyama Sadachika (1901—1979), top figures in the Communist Party leadership, renounced their allegiance to the Comintern and the policy of violent revolution, embracing instead a Japan-specific mode of revolutionary change under imperial auspices.

Many of the social reformers are Christian, and also socialist; I was wondering how the two opposing forces were able to sparks out the Japanese Reformation Movement during the war period....

Abe Isoo(安部磯雄)is one of them.

Abe Isoo (安部磯雄, 1st March 1865 - 10 February 1949) was a well known Japanese Christian socialist, parliamentarian and pacifist.

Abe was born in Fukuoka, the second son of Okamoto Gonnojo, a samurai family. He studied at Doshisha Yogakko(Doshisha University) for 4 years and went abroad to USA in 1891. He studied at Hartford (Conn.) Theological Seminary, including at the University of Berlin, before becoming a Unitarian Church preacher. Abe was attracted to socialism while studying for the ministry in the United States, where he graduated from the Hartford (Conn.) Theological Seminary. He taught at Tokyo Semmon Gakkō from 1899, and two years later became a professor of Economic. Tokyo Semmon Gakkō later become Waseda University.

Professor Abe Isoo formed a baseball team , Waseda Nine in 1901. Their American tour in 1905 helped develop baseball in Japan. Organized the Tokyo Big Six League (TBSL), becoming its first president in 1925. Known as father of student baseball in Japan.

In 1901 he helped to found the short-lived Japanese Social-Democratic party(社会民主党), which the government swiftly prohibited.

During the Russo-Japanese War he advocated non-cooperation and participated in various early feminist movements. In 1906, he played an instrumental role in founding the first Japanese Socialist Party, from which he advocated a Christian Socialist viewpoint. However, the government outlawed this party too in 1907. In 1924 he became the first President of the Japanese Fabian Society or Nihon Febian kyôkai,(日本フェビアン協会/日本费边社),found in 1922. In 1928 voters elected Isō to the Japanese Diet as Chairman of Shakai minshûtô or Socialist People Party, where he held a seat for four consecutive elections. In 1932, he became a chairman of Shakai Taishuto or Socialist Masses Party (社会大衆党). He withdrew from politics in 1940.

Social Mass Party

Japanese government propaganda, the educational system, government repression, and social pressures effectively prevented the Japanese people from resisting government policies, military orders, or the war. Anyone against the war , Hatanaka (67) puts it bluntly: "Honestly speaking, nobody said openly that they opposed the war. If you said that you'd have been killed immediately, or taken away and killed later."

The program of thought conversion,Tenko (転向), resulted in many leftists changed their direction.

Social Mass Party, in the period of increasing extremism in politics, attempted to maintain a middle-of-the road approach, which inevitably resulted in a confused policy. The party was dominated by central and rightist elements, the lefts were mainly under government arrest, which helped to maintain unity and avoid potential splits between the fractions which had formed it.

Shakai Taishuto approved the creation of the state of Manchukuo in 1932 and voted for new military appropriations. The party took the antimilitary sentiments of Japanese workers into account; it proposed the conclusion of a Japanese-Soviet non-agression pact and in the period 1932–35 condemned Japan’s resignation from the League of Nations. It also voiced support of a campaign against inflation and poverty.

In the general election of December 1936 (Showa 11), the public pinned great hopes on the anti-fascists, still the Shakai Taishuto increased its representation in the House of Representatives, to 37 seats. The Party leaders, having built up self-confidence through their successful electoral performance, instead drew closer to the military.

In 1936 and 1937 some left-wing members of Shakai Taishuto responded to a call of the Communist Party of Japan and Nihon Musanto, a legal left-wing party of workers and peasants, to help organize an antifascist national front. However, the rightist leadership of Shakai Taishuto dismissed from the party those who supported the front.

