The Internet version (first draft) of my paper in:

"Japanese-German Relations, 1895-1945  War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion" (edited by: Christian W. Spang, Rolf-Harald Wippich ,Routledge 2006.

Part 3 Bilateral Relations in the 1920s. The printed title is:

Personal Contacts in German-Japanese Cultural Relations during the 1920s and Early 1930s

The following text is not identical with the printed version, but the first draft without tables, notes and full references. If you would like to read or cite exactly, please refer to the Routledge book mentioned above.

Paving the Way? Cultural Relations and the Political Rapprochement in the 1920s


Tetsuro KATO (Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo)



1 Weimar Republic as a Short Interlude in German-Japanese Relationship?


In historical studies of German-Japanese relationship in contemporary Japan, the Weimar Republic 1919-1932 seems a relatively isolated period. In diplomatic and political fields, it was an exceptional period marking some extraordinary estrangement of their relations, ranging from a strong connection during the formation of Meiji statehood to the close military relationship in the late 1930s.

Many studies have focused first on the 1889 Meiji Constitution and its military system strongly influenced by the Imperial Prussia and second on the Japan-Germany-Italy anti-communist axis and the World War II. Many books tend to ignore the 1920s or to treat it only as a prelude to the strong axis of the 1930s.

For example, the most popular Japanese textbook on German history for contemporary Japanese students has a special chapter entitled German History and Japan: History of Japanese-German relationship 1639-1945 written by Prof. Masaki Miyake (Mochida and Miyake 1992: 332-344). It calls Germany as a basic model of modernization for Japan in the Meiji period (1868-1911, Germany as a teacher of modernizationモ in his words), points out the conflict and war in the 1910s (Before and after the World War I), but skips the 1920s, instead referring to the Japan-Germany-Italian axis in the 1930s. Prof. Miyake says that the first state system of Imperial Germany and that of Meiji Japan were very similar, but the German system was destroyed after the World War I. There existed Taisho democracyモ in Japan while Germany, its so-called model changed to Weimar democracy. But the latter is more similar to the Japanese Postwar democracy after 1945 than to the Taisho democracy in the 1920s (Mochida and Miyake 1992: 346). In a more academic work, Prof. Yukio Mochidaユs comparative historical analysis of Germany and Japan also omits the Weimar period (Mochida 1970).

This chapter will examine the German-Japanese cultural relationship in the 1920s and the political influence of the Weimar Republic on the Japanese. It will try to argue that the cultural exchange between the two was asymmetric, i.e. one-sided, the strream of influence having run from Germany towards Japan, but its political influence was contradictory. On the one hand, it directly addressed the Nazi-Japanese military axis as its principal line, but on the other hand, it survived after the defeat of the axis in the World War II because many Japanese who studied Weimar democracy and German culture played some significant role when Japan faced de-militarization and democratization under the American occupation after August 1945.


2 Cultural and Ideological Influence of Germany on Japan


It is well known that the Japanese Meiji Constitution was strongly influenced by the old Prussian Constitution with Emperorユs sovereignty and the independence of the military supreme command as its fundamental principles. But in 1918-1919, Germany, the model country, abandoned the imperial system and adopted a new constitution with wide social rights and freedom of speech, thoughts and expression.

Although Japan's political and diplomatic relations with Germany weakened after the World War I, the cultural and ideological influence of the latter became even stronger and wider in the 1920s. It was, as indicated earlier, an one-way, asymmetrical relationship, the flow of influence running down from Germany to Japan. For the ordinary German people in the 1920s, Japan remained an exotic island in the Far East. But for the Japanese people, the new German culture (so-called Weimar Bunka [Culture]) seemed to have provided the model for the future of relatively free Taisho period (1912-1925).

Weimar Republic and her constitution taught Japanese the following features: 1. the meaning of democratic freedom of speech, thoughts and expression, 2. social rights of workers and peasants to build unions and to protest against their employers and government, 3. party politics with male and female franchise and party-based government system, 4. a possibility of abolishing the Emperor system by revolution. The German democratization, especially the Weimar constitution, gave strong ideological influence to Japanese liberal and left thoughts and social movements in the 1920s.

Many Japanese learned German language and read German literature. Scholars and artists adopted Weimar culture as a new wave of world trend. Of course, there were rivals. The Soviet Union was called the first worker's homelandモ which brought in more radical ideas through the Japanese section of Comintern, the Communist Party of Japan which was illegally established in 1922. The United States of America, on its part, was a center of new popular music, movies and consumer goods. But the traditional longing for the advanced Germany still remained in Japan in the 1920s .

