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10.The Dilemma of Virtue

  The Japanese view of life is just what their formulas of chu and ko and giri and jin and human feelings say it is。They see the‘whole duty of man'as if it were parceled out into separate provinces on a map。In their phrase,one's life consists of“the circle of chu”and“the circle of ko”and“the circle of giri”and“the circle of jin”and“the circle of human feelings”and many more。Each circle has its special detailed code and a man judges his fellows,not by ascribing to them integrated personalities,but by say-ing of them that“they do not know ko”or“they do not know giri。”Instead of accusing a man of being unjust,as an American would,they specify the circle of behavior he has not lived up to。Instead of accusing a man of being selfish or unkind,the Japanese spec-ify the particular province within which he violated the code。They do not invoke a cate-gorical imperative or a golden rule。Approved behavior is relative to the circle within which it appears。When a man acts“for ko,”he is acting in one way;when he acts“merely for giri”or“in the circle of jin,”he is acting-so Westerners would judge-in quite different character。The codes,even for each“circle,”are set up in such a way that,when conditions change within it,the most different behavior may be properly called for。Giri to one's lord demanded utmost loyalty until the lord insulted his retainer;afterward no treachery was too great。Until August,1945,chu demanded of the Japa-nese people that they fight to the last man against the enemy。When the Emperor changed the requirements of chu by broadcasting Japan's capitulation,the Japanese out-did themselves in expressing their co-operation with the visitors。

  This is baffling to Westerners。Occidentals cannot easily credit the ability of the Japanese to swing from one behavior to another without psychic cost。Such extreme pos-sibilities are not included in our experience。Yet in Japanese life the contradictions,as they seem to us,are as deeply based in their view of life as our uniformities are in ours。It is especially important for Occidentals to recognize that the“circles”into which the Japanese divide life do not include any“circle of evil。”This is not to say that the Japa-nese do not recognize bad behavior,but they do not see human life as a stage on which forces of good contend with forces of evil。They see existence as a drama which calls for careful balancing of the claims of one“circle”against another and of one course of pro-cedure against another,each circle and each course of procedure being in itself good。If everyone followed his true instincts,everyone would be good。As we saw,they regard e-ven Chinese moral precepts as proving that the Chinese need that kind of thing。It proves the inferiority of the Chinese。Japanese,they say,have no need of overall ethical commandments。In Sir George Sansom's phrase which we have already quoted,they“do not grapple with the problem of evil。”According to their view,they adequately account for bad behavior by less cosmic means。Though every soul originally shines with virtue like a new sword,nevertheless,if it is not kept polished,it gets tarnished。This“rust of my body,”as they phrase it,is as bad as it is on a sword。A man must give his char-acter the same care that he would give a sword。But his bright and gleaming soul is still there under the rust and all that is necessary is to polish it up again。

  This Japanese view of life makes their folk tales and novels and plays seem particu-larly inconclusive to Westerners-unless we are able,as often happens,to recast the plot to fit our demands for consistency of character and for conflict of good and evil。But that is not the way the Japanese look at these plots。Their comment is that the hero is caught in a conflict of“giri against human feelings,”“chu against ko,”“giri against gimu。”A hero fails because he is allowing his human feelings to obscure his obligations of giri,or he cannot pay both the debt he owes as chu and the debt he owes as ko。He cannot do right(gi)because of giri。He is cornered by giri and sacrifices his family。The conflicts so portrayed are still between obligations both of which are in themselves binding。They are both“good。”The choice between them is like the choice that faces a debtor who owes too many debts。He must pay some and ignore others for the time be-ing,but the fact that he pays one debt does not free him of the rest of his debts。

  This way of viewing the hero's life is in great contrast to the Western view。Our he-roes are good precisely in that they have“chosen the better part,”and are pitted against opponents who are bad。“Virtue triumphs,”as we say。There should be a happy end-ing。The good should be rewarded。The Japanese,however,have an insatiable appetite for the story of the“flagrant case”of the hero who finally settles incompatible debts to the world and to his name by choosing death as a solution。Such tales would in many cultures be stories teaching resignation to a bitter fate。But in Japan that is exactly what they are not。They are tales of initiative and ruthless determination。The heroes put forth every effort to pay some one obligation incumbent upon them,and,in so doing,they flout another obligation。But in the end they settle with the“circle”they flouted。

