In recent years, territorial disputes have been intensifying in the Ukraine and around Asia.
The underlying cause seems to be largely due to the differing views of nationhood held by the citizens of the nations involved.
Their view of nationhood is dependent on their history and political system.
For instance, the people of North Korea meekly follow the policies of its dynastic leadership, but this makes citizens of many nations feel uneasy.
In the Edo period (17-19th centuries), the Tokugawa clan controlled Japan.
The Tokugawa Shogun had complete power, and at that time people took it as a matter of course that the shogun’s offspring would succeed him.
As a result, 15 successive shoguns ruled Japan for over 260 years.
The Tokugawa regime enforced a closed door policy to avoid foreign influences, especially in relation to religion.
Before this regime was established, a civil war over national hegemony had continued for a lengthy period.
After the Tokugawa family gained power, opposition forces evaporated.
In this era, samurai were expected to pledge absolute loyalty to the establishment.
On the other hand, bribes given to government officials or those in charge of awarding business contracts were widespread; a practice often seen in developing countries even today.
However, it was generally a period of unbroken peace.
One day, the so called “kurofune” – American fleets fitted with canons – suddenly appeared.
Commodore Perry pressured the Tokugawa Shogunate to open its ports, and Japan fell into disarray.
To put this into context, during that time China and other Asian countries had been invaded by powerful European nations.
The Tokugawa Shogunate was forced to open up the country, but forces harboring antagonistic feelings towards foreigners supported the Emperor – who was opposed to this decision – and a civil war broke out between both powers.
In this way disputes concerning views on nationhood between developing nations and advanced nations are brought about.
Advanced nations seek solutions based on current democratic values, but many nations in the world have fallen behind in terms of historical progress.
For a genuine solution to disputes, both parties must understand the other party’s values in accordance with their historical progress and hold negotiations with a respectful attitude.
The powers supporting the Emperor won the civil war and established the Meiji government, thus building a modern nation.
After that, imitating powerful western nations, Japan developed into a military nation, and before long the military gradually began to nurse ambitions of expanding its territory and becoming the leader of Asia.
Claiming that they were a lifeline, Japan expanded its borders overseas, and as a result rushed headlong into armed conflict.
The logic of present day powerful nations seems to be leading them down the same route Japan once took.
Japan was defeated in the Second World War, and reborn as a peaceful nation that had no military.
If you revisit Japan’s recent past and the period that followed, you will be able to clearly see the fate of nations involved in current disputes.
(From August issue, 2014 / 2014年8月号より）
(in) recent years
have been intensifying
Sono gennin wa/ha
the underlying cause
(the) nations involved
(held by the) citizens (of)
(the) views of nationhood
ni yoru tokoro ga
to be largely
Sono kokka’kan wa/ha
their view of nationhood
sono kuni no
(this) makes feel
(in the) Edo period
(juu nana/17 - juu kyuu/19 seiki),
seventeenth - nineteenth centuries
the Tokugawa clan
shihai shite imashita.
(the) Tokugawa Shogun
at that time
(a) matter of course
juu go/15 nin no
nihyaku rokujuu/260 nen
two hundred sixty years
(the) Tokugawa regime
in relation to
sakeru tame ni
(a) closed door policy
Kono seiken ga
for (a) lengthy period
(a) civil war
(the) Tokugawa family
were expected to pledge
Sono ippou de,
on the other hand
(a practice) seen
(awarding) business contracts
those in charge (of)
oukou shite imashita.
(a) period (of)
Peri- Teitoku wa/ha
(the) Tokugawa Shogunate
to open (its) ports
Sono haikei niwa/ha,
to put this into context
during that time
shinryaku sarete ita koto ga arimasu.
had been invaded
(the) Tokugawa Shogunate
to open up (the) country
yamunashi to shimasu
(who) was opposed
to no aida de
(a) civil war
in this way
views on nationhood
soui ni yoru
concerning <due to difference>
are brought about
kaiketsu shiyou to shimasu
(in terms of) historical
have fallen behind