The German-Japanese Society was founded in 1929 behind this historical backdrop. The organizational aspect of the relationship between two countries in Weimar period is summarized by German scholars (Gunter Haasch ed., Die Deutsch-Japanischen Gesellscfaften von 1888 bis 1996) as follows. This book suggests that the contemporary German study also has a tendency to see the Weimar period only as a prelude to close connection between Nazi-Germany and military Japan in the 1930s. 

Diplomatic relations between Japan and Germany were restored in 1920. In 1926 a cultural research institute on Japan was founded in Berlin, 1927 its sister institute, the Japanese-German Cultural Institute, came into existence in Tokyo. Both institutes were supervised and partly funded by the Japanese and German Foreign Offices. On the Japanese side the main promoter of this new form of cultural foreign policy was Goto Shimpei, on the German side the institute was promoted by Wilhelm Solf, then ambassador in Tokyo, and the scientist Fritz Haber. The first Japanese professor to work at the Berlin research institute was Kanokogi Kazunobu, a philosopher from Kyushu Imperial University and a political visionary influenced by the concepts of geopolitics and Pan-Asianism. He became president of the "German-Japanese Study Group" formed by his German and Japanese students. ……In November 1929 the study group took the traditional name of "German-Japanese Society" and changed its regulations to include members without academic ambitions, especially from the sizeable Japanese community in Berlin, and purely social meetings between Japanese and Germans. In spite of these changes and a program of monthly lectures open to the general public and a remarkable exhibition about Japanese theatre, membership grew only at a very slow pace to about a hundred persons (Haasch 1996: xxiv-xxv).


3 Spreading of German Culture in Japan in the 1920s


The years of 1920s, when Japan was about to enter the long Showa period from 1926-1989, were a special period that popularized middle and high education system. German language was widely taught as an obligatory foreign language by the Daigakurei/Koutougakkourei [Statutes of Universities and Highschools] in 1918. The following statistics of Japanese history of education show the significant increase of schools and students in the 1920s .

<figure in book>

Over a half million students in 1930 were in these middle educational schools (middle school, normal school and higher womenユs high school etc.) and high educational institutions (high school, higher normal school, women's higher normal school, professional college and university). They had to select usually two foreign languages from English, German and French. Chinese and Korean were not in the curriculum.

Proficiency of German language was obligatory for special professional fields, especially in universities and professional colleges. In medical education, since Prof. Erwin Belz and Prof. Julius Scriba taught at Tokyo Imperial University, Japanese doctors had to write diagnosis in German, because almost all names of disease were expressed in German language. In mining technology or civil engineering, German knowledge was necessary as well. In philosophy and law, German academic schools were dominant. In geography, meteorology or music, many scholars learned at first German literature before beginning their studies..

There is no exact statistics on the German language students, but by a rough estimate, at least a half of these students, several hundred thousands youth, learned the German language. It offered surely a big market for publishers of text books and language teachers at the time.

In the 1920s, there were some special journals to study German language and literature in Japan. Doitsu-go [German language] モ was published since 1914. Shokyu-Doitsugo [German language for beginners] and Dokubun-Hyoron [German Review] were monthly journals. Some German-Japanese and Japanese-German dictionaries were published and widely used. German literary works like those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the Brothers Grim, etc. were very popular and had many Japanese translations. A series of German literary works entitled Doku-wa-taiyaku-sosho with Japanese translation was edited in 18 volumes (see, Nichidoku Kyokai 1974).

Especially in high-schools and universities, German style Kyoyo-shugi [liberal arts] was a fashion. Poems of Heinrich Heine or Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" were a common reading among students. In the Japanese student cultural scene in the 1920s, a folk song Dekansho was widely sung, which meant that students should learn the western thoughts from Rene Descartes [メDeモ], Immanuel Kant [メKanモ] and Arthur Schopenhauer [メShoモ]. They used German words メschoen [beautiful]”or Maedchen [girl] for their girl friends, メessenモ for eating and メGeldモ for money in everyday life. In the studentユs jargon メArbeit [studentユs part time labor] has been in vogue since then, even today.