  The true national epic of Japan is the Tale of the Forty-Seven Ronin。It is not a tale that rates high in the world's literature but the hold it has on the Japanese is incompara-ble。Every Japanese boy knows not only the main story but the subordinate plots of the tale。Its stories are constantly told and printed and they are retold in a popular modern movie series。The graves of the forty-seven have been for generations a favorite pilgrim-age where thousands went to pay tribute。They left their visiting cards,too,and the ground around the graves was often white with them。

  The theme of the Forty-Seven Ronin centers around giri to one's lord。As the Japa-nese see it,it portrays the conflicts of giri with chu,of giri with righteousness-in which giri is of course virtuously triumphant,-and of“merely giri”with limitless giri。It is an historical tale of 1703,the great days of feudalism when men were men,accord-ing to the modern Japanese daydream,and there was no“unwillingness”in giri。The forty-seven heroes offer up everything to it,their reputations,their fathers,their wives,their sisters,their righteousness(gi)。Finally they offer up to chu their own lives,dy-ing by their own hands。

  The Lord Asano was appointed by the Shogunate as one of two daimyo in charge of the ceremony at which all the daimyo made their periodical obeisance to the Shogun。The two masters of ceremonies were provincial lords and therefore they had to apply for instructions in required etiquette to a very great daimyo of the Court,the Lord Kira。Un-fortunately Lord Asano's wisest retainer,Oishim-the hero of the tale-who would have counseled him prudently,was away in the home province and Asano was naive e-nough not to arrange to pay a sufficient“gift”to his great instructor。The retainers of the other daimyo who was being instructed by Kira were men of the world and showered the teacher with rich gifts。The Lord Kira therefore instructed Lord Asano with bad grace and purposely described to him an entirely wrong costume for his wear at the ceremony。The Lord Asano appeared thus clad on the great day and when he realized the insult put upon him he drew his sword and wounded Kira on the forehead before they could be sep-arated。It was his virtue as a man of honor-his giri to his name-to avenge Kira's in-sult but it was against his chu to draw his sword in the Shogun's palace。The Lord Asano had conducted himself virtuously in giri to his name but he could only come to terms with chu by killing himself according to the rules of seppuku。He retired to his house and dressed himself for the ordeal,waiting only for the r eturn of his wisest and most faithful retainer Oishi。When they had exchanged a long look of farewell,Lord Asano,having seated himself in required fashion,thrust his sword into his belly and died by his own hand。No relative being willing to succeed to the place of the dead lord who had vi-olated chu and incurred the displeasure of the Shogunate,Asano's fief was confiscated and his retainers became mastefless ronin。