What solidified that trend was the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937 (Showa 12), sparked by the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7 (Japanese troops of the Kwangtung Army, camped on one side of the bridge, claimed a soldier of theirs was missing in nearby Wanping Town, and demanded that the Kuomintang troops there let them look, giving them an ultimatum; when the KMT refused, the Japanese bombarded the town at midnight, and set in motion the events that led to Japan overrunning Peiping(now Beijing) on July 29 and Tientsin, now Tianjin, on July 30, starting the 2nd Sino-Japanese War).

The Shakai Taishuto avidly supported the war with China. At the Party 6th convention held from 15th November 1937, the Party platform was revised so as to advocate the progress and development of the Japanese people based on the basic principle of the national polity. The Shakai Taishuto thus publicly declared its participation in the national unity framework.

Cooperating with the military, the leadership of Shakai Taishuto announced on 6th July 1940 the disbanding of the party and and becoming the first political party to join the movement for the establishment of the New Order. Formation of 2nd KONOE Fumimaro Cabinet on 22-7-1940.

Opposition to the War

He is one of the opposition voice to the Japanese militarism, prior to the Pacific War/World War 2. One of the few who dare to be difference, against the war.

In 1930, after the Taisho Democracy was passed, Abe in his 2nd election campaign, called for disarmament within the limits required for self defense. Abe's pacifism was under extreme political pressure,while his political party was trying to adjust to the nationalism of the country. He as educator, waiting to educate the younger generation through the avenue of sport, mainly baseball. But his spirit of pacifism still burning in his heart.

At the height of the war in China, Abe said " We will not have the slightest needs for the sword, in contract to the situation in the past".

The breaking point finally come on 2-2-1940.....

On February 2, 1940, Saitō Takao (斎藤隆夫) made a speech in which he sharply questioned the prosecution and justification of Japan's "holy war" in China(反軍演説).Votes were taken in the Diet to expel him, Katayama Tetsu(片山哲), Suzuki Bunji(鈴木文治), Abe Isoo(安部磯雄), and Nishio Suehiro(西尾末広) and 6 others supported Saito Takao by walking out of the Diet. Suzuki Bunji, a lawyer and Abe Isoo, professors at Waseda University, Saito Takao was later expelled from the Diet on March 7, 1940. His speech also led to the creation of the League of Diet Members Believing the Objectives of the Holy War by Fumimaro Konoe(近衞文麿).

The Secretary General of Social Masses Party, Hisashi Aso(麻生久, 1891-1940),changed direction and allied himself with militarist Party, at the side of the Prime Minister, Konoe Fumimaro. Abe Isoo resigned in 1940 as chairman of Social Mass Party, over the issue of cooperation with the government's militaristic policies. Social Mass Party was the only leftist party allowed to function in the 1930s, it grew increasing nationalistic and militaristic, but was absorbed into the Imperial Rule Assistance Association in 1940.

Abe tried to form a new party, the Nationalist Labor Party (Kinrô kokumintô). However, the Home Ministry banned it on the grounds that it was socialist and that, representing the working class, it would instigate class struggle.

Abe Isoo withdrew from politics in 1940.

After the War

He is the President of Japan Student Baseball Association(日本学生野球協会,にほんがくせいやきゅうきょうかい) in 1946. He was regarded as Father of Japanese Baseball(日本の野球の父), and Father of Japanese student baseball(学生野球の父).

He was political adviser to Social Democratic Party (社会民主党 Shakai Minshu-tō)

He died on 10-2-1949.

Abe Isoo stand up tall .......even during the war. He is universally acclaimed as Father of Japanese Socialism.

Suggested readings/references:

1. PASTOR OF A BIG JAPANESE CHURCH.; The Rev. Iso Abe, Who Has Been Study- in This Country, The New York Times,
2. 先人の風景, The Sanyo Shimbun,
3. 安部磯雄, wikipedia(in Japanese)
4. Pacifism in Japan: the Christian and socialist tradition, by Nobuya Bamba, John F. Howes, UBC Press, 1978.

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