Liberal and left ideologies became popular on these basis. Scholars and students read Marxist literature in original German, which was very fashionable in the elite universities especially after the Kanto earthquake in 1923, but the Japanese translations of Marxist literature were often censored by the government (Garon 1987, Hoston 1986). Radical students learned German language to read the full text of Manifesto of the Communist Party. Prof. Tokuzo Fukuda of the Tokyo College of Commerce, who studied under Karl Bucher and Lujo Brentano in Munich, introduced socialist thoughts from Europe. The book Binbo Monogatari [The Story of Poor People] by Prof. Hajime Kawakami of Kyoto University became a bestseller and his students learned Marxism enthusiastically (Bernstein 1990). The students of Prof. Sakuzo Yoshino of Tokyo University organized a movement called Shinjinkai [New Man Society], which became the core of radical student movements in the 1920s (Smith 1972).


4  Japanese Scholars and Students in Germany during the Weimar Republic


One important index of the closer and wider relationship between Germany and Japan in the 1920s is the number of scholars sent by the government for study aboad ( Ryugaku, Yoko or Gaiyu in Japanese). They were usually financed two years by Japanese government and spent for academic research in foreign countries. The Weimar Republic was a symbol of new advanced academic freedom for the Japanese, especially for the intellectuals and artists.

After the Meiji Government invited many teachers from foreign countries to promote modernization, it also sent many students to foreign countries. Although foreign advisers and teachers employed by the government numbered 580 at the peak time of 1874-1875, the number decreased thereafter. The Japanese Ministry of Education [Monbu-sho], instead, sent many scholars to foreign countries through the campaign under the title メrich country, strong armyモ.

Germany was the most popular country to go for higher study abroad. Students studying abroad under government sponsorship numbered 683 before the Russo-Japan War in 1904. Eighty percent of them went to Germany and studied in Berlin, Leipzig and other German cities. Additionally, there were many Japanese students on local authorities stipend or private financing (Oshio 1994: 41).

Some statistics are available on the number of scholars sent by the Ministry of Education. The number of scholarships was 11 in 1875, 42 in 1901, and 129 in 1920. It increased dramatically during the 1920s, but decreased in the 1930s due to the international isolation of Japan. The yearly number of scholars sent to foreign countries from 1918 to 1930 is presented in the following table .

Year 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930

Scholars 25 33 45 60 110 129 174 208 154 138 163 165 156 113 32 110


Out of 276 scholars sent abroad in 1929, 151 studied in Germany. Many scholars who stayed in other European countries had a plan to study in Germany on the conclusion of their stay in Britain or France. Of the 164 Japanese scholars studying abroad in the year 1932, 83 were in Germany. This suggests that the study in Germany enjoyed an extraordinarily high status in Japanese academic circles.

Country Total Germany Britain USA France Spain Austria

1929 276 151 34 34 29 9 6

1932 164 83 23 21 21 3 6

They were mainly young and excellent associate professors or lecturers of national elite universities. Tokyo and Kyoto Imperial Universities were given top priority while choosing scholars for study abroad.

Name of University Tokyo Kyoto Hokkaido Kyushu Tohoku Tokyo College of Commerce

1929 30 32 29 20 13 12

1932 24 16 9 9 9 3

Their major field of study was mainly natural sciences. But for the modernization of the Japanese society, study in literature, law and economics was also considered important as the figures in the Table below shows.

Major Literature Law Economics Physics Engineering Medicine Agriculture

1929 76 21 46 90 80 66 37

1932 27 11 20 36 29 37 16

Over a half of the young elite scholars abroad studied in Germany at the time. For Japanese scholars, Weimar Republic was the most attractive academic center in the world .

There is another reason why the Japanese in the 1920s looked to Germany as a source of orientation. The goal of Japan in the 1920s was to attain the European standard of living and to become a メfirst class country. The collapse of German economy in the early Weimar period offered a financially affordable opportunity for the Japanese to study in Germany and to acquire the treasure of German culture and advanced technologies because of the relatively high evaluation of Japanese money (Yen) against the German Mark..

At the end of World War I, the Allied Reparations Committee was set up and in 1921 it reported that Germany should pay 」6,600.000 million in annual installments. The people of Germany were outraged by the size of the sum. In 1923 the German government was unable to pay the reparations required under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Belgian governments responded by sending in troops to the Ruhr area, the main center of Germany's coal, iron and steel production. The occupation of the Ruhr led to a collapse of the German economy. There was massive inflation and large increase in unemployment. Germany was now unable to pay any reparations at all. In January 1921, the German mark was valued at 64 to a dollar. By November 1923 the exchange rate reached the historic low of 4,200,000,000,000 marks per dollar.