  According to the obligations of giri,Asano's samurai retainers owed it to their dead master to commit seppuku as he had done。If in giri to their lord they did what he had done in giri to his name,this would voice their protest against Kira's insult to their lord。But Oishi was secretly determined that seppuku was too small an act by which to express their giri。They must complete the vengeance their own lord had been unable to carry through when retainers separated him from his high-placed enemy。They must kill Lord Kira。But this could only be accomplished by violating chu。Lord Kira was too near to the Shogunate to make it possible for the ronin to get official permission from the State to carry out their revenge。In more usual cases,any group contemplating vengeance regis-tered their plan with the Shogunate,stating the final date before which they would com-plete the act or abandon the enterprise。This arrangement allowed certain fortunate peo-ple to reconcile chu and giri。Oishi knew that this course was not open to him and his fellows。He therefore called together the ronin who had been Asano's samurai retainers but he spoke no word of his plan of killing Kira。There were more than three hundred of these ronin and,as the story was taught in Japanese schools in 1940,they all agreed to commit seppuku。Oishi knew,however,that not all of them had unlimited giri-in the Japanese phrase,“giri plus sincerity”-and could therefore be trusted in the danger-ous exploit of a vendetta against Kira。To separate those with“merely”giri from those with giri plus sincerity he used the test of how they were to divide their lord's personal income。In Japanese eyes this was as much of a test as if they had not already agreed to commit suicide;their families would benefit。There was violent disagreement among the ronin about the basis of the division of property。The chief steward was the highest paid of the retainers and he led the faction which wanted the income divided according to pre-vious salary。Oishi led the faction which wanted it divided equally among them all。As soon as it was well established which ones of the ronin had“merely”giri,Oishi agreed to the chief steward's plan for partition of the estate and allowed those who had won to leave the company。The chief steward left and has earned thereby the fame of being a“dog samurai,”a“man who did not know giri,”and a reprobate。Oishi judged only forty-seven to be strong enough in giri to be made privy to his plan of vendetta。These forty-seven who joined him pledged by that act that no good faith,no affection,no gimu should stand in the way of the completion of their vow。Giri was to be their supreme law。The forty-seven cut their fingers and joined in a blood compact。

  Their first task was to throw Kira off the scent。They disbanded and pretended to be lost to all honor。Oishi frequented the lowest public-houses and engaged in undignified brawls。Under cover of this abandoned life he divorced his wife-a usual and thorough-ly justified step for any Japanese who was about to run foul of the law since it kept his wife and children from being held accountable along with him in the final act。Oishi's wife parted from him in great grief,but his son joined the ronin。

  All Tokyo was speculating on the vendetta。All who respected the ronin were of course convinced that they would attempt to kill Lord Kira。But the forty-seven dis-claimed any such intention。They pretended to be men who“did not know giri。”heir fa-thers-in-law,outraged at such dishonorable conduct,turned them out of their homes and dissolved their marriages。Their friends ridiculed them。One day a close friend met Oishi drunk and reveling with women,and even to him Oishi denied his giri to his lord。“Revenge?”he said。“It is silly。One should enjoy life。Nothing is better than to drink and play around。”His friend disbelieved him,and pulled Oishi's sword out of its sheath,expecting its shining brilliance to disprove what its owner had said。But the sword was rusted。He was forced to believe and in the open street he kicked and spat upon the drunken Oishi。

  One of the ronin,needing money to cover his part in the vendetta,had his wife sold as a prostitute。Her brother,also one of the ronin,discovered that knowledge of the vendetta had come into her hands and proposed to kill her with his own sword,arguing that with this proof of his loyalty Oishi would enroll him among the avengers。Another ronin killed his father-in-law。Another sent his sister to serve as maid and concubine to Lord Kira himself so that the ronin might have advice from inside the palace telling them when to attack;this act made it inevitable that she should commit suicide when venge-ance was accomplished,for she had to clear herself by death of the fault of having ap-peared to be on the side of Lord Kira。

  On a snowy night,December fourteenth,Kira held a sake party and the guards were drunk。The ronin raided the stronghold,overcame the guards,and went straight to Lord Kira's bedroom。He was not there,but his bed was still warm。The ronin knew he was hiding somewhere in the enclosure。At last they discovered a man crouched in an outhouse used for storing charcoal。One of the ronin drove his spear through a wall of the hut,but when he withdrew it there was no blood upon it。The spear had indeed pierced Kira,but as it was withdrawn he had wiped off the blood with his kimono sleeve。His trick was of no avail。The ronin forced him to come out。He claimed,however,that he was not Kira;he was only the chief steward。At this point one of the forty-seven remem-bered the wound their Lord Asano had given Kira in the Shogun's palace。By this scar they identified him and demanded his immediate seppuku。He refused-which proved of course that he was a coward。With the sword their own Lord Asano had used in his seppuku,they cut off his head,ceremonially washed it,and having finished their work,set off in procession to carry the doubly bloodied sword and the severed head to Asano's grave。

