The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka (Twentieth Century Japan: The Emergence of a World Power)

The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka (Twentieth Century Japan: The Emergence of a World Power)

Jeffrey E. Hanes

Language: English

Pages: 360

ISBN: 0520228499

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In exploring the career of Seki Hajime (1873-1935), who served as mayor of Japan's second-largest city, Osaka, Jeffrey E. Hanes traces the roots of social progressivism in prewar Japan. Seki, trained as a political economist in the late 1890s, when Japan was focused single-mindedly on "increasing industrial production," distinguished himself early on as a people-centered, rather than a state-centered, national economist. After three years of advanced study in Europe at the turn of the century, during which he engaged Marxism and later steeped himself in the exciting new field of social economics, Seki was transformed into a progressive.

The social reformism of Seki and others had its roots in a transnational fellowship of progressives who shared the belief that civilized nations should be able to forge a middle path between capitalism and socialism. Hanes's sweeping study permits us not only to weave social progressivism into the modern Japanese historical narrative but also to reconceive it as a truly transnational movement whose impact was felt across the Pacific as well as the Atlantic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

historical school maintained that history had witnessed the formation of communities collectively dedicated to this purpose. In modern times, these communities had coalesced as nations, and this development, in turn, had stimulated the formation of nation-states. As the political embodiment of these national communities, they concluded, nation-states were duty-bound to implement economic policies that addressed the needs and desires of the whole. As this argument suggests, the German historical

precondition of [commercial] exchange” and that none existed in tribal societies, where self-sufficiency remained the rule. This, intoned Seki, was an inescapably “scientific” conclusion based on the latest “social science” (shakai kagaku).90 Among the various historical forms that this division of labor had taken, Seki cited occupational differentiation (shokugyo¯ no bunritsu) as the most important: “With occupational differentiation, the phenomenon of [commercial] exchange infiltrated economic

anticipation of the seemingly certain expansion of its political boundaries. In 1908, two years prior to Japan’s formal annexation of Korea, Seki proposed an intimately symbiotic relationship between the two. Calling on Korea to “promote agriculture” and on Japan to implement “advanced systems of industrial production,” he spoke of the Japanese and Korean economies together as a “greater people’s national economy” (dai kokumin keizai; italics mine).119 This strategic expansion of the “body of the

surprising. After all, “as disillusioned workers were demanding a satisfying daily life [in the nineteenth century], the leaders of society were fretting over whether they should accord workers a life worthy of human beings.” In the end, noted Seki, the European working classes were deprived of property, education, family, and religion. After falling into an abyss (fuchi), the growing proletariat found itself increasingly isolated. Is it any wonder, asked Seki, that workers finally forged the

completely unlike them, on the other, they celebrated the growth of cities into metropolises. As they plotted points and lines on their maps of Greater Tokyo, they envisioned the avenues, railways, and streetcar lines that would one day carry raw materials, finished goods, and labor in and out of the metropolis. The primary objective of these urban modernizers was to grease the wheels of commerce and industry, and they linked this objective directly to the state’s road- and rail-centered

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