This economic devastation of Germany was ironically an advantage for Japanese people in Germany. They utilized the high evaluation of Japanese Yen to buy many books to enrich the libraries of Japanese universities. Some world famous academic collections were brought into Japan and were put into the libraries of Tokyo University, Hitotsubashi University, Hosei University etc.

According to the official statistics of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1920, there were only 92 Japanese in Germany (32 public officials, 36 businessman, 6 scholars/students). But in 1925, the number of Japanese in Germany increased to 837 in comparison with 434 in Britain and 974 in France, mainly due to the growth of business and academic exchange. In 1930, 576 Japanese stayed in Germany, of which about 60 percent were scholars and students. In 1935, 514 Japanese were in Germany, while 1,381 in Britain and 507 in France. During all these years the Japanese living in London were mainly engaged in business. Typically, the Japanese living in Paris were artists, mainly painters. Berlin was a big center for Japanese scholars and students in Europe .

Japanese in Europe by countries in the 1920s and the 1930s

Year Germany Britain France

1920 92 799 229

1925 837 434 974

1930 576 1,470 771

1935 514 1,381 507

Japanese in Germany by jobs in the 1920s and the 1930s

Year Public Officials Army/Navy Businessman Scholars/Students

1920 32 0 36 6

1925 73 4 176 380

1930 50 33 33 326

1935 104 25 53 92

In the official student lists of Berlin University, which can be seen now at the university archives of Berlin-Humboldt-University, the following number of Japanese are found for selected years between 1920s and 1930s .

The Number of Regular Japanese Students at Berlin University

Year Number of Japanese Students

Winter Semester Summer Semester

<figure in book>

Some further interesting data are provided by the lists of Japanese students at the German Language Institute for Foreigners at the Berlin University. In the lists from the 36th class(1925) to the 117th class (1939), Japanese students always constituted a major group at the language school for non-German people which became the Goethe Institute after World War II. Almost all Japanese who came to Germany learned practical German speaking at the Institute during first two to six months of their stay. .

The Number of Students at the German Language Institute for Foreigners of Berlin University

Year/Class Total Japan USA Britain Russia China

<figure in book>


This table suggests that the Japanese students at the Language Institute for Foreigners of Berlin University were the dominant group of participants of German-Japanese exchange at the time. The high evaluation of Japanese Yen made an easy and comfortable life for the Japanese in Germany possible. They enjoyed German life in their Japanese community.

The メYamatoモ, a well known German academic journal, edited by Prof. Nobukazu Kanokogi, was published from1929 to 1932 using the auspices of the German-Japanese Society. But it was read only by the narrow circle of メKanokogi groupモ in both countries. The content was a typical expression of exotic orientalism, Japonism and spiritualism strongly influenced by the personal connection between Prof. Kanokogi and German Japanologists.

There were some more journals published in Japanese language in Germany. Linden was a monthly journal published from 1921 to 1924, which included information of Nihonjin-kai [the Berlin Japanese Society], exclusively for the Japanese and for advertisement by Japanese companies in Berlin. In 1924, there was published a journal called Nichidoku Hyoron [Japan-German Review]. Since 1926, Doitsu Jijo [German Affairs] was published four times in a month. Berlin Shuho [Berlin Weekly] began its publication in 1928 and continued until 1935. In 1929, Doitsu Geppo [German Monthly] began publishing, and from 1930 the weekly Doitsu Joho [German Information] was published (Ebihara 1936: 68-73).

Additionally, there was a weekly free paper Nakakan-jiho [Nakakan Times]モ from 1922 through the 1930s, which was edited by Nakakan Shoten, a Japanese convenience store in Berlin, but had many useful information and news on Japan and Germany. About 500 Japanese who lived in Germany shared political, economic and cultural information through these Japanese papers and journals.