  All Tokyo was filled with enthusiasm for the deed of the ronin。Their families and fathers-in-law who had doubted them rushed to embrace them and to do obeisance。Great lords urged hospitality upon them along the way。They proceeded to the grave and placed there not only the head and the sword but a written address to their lord which is still preserved。

  Their giri was paid。They had still to pay their chu。Only in their death could the two coincide。They had broken the State rule against undeclared vendetta but they were not in revolt against chu。Whatever was demanded of them in the name of chu they must fulfill。The Shogunate ruled that the forty-seven should commit seppuku。That is,in killing themselves with their own hands the ronin paid the supreme debt both to giri and to gimu。

  The tales of olden times do not give central place to the conflict between obligations and“human feelings。”In recent years it has become a principal theme。Modern novels tell of love and human kindness which have to be discarded because of gimu or giri,and this theme is played up instead of being minimized。Like their war movies,which readi-ly seem to Westerners to be good pacifist propaganda,these novels often seem to us a plea for greater latitude to live according to the dictates of one's own heart。They are cer-tainly testimony to this impulse。But over and over Japanese who discuss the plot of no-vels or movies see a different meaning。The hero we sympathize with because he is in love or cherishes some personal ambition,they condemn as weak because he has allowed these feelings to come between him and his gimu or his giri。Westerners are likely to feel it is a sign of strength to rebel against conventions and seize happiness in spite of obsta-cles。But the strong,according to Japanese verdict,are those who disregard personal happiness and fulfill their obligations。Strength of character,they think,is shown in conforming not in rebelling。The plots of their novels and movies,consequently,often have quite a different meaning in Japan from that which we give to them when we see them through Western eyes。

  Japanese make the same kind of appraisal when they pass judgment on their own lives or on those of people they have known。They judge that a man is weak if he pays attention to his personal desires when they conflict with the code of obligations。All kinds of situations are judged in this way,but the one which is most opposite to Western ethics concerns a man's attitude toward his wife。His wife is only tangential to“the cir-cle of ko”but his parents are central。Therefore his duty is clear。A man of strong moral character obeys ko and accepts his mother's decision to divorce his wife。It only makes the man“stronger”if he loves his wife and if she has borne him a child。In the Japa-nese phrase,“ko may make you put your wife and children in the category of stran-gers。”Then your treatment of them belongs at best in“the circle of jin。”At worst they become people who have no claims upon you。Even when a marriage is happy,a wife is not centrally placed in the circles of obligations。A man should therefore not elevate his relation to her so that it seems to be on a level with his feelings toward his parents or his country。It was a popular scandal in the nineteen-thirties when a prominent liberal spoke publicly about how happy he was in returning to Japan,and mentioned reunion with his wife as one of the reasons for his pleasure。He should have spoken of his parents,of Fu-jiyama,of his dedication to the national mission of Japan。His wife did not belong on this level。

  The Japanese themselves have shown in the modern era that they were not satisfied to leave their code of morals so heavy with emphasis on keeping different levels separate and different“circles”distinct。A great part of Japanese indoctrination has been devot-ed to making chu supreme。Just as statesmen simplified the hierarchy by putting the Em-peror at the apex and eliminating the Shogun and the feudal lords,so in the moral realm they worked to simplify the system of obligations by bringing all lower virtues under the category of chu。By this means they sought not only to unify the country under“Emperor worship,”but to lessen the atomism of Japanese morals。They sought to teach that in fulfilling chu one fulfilled all other duties。

  The best and most authoritative statement of this program is the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors given by the Emperor Meiji in 1882.This Rescript and the one on Education are the true Holy Writ of Japan。They are treated as torah,taken from a shrine for reading and returned with obeisance before the audience is dismissed。Men appointed to read them have killed themselves because they misread a sentence。The Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors was primarily for men in the service。They were the ones who learned it verbatim and meditated upon it quietly for ten minutes each morning。It was read to them ritually on important national holidays,when the new conscripts en-tered the barracks,when those left who had finished their period of training and on simi-lar occasions。It was also taught to all boys in middle schools and continuation classes。

