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Unformatted text preview: iably stood for the future.
Among those of the new generation who most fully embraced Westernization was Tokutomi Sohò (1863–1957).15 The son of a wealthy
peasant family of the Kumamoto region of northern Kyushu, Tokutomi
received Western training as a youth in his native Kumamoto and later
studied at the Christian university, Dòshisha, in Kyoto. In the mid-1880s,
Tokutomi moved to Tokyo, where he took up a career as a writer and
journalist. He organized a group called the Min’yûsha (Society of the
People’s Friends) and in 1887 began publication of a magazine entitled
Friend of the People (Kokumin no Tomo) to express the group’s views.
Tokutomi, whose magazine soon achieved an enormous circulation,
forcefully advanced his own opinions in books and articles on the
progress of modern Japan. He criticized the kind of Westernization advocated by Fukuzawa and other enlighteners of the early Meiji period
because it was directed only toward acquisition of the material aspects of Encounter with the West 251 Western civilization and not its underlying spirit. At the same time,
Tokutomi pointed out the futility of pursuing the pre-Meiji ideal of
“Eastern morals and Western technology,” which was precisely what the
Meiji government seemed to be doing then in its policy of reinstituting
Confucian moral training in the public schools. Under the new policy,
Japanese students were expected simultaneously to learn modern, practical things and feudal morality. According to Tokutomi, the only possible choice for Japan, if it was to succeed in modernization, was to reject
the Japanese past entirely and pursue wholeheartedly both the material
and spiritual aspects of Western civilization.
Tokutomi, who was strongly influenced by the writings of Herbert
Spencer, justified his extreme position on the grounds that progress was
a universal phenomenon. Hence, Westernization was actually another
term for universalization. The features of modern civilization observable
in the Western countries were the same that would appear in all countries
as they advanced toward modernity. Japan already had many of these
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- Spring '13