Prof. Tadashi Hirai's three volumes book Berlin contains some diaries, memories and reflections by Japanese who lived in Berlin in Weimar period. By these documents we can now know the feelings and impressions of the Japanese in Weimar Germany. Many Japanese enjoyed their life in Berlin. For example, there were at least five Japanese Restaurants in 1930 (Kagetsu, Matsunoya, Tokiwa, Toyokan and Fujimaki) and one big convenience store of Japanese foods, books and goods (Nakakan). Two famous Japanese trade companies (Mitsui and Mitsubishi) had their branch office in Berlin since 1923. There were special tourist bureaus and hotels for the Japanese. The Japanese in Germany had their own community and experienced cultural exchange with ordinary German people in daily life. And even in this small Japanese community in Germany, there were right, center and left wing division based on political orientation just the same way as in Japan at the time (Hirai 1980-82, Kato 2002a,2002b, 2003).


5 The German-Japanese Society and the Jewish Scholars


In the early Weimar period, Wilhelm Solf, the German ambassador in Tokyo, asked a famous politician in Japan at the time, named Shinpei Goto, for Japanese support to German scholars in times of financial hardship. Goto referred it to a Japanese businessman, named Hajime Hoshi, who was the owner of Hoshi Pharmaceutical Company and the important sponsor of Gotoユs political activity. Hoshi contributed two million Reichs Mark (about 80 thousands Yen at the time) to the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft [Society] and built the メJapan Fundモ (メHoshi Ausschussモ). Friz Haber, 1918 Nobel prize winner in chemistry for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements, was the chief manager of this メJapanese Hoshi Fundモ in Germany [You 1998:43-47].

Hoshi invited Friz Haber privately to Japan in 1924. In 1926 when German-Japanese Cultural Institute was established, Hoshi financed the great part of the Institute. This メJapan Fundモ or メHoshi-Scholarshipモ helped not only Friz Haber but also Richard Martin Willstatter(1915 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (1918 Nobel Laureate in Physic) , Otto Hahn (1944 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, a member of the Manhattan Project which developed the first atom bomb to be dropped later on Hiroshima), Leo Szilard (a student of Albert Einsteian and an important member of the Manhattan Project) etc.

Friz Haber expressed his gratitude to Hoshi offering important chemical licenses to Hoshi Pharmaceutical Company. But Hoshi rejected it by saying that his contribution was not for the sake of his business but a personal voluntary service (Oshio 1994: 43-49). But the German scholars do not touch such an episode and focused the role of Prof. Kazunobu Kanokogi (Haasch 1996: xxiv).

It was true that Prof. Kazunobu Kanokogi played a key role in making both the Cultural Research Institute on Japan in Berlin and the Japanese-German Cultural Institute in Tokyo. But he was not the best person to represent Japanese scholars who studied in Germany. He was an extreme right-wing nationalist (an ultra-nationalist as Prof. Masao Maruyama later called) and an admirer of Adolf Hitler. He was rather an exceptional Japanese who learned German culture at the time, and it was a big misfortune that he became the person as if he were the representative of German-Japanese exchange in the 1920s. As Teruko You researched in detail, he wrote almost all of the drafts of important documents of the Cultural Institute. Perhaps, the most practical reason why Japanese government appointed Prof. Kanokogi as the chief of the Institute was that he could read, speak, and write German language fluently and that his wife was a German. One more reason might be the fact that he was not a メdangerousモ(not a left- wing) scholar at the time.

Kanokogi introduced the essence of Japanese spiritual life as Yamato Kokoro [Japanese mind] with Emperor at the center. In the relatively free atmosphere of Japan in the 1920s, such a fanatic and irrational idea was not very popular, but rather very exceptional. But Prof. Kanokogi dominated the official route of German-Japanese cultural exchange. He recommended his friend Takahiko Tomoeda as the chief of the Japanese-German Cultural Institute in Tokyo (You 1998, You 1999).

Although the German-Japanese Society had formally no political and economic character, many Japanese scholars who were interested in Weimar democracy or advanced German technology could not take part in the activities of the institute. The Cultural Research Institute was unfortunately based on irrational Japonism. .