  The Rescript for Soldiers and Sailors is a document of several pages。It is carefully arranged under headings and is clear and specific。Nevertheless,it is a strange puzzle to a Westerner。Its precepts seem to him contradictory。Goodness and virtue are held up as true goals and described in ways Westerners can appreciate。And then the Rescript warns its hearers not to be like heroes of old who died in dishonor because,“losing sight of the true path of public duty,they kept faith in private relations。”This is the official translation and though it is not literal it fairly represents the words of the original。“You should,then,”the Rescript continues,“take serious warning by these examples”of oldtime heroes。

  The“warning”conveyed is not intelligible without a knowledge of the Japanese map of obligations。The whole Rescript shows an official attempt to minimize giri and to elevate chu。Not once in the whole text does the word giri appear in the sense in which it is a household word in Japan。Instead of naming giri,it emphasizes that there is a Higher Law,which is chu,and a lower Law which is“keeping faith in private rela-tions。”The Higher Law,the Rescript is at pains to prove,is sufficient to validate all the virtues。“Righteousness,”it says,“is the fulfillment of gimu。”A soldier filled with chu inevitably has“true valor”which means“in daily intercourse to set gentleness first and to aim to win the love and esteem of others。”Such precepts,if followed,the Re-script argues by implication,will suffice without invoking giri。Obligations other than gimu are Lesser Law and a man should not acknowledge them without the most careful consideration。

  This Holy Writ exalting chu is a basic document in Japan。It is difficult to say,however,whether its oblique detraction of giri weakened the popular hold of this obliga-tion。Japanese frequently quote other parts of the Rescript-“Righteousness is the ful-fillment of gimu,”“If only the heart be sincere,anything can be accomplished”-to explain and justify their own and others'acts。But,though they would often be appropri-ate,the admonitions against keeping faith in private relations seem seldom to come to their lips。Giri remains today a virtue with great authority and to say of a man that“he does not know giri”is one of the most drastic condemnations in Japan。

  Japanese ethics are not easily simplified by introducing a Higher Law。Even when they talk about Higher Law,whether in feudal times or in the Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors,it is only in the sense that obligations to someone high in the hierarchy should o-verrule obligations to someone who is lower down。They are still particularistic。

  When modern Japanese have attempted to make some one moral virtue supreme o-ver all the“circles,”they have usually selected“sincerity。”

  This moral stress on sincerity has the backing of the Rescript for Soldiers and Sail-ors itself。The Rescript begins with an historical prologue,a Japanese equivalent to A-merican prologues which name Washington,Jefferson,and the Founding Fathers。In Ja-pan this section reaches a climax by invoking on and chu:

  We(the Emperor)are the head and you are the body。We depend on you as our arms and legs。Whether we shall be able to protect our country,and repay the on of our ancestors,depends upon your fulfilling your obligations。

  Then follow the precepts:(1)The supreme virtue is to fulfill the obligations of chu。A soldier or sailor,however skilled,in whom chu is not strong,is a mere puppet;a body of soldiers wanting in chu is in crisis a mere rabble。“Therefore,neither be led astray by current opinions nor meddle in politics,but with singleness do chu,remembe-ring that gi(righteousness)is weightier than a mountain while death is lighter than a feather。”(2)The second injunction is to observe outward appearance and behavior,i。e。,in reference to rank in the Army。“Regard the orders of superiors as issuing directly from Us”and treat inferiors with consideration。(3)The third is valor。True valor is contrasted with“burnblood barbaric acts”and is defined as“never despising an inferior or fearing a superior。Those who thus appreciate true valor should in their daily inter-course set gentleness first and aim to win the love and esteem of others。”(4)The fourth injunction is the warning against“keeping faith in private relations,”and(5)the fifth is an admonition to be frugal。“if you do not make simplicity your aim,you will become effeminate and frivolous and acquire fondness for luxurious and extravaga-ntways;you will finally grow selfish and sordid and sink to the last degree of baseness,so that neither loyalty nor valour will avail to save you from the contempt of the world……Being harassed with anxiety lest it should break out,We hereby reiterate Our warning。”

  The final paragraph of the Rescript calls these five precepts“the Grand Way of Heaven and Earth and the universal law of humanity。”They are“the soul of Our sol-diers and sailors。”And,in turn,“the soul”of these five precepts“is sincerity。If the heart be not sincere,words and deeds,however good,are all mere outward show and all avail nothing。If only the heart be sincere,anything can be accomplished。”The five precepts will thus be“easy to observe and practice。”It is characteristically Japanese that sincerity should be tacked on at the end after all the virtues and obligations have been spelled out。The Japanese do not,as the Chinese do,base all virtues on the promptings of the benevolent heart;they first set up the code of duties and then add,at the end,the requirement that one carry these out with all one's heart and with all one's soul and with all one's strength and with all one's mind。

  Special Japanese meanings of this word“sincerity”have already been referred to in passing。Makoto does not mean what sincerity does in English usage。It means both far less and far more。Westerners have always been quick to see that it means far less than it does in their language,and they have often said that when a Japanese says anyone is insincere,he means only that the other person doesn't agree with him。There is a certain truth in this,for calling a man“sincere”in Japan has no reference to whether he is act-ing“genuinely”according to the love or hate,determination or amazement which is up-permost in his soul。The kind of approval Americans express by saying,“He was sincerely glad to see me,”“He was sincerely pleased,”is alien in Japan。They have a whole series of proverbial expressions casting scorn on such a“sincerity。”They say de-risively,“Behold the frog who when he opens his mouth displays his whole inside”;“ike a pomegranate who when it gapes its mouth shows all that's in its heart”;it is a shame to any man to“blurt out his feelings”;it“exposes”him。These associations with“sincerity”which are so important in the United States have no place in the meaning of the word“sincerity”in Japan。When the Japanese boy accused the American missionary of insincerity,it never occurred to him to consider whether the American“genuinely”felt amazement at the poor lad's plan to go to America without even a shoestring。When Japanese statesmen in the last decade accused the United States and England of insin-cerity-as they constantly did-they did not even think whether the Western nations were acting in ways they did not in reality feel。They were not even accusing them of be-ing hypocrites-which would have been a minor accusation。Similarly when the Re-script for Soldiers and Sailors says“sincerity is the soul of these precepts,”it does not mean that the virtue that will put all other virtues into effect is a genuineness in the soul which will make a man act and speak in conformity to his own inner promptings。It cer-tainly does not mean that he is enjoined to be genuine,no matter how much his convic-tions may differ from others'。

  Nevertheless makoto has its positive meanings in Japan,and since the Japanese so strongly stress the ethical ro1e of this concept it is urgently necessary for Westerners to grasp the sense in which they use it。The basic Japanese sense of makoto is well illustra-ted in the Tale of the Forty-Seven Ronin。“Sincerity”in that story is a plus sign added on to giri。“Giri plus makoto”is contrasted with“merely giri,”and means“giri as an example for ages eternal。”In the contemporary Japanese phrase,“makoto is what makes it stick。”The“it”in this phrase refers,according to context,to any precept of the Japanese code or any attitude stipulated in the Japanese Spirit。