The German side had a different problem. Few Germans were interested in Japanese culture. The key person of the German-Japanese Society was Dr. Friz Haber, a Jewish German chemist and the 1918 Nobel Laureate (Friese 1980, Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin 1997). Some Jewish scholars and artists were also the active members of the Institute. Thus, in the 1930s, after Hitler came to power, the German-Japanese Society in Berlin faced some difficulties as German scholars indicated:

In 1933, a few months after Hitler's coming to power, several members with national-socialist leanings staged a coup against the elected board, especially against the Jewish president William S. Haas, a cultural sociologist, who had been president since Kanokogi's return to Japan, and the Jewish Japanologist Alexander Chanoch, a founding member of the study group. The German Foreign Office and the newly founded Ministry of Propaganda as well as the Japanese Navy Bureau became involved in the ousting of the elected board. The Japanese apparently were interested in creating a German-Japanese Society which was politically and socially more representative than its predecessor, but not in putting the society under national-socialist control. Therefore, ordinary Jewish members were not formally excluded and Wilhelm Solf, former ambassador to Tokyo, now honorary president of the society and anti-Nazi, remained in office, Solf died in 1936; the names of Jewish members disappear in the membership list of 1937, although their holders were then still living in Berlin (Haasch 1996: xxv).. 

The German-Japanese relationship after Hitler took over was almost dominated by Kanokogi and his friends, the Japanese army and the German Nazi-group. But even in the early 1930s, there were some efforts to seek for other possibilities for the Japanese to come into contact with German people.

For example, Bruno Taut, an anti-Nazis architect, emigrated from Germany to Japan in 1933 by the invitation of Japanese artists and lived in Takasaki city, Gunma prefecture. He received financial support from a businessman Fusaichiro Inoue in Takasaki, wrote a book on Japanese beauty of the Katsura Detached Palace in Kyoto and described it as the "quintessence of Japanese taste". He lived until his departure from Japan in 1935 .

Another case was that of the famous Jewish philosopher Karl Loewith. He also departed from Germany in 1933, was invited to Tofoku University in 1936 by Prof. Shuzou Kuki and other Japanese scholars who learned in Germany, and published many books on the history of German thoughts. Ironically, Japanese students in the 1930s could study some eminent German philosophers, ranging from Hegel to Nietzsche, not on the basis of Prof. Kanokogiユs ultra-nationalistic interpretation but from Loewithユs more universal standpoints .

Japanese painter Yumeji Takehisa had similar experience, though not in Japan but in Germany. Yumeji Takehisa was a famous popular romanticist painter in Taisho Japan. Takehisa was originally a kind of humanistic socialist artist influenced by Shusui Kotoku and Toshihiko Sakai. After he became a fashionable painter of Japanese girls, he began to learn western arts in the USA in 1931-1932 and moved to Berlin in 1932. In 1933 he watched the process of Nazi oppression against Jews in Berlin. At the time, he taught oriental painting at Johannes Itten School (a part of the former Bauhaus). His students at Itten School were mostly young Jews and he himself felt the danger of Hitler fascism. He not only expressed his outrage over Hitler fascism in his paintings in Germany, but also acted secretly to save some Jewish citizens helping them flee from Germany to Belgium through the underground network of Christian churches in Germany. He came back to Japan in 1933 and died the next year (Sekiya 2000: 168-202).

Fortunately for German Jewish scholars and artists, Japan was officially a friendly country for Nazi-Germany, and most Japanese had no anti-Semitic sentiments even in the late 1930s. Japanese people had no feeling of discrimination against Jewish people but had a kind of sympathy, because the Japanese themselves often felt the discrimination against Asians in Germany (Furuya 1995, Shillony 1993). Thus, although there was the dominant relationship between Nazi-Germany and the military of Japan through the German-Japanese Society, there were other possibilities of cultural relation to defend universal values and more humane connections between Japanese and Germans. If the main player of cultural relation were not Kazunobu Kanokogi and his narrow circle, German-Japan friendship would have more rational and international meaning without racism and discrimination .


6 Another Tradition Succeeded Postwar Japan


In Japan after the universal suffrage law in 1925, a number of small メproletarian partiesモ such as the Labor-Farmer Party (Rodo-Nomin-to) and the Japan Labor-Farmer Party (Nihon Rono-to) were organized in 1926. New kinds of mass media, large circulation newspapers, general monthly journals such as メChuo Koronモ and メKaizoモ and inexpensive paperback books similar to the German Reclam Universal-Bibliothek propagated cultural fads and the latest ideas from the west, especially from the Soviet Union, Germany and the USA. Young scholars and public officials who studied in Weimar Germany saw メWeimar democracyモ the political future of Japanese democracy.

In September 1931, Japanese troops invaded Manchuria and attacked the industrial city of Mukden. Chiang Kai Shek (Chinese nationalist Leader) appealed to the League of Nations and to the USA for help. America protested and the League made a ヤMoral sanctionユ and sent a Commission to Manchuria led by Lytton whose report condemned Japanese aggression. Unperturbed, Japan renamed Manchuria into Manchukuo in March 1932, and continued to occupy it. In 1933 Japan left the League of Nations. During the 1930s, Japan continued to expand, waging a brutal war with China, partly in an attempt to secure more resources for its growing economy.

Just after the Japanese invasion into Manchuria in September 1931, one international movement organized mainly by the Japanese in Berlin began to protest the Japanese governments's expansionist policy. It was named the Association of Revolutionary Asians. The main members were Japanese intellectuals who were sent to Germany by the Japanese government from famous imperial universities. The artists who studied in Germany, and the Japanese students at Berlin University, who were mainly the children of rich and famous Japanese families at the time, also belonged to this association.

The Association of Revolutionary Asians, strongly influenced by the International League against Imperialism, opposed the Japanese war against China, supported the independence movement of Asian nations, and made a protest against the increasing power of Hitler group.

The origin of this group, called the "anti-imperialist group in Berlin" or "left intellectual group in Berlin" in the secret documents of Japanese intelligence agency at the time, went back to the end of 1926, just after the introduction of male franchise in Japan. Some associate professors who were sent to Germany by the Japanese Ministry of Education began a reading circle of leftist literature.

Its advocate was Masamichi Royama, an associate professor in political science of the law department of Tokyo Imperial University at the time. But the main theoreticians of the group were Hiromi Arisawa of the department of economics and Dr. Teido Kunizaki of the department of medicine. Both were associate professors of Tokyo Imperial University. For Japanese social scientists, Weimar Germany was the most attractive place not only from the viewpoint of the tradition in Japanese academics, but also as a new model of democracy. The scholars, having experience of the メTaisho democracyモ in Japan, thought it necessary to learn new trends of social sciences including Marxism from Germany .

These young scholars were active in radical politics in Berlin. They sent many reports to leading Japanese monthly journals like "Kaizo," "Chuo Koron," "Senki," etc. expressing alarm at the dangers of fascism in the West and of Japanese intervention war in the East, arranged public meetings to make Germans aware of Asian problems, performed street theaters on the themes of resistance movement, and published at least five issues of a German journal, named "Revolutionary Asians", between March 1932 and January 1933 when Hitler finally came to power.

Some of the Japanese members of the group like Dr. Teido Kunizaki, Koreya Senda, Seiichiro Katsumoto and Yonosuke Kobayahi had close connection with Sen Katayama in Moscow, a communist leader of the League against Imperialism. They joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), belonged to the Japanese language section of KPD in 1930-1932 and established some connection with the secret members of the Japanese Communist Party in Japan. Some German anti-Nazi activists, Walter Friedrich and others, for instance, helped the Japanese group .

This group played a decisive role in organizing the movement in Germany against the war in Asia. But ideologically speaking, the group included persons from diverse political shading starting from conservative, liberal to left ideologies, thus including in its membership persons ranging from communists like Dr. Teido Kunizaki and Yonosuke Kobayashi to Katsuichi Yamamoto, later a censor of thoughts at the Ministry of Education and an LDP member in the Diet in post-war period, or Ichizo Kudo, later a leader of the anti-communist nationalist movement of the Japanese Judo sports.

Interesting is the fact that in this organization both the associate professors in Tokyo University and Kyoto University studied together (these two elite universities were academic rivals in Japan), or both the later Koza-ha [pro-communist] leaders like Yoshitaro Hirano, Katsujiro Yamada and the Rono-ha [social democratic] leaders of Hiromi Arisawa, Takao Tsuchiya communicated with each other. It is surprising, because if it were in Japan, these proponents of different schools of thought would be usually rivals and would have severe disputes with each other.

These experiences in Berlin were surely exciting and impressive for young intellectuals and artists. Most of them were young democrats or liberalists at the time, and later played important roles in various areas in the democratization of postwar Japan by using their own experiences of Weimar democracy. For example, Hiromi Arisawa became the leading economic planner to rebuild Japan after World War II. Koreya Senda was the founder of postwar new theater movement (Kato 1994,1997,2002b).

Thus, the most valuable historical asset of the relationship between Germany and Japan might be neither the German-Japanese Society, nor the Nazis-Japanese military connection, but the experiences of Japanese and their personal networks amongst those who learned in Weimar Republic, once dreamed the democratic future of Japan in Germany and became the designers and leaders of postwar Japan .



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