  A basic meaning of“sincerity”as the Japanese use it,is that it is the zeal to follow the“road”mapped out by the Japanese code and the Japanese Spirit。Whatever special meanings makoto has in particular contexts can always be read off as praise of some a-greed-on aspects of Japanese Spirit and well-accepted guide posts on the map of virtues。Once one has accepted the fact that“sincerity”does not have the American meaning it is a most useful word to note in all Japanese texts。For it almost unfailingly identifies those positive virtues the Japanese actually stress。Makoto is constantly used to praise a person who is not self-seeking。This is a reflection of the great condemnation Japanese ethics pronounces on profit-making。Profit-when it is not a natural consequence of hi-erarchy-is judged to be the result of exploitation,and the go-between who has turned aside to make a profit out of his job becomes the hated moneylender。He is always de-clared to“lack sincerity。”Makoto,too,is constantly used as a term of praise for the man who is free of passion,and this mirrors Japanese ideas of selfdiscipline。A Japanese worthy of being called sincere,too,never verges on the danger of insulting a person he does not mean to provoke to aggression,and this mirrors their dogma that a man is re-sponsible for the marginal consequences of his acts as well as for the act itself。Finally,only one who is makoto can“lead his people,”put his skills to effective use and be free of psychic conflict。These three meanings,and a host of others,state quite simply the homogeneity of Japanese ethics;they reflect the fact that a man can be effective and un-conflicted in Japan only when he is carrying out the code。

  Whatever the Japanese have tried to do to their code,it remains atomistic,and the principle of virtue remains that of balancing one play,in itself good,against another play which is also in itself good。

  In any language the contexts in which people speak of losing or gaining self-respect throw a flood of light on their view of life。In Japan“respecting yourself”is always to show yourself the careful player。It does not mean,as it does in English usage,con-sciously conforming to a worthy standard of conduct-not truckling to another,not ly-ing,not giving false testimony。In Japan self-respect(jicho)is literally“a self that is weighty,”and its opposite is“a self that is light and floating。”When a man says“You must respect yourself,”it means,“You must be shrewd in estimating all the factors in-volved in the situation and do nothing that will arouse criticism or lessen your chances of success。”“Respecting yourself”often implies exactly the opposite behavior from that which it means in the United States。An employee says,“I must respect myself(ji-cho),”and it means,not that he must stand on his rights,but that he must say nothing to his employers that will get him into trouble。“You must respect yourself”had this same meaning,too,in political usage。It meant that a“person of weight”could not re-spect himself if he indulged in anything so rash as“dangerous thoughts。”It had no im-plication,as it would in the United States,that even if thoughts are dangerous a man's self-respect requires that he think according to his own lights and his own conscience。

  “You must respect yourself”is constantly on parents'lips in admonishing their ado-lescent children,and it refers to observing proprieties and living up to other people's ex-pectation。A girl is thus admonished to sit without moving,her legs properly placed,and a boy to train himself and learn to watch for cues from others“because now is the time that will decide your future。”When a parent says to them,“You did not behave as a self-respecting person should,”it means that they are accused of an impropriety rather than of lack of courage to stand up for the right as they saw it。

  All these meanings of self-respect fit the Japanese view of life。This way of defining self-respect does not allow a man to claim an alibi for his failure on the ground of good intentions。Each move has its consequences and one should not act without estimating them。It is quite proper to be generous,but you must foresee that the recipient of your favors will feel that he has been made“to wear an on。”You must be wary。It is quite allowable to criticize another,but you must do so only if you intend to take on all the consequences of his resentment。

  The strong identification of circumspection with self-respect includes,therefore,watchfulness of all the cues one observes in other people's acts,and a strong sense that other people are sitting in judgment。“One cultivates self-respect(one must jicho),”they say,“because of society。”“If there were no society one would not need to respect oneself(cultivate jicho)。”These are extreme statements of an external sanction for self-respect。They are statements which take no account of internal sanctions for proper be-havior。Like the popular sayings of many nations,they exaggerate the case,for Japanese sometimes react as strongly as any Puritan to a private accumulation of guilt。But their extreme statements nevertheless point out correctly where the emphasis falls in Japan。It falls on the importance of shame rather than on the importance of guilt。

  In anthropological studies of different cultures the distinction between those which rely heavily on shame and those that rely heavily on guilt is an important one。A society that inculcates absolute standards of morality and relies on men's developing a con-science is a guilt culture by definition,but a man in such a society may,as in the Unit-ed States,suffer in addition from shame when he accuses himself of gaucheries which are in no way sins。He may be exceedingly chagrined about not dressing appropriately for the occasion or about a slip of the tongue。In a culture where shame is a major sanc-tion,people are chagrined about acts which we expect people to feel guilty about。This chagrin can be very intense and it cannot be relieved,as guilt can be,by confession and atonement。A man who has sinned can get relief by unburdening himself。This de-vice of confession is used in our secular therapy and by many religious groups which have otherwise little in common。We know it brings relief。Where shame is the major sanction,a man does not experience relief when he makes his fault public even to a con-fessor。So long as his bad behavior does not“get out into the world”he need not be troubled and confession appears to him merely a way of courting trouble。Shame cultures therefore do not provide for confessions,even to the gods。They have ceremonies for good luck rather than for expiation。

  True shame cultures rely on external sanctions for good behavior,not,as true guilt cultures do,on an internalized conviction of sin。Shame is a reaction to other people's criticism。A man is shamed either by being openly ridiculed and rejected or by fantas-ying to himself that he has been made ridiculous。In either case it is a potent sanction。But it requires an audience or at least a man's fantasy of an audience。Guilt does not。In a nation where honor means living up to one's own picture of oneself,a man may suffer from guilt though no man knows of his misdeed and a man's feeling of guilt may actually be relieved by confessing his sin。

  For Japanese a failure to follow their explicit signposts of good behavior,a failure to balance obligations or to foresee contingencies is a shame(haji)。Shame,they say,is the root of virtue。A man who is sensitive to it will carry out all the rules of good behav-ior。“A man who knows shame”is sometimes translated“virtuous man,”sometimes“man of honor。”Shame has the same place of authority in Japanese ethics that“a clear conscience,”“being right with God,”and the avoidance of sin have in Western ethics。Logically enough,therefore,a man will not be punished in the afterlife。The Japanese-except for priests who know the Indian sutras-are quite unacquainted with the idea of reincarnation dependent upon one's merit in this life,and-except for some well-in-structed Christian converts-they do not recognize post-death reward and punishment or a heaven and a hell。

  The primacy of shame in Japanese life means,as it does in any tribe or nation where shame is deeply felt,that any man watches the judgment of the public upon his deeds。He need only fantasy what their verdict will be,but he orients himself toward the verdict of others。When everybody is playing the game by the same rules and mutually supporting each other,the Japanese can be light-hearted and easy。They can play the game with fanaticism when they feel it is one which carries out the“mission”of Japan。They are most vulnerable when they attempt to export their virtues into foreign lands where their own formal signposts of good behavior do not hold。They failed in their“good will”mission to Greater East Asia,and the resentment many of them felt at the attitudes of Chinese and Filipinos toward them was genuine enough。

  Individual Japanese,too,who have come to the United States for study or business and have not been motivated by nationalistic sentiments have often felt deeply the“fail-ure”of their careful education when they tried to live in a less rigidly charted world。Their virtues,they felt,did not export well。The point they try to make is not the uni-versal one that it is hard for any man to change cultures。They try to say something more and they sometimes contrast the difficulties of their own adjustment to American life with the lesser difficulties of Chinese or Siamese they have known。The specific Japanese problem,as they see it,is that they have been brought up to trust in a security which depends on others'recognition of the nuances of their observance of a code。When for-eigners are oblivious of all these proprieties,the Japanese are at a loss。They cast about to find similar meticulous proprieties according to which Westerners live and when they do not find them,some speak of the anger they feel and some of how frightened they are。

  Once Japanese have accepted,to however small a degree,the less codified rules that govern behavior in the United States they find it difficult to imagine their being able to manage again the restrictions of their old life in Japan。Sometimes they refer to it as a lost paradise,sometimes as a“harness,”sometimes as a“prison,”sometimes as a“little pot”that holds a dwarfed tree。As long as the roots of the miniature pine were kept to the confines of the flower pot,the result was a work of art that graced a charming garden。But once planted out in open soil,the dwarfed pine could never be put back a-gain。They feel that they themselves are no longer possible ornaments in that Japanese garden。They could not again meet the requirements。They have experienced in its most acute form the Japanese dilemma of virtue。



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